Greetings on Hump Day, or “Dan Grba” as they say in Croatia: January 19, 2022, National Popcorn Day!! (I didn’t put the two exclamation marks in; somebody’s really excited about popcorn. It’s also World Quark Day (not the physics quark, but a cheeselike comestible), Brew a Potion Day, Tin Can Day, New Friends Day, and, in Iceland, Husband’s Day (Iceland). Here’s the ritual:
Bóndadagur in Icelandic means “Farmer’s day”, and an early (generally considered humorous) reference to it was made in 1864 by Jón Árnason in his book Þjóðsögur (Folk Tales). According to Árnason, the master of the house should arise on the celebration day, put only one leg of his trousers and underwear on, and hop around outside calling men on neighboring farms to attend a feast to welcome the month of Þorri.
Here’s the male version of the Icelandic national costume:
There’s a Google Doodle today urging us all to mask up and get our jabs. Click on the screenshot of this gif to see where it goes. Note everybody celebrating their shots.
News of the Day:
*I am not sure how much to believe the hysteria about 5-G-endangered plane safety being promulgated by the major airlines. As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the new 5G internet rolling out this month has been claimed by airlines to cause landing issues in bad weather, because it messes up the altimeter. My doubts come from the fact that for years we’ve been told to turn off our cellphones in flight because it would interfere with navigation, but it doesn’t really. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t see flight attendants—and many others—talking on their cellphones in the air.
However, the airlines might be right, and we should err on the side of safety. Accordingly, both AT&T and Verizon have agreed to deactivate 5G networks from towers within two miles airport runways. But even that’s not good enough for some airlines, as the Wall Street Journal reports:
Nonetheless, a handful of international airlines said Tuesday they plan to suspend some U.S. flights starting Wednesday, citing operational concerns stemming from the Federal Aviation Administration’s restrictions and Boeing Co. ’s guidance not to operate the 777 jet.
Emirates Airline said it would suspend flights to nine U.S. cities. Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. said Boeing had advised them not to operate the 777 to the U.S. in light of 5G deployment. Air India also announced the cancellation of some U.S.-bound flights operated by 777 jets.
*Over at the NYT, columnist and Supreme Court analyst Linda Greenhouse tells us “What the Supreme Court’s vaccine case was really about.” Greenhouse mentions “a now-obscure case from 1981, American Textile Manufacturers Institute v. Donovan,” and then explains that in that case, the Court agreed that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.(OSHA) had the right to regulate safety in the workplace—exposure to toxic cotton dust in factories. Now the court is apparently shifting direction:
That case stands for a time when the Supreme Court was willing to rescue an administrative agency’s authority from the storms of politics. Was that the dissenters’ point in citing it? I don’t know, but what jumped off the page to me was the contrast between how the court behaved in 1981 and what happened last Thursday in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, when six justices yielded to politics to disable an agency from carrying out its statutory mission to protect the health and safety of the American work force. That is where we are now. That’s how far the court has fallen.
The fact is that this dispute — which, remarkably, found 27 states aligned against the federal government — was never principally about the vaccine. OSHA’s “emergency temporary standard,” under which employers of 100 or more people were to require vaccination or weekly testing, was mainly a target of opportunity. It offered the conservative justices a chance to lay down a marker: that if there is a gap to fill in Congress’s typically broadly worded grant of authority to an administrative agency, it will be the Supreme Court that will fill it, and not the agency.
In other words, this decision is about power, and about the Supreme Court’s power—though Justices are not health experts—to rule on decisions that are the purview of an agency that does have the expertise. Justice Alito even got himself pretty balled up in the decision:
Justice Alito suggested that the vaccine policy was more onerous than other OSHA health measures because employees who accept the vaccine run some personal risk, presumably of a bad reaction. The justice, who like the eight others has received two vaccine doses plus a booster, wanted to have it both ways: to cast a cloud over the vaccine requirement while not being labeled an antivaxxer. “I don’t want to be misunderstood in making this point because I’m not saying the vaccines are unsafe,” he told the solicitor general. Then what was he saying, exactly?
Indeed. Another relevant difference: if you get lung disease from cotton dust, you can’t give it to anyone else. If you get Covid from refusal to get the jab, you can endanger others. The judges not only erred, but erred in the wrong direction.
*The Washington Post offers what seems to be helpful advice on “How often can you safely re-use your KN-95 or N-95 mask?” But the article seems less concerned with my query: “If you take off your mask and let it sit, how long till any Covid viruses are dead?” than with “How long should you wear your masks before they become ‘soiled.'” Dirt is one thing, and won’t abate with time, but viruses do. So forgive me if I cock an eye at this:
“In the ideal world — or pre-pandemic — many masks were really viewed as single-use,” said Michael G. Knight, an assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University. “The reality is they do have a little bit more length in the amount of time we can use them.”
What’s crucial, Knight said, is making sure the mask has “maintained its integrity.” Think about how many times you’ve used it and for how long, he said.
“If I’m just putting a mask on to go to the grocery store for 45 minutes and I’m taking it off, that mask very well should be able to last me a couple of days,” he said.
