Good morning on Caturday: December 11, 2021. It’s National “Have a Bagel” Day, which is great, but why the scare quotes? Are you supposed to do something with the bagel rather than “have” it? Imagine if you wrote to a Christian that It’s “Christmas” Day. .
If you’re going to EAT a bagel, try to find a real one, though it’s impossible outside of New York City or Montreal. Here’s one I got from the famous Fairmount Bakery in Montreal, complete with schmear. It was great:
It’s also National Noodle Ring Day, Gingerbread Decorating Day, National App Day, Holiday Food Drive for Needy Animals Day, Indiana Day, celebrating the state’s admission into the Union in 1816, International Mountain Day, and, in Argentina, National Tango Day.
Now you ask, “What exactly is a Noodle Ring”? It’s a noodle casserole in a torus shape; I’ve put a noxious version below and you can find a recipe for turkey noodle ring here.
This is a Kosher Pecan Noodle Ring. Yuk! The recipe above is for a better noodle ring (it can’t be kosher if there’s meat and dairy together).
News of the Day:
*The Supreme Court has given people challenging Texas’s new antiabortion law what the New York Times calls “both a minor victory for and a major disappointment to supporters of abortion rights.” The minor victory is that the Supremes have allowed opponents of the law to sue some state officials in federal court. (You may remember that the law was designed to prevent such lawsuits.) But the major disappointment is that the Court also allowed the Texas law to remain in effect, so there will be no abortions in Texas until the court rules on the Mississippi law next summer, and after that there still will be no abortions in Texas and many other states aftr the Court strikes down Roe v. Wade. It is now clear that this is what they are going to do, and why they’re preventing “fetal murder” until their ruling is issued.
*A big story at the Associated Press site is the continuing search for how the Covid virus got into humans. Understanding that transition may be critical in forestalling future pandemics. There are two competing theories: the “zoonotic” theory that the virus entered our species through direct contact between humans and animals (likely bats), or the “lab-leak” theory that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan. The AP story says that most scientists now favor the zoonotic scenario, though some still favor the lab-leak idea. An excerpt:
Most scientists believe it emerged in the wild and jumped from bats to humans, either directly or through another animal. Others theorize it escaped from a Chinese lab.
Now, with the global COVID-19 death toll surpassing 5.2 million on the second anniversary of the earliest human cases, a growing chorus of scientists is trying to keep the focus on what they regard as the more plausible “zoonotic,” or animal-to-human, theory, in the hope that what’s learned will help humankind fend off new viruses and variants.
“The lab-leak scenario gets a lot of attention, you know, on places like Twitter,” but “there’s no evidence that this virus was in a lab,” said University of Utah scientist Stephen Goldstein, who with 20 others wrote an article in the journal Cell in August laying out evidence for animal origin.
Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona who contributed to the article, said he always thought zoonotic transmission was more likely than a lab leak but had signed a letter with other scientists last spring saying both theories were viable. Since then, he said, his own and others’ research has made him even more confident about the animal hypothesis, which is “just way more supported by the data.”
*The Washington Times reports that—and here I can give only a bit of a paywalled article—some Democrats are denying the existence of recent “flash mob” shopliftings, which are almost a daily occurrence in Chicago and are often in the evening news:
Democrats on Capitol Hill are flummoxed by the waves of smash-and-grab retail thefts in their states, with some denying it’s happening and others saying they are not ready to make major shoplifting a felony.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, said retailers could be fabricating the rash of smash-and-grab burglaries and “flash mob” shoplifting sprees.
“We have to talk about specifics because, for example, we’re actually seeing a lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out,” she told The Washington Times. “I believe it’s a Walgreens in California cited it, but the data didn’t back it up.”
WHAT??? The facts:
Organized crime theft slammed big-box retail stores including Apple, Nordstrom and Home Depot in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and other cities, according to police reports.
The numbers spiked with the onset of the holiday shopping season. Brazen organized burglaries were reported across the U.S. on Black Friday and again Saturday.
*Fun in Finland: The BBC reports that Sanna Marin, Finland’s Prime Minister, went clubbing in Helsinki last Saturday, but left her phone at home. She thus missed an urgent text telling her to go into isolation as one of her colleagues had tested positive for Covid. Fortunately, her own quickly conducted test showed she was virus free. Although this could have endangered those in the club, it’s pretty funny. A PM goes clubbing and forgets her phone! Here she is:
*Over at The Panda’s Thumb, Nick Matzke gives sad news: the Woke have won the battle to de-name the Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. The victim was Thomas Henry Huxley demonized as a racist, and Matzke recounts his video testimony at the renaming hearing. Matzke also happens to know his onions about Huxley, and knows that Huxley was no racist. Further, he was for women’s rights and became anti-racist and pro-working-class later in his life. Four other people give their testimony against denaming, too. A bit of Nick’s commentary:
Huxley is an inspiration for me as the original public advocate for science, science education, and science-informed liberalism.
