Good morning on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, April 19, 2022: National Rice Ball Day (“onigiri” in Japanese). This site has a small kit that can help you make cat-shaped rice balls like these, including molds to cut out the seaweed pieces:
Remember that I am leaving for two weeks on Friday, so posting is likely to be quite light; my Internet access is likely to be more limited than when I was in Antarctica.
Stuff that happened on April 19 include:
- 1506 – The Lisbon Massacre begins, in which accused Jews are being slaughtered by Portuguese Catholics.
In fact, many of these “Jews” had been forcibly converted to Catholicism, so were known as “New Christians.” It didn’t matter: almost 2,000 of them were slaughtered.
- 1770 – Captain James Cook, still holding the rank of lieutenant, sights the eastern coast of what is now Australia.
The date given may be one day early, as shown below:
She was just 15 when she was married, and here she is in a portrait from life painted when she was 13 (!) and an Archduchess. Not mind of the child in this picture!
This was a supposedly terrible play, but it was extremely popular, and it’s a good example of an early Streisand effect. From Wikipedia:
There were 375 performances before the New York Police Department raided West and her company in February 1927. They were charged with obscenity, after 325,000 people had watched it, including members of the police department and their wives, judges of the criminal courts, and seven members of the district attorney’s staff. West was sentenced to 10 days in a workhouse on Roosevelt Island (known then as “Welfare Island”) and fined $500. The resulting publicity increased her national renown.
A poster for the play:
- 1943 – Albert Hofmann deliberately doses himself with LSD for the first time, three days after having discovered its effects on April 16.
- 1956 – Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.
- 1971 – Charles Manson is sentenced to death (later commuted to life imprisonment) for conspiracy in the Tate–LaBianca murders.
Here’s Manson’s first interview after his conviction, for 60 Minutes Australia. I can’t find the year, but the guy is clearly a loon. And yet, why is he the perennial poster boy for evil when there are others, like Putin, who more or less do what he did but kill so many more people? Could it be his scary looks and demeanor?
- 1987 – The Simpsons first appear as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, first starting with “Good Night“.
Here’s “Good night”.
- 1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, USA, is bombed, killing 168 people including 19 children under the age of six.
Here’s the building after the bombing. McVeigh was executed–the first federal execution in 38 years. Terry Nichols, his partner in crime, was sentenced to 161 consecutive life sentences, and is serving them in ADX Florence in Colorado, the toughest prison in America. That’s hard time!
- 2013 – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is killed in a shootout with police. His brother Dzhokhar is later captured hiding in a boat inside a backyard in the suburb of Watertown.
Notables born on this day were few, and include:
- 1903 – Eliot Ness, American law enforcement agent (d. 1957)
Here’s Ness and his famous band of Department of Justice “Untouchables”. I used to watch the t.v. show about them starring Robert Stack, who didn’t look like Ness at all. The real Ness is on the extreme left below:
- 1933 – Jayne Mansfield, American model and actress (d. 1967)
This is an iconic photo of Jayne Mansfield, eyed (below the eyes) by Sophia Loren; the story of the photo is here.
- 1938 – Stanley Fish, American theorist, author, and scholar
Those who perished from the earth on April 19 include:
- 1588 – Paolo Veronese, Italian painter (b. 1528)
- 1824 – Lord Byron, English-Scottish poet and playwright (b. 1788)
Byron is buried in Nottingham; his grave is below. And he’s buried next to computer forbear Ada Lovelace, who was his only child! I had no idea they were related.
- 1881 – Benjamin Disraeli, English journalist and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1804)
- 1882 – Charles Darwin, English biologist and theorist (b. 1809)
This photo of Darwin was taken around 1854—5 years before he published his Big Book:
- 1906 – Pierre Curie, French physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859)
- 2012 – Levon Helm, American musician and actor (b. 1940)
Here’s my favorite performance of Helm, singing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”(written by Robbie Robertson) in the 1978 “Last Waltz” concert. What a film!
Today’s NYT banner headline, like the reports on the NBC News last evening, are quite depressing (click to read):
The NYT news summary:
As Russia intensified its attack on eastern Ukraine, there were conflicting assessments on whether the offensive for control of the region had begun in earnest or the full brunt of it was yet to come.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, and other top officials said the long-dreaded “battle for Donbas” had begun, after Russia stepped up artillery and rocket attacks along the roughly 300-mile front and ground forces pushed forward. Other Ukrainian officials and some analysts said the actions appeared to be a prelude to a much larger assault on the region, which includes separatist areas that are claimed in full by Russia.
“The Russians are continuing to set the conditions for what they believe will be eventual success on the ground by putting in more forces, putting in more enablers, putting in more command-and-control capability for operations yet to come,” the Pentagon spokesman, John F. Kirby, said.
Commentators on Russia’s state-run television have been pointing to the Donbas offensive as a potential turning point in the war, through which the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, could claim a semblance of victory by taking control of the region.
The last pocket of Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol appears to be holed up in the city’s the Azovstal steel plant. But there are reports of thousands of civilians in there, too. Ordered by the Russians to surrender, the soldiers refused, and it seems that destruction of both soldiers and civilians is in the offing.
The Big Russian Push is coming, and I fear any of our erstwhile optimism will be crushed. But of course I’d be delighted to be wrong.
