Welcome to the first Hump Day of the year (in Malayalam, it’s ഹമ്പ് ദിവസം ):Wednesday, January 5, 2022. It’s National Whipped Cream Day. Whipped cream needs another food to complement it unless it’s being used for salacious purposes.
It’s also National Keto Day, National Bird Day, the Twelfth day of Christmas, and, in Harbin China, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Here are two photos:, one showing one of the giant, lighted architectural erection, and another a snow sculpture:
News of the Day:
*For the first time ever, the number of new Covid-19 cases reported for a single day, Monday, exceeded a million: 1,082,549. This may reflect late reports, but it’s still an all-time high report.
The new daily tally brings the total number of cases confirmed in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic to 56,189,547. In total, the virus has caused at least 827,748 deaths across the country.
The record single-day total may be due in part to delayed reporting from over the holiday weekend. A number of U.S. states did not report data on Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, and many do not report data on weekends, meaning that some of these cases could be from positive tests taken on prior days.
Nonetheless, as of Jan. 3, the seven-day average of daily new U.S. cases is 480,273, the highest such metric of new cases in any country tracked by Johns Hopkins.
*A news report from reader Ken (my emphasis):
New Hampshire has a new anti-abortion law. It prohibits abortions after 24 weeks’ gestation, including in cases of rape, incest, and fatal fetal anomaly (meaning a woman will have to carry a non-viable fetus to term and watch it die). It also requires that women seeking abortions at ANY stage of pregnancy undergo transvaginal ultrasound examinations. Doctors who assist women in violating the new law are subject to criminal prosecution and up to seven years’ imprisonment.The bill was signed into law by NH Gov. Chris Sununu — that rara avis, a putatively pro-choice Republican. Sununu contends he had to sign the bill because Republicans in the NH legislature had embedded it in the state budget, which he did not feel he could veto.
*The Webb Space Telescope is still functioning “nominally”, as they say. NASA reports that the heat shield has been deployed on schedule, with the mirrors beginning to open in a week. I recommend following the daily process of the scope on this constantly updated NASA “Where is Webb?” timeline, which as of 6:30 last night looked like this (click to enlarge):
Here’s what it’ll look like when the mirrored scope itself is deployed. NASA adds this:
Temperatures on the Sun/hot side of the sunshield will reach a maximum of approximately 383K or approximately 230 degrees F and on the cold mirror/instruments side of the sunshield, a minimum of approximately 36K or around -394 degrees F. Due to the engineering of the sunshield, this incredible transition takes place across a distance of approximately six feet.
*In “What the Elizabeth Holmes jury got right,” WaPo regular columnist Megan McArdle is upset that Holmes wasn’t found guilty of providing false results to patients, but admits that doctors subsequently used reputable testing facilities so that nobody was harmed. But McArdle does applaud three things about Holmes’s four “guilty” verdicts:
Still, we can take comfort in a few things.
First, the jury was scrupulous, only finding Holmes guilty on four of the 11 counts where everyone was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. This is how the jury system is supposed to work, even if we’re sometimes uncomfortable with the results.
Second, Holmes is still probably going to jail for a good long time. Her time in prison will offer justice for those she wronged, send a somber warning for any future entrepreneurs tempted by such deceptions and provide an opportunity for Holmes to rethink her appalling life choices.
And third, while she might not have been convicted of health-care fraud, the fact that she ran a health-care business best explains why she’s going to prison. . .
. . . But fake-it-until-you-make-it doesn’t work with a health-care start-up. Morally, overselling someone on your buggy electronics or overhyped subscription service is very different from administering a lab test you know to be unreliable. Even assuming you are the sort of sociopath who just doesn’t care about the risks you’re taking with patients’ lives, trying to fake a diagnostics company still looks completely daft.
I assumed that Holmes would get a light sentence, but Those Who Know are predicting substantial prison time. Were I a judge, I’d consider her a flight risk and confiscate her passport.
*The Guardian has an article by Johann Hari that is disturbing: “Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen.” It’s about how “devices” like iPads and smartphones are ruining our attention span—and why. It does do that, at least to me, and I fight it by devoting uninterrupted time most evenings to reading. Hari’s description of a sad yet hilarious incident in Graceland’s “Jungle Room” drives the point home. (This excerpt is from Hari’s new book Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention, which comes out in the UK tomorrow and on January 25 in the U.S.)
