Welcome to the a Hump Day, or, as the Danes say it, Pukkelens dag: Wednesday, January 12, 2022, and National Glazed Donut Day (just avoid the Krispy Kremes, which are sugar-coated air). It’s also Curried Chicken Day, National Hot Tea Day, National Marzipan Day, National Pharmacist Day, and International Kiss a Ginger Day.
Wine of the Day: I’ve now tried several vintages of this Côtes de Roussillon red, and all of them have been nothing short of spectacular. I had this 2011 with my weekly meat dinner (a porterhouse steak with rice and green beans; don’t chide me as I tried to buy chicken and now have meat about once a week), and after I drank it, smacking my lips, I found that my wine guru, Robert Parker, gave it a very high rating of 95-97, usually reserved for wines that cost $100 per bottle or more Amateur oenophiles also rate it very highly. This one is more like $25, and it’s worth every penny. I bought it a few years ago, and it must have been less than that. And. . I have a few bottles left from different vintages.
I’m not great with wine adjectives, so below is Parker’s take. Let me add, though, that it’s a scrumptious wine, gutsy but stylish, and would go good with most dishes that don’t include fish.
“These Chapoutier wines are sometimes reviewed by my colleagues David Schildknect in his Languedoc-Roussillon report and Lisa Perrotti-Brown in her reviews of Australian wines, so I will just list the wines, my score, and the region from which they emerge. They are of very high quality and deserve readers’ attention. Hopefully my prose has convinced more than a handful of readers to try these remarkable wines from one of the most fascinating and compelling personalities in the entire wine world, and one dedicated to the highest quality.”
News of the Day: (it’s nearly all bad)
*North Korea launched a hypersonic missile yesterday, which reached Mach 10 and traveling 700 km (and 60 km up) before it landed. In response, the U.S. imposed a brief ground hold on planes in some parts of the West Coast:
The [FAA] official says it was not a national ground stop and may have been issued by a regional air traffic control facility.
“No warning was issued by NORAD HQ,” regarding a potential threat to the US, according to Captain Pamela Kunze, the chief NORAD spokesperson.
The Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for the nation’s air traffic control system, said the ground stop was to err on the side of safety.
“As a matter of precaution, the FAA temporarily paused departures at some airports along the West Coast on Monday evening,” the FAA said in a statement. “Full operations resumed in less than 15 minutes. The FAA regularly takes precautionary measures. We are reviewing the process around this ground stop as we do after all such events.”
The DPRK has progressed much faster than we thought in missile technology, and only Ceiling Cat knows where they are with warheads, since those are made in secret. We’ll have to accept two new members into our Big Nuclear Family: Iran and North Korea. And these are renegade family, like your drunken uncle. As or unilateral strikes, I’m worried only about Iran, as for North Korea that would be suicide.
*In a Hail Mary pass, Biden and Harris are calling for the Senate to make an exception to the filibuster rule when it comes to voting rights legislation. He’s not calling for the complete elimination of the filibuster, but for a “just this once” kind of thing. But either way Uncle Joe faces stiff opposition.
I’m not sure how they’d get rid of the filibuster once, if not permanently, but if it requires just a simple majority (but that can’t be true!), there is at least one—and probably two—Democrats who wouldn’t vote with their side, and you can bet your sweet bippy that no Republican is going to vote to suspend the filibuster when they’re the ones passing all the state voting-restriction bills. So how is this supposed to work?
*A record number of Covid-19 cases were reported on Monday: 1.34 million. While the death rate has not risen apace, many hospitals and ICUs are at their limit, and elective procedures have been pushed back in many place. According to NBC News:
Daily case counts are typically high on Mondays because many states do not report the numbers over the weekend. However, the number still suggests a dramatic rise in cases in the U.S. as the highly transmissible omicron variant continues to spread.
It also represents the highest daily total recorded for any country, according to Reuters, with the U.S. recording a total of 61,490,917 cases since the pandemic began, as of Monday, according to NBC News’ data.
The seven-day average for cases in the U.S. also reached its highest point yet Monday, with an average of 740,594 cases per day, and with 24 states reporting their highest seven-day average ever.
*Ready for your fourth jab yet? According to The Washington Post, Pfizer is making 50-100 million doses of a new vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The omicron-specific doses will be created “at risk,” CEO Albert Bourla said Monday, meaning that if they are not needed, Pfizer will absorb the costs. The company has climbed to the lead in global vaccine production with 3 billion doses in 2021 and is planning to produce up to 4 billion doses in 2022.
If it turns out to be necessary to roll out an omicron-targeting vaccine, Pfizer will be ready, Bourla said.
“In terms of manufacturing, we have so big of a capacity built right now that it won’t be an issue to switch immediately,” Bourla said.
