Good morning on the end of the “work week”: it’s Friday, April 15, 2021, National Ham Day. Note that after sundown today but before midnight, it is in special conflict with the Jewish sabbath. (Ham is unkosher and forbidden to religious Jews.) Here’s a ham-related joke (ask me about my bacon joke.)
An elderly rabbi, having just retired from his duties in the congregation, finally decides to fulfill his lifelong fantasy–to taste pork.
He goes to a hotel in the Catskills in the off-season (not his usual one, mind you), enters the empty dining hall and sits down at a table far in the corner. The waiter arrives, and the rabbi orders roast suckling pig.
As the rabbi is waiting, struggling with his conscience, a family from his congregation walks in! They immediately see the rabbi and, since no one should eat alone, they join him.
Shocked, the rabbi begins to sweat. At last, the waiter arrives with a huge domed platter. He lifts the lid to reveal-what else?–roast suckling pig, complete with an apple in its mouth.
The family gasp in shock and disgust, they quickly turned to the rabbi for any type of explanation.
“This place is amazing!” cries the rabbi. “You order a baked apple, and look what you get!”
I’ll be here all year, folks! It’s also ASL Day, Good Friday, Jackie Robinson Day (see below), National Glazed Spiral Ham Day, National Griper’s Day, National Rubber Eraser Day, National That Sucks Day (indeed!), World Art Day. and Universal Day of Culture.
Stuff that happened on April 15 includes:
A good-condition first edition of this classic work will run you between $25,000 and $65,000:
- 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by actor John Wilkes Booth. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes President upon Lincoln’s death.
From Smithsonian Magazine, here’s a photo of the gun that Booth used to kill Lincoln:
Well, here’s the opening ceremony. The games were a great success, and USA fans would be pleased because Americans won the most medals:
- 1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic at 2:20 a.m., two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg. Only 710 of 2,224 passengers and crew on board survive.
Here’s the route up to the point where she sank (yellow star):
- 1923 – Insulin becomes generally available for use by people with diabetes.
The first person to be treated with it for the disease was 14-year-old Leonard Thompson, injected on January 11, 1922 (this is the 100th anniversary of the substance used as a drug). He would have died within weeks without the drug; with it he lived 13 more years. Here’s an early vial:
- 1942 – The George Cross is awarded “to the island fortress of Malta” by King George VI.
- 1945 – Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is liberated.
- 1947 – Jackie Robinson debuts for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking baseball’s color line.
He started on opening day, and although he went hitless, he scored the winning run (on base after an error) against the Boston Braves. Robinson went on to bat .297 for the season and was named Rookie of the Year. Many great black players never got a chance to play in the “major league” because of sheer bigotry. Here’s a short video about Robinson’s debut:
- 1955 – McDonald’s restaurant dates its founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc, in Des Plaines, Illinois.
The oldest McDonald’s still in operation is this one, labeled “The oldest operating McDonald’s restaurant was the third one built, opening in 1953. It’s located at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. at Florence Ave. in Downey, California.” Remember, too, that Downey, California is where the Carpenters are from. Here’s the still-operating restaurnt; I implore a reader to go visit.
I still remember when burgers were 15¢, as were shakes and fries. Your whole meal: 45¢:
- 1989 – Hillsborough disaster: A human crush occurs at Hillsborough Stadium, home of Sheffield Wednesday, in the FA Cup Semi-final, resulting in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans.
- 2019 – The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris in France is seriously damaged by a large fire.
I saw it intact shortly before it burned, and I still can’t believe it happened. Here’s a news report about the fire, and we still have no idea what started it:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1452 – Leonardo da Vinci, Italian painter, sculptor, and architect (d. 1519)
This contemporary portrait by Francesco Melzi gives us the only idea of what Leonardo really looked like:
- 1707 – Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist (d. 1783)
- 1772 – Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, French biologist and zoologist (d. 1844)
- 1889 – Thomas Hart Benton, American painter and educator (d. 1975)
Benton liked jazz, and here’s his “Portrait of a Musiciian” painted in 1949:
- 1894 – Bessie Smith, African-American singer and actress (d. 1937)
Here’s Smith’s hit “Downhearted Blues” from 1922:
- 1907 – Nikolaas Tinbergen, Dutch-English ethologist and ornithologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1988)
- 1912 – Kim Il-sung, North Korean general and politician, 1st Supreme Leader of North Korea (d. 1994)
Go to Wikipedia and have a look at all of his titles. And he’s still considered the President of Korea!
- 1922 – Harold Washington, American lawyer and politician, 51st Mayor of Chicago (d. 1987)
- 1933 – Roy Clark, American musician and television personality (d. 2018)
- 1959 – Emma Thompson, English actress, comedian, author, activist and screenwriter
I adore Thompson; here’s a top 10 compilation of her performances.