*”There is justice in the world!”, says reader Paul, who sent me a link to a report that that a lawsuit filed against the band Nirvana for featuring a naked baby (the plaintiff!) on the cover of its Nevermind album, has been dismissed. Here’s the cover at issue:
Part of the report on Pitchfork:
A judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Nirvana’s naked-baby artwork for Nevermind constitutes child sexual exploitation, BBC News reports and documents viewed by Pitchfork confirm. The baby in question, Spencer Elden, who is now 30, claimed he suffered “lifelong damages,” including loss of wages, as a result of the album cover, and described the enterprise as a “sex trafficking venture.” Last month, a lawyer for the band filed to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Elden’s claim “is, on its face, not serious.” The lawyer added that the statute of limitations on the claims had expired in 2011. Elden’s team had until December 30 to respond to the motion to dismiss, but missed the deadline.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 828,436, an increase of 1,323 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,476,309, 5,467,767, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 5 includes:
- 1781 – American Revolutionary War: Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by Benedict Arnold.
- 1875 – The Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, is inaugurated in Paris.
Here’s a photo I took of the Palais Garnier in Paris on February 20, 2019, right when the pandemic was starting up. There’s now another opera house near the Place Bastille.
- 1895 – Dreyfus affair: French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island.
Here’s a stereoscopic picture of Dreyfus in his cell on Devil’s Island in 1898. He was vindicated and released the next year:
- 1912 – The sixth All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Prague Party Conference) opens. In the course of the conference, Vladimir Lenin and his supporters break from the rest of the party to form the Bolshevik movement.
Three of the original members: Trotsky, Lenin, and Kamenev:
- 1914 – The Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday and minimum daily wage of $5 in salary plus bonuses.
- 1919 – The German Workers’ Party, which would become the Nazi Party, is founded in Munich.
Here’s Hitler’s membership card of the Party (DAP_ with the membership number 7, which the Wikipedia photo says was “altered from the original”
- 1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming becomes the first female governor in the United States.
Here’s Ross, who won a special election after her husband, the former governor, died. She later became director of the U.S. Mint. She remains the only woman ever to govern the state.
- 1933 – Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay.
From Wikipedia: “A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands on a foggy morning at sunrise.”
- 1941 – Amy Johnson, a 37-year-old pilot and the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia, disappears after bailing out of her plane over the River Thames, and is presumed dead.
Here’s Johnson in her Gipsy Moth. She is presumed to have died of a combination of hypothermia and drowning, and she was spotted in the water calling for help:
- 1953 – The play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett receives its première in Paris.
- 1968 – Alexander Dubček comes to power in Czechoslovakia, effectively beginning the “Prague Spring”.
- 2005 – The dwarf planet Eris is discovered by Palomar Observatory-based astronomers, later motivating the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term planet for the first time.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1592 – Shah Jahan, Mughal emperor (d. 1666)
He built this as a tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, when she died at 38:
- 1779 – Zebulon Pike, American general and explorer (d. 1813)
- 1855 – King Camp Gillette, American businessman, founded the Gillette Company (d. 1932)
Yes, he invented the most popular safety razor with thin, disposable metal blades. I can’t find out the source of his first two names.
- 1914 – George Reeves, American actor and director (d. 1959)
We all know him as “Superman” (below). Reeves, depressed that he couldn’t get other acting parts, committed suicide at age 45.
- 1932 – Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, literary critic, and philosopher (d. 2016)
- 1934 – Phil Ramone, South African-American songwriter and producer, co-founded A & R Recording (d. 2013)
- 1946 – Diane Keaton, American actress, director, and businesswoman.
I never thought that Keaton was much of an actor—except when she plays herself, as she did in the great movie “Annie Hall.” Here’s one of the best scenes, contrasting a quiet Easter dinner with the goyische Halls with Woody’s Jewish family:
- 1969 – Marilyn Manson, American singer-songwriter, actor, and director
Those who took the Big Nap on January 5 include:
- 1589 – Catherine de’ Medici, queen of Henry II of France (b. 1519)
- 1922 – Ernest Shackleton, Anglo-Irish sailor and explorer (b. 1874).
One of the most intrepid of all polar explorers, Shackleton is buried on South Georgia Island, which he reached years earlier after a 16-day journey in an open lifeboat in a successful effort to get help for the rest of his crew, marooned on Elephant Island. He was a successful lecturer:
- 1933 – Calvin Coolidge, American lawyer and politician, 30th President of the United States (b. 1872)
- 1942 – Tina Modotti, Italian photographer, model, actress, and activist (b. 1896)
She had a full life, and, after modeling for other photographers like Edward Weston, became a photographer in her own right. Here’s one of her photos: “Woman from Tehuantepec carrying yecapixtle. 1929.”
