Welcome to the cruelest day of the week and the last day of the month, Tuesday, November 30, 2021: National Mousse Day (for Hili it’s National Mouse Day).
It’s also National Mason Jar Day, Giving Tuesday (the woman who cleans my office, Carolyn, gave me some deep-fried turkey!), National Personal Space Day, and National Methamphetamine Awareness Day (I’m watching “Breaking Bad” these days and the day is appropriate).
Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates the life and work of Lofti A. Zadeh (1921-2017, who was neither born nor died on this day), described by Wikipedia as:
. . a mathematician, computer scientist, electrical engineer, artificial intelligence researcher, and professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.
Zadeh was best known for proposing fuzzy mathematics, consisting of these fuzzy-related concepts: fuzzy sets, fuzzy logic, fuzzy algorithms, fuzzy semantics, fuzzy languages, fuzzy control, fuzzy systems, fuzzy probabilities, fuzzy events, and fuzzy information.
The guy was into fuzz. (These fields are above my pay grade.)
Wine of the Day: You can’t get a better white than this for the price: a paltry $7.99. It’s a Spanish white—a Rueda—one of the great areas to find tasty bargains. Made of Verdejo grapes by the Gil Family estates, it is slightly off-dry, with a nose and flavor of fruit and flowers: most notably cantaloupe and honeysuckle. I had it with fettuccine Alfredo, and the slight sweetness complemented the salty, cheesy pasta very well. This is a wine to buy by the case. I bought six bottles, and may go back for more. Very highly recommended, especially given the price. Looking for a white? Ask about Rueda and Albariño.
News of the Day:
*What’s new with Omicron? The WHO declared yesterday that the risk from the new variant is “very high”, though I’m not sure whether they mean the risk of spread or the risk of death. It’s clear that the variant spreads quickly: it’s everywhere (not yet identified in the US, but it has been in Canada):
Scotland, Portugal and Spain identified new cases of the highly mutated variant with officials in eastern Germany reporting an Omicron infection in a 39-year-old infected man had not been to South Africa or anywhere outside of Germany.
It’ll be two weeks or so until we know more about how spreadable and how dangerous it is. I don’t know if the world can take another big lockdown. Right now countries thoughout the world are banning travel coming from the outside. Moderna and Pfizer are getting ready to revise their vaccines, so get ready for another jab.
Here’s a NYT map about where in Europe the virus is surging most strongly (see the key below). The bad bits are the UK, Greece, the Low Countries, and much of Eastern Europe. Southern Spain, Sweden, Finland, and parts of Italy aren’t doing too badly.
*Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, contesting the big Mississippi anti-abortion law that bans nearly all abortions 15 weeks after a woman has had her last period. (That means that 11-week-old fetuses couldn’t be aborted, which is permitted by Roe v. Wade.) A Washington Post editorial, “The Supreme Court is about to prove just how political it is,” Paul Waldman lays out the outcomes:
- The court, citing stare decisis, or respect for precedent, strikes down the Mississippi law as a clear conflict with Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the two cases that established that states cannot place an undue burden on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion before fetal viability, which generally occurs around 24 weeks.
- The court strikes down Roe, allowing states to outlaw abortion.
- The court says it is not overturning Roe, but opens the door to abortion restrictions so broad that states can effectively ban the procedure.
If you listen to the expert commentary around the Supreme Court — and, granted, no one really knows for sure — the third option seems like the most likely. If that’s where the court goes, it will prove that all the protestations about how little the justices think about politics are false.
I think Waldman’s right about #3, but it seems complicated, with abortions being Constitutional still outlawed by states. It reminds me of marijuana, whose usage and sale are banned by the federal government but allowed by many states. Maybe some lawyers can enlighten us.
*If ever there were futile talks in which one country dupes the rest, it’s the Iranian nuclear talks that have just resumed in Vienna after a five-month hiatus. Besides Iran, there are representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK, with “US representatives participating indirectly” (whatever that means). As you know, Trump pulled out of the agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran, and Iran’s been breaking its agreement with everybody else since then. Iran is demanding an apology from the U.S. the lifting of sanctions, and a promise that we won’t withdraw again. As the BBC notes, we are being invertebrates:
Mr Biden’s special envoy, Robert Malley, has said the US is prepared to take all of the steps necessary to come back into compliance, including lifting the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.
