Welcome to Hump Day, known to the Kurdish as rojek hûr: February 9, 2022: National Bagel and Lox Day. Oy, what a great day, but why did they forget the schmear? Here, let me fix that:
Today’s Google Doodle is a gif celebrating the life of Toni Stone (1921-1996) who,
was the first of three women to play professional baseball full-time for the Indianapolis Clowns, in the previously all-male Negro leagues.This also made her the first woman to play as a regular on an American big-league professional baseball team. A baseball player from her early childhood, she went on to play for the San Francisco Sea Lions, The New Orleans Creoles, the Indianapolis Clowns, and the Kansas City Monarchs before retiring from baseball in 1954.
There was a women’s baseball league then, but they were unofficially segregated and Stone could not play. When you click on the screenshot, you’ll not only see information about her but some fancy animations on the page”
News of the Day:
*Well here’s a pleasant surprise. Senator Mitch “666” McConnell has done the right thing for once! You may recall that the Republican National Committee censured two Republican Congresspeople (Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger) simply for staying on the “bipartisan” panel investigating the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol. All the other Republicans refused to be on that committee, and act of pure petulance. At any rate, McConnell took the RNC to task for this censure!
Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, pushed back hard on Tuesday on the Republican Party’s censure of Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and its characterization of Jan. 6 as “legitimate political discourse,” saying the riot was a “violent insurrection.”
The remarks from Mr. McConnell, the normally taciturn Kentucky Republican, added to a small but forceful chorus of G.O.P. lawmakers who have decried the action that the Republican National Committee took on Friday, when it officially rebuked Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger for participating in the House investigation of the Jan. 6 attack, accusing them of “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”
Mr. McConnell repudiated that description, saying, “We saw it happen. It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was.”
In the days since the Republican National Committee passed the resolution at its winter meeting in Salt Lake City, a handful of Republicans have criticized the move as everything from a political distraction to a shame on the party. Mr. McConnell was among the most blunt.
McConnell is a nasty piece of work in general, so I can’t help but think he has secret motives. He’s too old to run for President in two years (he’s 80 now), so what’s in it for him? Is this an act of genuine principle?
*Sorry, but I cannot forgive Pope Benedict, who just asked “forgiveness” for not dealing directly with priests who were sex abusers. At the same time, he said he bore no responsibility for what happened, including his covering up the abuse. Benedict is 94 now, and preparing to meet his Maker, but doesn’t he think the Maker knew what was going on.
Most recently, Benedict has been under fire over his time as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, between 1977 and 1982, after a Church-commissioned report into abuse by Catholic clergy there was published last month.
The report found that he had been informed of four cases of sexual abuse involving minors — including two during his time in Munich — but failed to act. The report also revealed Benedict had attended a meeting about an abuser identified as Priest X, though the retired pontiff’s testimony to investigators denied he had been present.
Days after the report’s publication, the former pope admitted he had gone to the meeting, blaming his earlier denial to investigators on “an error in the editing of his statement.”
Pity there’s no Maker to mete out the punishment that is meet.
*Another surprise, this time reported by the Boston Globe. Eric Lander, a geneticist and big macher in the genomics world—he was one of the founders of the Broad Institute—has resigned as Biden’s hand-picked science advisor. Lander’s had a reputation for self aggrandizement, but so do many big-name scientists. What he apparently did as science advisor, however, appears to be worse:
President Joe Biden’s top science adviser Dr. Eric Lander resigned Monday, hours after the White House confirmed that an internal investigation found credible evidence that he mistreated his staff.
An internal review last year, prompted by a workplace complaint, found evidence that Lander, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and science adviser to Biden, bullied staffers and treated them disrespectfully. The White House rebuked Lander over his treatment of his staff, but initially signaled Monday that he would be allowed to remain on the job, despite Biden’s day-one assertion that he expected “honesty and decency” from all who worked for his administration and would fire anyone who shows disrespect to others “on the spot.”
But later Monday evening, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had accepted Lander’s resignation with “gratitude for his work at OTSP on the pandemic, the Cancer Moonshot, climate change, and other key priorities.”
Lander’s resignation is effective February 18, and Biden will have to choose a replacement. I hope it’s a good one; this is an important job.
*A new article in the Guardian, reporting on a new paper published in Current Biology, notes that, on several dozen occasions, a chimp with a flesh wound inflicted by an internecine fight was treated with “insect therapy” by another chimp. The “doctor” chimp would snatch an insect out of the air, and crush it in its mouth, applying the insect to the “patient’s wound. (Some injured chimps will even do this to themselves.) Now it’s not clear what’s going on, but people speculate that the crushed insect is a palliative or type of antibiotic. (h/t Jez):
Researchers have not been able to identify what bug was used on the wounds, but they believe it to be a flying insect given the chimpanzees’ rapid movement to catch it.
[Biologist Simone] Pika says the insect could contain anti-inflammatory substances that have a soothing effect. Insects are known to have various medical properties and researches will need to conduct more work to detect and study the insect in question.
