Welcome to Sunday, April 10, 2022: National Cinnamon Roll Day. Now we’re talking: this is the best breakfast pastry if you don’t count pie. I don’t mind if they lack raisins or nuts, which are useful additions, but they must be iced, fresh, and above all, BIG like the one below. Who doesn’t enjoy unwinding the roll until you finally get to the best part—the most and gooey heart?
It is the 100th day of 2022.
It’s also Siblings Day, National Farm Animals Day, American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Day, and for the superstitious, Palm Sunday.
Stuff that happened on April 10 includes:
- 837 – Halley’s Comet makes its closest approach to Earth at a distance equal to 0.0342 AU (5.1 million kilometres/3.2 million miles).
- 1826 – The 10,500 inhabitants of the Greek town of Missolonghi begin leaving the town after a year’s siege by Turkish forces. Very few of them survive.
You may know this as the place where Lord Byron died on April 19, 1824; he had gone there to fight for Greek independence but died of a fever. Here’s an overly dramatic painting of Byron on his deathbed; caption: “Lord Byron on His Deathbed, by Joseph Denis Odevaere (c. 1826). Oil on canvas, 166 × 234.5 cm Groeningemuseum, Bruges. (Note the sheet covering his misshapen right foot.)”
- 1865 – American Civil War: A day after his surrender to Union forces, Confederate General Robert E. Lee addresses his troops for the last time.
- 1912 – RMS Titanic sets sail from Southampton, England on her maiden and only voyage.v
- 1919 – Mexican Revolution leader Emiliano Zapata is ambushed and shot dead by government forces in Morelos.
Here’s Zapata’s corpse on display on that very day. Note how everyone’s trying to get into the photo:
- 1925 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is first published in New York City, by Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Here’s the German telegram reporting the escape, dated April 8, 1944. This is because they’d already gone missing the day before (hiding in a woodpile for three days) before they walked out of the camp on April 10. The Wikipedia entry tells an absorbing story about how they got out of Nazi territory and then reported the goings-on to the Allies. (That did have some effect.)
- 1970 – Paul McCartney announces that he is leaving The Beatles for personal and professional reasons.
- 1998 – The Good Friday Agreement is signed in Northern Ireland.
- 2019 – Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope project announce the first ever image of a black hole, which was located in the centre of the M87 galaxy.
And you surely remember this photo:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1829 – William Booth, English minister, founded The Salvation Army (d. 1912)
- 1847 – Joseph Pulitzer, Hungarian-American journalist, publisher, and politician, founded Pulitzer, Inc. (d. 1911)
- 1932 – Omar Sharif, Egyptian actor and screenwriter (d. 2015)
- 1941 – Paul Theroux, American novelist, short story writer, and travel writer
- 1952 – Steven Seagal, American actor, producer, and martial artist
Here’s a bit of history of Seagal, what happened to him, and how he’s living now. He has a weird “both sides are okay” view of the Russian/Ukraine war.
Those who Went West on April 10 include:
- 1813 – Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Italian mathematician and astronomer (b. 1736)
- 1938 – King Oliver, American cornet player and bandleader (b. 1885)
- 1955 – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French priest, theologian, and philosopher (b. 1881)
One of the best nasty book reviews ever was written by Peter Medawar of Teilhard’s book “The Phenomenon of Man”. If you like snark and good writing, don’t miss it: it’s free online.
- 1966 – Evelyn Waugh, English soldier, novelist, journalist and critic (b. 1903)
- 1975 – Walker Evans, American photographer (b. 1903)
Before he worked for the Farm Security Administration taking classic photos of Americans impoverished by the Depression, Evans photographed in Cuba. Here’s his photo of “Dock Workers, Havana, 1932”:
*Today’s NYT banner headline conveys some disquieting news (click on screenshot):
Russia continued to amass forces near eastern Ukraine and struck residential areas there on Sunday, deepening the threat to civilians as Moscow announced a new battlefield commander with a reputation for overseeing widespread atrocities by Russian forces in Syria.
The general, Aleksandr V. Dvornikov, commanded forces in the Syrian civil war that were accused of attacking residential neighborhoods in 2015, as part of Russia’s intervention to prop up the government of President Bashar al-Assad. In Ukraine, Russian troops have escalated their attacks against civilian areas in recent days, including a rocket attack on a train station on Friday that killed more than 50 people who were attempting to flee the East.
