Good morning on Sunday February 13, 2022: National Italian Food Day. (Isn’t that cultural appropriation? After all, Italian immigrants to the U.S. were often denigrated and oppressed.) Here’s one of my favorite Italian dishes, and I haven’t had it in ages:
It’s also Super Bowl Sunday, which of course means it’s Super Chicken Wing Day (I like thighs better), as well as National Tortellini Day, National Cheddar Day (honoring the cheese), National Crab Rangoon Day, Man Day, Kiss Day (tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day), World Marriage Day, World Radio Day, and Autism Sunday. I will not be watching the Super Bowl.
Wine of the Day: This is relatively inexpensive Rioja: I paid only $23 for a six-year-old bottle, but 2016 was a good year and the wine gets pretty good reviews. I had it over two days, once with baguette and cheese (a good way to try a red wine) and the second with a tomato omelette.
If you had asked me the first night I’d opened the bottle if it was worth it, I would have said, “Maybe: I’ve had better Riojas, but I’ve had worse.” But after a day in the bottle (under vacuum), it’s much tastier, with notes of raspberries and blackcurrents. It’s a gutsy Rioja, with unresolved tannins, and should improve for another couple of years. Tonight Yesterday evening, polishing off the second half, I’d say that if you can get this for around $23, try it. I still consider Riojas to be an undervalued wine that can be great, providing good bang for the buck. But go for the gutsier ones, like this one, and make sure you age them a while.
News of the Day:
*Biden and Putin had their big one-hour phone call yesterday morning, and nothing seemed to happen. Biden is still warning Putin that if he invades Ukraine there will be serious consequences, and Putin keeps saying he’s not going to invade. They’re both stretching the truth:
President Biden warned Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Saturday that invading Ukraine would result in “swift and severe” costs to Russia, diminish his country’s standing and cause “widespread human suffering,” as Western officials made another diplomatic push to dissuade Mr. Putin from pressing forward with an attack.
It remained unclear if Mr. Putin would invade, according to senior administration officials. One senior national security official, who briefed reporters shortly after the call took place, said that there was “no fundamental change in the dynamic that has unfolded now for several weeks,” an acknowledgment that Mr. Putin has continued to build up a military presence that has effectively surrounded Ukraine.
After the one-hour call, a senior administration official said that the situation remained as urgent as it was on Friday, when Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, warned Americans to leave the country in the coming days.
Really? What is Biden going to do?
*The Washington Post reports something we’ve discussed before, but which comes from new intelligence: the Russians are planning a “false flag” operation: a faked attack by Ukraine on Russian soldiers that would give Russia the excuse to invade. This is exactly what the Nazis did in Gleiwitz, Poland, the night before their invasion on September 1, 1939.
The precise timing and nature of the Russian operation was unclear. The United States had already accused Russia of planning to film a fake attack against Russian territory or Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine. The new intelligence is distinct from that alleged operation, the officials said.
Officials in multiple capitals concurred that the intelligence appeared to show that Russia is in the final stages of preparing to mount an invasion, which analysts have said could leave up to 50,000 civilians dead or wounded and lead to the fall of the government in Kyiv within a few days.
“Moscow is actively trying to create a casus belli,” or a justification for war, a Western official said.
Okay, let’s have a poll again. Please vote, just for fun.
*According to The Associated Press, the Canadian authorities have “persuaded” the peevish, loud and obstreperous anti-vax truckers to stop blocking the Ambassador Bridge to the U.S. More demonstrators have arrived, to fill in though, and the bridge is still blocked. The cowardly Trudeau government doesn’t seem willing to do anything to clear the bridge:
A tense standoff at a U.S.-Canadian border bridge eased somewhat Saturday after Canadian police persuaded demonstrators to move the trucks they had used to barricade the busy international crossing. But protesters still blocked access as night approached, snarling traffic and trade between the two countries for a sixth day.
. . .. Surrounded by dozens of officers, a man with “Mandate Freedom” and “Trump 2024” spray-painted on his vehicle left the bridge entrance early in the day as others began dismantling a small, tarp-covered encampment. A trucker honked his horn as he, too, drove off, to cheers and chants of “Freedom!”
But more protesters arrived to reinforce the crowd and congregated about two blocks away, waving flags and yelling. While there were no visible physical confrontations, the crowd still controlled the road to the bridge and traffic had not resumed by late afternoon.
*NYT columnist Maureen Dowd reveals that she’s studying for her master’s in literature at Columbia University. Her beef is the difficulty of James Joyce’s Ulysses: “D. C. and Joyce—both incomprehensible.”
Is “Ulysses”hard because it’s great, or do people assume it’s great because it’s hard?