In my science-education work, I have seen first-hand the damage that can be done when ideology trumps careful scholarship. Misinformation spreads, trust in science declines, particularly in vulnerable communities – as we have seen with vaccine hesitancy, for instance.
In Western’s case, we have the bizarre situation where the discussion of Huxley was dominated for over a year by social justice activists relying on anti-Huxley propaganda found on right-wing creationist and conspiracist websites, including a Discovery Institute author. Thankfully, this has finally been tacitly admitted, with the last-minute “Ad Hoc” committee report excising nearly all of the claims now proven false about Huxley being a polygenist, scientific racist, social Darwinist, eugenicist, etc. Nevertheless, this new Report still recommends the de-naming of Huxley, based on nothing but the premise that student perceptions of Huxley trump the actual facts and context of Huxley’s record.
Alas, ’tis true, ’tis true: the Woke have triumphed again.
*According to a Rolling Stone announcement, Michael Nesmith of the Monkees has died at 78 from “natural causes”. (Wikipedia, though, reports that he had a quadruple bypass in 2018.) Nesmith is one of two Monkees who shares my birthday, December 30. Can you name the other? I didn’t think so.
I like only one Monkees song, “Sleepy Jean,” and only one solo Nesmith song, “Joanne“, but I really like Joanne, a hybrid country/pop ballad. Here he is singing it live in 1992, and you should compare it to the released version, which has more country, and is in fact better. (I like to show live performances.)
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 795,301, an increase of 1,310 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,314,743, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on December 11 includes:
- 1792 – French Revolution: King Louis XVI of France is put on trial for treason by the National Convention.
- 1816 – Indiana becomes the 19th U.S. state.
That’s because it’s “Indiana Day”; on what other day could they become a state?
- 1901 – Guglielmo Marconi transmits the first transatlantic radio signal from Poldhu, Cornwall, England to Saint John’s, Newfoundland.
Marconi used a kite to hoist the antenna of the receiver in Newfoundland. Here’s a photo (caption from Wikipedia):
but his may be wrong! From Wikipedia:
. . . . there also was—and continues to be—considerable scepticism about this claim. The exact wavelength used is not known, but it is fairly reliably determined to have been in the neighbourhood of 350 meters (frequency ≈ 850 kHz). The tests took place at a time of day during which the entire transatlantic path was in daylight. It is now known (although Marconi did not know then) that this was the worst possible choice. At this medium wavelength, long-distance transmission in the daytime is not possible because of heavy absorption of the skywave in the ionosphere. It was not a blind test; Marconi knew in advance to listen for a repetitive signal of three clicks, signifying the Morse code letter S. The clicks were reported to have been heard faintly and sporadically. There was no independent confirmation of the reported reception, and the transmissions were difficult to distinguish from atmospheric noise. A detailed technical review of Marconi’s early transatlantic work appears in John S. Belrose’s work of 1995. The Poldhu transmitter was a two-stage circuit.
- 1917 – World War I: British General Edmund Allenby enters Jerusalem on foot and declares martial law.
Here’s a contemporary video of Allenby entering on foot:
- 1934 – Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, takes his last drink and enters treatment for the final time.
- 1936 – Abdication Crisis: Edward VIII‘s abdication as King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India, becomes effective.
A newsreel about the abdication (including Edward’s own announcement), which greatly unsettled the Brits!
- 1941 – World War II: Germany and Italy declare war on the United States, following the Americans’ declaration of war on the Empire of Japan in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States, in turn, declares war on them.
- 1941 – World War II: Poland declares war on the Empire of Japan.
- 1962 – Arthur Lucas, convicted of murder, is the last person to be executed in Canada.
Lucas was actually a black man from Georgia, but the murders were committed in Canada. He was hanged. A photo:
- 1964 – Che Guevara speaks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. It’s weird to see him speaking as a normal person—such a myth has accreted around him.
Here’s Che’s short speech.
- 1978 – The Lufthansa heist is committed by a group led by Lucchese family associate Jimmy Burke. It was the largest cash robbery ever committed on American soil, at that time.
- 1994 – First Chechen War: Russian President Boris Yeltsin orders Russian troops into Chechnya.
- 2006 – The International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust is opened in Tehran, Iran, by then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; nations such as Israel and the United States express concern.
