It’s Easter Sunday: April 17, 2022, and it’s time for my annual Easter joke, whose butt is both Christians and Jews. It comes from the site Southern Jewish Humor, which gets the story from Eli N. Evans, who wrote The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South:
Evans said he searched for the best example he could find of Southern Jewish humor. He told the story of a Jewish storekeeper in a small town who was approached by the Christian elders to show solidarity for their Easter holiday.
Mr. Goldberg was chagrined but when Easter came, after sunrise services on a nearby hilltop, the mayor, all the churchgoers, and the leading families in the city gathered in the town square in front of his store. The store had a new sign but it was draped with a parachute.
After an introduction from the mayor, at the appointed hour, the owner pulled the rope and there it was revealed in all its wonder for all to see: “Christ Has Risen, but Goldberg’s prices remain the same.”
I’ll be here all year, folks.
It’s National Cheeseball Day, one of the worst foods to become a popular entertainment snack in the Fifties. Would you like to dig into this?:
Wine of the day: I drank this Arterberry Maresh Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($30) with a pork chop dinner. I don’t remember when I bought it, but since it’s 2019, it has to be recently. The reviews were good, which presumably motivated the purchase. I think most people would agree that the first whiff smells like raspberries.
The first half bottle was good but not great, the main problem being a lack of guts. I like some stuffing in my wine, but although Pinots aren’t heavy like cabernets or syrahs, this one was extraordinarily light.
On the second day, however, it had improved substantially.. It hadn’t gained stuffing, but had “cohered”: it was somehow much fruitier and tastier. To paraphrrse Shakespeare, “The wine was gentle, and the elements so mixed in it, that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a wine!'”
Stuff that happened on April 17 include:
- 1492 – Spain and Christopher Columbus sign the Capitulations of Santa Fe for his voyage to Asia to acquire spices.
- 1521 – Trial of Martin Luther over his teachings begins during the assembly of the Diet of Worms. Initially intimidated, he asks for time to reflect before answering and is given a stay of one day.
This painting of Luther was painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1529, when Luther was alive, and presumably reflects that he looks like:
The Diet of Worms:
And here’s the only extant handwriting of Luther: his autograph draft of “Vater unser im Himmelreich“, a hymn that he wrote:
- 1524 – Giovanni da Verrazzano reaches New York harbor.
He has that big bridge named after him, and was the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America. here’s the track of his 1524 voyage:
The Verazzanno-Narrows Bridge, which features in the movie “Saturday Night Fever,” was the longest suspension bridge in the world from 1964-1981.
- 1907 – The Ellis Island immigration center processes 11,747 people, more than on any other day.
Here are some people arriving in 1908 (among the arrivals around that time were my maternal grandfather and grandmother).
- 1961 – Bay of Pigs Invasion: A group of Cuban exiles financed and trained by the CIA lands at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro.
- 1969 – Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy.
Sirhan’s been in jail ever since—over 50 years. He was granted parole in August of last year, but the governor of California blocked his release. Here’s his mug shot after his arrest. He’s now 79.
- 2021 – The funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, takes place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Notables born on April 17 were few, and include:
- 1896 – Señor Wences, Spanish-American ventriloquist (d. 1999)
Remember him? If you do (he was usually on the Ed Sullivan show, as he is here), you’re a geezer! Rewatching this, I don’t think he was a very good ventriloquist, at least in the technical sense. Watch his lips move!
- 1951 – Olivia Hussey, Argentinian-English actress.
She went all the way from Juliet in the famous movie directed by Zeffirelli to a 2003 television movie playing Mother Teresa. Here’s the early movie, when she was just 15; This is at the end when the star-crossed lovers die. I have to say that although this is Shakespeare, the filmed death scene is pretty cheesy.
- 1967 – Liz Phair, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
Those who, like Jesus, rose from the dead on this day include:
- 1790 – Benjamin Franklin, American inventor, publisher, and politician, 6th President of Pennsylvania (b. 1706)
Here’s a portrait of Franklin clearly painted from life: painted by by Joseph Duplessis in 1778 (Franklin, who spent much time in France), died in 1790.
This is in fact the portrait of Franklin on the American $100 bill:
- 1988 – Louise Nevelson, Ukrainian-American sculptor and educator (b. 1900)
- 1990 – Ralph Abernathy, American minister and activist (b. 1936)
- 1998 – Linda McCartney, American photographer, activist, and musician (b. 1941)
- 2014 – Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian journalist and author, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1927)
Márquez won the Nobel Prize largely from his great book One Hundred Years of Solitude, which mesmerized me when I read it. That was many years ago, so I should read it again. I just discovered that the first edition in Spanish (below), can cost $38,000 and upwards. It must have been issued in a small run, as it came out not that long ago (1967).
