Happy Thanksgiving! Welcome to Thanksgiving Day in America, Thursday November 25, 2021. All good Americans (save me) will be stuffing themselves on dry turkey and pumpkin pie and then, sated, fall asleep in front of the television watching football. Here’s Norman Rockwell’s painting of Thanksgiving dinner; it’s part of his “Four Freedoms” series, and this one is “Freedom from Want“:
It’s also National Parfait Day, National Day of Mourning (but for what?), Blasé Day, Turkey-Free Thanksgiving, and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
There’s an animated Google Doodle for Thanksgiving today (click on screenshot), but note that a traditional Thanksgiving item is missing from the dancing foodstuffs. Can you guess why? (There is gravy, though.)
For your meatless Thanksgiving pleasure, you can haz this: Tofurkey, made from tofu and grain. I have heard it given other names. See the first cartoon below.
News of the Day:
*According to Georgia state law, the minimum sentence for each of the three men involved in the Ahmaud Arberty is life in prison. The judge, who will sentence them within a few weeks, does have the option of allow them to be considered for parole, but only after 30 years in prison, when two of the men will probably be dead. If the judge denies parole, the three men will die in prison.
*Two big guns in the infectious disease world, Eric Topol and Michael T. Osterholm, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post called “The CDC got it wrong. It should have urged all adults to get covid-19 booster shots.” Instead, the CDC urged only adults over the age of 50 to get the shots. Why is that a mistake? Because the booster really does boost—a lot.:
Public health officials have always expected that mRNA coronavirus vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech) to be a three-shot regimen. The only question was when the third shot would be necessary. Originally, the hope was that it would be after one or two years. It turns out, it is necessary at about six months.
More than 10 large reports have shown that the reduced protection from infections, including symptomatic infections, across all age groups, wanes from 90 to 95 percent at two months down to about 60 percent for Pfizer and 70 percent for Moderna after five to six months. There is further substantial waning after six months.
The good news is that a booster dose can restore that initial efficacy, as data makes abundantly clear. One randomized trial of Pfizer’s vaccine involving more than 10,000 participants — half receiving a third shot and the other half receiving a placebo booster — showed a remarkably high 95-percent efficacy. In that trial, people aged 18 to 55 benefited just as much as those older than 55. There were no safety issues raised, such as myocarditis.
I’m not a doctor—I only play one in the lab—but I urge all readers over 18 who don’t have contraindications to get that booster now. (I’m pretty sure we’ll need boosters at least yearly for a while, but that’s a guess.)
*YouTube announced that it would no longer show the “dislikes” on any video, although the button will still be there. That means that the person who posted the video has the option to see how many “dislikes” there were, but nobody else does. Why?
At YouTube, we strive to be a place where creators of all sizes and backgrounds can find and share their voice. To ensure that YouTube promotes respectful interactions between viewers and creators, we introduced several features and policies to improve their experience. And earlier this year, we experimented with the dislike button to see whether or not changes could help better protect our creators from harassment, and reduce dislike attacks — where people work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.
As part of this experiment, viewers could still see and use the dislike button. But because the count was not visible to them, we found that they were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count. In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior. We also heard directly from smaller creators and those just getting started that they are unfairly targeted by this behavior — and our experiment confirmed that this does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels.
If they get rid of the “dislike” button, they should also get rid of the “like” button. How else can you judge the public’s reaction to a video? If you can’t weather a “dislike” attack, you shouldn’t be posting there. The vast majority of “dislikes” are not “harassment”. In fact, even a concerted attack isn’t really harassment. Now everybody just sees the likes, so all will have prizes.
*An article in the NYT Magazine calls Hayao Miyazaki “the greatest animated filmmaker since the advent of the form in the early 20th century and one of the greatest filmmakers of any genre.” I have seen three of his anime-ted films from the Studio Ghibli and was mesmerized by all of them: “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988), “Princess Mononoke” (1997), and “Spirited Away” (2002). I didn’t think I’d like them, but was immediately sucked into a world of fantasy and imagination of the highest order. As the NYT says:
Miyazaki does not like to frame his work in explicitly ideological or moral terms. The mission of his films, he says, is to “comfort you — to fill in the gap that might be in your heart or your everyday life.” But his movies are haunted by his grief over the damage humans have done to the natural world.