But if you’re wearing a mask all day, such as during a long work shift where you may be sweating and talking all day to the point the mask becomes soiled, “then that may not be a mask that I can reuse.”
“If I’m wearing it for three hours, I’m going for a workout and I’m sweating, then that mask is most likely going to be soiled,” Knight said.
When you start seeing signs that the mask is soiled, “you’re getting to the point that that mask needs to be replaced,” he added.
They’re conflating three things, two of which are concerning (“virus absence” and “integrity”) with “soiling”. Now I throw away my masks when they get unsightly, and I rotate the new ones so any virus dies (I expect three days should do fine, but I’m not going to pitch a mask because I get toothpaste on it (that is my most common contaminant). I bet that if you put your masks under a UV light for a day or so, they’d last until they started falling apart—when they lose “integrity.”
*I’ve used Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik as an example of how a humane justice system treats even the worst criminal. In 2011 Breivik, a right-wing nationalist and white supremacist, killed 77 people, mostly children, in two attacks. He got the maximum sentence possible, 21 years, with his first parole review after only ten years. (After 21 years, they review him for “reformation” every five years, so he’ll likely be in for life, but at least has a comfortable existence.) Still, he’s making things very hard on himself:
Sporting a stubble beard and a two-piece suit, he entered the makeshift courtroom in a prison gymnasium by raising his right hand in a Nazi salute and holding up homemade signs with white supremacist messages. One sign was pinned to his suit.
Asked by the prosecutor who the messages were aimed at, he said they were directed at millions of people “who support white power.”
The Associated Press resists being used as a conduit for speech or images that espouse hate or spread propaganda and is not publishing images showing Breivik’s Nazi salutes and other white supremacist propaganda.
So they published the photo below instead. Is this going to stop white supremacy because they don’t show his hand? Would others make the Nazi salute if they saw Breivik’s hand. After all, it’s clear what he’s doing. At any rate, this loon is likely to be in for life—as he should be because he”s still a danger to society and isn’t in the least reformed.
*yahoo! news reports yet another case of British legal failure to protect the un-woke. A group of demonstrators gathered in front of J. K. Rowling’s home (guess why?) and then posted a photo of the demontstration in which you could make out her address. In other words, they doxxed her. That is, I believe illegal in Scotland, but the Scottish courts let the protestors off (see the article for the photo–sans address) (h/t: Divy)
Police Scotland investigated the protest, but confirmed on Monday that no criminality had been established.
At the time, the 56-year-old writer had accused the actors, who were in Edinburgh to perform in a “drag murder mystery” stage show, of “doxxing” her – a term which means to maliciously reveal private information about someone on the internet.
She claimed that the actors had positioned themselves carefully “to ensure that our address was visible” in an attempt to “intimidate me out of speaking up for women’s sex-based rights”.
“They should have reflected on the fact that I’ve now received so many death threats I could paper the house with them, and I haven’t stopped speaking out,” she added.
“Perhaps – and I’m just throwing this out there – the best way to prove your movement isn’t a threat to women is to stop stalking, harassing and threatening us.”
The three actors deleted their social media accounts after they were confronted online by Ms Rowling.
Rowling is good with the zingers, and if it weren’t transphobic, I’d say she had cojones.
*Sinema and Manchin won’t vote to overturn the filibuster. That means that the federal bill preserving voting rights is dead on arrival—rather, dead before arrival. Biden’s approval ratings continue to sink, though he’s not responsible for Sinema and Manchin.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 853,740 an increase of 1,889 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,575,173, an increase of about 9.800 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on January 19 includes:
Another pictures of the convicts arriving in Botany Bay.
- 1817 – An army of 5,423 soldiers, led by General José de San Martín, crosses the Andes from Argentina to liberate Chile and then Peru.
The crossing (caption from Wikipedia):
- 1829 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy receives its premiere performance.
- 1853 – Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Il trovatore receives its premiere performance in Rome.
- 1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.
Edison as a young man (I can’t find any photos of an illuminated Roselle):
- 1915 – Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube for use in advertising.
- 1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is founded.
2019- The ACLU begins its terminal dissolution.
- 1945 – World War II: Soviet forces liberate the Łódź Ghetto. Of more than 200,000 inhabitants in 1940, less than 900 had survived the Nazi occupation.
The children of the Łódź Ghetto being rounded up to be sent to the Chelmo concentration camp, where they were exterminated:
- 1953 – Almost 72 percent of all television sets in the United States are tuned into I Love Lucy to watch Lucy give birth.
Lucy goes into labor:
- 1978 – The last Volkswagen Beetle made in Germany leaves VW’s plant in Emden. Beetle production in Latin America continues until 2003.
Here’s the last Beetle, bedecked with flowers, rolling off the line in Emden:
- 1983 – The Apple Lisa, the first commercial personal computer from Apple Inc. to have a graphical user interface and a computer mouse, is announced.
