It’s snowing hard a deep! Here’s a photo of the Quad on my way to work. (I also see that the ducks are still here, lightly frosted. I love it when it’s so early that there are no footprints.
It’s the month’s first Hump Day (“Húfudagur”, as they say in Iceland): February 2, 2022. It’s National Tater Tot Day, and if you want to know what these are, go here , where you’ll learn that other countries have equivalents (grated potatoes mooshed up together and deep fried).
In Australia and New Zealand, they are known as “potato gems”, “potato royals” or “potato pom-poms”. The New Zealand Pizza Hut franchise offers “Hash Bites” as a side dish, available alone or with an aioli dipping sauce.
They are even made into a casserole or “hotdish,” and I do want to try this at least once:
It’s also California Kiwifruit Day, Crepe Day, World Wetlands Day, Heavenly Hash Day, National Girls and Women in Sports Day, World Ukelele Day, Hedgehog Day, Marmot Day, Sled Dog Day, and, of course, GROUNDHOG DAY! (If you’re in Russia, it’s also Victory of the Battle of Stalingrad.) Here’s a groundhog cartoon sent by Elsie:
Apparently the ceremony in Pennsylvania is over, and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow:
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 2, 2022
News of the Day:
There are now few mountains that haven’t been climbed, and those that haven’t, like Mount Kailash in Tibet, are off limits to climbers because they’re sacred. Now mountaineers seek new ways to climb already-ascended peaks: doing it solo, without oxygen, and climbing in winter, the hard season. The NYT, in a gloriously illustrated article called “The loneliest mountaineer on Everest,” documents the ongoing effort of German climber Jost Kobusch to climb Everest by himself, without oxygen, and in winter (Have a look at the video that opens the piece. How was it made?)
These days, it has become fashionable to affix some kind of first to the mountain — the oldest N.F.L. player to reach the top, the world’s highest dinner party — leaving truly notable feats on Everest rare.
Including Wielicki and Cichy, only 15 people have stood atop Everest in meteorological winter (which begins Dec. 1), when winds can reach 200 miles per hour. All climbed with partners, and only one, Ang Rita Sherpa, in 1987, climbed without supplemental oxygen.
Not only is he climbing in winter and alone without supplemental oxygen, he is trying to reach the top of Everest via the West Ridge, a far more formidable path than the two most common routes, which nearly 98 percent of summit seekers use. Kobusch must contend with sheer walls, bullet-hard blue ice pitched as steep as a church spire and a final gully of ice, rock and snow — called the Hornbein Couloir — in which only a few people have ever set foot.
Best of luck to him. We’ll know if he made it in a few days, and I hope to Ceiling Cat that even if he doesn’t, he’ll come back alive. A photo from the NYT: Here he is two years ago on the West Ridge:
*Yesterday one of our jab-hating readers proudly touted a new study supposedly showing that ivermectin. I pushed back. Here’s our exchange:
The difference between the two versions couldn’t be more dramatic: The mistaken version claimed that ivermectin was effective against omicron in humans; the corrected version claimed that ivermectin showed “antiviral” capabilities against omicron in test tubes. Reuters attributed the news to Kowa Co. Ltd., a Japanese pharmaceutical company.
The antiviral capabilities of ivermectin against SARS-CoV-2 in a test-tube environment are not a matter of breaking news: Research dating to 2020 showed that “a single dose of ivermectin was able to reduce the replication of an Australian isolate of SARS-CoV-2 in Vero/hSLAM cells by 5000-fold.” There were many reasons, however, for skepticism about how that finding would carry over into real-life treatment.
These Roganites like the one above, so desperte to find an ivermectin-promoting headline, don’t bother to investigate. The data aren’t yet in from a large and ongoing controlled study, but I’ll be anybody $1000 that ivermectin won’t have even half the effect of the Pfizer or Moderna jabs in protecting against disease—if it has any effect. I still don’t understand these “wormies” and why they hate jabs so much. I’m sure they’ve had their polio and (back in the day) their smallpox jabs.
*Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, has hung up his cleats. A young 44, and having played in the NFL for 22 years, he could easily have continued as a first-string quarterback. But he’s got other fish to fry.
