Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to work we go! It’s the first work day of 2022: Monday, January 3, 2022: National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. These are good only if they don’t use those cloying Maraschino cherries.
It’s also National Weigh-In Day (oy), J. R. R. Tolkien Day, honoring his birth on this day in 1892 (see below), National Drinking Straw Day (the first artificial straw was patented on this day in 1892, the same day as Tolkien’s birth), Write to Congress Day (details about contacting Senators are here (many have websites you can fill in); you might want to weigh in on the Islamophobia bill, which I just did), and, finally, it’s the tenth of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Wine of the Day: I wrote “Barbera” on the bottle to remind me that this wine, with the new official denomination of “Nizza”, is made from the Barbera grape.
Review are few but laudatory, and it seems that this wine is about ready to drink.
AT $30, the wine was not exactly a bargain, but was quite good, redolent of cherries and red fruits. There was some acidity in the first glass but it dissipated within half an hour, and the second half of the bottle was excellent. I know very little about Italian wines, and the high end Barolos are still above my psychological price barrier, but in the future I’ll be investigating more Barberas.
News of the Day:
*The Covid surge continues, with hospital admissions increasing and with 2,500 flights canceled or delayed yesterday. It was a mess as it’s one of the busiest flying days of the year. Meanwhile, the Israelis are rolling out fourth shots for people over 60, and some immunocompromised patients in the US are surreptitiously getting five or more shots, despite the fact that the efficacy of these multiple jabs haven’t been tested.
*The editors of the New York Times have gotten together on an official editorial, “Every Day is Jan. 6 Now.” They raise the alarum of an existential thread in the form of many Republicans (and an appreciable number of Democrats!) are willing to use violence against the government. The difference is that it is Republicans and not Democrats who fomented the January 6 insurrection, and it is Republicans and not Democrats who are trying to disenfranchise voters throughout the U.S. (there are bills in 41 states). The editorial is long; here’s an excerpt.
But peel back a layer, and things are far from normal. Jan. 6 is not in the past; it is every day.
It is regular citizens who threaten election officials and other public servants, who ask, “When can we use the guns?” and who vow to murder politicians who dare to vote their conscience. It is Republican lawmakers scrambling to make it harder for people to vote and easier to subvert their will if they do. It is Donald Trump who continues to stoke the flames of conflict with his rampant lies and limitless resentments and whose twisted version of reality still dominates one of the nation’s two major political parties.
In short, the Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends. No self-governing society can survive such a threat by denying that it exists. Rather, survival depends on looking back and forward at the same time.
. . . This is where looking forward comes in. Over the past year, Republican lawmakers in 41 states have been trying to advance the goals of the Jan. 6 rioters — not by breaking laws but by making them. Hundreds of bills have been proposed and nearly three dozen laws have been passed that empower state legislatures to sabotage their own elections and overturn the will of their voters, according to a running tally by a nonpartisan consortium of pro-democracy organizations.
That’s pretty much true, and has worried many of us. Some of us (not including me) think that a right-wing overthrow of American Democracy is impending. So what to do? For Republicans:
Republican leaders could help by being honest with their voters and combating the extremists in their midst. Throughout American history, party leaders, from Abraham Lincoln to Margaret Chase Smith to John McCain, have stood up for the union and democracy first, to their everlasting credit.
Democrats aren’t helpless, either. They hold unified power in Washington, for the last time in what may be a long time. Yet they have so far failed to confront the urgency of this moment — unwilling or unable to take action to protect elections from subversion and sabotage. Blame Senator Joe Manchin or Senator Kyrsten Sinema, but the only thing that matters in the end is whether you get it done. For that reason, Mr. Biden and other leading Democrats should make use of what remaining power they have to end the filibuster for voting rights legislation, even if nothing else.