“It’s hard because Joyce put a lot in there,” Dan Mulhall, the Irish ambassador, told me. “A lot of people are drawn to the novel because of its complexity and derive a lifelong satisfaction from delving into it more deeply. It’s like Wordle for serious readers.”
It’s great not because it’s hard: it’s great because of the difficulty of Joyce’s trying to capture in words what is nearly impossible: people’s streams of consciousness.
The Wordle comparison is invidious, and if Mo’s gonna beef about Ulysses, she should try FInnegans Wake, which is stream of consciousness plus the free associations that occur in dreams. To me, that is unreadable (I tried.) And I just realized—this amazed me when I learned it—that the philosopher Philip Kitcher, whom many of us have read, that Kitcher is the prof (or was the prof) who taught Joyce at Columbia. Dowd could be his student! And the D.C. connection? Tenuous:
You’d think I would be accustomed to deciphering the incomprehensible after the last five years in D.C.
Donald Trump’s upside-down utterances. Kevin McCarthy’s demented backtracking. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s inanity, accusing Nancy Pelosi of siccing her “gazpacho police” on lawmakers.
. . . Stephen Dedalus, Joyce’s self-portrait, captures our incomprehensible politics in a remark that burns brighter than ever: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake
Dowd clearly phoned that column in! Besides, with a good teacher and some guidance, you won’t find Ulysses incomprehensible, but it will never be a piece of cake!
*From The Daily Kos: Students at Huntington High School in West Virginia were sent to an assembly where a Christian preacher subjected them to a hellfire sermon and many praise Jesuses. (The school said sending kids there had been a “mistake”.) A Jewish student begged to be let out of the assembly, but was told the doors were locked. In response to this forced “church” in school, the students planned a walkout protesting the incursion of religion into school. Listen to one student below. The kids are alright!
Here’s a tweet with some video (h/t Scott):
West Virginia students at Huntington High School are planning to stage a walkout after they say they were sent to an assembly that turned out to be a Christian church service. pic.twitter.com/sfqmLVSGWz
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 9, 2022
*And here in snowbound Hyde Park, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that a couple of clever sculptors fashioned a Snoopy on his dog house out at Promontory Point, a popular part of our area that sticks out into the lake (h/t Jean):
Using an image of Snoopy on their phones as a reference, Kennedy and Machado said it took them a little over an hour and a half to complete their masterpiece. It was a blend of fun and focus to carry out their vision as the temperature continued to dip below freezing and their hands started to get shaky, they said.
“After [we finished],” Machado said, “Megan said, ‘Oh, we made a Snowpy!’”
In addition to the bitter cold, another obstacle for their sculpture turned out to be a real dog.
“A golden retriever tried to knock it over halfway through,” Kennedy said with a laugh. “We had to chase him, it was really cute though.”
Snowpy! (That’s Gary, Indiana in the background.)
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 917,902, an increase of 2,454 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,830,368, an increase of about 7,800 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on February 13 include:
Howard was between 17 and 21 years old. As a refresher, here are Henry VIII’s six wives. He went through them all in only 14 years.
Here are Galileo’s telescopes at a museum in Florence:
Four years later, they founded the great College of William and Mary in Virginia!
- 1913 – The 13th Dalai Lama proclaims Tibetan independence following a period of domination by Manchu Qing dynasty and initiated a period of almost four decades of independence.
- 1935 – A jury in Flemington, New Jersey finds Bruno Hauptmann guilty of the 1932 kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby, the son of Charles Lindbergh.
Hauptmann, whose mug shot is below, was executed by electrocution on April 3, 1936. Many think the evidence against him was cooked up:
- 1954 – Frank Selvy becomes the only NCAA Division I basketball player ever to score 100 points in a single game.
Here’s the last quarter of that game. Had there been the three-point shot then, Selvy would have scored eight or nine more points:
I’m not sure when this one was found, but the Wikipedia caption is “The Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) contains almost the whole Book of Isaiah.”
- 1960 – Black college students stage the first of the Nashville sit-ins at three lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here’s one of the sit-in protestors (Paul Laprad) being attacked by evil people on February 27:
On February 27, several sit-in participants, including Paul Laprad (pictured), were attacked by onlookers.
- 1961 – An allegedly 500,000-year-old rock is discovered near Olancha, California, US, that appears to anachronistically encase a spark plug.
Here’s the “artifact” that, to some, provided evidence of either aliens or advanced civilizations. It is in fact a 1920 Champion spark plug whose encasement in a “concretion” has a naturalistic explanation:
- 1967 – American researchers discover the Madrid Codices by Leonardo da Vinci in the National Library of Spain.
