Welcome to the first official “TGIF” day in 2022: Friday, January 7: National Tempura Day—a cultural appropriation, but, like most of them, a good one.
It’s also Harlem Globetrotter’s Day, International Programmer’s Day, National Old Rock Day, National Pass Gas Day (I suppose it’s because yesterday was National Bean Day), and National Bobblehead Day. Here’s a photo of an extremely rare Hitchens Bobblehead doll given me by a kind reader. Note the ciggie and glass of Mr. Walker’s amber restorative:
And the Christmas celebrations continue:
- Christmas (Eastern Orthodox Churches and Oriental Orthodox Churches using the Julian Calendar, Rastafari)
News of the Day:
*Well, yesterday passed without any assault on the Capitol: there had been predictions of some first-anniversary violence. But Biden, whose own political stock is sinking, took the opportunity to rightfully and forcefully call out Trump, without using his name, for his role in the events a year ago, including questioning the election results:
President Biden forcefully denounced former President Donald J. Trump for promoting lies and tearing down democracy because he could not stand the fact that he lost a free and fair election, accusing his predecessor and his allies of holding “a dagger at the throat of America.”
In his most sustained and scathing attack on the former president since taking office, Mr. Biden used the anniversary of the Jan. 6 mob assault on the Capitol to condemn Mr. Trump for waging an “undemocratic” and “un-American” campaign against the legitimacy of the election system that he likened to the actions of autocrats and dictators in faraway countries.
“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Mr. Biden said, standing in the same National Statuary Hall invaded by throngs of Trump supporters a year ago. “He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country’s interests and America’s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost.”
*The Washington Post reports that judges are going pretty easy on Capitol rioters who plead guilty:
Federal judges in D.C. have gone below the government recommendation in 49 out of 74 sentencings held for Capitol riot defendants one year after the attack, about two-thirds of the cases. In eight cases where prosecutors asked for jail time, the judges instead opted for probation. Of the 74 people sentenced so far, 35 have been given jail or prison time, 14 home detention and 25 probation alone.
Probation is a deterrent? SInce when? LOCK ‘EM UP!
*One of the jurors in the Elizabeth Holmes trial has begun singing like a canary, and the Wall Street Journal reports the juror revealed the “smoking guns” that evoked the four “guilty verdicts.” One, contrary to what i thought, was the use of the phony “Pfizer” logo put on a fundraising report to imply that Pfizer endorsed Theranos’s machines:
Jurors zeroed in on two pieces of evidence they believed showed Ms. Holmes intentionally lied to investors, said Susanna Stefanek, known throughout the trial as Juror No. 8.
For some, the damning evidence was a report Theranos gave investors that Ms. Holmes altered to make it look like it was an endorsement from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., Ms. Stefanek said. What was worse for her, the juror said, was a document of financial projections given to prospective investors, including prosecution witness Lisa Peterson, who works for the DeVos family office, which had invested $100 million in Theranos.
“There were just so many falsehoods on that sheet of paper,” said Ms. Stefanek, an editorial manager at Apple Inc. The 2014 document projected $40 million in annual revenue from drug companies, though jurors had heard from government witnesses that Theranos had no such contracts at the time.
*Director Peter Bogdanovich, whose first movie happens to be what I consider the best of all American movies, has died at 82. The movie? The Last Picture Show, a 1971 black and white masterpiece about growing up in a small oil town in North Texas in the Fifties.(It’s based on a novel by Larry McMurtry, who he grew up in the town where the movie was filmed.) If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor, for the odds are you’ll like it a lot. Here’s my favorite scene: Sam the Lion’s soliloquy. The money quote, “Being a crazy about a woman like her is always the right thing to do.”
Never again did Bogdanovich come close to the artistry evinced in that movie. He was a one-hit wonder, but one was enough. (h/t Bill)
*I wonder whether somehow this story from the AP, like that of the two errant walruses that found their way to southern Europe, reflects global warming, though I don’t see how. This one involves a seal who’s taken to freshwater:
A juvenile harbor seal has forgone life in the ocean, instead choosing a home nearly 100 miles up the Hudson River — behavior that wildlife officials called “unprecedented.”
The animal was likely abandoned as a pup by his mother in Maine, officials say. A Connecticut rescue center cared for him, then released him in Rhode Island in early 2019 with an electronic tracking tag.
By that August, he’d settled down on the Hudson near Saugerties Lighthouse, under the watchful eye of the lighthouse keeper, staying for 620 days.
“It is a story like none we have ever heard of … a marine mammal showing such extended affinity and fidelity to freshwater,” said Tom Lake of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Almanac, The Daily Freeman reported Tuesday.
But the seal’s life on the river had one interruption.
Harbor Seal No. 246 — as he’s known officially — disappeared last April, leaving wildlife officials stumped for months.
Turns out he needed rescuing again, catching an infection and a skin condition called “seal pox” after swimming down to Long Island’s Atlantic Beach.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 832,392, an increase of 1,404 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,491,637, an increase of about 7,300 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 7 includes:
- 1608 – Fire destroys Jamestown, Virginia.
- 1610 – Galileo Galilei makes his first observation of the four Galilean moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa, although he is not able to distinguish the last two until the following day.
- 1835 – HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin on board, drops anchor off the Chonos Archipelago.
