Good morning on a rainy Chicago Thursday: April 14, 2022: National Jelly Bean Day. (Jelly Bellies and their ilk are the only ones worth eating.) It’s also National Pecan Day, Maundy Thursday, National Dolphin Day, Ex-Spouse Day, and South and Southeast Asian New Year, celebrated on the sidereal vernal equinox.
Stuff that happened on April 14 include:
Here’s a drawing of the phenomenon with the caption, “The celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561, as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month.” We don’t know what it was, but isn’t it strange that we don’t see such things these days? I suspect this was a sun dog:
- 1865 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is shot in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth; Lincoln lives till the following day.
Here’s the rocking chair Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot:
As Wikipedia says, “The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight was a famous gun fight that occurred on April 14, 1881, on El Paso Street, in El Paso, Texas. Witnesses generally agreed that the incident lasted no more than five seconds after the first gunshot, though a few would insist it was at least ten seconds. Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire accounted for three of the four fatalities with his twin .44 caliber Smith & Wesson revolvers.”
Here’s Stoudenmire, shot to death in another gunfight the next year:
- 1894 – The first ever commercial motion picture house opens in New York City, United States, using ten Kinetoscopes, a device for peep-show viewing of films.
- 1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic at 23:40 (sinks morning of April 15th).
The Titanic leaving Southampton on April 10, 1912:
And the last photo of the Titanic two days later leaving Queenstown, Ireland. Three days later 1,544 people would die as it sank:
- 1986 – The heaviest hailstones ever recorded (1 kilogram (2.2 lb)) fall on the Gopalganj district of Bangladesh, killing 92.
I can’t find a video of that incident, but here’s a video of a series of dreadful hailstorms, one of which killed a guy who was hit in the temple:
- 2003 – The Human Genome Project is completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1866 – Anne Sullivan, American educator (d. 1936)
Here’s a rare video of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller demonstrating how the former taught the latter to speak:
- 1889 – Arnold J. Toynbee, English historian and academic (d. 1975)
- 1904 – John Gielgud, English actor, director, and producer (d. 2000)
- 1932 – Loretta Lynn, American singer-songwriter and musician
Lynn singing “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man”):
- 1936 – Frank Serpico, American-Italian soldier, police officer and lecturer
Those who “passed” on April 14 include:
- 1759 – George Frideric Handel, German-English organist and composer (b. 1685)
- 1925 – John Singer Sargent, American painter (b. 1856)
One of Sargent’s great pictures, “Madame X” (Madame Pierre Gautreau) painted 1883-1884:
- 1964 – Rachel Carson, American biologist and author (b. 1907)
Here’s a nine-minute clip from American Experience discussing Carson and her famous book Silent Spring (what a great title!):
- 1986 – Simone de Beauvoir, French novelist and philosopher (b. 1908)
- 1995 – Burl Ives, American actor, folk singer, and writer (b. 1909)
Here’s Burl Ives and Paul Newman as Big Daddy and Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. It’s the famous scene where Ives goes off on mendacity:
- 2007 – Don Ho, American singer and ukulele player (b. 1930)
- 2015 – Percy Sledge, American singer (b. 1940)
- 2021 – Bernie Madoff, American mastermind of the world’s largest Ponzi scheme (b. 1938)
Here’s today’s NYT upper-left headline on the Ukraine/Russia war; click to read:
And the news summary:
Russia suffered a blow to its forces on Thursday when its flagship in the Black Sea was “seriously damaged” and its crew was forced to abandon it. Russia said an onboard fire had caused the damage, but Ukraine claimed it had struck the vessel with missiles.
The head of Ukrainian military forces in the nearby city of Odesa announced that two anti-ship missiles had hit the Moskva guided-missile cruiser, which would mark the first time Ukraine had struck a Russian vessel at sea in the seven-week war, rather than at a port. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that a fire had caused ammunition on the ship to explode and reported no casualties among its approximately 500 sailors, but the possible loss of the warship marked another setback for Moscow, as the United States and Western allies bolster Ukraine with new military aid.
If I’m not wrong, that’s the very Russian ship that ordered the Ukrainian border guards on an island to surrender, and they replied, “Go fuck yourself.”
In other news, a million of the 4 million or so refugees from Ukraine have returned. But before we take this as good news, news that we’d all welcome, remember that Russia and its media are ratcheting up rhetoric against Ukraine:
Two days later, the head of the defense committee in the lower house of parliament said it would take 30 to 40 years to “reeducate” Ukrainians.