Yes, and the “progressives” should stop pushing Biden more towards the extreme left, which vitalizes the right. The editors don’t seem to have absorbed one of their own predictions (my bold):
For now, the committee’s work continues. It has scheduled a series of public hearings in the new year to lay out these and other details, and it plans to release a full report of its findings before the midterm elections — after which, should Republicans regain control of the House as expected, the committee will undoubtedly be dissolved.
I don’t think this will be the customary midterm rollback of the dominant party.
“Every day is January 6th now”
— The Right To Bear Memes (@grandoldmemes) January 2, 2022
*The Wall Street Journal reports that the Democrats are returning to Congress with a bent to ditch the filibuster rule in the Senate, which requires 60% of the body to vote for an end to the hiatus.
Many Democrats say they need to alter Senate filibuster procedures, which require 60 votes to advance most legislation, to pass bills designed to make it easier for people nationwide to vote. The party currently controls the evenly divided Senate, but some Democrats have resisted eliminating the filibuster outright, muddying the prospects for any legislative progress despite the fresh push.
I’m not up to speed on the filibuster, and so have no dog in this fight, but there will never be a time when the Senate can consider this dispassionately, for the numerically dominant party will always want to overturn the rule.
*According to the Washington Post,a cache of letters, poems, diaries and manuscripts from the Brontë sisters—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—was put up for auction by Sotheby’s when it had been withheld from scholars for eight decades.
Last year, Sotheby’s announced it was preparing to auction a cache of literary manuscripts and first-edition novels, collected by the bachelor brothers William and Alfred Law, a pair of self-made 19th-century mill owners who amassed the library at their home, Honresfield House, not 20 miles from the parsonage in Haworth, where the Brontës wrote their masterpieces.
What’s in these treasures?
The Brontë material includes: 25 letters by Charlotte and seven of her famous “little books,” a manuscript collection of Anne’s poems, and diary notes shared and written by Emily and Anne, on their respective birthdays.
The jewel in the crown is an ordinary ruled notebook, the kind a student would buy in a stationery shop, that contains 31 poems by Emily.
The poems are all known. But here they are each written out in Emily’s own handwriting, and the remarkable thing about the manuscript is that Emily also appears to have penned edits of her poems — and so perhaps did Charlotte.
Emily’s cross-outs appear in ink. Charlotte may have annotated the works in pencil, scholars suspect. More will be known as the cache is pored over by the experts.
At the end of the manuscript are the words: “never was better stuff penned.” Pride of authorship? Or a sister’s loving blurb?
The British public, nucleus of the Brontë cult, wouldn’t put up with these literary treasures once again passing into private hands, and so put up the dosh themselves (Sotheby’s charitably agreed to delay the auction until they could see if the auction price could be raised by the public. Thank Ceiling Cat, it was:
Why, the richest men in Britain saved it. Sir Leonard Blavatnik, the American-British-Ukrainian petrochemical-finance-entertainment mogul, put up half the money [half is $10 million] to buy it for the public a few weeks ago — with a little help from Prince Charles and thousands of small donations.
Yay! The material will be given to research libraries and public institutions throughout the UK. Here’s a bit of the treasure: a little book by Charlotte:
*Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the two bull-goose loony Republican women in Congress (guess the other one!), has just had her Twitter account suspended permanently. The reason: Twitter’s biggest no-no: disseminating false information about Covid:
Twitter suspended Ms. Greene’s account after she tweeted on Saturday, falsely, about “extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths.” She included a misleading chart that pulled information from a government database of unverified raw data called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, a decades-old system that relies on self-reported cases from patients and health care providers.
Twitter said that Ms. Greene had a fifth “strike,” which meant that her account will not be restored.
A hoax in Sweden, and one for the annals of wokeness: A Swedish was taking a class in Critical Race Theory, and decided to scam the professor by writing a “grievance study” style of paper.
Arvid Haag signed up for “Critical Whiteness Perspectives on Nordic Culture” at Stockholm University because, he said, “local pandemic grant rules had equipped him and other students with an unexpected financial aid windfall.”