*Here’s today’s depressing headline in the NYT (click screenshot to read):
And the news summary:
The port city of Mariupol was on the cusp of falling on Sunday, a significant advance for Russian forces in their bid to capture Ukraine’s southeastern coast, though one that required nearly two months of bloody warfare and came at a staggering cost to Ukrainian civilians.
Russia said on Saturday that its forces had surrounded a remaining group of Ukrainian fighters who were holed up in a Mariupol steel plant. “The only chance to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender,” said Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, according to the state news agency Tass.
Zelensky spoke about the besieged city:
In a late-night address, President Volodymyr Zelensky said conditions in Mariupol remained “as severe as possible” and were “just inhuman.” His remarks came hours after Russia said it was poised to complete the capture of the besieged city, and after he acknowledged that Ukraine’s forces held only a small part of it. He continued to plead for military aid and said he was also open to “a negotiating path” forward. “Military or diplomatic — anything to save people,” he said.
*The Washington Post reports that the Russians gave Mariupol a deadline of this morning to surrender or be killed. There was of course no response. It seems clear that the city will be lost, and I still think Kyiv will be, too. (At this moment the Russians are shelling the suburbs again.) There is no good end for Zelensky except a personal one—if the Russians let him live. I am no pundit of course, just a superannuated scientist jawing about politics, but my guess is that if Zelensky doesn’t cut a deal with the Russians, the whole country will fall. Putin is in a subdued rage, and he’s not going to give up now. As for the armies, yes, the Russians got bogged down, but in the end it’s a matter of numbers.
*Aaron Blake, a staff writer at the Washington Post, has ranked the top ten Democratic Presidential candidates for 2024. I’m not going to comment on his choices, but here’s his list from 10 (lowest ranked) to 1 (highest) with the preliminary comment:
In previous installments, we excluded Biden from the list, suggesting we’d probably have a true primary only if he didn’t run. But we increasingly need to consider the possibility that, if he does run, he won’t have the field to himself — and that he might not be the most likely nominee, all things considered.
- Joe Biden
- Pete Buttigieg
- Kamala Harris
- Elizabeth Warren
- Amy Klobuchar
- Roy Cooper
- Sherrod Brown
- Cory Booker
- Gavin Newsom
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
This list doesn’t excite me, though I like Mayor Pete, but too many of the candidates are “progressives”, and I consider them unlikely to be elected. It’s too early to even prognosticate, of course, but you’re welcome to comment on the list. BIden, of course, would be over eighty when he took office—the oldest Prez we’ve ever had.
*One of the main reasons for the high price of healthcare in America is the soaring coast of prescription drugs. Why are they so much higher here than elsewhere? One reason, says the NYT editorial board in an op-ed yesterday, is the U.S. patent system, which is structured so that drug companies can keep their patents going by simply making a tweak that adds years of protection from competition. And the patent system also discourages innovation. The op-ed recommends these reforms of the Patent Office. I’ll give one quote:
- Enforce existing standards. “
The problem is these rules are poorly enforced.
The pharmaceutical industry is a good example. Nearly 80 percent of the drugs associated with new patents between 2005 and 2015 were not new. But the issue is not confined to drugmakers. The Theranos debacle, to take just one other example, was touched off by officials who granted scores of patents for a device that had never been built and that turned out not to work. The company was able to secure those patents without disclosing almost any technical information about its product.
- Improve the process for challenging bad patents.
- Eliminate potential conflicts of interest.
- Collaborate with other agencies.
- Let the public participate.
*Animal break: The two giant pandas at Washington’s National Zoo were feted yesterday in honor of the 50 years since the zoo has had pandas (not the same ones!). I remember when they got the first ones (named Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, as I recall), and I fought the crowds to see them. There are three now: mom, dad, and their cub, and they got a celebratory cake.
The “cake” was made from frozen fruit juice, sweet potatoes, carrots and sugar cane and it lasted about 15 minutes once giant panda mama Mei Xiang and her cub Xiao Qi Ji got hold of it.
I’d eat that! There’s more:
The National Zoo’s most famous tenants had an enthusiastic breakfast Saturday in front of adoring crowds as the zoo celebrated 50 years of its iconic panda exchange agreement with the Chinese government.
Xiao Qi Ji’s father Tian Tian largely sat out the morning festivities, munching bamboo in a neighboring enclosure with the sounds of his chomping clearly audible during a statement by Chinese ambassador Qin Gang. The ambassador praised the bears as “a symbol of the friendship” between the nations.
Pandas are almost entirely solitary by nature, and in the wild Tian Tian would probably never even meet his child. He received a similar cake for lunch.
A photo from the AP with its caption. Look at that cake! I’m trying to find a video to embed or link to, but so far I’ve come up dry. If you want to see a 2-year-old panda in San Diego devour a similar cake, go here. (I do wish pandas were kept in the wild and not put on display in zoos.)