And on a talk show, the editor in chief of the English-language television news network RT described Ukrainians’ determination to defend their country as “collective insanity.”
“It’s no accident we call them Nazis,” said Margarita Simonyan, who also heads the Kremlin-backed media group that operates the Sputnik and RIA Novosti news agencies. “What makes you a Nazi is your bestial nature, your bestial hatred and your bestial willingness to tear out the eyes of children on the basis of nationality.
*I’m always amazed at how fast the cops can apprehend a suspect when there’s not that much evidence, which is a good argument for not getting rid of police. And, in fact, yesterday the police caught the suspect in that shooting in the Brooklyn subway that wounded ten people. From the NYT:
Frank R. James, who law enforcement officials suspect of having perpetrated the worst attack on New York’s subway system in years, was taken into custody on Wednesday, more than 24 hours into an expansive search that erupted after at least 10 people were shot at a Brooklyn train station.
Mr. James was arrested in the East Village, officials said, and has been charged with having committed a terrorist act on a mass transit system, according to Breon S. Peace, the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District. If convicted, Mr. James could face a sentence of up to life in prison.
Officials said that Mr. James was apprehended thanks to a tip that came in from a McDonald’s on Sixth Street and First Avenue. Officers responded, and when Mr. James was not present, they began driving around the neighborhood. They found him on the corner of St. Marks Place and First Avenue, one of the busier intersections in the East Village, and took him into custody without incident.
“We were able to shrink his world quickly,” said New York’s Police Commissioner, Keechant Sewell.
I like that last sentence! It turns out that James actually called in the crime tip that got him arrested, telling police he was at a certain McDonald’s. He was apprehended nearby shortly thereafter.
*Emma Camp, the U. Va. senior who wrote a pretty tame but much-discussed op-ed in the NYT promoting free speech (see here), has followed it up with an article in Persuasion about the reaction to her piece. It’s not bad, and even calls out the NYT for its stupid op-ed mistaking “free speech” for “speech free from criticism or social-media mobbing.” Her new piece discusses some of the over-the-top reactions to her NYT piece, and decries tribalism. It’s good to see a college student voicing these opinions, but they should be ingrained in our culture already. In the fall Ms. Camp will go to work for Reason magazine. (h/t Paul).
*Reader Simon wrote me this: “Did you see that Russia has announced sanctions on 398 members of Congress? The question on everyone’s lips is, of course, ‘Who are the 37 that didn’t get hit? (And will they take a Russian vacation now?)'”.
Can anybody find out? I tried but I couldn’t. Who would the Russians exempt?
*Once again: do you need a second booster if you’re older than 50 or immunocompromised? The NYT asks the experts, and of course the experts differ. But not really, because they do agree that geezers and the compromised should still get the booster (my emphasis below).
Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research in San Diego, says the F.D.A. made the right call. “No one wants to get a booster shot, and I wish we didn’t need them,” he said. But in his view, the data from Israel are compelling, and older adults or those with risk factors for Covid-19 should get the second booster. When it comes to the first booster, which federal authorities authorized last November for all adults, he says the shot had “a vital effect” and should have been pushed out sooner.
But others disagree. “I’ve always been skeptical of the first booster, and I’m even less sure about the second booster,” said Dr. Phil Krause, the former deputy director of the F.D.A.’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review.
Dr. Krause left the F.D.A. last fall after the White House endorsed the initial booster shot before his agency had reviewed the data. Like Dr. Topol, he says that boosters make sense for the elderly and people who are at high risk for severe Covid-19. But for everyone else, he says the data show that the initial two-shot mRNA vaccines provide strong and durable protection against severe illness, and the need for extra shots is, at this point, not warranted.
Are these people really in disagreement? The differences, according to the NYT persist not only because the data aren’t that strong, but because of this:
One big point of dispute concerns the purpose of boosters. “Are we trying to keep people out of the hospital, or prevent mild illness, or decrease population-wide transmission?” said Dr. Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at the F.D.A. “If you don’t have a clear, agreed-upon goal, I think it’s easy for there to be disagreement.”
I did what the television recommends but which isn’t possible for most people: I ASKED MY DOCTOR. He said that I can get a shot if I want, but that the benefits are truly marginal.
*Writing on Bari Weiss’s site, Zoe Strimpel asked “Who hijacked feminism?” Her thesis is that the first several waves of feminism brought women the equal rights they wanted, and now feminism has become the purview of arcane academic theory. She goes on to say that this is part of a larger identitarian movement. I don’t fully agree with her assertion women have succeeded in getting what they deserve (especially treatment with respect, both personal and professional), but there’s a lot of sense in some of Zoe’s argument:
By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.
