Welcome to Thursday, January 13, 2022: National Peach Melba Day. Named after the Australian soprano Nellie Melba, it consists of peaches, raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream. The dessert sounds lovely, but I’ve never had it. Here’s the dessert followed by Nellie:
It’s also National Rubber Ducky Day, Korean-American Day, Public Radio Broadcasting Day. and Stephen Foster Memorial Day. (Hasn’t he been canceled yet? After all, he wrote “Hard Times Come Again No More“, “Camptown Races“, “Old Folks at Home” (“Swanee River”), and “Old Black Joe“.)
News of the Day:
*If you’re an American and have been to the grocery store lately (and who doesn’t go?), you’ll know that prices on food have shot up. But this of course is part of a general inflation in America, now reported at 7% for 2021—the highest in a decade:
Steep increases in the cost of housing, and used cars and trucks, powered the overall rise in prices. Economists have been especially worried about rising home and rent costs, which can get locked in through a long-term contract and may not improve after the pandemic abates or supply chains clear up.
. . .Overall, economists aren’t worried about inflation, on its own causing a recession, as the economy grew rapidly throughout 2021 and created some 6.4 million jobs. Rather, the concern is that the Federal Reserve would be forced to combat inflation with sudden and aggressive interest rate increases, and the rising cost of borrowing could choke off the economic recovery.Indeed, rising inflation prompted the Fed to make its strongest move yet to tackle inflation, moving up the timeline for what could be as many as three interest rate increases starting as soon as March. More generally, officials within the Fed and Biden administration have said they expect high inflation will persist through much of 2022.
*The NYT has a longish article reporting that Penelope Cruz has once again teamed up with director Pedro Almodóvar; and this time the film is really good (or so they say).
What do you do when you feel a connection that’s both natural and supernatural all at once? If you’re Cruz and Almodóvar, you eventually give in to it and make seven movies together. Their latest, “Parallel Mothers,” is also one of their greatest, starring Cruz as a mother wrestling with a terrible secret. Her finely calibrated performance won the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival and best actress honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics; it may also earn the 47-year-old Cruz, an Oscar winner for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” her fourth Academy Award nomination.
Here’s the Rotten Tomato rating compendium so far, and below that is the trailer (click below to see the details and individual critic’s takes:
*As our demographic profile of readers suggests, there will be more than a few of you who remember Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes. Her last name, of course, comes from her marriage to Phil Spector, who produced the group and created for them his famous “Wall of Sound.” Spector died yesterday of cancer; she was 78. Big hair, big sound, and a lot of mascara, as well as good music, which largely preceded the golden years of Soul Music. To see them singing one of their biggest hits live, click below (Ronnie’s the lead singer, of course.)
They were married in 1968, and, given Phil Spector’s temper and behavior towards women, it was amazing that the marriage lasted four years (he recently died in jail after being convicted of murdering a woman). Here’s a chilling note from Ronnie’s Wikipedia bio:
Spector revealed in her 1990 memoir, Be My Baby, that after they married, Phil subjected her to years of psychological torment and sabotaged her career by forbidding her to perform. He surrounded their house with barbed wire and guard dogs, and confiscated her shoes to prevent her from leaving. On the rare occasions he allowed her out alone, she had to drive with a life-size dummy of Phil. Spector stated that Phil installed a gold coffin with a glass top in the basement, promising that he would kill her and display her corpse if she ever left him.She began drinking and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to escape the house.
*Prince Andrew, aka “Randy Andy”, has lost a round in his fight to avoid being sued in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, but don’t expect to see him in prison any time soon. (Has any royal in the last 150 years seen prison time?) In fact, his suit is a civil one: he’s being sued by Virginia Giuffre, who argued that the Prince had sex with her (arranged by Ghislaine Maxwell), when she was just 17.
A judge in New York refused to dismiss the civil suit in these very early rounds, but on technical grounds, ruling that Giuffre had not signed away her right to sue anybody else when she reached a $500,000 settlement with Epstein.