*Over at the New York Times, writer Esau McCaulley tells us “What Good Friday and Easter mean for black Americans.” There’s no expectation, of course, that the day would mean similar things to different groups, but McCaulley’s Great Notion is that it means that black people will be resurrected in their “black bodies”, and so Heaven will be integrated from the get-go. No raceless souls up there!
It’s common, even in Christian circles, to think of the afterlife as a disembodied bliss in a paradise filled with naked baby angels tickling the strings of harps as our souls bounce from cloud to cloud. But Christianity has never taught a disembodied future in heaven. Our beliefs are more radical.
. . .Jesus’ resurrection has implications not just for his body, but for all bodies subject to death. Christians believe that what God did for Jesus, he will do for us. The resurrection of Jesus is the forerunner of the resurrection of our bodies and restoration of the earth. There are endless debates and speculations about what type of bodies we will have at the resurrection. Will we all receive the six-packs of our dreams? Will we revert to the bodies we had in our 20s? I do not find these questions that intriguing. What is compelling to me is the clear teaching that our ethnicities are not wiped away at the resurrection. Jesus was raised with his brown, Middle Eastern, Jewish body.
When my body is raised, it will be a Black body. One that is honored alongside bodies of every hue and color. The resurrection of Black bodies will be the definitive rejection of all forms of racism.
How does he know this? Because when Jesus came back after death, his disciples recognized him, ergo he looked pretty much the same. But of course they wouldn’t have recognized him had he come back as an Inuit or a sparrow. Since God can do whatever he wants, he resurrected Jesus (who is also God) in the body that could prove the resurrection. This does not mean that everyone will be resurrected and then go to heaven with their ethnicity preserved. Or, if it is, what about their disabilities and ailments? What age will the resurrected body be? McCaulley can’t tell us that, but he’s sure he’ll come back a black man, not just a black soul, but with the proper views and pigmentation. This is a prime example of using religion to pretend to know something you don’t.
. . .
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s mind is awhirl:
A: What are you puzzling about?Hili: About infinity of different possibilities.
Ja: Nad czym się zastanawiasz?Hili: Nad nieskończonością różnych możliwości.
A picture of Karolina on the windowsill with a caption:
Natasza washed the windows and Karolinda concluded that she, too, had to jump on the window sills.
And a photo of Szaron:
From the Freedom from Religion Foundation:
Speaking of kites, I thought at first that this was a kite, but this tweet from reader Barry shows it’s a SNOOPY DRONE:
The internet I came for… ♥️ pic.twitter.com/cmoTM0mHSp
— Skeptic George (@Skeptic_George) April 16, 2022
From Ken, who notes, “The governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, seems unclear on the Passover/Hanukkah distinction”. My retweet:
Umm. . . it's not Chanukah! Reynolds probably just did a Google image search for Jewish holidays and put up the first thing she saw. At least she got the religion right! https://t.co/9KgIShCAZH
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) April 16, 2022
From cesar: This is what happens when you stop prosecuting shoplifters or make it a trivial offense not worth the police’s time. And it’s happening in Chicago, too. Now California isn’t the whole U.S., but this is where we’re heading:
Every item in this SF Walgreens is under lock and key.
There’s practically nothing you can buy without having to call an associate to unlock something.
I’ve never been in a country that lives this way. pic.twitter.com/omFdoqH2CL
— Antonio García Martínez (agm.eth) 🇺🇦 (@antoniogm) April 13, 2022
From Dom, who either guessed or looked in the thread and saw that this was a mating pair of puss moths (Cerura vinula):
Anyone in Twittersphere know what this is? East Sussex. Today. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/ZQZi1pbfRn
— Skye and Frisa (@skyeandfrisa) April 15, 2022
From Ginger K.:
He was trapped in a sewer pipe, rescued, and is now here to say that Ukrainian kittens will never give up the fight. His name is Micky. Photo: Animal Rescue Kharkiv. ❤️🇺🇦🌻 pic.twitter.com/QdLsO2ikSp
— Lorenzo The Cat (@LorenzoTheCat) April 6, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. We’re several days past the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, but this story remains amazing:
110yrs ago today Titanic sank.
A stoker, Arthur John Priest, survived. He swam through icy water to a lifeboat.
He had already survived a collision aboard its sister ship, Olympic.
He went on to survive the WW1 sinkings of Alcantara, Britannic (Titanic's other sister) & Donegal pic.twitter.com/FxnW0uHApG
— Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) April 15, 2022
Talk about a captive audience!
Imagine you get on a plane and you have to listen to this pic.twitter.com/RpY8d7RK4Y
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) April 16, 2022
The YouTube video is adorable, but how did Mom get that gash in her face:
— Lee Berger (@LeeRberger) April 16, 2022