Bourla disclosed the manufacturing plans at an annual health-care conference sponsored by JPMorgan Chase but did not provide a number for doses involved. A Pfizer spokesman, Steven Danehy, said in an email Tuesday that “we hope to have 50-100 million doses of the omicron specific vaccine available by late March/early April.”
Pity, pity: too late for me to get one before I head to Antarctica.
*One bit of levity in the Covid Wars. Yesterday, at a Senate committee hearing on the pandemic (the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions), in which Republican senators beefed about the waffle-y information they’ve gotten from government health officials (to be fair, there’s some meat on this ribeye), Republican Senator Roger Marshall got into it with Anthony Fauci, making dark hints about Fauci’s finances. Not realizing that his mike (not his “mic”) was hot, Fauci made an aside, which you can hear 1 minute into the following video: “What a moron!” Fauci was right.
*Some high-class universities, including mine, have been sued for “price fixing“. From Matt Stoller’s website: (h/t cesar):
[Two days ago], a group of class action law firms sued 16 universities for price-fixing against low-income students in the admissions process, which is the key gatekeeping mechanism designed to enhance prestige. The defendants are the wealthiest and most powerful academic institutions in America: Brown, CalTech, the University of Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, MIT, Northwestern, Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania, Rice, Vanderbilt, and Yale.
The specific charge is that these universities colluded to price-fix the terms of financial aid. . . But what specifically makes someone ‘needy’ in a ‘need-blind’ system? The answer to that is an accounting question, so universities work together through an organization called the 568 President’s Group to set the terms for what makes someone needy. Now, if this also sounds like open price-fixing, that’s because it is. But done properly, it’s not necessarily illegal. The reason is universities have been caught before for price-fixing, and part of the settlement of that suit was that they were given an antitrust exemption so they could work together to price scholarships, within certain bounds.
In 1991, representatives of these universities met, considered all students accepted by more than one of them, and fixed the degree of “neediness” of those students, offering them identical financial aid packages. This practice was stopped by the Justice Department but is said to still go on covertly.
*Men’s top-rated tennis player Novak Djokovic has apparently won his highly-publicized battle to stay in Australia and play in the Australian Open. He had a medical exemption, but to me it seems like a pretty flimsy one:
Djokovic, who told authorities he was not vaccinated, had entered the country with a medical exemption to get around rules requiring all travelers to Australia to be jabbed. The exemption was based on Djokovic’s catching and recovering from Covid in mid-December, which he believed was enough to secure him a visa.
And I guess it was, but Oz needs to tighten up its rules. For he still tested positive on December 16 and then lied about his activities after that:
Djokovic attended a charity event, unmasked, with children, the next day. Then on Dec. 18, he took part in a photo shoot for the French sports daily L’Equipe, which was honoring him as the paper’s 2021 “Champion of Champions.”
His schedule barely slowed during the end-of-year holiday period. Though Djokovic declared upon entering Australia that he had not traveled anywhere in 14 days before his Jan. 5 flight from the United Arab Emirates to Melbourne, his social media suggests that he continued traveling around Europe. Images on his Instagram account appear to show the Monte Carlo-based Djokovic in Belgrade on Dec. 25 and in Madrid on Dec. 31.
He lied. LOCK HIM UP!
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 840,581. an increase of 1,736 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,523,578, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 12 includes:
- 49 BC – Julius Caesar crosses the Rubikon at the head of the 13th Legion. Civil war between the former allies, Caesar and Pompey, is now inevitable.
also lists this on January 10 of that year. Get it straight!
- 1915 – The United States House of Representatives rejects a proposal to require states to give women the right to vote.
- 1932 – Hattie Caraway becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate
Here’s Caraway, who first took her husband’s seat when he died in office, but then was repeatedly elected on her own. She served as Senator from Louisiana for 13 years (with Huey Long’s backing!)
- 1967 – Dr. James Bedford becomes the first person to be cryonically preserved with intent of future resuscitation.
They used bad chemicals to preserve his body, and didn’t even put them into his head. After some intermediate storage, he was then placed in liquid nitrogen, where he remains today. He’ll never come back. Here’s how we was stored:
- 1971 – The Harrisburg Seven: Rev. Philip Berrigan and five other activists are indicted on charges of conspiring to kidnap Henry Kissinger and of plotting to blow up the heating tunnels of federal buildings in Washington, D.C.
They were all found NOT GUILTY on the main charge, with a few being convicted of trivial charges that were later overturned.
- 1998 – Nineteen European nations agree to forbid human cloning.
- 2004 – The world’s largest ocean liner, RMS Queen Mary 2, makes its maiden voyage.
That was a sweet gig, for I traveled as “entertainment” on the QM2 in 2006, like one of the passengers—with a great cabin and nice food (you had to dress for dinner: tux or dark suit). The lecture series was hard work, but it as worth it; I did on two separate trips. Self-aggrandizement: Here I am sipping a pre-dinner Gibson. (Booze was also half price for the “entertainment.”)