Those who Met their Maker (or not) on this day include:
- 1764 – Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV (d. 1764)
- 1865 – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States (b. 1809)
- 1888 – Matthew Arnold, English poet and critic (b. 1822)
- 1889 – Father Damien, Belgian priest and saint (b. 1840)
Father Damien tended the lepers of Moloka’i, and contracted leprosy, from which he died. Here’s a photo of Father Damien (now St. Damien) shortly before his death. The signs of leprosy are clearly visible:
- 1912 – Victims of the Titanic disaster.
There’s a list of the notable ones at the April 15 site.
- 1980 – Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher and author, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
- 1986 – Jean Genet, French novelist, poet, and playwright (b. 1910)
- 1990 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (b. 1905)
Greta Garbo had some friends, but she really did prefer solitude, not even showing up at the Oscars when she was nominated:
Here’s his gravesite. Given that he killed about 20% of his own people, it’s amazing that it still stands intact. Wikipedia labels it “Pol Pot’s grave in the Anlong Veng District of Oddar Meanchey Province”
*Here’s today’s top-left headline in the digital NYT; click on screenshot to read:
And the news summary (I’ve posted more of it than usual):
Russian forces on Friday appeared close to capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol, a development that would be a significant victory for Moscow after a series of setbacks this week, including a tentative but looming European Union ban on Russian oil and the loss in the Black Sea of its flagship vessel, which Ukraine said it struck in a missile attack.
If confirmed, the strike on the Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva would be a serious blow to Moscow both militarily and symbolically — proof that its ships can no longer operate with impunity, and another damaging blow to Russian morale.
However, if Mariupol falls, Russia will be able to claim the land route from Crimea that it seeks. It could then send reinforcements to the eastern Donbas region, where it is now concentrating troops for what analysts predict will be a major offensive.
But Russia’s setbacks are real, leaving President Vladimir V. Putin so desperate for a victory that he could potentially turn to limited nuclear weapons, the director of the C.I.A. warned on Thursday.
It looks as if the promised evacuation of Mariupol never took place. The Ukrainian troops have been bottled up in two areas, and it looks as if the city is lost—for the time being.
The loss of the Russian cruiser is indeed a blow to Moscow, as it’s a setback for Russian plans to control the Black Sea coast and its city of Odessa, but I wonder if all the celebrating about it is symbolic: it is a nice Ukrainian victory, but won’t win the war for them. And it’s also a setback for Christianity, as the sunken vessel is supposed to have carried a piece of the True Cross! (I hope they saved it. ). All I can say is either God works in mysterious ways, He hates the Russian troops (as he should) or that it wasn’t really a piece of the true cross, but one of a gazillon fakes:
*The Washington Post is tracking the progress of anti-abortion bills across America, and there’s a useful chart at their site. There are two new ones, pushed by Republicans, of course:
Two states this week approved bills that ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the latest actions as Republican-led states move swiftly to restrict abortion access. Kentucky’s ban, passed by the Republican-led legislature over the Democratic governor’s veto, took effect immediately. Florida’s governor signed a ban this week that is set to take effect in July.
Here are the states that have passed or are in the process of passing “15-week bans”, i.e. fetal heartbeat bills, which according to Roe v. Wade adhere to the Constitution:
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that this fall we’ll see the demise of Roe v. Wade, and all hell will break loose as Republican legislatures vie with one another to enact the most draconian antiabortion laws.
*A NYT op-ed extols the story of the Exodus of the Jews from the Old Testament, saying that it’s pivotal in helping us argue against slavery and build a “just society”. But of that narrative, the Bible offers much more support of slavery. The problem for author Sharon Brous, a rabbi, is of course that the Exodus never happened: it’s fiction, a myth. Doesn’t it matter that a made-up story is sad to inspire people to create a more just society? Perhaps that’s possible, but Brous never admits that the story of the Exodus is false.
*A 26 year old father of two (black) was shot to death by a Michigan policeman (white) after resisting arrest and trying to grab the cop’s taser. This followed a traffic stop. If you look at the video here, (in the Post article, though, you’ll see that it doesn’t look like the cop’s life was endangered. The officer wound up sitting on the guy’s back, who was face down, and fired a shot into the guy’s head. I won’t say the cop was guilty until there’s an investigation or a trial, but do watch the video. Yes, it was a confusing arrest and the guy didn’t cooperate, but cops should pull their sidearm and fire only when they think their life is endangered or they’re at risk of serious injury. Again, let’s see what the investigation yields (the cop’s body camera apparently was inactivated at some point during the tussle.)
*NJ.com reports that two women at a New Jersey women’s prison are pregnant via consensual sex. It wasn’t the guards who participated in the deed, but a transgender inmate who identified as a woman and thus got was entitled to be housed in the prison. (h/t Williams)
The developments follow a settlement agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey last year, which stipulates that transgender prisoners should be housed in line with their gender identity.