An original Lisa:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1807 – Robert E. Lee, American general and academic (d. 1870)
- 1809 – Edgar Allan Poe, American short story writer, poet, and critic (d. 1849)
Poe, in a retouched daguerrotype:
Cézanne painted no cats that I know of, and I don’t like his work much anyway. You have to imagine the cats in there:
- 1908 – Ish Kabibble, American comedian and cornet player (d. 1994)
- 1923 – Jean Stapleton, American actress and singer (d. 2013)
Her greatest role, as Edith Bunker:
- 1933 – George Coyne, American priest, astronomer, and theologian (d. 2020)
Coyne was a Jesuit who headed the Vatican Observatory, and probably is no relative. He was also a vocal accommodationist:
- 1939 – Phil Everly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2014)
- 1943 – Janis Joplin, American singer-songwriter (d. 1970)
Joplin in 1966 or 1967 with Big Brother and the Holding Company:
- 1946 – Dolly Parton, American singer-songwriter and actress
Dolly singing one of my favorite songs that she released (a Mann/Weil composition, though she wrote most of her own songs):
- 1954 – Cindy Sherman, American photographer and director.
Sherman’s oeuvre consists almost entirely of self portraits. Here’s one:
Those who perished from this earth on January 19 include:
- 1729 – William Congreve, English playwright and poet (b. 1670)
- 1968 – Ray Harroun, American race car driver and engineer (b. 1879)
- 1975 – Thomas Hart Benton, American painter and educator (b. 1889)
Here’s his painting “Again,” which isn’t hard to figure out:
- 1980 – William O. Douglas, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1898)
- 1990 – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Indian guru and mystic (b. 1931)
The “guru” was deported from the US as part of a plea bargain (his ashram was rife with criminality) and died in India:
- 1997 – James Dickey, American poet and novelist (b. 1923)
- 1998 – Carl Perkins, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1932)
- 2000 – Hedy Lamarr, Austrian-American actress, singer, and mathematician (b. 1913)
It was Steve Pinker who informed me that Lamarr was Jewish (as was Lauren Bacall), which astounded me. She was also smart and helped develop technology for radio guidance of torpedoes, technology incorporated into the modern Bluetooth system:
- 2006 – Wilson Pickett, American singer-songwriter (b. 1941)
- 2008 – Suzanne Pleshette, American actress (b. 1937)
- 2013 – Stan Musial, American baseball player and manager (b. 1920)
Musial, the “Donora greyhound”, remains my favorite major-league baseball player of all time. Humble, civil (he NEVER questioned an umpire’s call), and wicked with a bat or on the basepaths, I believe he’s still the only major leaguer to hit five home runs in one day—during a double header. I saw him play only once, with his beloved Cardinals.
Here’s a short 6.5-minute video retrospective of his career.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has special knowledge of where pens go. (She knocks them off the desk, of course).
A: Could you tell me where my pen is?Hili: It probably fell under your desk again.
Ja: Czy możesz mi powiedzieć, gdzie jest mój długopis?Hili: Pewnie ci znowu wpadł pod biurko.
From Jesus of the Day, which labels this a *head desk*:
A duck cartoon from Facebook:
A snow cat army from Lorenzo the Cat:
I don't know what I'm doing.
I just know what you're doing.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) January 16, 2022
From reader Paul. Michael Shermer takes on Scientific American, as every good scientist should do. More on our attempt to criticize the magazine in an hour or so:
Actual headlines from Scientific American. @jonkay and I discuss these and the larger problem of woke progressivism in science, academia, and journalism:https://t.co/o6KTSf0qpX pic.twitter.com/hUIPkC0ty9
— Michael Shermer (@michaelshermer) January 18, 2022
From Simon. This is why I almost never use Excel:
Thanks, Excel, that was definitely what I wanted when I clicked "copy down" on the cell containing "With Covid-19" 🙃 pic.twitter.com/qFtogNgkXk
— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) January 14, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
19 January 1935 | A French Jewish boy, Gilbert Gluck, was born in Paris.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 19, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. I’ve seen this display in action, and it’s quite impressive.
Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor)🐦🦜🕊️🎵❤️ pic.twitter.com/imQWbytQrs
— World birds (@worldbirds32) January 18, 2022
This is the beginning of a long thread, and documents the beginning of a career. It shows the importance of mentorship, and answering everybody who shows a genuine curiosity. Varney is a postdoc working on marine invertebrates at the University of California at Santa Barbara:
I have no memory of doing this, but a professor wrote back! Not only did he take the time to reply, he invited me to come to UCB & see "a really big bug collection". Following a lot of begging, my mom made time to drive to Berkeley, despite mild alarm at this whole situation. 👀
— Rebecca Varney (@RebeccaMVarney) January 17, 2022
A lovely photo from Gil Wizen. Did you spot the ____?
Velvet ants are wasps in the family Mutillidae, and the females are always wingless:
This is a very rare photo and it's worth your time.
You think this is a wasp taking prey to its nest? Nope, think again.
These are mating velvet ants. The male is the winged, large one.
Bonus point if you also spotted the photobomb! https://t.co/rT8biJp1g4
— Gil Wizen (@wizentrop) January 18, 2022
And a playful thread:
— Joel VanderWerf (@JoelVanderWerf) January 17, 2022