- 2008 – Bernard Madoff is arrested and charged with securities fraud in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Here’s Bernie Madoff’s “perp walk” as he enters court on March 12, 2009. He died in prison of kidney disease in April of this year
Notables born on this day include:
- 1803 – Hector Berlioz, French composer, conductor, and critic (d. 1869)
- 1843 – Robert Koch, German microbiologist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1910)
Koch, regarded as the father of modern bacteriology, discovered the bacterium that caused anthrax. Here he is:
- 1882 – Max Born, German physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
He got the Prize for his work on quantum mechanics. But look at this litany of his students and associates:
[Born’s] influence extended far beyond his own research. Max Delbrück, Siegfried Flügge, Friedrich Hund, Pascual Jordan, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Lothar Wolfgang Nordheim, Robert Oppenheimer, and Victor Weisskopf all received their Ph.D. degrees under Born at Göttingen, and his assistants included Enrico Fermi, Werner Heisenberg, Gerhard Herzberg, Friedrich Hund, Pascual Jordan, Wolfgang Pauli, Léon Rosenfeld, Edward Teller, and Eugene Wigner.
- 1908 – Amon Göth, Austrian Nazi war criminal (d. 1946)
Here’s Göth, who ran a concentration camp in Poland. He was portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in the movie “Schindler’s List”. His mugshot:
And a video about him that shows his hanging at the end. There were two failed attempts to hang him before they succeeded. If you don’t want to watch a man die at the gallows, don’t watch:
- 1931 – Rita Moreno, Puerto Rican-American actress, singer, and dancer
- 1938 – McCoy Tyner, American jazz musician (d. 2020)
- 1939 – Tom Hayden, American activist and politician (d. 2016)
- 1943 – John Kerry, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician, 68th United States Secretary of State
- 1944 – Brenda Lee, American singer-songwriter
- 1968 – Emmanuelle Charpentier, French researcher in microbiology, genetics and biochemistry, and Nobel laureate
She got it for her work on the CRISPR system of editing DNA, along with Jennifer Doudna. Here’s Charpentier:
- 1996 – Hailee Steinfeld, American actress, singer and songwriter
Notables who made their egress from existence on December 11 were few, and include:
- 1938 – Christian Lous Lange, Norwegian historian and educator, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1869)
- 1964 – Sam Cooke, American singer-songwriter (b. 1931)
Cooke wrote and performed what I consider one of the best soul songs ever, and surely the best civil-rights song, “A Change is Gonna Come.” (1964) Listen to it! (I can’t find any live performances.)
A verse from the song:
It’s been too hard living
But I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there
Beyond the sky
And a comparable verse from “Ol’ Man River” (Kern and Hammerstein, 1927):
I gets weary, and sick of trying
I’m tired of livin’, but I’m scared of dyin’
But ol’ man river, he just keeps rolin’ along
- 2012 – Ravi Shankar, Indian-American sitar player and composer (b. 1920)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has been reading Sam Harris again:
A: Are you in the wardrobe again?Hili: Yes, I’m meditating.
Ja: Znowu jesteś w szafie?Hili: Tak, medytuję.
A Christmas meme from Bruce:
Check your cat against this handy weight gauge:
From the Not Another Science Cat page:
Reader Simon informed me thatTitania is back on Twitter! Her tweet about the French actor Juicy Smollyé:
Jussie Smollett offered jobs to two unemployed black actors, and now they want to send him to jail.
And you’re telling me Hollywood doesn’t have a diversity problem? #IStandWithJussie
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) December 10, 2021
A tweet from Luana: How quickly people jump to judgment in support of their ideology!
This is quite something. https://t.co/MWEuY79cI7
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) December 10, 2021
From Simon, who notes that heathen wildlife are part of the War on Christmas:
Meanwhile in LA, a bear declares war on Christmas. pic.twitter.com/Fmnr10y0a2
— Danny Deraney (@DannyDeraney) December 9, 2021
From Ginger K.. How screwed up it sounds when being told to a shrink!
Meme of the day and so true 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/HGGmmb9qUQ
— Secular Sandwich 🇦🇺 (@SecularSandwich) November 27, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. He found a whole thread on DUCKS! The first one below is a black Indian Runner Duck, the second a Call Duck. There are more if you to to the thread.
This little one won't let you forgot!! pic.twitter.com/9yBrZBoQoN
— Joseph Thomas (@joe10_t) December 10, 2021
Look at the biceps on this beetle!
Euscelus fenestratusだ！ https://t.co/g4yhO8s9s4
— Keiki FUKUI / 福井敬貴 (@fukuinsect) December 10, 2021
A political tweet from Ziya Tong, who goes by “Earthling”:
— Earthling (@ziyatong) December 10, 2021