That settlement stemmed from a lawsuit by a transgender woman who was sent to a men’s prison, where she alleged she received inadequate medical care and was abused by male inmates and staff.
Advocates hailed the agreement as necessary reform that moved New Jersey to the forefront of trans rights along with states like California and Massachusetts that have implemented policies on how transgender prisoners should be housed and medically treated.
The majority of transgender inmates in the United States are housed in prisons according to their gender assigned at birth and are often subjected to violence and harassment, according to an NBC News investigation published in 2020.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, I’m told that a new cat has shown up that looks much like Szaron. This has caused some confusion for Hili and Kulka:
Hili: Szaron is over there.Kulka: You can’t be certain.
Hili: Tam jest Szaron.Kulka: To wcale nie jest pewne.
Here’s a photo of Karolina from Kyiv reading, with Andrzej’s caption, translated by Malgorzata:
Karolina is looking for the best method of reading books in languages she doesn’t know yet.
From Nicole and Stephen: A genuine “Bible bookplate” to paste in your Bible to facilitate learning it. Only $7.95 here, and waterproof! (Yes, it’s real, sold by a religious stuff store.) Click to enlarge:
An Easter photo from Bruce. I’d be scared too if I were in the clutches of a giant rabbit!
I haven’t read this article yet, but it’s in the WaPo and Bari Weiss said it was “couragenous” of the paper to publish it. That’s good enough for me; let’s read it together:
This is heartbreaking, but extremely important. Bravo to the Washington Post for publishing it: https://t.co/yPt46zz80x
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) April 11, 2022
From Irena. Does anybody know what bird this is?
God is Hawking (those three words are a complete sentence) his new book, just out (buy it here for $20 in hardback, $11.99 in Kindle), and gives us a sample:
"When someone prays correctly, I answer the prayer on time, every time.
That's the God Guarantee®".
—The Book of Pslams, 14:14-15https://t.co/TQCt0PMs4p
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) April 14, 2022
Here are the reviews on the Amazon page. I’m surprised Publisher’s Weekly liked it! (Of course, in America there’s no possibility for a starred review for such a book!)
“Wickedly funny…Readers who haven’t injured themselves laughing will be relieved to hear that doggie heaven is real, though it “doubles as mailman hell…No sacred cow goes untipped in this sidesplitting work.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Those familiar with God’s Twitter, @TheTweet of God, know to expect the sacred but mostly the profane. Nothing is off the table… for those who finds truths twisted by sacrilege their cup of wine, well, bless you.”—BOOKLIST
“To die for!” — JOAN OF ARC
“Better than the Koran! I especially loved the nude picture of me on page 87!” — MUHAMMAD
“I stand corrected: God is back!” — NIETZSCHE
A tweet sent in by Ron:
PHOTOS: Shells and bombs that rained down for weeks on Chernihiv, a northern Ukrainian city besieged by Russian forces, have reduced its buildings and neighborhoods to rubble. https://t.co/3Q7k6IwcHt
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 14, 2022
From Gravelinspector, who notes the truefact that “Instagram is really cracking down on fake accounts and underage users.” He adds that “Instagram is going to demand a copy of the library’s driving license as proof of existence and age. Because you can’t exist without a driving license.”
You might have noticed our Instagram has been quiet of late.
You see, we've been 'suspended'.😳 @Instagram's artificial intelligence wants us to prove we're old enough to use it.
Don't they know we're 419 years old?
We've chucked our appeal into the ether. Watch this space!🤞
— Bodleian Libraries (@bodleianlibs) April 14, 2022
From Simon: another academic take on an animal meme. Like Simon, I’m not sure who’s depicted as better here!
Mice neuroscientist meeting a worm neuroscientist https://t.co/ONhSbs8Yzx
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) April 14, 2022
From Ginger K. who said she hoped this was satirical, and it is; Snopes gives us the details. Still, it’s funny:
— Michael🏳️🌈🇺🇸🌈⚛️ 🦄 (@Mikethewander1) April 3, 2022
Oh, Sarah, say it ain’t so! Leonardo? Michelangelo? Raphael? Caravaggio?
I just can't appreciate old art. Post-renaissance works only plz.
— Sarah Haider 👾 (@SarahTheHaider) April 11, 2022
This is the F**k you ship, and it’s now at the bottom of the harbor. The Ukrainians sank it! A tweet from and by Matthew:
“Russian warship go fuck yourself”. https://t.co/lZMZVgmH0m
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) April 13, 2022
Another tweet from Dr. Cobb:
The Great Testicle Thieves of 1920s Chicago. The crime wave was reportedly spurred on by a ‘testicle rejuvenation’ medical trend among wealthy men who believed acquiring younger men’s balls could ward off signs of aging https://t.co/0xg6lXvsxV
— Jennifer Ouellette (@JenLucPiquant) April 7, 2022