Welcome to Sunday, December 5, 2021: National Comfort Food Day. What’s yours? (Name it below, as I’m really curious.) Mine is a lovely grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. For some reason this is the instantiation of comfort:
It’s also National Sachertorte Day (yes!), Krampusnacht, National Blue Jeans Day (I’m wearing mine, but that’s about the only pants I wear), Day of the Ninja (celebrating the parody site Ninja Burger), Repeal Day (the day in 1933 when the 21st amendment superceded the 18th, which had established Prohibition), International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, and World Soil Day.
Here’s one version of the scary Krampus: the hornéd creature who visits children on December 5, punishing the bad ones and rewarding the good ones (caption: “Greetings from Krampus!”)
News of the Day:
*It’s looking more and more like Russia isn’t bluffing about invading Ukraine, as it now has 175,000 troops massed along the border. As one Defense Department official said yesterday, “Putin isn’t just rattling the saber. He’s unsheathed it and is waving it about.” Biden will have a video call with Putin on Tuesday, and Putin is insisting that Ukraine not join NATO. Biden isn’t having that, so things are, well, “delicate.”
Let’s have a poll about this!
*Steve Bullock, former Democratic governor of Montana and failed Senate candidate, has an NYT op ed called, “I was the Governor of Montana. My fellow Democrats, you need to get out of the city more.” I suspect you can guess what he says, but remember he’s an inter-coastal Democrat. A bit of his piece:
The core problem is a familiar one — Democrats are out of touch with the needs of the ordinary voter. In 2021, voters watched Congress debate for months the cost of an infrastructure bill while holding a social spending bill hostage. Both measures contain policies that address the challenges Americans across the country face. Yet to anyone outside the Beltway, the infighting and procedural brinkmanship haven’t done a lick to meet their needs at a moment of health challenges, inflation and economic struggles. You had Democrats fighting Democrats, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and desperately needed progress was delayed. It’s no wonder rural voters think Democrats are not focused on helping them.
. . . To overcome these obstacles, Democrats need to show up, listen, and respect voters in rural America by finding common ground instead of talking down to them. Eliminating student loans isn’t a top-of-mind matter for the two-thirds of Americans lacking a college degree. Being told that climate change is the most critical issue our nation faces rings hollow if you’re struggling to make it to the end of the month. And the most insulting thing is being told what your self-interest should be.
*Elizabeth Holmes is still on trial for wire fraud that deceived investors, but one of the interesting things that came out of the trial is a one-page handwritten schedule (“Exhibit 7731”) she made for herself on one day, showing what she did every minute from getting up at 4:00 am (and thanking God most things are not logical), through breakfast. She also wrote what she planned to have for lunch and dinner. Here are the meals. The woman is a control freak.
Yuck! And don’t they teach students how to spell “banana” at Stanford? The Post reporter tried to replicate the morning part of Holmes’s schedule, but gave up out of exhaustion. Go look at the whole thing complete with her self-help mantras.
*Here in Chicago, Jussie Smollett is still on trial for six felony counts, and the prosecution wrapped up its nearly airtight case against him on Thursday. The defense begins tomorrow, and the big question is whether Smollett will take the stand.
Mr. Smollett, who is openly gay, told police that he had been attacked by two men who used racist and antigay slurs, hit and kicked him and placed a noose around his neck at around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019, as he walked home from picking up food at a Subway sandwich shop. He is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing false police reports, with each count carrying up to three years in prison. He has entered a plea of not guilty.
. . .In the Smollett trial, the prosecution spent days building a case that Mr. Smollett had enlisted the two brothers to stage the purported attack after he received a piece of hate mail that he didn’t think the producers of “Empire,” the hit show on which he starred, were taking seriously enough. Prosecutors tracked the movements of the Osundairo brothers using street cameras, ride-share receipts and other sources on the night of the alleged attack and documented numerous texts and phone calls between them and Mr. Smollett.
In one text presented at the trial, Mr. Smollett reached out to Abimbola Osundairo days before the alleged attack, saying: “Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?”
Given the evidence against him, including a check Smollett used to pay the alleged “MAGA muggers,” the defense, some say, must make him tell his side of the story:
“Most defense lawyers don’t like calling defendants as witnesses,” said Darryl Goldberg, another Chicago defense lawyer who isn’t involved in the case. “But I think this is a case where, based on what they’ve propounded in the cross examination, he’s the only one that’s going to be able to support that.”