These are two of Leonardo’s manscripts that total 197 page. Here are two pages:
- 1990 – German reunification: An agreement is reached on a two-stage plan to reunite Germany.
- 2008 – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd makes a historic apology to the Indigenous Australians and the Stolen Generations.
- 2017 – Kim Jong-nam, brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, is assassinated at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Here’s a video of the assassination; he was apparently poisoned, apparently with a toxic VX nerve agent.
- 2021 – Former U.S. President Donald Trump is acquitted in his second impeachment trial.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1849 – Lord Randolph Churchill, English lawyer and politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer (d. 1895)
- 1891 – Grant Wood, American painter and academic (d. 1942)
- 1910 – William Shockley, English-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1989)
- 1919 – Tennessee Ernie Ford, American singer and actor (d. 1991)
Here’s Tennessee with his most famous song, “Sixteen Tons,” written by Merle Travis. I went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart:
- 1923 – Chuck Yeager, American general and pilot; first test pilot to break the sound barrier (d. 2020)
Here’s Yeager in front of the record-breaking plane, named after his wife:
- 1943 – Elaine Pagels, American theologian and academic
- 1979 – Anders Behring Breivik, Norwegian murderer
Those who boxed on February 13 include:
- 1542 – Catherine Howard, English wife of Henry VIII of England (executed; b. 1521)
- 1571 – Benvenuto Cellini, Italian painter and sculptor (b. 1500)
An artistic polymath, Cellini could draw, paint, sculpt, write, and forge gold. Here’s one of his famous sculptures, Perseus with the Head of Medusa:
- 1728 – Cotton Mather, American minister and author (b. 1663)
- 2002 – Waylon Jennings, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1937)
- 2016 – Antonin Scalia, American lawyer and judge, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (b. 1936)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Listy needs its editor back:
Hili: I’ve changed my mind, I’m going back into the house.A: Good, I need your help.
Hili: Zmieniłam zdanie, wracam do domu.Ja: To dobrze, bo potrzebuję twojej pomocy.
And Kulka looks out past her reflection:
A confessional tweet from God:
I made you in My image and I hate what that says about Me.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) February 11, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial; Drancy was a camp in NE Paris:
13 February 1943 | A transport of 998 Jews deported from Drancy arrived at #Auschwitz. After the selection 143 men & 53 women were registered in the camp. The remaining 802 people were murdered in gas chamber.
Two of them were David Henri Kuperberg (1,5) & his mother Laja (35). pic.twitter.com/BQ0hq30dvp
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) February 13, 2022
From Ginger K. I think I’ve posted it before, but it’s still a great tweet. But how can the Chosen Pig be unkosher?
Each pig has its merits, but only one can be the chosen pig. pic.twitter.com/gU2FUtjaSo
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) January 19, 2020
From Matthew, the earliest expression of Darwin’s doubts about God we have. Here’s the whole quote from Darwin’s letter to Gray:
There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & especially the nature of man, & to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.— Let each man hope & believe what he can.—
A #DarwinWasp for #DarwinDay
" I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.” ― Charles Darwin to Asa Gray, 22 May 1860 pic.twitter.com/suQZriFFgn
— Steve Wells (@swells_LQA) February 12, 2022
Central Park's most-watched interspecies romance continues on the southwest side of the Reservoir—Wood Duck and Mallard. pic.twitter.com/W0YYXVnKDz
— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) February 12, 2022
Can they hybridize? This site says so, and shows a Wood Duck X Mallard Hybrid. They don’t do it in Botany Pond because the breeding seasons don’t coincide, but in captivity you can get stuff like this. It looks a lot like a mallard drake, but the beak is definitely woody-ish, and there a bit of a hea crest as well (mallard drakes don’t have one).
Darwin was a pigeon fancier, and that gave him an appreciation for the power of artificial selection, which in turn gave him respect for the power of natural selection. Here’s a short lecture on how pigeons influenced Darwin.
It is a true fact that one of the reviewers of The Origin said that Darwin’s discussion of pigeon breeding (at the book’s beginning) was fascinating, but all that other evolution stuff should have been left out!
It's the 213th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. To mark the occasion, why not use our interactive to learn about how important pigeon fanciers and animal breeders were in the development of Darwin's theory of evolution.
— MyDearDarwin (@MyDearDarwin) February 12, 2022
This is macabre, but pretty funny. However, I can’t find this online.
At least they add this warning message if you do select 'Myself' pic.twitter.com/HWuq9PPY3U
— Abdul Rahman 🇴🇲🇵🇸 (@abmask) February 11, 2022
Finally, a specimen collected by Darwin. I wonder if the tiny tag that goes with the pin is written in Darwin’s hand?
— Dr Erica McAlister (@flygirlNHM) February 12, 2022