In recent years, Brady has been preparing for the next phase of his life, founding the health and wellness company TB12 Sports with his longtime trainer Alex Guerrero and the media company Religion of Sports and the Brady Brand clothing line. In the sort of thing one does when sensing the end approaching, he also chronicled his legacy in two television series, “Tom vs. Time” and “Man in the Arena.”
But he kept delaying retirement for so long because he loved football and he loved winning and he was excellent for more than two decades — the best, in fact — at doing both. That he finished his career with a playoff defeat seems incompatible with all the glory that preceded it.
Having been at the helm for 7 Superbown victores—an all time record—his team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 2022 Superbowl berth last week in a squeaker against the Los Angeles Rams. Maybe that was enough for him, but not to his many fans. Here’s a retrospective of his great moments. (Click on “Watch on YouTube”.)
What an arm Brady has!
*After arguing on “The View” that the Holocaust was not a racist campaign, but a matter of mere inhumanity involving white against white Whoopi Goldberg has apologized:
In a statement posted on Twitter, Goldberg said: “On today’s show I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man’. I should have said it is about both.
“As Jonathan Greenblatt from of the Anti-Defamation League shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people, who they deemed to be an inferior race’. I stand corrected.
“The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never (waver). I am sorry for the hurt I have caused.
“Written with my sincerest apologies. Whoopi Goldberg.”
I’d let it go, but after a verbal apology she walked back her “sorry” a bit:
Yet during her appearance on The Late Show, which was taped before she issued her apology, but aired after, Goldberg reiterated her apology and made it clear any offense was unintentional, yet also backed up her original statements by continuing to suggest race is only about skin color.
“It upset a lot of people, which was never ever, ever my intention,” she said. “I feel, being Black, when we talk about race, it’s a very different thing to me. So I said I thought the Holocaust wasn’t about race. And people got very angry and still are angry. I’m getting a lot of mail from folks and a lot of real anger. But I thought it was a salient discussion because as a Black person, I think of race as being something that I can see. So I see you and know what race you are. I thought it [the Holocaust] was more about man’s inhumanity to man. … People said, ‘No, no, we are a race.’ I felt differently. I respect everything everyone is saying to me.”
Are Jews a race? I’m not getting into that, for though it’s a religion, race is seen by the Woke as a social construct—and yet Jews have almost diagnostic genetic differences from other groups. (My Y chromosome alone typed me as Eastern European Jew about 14 years ago, and I’m waiting on 23 And Me. I’ll beef a little, but it’s time to move on.
*UPDATE: ABC News has suspended Goldberg from the show for two weeks. After her first apology, I’d say, “Forgive her and let’s move on.” But then she repeated her claim that Jews aren’t a race after she’d already made one apology. Still, I’m not going to call for her suspension there, either. I think she’s at least understood the other side, and we need to forgive more often than do the Woke.
*Big mistake in Royals merch: (h/t Jez):
A spelling mistake on thousands of pieces of Platinum Jubilee merchandising, calling it the “Platinum Jubbly”, is proving a challenge for souvenir sellers.
The cups and plates were meant to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.
Clearance website boss Karl Baxter said – “in classic Del Boy-style” – he will pitch them as collectors’ items.
“What could be more unique than our limited-edition misprinted crockery?” he said.
More than 10,000 pieces of the jubilee memorabilia were produced in China and sent to be sold in the UK – except for the slight problem of a misprint, which says “the Platinum Jubbly of Queen Elizabeth II”.
This is hilarious; don’t they have a spelling checker? Perhaps these will be worth a pile some day, but there a probably too many of them for that to happen. Voilá:
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 889,522, an increase of 2,636 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,708,033, an increase of about 14,500 over yesterday’s total.
New reported cases are falling steeply. A plot from the NYT link:
Stuff that happened on February. 2 include:
- 1536 – Spaniard Pedro de Mendoza founds Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- 1653 – New Amsterdam (later renamed The City of New York) is incorporated.
- 1709 – Alexander Selkirk is rescued after being shipwrecked on a desert island, inspiring Daniel Defoe‘s adventure book Robinson Crusoe.
I couldn’t find a first edition of this book on sale (printed 1719), so it must be very rare.
- 1876 – The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs of Major League Baseball is formed.
- 1900 – Six cities, Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago and St. Louis, agree to form baseball’s American League.
- 1901 – Funeral of Queen Victoria.
- 1922 – Ulysses by James Joyce is published.
The first edition, printed in 750 numbered copies, will cost you $75,000 or upwards. Mrkgnao!!!
- 1925 – Serum run to Nome: Dog sleds reach Nome, Alaska with diphtheria serum, inspiring the Iditarod race.
A great act of humanity and courage:
The 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy and The Serum Run, was a transport of diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled relay across the U.S. territory of Alaska by 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs across 674 miles (1,085 km) in 5 ½ days, saving the small town of Nome and the surrounding communities from a developing epidemic.
Balto, a Siberian Husky and the lead sled dog of the first sled to enter Nome, has become a hero. Here he is:
A statue of Balto in Central Park in NYC. I love that his ears and especially the tongue have been rubbed; the tongue, as in the photo above, is more obvious:
- 1943 – World War II: The Battle of Stalingrad comes to an end when Soviet troops accept the surrender of the last organized German troops in the city.
Soviet troops holding the line. Note their winter uniforms. The Germans didn’t have many as they didn’t anticipate the weather conditions:
- 1959 – Nine experienced ski hikers in the northern Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union die under mysterious circumstances.
- 1990 – Apartheid: F. W. de Klerk announces the unbanning of the African National Congress and promises to release Nelson Mandela.
- 2004 – Swiss tennis player Roger Federer becomes the No. 1 ranked men’s singles player, a position he will hold for a record 237 weeks.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1585 – Hamnet Shakespeare, William Shakespeare’s only son (baptised; d. 1596)]
Hamnet’s birth and death records:
- 1882 – James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1941)
Joyce n 1922:
Here he is reading from Finnegans Wake, a book I couldn’t get through:
- 1901 – Jascha Heifetz, Lithuanian-born American violinist and educator (d. 1987)
- 1905 – Ayn Rand, Russian-born American novelist and philosopher (d. 1982)
The overrated Rand. Here’s 1959 interview with Mike Wallace:
- 1923 – James Dickey, American poet and novelist (d. 1997)
- 1927 – Stan Getz, American saxophonist (d. 1991)
Getz is, to my mind, the greatest white saxophonist, but is behind others like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Ben Webster. Here’s a selection of Getz’s playing:
- 1937 – Tom Smothers, American comedian, actor, and activist
- 1942 – Graham Nash, English-American singer-songwriter and guitarist
- 1947 – Farrah Fawcett, American actress and producer (d. 2009)
Here’s a sad video account of her last days.
Oktar is now in prison for over a thousand years. I don’t think he will emerge alive.
Oktar and his “kittens”, as he called them:
I always show this on a Shakira anniversary (today she’s 45). It’s a fantastic performance of “Hips don’t lie” with Wyclef Jean:
Ulysses was published on Joyce’s 40th birthday.
Those who relinquished their lives on February 2 include:
- 1918 – John L. Sullivan, American boxer (b. 1858)
He was a great bare-knuckle fighter, but drank and ate too much. It shows in this photo:
- 1969 – Boris Karloff, English actor (b. 1887)
- 1970 – Bertrand Russell, English mathematician and philosopher, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1872)
From Existential Comics via Stash Krod. Bertrand Russel asks out a girl:
- 1979 – Sid Vicious, English singer and bass player (b. 1957)
- 1992 – Bert Parks, American actor, singer, television personality; Miss America telecast presenter (b. 1914)
- 1996 – Gene Kelly, American actor, singer, dancer, and director (b. 1912)
- 2014 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1967)
- 2021 – Captain Sir Tom Moore, British Army officer and charity campaigner (b. 1920)
What a guy! Holding his walker, he strode for the NHS, earning roughly £33 million!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is especially captious today:
A: What are you looking for?Hili: Someone to criticize.
Ja: Czego szukasz?Hili: Kogo skrytykować.
