Welcome to Monday, December 6, 2021; it’s National Cook for Christmas Day but it’s way too early to do that. Note: posting may be light today as I have several errands to take care of around town.
It’s also National Gazpacho Day, National Microwave Oven Day, St. Nicholas Day, Walt Disney Day (it’s celebrated on the first Monday in December though he was born on December 5, 1901) and, in Canada, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Here’s Disney’s business envelope from 1921, when he was only twenty:
The Google Doodle for today (click on screenshot) is “an interactive pizza puzzle game, as C|Net describes how to play it (I haven’t). The occasion:
The Doodle celebrates this day in 2007 when the culinary art of Neapolitan “Pizzaiuolo” was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The southwestern Italian city of Naples is widely credited with inventing the pizza known today in the late 1700s.
News of the Day:
*It does seem that politicians tend to live a long time, don’t they? Or maybe we just remember the ones who do, like Jimmy Carter, who’s still hammering Habitats for Humanity at 97. Yesterday another politician left us: Bob Dole died at 98. He passed away in his sleep, and the NBC Evening News last night revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I’m not sure whether he smoked, but if he hadn’t he might have lived to over 100!
Even though Dole was a Republican, and endorsed Trump for President in 2016, he was actually among the more bipartisan of Republicans: a dead breed. As the NYT says:
As the Republican leader, he helped broker compromises that shaped much of the nation’s domestic and foreign policies.
He was most proud of helping to rescue Social Security in 1983, of pushing the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and of mustering a majority of reluctant Republicans to support Mr. Clinton’s unpopular plan to send American troops to Bosnia in 1995. (Mr. Dole was not wild about the deployment either, but he long believed that a president, of either party, should be supported once he decided something as important as committing troops abroad.)
A skilled legislative mechanic, Mr. Dole understood what every senator wanted and what each could live with, and he enjoyed the art of political bartering.
In that way he was like LBJ.
Dole was also severely wounded in the right arm during WWII, being shot just weeks before the war ended. He had seven operations, but the arm became unusable, so he couldn’t shake hands (an impediment for both a Vice-Presidential and Presidential candidate). He often held a pen in his hand to conceal the disability. But he made one very moving gesture:
In one of his last public appearances, in December 2018, he joined the line at the Capitol Rotunda where the body of former President George H.W. Bush, an erstwhile political rival and fellow veteran, lay in state. As an aide helped him up from his wheelchair, Mr. Dole, using his left hand because his right had been rendered useless by the war, saluted the flag-draped coffin of the last president to have served in World War II.
Have a look at the video and don’t tell me you’re not moved:
Mr. Dole was a sometimes controversial figure occasionally given, especially early in his career, to irritated outbursts. None of that should obscure the substance and significance of his accomplishments. He led — as minority and majority leader — with a sense of the need to get things done. We didn’t always agree with him, but on big matters such as the vital civil rights bills of the 1960s and later on expanding food stamp coverage, he took strong and principled stands in favor. And he worked with members of both parties.
“The Senate does not reward extremes,” said a colleague, Bill Bradley of New Jersey, when Mr. Dole left that body in June 1996. Mr. Dole, he continued, “knew how to use power because he understood how to make things happen in the center of this institution. And that is ultimately built on a couple of personal facts. I mean, he always kept his word. He listened very carefully. He never held a grudge.”
*One of the “Satanic Seven” professors at the University of Auckland—all of whom have been demonized for signing a letter saying that Maori mythology should not be taught alongside and coequal with modern science—is himself a Maori. As New Zealand’s Free Speech Union reports, Garth Cooper, a professor of biochemistry and medicine, signed the letter in part to help the Maori:
[Cooper] said that although he didn’t speak te reo — because his Maori grandmother “thought my brother and I should learn English” — he nevertheless knew “quite a lot” of words in the language. He went on to explain that the main reason he signed the Listener letter was because he was “concerned [that teaching] Māori kids about the colonising effects of science [would] lead to loss of opportunity”.
The article gives a ton of information about Cooper’s accomplishments and the ways he’s helped Maori (and non-Maori), but it was of no use. Along with the renowned philosopher of science Robert Nola, who happens to be a friend), Cooper is one of the two members of New Zealand’s Royal Society who may get booted out for simply signing the letter. More on this tomorrow. (h/t: Nik)
*The Omicron variant of Covid-19 has now been found in at least 15 states, and surely there are more. We are still waiting to see how severe an illness it causes, which will take about two weeks. CNBC tries to reassure us:
Still, the vast majority of cases in the U.S. are still caused by the delta variant. [JAC: note that they used “still” twice in the same sentence.]