Since the judge’s ruling dealt only with a few preliminary issues, there is a lot more ground to cover before the case gets to trial.
Andrew’s lawyers could appeal the ruling. They will have opportunities to try to get the case dismissed on other grounds.
As the case develops, the two sides must exchange potential evidence — such as emails, text messages and telephone records — and submit to depositions at which lawyers can question potential trial witnesses.
Giuffre has been through many such depositions before in lawsuits against Maxwell and other people, but Andrew has never been questioned about the matter under oath — something he may want to avoid at all costs.
Once the exchange of evidence concludes, defense lawyers often make a new request to toss out the case judging by what they’ve learned. The judge then makes rulings that may help lawyers understand the risks of going to trial.
The outcome? Already preordained: rather than expose his doings to the light of day, R. A. will settle the case. The royals have deep pockets, and do you think the Queen would even allow Andrew to fight the accusations against her son?
Here’s Andrew with Giuffre, with Maxwell standing handily nearby:
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 843,327, an increase of 1,827 deaths over yesterday’s figure. Will we reach a million deaths? Remember when 200,000 deaths was an inconceivable figure? The reported world death toll is now 5,532,597, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 13 includes:
It’s a lovely flag, isn’t it?
- 1842 – Dr. William Brydon, an assistant surgeon in the British East India Company Army during the First Anglo-Afghan War, becomes famous for being the sole survivor of an army of 4,500 men and 12,000 camp followers when he reaches the safety of a garrison in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
No, Brydon wasn’t the “sole survivor”; the article reports “Out of more than 16,000 people from the column commanded by Elphinstone, only one European (Assistant Surgeon William Brydon) and a few Indian sepoys reached Jalalabad.” Don’t sepoys count? (These are Indians fighting for the British army.)
Here’s one of them, created from “agricultural plastic” due to a shortage of steel during the war. I don’t know if any were ever sold; this is probably a prototype:
- 1942 – World War II: First use of an aircraft ejection seat by a German test pilot in a Heinkel He 280 jet fighter.
Here’s a set of clips of live ejections: pilot’s making rapid egress from their failed planes. Today they use rocket-propulsion to get the pilot out and way away from the plane:
- 1953 – An article appears in Pravda accusing some of the most prestigious and prominent doctors, mostly Jews, in the Soviet Union of taking part in a vast plot to poison members of the top Soviet political and military leadership.
Here’s a cartoon from the Soviet magazine Krokodil showing the Jewish plotter (note the schnoz) hiding under a doctor’s mask. The charges were all confected by Stalin to get rid of his opponents, which in this case he saw as mostly Jews:
- 1964 – In Manchester, New Hampshire, fourteen-year-old Pamela Mason is murdered. Edward Coolidge is tried and convicted of the crime, but the conviction is set aside by the landmark Fourth Amendment case Coolidge v. New Hampshire (1971).
The search of Coolidge’s vehicle was deemed illegal, but he was tried and found guilty anyway. He served 20 years.
- 1966 – Robert C. Weaver becomes the first African American Cabinet member when he is appointed United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
- 1990 – Douglas Wilder becomes the first elected African American governor as he takes office as Governor of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia.
Wilder, still with us at 91.
- 2021 – Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump is impeached for a second time on a charge of incitement of insurrection following the storming of the Capitol one week prior.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1808 – Salmon P. Chase, American jurist and politician, 6th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1873)
Chase promoted the successful placing of “In God We Trust” in U.S. coins. Here’s his instructions (caption from Wikipedia):
Imagine if you invited him for dinner: you’d be able to say, “We’re having Salmon for dinner.”
- 1893 – Chaïm Soutine, Belarusian-French painter (d. 1943).
Soutine painted no cats that I could find, but here’s a portrait of a pastry cook:
- 1919 – Robert Stack, American actor (d. 2003)
- 1924 – Paul Feyerabend, Austrian-Swiss philosopher and academic (d. 1994)
Mr. “Anything goes” in the philosophy of science. He looks mean.
Here’s Bishop, one of the successful climbers who summited Mount Everest in the first American expedition in 1963. He lost all his toes from frostbite on that one, which pretty much ended his climbing career, but he went on to get a Ph.D. in geography from The University of Chicago:
- 1955 – Jay McInerney, American novelist and critic
- 1961 – Wayne Coyne, American singer-songwriter and musician
I don’t know this guy, but he’s the lead singer of The Flaming Lips, a band I also don’t know. But. . . he’s a Coyne!
- 1961 – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, American actress, comedian, and producer
- 1978 – Nate Silver, American journalist and statistician, developed PECOT
Have you seen a photo of Nate? Here he is:
Those who expired on January 13 include:
- 1599 – Edmund Spenser, English poet, Chief Secretary for Ireland (b. 1552)
- 1864 – Stephen Foster, American composer and songwriter (b. 1826) See above.
- 1929 – Wyatt Earp, American police officer (b. 1848)
- 1941 – James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet (b. 1882)
Here’s Joyce and his family, with Nora Barnacle second from left and his children to the right:
- 1956 – Lyonel Feininger, German-American painter and illustrator (b. 1871)
I think I’m one of the few people around who really likes Feininger. Here’s a painting: “Markwippach, 1917”:
- 1978 – Hubert Humphrey, American pharmacist, academic, and politician, 38th Vice President of the United States (b. 1911)
- 2017 – Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, English photographer and sometime member of the British royal family (b. 1930)
Armstrong-Jones of course had access to the royals and many other notables. Here’s his scandalous photo of his wife, Princess Margaret, in the bathtub wearing a tiara:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili’s being a curmudgeon, but at least allows Kulka to eat next to her. The picture is by Paulina.
Paulina: Meals together lead to friendship.Hili: Not always.
Paulina: Wspólne posiłki prowadzą do przyjaźni.Hili: Nie zawsze.
A meme from Bruce. How true!
From Stash Krod:
From Jesus of the Day:
This God is an atheist God!
Swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth ON A BIBLE is one of life's great ironies.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) January 12, 2022
From Simon. Did you know this?
Astronaut Mark Kelly once smuggled a full gorilla suit on board the International Space Station. He didn't tell anyone about it. One day, without anyone knowing, he put it on. (source: Reddit) pic.twitter.com/v7aVunL7QF
— SPENCE, TODD (@Todd_Spence) January 9, 2022
From Anna, who is flummoxed by being on the same side as Pope Francis:
Pope Francis denounces cancel culture as "a form of ideological colonization" at a Vatican event.
"Under the guise of defending diversity, it ends up canceling all sense of identity," he says pic.twitter.com/FpnYu92Xee
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) January 10, 2022
A tweet from Ginger K., showing a rather salacious anatomical comparison:
— Mike Hawk Gets The Job Done (@PastorMikeHawk) December 13, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Now here’s an example of extremely polygeny: over 12,000 segregating sites associated with height variation in humans. And they account for nearly all the genetic variation we see in height. (“GWAS” are “genome-wide association studies”, described in my review of Kathryn Paige Harden’s new book.) Usually we get only a fraction of the total segregating variation, but this study had a huge number of subjects.
A remarkable moment in the history of GWAS!
"… using GWAS data from 5.4 million individuals of diverse ancestries, that 12,111 independent SNPs that are significantly associated with height account for nearly all of the common SNP-based heritability." https://t.co/ps9eICDxEm
— Veera M. Rajagopal (@doctorveera) January 11, 2022
This adorable puppy has a long way to go. . .
anatolian shepherd dog puppy in training pic.twitter.com/KkGBSP89W3
— theworldofdog (@theworldofdog) January 11, 2022
Matthew was fascinated by the anterior position of this possum’s testicles. (I don’t know the species):
Audrey and Scoot pic.twitter.com/sH8LKildAd
— Mark Duckett (@MarkRDuckett) January 5, 2022
CUNK IS BACK! I can’t wait to see Philomena again! What is airplanes?
— Diane Morgan (@missdianemorgan) January 4, 2022