Good morning on Tuesday February 15, 2022: National Gumdrop Day. I like the fruit-flavored ones but not the “spicy” ones.
It’s also I Want Butterscotch Day, National Hippo Day, Susan B. Anthony Day (she was born on Feb. 15, 1820), Singles Awareness Day, National Flag of Canada Day (in Canada; see below under 1965), and John Frum Day in Vanatu. I must go there some day to see where and how a new religion, with a cargo-bestowing GI, was founded.
Do you recognize the narrator of this fascinating 11-minute video about Cargo Cults? The inhabitants are still marching in formation and flying the American flag, hoping that John Frum will return some day. Before you say that’s silly, remember that Christians are still waiting to Jesus to return some day with the Cargo of Salvation
News of the Day:
*Have a look at this large NYT map of where Russian troops are stationed before the Big Invasion begins. I can’t reproduce it here as it’s too large, but the link will show you, and a smaller version is below. They’re in Russia, Belarus, and Crimea, of course, but there are some to the West in Moldova! What are they doing there? Ukraine is surrounded, and Sunday’s estimate was that 130,000 Russian troops surrounding that poor beleaguered nation.
*The Associated Press reports rumors that Putin may still be open to a diplomatic solution, or at least some more palaver, but I don’t trust him. He’s probably buying time. HOWEVER, I notice that this morning’s NYT reports that Russia is pulling back some troops from the border, though military exercises continue.
*Our two renegade Democratic Senators are at odds—this time with each other. Trying to work on a form of Biden’s Build Back Better Bill that Joe Manchin would find acceptable, he’s proposed raising taxes:
Mr. Manchin has pointed to raising the corporate tax rate to 25% from 21%, raising the top capital-gains rate to 28% from 23.8% and increasing taxes on private-equity managers’ carried-interest income.
But those are precisely what Sen. Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t want: she has her own methods of raising the income needed to foot the bill (Uncle Joe has dissimulated about where the dosh would come from).
Other Democrats broadly support the tax increases that Mr. Manchin is again advocating, but dropping the proposals became one of many concessions the party made to Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin over months of talks last year. The compromise surprised many in the party.
Is there going to be a compromise that allows a tie and thus the passing of the BBB Bill, or a 51-49 Senate vote against that bill? Stay tuned.
*The International Olympic Committee has ruled that Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, accused of taking a banned drug, can continue to compete in individual events, but will not be allowed to get any medals until her case is resolved. And they haven’t yet resolved whether team Russia, which she was on, will get their group gold medal. Other teams, including the U.S., are protesting vehemently, saying the committee is allowing Russia to get away with pervasive doping It. Seriously, is there to be no punishment, at long last?
*Fed up with the truckers and horn blaring, the Canadians let Justin Trudeau know that they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it any more. And so, the pliable Prime Minister, for the first time in Canadian history, and under heavy pressure, invoked Canada’s Emergencies Act.
Separately on Monday, police arrested 11 people and seized guns, body armor and “a large quantity of ammunition” in Coutts, Alberta, one of several sites around Canada where demonstrators have been protesting vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restrictions, authorities said.
Officers searched three trailers early Monday and seized 13 long guns, handguns, a machete and high-capacity magazines, the RCMP said in a news release. On Sunday night, they said, a large farm tractor and a semi truck attempted to ram a police car. The officer in the car was able to avoid a collision; police said they have identified the driver of the tractor and seized both vehicles.
Tensions remain high as the protests entered a third week. . .
I hope that Canada has strict enough gun laws to put these guys away for a while. Meanwhile, the disaffection has spread to both Brussels and Paris, where similar disruptions are planned.
*Matthew alerted me to this Guardian article about a huge mass falling of birds from the sky in Mexico on February 7. It’s not clear why, but it’s probably due to a predator:
Hundreds of yellow-headed blackbirds have been filmed appearing to fall from the sky, some of them dying, in mysterious circumstances in the northern Mexican city of Cuauhtémoc.
The cause of death remains unclear but experts said it was most likely the flock was “flushed” from above by a predatory bird swooping down to make a catch.