“We have about 90 to 100,000 cases a day right now in the United States, and 99.9% of them are the delta variant,” Walensky [head of the CDC] said.
Is that so reassuring given that Omicron just got here?
*The New York Times has a two separated lists by A. O. Scott and Manohla Dargis of “the best movies of 2021“. I haven’t seen any of them, but if you have, weigh in below.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 786,964, an increase of 1,178 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,273,301, an increase of about 6,800 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on December 6 includes:
- 1492 – After exploring island of Cuba for gold, surmising it for Japan, Columbus lands on island similar to Castile, naming it Hispaniola.
- 1534 – The city of Quito in Ecuador is founded by Spanish settlers led by Sebastián de Belalcázar.
- 1884 – The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., is completed.
Here it is halfway up:
- 1897 – London becomes the world’s first city to host licensed taxicabs.
- 1912 – The Nefertiti Bust is discovered.
Wikipedia has the skinny on this beautiful bust (pictured below); it’s in remarkable condition for being three thousand years old.
The work is believed to have been crafted in 1345 B.C.E. by Thutmose because it was found in his workshop in Amarna, Egypt. It is one of the most-copied works of ancient Egypt. Nefertiti has become one of the most famous women of the ancient world and an icon of feminine beauty.
A German archaeological team led by Ludwig Borchardt discovered the bust in 1912 in Thutmose’s workshop. It has been kept at various locations in Germany since its discovery, including the cellar of a bank, a salt-mine in Merkers-Kieselbach, the Dahlem museum, the Egyptian Museum in Charlottenburg and the Altes Museum. It is currently on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, where it was originally displayed before World War II.
The Nefertiti bust has become a cultural symbol of Berlin as well as ancient Egypt. It has also been the subject of an intense argument between Egypt and Germany over Egyptian demands for its repatriation, which began in 1924, once the bust was first displayed to the public. Egyptian inspectors said their predecessors were mislead about the actual bust before they let it out of the country, and the Berlin museum refers to an official protocol, signed by the German excavator and the Egyptian Antiquities Service of the time, about “a painted plaster bust of a princess”.
- 1917 – Finland declares independence from the Russian Empire.
- 1917 – Halifax Explosion: A munitions explosion near Halifax, Nova Scotia kills more than 1,900 people in the largest artificial explosion up to that time.
Here’s a photo (Wikipedia caption) of the devastation of the city:
- 1922 – One year to the day after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the Irish Free State comes into existence.
- 1933 – U.S. federal judge John M. Woolsey rules that James Joyce‘s novel Ulysses is not obscene.
A copy of the first printing of the first edition, printed by bookseller Sylvia Beach, will run you about $79,000. It was published on Joyce’s 40th birthday.
- 1956 – A violent water polo match between Hungary and the USSR takes place during the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, against the backdrop of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
Here’s a short video of the match:
The recipient was a 19-day-old infant with heart defects, who lived only six hours after the operation, which Kantrowitz considered a failure.
- 1969 – Altamont Free Concert: At a free concert performed by the Rolling Stones, eighteen-year old Meredith Hunter is stabbed to death by Hells Angels security guards.
There was video of the melee that resulted in the death of Hunter. It’s not gory, as you can’t really see the stabbing, but you can see the melee:
- 1998 – in Venezuela, Hugo Chávez is victorious in presidential elections.
- 2006 – NASA reveals photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.
You can read about the evidence for Martian water here, though it isn’t clear that this wasn’t ancient water that has disappeared.
Notables born on this day include:
And here’s a photo of my father with Sophia Loren in Greece, ca. 1955. I’ve shown this before (he’s at the extreme right):
- 1898 – Gunnar Myrdal, Swedish sociologist and economist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1987)
- 1908 – Baby Face Nelson, American gangster (d. 1934)
- 1920 – Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer (d. 2012)
- 1941 – Richard Speck, American murderer (d. 1991)
Speck killed eight student nurses in Chicago in 1966, but one survived by hiding under the bed. Convicted of multiple murders, speck died in prison of a heart attack in 1991. Here’s his mugshot (Wikipedia caption):
- 1948 – JoBeth Williams, American actress
Those who conked on December 6 include:
- 343 – Saint Nicholas, Greek bishop and saint (b. 270)
Here’s St. Nick in a full-length icon of Saint Nicholas by Jaroslav Čermák. His Santa outfit isn’t shown, but the real St. Nicholas did have a reputation for giving gifts.
