It’s February at last, and today, Tuesday, is February 1, 2022. And the lunar year has begun, which usually coincides with the Chinese New Year. It happens to be the Year of the Tiger, celebrated with a cute gif and link (click on screenshot to see the fun (and wait a few seconds after clicking):
It’s National Cake Pops Day (a meager dessert, eaten more for its novelty than its tastiness).
Much better: a nice sticky bun:
But it’s also these food months:
Canned Food Month
National Chocolate Lovers Month
National Cherry Month
National Grapefruit Month
National Snack Food Month
National Potato Lovers Month
Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
National Hot Breakfast Month
!st week of Feb- African Heritage & Health Week
3rd Weekend of February: National Margarita Weekend
“Superbowl Sunday” : National Pork Rind Day (aka National Pork Rind Appreciation Day)
Further, it’s National Sticky Bun Day, National Grain-Free Day, Presidents’ Day, National Freedom Day (the House and Senate approved resolution that resulted in the 13th Amendment, which banned slavery), and the start of Black History Month in the United States and Canada.
News of the Day:
*NATO and the U.S. are still squabbling with Russia over Ukraine, as the threat of invasion grows. Two bits from the NYT:
The United States and Russia engaged in a bitter diplomatic brawl Monday at the U.N. Security Council over the Ukraine crisis, as the Americans accused the Russians of endangering peace by massing troops on Ukraine’s borders while Kremlin diplomats dismissed what they called hysterical U.S. fearmongering.
. . . Just a week after top diplomats from the United States and Russia sat down in Geneva on Jan. 21 to seek a way of de-escalating tensions around Ukraine, the Pentagon warned that Russia had amassed a fighting force large enough to attack its neighbor, a nation of 44 million, on a scale and at a time of its choosing. That could include a full-scale invasion, which would be likely to result in fierce fighting and potentially the worst bloodshed on the continent since the end of World War II.
I’m guessing there will be a Russian invasion by mid-February. But, as always, I hope I’m wrong.
*According to the Guardian, polar bears, who are not stupid, have moved into an abandoned weather station on Russia’s Kolyuchin. Island (h/t: Jez).
Later I asked one of Russia’s top polar bear experts, Anatoly Kochnev, what causes the animals’ behaviour – why do they love to sit in the buildings? The biologist, who worked in Chukotka and on the island of Kolyuchin for many years, told me that, first of all, polar bears are very curious by nature, so they always attempt to get through any unlocked window or door. And secondly, unfortunately, these animals were traditionally hunted, and so they use these houses as a form of protection from humans.
But then he told me something even more interesting. It turns out that bears very rarely appear on the island in such numbers. No one knows why, but once every nine years the floating ice remains near the shore in summer. Consequently, the bears do not travel far to the north with the ice, as usual, and take up residence in the abandoned polar station. We saw proof of this later on when we met almost no bears on Wrangel Island to the north.
The photos are adorable. Here are two:
*Speaking of endangered wildlife, MarketWatch, of all places, reports that a professor in Texas is in trouble for smuggling exotic animal parts into the U.S.: (h/t Reese)
Richard Kazmaier, 54, who is an associate professor at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, was indicted for allegedly importing protected wildlife items into the country without declaring them or obtaining proper permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
He was served with a summons last Thursday at his university office, according to court papers.
Prosecutors say that between 2017 and 2020, Kazmaier imported skulls, skeletons and taxidermy mounts of a number of exotic animals, including a golden jackal, a caracal, a Eurasian otter, a vervet monkey and a variety of exotic birds.
. . .The Endangered Species Act and federal regulations require anyone importing wildlife to declare what they are bringing into the country to customs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials. Special permits for certain protected species are also required, including for many of the animals Kazmaier was allegedly importing.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 if convicted, prosecutors said.
A biologist! If he’s found guilty LOCK HIM UP! Here’s his photo; does anybody know of him?
*Bari Weiss’s Substack piece from two days ago, “On decency and double standards at Georgetown [University]“, tells a new but still familiar academic tale.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days about a tweet by a Georgetown professor.