. Now Miyazaki, 80, has come out of retirement to make one last film, about which we’re told almost nothing except that it’s based on a children’s book:
It is time. Miyazaki rubs the top of his head and lights a cigarette, one of his signature king-size, charcoal-filtered Seven Stars. I am allowed one last question. “The title of your next film is ‘How Do You Live?,’” I say. “Will you give us the answer?”
The smile comes only after he speaks: “I am making this movie because I do not have the answer.”
The profile is wonderful; if you like Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films, do read it.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 776,197, an increase of 1,117 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,195,428, an increase of about 6,700 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on November 25 includes:
- 1491 – The siege of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, ends with the Treaty of Granada.
- 1759 – An earthquake hits the Mediterranean destroying Beirut and Damascus and killing 30,000–40,000.
- 1915 – Albert Einstein presents the field equations of general relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
Here’s the first page of Einstein’s manuscript on general relativity, a theory which eventually predicted both black holes and gravity waves.
These were ten people who refused to answer Congress’s questions about whether they were affiliated with the Communist Party and had also spent time in jail: Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo.
- 1952 – Agatha Christie‘s murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opens at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. It will become the longest continuously-running play in history.
It’s still running at the theater below, after more than 28,000 performances. It closed for a while during the pandemic but reopened on May 17 of this year. Do you know what the second longest-running play is (a distant second with only 13,000 performances)? Go here for the answer.
Here’s a 43-minute film of the funeral, which is very moving:
- 1970 – In Japan, author Yukio Mishima and one compatriot commit ritualistic seppuku after an unsuccessful coup attempt.
Mishima committed seppuku at age 45, but before he did (and botched it), he gave a speech asking for the restoration of the Emperor. That failed as well; here he is speaking from the balcony on the day he died:
- 1984 – Thirty-six top musicians gather in a Notting Hill studio and record Band Aid‘s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in order to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.
And here’s a video about the song’s making. How many people do you recognize?
- 1986 – Iran–Contra affair: U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese announces that profits from covert weapons sales to Iran were illegally diverted to the anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
- 1999 – A five-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, is rescued by fishermen while floating in an inner tube off the Florida coast.
Gonzalez’s mother drowned during the escape, and he stayed with relatives in Miami while his father, still in Cuba, demanded his return. After a long transit through the courts, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered that Elian be returned to his father in Cuba. Here’s the famous photo of Border Patrol agents breaking into the Miami house to retrieve the boy. Guns, really? Elian, now 27, works “as a technology specialist at a state-run company that makes large plastic water tanks.” The photo, by Alan Diaz, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News:
- 1562 – Lope de Vega, Spanish playwright and poet (d. 1635)
- 1846 – Carrie Nation, American activist (d. 1911)
Nation, who described herself as “a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like”, and decided that Jesus didn’t like booze. She was famous for entering bars and, with a hatchet, destroying the bar and the stock of booze. Here she is with her hatchet and her Bible. She must be looking at a verse declaring the wickedness of alcohol.
Vavilov, below, was a martyr to genetics. Adhering to the principles of “real” genetics, instead of Lysenko’s phony theories that were supported by Stalin, Vavilov was arrested for counterrevolutionary activities and sentenced to 20 years in prison, where he died. Here’s his prison mugshot:
Höss was commandant of Auschwitz and promoted the use of Zyklon B for mass murder of Jews and other prisoners. Here he is being escorted to the gallows in 1947:
- 1913 – Lewis Thomas, American physician, etymologist, and educator (d. 1993)
- 1914 – Joe DiMaggio, American baseball player and coach (d. 1999)
The Yankee Clipper hit safely in 56 straight games in 1941, a record that still stands. Here he is smooching his bat that year:
- 1940 – Percy Sledge, American singer (d. 2015)
- 1960 – John F. Kennedy Jr., American lawyer, journalist, and publisher (d. 1999)
Those who went the way of the Butterball on November 25 include:
- 1944 – Kenesaw Mountain Landis, American lawyer and judge (b. 1866)
- 1968 – Upton Sinclair, American novelist, critic, and essayist (b. 1878)
A signed first edition of Sinclair’s most famous work (1906), which exposed the horrors of Chicago’s meatpacking industry, and led to reforms in that industry, will cost you around $4,500.