- 1889 – Jefferson Davis, American general and politician, President of the Confederate States of America (b. 1808)
- 1955 – Honus Wagner, American baseball player and manager (b. 1874)
Wagner, below (1910), is one of the greatest players of all time. Coyne family legend relates that my great grandmother caught him practicing throwing by hurling baseballs at the side of her outhouse. I have no idea whether this is true. A note from Wikipedia: “In 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Wagner as one of the first five members. He received the second-highest vote total, behind Ty Cobb‘s 222 and tied with Babe Ruth at 215. Most baseball historians consider Wagner to be the greatest shortstop ever and one of the greatest players ever. Ty Cobb himself called Wagner “maybe the greatest star ever to take the diamond”. Honus Wagner is also the featured player of one of the rarest and the most valuable baseball cards in existence.”
Here’s the card, worth over six million dollars!
- 2002 – Philip Berrigan, American priest and activist (b. 1923)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili shows off her literary knowledge:
A: Why are you so sad?Hili: I’m waiting for Godot.
Ja: Czemu jesteś taka smutna?Hili: Czekam na Godota.
A multireligious greeting for the holidays from reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe: II don’t see atheism in there, but it’s not a religion. Can you spot His Noodliness?
Keiko posted this on Facebook. Cats will be cats. . .
From Bruce, a weather report (I hope this isn’t perceived as derogatory, but my dad used to tell me jokes at bedtime, and one was “Weather report in Mexico: chili today and hot tamale.”)
Where did Titania go? She hasn’t tweeted anything for weeks!
So do you! https://t.co/IbWsMoVCCO
— God (@god) June 20, 2021
I’m a bit dubious about this one, but there’s enough consensus reporting to make it plausible.
Reader Barry says this:
What you see in the tweet below is a transcript from something he allegedly said in Birmingham in 1976 (Rolling Stone wrote about this but I can’t access the article). According to an accompanying podcast, the remarks were collated by some note takers at the time. So is this an exact quote? It is not. But it apparently coheres with what many people remembering hearing at the time.
FUN FACT: Eric Clapton didn't just become an asshole during the pandemic. He's been one since at least the 70s, when he unleashed this racist, xenophobic rant: pic.twitter.com/7F2yKg5yfV
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) December 5, 2021
Yes, he’s an antivaxer and seemingly a racist as well, but I can still enjoy his music. If you didn’t listen to the Clapton/J. J. Cale duet yesterday, do so now.
From Luana. What does it mean?
The rich diversity of the national teams at the International Mathematical Olympiad. pic.twitter.com/M5iXyNy01F
— A New Radical Centrism (@a_centrism) December 5, 2021
From Ken, who also explains the tweet he contributed:
From the far-right fringe of the Republican Party.The metaphor by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Gilead) works only if a woman is being forced to have an abortion — which, if the US constitution provides no right to reproductive freedom, the states will be as just as free to mandate as they are free to prevent women from obtaining abortions. (Pace Cawthorn, last I checked, Americans are free to develop or not develop — delete or not delete — their own photographs as they alone see fit.):
Truly one of the most disturbing things I’ve witnessed in a long time. A Congressman, in a bid to overturn Roe V Wade and deny American women reproductive rights. Publicly referred to them as “Earthen vessels, sanctified by Almighty God.” Give me strength. pic.twitter.com/LvYM46GRVN
— Dr. Jennifer Cassidy (@OxfordDiplomat) December 3, 2021
A tweet from Ginger K.:
— Michael🏳️🌈🇺🇸🌈 (@Mikethewander1) November 28, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
A Czech Jew, Ernst Kraus.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 6, 2021
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, a lovely Christmas carol that teaches grammar at the same time!
I couldn't figure out where the comma(s) in "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" should go, so I hit myself in the face. pic.twitter.com/BNaglwpzYt
— Ramses the Pigeon (@RamsesThePigeon) December 1, 2021
The first wasp is all decked out in racing colors, and the second is also lovely.
Look at this cute little beauty🥰
Amazing metallic color stripes on dark metallic blue, bright red eyes… Might still be my favorite #ChalcidWasp so far!#Chalcidoidea:#Eulophidae:Astichus sp.
Reared from bracket fungi in October 2020#macrophotography #Hymenoptera #parasitoid https://t.co/AqAmtku6OC pic.twitter.com/BdkDSOy8BD
— Aron Bellersheim (@coleomaniac) December 5, 2021