The footage from a security camera shows a flock of migratory birds descending on to houses like a cloud of black smoke. Most birds manage to fly off but subsequent footage shows carcasses of the distinctive black and yellow birds scattered on streets of the city.
. . .“This looks like a raptor like a peregrine or hawk has been chasing a flock, like they do with murmurating starlings, and they have crashed as the flock was forced low,” he said. “You can see that they act like a wave at the beginning, as if they are being flushed from above.”
But you can’t truly appreciate this unless you see it, and I found a video on YouTube. I feel bad for those birds who died when they crashed into the ground. They apparently didn’t see the ground.
Last year the nonprofit Parents Defending Education sued in federal court on behalf of three Massachusetts families over Wellesley policies and practices that they said violated the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment and civil-rights law. The settlement looks like a solid win for the parents.
Wellesley’s “affinity groups” had held events aimed at specific races. School officials claimed no students or staff were excluded, but the families argued that isn’t what their children were told. The complaint quoted an email where a middle-school teacher said a specific “healing space” was “for our Asian/Asian-American and Students of Color, *not* for students who identify only as White.”
Under the settlement, Wellesley agreed not to “exclude students from affinity-based group sessions or any other school-sponsored activities on the basis of race.” The district won’t identify events “as intended only for certain racial groups.” It “will provide notice” of affinity-based group sessions “to all grade-eligible students, regardless of their race.” Announcements will feature a disclaimer saying that “this event is open to all students regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.”
Of course, that disclaimer won’t eliminate the de facto segregated nature of such events.
*Sunday’s readers’ poll on the likelihood of Russia invading Ukraine gave these results (below) showing pretty much of a tie between “yes” and “no”.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 920,959, an increase of 2,400 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,847,069, an increase of about 10,800 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on February 15 include:
- 1493 – While on board the Niña, Christopher Columbus writes an open letter (widely distributed upon his return to Portugal) describing his discoveries and the unexpected items he came across in the New World.
This letter, now deemed “problematic” for obvious reasons, was published in several editions. Here’s the cover of the Latin edition printed in Basel in 1494:
My birthplace (though not in the 18th century!)
- 1879 – Women’s rights: US President Rutherford B. Hayes signs a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.
- 1898 – The battleship USS Maine explodes and sinks in Havana harbor in Cuba, killing about 274 of the ship’s roughly 354 crew. The disaster pushes the United States to declare war on Spain.
Here’s a “cofferdam” built around the Maine in 1910 to raise it. Although there’s on consensus on why she blew up, it’s most likely that it was a fire in the coal bunker, which blew up stored ammunition. Nevertheless, we went to war:
- 1909 – The Flores Theater fire in Acapulco, Mexico kills 250.
- 1923 – Greece becomes the last European country to adopt the Gregorian calendar.
- 1925 – The 1925 serum run to Nome: The second delivery of serum arrives in Nome, Alaska.
The dogsled run, delivering serum that stemmed a diphtheria outbreak, involved 20 mushers and 150 sled dogs traveling across 674 miles of wintery Alaska. What a feat! Here’s one of the mushers, labeled “Leonhard Seppala with his dogs after the serum run in 1925. His lead dog, Togo, on the far left.”
Hero dogs! The run is remembered with the yearly running of the Iditarod, which winds up in Nome and lasts 8-15 days.
- 1946 – ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, is formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
ENIAC being programmed:
- 1949 – Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux begin excavations at Cave 1 of the Qumran Caves, where they will eventually discover the first seven Dead Sea Scrolls.
Here’s one of the caves (my arrow) showing some of the scrolls in situ:
- 1961 – Sabena Flight 548 crashes in Belgium, killing 73, including the entire United States figure skating team along with several of their coaches and family members.
- 1965 – A new red-and-white maple leaf design is adopted as the flag of Canada, replacing the old Canadian Red Ensign banner.
- 1971 – The decimalisation of British coinage is completed on Decimal Day.
- 1992 – Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is sentenced in Milwaukee to life in prison.