Haag thought he’d “get something fun” out of the “harmless” and “absurd” class, but he soon realized many of his peers took the “American-born ideology” seriously.
Arvid bided his time, occasionally offering some “critical” comments here and there, but saved the best for last: an essay titled “Black and White Drinks,” described as “an account of what had happened from the early 20th century in the struggle between coffee and milk.”
And, lo and behold, he got a B for writing stuff like this (he admitted that he didn’t read most of the papers he cited):
According to Fria Tider, Haag related “how the marketing of the coffee has been characterized by highlighting ‘black and exotic elements’ of the drink. When it comes to milk, it has instead been ‘the local and white’ that has been emphasized.”
The question one can ask is whether it is really a reconciliation between milk and coffee that has been implemented or whether adding milk to the coffee is a way to take away from the coffee its unique properties and instead impose the black drink white properties.
Milk in the coffee can with critical glasses be seen as a drink-based colonization. The hot and strong coffee cools and is rounded off in taste with the help of the milk, which thereby controls and domesticates the coffee.
It looks as if the Swedes, too, have fallen victim to Wokeism. The sad thing is that this is pretty close of the kind of stuff getting published in American scholarly “studies” journals.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 824,422, an increase of 1,254 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,461,879, an increase of about 3,400 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 3 includes:
Here’s that papal bull; I can’t find Luther’s name in it, but there appears to be another side:
- 1777 – American General George Washington defeats British General Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Princeton.
- 1870 – Construction work begins on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, United States.
It opened in 1883. This is one of four toll-free bridges connecting Manhattan to Long Island (can you name the other three?), and I still think it’s one of the world’s most beautiful bridges:
- 1947 – Proceedings of the U.S. Congress are televised for the first time.
- 1953 – Frances P. Bolton and her son, Oliver from Ohio, become the first mother and son to serve simultaneously in the U.S. Congress.
She served for 29 years, and her son for four.
Castro was excommunicated because he outlawed religion. Nevertheless, he met with Pope Benedict in 2012:
- 1977 – Apple Computer is incorporated. Here’s the house where Jobs and Woz founded Apple in 1976; it’s in Los Altos, California. Jobs was just 21.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1840 – Father Damien, Flemish priest and missionary (d. 1889)
Damien is famous for his self-service in tending those afflicted with leprosy (now Hansen’s Disease) sequestered on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. Here he is, riddled with leprosy, shortly before his death in 1889:
- 1883 – Clement Attlee, English soldier, lawyer, and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1967)
- 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer, poet, and philologist (d. 1973)
Here’s Tolkien talking about inventing new languages, particularly Elvish. And he writes some Elvish. It’s been years since I read his books, so I didn’t remember that there was indeed a whole language created sui generis:
- 1897 – Marion Davies, American actress and comedian (d. 1961)
Davies became Hearst’s mistress when she was 19 and he 53, and she stayed by his side until his death. She was mistress of “Hearst Castle,” which you can see in this video and should definitely visit if you’re in Central California:
- 1905 – Anna May Wong, American actress (d. 1961)
- 1939 – Bobby Hull, Canadian ice hockey player
- 1945 – Stephen Stills, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
Steve Stills is one person I would have swapped my life with. He’s old and pudgy now, and has lost his voice, but I’m old and could never sing. Here he is in his young and handsome days, playing one of my favorite songs. Here he is on Dick Cavett. Note that he blows one verse, but you wouldn’t know if it you didn’t know the song.