*Science of the Day: The NYT has a heartening story about how several hives of honeybees in the Canary Islands survived the eruption of the Cumbre Viejo volcano. With their hives covered with ash for several weeks, the bees got to work—and survived!
Not only had the bees managed to survive the heat and noxious gases of the volcano, but they also had avoided starvation by feeding off stores of honey inside the hive, said Antonio Quesada, a beekeeper in the Canary Islands and a spokesman for the Gran Canaria Beekeepers Association.
Their survival provided a glimmer of good news for La Palma — a resort island in the Canary archipelago of Spain — which was devastated by the eruption, which continues to spew lava. The island of about 80,000 people employs more than 100 beekeepers who manage hives that hold millions of honeybees, and who are vital workers in the local ecosystem and key economic players for those who sell honey throughout the region. . .
“It’s incredible how such a tiny animal that has been around for hundreds of thousands of years can maintain that resilience, that ability to survive,” Mr. Quesada said in an interview on Wednesday.
The bees, known in the region as the Canary black bee, used propolis, a resin-like mixture sometimes known as bee glue, to seal themselves inside the hive, he said.
“They protected themselves from the gases” of the volcano, Mr. Quesada said. The bees also made sure to leave open a tiny pathway to the outside that they could later use to get out, he said.
And they ate the honey stored in the hive.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 786,803, an increase of 1,179 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,266,510, an increase of about 5,500 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on December 5 includes:
- 1484 – Pope Innocent VIII issues the Summis desiderantes affectibus, a papal bull that deputizes Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany.
A papal bull:
- 1766 – In London, auctioneer James Christie holds his first sale.
- 1776 – Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honor society in the U.S., holds its first meeting at the College of William & Mary.
Self-aggrandizement: I am a member of that branch, “Alpha of Virginia”. I gave my gold key to my mom to put on her charm bracelet.
Yesterday I noted that on December 4, 1791, “The first edition of The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, is published.” Today’s Observer celebrates with none other than a pictured of my beloved Philomena (Diane Morgan, but she will forever be Philomena). h/t: Dom:
- 1848 – California Gold Rush: In a message to the United States Congress, U.S. President James K. Polk confirms that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.
Here’s a photo of “sluicing” during the Gold Rush: separating gold from dirt using a water chute:
- 1931 – Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow is destroyed on orders from Joseph Stalin. The cathedral domes ha 20 tons of gold, which was appropriated for Communist endeavors:
Here’s the old one, but it’s been rebuilt (see link for the new one):
- 1933 – The Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified.
This eliminated the Prohibition mandated by the 18th Amendment in 1919. 14 years without alcohol, although of course people drank plenty of illegal hooch.
- 1941 – World War II: In the Battle of Moscow, Georgy Zhukov launches a massive Soviet counter-attack against the German army.
Zhukov was a great general and was highly decorated. Eventually, of course, he was disgraced and forced to retire. So it goes in Soviet Russia. Look at all those decorations!:
- 1952 – Beginning of the Great Smog in London. A cold fog combines with air pollution and brings the city to a standstill for four days. Later, a Ministry of Health report estimates 4,000 fatalities as a result of it.
Here’s a short video about the smog and its causes:
- 1955 – E. D. Nixon and Rosa Parks lead the Montgomery bus boycott.
- 1958 – The Preston By-pass, the UK’s first stretch of motorway, opens to traffic for the first time. (It is now part of the M6 and M55 motorways.)
Here’s a map of the Bypass, which is a bit over 13 km long:
- 2017 – The International Olympic Committee bans Russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics for doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1666 – Francesco Scarlatti, Italian violinist and composer (d. 1741)
- 1782 – Martin Van Buren, American lawyer and politician, 8th President of the United States (d. 1862)
A photo of Van Buren by Matthew Brady:
- 1830 – Christina Rossetti, English poet and author (d. 1894)
- 1839 – George Armstrong Custer, American general (d. 1876)
Here’s Custer in 1865, 11 years before he was killed in the battle of Little Bighorn:
- 1868 – Arnold Sommerfeld, German physicist and academic (d. 1951)
- 1901 – Walt Disney, American animator, director, producer, and screenwriter, co-founded The Walt Disney Company (d. 1966)
- 1901 – Werner Heisenberg, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1976)
Heisenberg and his cat:
Walt Disney and Werner Heisenberg were born on the same day!