Birds, bears, elephants and other animals have already been observed self-medicating, for example by eating plants. But what is unique about chimpanzees is that they will treat not just themselves, but also help others.
Some scientists, however, still doubt the ability of animal species to exhibit prosocial behaviours, such as selflessly caring for others, Pika said.From Jez: “For humans, the first instinct would be to disinfect it and then cover it with a bandage. But chimpanzees have invented a more creative method: catching insects and applying them directly to the open wound.
*Where’s Elizabeth Holmes? Convicted on four of 11 charges in the Theranos wire-fraud case, she’s awaiting sentencing in the fall, and could receive 20 years in jail. (I’m curious as to why they’re waiting so long for the sentencing.) In the meantime, a movie about her, “The Dropout”, starring Amanda Seyfried as Holmes, will be released March 2 by Hulu. Here’s the trailer:
I don’t think Seyfried makes a fairly convincing homes, but I don’t think anybody could make a convincing Holmes after you’ve watched her for hours as I have in interviews and talks. She’s sui generis, and not in a good way. I predict the movie will be a stinkeroo.
*A WaPo article by Anne Hornaday, chief film critic for the paper, about this year’s Academy Awards, turns out to be a big pile of boring verbiage, but at least it alerted me to several new movies I want to watch. But after kvetching a lot and saying little, Hornaday ends like this:
When it comes to uniting movie lovers, the academy’s best move would be to heed the advice of millions of fans and enlist “Spider-Man” stars Tom Holland and Zendaya to host the March 27 telecast (a good idea in any year). That gesture would not only acknowledge the movie that arguably saved Hollywood during an otherwise ruinous period, but it would convey the hard truths of what united movie lovers in 2021. To attain its massive success, “Spider-Man” had to attract not just young spectators who were unafraid to return to multiplexes, but also their more hesitant parents and grandparents — people with more complex decision-making when it comes to gathering in indoor spaces — who decided it was worth the risk to take the family to a bona fide spectacle.
As pleasant as films like “Belfast,” “CODA,” “King Richard” and “West Side Story” are, none of them conveyed an urgent need to be seen on the big screen. Their core audiences coalesced around another principle: that, at least for now, they were more than happy to wait and watch them at home.
Call me a snob, but you will never get me to watch “Spider-Man”. Yes, I know it got good ratings, but I just can’t absorbed by action movies, which seem like a waste of an opportunity to see something better. As for the “urgent need to be seen on the big screen”, well, all movies should be seen on the big screen if you have a chance. Why does “Spider-Man” demand it? So the special effects are more thrilling? Yes, I’m a snob, at least about movies.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 904,144, an increase of 2,598 deaths over yesterday’s figure. These were the same figures reported yesterday, and so haven’t been updated. The reported world death toll is now 5,784,632, an increase of about 13,600 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on February 9 include:
- 1539 – The first recorded race is held on Chester Racecourse, known as the Roodee.
This is the oldest racecourse still in operation. It’s about one mile (1.6 km) long:
- 1775 – American Revolutionary War: The British Parliament declares Massachusetts in rebellion.
- 1825 – After no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes in the US presidential election of 1824, the United States House of Representatives elects John Quincy Adams as 6th President of the United States in a contingent election.
A photo of JQA!
- 1861 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is elected the Provisional President of the Confederate States of America by the Provisional Confederate Congress at Montgomery, Alabama
Davis was imprisoned for two years after the war, and then was pardoned:
- 1893 – Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff premieres at La Scala, Milan.
- 1895 – William G. Morgan creates a game called Mintonette, which soon comes to be referred to as volleyball.
Here’s the gym in Holyoke, MA where Morgan developed volleyball. I had no idea the game was invented in America:
- 1942 – Year-round Daylight saving time (aka War Time) is reinstated in the United States as a wartime measure to help conserve energy resources.
- 1950 – Second Red Scare: US Senator Joseph McCarthy accuses the United States Department of State of being filled with Communists.
McCarthy was finally brought down, and one of the men who helped, lawyer Joseph Welch, is shown here with McCarthy in 1954. Welch has an “I can’t believe this” look:
- 1964 – The Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing before a record-setting audience of 73 million viewers across the United States.
Here’s part of their performance:
- 1971 – Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro league player to be voted into the USA’s Baseball Hall of Fame.
Paige was a great pitcher, who finally played in the major leagues when his best days were long gone (he was 42). Here he is in 1932 with the Pittsburgh Crawfords of the Negro League (I put an arrow pointing to Satchel):
His performance two years later:
The 1934 season was perhaps the best of Paige’s career, as he went 14–2 in league games while allowing 2.16 runs per game, recording 144 strikeouts, and giving up only 26 walks. On July 4, Paige threw his second no-hitter, this time against the Homestead Grays. He struck out 17, and only a first-inning walk to future Hall of Famer Buck Leonard and an error in the fourth inning prevented it from being a perfect game. Leonard, unnerved by the rising swoop of the ball, repeatedly asked the umpire to check the ball for scuffing. When the umpire removed one ball from play, Paige hollered, “You may as well thrown ’em all out ’cause they’re all gonna jump like that.”