- 1950 – Victoria Principal, American actress and businesswoman
- 1956 – Mel Gibson, American-Australian actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
- 2003 – Greta Thunberg, Swedish environmental activist
Those who checked out on January 3 include:
Since Charles Darwin and his wife Emma were first cousins, they both had Josiah as their grandfather. Like all the Darwins and Wedgwoods, he was an abolitionist, and produced the famous anti-slavery emblem, “Am I not a man and a brother?” that has been quoted many times since:
- 1895 – James Merritt Ives, American lithographer and businessman, co-founded Currier and Ives (b. 1824)
A Currier and ives lithograph, “A rush for the lead”, from 1867. Note that many horses have all four feet off the ground, something that wasn’t settled until Muybridge’s later photographs:
- 1903 – Alois Hitler, Austrian civil servant (b. 1837)
Hitler’s dad. If only a different sperm had fertilized Klara’s egg!
- 1945 – Edgar Cayce, American psychic and author (b. 1877)
- 1946 – William Joyce, American-British pro-Axis propaganda broadcaster (b. 1906)
William Joyce, known as “Lord Haw Haw” broadcast anti-Allied propaganda for the Nazis. He was hung after the war, and the scar on his face (caused by a razor slash when he was fighting Communists), which you can see in this video, ripped open as he was hung, leading to the photo below of his body. This video is quite informative.
After the hanging:
- 1967 – Jack Ruby, American businessman and murderer (b. 1911)
- 1980 – Joy Adamson, Austrian-Kenyan painter and conservationist (b. 1910)
- 2014 – Phil Everly, American singer and guitarist (b. 1939)
Here’s one of their last concerts together when they were both middle-aged. But their harmonies are still great, and this is my favorite among their songs. They had fallen out earlier, but it’s clear that they still had affection for each other:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s words don’t make much sense, nor is Malgorzata able to understand them.
A: What are you waiting for?Hili: For a reason to meow.
Ja: Na co czekasz?Hili: Na powód do miauczenia.
And a picture of Szaron:
Picnic Time for Anteaters, sent in by Bruce:
Another from Bruce; this is a real toy and you can buy it on Amazon for $16.68:
All of them wind up like this!:
A tweet from Barry. I suspect this is a purely learned rather than an evolved behavior, and it may have started from the birds soaking bread in the water before eating it, but now it is most clearly FISHING!
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) January 1, 2022
From Ginger K.: Look at that face!
The cat got his christmas dinner ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/KbJrc7J3fC
— Frank James (@Frank_TIHZHO) December 24, 2021
From Simon. I forgot about Covid while watching it, and became mesmerized with the engineering:
Covid evolving to remain infective pic.twitter.com/yys0PeONDl
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) January 2, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial, an infant gassed at two years old:
3 January 1942 | Czech Jewish girl Věra Rotterová was born.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 3, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First, SPOT THE CATS! How many cats are in this picture, and where are they? It’s not easy! The answer is at bottom, below the fold.
How many cats in this photo? pic.twitter.com/Z4suYbzKQB
— Dr Hannimal (she/her)✊🏻✊🏼 (@hisotalus) January 2, 2022
The last uninfected continent succumbs to the virus. Fortunately, nobody was seriously ill, and everyone offered evacuation refused it.
Covid reaches Antarctica.https://t.co/qra3KFgbHW
— Paul McAuley (@UnlikelyWorlds) January 2, 2022
Very cool. Someone or a program must be controlling them or else they’d all float to the top.
Giant air jellies and aeroplankton!
Created by artist Anicka Yi, these autonomous dirigibles, filled w/ helium & studded w/ mini propellers, are currently floating thru the halls of the Tate Modern in London, changing course in response to heat and scentpic.twitter.com/1fPXCgM5Mb
— Ferris Jabr (@ferrisjabr) January 2, 2022
You can read more about this gorgeous insect here; it’s in the order Neuroptera with other lacewings.
A few days into our Greek adventure in 2019 and we finally found it! The most beautiful and delicate creature you’ll ever see! Nemoptera sinuata – Larger Balkan Spoon-winged Lacewing 😎😎 pic.twitter.com/9Yp78QTyIj
— Matt Doogue (@MattDoogue) January 2, 2022
Click “continue reading” below to see how many cats are in Matthew’s first tweet above and where they are.
There are two cats; I’ve circled them: