Greetings on the Cat Sabbath, Saturday January 15, 2022, and it’s also a federal holiday: Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s also National Strawberry Ice Cream Day, National Bagel Day, National Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice Day, Humanitarian Day, National Hat Day, and Wikipedia Day (see below undr 2001). (I think we’re into year 5 waiting for Greg Mayer’s apocryphal article “What’s the matter with Wikipedia?”.)
News of the Day:
I’ve received my 23andMe replacement kit for free after the company couldn’t do PCR on my sample (that’s my guess). I’m about to spit in the tube and will chew on my cheeks a bit as a reader recommend to up the titer of DNA. If this one fails, I’m out $99 with nothing to show for it. Seriously, everyone has DNA, I have a Ph.D. and can follow instructions, so kits should be unlimited until you get a result!
*Holy September 1, 1939, Batman! According to the New York Times, the White House claims that Russia is doing exactly what the Nazis did to created a pretext to invade Poland:
The Biden administration accused Moscow on Friday of sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to stage an incident that could provide President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with a pretext for ordering an invasion of parts or all of the country.
The White House did not release details of the evidence it had collected to back up its charge, though one official said it was a mix of intercepted communications and observations of the movements of people. In an email, a U.S. official wrote that “Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.”
The Pentagon also considers this information “very credible.” It doesn’t mean, of course, that Russia is determined to invade Ukraine, but it makes the priors higher, as Putin is giving himself an option. Talks are still going on, but they also seem to be going nowhere. Let’s have another poll:
*Over in Australia, number #1 ranked men’s tennis star Novak Djokovic, in the country for the Australian Open, has had his visa revoked for the SECOND time. This morning he’ll be detained again and then will go to court on Sunday morning to appeal the decision. He says he’s had Covid, but lied about his activities before he came to Australia. The Australian Open starts Monday morning, so things better move quickly. NOBODY should get an exemption from the rules because they’re a great tennis player. LOCK HIM UP!
*The U.S. government announced that, starting next Wednesday, January 19, a federal website will open at which every American household can order up to four rapid test kits. Don’t expect them to arrive rapidly! Here’s the link, so save it:
Orders for up to four tests per household can be placed using the website COVIDtests.gov. The administration will also set up a phone number so those without access to computers or high-speed internet can place orders.
*I love reader Ken’s news items because I can post them without change, and they have links. Also, he has considerable legal expertise. Here’s his latest:
The Ohio Supreme Court (the seven members of which are elected — currently four Republicans, three Democrats) has struck down the ruthlessly gerrymandered partisan congressional map drafted by the Republican-controlled state legislature. Although Ohio’s voting history is nearly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, the map would have created 12 GOP-dominated districts to the Democrats’ three.The case was decided 4-3. The majority based its decision on the Ohio constitution, so it would not appear that the losing party will have recourse to SCOTUS.
The eruption at 0410 GMT on Friday of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano, located about 65km (40 miles) north of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, caused a 1.2-metre tsunami, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.
The eruption – captured in satellite images that show a huge plume of ash, steam and gas rising from the ocean – was heard and felt as far away as in Fiji and Vanuatu, where people reported feeling the ground and buildings shake for hours.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage in Tonga, but videos posted to social media showed huge waves in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings. Here are three tweets with videos of the eruption and tsuami:
— あれれんれん (@aaareren) January 15, 2022
Tsunami videos out of Tonga 🇹🇴 this afternoon following the Volcano Eruption. pic.twitter.com/JTIcEdbpGe
— Jese Tuisinu (@JTuisinu) January 15, 2022
This is an amazing compilation of photos:
Tonga's Hunga Tonga volcano just had one of the most violent volcano eruptions ever captured on satellite. pic.twitter.com/M2D2j52gNn
— US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) January 15, 2022
*From FIRE: A computer-science professor at the University of Washington put a land acknowledgment on his syllabus that angered the administration. Those who see such acknowledgments as performative wokeness will find this amusing, for Professor Stuart Reges wrote this:
“I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.”
That’s not really insulting the Salish people; it insults the University, which says that you can put a land acknowledgment on your syllabus, but only a University-approved one. (UW is a public school and therefore must adhere to the First Amendment.) Nevertheless, Reges was censured; his Director, Magdalena Balazinska, told him to remove the statement because it was offensive, saying this to the press:
The statement [that Allen School Professor] Stuart Reges included in his syllabus was inappropriate, offensive and not relevant to the content of the course he teaches. The invocation of Locke’s labor theory of property dehumanizes and demeans Indigenous people and is contrary to the long-standing relationship and respect the UW has with and for the Coast Salish peoples and the federally recognized tribes within the state of Washington.
FIRE notes this:
Balazinska’s commentary compounds her violations of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate such hamfisted, transparent attempts to force professors to adopt or parrott university viewpoints. UW cannot boost its land acknowledgment statement at the expense of its faculty’s right to free expression.
And FIRE has written the UW President a strong letter explaining whey their dictatorial practice violates the First Amendment. Will they cave, or is UW bucking for a lawsuit.
*Things to read:
a. Two articles from the new American Free Speech Union, which deserves yur support: “Sowing the wind,” a critique of an Oklahoma bill which would give every parent the right to demand removal of one “offensive” book from a school library (objecting librarians will be punished. Also, “Knaves or fools?“, a discussion of why anti-CRT-teaching bills should not be passed by states.
b. John McWhorter’s NYT column on Sidney Poitier after his death this week. It’s largely about “black English”, and how those actors who “made it” didn’t speak that way. Poitier was one, but served as a “bridge”:
Poitier was certainly a pioneer — but in the sense that he was transitional. In a mid-20th-century America that feared and scorned Blackness and especially Black maleness that came with a hint of sexuality, the first real Black matinee idol was almost inevitably going to be someone who didn’t talk (or move) in modes more typically associated with American Black men. A more local, less global Black voice would have made (or have been assumed to have made) white audiences back then too uncomfortable for a big studio to have greenlighted Poitier’s classic films. He was, quietly but decisively, different. He was from somewhere else, even if you only thought of that subconsciously — as we do to a major degree about language in all of its facets.
But he was a bridge. He was Black, after all, and his Caribbean cadences certainly weren’t white-sounding. He helped pave the way not only for other Black actors, but also for acceptance of more varied Black speech. In the 1960s, the Black Power movement and the Black Is Beautiful movement — proud displays of Blackness in aesthetic mediums including clothing and hairstyles — became part of the Black mainstream and increasingly (if not widely) accepted by the broader society. Language norms transformed alongside, and from then on, American Black English was more acceptable in the public sphere than ever before.
I still remember during the O.J Simpson trial when Johnnie Cochrane, incensed, argued that there was no way anyone could identify a black person by the way they spoke alone.
c. Andrew Sullivan’s weekly Friday piece, with the header “The trans movement is not about rights anymore.” It’s a well-written and fair piece–unless you think that it’s “transphobia” to see some relevant differences between biological women and trans women. One bit:
The truth is: the 6-3 Bostock decision places trans people in every state under the protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s done. It’s built on the sturdy prohibition on sex discrimination. A Trump nominee wrote the ruling.
What the trans movement is now doing, after this comprehensive victory, is not about rights at all. It is about cultural revolution. It’s a much broader movement to dismantle the sex binary, to see biology as a function of power and not science, and thereby to deconstruct the family and even a fixed category such as homosexuality. You can support trans rights and oppose all of this. But they want you to believe you can’t. That’s the bait-and-switch. Don’t take it.
Sullivan also criticizes Biden for his latest speech
The appeal of Biden was that he understood the Senate, represented a moderate middle, and wouldn’t polarize the country with divisive, incendiary rhetoric, as his predecessor had. The reality of Biden is that he has lost the Senate’s trust, has been an enabler of the far left, and is now seeking to call all those who object to a Democratic wishlist of electoral reforms the modern equivalents of the KKK. The speech was disgusting. It will do nothing but further alienate the Senators he needs. It sure alienated me. It could have been written by a Vox intern on Adderall.
Remember, Sullivan voted for Biden and there’s something to what he says above about Biden’s being “an enabler of the far left.” I do like that last sentence!
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 848,542, an increase of 1,928 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,549,236, an increase of about 8,300 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 15 includes:
- 1559 – Elizabeth I is crowned Queen of England in Westminster Abbey, London.
A painting, with the caption “Elizabeth I in her coronation robes, patterned with Tudor roses and trimmed with ermine.”
- 1759 – The British Museum opens to the public.
- 1870 – A political cartoon for the first time symbolizes the Democratic Party with a donkey (“A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly).
Here’s Nast’s cartoon:
- 1889 – The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, is incorporated in Atlanta.
- 1892 – James Naismith publishes the rules of basketball.
Here’s “the original 1891 “Basket Ball” court in Springfield College. It used a peach basket attached to the wall.” Presumably the written rules came later.
- 1919 – Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, two of the most prominent socialists in Germany, are tortured and murdered by the Freikorps at the end of the Spartacist uprising.
Here’s Luxemburg, one of Chrisopher Hitchens’s heroes:
- 1919 – Great Molasses Flood: A wave of molasses released from an exploding storage tank sweeps through Boston, Massachusetts, killing 21 and injuring 150.
Of course you’ll want to know about this, but read the Wikipedia link:
After (caption: “Twenty one people were killed on Commercial Street in the North End when a tank of molasses ruptured and exploded. An eight foot wave of the syrupy brown liquid moved down Commercial Street at a speed of 35mph. Wreckage of the collapsed tank visible in background, center, next to light colored warehouse. Elevated railway structure visible at far left and the North End Park bathing beach to the far right.”)
- 1936 – The first building to be completely covered in glass, built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, is completed in Toledo, Ohio.
- 1947 – The Black Dahlia murder: The dismembered corpse of Elizabeth Short was found in Los Angeles.
Here’s Short when she was alive. If you search the internet you can find photos of her bisected and mutilated corpse. The perpetrator was never found:
- 1962 – The Derveni papyrus, Europe’s oldest surviving manuscript dating to 340 BC, is found in northern Greece.
Here are some fragments of the papyrus, which contains a Macedonian poem:
- 1967 – The first Super Bowl is played in Los Angeles. The Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 35–10.
- 1976 – Gerald Ford’s would-be assassin, Sara Jane Moore, is sentenced to life in prison.
As per federal law, Moore was subject to parole after serving 30 years of a life sentence. She was released in 2007 at age 77, and is still alive.
And here’s a plot (from Wikipedia, of course) of the number of Wikpedia articles over time:
- 2019 – Theresa May’s UK government suffers the biggest government defeat in modern times, when 432 MPs voting against the proposed European Union withdrawal agreement, giving her opponents a majority of 230.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1623 – Algernon Sidney, British philosopher (probable) d. 1683)
- 1842 – Josef Breuer, Austrian physician and psychiatrist (d. 1925)
- 1877 – Lewis Terman, American psychologist, eugenicist, and academic (d. 1956)
“Eugenicist” has been added to a number of Wikipedia entries since 2020.
- 1908 – Edward Teller, Hungarian-American physicist and academic (d. 2003)
- 1909 – Gene Krupa, American drummer, composer, and actor (d. 1973)
Here’s a recording of Krupa drumming on “Sing Sing Sing” with the Goodman band at their famous Carnegie Hall concert in 1938.
- 1919 – Maurice Herzog, French mountaineer and politician, French Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports (d. 2012)
Herzog was the leader of the French Annapurna I team in 1950, and he summited. However, he lost all of his toes and most of his fingers. His book, Annapurna, is a classic of mountaineering literature. The bit that recounts the snipping off of his digits, one by one, on the long trip home will make you cringe.
- 1929 – Martin Luther King Jr., American minister and activist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1968).
Tomorrow is the official holiday that marks his birthday.
- 1941 – Captain Beefheart, American singer-songwriter, musician, and artist (d. 2010)
Those who meowed their last meow on January 15 include:
- 1896 – Mathew Brady, American photographer and journalist (b. 1822)
Here are pictures of Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee, both taken by Brady:
- 1909 – Arnold Janssen, German priest and missionary (b. 1837)
- 1916 – Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian playwright and translator (b. 1850)
His brother, a braggart named Immodest Tchaikovsky, never wrote any plays.
- 1919 – Karl Liebknecht, German politician (b. 1871)
- 1919 – Rosa Luxemburg, German economist, theorist, and philosopher (b. 1871)
Both were murdered on the same day.
- 1955 – Yves Tanguy, French-American painter (b. 1900)
Here’s Tanguy’s “My life, white and black”:
- 1987 – Ray Bolger, American actor, singer, and dancer (b. 1904)
- 1994 – Harry Nilsson, American singer-songwriter (b. 1941)
Here’s a music video of Nilsson singing “Everybody’s Talkin'”, a great song despite his other debacle, “Put the lime in the coconut” or whatever it was called. This song became famous because it was part of the sound track of “Midnight Cowboy,” but it would have been a big hit on its own:
- 1998 – Junior Wells, American singer-songwriter and harmonica player (b. 1934)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Kulka catches Hili in an arrant lie!
Hili: I come in peace.
Kulka: Nobody would believe you.(Photo: Paulina R.)
Hili: Przynoszę pokój.Kulka: Nikt ci nie uwierzy.(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)
From Facebook. I need one!
Titania tweets only rarely these days:
This article PROVES that fat people are just as fit as so-called “athletes”.
So why is it that fat people are still so underrepresented in competitive sports? pic.twitter.com/5fFLqN09ge
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) January 13, 2022
From Barry: a photo of the world’s handsomest man and his staff:
Robert Redford and friend reading a screenplay. pic.twitter.com/URjGDWxv8w
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) January 8, 2022
From Simon, who comments: “”Interesting thread – I wasn’t aware of the Chinese expression that describes both Trump and the woke.” Theres more on the thread itself.
There’s a Chinese expression for this: “calling a deer a horse,” derived from a famous 2,000-year-old loyalty test that exposed and thinned the Chinese court and smoothed an Imperial Chancellor’s rise. pic.twitter.com/hhuC0aopfq
— Eliza Mondegreen (@elizamondegreen) January 11, 2022
From Ginger K., video (photo montage, I suspect) of the Parker Solar probe going through the Sun’s corona:
For the first time ever, a spacecraft has flown into the sun's atmosphere and lived to tell the tale. Exhilarating footage from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe as it sails through streamers of plasma w/ temps of several million degrees F in the sun's coronapic.twitter.com/2b0IyiT25W
— Ferris Jabr (@ferrisjabr) December 15, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
14 January 1932 | Dutch Jewish boy Hartog Roodveldt was born in Amsterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 14, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First, a great eared nightjar (Lyncornis macrotis) :
DRAGON BIRD >>!!??!? pic.twitter.com/ZVT3DLQ5BQ
— Fluf Drabgon , ,,.. . , , (@AshIsFluffed) January 12, 2022
Now this is what I call a buttload of whales!
— Conor Ryan (@whale_nerd) January 14, 2022
Copy cat. pic.twitter.com/F7asUomevP
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) January 14, 2022