Below is the new Russian commander with Putin; you can read about him here.
Under his command, Russian forces in Syria were widely accused of bombing civilian neighborhoods, targeting hospitals and resorting to other tactics to try to break the back of the rebel movement that sought to oust Mr. al-Assad.
“Bashar al-Assad is not the only one to be held accountable for killing civilians in Syria — the Russian general should too,” said Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor based in Britain. “As the commander of military operations, that means he’s behind killing Syrian civilians by giving the orders.”
And, once again, the Russians have prevented the Red Cross from evacuating civilians, this time in three cities in eastern Ukraine. They bomb and execute civilians; they won’t let them leave: how is this not a genocide?
*The Associated Press has an absorbing and horrifying description of Bucha, Ukraine, under Russian occupation (they’re gone now): “War Crimes Watch: A devastating walk through Bucha’s horror.” The pictures alone will break your heart, as will tales like this:
Babak stands, a cigarette in one hand, a plastic bag of cat food in the other.
“I’m very calm today,” he says. “I shaved for the first time.”
At the beginning of their monthlong occupation of Bucha, he said, the Russians kept pretty much to themselves, focused on forward progress. When that stalled they went house to house looking for young men, sometimes taking documents and phones. Ukrainian resistance seemed to be wearing on them. The Russians seemed angrier, more impulsive. Sometimes they seemed drunk.
The first time they visited Babak, they were polite. But when they returned on his birthday, March 28, they screamed at him and his brother-in-law. They put a grenade to the brother-in-law’s armpit and threatened to pull the pin. They took an AK-47 and fired near Babak’s feet. Let’s kill him, one of them said, but another Russian told them to leave it and go.
Before they left, the Russians asked him an excellent question: “Why are you still here?”
*I had no idea that Dr. (Mehmet) Oz was running in the primaries to be a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. And of course he’s been endorsed by another quack: Donald Trump:
In a meandering written statement Trump issued just as he was starting his remarks in North Carolina, he referenced Oz’s television show and said he felt Oz was the most electable candidate.
“This is all about winning elections in order to stop the Radical Left maniacs from destroying our Country,” Trump said in that statement.
I have to admit that I’m nervous about the elections this fall. Aren’t you?
*If you like birds, you’ll want to read the new NYT article on “avian vagrants“, birds that are found great distances from their normal range. Their opening example is an East Asian bird, the Steller’s sea eagle, which for the past few years has been ranging across North America, from Alaska to Texas to New England. (h/t Greg)
The peripatetic sea eagle wasn’t 2021’s only extralimital. Other fan favorites strayed from the parts of Central and South America where they are typically found: an Inca tern spotted in Hawaii; a small-billed elaenia captured in a net in Quebec; a heron-like limpkin recorded in Texas for the first time; and, a gray-breasted Martin observed in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
“Each time there’s a vagrant it’s its own exciting story,” Mr. Lund said. “It has this treasure hunter’s charm.”
I did not know, for example, that in 2011 a juvenile \ Emperor Penguin made its way from Antarctica to New Zealand! Here it is:
In June 2011, for example, a juvenile emperor penguin washed ashore on Peka Peka Beach in New Zealand, some 2,000 miles from its coastal Antarctic home. The marooned bird mistook wet sand for snow, and began eating it, landing him in rehabilitation at Wellington Zoo’s animal hospital (a live-streamed, monthslong stay involving a bed of crushed ice and a hand-fed salmon diet). The wayward penguin eventually returned to sea with a one-inch microchip tucked under the skin of his right thigh and a three-inch satellite transmitter glued to his lower back, both of which stopped sending signals after five days.
That is sad. And vagrants can have big genetic or ecological consequences, hybridizing with other species or nearly extirpating them:
When a vagrant peregrine falcon lingered on Saint Paul Island in the Indian Ocean in 1999, it killed at least 27 MacGillivray’s prions, an endangered species whose entire global population is limited to a few square miles. In 2006, vagrants of the same raptor species killed 4 percent of endangered Laysan ducks that had just been translocated to the Midway Atoll from nearby islands.