Look at this chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement.
All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes.
That tweet was written in 2018 by Georgetown professor Carol Christine Fair about Republican senators who supported Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Fair also writes a blog called Tenacious Hellpussy, which she describes as “a nasty woman posting from the frontlines of fuckery.” There she notes: “Cunty women get shit done.”
I fully agree, though I might call it chutzpah. For evidence, we need look no further than Fair herself.
When asked to apologize or explain her policy recommendation of mass castration and death she said this: “I will not use civil words to describe mass incivility.” She added: “Don’t expect me to. It’s an absurd request. I will use words that make you as uncomfortable as I am with this regime.”
Georgetown, as it should have, defended Fair’s freedom of speech.
But then another law professor made arguably less incendiary tweets, calling out Biden for using affirmative action to select a Supreme Court Justice. The tweets of Russian emigré Ilya Shapiro’s said this:
Objectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan, who is solid prog & v smart. Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn’t fit into the latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser black woman. Thank heaven for small favors?
Because Biden said he’s only consider[ing] black women for SCOTUS, his nominee will always have an asterisk attached. Fitting that the Court takes up affirmative action next term.
In this case there was no academic protection from the University. The Dean of the Georgetown Law School sent out an email chastising Shapiro, calling his tweets “appalling” and “at odds with everything we stand for at Georgetown Law.” This is hypocritical and unfair. What does “we” stand for at Georgetown. Could it be that some people agree with Shapiro but have had their speech chilled by an official pronouncement from the dean?
The Black Law Students group went further and now call for Shapiro to be fired. That’s absurd; do they not know about freedom of speech? Apparently not. This is why all schools should adopt Chicago’s Kalven Principles, which forbids our university and its constituent units from making “official” pronouncements on morality, ideology, or politics
UPDATE: I’ve just learned from a FIRE email and statement (they’re handling the case), that Shapiro has in fact been suspended for his tweets. That is absolutely unconscionable: a clear violation of freedom of speech and academic freedom. FIRE is handling the legal aspects of Shapiro’s case. In what kind of world would somebody been suspended for those two tweets, but defended for Fair’s hateful tweets? Ideally, in both cases the University should affirm its support of free speech and then shut up.
*Dr. Brydon sent this link and video from what he says is a conservative site. It shows a recent episode of the t.v. talk “The View,” on which Whoopi Goldberg claims that the Holocaust wasn’t about race. Well, that’s not true (Judaism is a religion, but there are genetic commonalities among Jews), but it might as well have been, for the Holocaust was persecution of Jews, and race is supposedly an abiological social construct. Jews certainly count as a “protected” class along with “races.” But the conversation clearly shows that Whoopi is downplaying the persecution angle (the site’s emphasis):
As part of their discussion about a Tennessee school allegedly banning the Holocaust-themed graphic novel Maus (in reality it was simply removed from an 8th-grade reading list and they were open to bringing it back), Whoopi described the Holocaust as “white people doing it to white people. So, this is y’all go fight amongst yourselves.”
I find her interpretation fascinating—and repulsive.
More of the conversation (listen to it yourself on the video at the link):
Immediately following her false declaration, you could hear a pin drop on the set. It was broken by co-host Sara Haines saying “no” seemingly in agreement and Whoopi doubling down. “No. It’s not about race,” she said.
This kicked off a cacophony of crosstalk where Behar and co-host Ana Navarro pushed back by pointing out that the Nazis were targeting the Jews based on race:
BEHAR: They considered Jews a different race.
GOLDBERG: It’s not about race. It’s not about race.
BEHAR: What is it about?
GOLDBERG: It’s about man’s inhumanity to man. That’s what it’s about.
ANA NAVARRO: But it’s about white supremacy.
Well, why isn’t racism against blacks about man’s inhumanity to man? This is a distinction without a difference, but you know Whoopi’s goal: to draw a false distinction by claiming, after all, the Holocaust was about whites vs. whites. Move along folks, nothing to see here. And yes, the Nazis considered the Aryan “race” different from the Jewish “race”. This is the insidious way that anti-Semitism becomes mainstream opinion.