In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause.
. . . Unfortunately, identity politics cannot content itself with simply defending women’s rights or LGBT rights or the rights of black people to be treated equally under the law. It must persist indefinitely in its quest for ever-narrowing identities. (The ever-expanding acronym of gay and gay-adjacent and vaguely, distantly, not really in any way connected communities, with its helpful plus sign at the end, neatly illustrates as much.) Everyone is entitled to an identity, or a plethora of identities, and each identity must be bespoke—individualized—and any attempt to rein in the pursuit of identity runs counter to the never-ending fight for inclusivity. Even if that inclusivity undermines the rights of other people. Like women.
This dynamic, with the most marginal interest trumping all others, easily took over a feminism long primed by whacky postmodern ideas like Butler’s—paving the way for its second, related hijacking. This one by biological males.
*Finally, Elon Musk has launched a hostile takeover bid to acquire Twitter.
The hostile takeover bid comes after a wild two weeks between Musk and Twitter, which was full of head fakes and at least one lawsuit.
The company’s share price closed on Wednesday at around $46 per share but it was up 10 percent in premarket trading. If Musk decided to unload his shares, it could send the company’s stock price sharply lower.
Musk owns 9.2% of Twitter’s share. If he gets the company, what will he do with it?
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili goes a’-hunting:
A: What are you doing?Hili: I’m lying in wait.A: What for?Hili: I don’t know yet.
Ja: Co ty robisz?Hili: Czaję się.Ja: Na co?Hili: Jeszcze nie wiem.
Here’s Karolina reading.
Andrzej’s caption: A Ukrainian girl is looking for familiar words in a Polish book.
From Thomas: Talk to the cat!
From Ginger K., a Mark Parisi catoon:
From Doc Bill:
Two tweets from my magical Gmail thread:
Happy owl.. ☺️ pic.twitter.com/t6sltaxEuZ
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) April 12, 2022
Look at this needy penguin!
Omg that sound..
We all need a hug sometimes..😊 pic.twitter.com/9u3wewf4Eh
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) April 11, 2022
Reader Simon thinks that (despite the typo–should be “join”) this is a big fuck-up because it’s just going to make Putin more desperate. I don’t think we should predicate our foreign police on what makes Putin more desperate. The Washington Post editorial board favors NATO membership for Sweden and Finland? What do you think?
Have you ever fucked up so badly that you made Sweden and Finland joint NATO?
— Adam Rawnsley (@arawnsley) April 13, 2022
A tweet from Ken with commentary:
Yesterday, Joe Biden named former federal prosecutor Steve Dettelbach to be the new head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. While doing so during a Rose Garden ceremony, Biden made a grandpa joke about Dettelbach being responsible for the nice weather, too.The Republican National Committee found this joke to have a dark anti-Semitic subtext [JAC: Dettelbach is Jewish]
Biden says his ATF nominee, Steve Dettelbach, "was responsible for the weather" today.
Dettelbach is Jewish. pic.twitter.com/onG4h7IqVe
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) April 11, 2022
From Ginger K: This “scholarship” was published by Robin DiAngelo (see refs. at bottom).
Assertions without evidence = scholarship. 🎓👩🏻🎓🔖 pic.twitter.com/SPf8OMREDV
— The Woke Temple (@WokeTemple) April 6, 2022
Tweets from Matthew: Look at that preservation!
The Gogo Formation in Australia yields incredible fossils preserved in 3D. This Devonian site has extinct placoderm fish with embryos and even permineralized umbilical cords. Evidence suggests they gave live birth.https://t.co/pMBQSkiQkN#ReproductionWeek #Paleontology pic.twitter.com/hu6F9kNPiU
— Fossil Bonanza (@FossilBonanza) April 13, 2022
Nature not pretty: barnacles have hijacked a crab (which is doomed) to facilitate their reproduction:
See the little yellow blobby bits coming out of the underside? Those are rhizocephalans-parasitic barnacles! They have likely extended a rhizostomal network throught this crab's body & reproductive system to create more parasite babies! https://t.co/S97NGdgHfm
— Christopher Mah (@echinoblog) April 7, 2022
Can the Standard Model of particle physics be wrong?
Intriguing! A new analysis of previously-collected data from Fermilab offers a measurement of the mass of the W boson that seems significantly discrepant with the Standard Model. It's either exciting new physics or some kind of oops. I'm sure other experiments will be checking! https://t.co/XwbtRqnIsU
— Sean Carroll (@seanmcarroll) April 7, 2022