From Facebook, a cool duck boat:
A New Yorker cartoon sent by Jean. I think it’s hilarious, especially the underground copy of Maus.
From Matthew. Which of these croissants is not like the others?
Another Jimmy Craig cartoon from Barry:
I found this one, and that is one big baby!
— Two Oceans Aquarium (@2OceansAquarium) January 29, 2022
Speaking of Maus, reader Ken sent a tweet and added, “Ryan Higgins, a comic-book shop owner in California, has offered to send a free copy of Maus to the first 100 families who request one from McMinn County, TN, where the book has been banned”:
As I've offered before with other banned comics, I'll donate up to 100 copies of The Complete Maus to any family in the Mcminn County area in Tennessee. Just DM me your address! pic.twitter.com/ptmdjmwYE5
— Ryan Higgins (@RyanHigginsRyan) January 26, 2022
From Ginger K.. $800,000??? That person is overprivileged!
I asked Wharton students what they thought the average American worker makes per year and 25% of them thought it was over six figures. One of them thought it was $800k. Really not sure what to make of this (The real number is $45k)
— Nina Strohminger (@NinaStrohminger) January 20, 2022
A kingfisher's remarkable head stabilization while hunting. pic.twitter.com/qC3Z0JdV1p
— Wonder of Science (@wonderofscience) February 1, 2022
And a HD video from Audubon, with an article:
What makes birds the true steadicams of nature is how they orient their head. Take a look at the clip of the Common Kingfisher above, which aired on the BBC’s Winterwatch program in January and has since made its way around the internet (on the social media platform Reddit, the clip has been upvoted more than 120,000 times).
Thanks in part to a large number of vertebrae and muscles in their neck, birds can hold their head in place even when their body’s in motion. According to David Lentink, an assistant professor at Stanford University who studies biological flight, this adaptation helps birds stream high-resolution visuals when moving quickly through complex terrain. “They keep their head absolutely horizontal at all cost because that way they have the most reliable information, which they have to stream at high rates,” he says. “When you’re maneuvering like crazy . . . you need a perfect vision platform.”
Gaze stabilization in birds is complex and still poorly understood, Lentink says. But what we do know is that it’s controlled in part by visual input and the vestibular system, a sensory system in the inner ear in charge of balance and spatial orientation. Like a three-dimensional level, the vestibular system (which other vertebrates have, as well) governs spatial orientation, and it’s critical for keeping the head steady. “The vestibular system is making sure that the head has the information to stay absolutely at the same point so the eyes can stay focused, which is really important in the kingfisher ” Lentink says.
That last paragraph is a fancy way of saying, “Well, this is our best guess, but we don’t know.”
From Alex Wild. A “velvet” ant is really a wingless wasp:
A female Dasymutilla velvet ant showing the black-red color pattern common to many central Texas species. pic.twitter.com/Dy6nyUPm87
— Alex Wild (@Myrmecos) January 30, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. I wouldn’t mind a few cat hairs in my marmalade. After all, they’d be sterile when the preparation was done.
My apologies to anyone receiving a jar of marmalade with cat hair in it. She won’t budge 🤷♀️ pic.twitter.com/bIYzNEWH4U
— Signe Johansen (@SigneSJohansen) January 31, 2022
I guess even by 1808 artists had not mastered the technique of drawing cats:
Happy #Caturday from this top floof.
🎨 Collection de mammiferes du Museum d'Histoire Nat, Paris, 1808 pic.twitter.com/SmzGjnkhtD
— The British Library (@britishlibrary) January 15, 2022
This is the reduviid bug that can produce Chagas disease by injecting you with a trypanosome. It’s a nasty ailment, and historians of sciences used to think that Darwin caught Chagas in South America and suffered from it for the rest of his life, explaining his vomiting and spells of ill health. Now there are other theories.
“It is most disgusting to feel soft wingless insects, about an inch long, crawling over one’s body; before sucking they are quite thin, but afterwards round & bloated with blood.”
Darwin on the ‘kissing bug’ – “the great black bug of the Pampas”.
— Tom Holland (@holland_tom) January 15, 2022