*As they say at end of the NBC Evening News, “There’s good news tonight!” Our good news—well, humorous news—comes from the Associated Press. It turns out that the city of Florence, Alabama wanted to publicize its amenities with a new logo, and came up with this:
The Pecksniffs have decided that this looks like F!, which could, at a stretch, be seen as an obscene expletive. But you’d have to be pecksniffing to see that:
When the city unveiled the new logo this week, it drew immediate backlash and an online petition demanding changes that had nearly 7,500 signatures. The city paid $25,000 to a Birmingham marketing firm for the branding, WAAY-TV reported.
Some people need to get a life
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 885,938, an increase of 2,558 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,693,527, an increase of about 10,400 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on Feb. 1 include:
- 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- 1884 – The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
A ten volume-set comprising all the entire edition goes for $10,000:
- 1893 – Thomas A. Edison finishes construction of the first motion picture studio, the Black Maria in West Orange, New Jersey.
Here it is, the site where many early films were made, including Fred Ott’s Sneeze:
- 1918 – Russia adopts the Gregorian calendar.
Saudi Arabia was the last country to adopt this calendar: in 2016!
- 1942 – World War II: Josef Terboven, Reichskommissar of German-occupied Norway, appoints Vidkun Quisling the Minister President of the National Government.
Here’s Quisling signing an autograph in 1943. Two years later he was executed for treason. It’s not often a man’s name becomes a pejorative noun—even Hitler didn’t have that:
- 1942 – Voice of America, the official external radio and television service of the United States government, begins broadcasting with programs aimed at areas controlled by the Axis powers.
- 1960 – Four black students stage the first of the Greensboro sit-ins at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.
This was the first of many sit-ins by brave students, who were instructed to not fight back. The first photo shows the first one in 1960, the second the racists who dumped sugar, ketchup and mustard on the protestors:
A white protestor joins the demonstrations:
- 1964 – The Beatles have their first number one hit in the United States with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
- 1979 – Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Tehran after nearly 15 years of exile.
Here’s his arrival on this date. The caption: “Arrival of Khomeini on 1 February 1979. When asked about his feelings of returning from exile in the plane, he replied Hich; ‘None’.”
- 2002 – Daniel Pearl, American journalist and South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, kidnapped January 23, 2002, is beheaded and mutilated by his captors.
Here’s his canceled passport:
- 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during the reentry of mission STS-107 into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
A short video with W.’s announcement and an analysis of the disaster:
- 2021 – A coup d’état in Myanmar removes Aung San Suu Kyi from power and restores military rule.
Notables born on this day include:
I just liked the name.
- 1901 – Clark Gable, American actor (d. 1960)
Here’s a video about Gable’s love life, which was wide-ranging. Carole Lombard is popularly known as his great love, but it didn’t stop him from having affairs.
- 1902 – Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright (d. 1967)
- 1904 – S.J. Perelman, American humorist and screenwriter (d. 1979)
- 1931 – Boris Yeltsin, Russian politician, 1st President of Russia (d. 2007)
- 1937 – Don Everly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2021)
This remains my favorite live video of the brothers (who didn’t speak that much by 1989). And it’s my favorite song from them. Don is the one who introduces them—the one with curly hair. Their harmonies were just about the same as when the brothers were younger. The song is lovely as well; it started as a French song called “Je t’appartiens” (hear it here). Phil died in 2014.
Those who hung on until January ended include:
A portrait, “Richard Rothwell’s portrait of Shelley was shown at the Royal Academy in 1840.” I suspect it was painted from life.
Mondrian was a representational painter before he went all square-y. Here’s Piet, Evening; Red Tree (Avond; De rode boom), 1908–1910:
- 1958 – Clinton Davisson, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1888)
- 1966 – Hedda Hopper, American actress and journalist (b. 1885)
- 1966 – Buster Keaton, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1895)
To cheer up Matthew, who’s busy grading (and his wife is in Scandinavia for a few days), here’s one of his favorite comedians:
- 1976 – Werner Heisenberg, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901)
Heisenberg lecturing. Can anybody tell what he’s talking about?