But he has also said the window for negotiations will not be open forever.
“If Iran thinks it can use this time to build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better it simply won’t work. We and our partners won’t go for it,” he told the BBC on Saturday.
Please give me a break: all we’re doing here is buying time until Iran gets its bomb, something that everybody knows will happen. What’s the point of talking? The futility becomes more evident when you hear this:
The spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces, Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, on Saturday urged the total elimination of the Jewish state during an interview with an Iranian regime-controlled media outlet.“We will not back off from the annihilation of Israel, even one millimeter. We want to destroy Zionism in the world,” Shekarchi told the Iranian Students News Agency.
I’ll add Malgorzata’s comment when she read the general’s statement:
If Iran talked this way about any other country it would become a pariah of the world, condemned, boycotted and sanctioned. But because they want to annihilate only the Jewish state, both the US and EU are more than eager to talk to them about uranium enrichment, to trade with them, and to have “normal” relationship with them.
Is it any wonder that Israel is trying hard to stop the Iranian program? Iran is sworn to destroy Israel, and could do so easily with a few nuclear weapons.
*Just as a male mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) appeared in a Central Park pond a couple of years ago, and was named Mandarin Patinkin, now another has shown up in Philadelphia. My sources on the ground have told me that the birders are packing Pennypack Park to see this gorgeous duck (they aren’t native to the US, so it must be an escapee). It seems to have taken up with a female wood duck (Aix sponsa), which are fairly closely related, and may be able to hybridize. But I’m not sure that this is a female woodie, as they look pretty much like female mandarins. A pair might have escaped.
The male duck in Philly. Isn’t it spectacular?
A female Mandarin duck:
A female wood duck:
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 779,293, an increase of 884 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,227,821, an increase of about 8,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on November 30 includes:
- 1782 – American Revolutionary War: Treaty of Paris: In Paris, representatives from the United States and Great Britain sign preliminary peace articles (later formalized as the 1783 Treaty of Paris).
The Last page of the Treaty, which ended the Revolutionary war. Note Ben Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay:
- 1803 – The Balmis Expedition starts in Spain with the aim of vaccinating millions against smallpox in Spanish America and Philippines.
This was an expedition from Spain to the Americas, carrying boys with cowpox to serve as virus reservoirs. It was an expedition of conquest, but conquest of the deadly virus. The Spanish vaccinated millions of people in the area below:
- 1803 – In New Orleans, Spanish representatives officially transfer the Louisiana Territory to an official from the French First Republic. Just 20 days later, France transfers the same land to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase.
Here’s the first page of that purchase, which cost the U.S. 60¢ per acre:
- 1872 – The first-ever international football match takes place at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, between Scotland and England.
It was a tie: 0-0:
What a shame that this beautiful structure isn’t here any longer. Here are the before and after photos:
- 1947 – Civil War in Mandatory Palestine begins, leading up to the creation of the state of Israel.
- 1954 – In Sylacauga, Alabama, United States, the Hodges meteorite crashes through a roof and hits a woman taking an afternoon nap; this is the only documented case in the Western Hemisphere of a human being hit by a rock from space.
The hole in the ceiling through which the projectile entered. And poor Ann Hodges shows her huge bruise:
Still the only person known to be hit by a meteorite:
- 1982 – Michael Jackson‘s sixth solo studio album, Thriller, is released worldwide, ultimately to become the best-selling record album in history.
Can you guess #2-5? I bet you can’t, but go here to see them.
- 1995 – Official end of Operation Desert Storm.
- 2001 – Gary Ridgway is apprehended and charged with four murders. He was eventually convicted of a total of 49 murders.