- 1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 14 returns to Earth after the third manned Moon landing.
- 1991 – Dissolution of the Soviet Union: Voters in Lithuania vote for independence from the Soviet Union.
- 2021 – Second impeachment trial of Donald Trump began.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1871 – Howard Taylor Ricketts, American pathologist and physician (d. 1910)
The discoverer of the bacterium Rickettsia
- 1874 – Amy Lowell, American poet, critic, and educator (d. 1925)
- 1910 – Jacques Monod, French biochemist and geneticist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1976)
Monod, who won the prize in 1965 with Lwoff and Jacob for their studies in gene regulation:
- 1930 – Garner Ted Armstrong, American evangelist and author (d. 2003)
- 1940 – J. M. Coetzee, South African-Australian novelist, essayist, and linguist, Nobel Prize laureate
- 1942 – Carole King, American singer-songwriter and pianist
Here’s King in 1971 at the BBC concert, playing “You’ve got a friend” with her friend James Taylor. The BBC live concerts are some of the very best. What a trip back in time: this is half a century old, and a fantastic performance. JT has lost a bit of pelage since then.
- 1944 – Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, and poet
- 1945 – Mia Farrow, American actress, activist, and former fashion model
Those who encountered their demise on February 9 include:
- 1881 – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and philosopher (b. 1821)
I visited Dostoyevsky’s flat in 2011 (if you go to St. Petersburg, you must), and there you can see the cigarette case that his daughter inscribed on the day he died
- 2002 – Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (b. 1930)
Here’s a scandalous picture of Margaret in the tub with a tiara on her 29th birthday, photographed by her husband Anthony Armstrong-Jones:
- 2021 – Chick Corea, American jazz composer (b. 1941)
- 1966 – Sophie Tucker, Russian-born American singer (b. 1884)
- 1981 – Bill Haley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1925)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is on patrol in the orchard:
Hili: Strange things are happening under the stairs.A: What things?Hili: I’m just in the process of checking the facts.
Hili: Dziwne rzeczy dzieją się pod schodami.Ja: Jakie?Hili: Właśnie jestem w trakcie sprawdzania faktów.
From Not Another Science Cat Page: This is TRUE science!
From a friend who’s into weather but doesn’t understand this:
From both Barry and Leo
Titania’s back tweeting again. Here she touts an article on She Who Will Not Be Mentioned. It’s a pretty good piece on SWWNBM, too!
"If JK Rowling really wants to promote the cause of female liberation and autonomy, she needs to start shutting up and doing what she’s told."
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) February 8, 2022
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) February 5, 2022
A heartbreaking story related to Masih by an Iranian woman, a tale involving an “honor stabbing.” All because this woman wanted to stay home and study for an exam, which would leave her alone in the house with her mother’s cousin (clearly a male).
This woman recounts how calmly her father stabbed her for "honor".
Under sharia laws in Iran she would be forced back to her father If they found her.
Islamic Republic officials say:
“Honor killing is just a common problem within the family.”#LetUsTalk pic.twitter.com/55vsgwXQMJ
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 8, 2022
From GInger K. I may have posted this before but so what? I LOVE the Northern Lights, though I’ve never seen them in person.
— Jari Romppainen (@RomppainenJari) January 17, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. Here we have crested ducks, which are simply a mutation in the white form of the mallard (the “Pekin duck”).
— World birds (@worldbirds32) February 4, 2022
You likely don’t know what the “Baldwin effect” is, but you can read about it here. It used to be touted as a refutation of neo-Darwinian evolution because some people thought it showed that environmentally acquired behavioral traits could be inherited through the DNA (i.e., “Lamarckian inheritance”). But it doesn’t show that. Richard explains below. Yay for ex-Muslims posting about evolution!
The Baldwin effect does not disprove or contradict evolution. See this explanation by Richard Dawkins. https://t.co/oPQvLXBYRi
— Ex-Muslims of Minnesota (@ExMuslimsMN) February 8, 2022
Matthew loves capybaras and I love ducks, so this is the perfect tweet for both of us—if you ignore the rodent’s farting, which appears to frighten one duckling! (Sound up.)
Nothing says the weekend like a capybara farting in the bath with some ducklings. pic.twitter.com/hNDYb9QZgh
— Paul Bronks for Lovina Animal Welfare (@slender_sherbet) February 5, 2022
And to end, the last words of James Joyce. Was he referring to Finnegans Wake?
“Does nobody understand?”
The last words of James Joyce, as recalled by his sister Eva. Joyce died in Zürich on 13 January 1941. pic.twitter.com/hdAtiam2te
— Rhys Tranter (@RhysTranter) January 13, 2022