- 1902 – Strom Thurmond, American educator, general, and politician, 103rd Governor of South Carolina (d. 2003)
- 1912 – Sonny Boy Williamson II, American singer-songwriter and harmonica player (d. 1965)
Here’s Sonny Boy in Sweden:
- 1932 – Sheldon Lee Glashow, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
- 1934 – Joan Didion, American novelist and screenwriter
- 1938 – J. J. Cale, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2013)
Here are Cale and Clapton playing two of Cale’s songs.
Those who went bye-bye on December 5 include:
- 1791 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer and musician (b. 1756)
- 1931 – Vachel Lindsay, American poet (b. 1879)
- 1951 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (b. 1887)
Jackson had his career halted (he has the third highest lifetime batting average in baseball history—.408) when he was accused of throwing the World Series in the famous “Black Sox” scandal. “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” was the apocryphal words of a disenchanted child. Here’s Jackson, and below is the source of his nickname from Wikipedia:
In an interview published in the October 1949 edition of Sport magazine, Jackson recalls he got his nickname during a mill game played in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson had blisters on his foot from a new pair of cleats, which hurt so much that he took his shoes off before he was at bat. As play continued, a heckling fan noticed Jackson running to third base in his socks, and shouted “You shoeless son of a gun, you!” and the resulting nickname “Shoeless Joe” stuck with him throughout the remainder of his life.
- 2012 – Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer (b. 1920)
- 2013 – Nelson Mandela, South African lawyer and politician, 1st President of South Africa, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats are still fixated on food although there isn’t any!
Hili: I ate up everything from my bowl and yours was already empty.Szaron: I will check them out anyhow.
Hili: Z mojej miski wszystko zjadłam, a twoja była dawno temu pusta.Szaron: Ja to jeszcze sprawdzę.
And a picture of Kulka by Andrzej:
From Malcolm. My best guess is that this is in the city of Bury, England:
From Steve, who says that this new British Christmas stamp meme is “doing the rounds over here”. But I can’t seem to find this stamp online.
I suppose you have to be Jewish and a Beatles fan (I fill the bill) to appreciate this meme from Bruce. Almost all the titles are gems. but I really like “The shul on the hill.”
From God (this doesn’t count as a retweet):
rt if u just wanna be smote & burn in 🔥 4 all eternity
— God (@god) December 3, 2021
From Simon. Fie on gratuitous co-authors or Principal Investigators who slap their names on every paper that comes out of their labs!
The co-author who didn’t do anything pic.twitter.com/FirxyhzNqq
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) December 3, 2021
From Barry: This is a news tweet rather than an entertainment tweet:
Resisting Cancel Culture: Promoting Dialogue, Debate, and Free Speech in the College Classroom https://t.co/2omB7QsCLe
“Americans feel more pressure to conceal their viewpoints today than during the McCarthy era.” pic.twitter.com/4OPGOLXkvv
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) November 27, 2021
A tweet sent by Ginger K.:
COVID Hanukkah pic.twitter.com/WG6iNlclDy
— Obaid Omer (@obaidomer) November 28, 2021
From Luana. This is most definitely an article worth reading:
Dislike meritocracy? Consider the time-honored alternatives: nepotism, patronage, cronyism, inheritance, racial & ethnic discrimination. We dismantle it at our peril, says Adrian Wooldridge https://t.co/mHA1cAu5T6
— Steven Pinker (@sapinker) December 1, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Look at the expression on that innocent cat’s face!
"it was like this when i came in"
📸: Reddit user RoadDogg7269 pic.twitter.com/dz85NcKoCw
— Paul Bronks for Lovina Animal Welfare (@slender_sherbet) December 4, 2021
Stop to admire the beauty of a male mallard. We see them so often we get jaded about them, but look at that puplish green head, the neat neck ring, and the unsullied butter-yellow bill:
— Martin Roper (@martinroper5462) December 4, 2021
Life flourishing around a log:
— Center for Bio Div (@CenterForBioDiv) December 4, 2021