He killed 17 people and was of course given life without parole. He was bludgeoned to death in a shower room in 1994. Here’s his mugshot:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1564 – Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer, physicist, and mathematician (d. 1642)
- 1820 – Susan B. Anthony, American suffragist and activist (d. 1906)
- 1874 – Ernest Shackleton, Anglo-Irish captain and explorer (d. 1922)
I had longed to see Shackleton’s grave and the king penguin colonies on South Georgia Island this trip, but we’re not going there. It’s traditional to have a tot of whiskey at his gravesite:
Gies not only hid the Frank family, but rescued Anne’s diaries and returned them to her father, Otto, after the war. Here are the two of them in 1958:
- 1948 – Art Spiegelman, Swedish-American cartoonist and critic
From “The making of Maus” in the NYT (click to enlarge).
- 1951 – Jane Seymour, English-American actress, producer, and jewelry designer
- 1954 – Matt Groening, American animator, producer, and screenwriter
- 1964 – Chris Farley, American comedian and actor (d. 1997)
Here’s Chris Farley as Matt Foley, a motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river.
- 1995 – Megan Thee Stallion, American rapper
Those who withered on February 15 include:
- 1928 – H. H. Asquith, English lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1852)
- 1965 – Nat King Cole, American singer and pianist (b. 1919)
- 1984 – Ethel Merman, American actress and singer (b. 1908)
- 1988 – Richard Feynman, American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)
Here’s Feynman on the show “Take the World from Another Point of View”.
There are four YouTube segments to this film; this is the first:
- 1998 – Martha Gellhorn, American journalist and author (b. 1908)
Gellhorn met Ernest Hemingway when she was a war correspondent; she became his third wife. Here they are in China in 1941
Radziwill, born Caroline Lee Bouvier, was Jackie Kennedy’s younger sister:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a special request. When I asked Malgorzata if tenderloin was Hili’s favorite food, and whether she cooked it first, she responded:
Yes, it is. Szaron’s as well. And they eat it raw. The next best is raw chicken. When I prepare either we both have to be in the kitchen: I cut and defend the meat from feline attacks and Andrzej takes small pieces and lures the cats away from me and the object of their desire.
Hili: Are you really going shopping?A: Yes, do you have any requests?Hili: I had a dream that you bought tenderloin.
Hili: Naprawdę idziesz na zakupy?Ja: Tak, masz jakieś zamówienia?Hili: Śniło mi się, że kupiłeś świeżą polędwicę.
Szaron and Little Kulka are having a silent chinwag:
A Venn Diagram from Jean giving advice from Beatles’s songs:
From Only Duck Memes:
The psychologist: Calm down, the duck tomato doesn’t exist, it can’t hurt you.
Titania’s prescience is always astounding!
As @CBCNews points out, the word “freedom” is a far-right fascist dog-whistle.
The only way to protect our freedom is to arrest anyone who talks about it. https://t.co/OwcatwIH7B
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) February 14, 2022
If I followed anyone, it would be “worms”, who has a cat with opposable thumbs and a penchant for crime, including ATTEMPTED MURDER!
Hobie has OPPOSABLE THUMBS and a passion for CRIMES so I’m gonna compile them here for ur isolation viewing pic.twitter.com/1xpYxmkOrL
— worms (@christapeterso) March 21, 2020
— worms (@christapeterso) March 21, 2020
I can relate. . .
me: *reading about violet jessop, a british nurse who survived two major ship sinkings, including the titanic, and kept being a nurse at sea* she is just like me, who must respond to two (2) emails by 4pm
— nash flynn (@itsnashflynn) January 19, 2022
— Peter Steiner (@plsteiner) February 13, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a bittersweet story:
Love in a time of terror: the tragic 261 couples who married at a Westerbork transit camp in the occupied Netherlands. https://t.co/55p5lhh4Oo
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) February 14, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. Two of sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis):
You gotta come to Nebraska in March if you wanna see some Sand Hill Cranes. Nothing like it in the world pic.twitter.com/FquxWEpdoa
— Dirty D (@akgrl33) February 13, 2022
Is this dog leading sheep to their deaths?
Sheep dog clears traffic jam pic.twitter.com/9q4Uc6IdPd
— Mark Tomasovic (@MarkTomasovic) February 13, 2022