- 1986 – Alva Myrdal, Swedish sociologist and politician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
- 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia crew
- Michael P. Anderson, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1959)
- David M. Brown, American captain, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1956)
- Kalpana Chawla, Indian-American engineer and astronaut (b. 1961)
- Laurel Clark, American captain, surgeon, and astronaut (b. 1961)
- Rick Husband, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1957)
- William C. McCool, American commander, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1961)
- Ilan Ramon, Israeli colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1954)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej have a rather opaque conversation. Hili wants to change the world somehow but Andrzej verifies her pessimism: she can’t do much.
Hili: What influence do we have on the world?A: Infinitely limited.Hili: I thought so.
Hili: Jaki mamy wpływ na świat?Ja: Niezmiernie ograniczony.Hili: Tak myślałam.
From Jesus of the Day. I love these weird takes on “do not” signs:
From Barry, an animal cartoon by Jimmy Craig:
From Bruce we have a Kitler:
I’m not quite sure what Wordle is except a word game, but everyone seems to be playing it. God doesn’t like that:
If you would like to be sent to hell immediately, tell Me how you did at Wordle today.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) January 28, 2022
From Barry. I might have even posted this yesterday, but who cares when it’s so adorable? Sound up:
Otter makes delightfully adorable squeals, like a cat that has learned to meow for human affection.
📽️ via otteritarian. pic.twitter.com/IUWtzShpYw
— C. Danielle Adams 📚 (@_charadams_) January 30, 2022
From Paul, who adds, “I like how it seems to glance upward briefly as if to see where the water is coming from.”
A dragonfly wiping rain from its face. Incredible footage. pic.twitter.com/QchtcYDC3O
— Amazing Nature (@AmazingNature00) January 28, 2022
From Ginger K. I’d call it the “Stairway to Heaven.” I wonder if all the kittens are from a single brood:
— VIPAN ✿ (@Soulfulvipan) January 22, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. I translated this first photo of weird wasps using Google:
And this couple of wasps from the Eucharitidae family, which parasitize ant nests?
The female is on the left, more robust, and the male is on the right, more slender. Their differentiated antennas serve to help locate the pheromones emitted by them.
E esse casal de vespinhas da família Eucharitidae, que parasitam ninhos de formigas?
A fêmea é a do lado esquerdo, mais robusta, e o macho é o que está do lado direito, mais delgado. As antenas diferenciadas deles servem pra ajudar a localizar os feromônios emitidos por elas. pic.twitter.com/9XjvFbPmkA
— César Favacho 🦗🐜🪲🦟🪳 (@CesarFavacho) January 31, 2022
Seeds bloom from an ancient cache:
In the Pleistocene 32,000 yrs ago a ground squirrel stored plants in its burrow, including the seeds of Silene stenophylla, Narrow-leafed Campion. In 2012 scientists were able to culture plants from these seeds.This species exists today, but the ice age version has thinner petals pic.twitter.com/SpzIoBvBkj
— Rebecca Dart (@R_Dart) January 30, 2022
From the great photographer Alex Wild, who tells us this is a Phanolinus rove beetle from Ecuador:
Who needs drugs when there are bugs. pic.twitter.com/LmEDlru7Ok
— Alex Wild (@Myrmecos) January 30, 2022
This is a nice thread (there’s more) on the evolution of distinct sex chromosomes:
My daughter and I came up with the phrase "The Y chromosome went rogue and decided only to do one thing, making a particular sex", balanced with the same for the W chromosome in birds, which … I think is basically fair about hetreogametic chromosome reduction
— Ewan Birney (@ewanbirney) January 15, 2022
A long time ago, at the birth mammals [*] there was a normal looking chromosome, minding its own business when a region on this chromosome split into two types, one which pushed sex determination to male, and the other defaulted to female…
— Ewan Birney (@ewanbirney) January 15, 2022