The article has lots of anecdotes and scientific hypotheses, and mentions a new book on the topic: “Vagrancy in Birds,”
*Another pleasant read. The WaPo has the story of Vaughn Smith, 46, who ekes out a meager living cleaning carpets in the Washington, D.C. area. But he’s a hyperpolyglot: he speaks many languages. He professes to speak 8 languages well, he’s way too modest:
Vaughn glances at me. He is still underselling his abilities. By his count, it is actually 37 more languages, with at least 24 he speaks well enough to carry on lengthy conversations. He can read and write in eight alphabets and scripts. He can tell stories in Italian and Finnish and American Sign Language. He’s teaching himself Indigenous languages, from Mexico’s Nahuatl. to Montana’s Salish. The quality of his accents in Dutch and Catalan dazzle people from the Netherlands and Spain.
Smith has no education beyond high school and has bounced around from one low-paying jot to another, but here’s the list of languages he speaks with varying proficiency. But in nearly all of them, he also has a perfect accent. He taught himself, of course. And because proficiency in multiple languages is hard to measure, he may be the world’s best hyperpolyglot.
They don’t know how he does it, and his brain is being scanned to figure out if there’s a neurological correlate (not much yet). One of the best parts of the article is that it contains little loudspeaker icons where you can hear Smith speaking different languages. You haven’t lived until you hear him say “chicken” in Salish, a language spoken by some Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a word you won’t be able to get close to pronouncing!
With this publicity and his talents, Smith surely deserves a job where he can use those skills. Surely there’s well-paying work for someone who can translate so many languiages. Do read this fascinating article.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s argument requires a bit of explanation from Malgorzata:
“Sky” and “heaven” are represented by the same word in Polish (niebo). The Pope was praying for the souls of Russian soldiers, ergo, he doesn’t want to close heaven to the Russians. Hili deeply dislikes the Pope.
Hili: The Pope doesn’t want to close the sky to the Russians.
A: But he is delivering prayers of the latest generation to the Ukrainians.
Hili: Papież nie chce zamknąć nieba Rosjanom.Ja: Ale dostarcza Ukrainie modlitw najnowszej generacji.
A photo of a lazy Szaron:
From Meanwhile in Canada:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Ricky Gervai. This story is true.
"The Scottish Prison Service has no protocol in place for dealing with prisoners who decide they are babies."https://t.co/942MXOWN35
— The Daily Record (@Daily_Record) April 9, 2022
From Ginger K: Eroding meritocracy in reviewing grants at the National Science Foundation. “GPA” = grade point average; GRFP = graduate research fellowship program.
NSF GRFP Reviewers are very explicitly told in the NSF's guidelines *not* to mention GPA/# of publications/etc, and instead focus on the overall application in a *holistic* review process.
Who'd have thought academics would rely so much on lazy, flawed proxies to evaluate others
— Gary McDowell🏳️🌈 🇮🇪 🇪🇺 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 (@GaryMcDowellPhD) April 4, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial. This woman lasted one week.
10 April 1901 | A Polish woman, Magdalena Socha, was born in Sidzina.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) April 9, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First, happiness in DodoLand with a cat rescue:
Guy climbs 50 feet up a tree to save a mischievous cat — wait for the moment he decides to grab him 😬 pic.twitter.com/2VNmywPJpX
— The Dodo (@dodo) April 9, 2022
Well, I’ll be!
How is possible to climb up a wall using a bamboo pole?
gravity, gravitational acceleration, thrust of the bamboo pole, force of The wall, and friction force
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) April 9, 2022
As I said, Matthew’s into Magic Twitter You tell me how this is done. (Sound up.)
The World’s Fastest Rope Trick! 🥵 pic.twitter.com/y3FjIkWJN7
— Pete Firman (@petefirman) February 19, 2022
Alas, ’tis true!
I didn’t realise the Hollywood sign originally read Hollywoodland and was a temporary sign for a housing development. pic.twitter.com/dGQ4vSDH1T
— Raymond (@raubrey) April 9, 2022
I like this one:
you gotta be faster pic.twitter.com/TXVImZc42x
— Uncle Duke (@UncleDuke1969) April 7, 2022