- 1970 – Yukio Mishima, Japanese author, actor, and director (b. 1925)
- 1987 – Harold Washington, American lawyer and politician, 51st Mayor of Chicago (b. 1922)
Washington was the first African-American elected as Chicago’s mayor. He lived very close to me in an apartment building, and loved the immigrant monk parrots who had a huge social nest in the tree outside his building. (They’re gone now as the damn city tore all the nests down a few years ago.)
- 2005 – George Best, Northern Irish footballer (b. 1946)
- 2016 – Fidel Castro, Communist leader of Cuba, and revolutionary (b. 1926)
- 2020 – Diego Maradona, Argentinian football player (b. 1960)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Andrzej’s book with Paulina’s photos has arrived, and Hili is furious and super jealous! You can see the book below (Kulka’s on the cover) with Andrzej and Hili.
A: Hili: The books with Kulka’s pictures arrived!Hili: That’s unethical.
Ja: Hili, przyszły książki ze zdjęciami Kulki!Hili: To nie jest etyczne.
From Don, a modern Thanksgiving Dinner by Roz Chast:
From On the Prowl Cat Cartoons:
This is not a joke, as it really comes from the Women’s March website. Apparently they’re ashamed that they didn’t mention colonization and genocide when bringing up the average contribution of $14.92 (the year that Columbus “discovered” America).
Reader Jeremy, who sent me the link, says “I’m not sure if it was intended as satire or was serious, but the replies rip into it mercilessly and many are very funny.” It wasn’t satire.Jeremy adds, “Of course, 1492 was not a year of colonisation and genocide in North America, at least not by Europeans. It was, however, a year in which all the Jews in Spain and Portugal were made to convert to Christianity or be expelled.”
Nope not satire, for that would be in bad taste for this woke organization. The Woke lack humor, anyway.
We apologize deeply for the email that was sent today. $14.92 was our average donation amount this week. It was an oversight on our part to not make the connection to a year of colonization, conquest, and genocide for Indigenous people, especially before Thanksgiving.
— Women's March (@womensmarch) November 23, 2021
More conjuring with numbers, this time from Titania, who makes fun of the tweet above:
These "Fanny Packs" cost $4.89, which is obviously a reference to Hitler's birthday (April 1889).
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) November 24, 2021
From Paul, who says that Kyle Rittenhouse is on a “hero tour”. Here he is with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Nobody ever said that Rittenhouse was a fricking saint! He was a jerk who was found not guilty of murder.
It was real fun getting lectured by people on the subject that this young man "hopefully will turn his life around" pic.twitter.com/r67TD0h7A2
— Mister Magic (@Mr_JamesLandis) November 24, 2021
More mockery, this time unearthed by Luana:
Some social media manager was paid $16.19 to write this. https://t.co/yUo6vXHCb7
— Benjamin🪂Boyce (@BenjaminABoyce) November 23, 2021
From Barry. But don’t fill up a wine glass that much!
— Saint Brian The Godless (@AWorldOutOfMind) November 22, 2021
From Ginger K.:
Wrist warmer!😊😊😊😊 pic.twitter.com/H2TkmPYRNL
— What Can Cats Bring To You (@bestmeows) November 15, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. An appropriately Japanese Christmas tree:
GODZILLA CHRISTMAS TREE IN JAPAN pic.twitter.com/ABfheVgNkz
— Horror4Kids (@horror4kids) November 23, 2021
Oh lawd, he comin. pic.twitter.com/QOkcM4MYPZ
— Extraordinarily Pleasing (@pleasingnesss) November 19, 2021