- 1943 – George Washington Carver, American botanist, educator, and inventor (b. 1864)
Carver at work in his lab. He’s known for promoting products containing peanuts, though he did other things that were more successful (none of his peanut products came into use):
- 1963 – Rogers Hornsby, American baseball player, coach, and manager (b. 1896)
- 1970 – Max Born, German physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1882)
- 1981 – Harold Urey, American chemist and astronomer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1893)
- 1998 – Sonny Bono, American singer-songwriter, producer, actor, and politician (b. 1935)
Cher was his second of four wives. Bono, whose given name was “Salvatore”, died in a skiing accident
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hil, snoozing on the calendar,i refuses a request from Andrzej:
A: May I turn the pages of the calendar?Hili: There is no reason for that.
Ja: Czy mogę odwrócić kartki w kalendarzu?Hili: Nie ma powodu.
The meme below was posted by Seth Andrews. My father loved liver and onions, and thus my mother cooked it, making the whole house unacceptably odiferous. The rest of us couldn’t stand the stuff:
From The Onion:
From Divy: Cats telling horror stories around the campfire:
Here’s the trailer for the third and final season of Ricky Gervais’s “After Life,” a series whose first two seasons I much enjoyed. And it has Philomena! (Diane Morgan). I’m looking forward to seeing if the widowed Gervais finds love.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 1, 2022
Yesterday I forgot to announce that it was the Earth’s perihelion: our closest annual approach to the Sun. Simon sent two tweets from Neil deGrasse Tyson that explain it:
Merry Perihelion to planet Earth.
147,105,050 kilometers from the Sun
In our annual oval orbit, today we are closer to the Sun than at any other time of the year.
But not by much — about 3% closer than at Aphelion, our farthest distance from the Sun six months from now. pic.twitter.com/rEyoT622uA
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 4, 2022
Solar flux scales as the square of the distance.
If you do the math, Earth today receives about 6% more solar energy than in July.
But we’re also moving faster in our orbit. Which largely cancels out the net gain.
That’s why Winter is only 89 days long. Summer: 94 days https://t.co/ha4oBScC4j
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 4, 2022
Now I’m not sure why the speed cancels out the gain in solar energy; perhaps some reader can explain. But I do know why it’s winter here despite our greater proximity to the Sun: we’re in the part of our orbit in which the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun.
The Museum of English Rural Life asked for some tweets on ducks, and lo, there was a response. This is only the beginning of the thread. Long Boi is an Indian Runner Duck, but has the markings of a wild mallard drake. Here’s his Instagram page, and a page about his Big Prize:
Longboi has been crowned the best waterfowl in the country in the University of Bantshire’s Waterfowl University Rankings.
The dapper duck was a crowd favourite from the start, winning his heat with 67% of the vote.
The Indian Runner Duck cross beat the Lancaster Ducks in the finals by more than 90 votes, and beat Swansea’s swans by more than 1000.
YUSU President has pledged to name a table in The Forest, YUSU’s outdoor venue, after Longboi’s win.
He told Vision: “I am delighted that Longboi has rightfully claimed the title as Waterfowl of the Year. I would be incredibly disappointed if an honorary degree is not bestowed upon him immediately, in recognition of his contributions to the University of York”.
This must be a British contest, as Honey is surely deserving of as much fame as Long Boi!
This is Long Boi, York University's celebrity duck. He has an Instagram account, fan club and has been the subject of artwork, T-shirts and tattoos. pic.twitter.com/YDlJ2yYeY0
— Bloke from Cas (@BlokeFromCas) January 4, 2022
A medieval duck. Note that it’s saying “querk”—or is it “queck”?
From the Gorleston Psalter: pic.twitter.com/w5LRsDyLMn
— Dr. Kira Jones, Great Pumpkin Devotee 😷💉🦇 (@FlavianSophist) January 4, 2022
From Ginger K.:
Wealth of Elon Musk
Wealth of Jeff Bezos
Wealth of Mark Zuckerberg
U.S. Minimum Wage
Three words: tax the rich.
— Andrea Junker (@Strandjunker) December 13, 2021
Three tweets from Matthew. First, an elderly lady in Berlin saving a wayward young swan who got lost on the street and couldn’t find its way back to the water. Note: do NOT grab a waterfowl (or any wild bird) by the wings; you could injure them. Try to pin the wings against its body and secure the head. (You can find more about this incident on Instagram.)
— Marcy Mendelson (@MendelsonImages) January 3, 2022
You don’t want to mess with coconut crabs! The do open coconuts. . .
WOW! Video shows Coconut crab holding onto and SNAPPING golf clubs! https://t.co/3JCnWKxTz7
— Christopher Mah (@echinoblog) January 4, 2022
This is really, really heartbreaking, but did anybody believe the Taliban when they said they’d play nice after taking over Afghanistan? I weep for the Afghan people.
Age of Darkness
Taliban terrorists forcing local musicians to break their musical instruments and shout “Allahu Akbar” as they break their beloved instruments.
— 47 Mustafa (@CombatJourno) December 28, 2021