Jogging on the deck (the price you pay for having two lobsters for dinner, and you could get more–as many as you wanted!):
Notables born on this day include:
- 1588 – John Winthrop, English lawyer and politician, 2nd Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (d. 1649)
- 1729 – Edmund Burke, Irish philosopher, academic, and politician (d. 1797)
- 1856 – John Singer Sargent, American painter and academic (d. 1925)
Here’s his portrait (from life) of Teddy Roosevelt:
- 1893 – Hermann Göring, German commander, pilot, and politician, Minister President of Prussia (d. 1946).
Here’s Göring testifying (with subtitles) at the Nuremberg Trials, August 31, 1946. He was convicted, but committed suicide by taking a cyanide capsule before they could execute him:
Göring, after suicide:
- 1893 – Alfred Rosenberg, Estonian-German architect and politician, Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories (d. 1946)
He died on the same day as Göbbels, but Rosenberg was hanged:
- 1899 – Paul Hermann Müller, Swiss chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
- 1942 – Bernardine Dohrn, American domestic terrorist, political activist and academic
Part of the SDS and Weather Underground, Dohrn and her husband Bill Ayers—another subject of an FBI manhunt—were on the lam for a decade before surrendering to the cops. They got off easy, with Dohrn serving seven months in prison. She’s now an adjuct faculty at Northwestern University Law School and lives near me in Hyde Park. From her FBI “most wanted” poster:
- 1951 – Rush Limbaugh, American talk show host and author (d. 2021)
- 1958 – Christiane Amanpour, English-born Iranian-American journalist
- 1968 – Heather Mills, English businesswoman, activist and model
Mills, a model who lost one leg below the knee in a motorcycle accident, was married to Paul McCartney for four years.Here’s an odd photo: Mills, McCartney and Vladimir Putin during a tour of the Kremlin in 2003:
Those whose life drew to a close on January 12 include:
- 2002 – Cyrus Vance, American lawyer and politician, 57th U.S. Secretary of State (b. 1917)
- 2003 – Maurice Gibb, Manx-Australian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1949)
Here’s an 18-minute documentary about Maurice, who died at only 53 (yes, he drank heavily, but the cause of death was a twisted intestine that brought on a heart attack.
- 2007 – Alice Coltrane, American pianist and composer (b. 1937)
- 2020 – Sir Roger Scruton, English philosopher and writer (b. 1944)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili can do nothing to remove winter except to dream:
Hili: It must be very hot now on the other side.A: Where?Hili: In Australia.
Hili: Po drugiej stronie musi być teraz bardzo gorąco.Ja: Gdzie?Hili: W Australii.
From Cole and Marmalade:
A tweet from God, who’s very busy:
I'm developing a new strain of anti-vaxxer that is even more immune to reality.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) January 11, 2022
From Simon, an interaction made into a metaphor for academia. But you don’t need the metaphor; the goat alone is worth the view. It’s mean as hell! Sound up:
Explaining the relevance of invertebrate biology to mammals pic.twitter.com/etApd2rTU0
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) January 11, 2022
A tweet from Barry, who calls this elephant “The happiest animal on Earth.” He means the second one, but the first tweet is a good candidate, too:
After seeing her happiness, the broken sprinkler became irrelephant. pic.twitter.com/G4E21Kyo5m
— DAPPER DON DHARSHI • K A M I L • (@SoloFlow786) January 9, 2022
A tweet from Ginger K.:
Why it's not a good idea to make your cat pose with Santa. pic.twitter.com/hCaUwNaTCL
— Lorenzo The Cat (@LorenzoTheCat) December 12, 2021
Tweets from Matthew, who is amazed that commercials there were some good commericals back then:
In 1957, Jim Henson was asked to make ads for Wilkins Coffee. The local stations only had ten sec ad slots, so the ads had to be eight secs for the ad, and a two secs for endframe. From 1957 to 1961, Henson made 179 ads with Wilkins and Wontkins, and they're GREAT: pic.twitter.com/hOqhO8e1PY
— Lee Trott (@MC372) March 2, 2020
Wood ducks are fairly common but the males are great beauties. Mallards are even more common, but the males are often ignored.
Finally captured some nice wood duck (Aix sponsa) photos today at Idlewild Park! pic.twitter.com/d6e91d4oCX
— Bob Tregilus (@BobTregilus) January 11, 2022
Colugos, otherwise known as “flying lemurs”, are neither flyers nor lemurs (they comprise just two species in the mammalian order Dermoptera, and are good gliders, they can’t fly. But they can be cryptic:
Camouflage Colugo style pic.twitter.com/cTkCE6wabh
— incidental naturalist (@IncNaturalist) January 10, 2022
How many words are actually shaped like the object they denote? Here’s one:
Your regular reminder that the word 'bed' is shaped like a bed.
— National Library of Scotland (@natlibscot) January 11, 2022