The islands, surrounded by the blue line, are off the coast of Chile and are largely uninhabited, even to this day:
- 1894 – Thomas Edison makes a kinetoscopic film of someone sneezing. On the same day, his employee, William Kennedy Dickson, receives a patent for motion picture film.
Here’s the film. The sneezer is one Fred Ott, filmed when taking a pinch of snuff:
- 1927 – The first transatlantic commercial telephone service is established from New York City to London.
- 1931 – Guy Menzies flies the first solo non-stop trans-Tasman flight (from Australia to New Zealand) in 11 hours and 45 minutes, crash-landing on New Zealand’s west coast. Here’s Menzies, who survived the crash, with his wrecked plane:
- 1955 – Contralto Marian Anderson becomes the first person of color to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in Giuseppe Verdi‘s Un ballo in maschera.
Here’s an audio of that groundbreaking performance. Anderson also got attention by being refused to sing for the Daughters of the American Revolution at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. in 1939. Thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt, she performed instead in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The singing starts at 2:20:
- 1959 – The United States recognizes the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro.
- 1999 – The Senate trial in the impeachment of U.S. President Bill Clinton begins.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1800 – Millard Fillmore, American politician, 13th President of the United States (d. 1874)
Here’s the last Whig President to serve in the White House. Have you ever heard of anyone else named “Millard”?
Bernadette’s song ended when she was only 35, dying in the convent from tuberculosis. Here she is when younger (remember, she had recurrent visions of Jesus):
A racist to his bones, Faubus refused to obey the Brown v. Board of Education decision of the Supreme Court, and ordered the National Guard to prevent black students from attending Little Rock’s Central High school in 1957. President Eisenhower federalized the National Guard and stymied Faubus. Here’s Faubus speaking to a crowd urging segregation of the Little Rock schools. It was a futile effort:
- 1946 – Jann Wenner, American publisher, co-founded Rolling Stone
- 1964 – Nicolas Cage, American actor
Those who relinquished their existence on January 7 include:
- 1536 – Catherine of Aragon (b. 1485)
She was Henry VIII’s first wife, and, mirabile dictu, survived. Here’s a portrait from 1520, when she was still alive:
- 1943 – Nikola Tesla, Serbian-American physicist and engineer (b. 1856)
Here’s a drawing from Tesla’s successful patent application for a motor creating alternating current:
- 1989 – Hirohito, Japanese emperor (b. 1901). Here he is in his “enthronement ceremony” in 1928. Because the Allies couldn’t decide if he played a substantial role in WWII and Japanese war crimes, he was never tried and lived to a ripe old age:
- 2006 – Heinrich Harrer, Austrian mountaineer, geographer, and author (b. 1912)
A great climber, writer, and also a Nazi (a card-carrying member of the SS), Harrer was apprehended by the British in India, escaped, and made his way to Tibet, giving rise to his later bestselling book Seven Years in Tibet. In 1938, he became part of the first team to climb the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland, a climb considered impossible (see below); his book on that climb, The White Spider, named after the treacherous ice field that’s part of the climb, is also well worth reading. The North Face:
- 2021 – Brian Sicknick, Police officer who was present during the Storming of the U.S. Capitol (b. 1978)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron needs to read a bird guide:
Hili: What do you see there?Szaron: A bird of paradise.Hili: Either you are lying or you are confused.
Hili: Co tam widzisz?Szaron: Rajskiego ptaka.Hili: Albo kłamiesz, albo coś ci się pomyliło.
From Tom: One of the great Far Side cartoons:
A meme from Athayde:
And one from Bruce:
A tweet from God:
Just got the results of My latest existence test. Still negative.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) January 3, 2022
From Ginger K., who sent this with great enthusiasm: “The late great Freddie Mercury – THE GREATEST LEAD SINGER OF ALL TIME – and his kittehs. He loved his kittehs.”
— safe place freddie (@iqueenfredd) December 11, 2021
From Simon: good news from the UK. Are we really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?
In a day of good news, Britain's daily Covid cases fell for the first time in a month, daily Covid deaths declined 30.4% week on week and hospitalisations dropped in London. https://t.co/hLu6aX3JvP
— Toby Young (@toadmeister) January 6, 2022
From Ken, who says “Yertle the Turtle at his dissembling best.”
Mitch McConnell on Dem voting rights bill: "The notion that some state legislature would be crazy enough to say to their own voters, 'We're not gonna honor the outcome of an election,' is ridiculous."
(Hundreds of GOP state legislators supported efforts to overturn 2020 results) pic.twitter.com/j82rlii915
— The Recount (@therecount) January 4, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First, a cat punching above its weight:
cats make really poor choices and should be escorted when they’re outside for their safety and the safety of others pic.twitter.com/3WaSzKCqq0
— corinne 🐕🐈🐈🐆 (@rikkelmania) January 6, 2022
A poem AND a palindrome. Two, two, two treats in one!
MY PETS (Palindrome)
A sad dog
or fat cat.
(no garden intact).
odd as a step….
— Anthony Etherin (@Anthony_Etherin) January 5, 2022
Oy! “Please read BioLogos”????
The fuck are they teaching kids in private schools in America? pic.twitter.com/JiyA1QbvPZ
— Ŧɭเק (@Flip5ide666) January 5, 2022
WHAT A DUCK!!!! Watch it!
— BBC Archive (@BBCArchive) January 5, 2022