Ridgeway killed about 70 people, and you don’t want to know the details. He’s in prison for life in the Washington State Penitentiary. Here’s a mug shot from 1982.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1554 – Philip Sidney, English soldier, courtier, and poet (d. 1586)
- 1667 – Jonathan Swift, Irish satirist and essayist (d. 1745)
- 1835 – Mark Twain, American novelist, humorist, and critic (d. 1910)
- 1874 – Winston Churchill, English colonel, journalist, and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
- 1912 – Gordon Parks, American photographer and director (d. 2006)
- 1924 – Allan Sherman, American actor, comedian, singer, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1973)
- 1929 – Dick Clark, American television host and producer, founded Dick Clark Productions (d. 2012)
- 1936 – Abbie Hoffman, American activist and author, co-founded the Youth International Party (d. 1989)
- 1943 – Terrence Malick, American director, producer, and screenwriter
- 1947 – David Mamet, American playwright, screenwriter, and director
Those whose eyes closed forever on November 30 include:
Here’s Wilde’s cell in Reading Gaol, where he served two years at hard labor for sodomy:
- 1954 – Wilhelm Furtwängler, German conductor and composer (b. 1886)
- 1979 – Zeppo Marx, American actor and comedian (b. 1901)
Zeppo’s on the right, and there’s no Gummo. He later quit the act and became an engineer and a theatrical agent:
- 1996 – Tiny Tim, American singer and ukulele player (b. 1932)
- 1999 – Charlie Byrd, American guitarist (b. 1925)
Here’s Byrd playing “The Jitterbug Waltz”:
- 2017 – Jim Nabors, American actor and comedian (b. 1930)
- 2018 – George H. W. Bush, American politician, 41st President of the United States (b. 1924)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili regards a salad with disdain (Szaron was on the table, too, but wasn’t photographed):
Hili: This is not healthy.A; This is very healthy.Hili: This is not healthy for cats.
Hili: To nie jest zdrowe.Ja: Bardzo zdrowe.Hili: To nie jest zdrowe dla kotów.
From Facebook. Each Japanese child presses the area for getting get one of six desired greetings. It’s adorable!
From Jean, a New Yorker cartoon. Sadly, I am not allowed to nap.
Also from Facebook:
A tweet from Yahweh Himself, who describes his pronouns as “Thee/thou/thine”
This is news to Me. https://t.co/FdDIrmec6D
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) November 29, 2021
I found this one in a thread Matthew sent, and it gets the Tweet of the Week award:
We have a winner. pic.twitter.com/e3D8xXq1zS
— André Fran (@andrefran) November 28, 2021
From Barry: This is the craziest cat I’ve ever seen, but wouldn’t you like a cat who did this?
When you enjoying physics pic.twitter.com/osRdLLIUR0
— Physics-astronomy (@Physicsastronmy) November 29, 2021
From Dom. Seriously, this can’t be what it looks like: a big fat Trumpian distortion:
Want to see some graphic violence? Here is La Prensa’s presentation of the election results in Honduras 🇭🇳. pic.twitter.com/UsjuiYORVR
— David Adler (@davidrkadler) November 29, 2021
From Ginger K., who says “this woman may seriously be psychotic”. Maybe a kindly reader could verify this Robin DiAngelo quote:
It's a serious subject. And this is our champion. pic.twitter.com/ySAOQ81Cyo
— The Woke Temple (@WokeTemple) November 27, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. This isn’t too bad if you like squid ice cream.
oh no i dropped my ice cream cone and now it's out to get revenge pic.twitter.com/Qg4fAWI3BY
— franz (@franzanth) November 29, 2021
Matthew sent one from the Auschwitz Memorial:
30 November 1936 | A Belgian Jewish girl, Anna van Kreveld, was born in Borgerhout. She emigrated to The Netherlands.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 30, 2021
Read the whole thread to see this adorable bear family. There’s a brief event of seeming tragedy, but everything turns out all right in the end.
Sound up to hear the cubs crying!
In April, the first black bear with cubs was spotted freshly emerging from the den.
Little did I know, I would be blessed with monitoring them all spring, summer, and into fall.
Stay tuned to watch them grow from tiny, crying, and helpless to large and in charge. pic.twitter.com/bL33RgEEFO
— Ranger Tiffany (@RangerTMcCauley) November 27, 2021
The cubs seem to be getting stronger into July. They are more playful and confident, straying a bit farther from mom, but never too far.
Then, after the 13th, something unexpected happens… pic.twitter.com/JRcHnzwVp1
— Ranger Tiffany (@RangerTMcCauley) November 28, 2021