Also depressing: Now the Ukrainians appear to be using “cluster munitions”, which are banned by international law, against the Russians. (Previously the Russians were accused of the same violation.) Of course they are using them against the military not (as the Russians did) against civilians, but they are aimed at villages containing Ukrainian civilians. This has still prompted criticism:
. . . The danger to civilians is no different under the barrels of Ukrainian artillery, as their forces desperately try to retake the parts of the country under Russian control.
“It’s not surprising, but it’s definitely dismaying to hear that evidence has emerged indicating that Ukraine may have used cluster munitions in this current conflict,” said Mary Wareham, advocacy director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch. “Cluster munitions are unacceptable weapons that are killing and maiming civilians across Ukraine.”
. . . But the Ukrainians’ decision to saturate their own village with a cluster munition that has the capacity to haphazardly kill innocent people underscores their strategic calculation: This is what they needed to do to retake their country, no matter the cost.
“No matter what the cost” could be an excuse for any war crime, though it’s not likely that the use of “cluster munitions” constitute such a crime. But the ethics of using them is contested.
*Elizabeth Warren has a NYT op-ed titled “There’s only one way the Democrats can win in November“, and titled inside as “Elizabeth Warren: Democrats can avoid disaster in November.” We’re all eager to hear her and this is her “one way”:
Democrats win elections when we show we understand the painful economic realities facing American families and convince voters we will deliver meaningful change. To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms.
Time is running short. We need to finalize a budget reconciliation deal, making giant corporations pay their share to fund vital investments in combating climate change and lowering costs for families, which can advance with only 50 Senate votes. Other priorities can be done with the president’s executive authority. It’s no secret that I believe we should abolish the filibuster. But if Republicans want to use it to block policies that Americans broadly support, we Democrats win elections when we show we understand the painful economic realities facing American families and convince voters we will deliver meaningful change. To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms.
Her agenda also includes rooting out corruption in government, “stopping companies from jacking up prices to boost their profits,” make billionaires pay more taxes, using “some of those tax revenues to invest in clean energy, affordable child care, and universal pre-K”, canceling student loan debt, and lowering prescription drug prices. In other words, “it’s the economy, stupid”. (But she suggestions more than “one thing”.) What are the chances even half of this will get done? I rate that close to zero, though many of these suggestions are useful (I’m not so sure whether the average American cares much about corruption in government.)
*The Washington Post reports that a federal judge has revoked the national mask mandate on airplanes and other forms of transportation. (h/t Jean)
The transportation mandate was among the highest-profile mask requirements in the country, persisting after most school districts and other jurisdictions have allowed similar mandates to expire.
The judge overturned the rational that gave the government used to mandate masks:
In the decision, Mizelle, who was appointed by former president Donald Trump and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said the CDC had relied on a 1944 law, the Public Health Service Act, to impose the mandate. But the government’s argument that it put the mask requirement in place for the purpose of “sanitation” falls short, Mizelle argued.
“Wearing a mask cleans nothing. At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance,” Mizelle wrote.
The judge was appointed by Trump and had clerked for Clarence Thomas. I’m flying Friday and will wear a mask out of caution, but I’m not sure whether the airlines can require them now
*If you want to read a juicy narrative of public-school book censorship, the Washington Post offers “Censorship battles’ new frontier: your public library.” It recounts a vigorous censorship battle in Llano County Texas, where I recently ate BBQ. One one side are the politicians and parents who want at least 60 books pulled off the shelves available to kids, and on the other are the heroic librarians. Here’s just one salvo in this battle involving Suzette Baker, a librarian in the district, who had previously refused to remove the 60 demonized books from her shelves:
Baker, who had been head librarian at the Kingsland branch for a year, continued to wage her own resistance. Inspired by a recent book-burning in Tennessee, she created a display in the library with banned titles like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and changed the letters on the variable message board out to front to say “We put the ‘lit’ in literature.” Milum told her to take down the display, then began ignoring her emails, she said.
On March 9, when Milum and the director of human resources appeared at the door of her library, Baker was ready. She knew she had caused waves. With a quaking voice, a visibly nervous Milum read Baker’s alleged offenses: “insubordination,” “creating a disturbance” and “allowing personal opinions to interfere with job duties and procedures.”
Baker was being fired.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, both Hili and Szaron don’t like the present and are going to look for a better “now.”
Ja: Gdzie idziecie?Hili: Do lepszej teraźniejszości.
And here is Karolina with Kulka.
Andrzej’s caption, “Lady with Kulka (in my chair).”
More dietary advice, this time from Merilee:
And, since Chicago had a bit of snow this morning, here’s a Snowasaur from Peter:
From Titania, who’s found a case of liguistic hypocrisy:
Cancel Spanish. pic.twitter.com/ldaEnVHHOc
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) April 16, 2022
The only good thing that would have accompanied the re-election of Trump is that we could still enjoy the parodies by Sarah Cooper. Now she’s apparently vanished, just like Vaugn Meader, who made a living imitating John F. Kennedy, went out of business when Kennedy was shot. Let’s have a late hurrah for Sarah (from Simon):
Just wanted to shine a powerful light on the fact that this week—this Saturday—will mark the second anniversary of Let's Inject Disinfectants Into the Body Day.
Happy Cloroxing to all who celebrate! https://t.co/0O05t8bRgX
— George Conway🇺🇦 (@gtconway3d) April 18, 2022
From my magical Twitter feed!
Pool time! 😂 pic.twitter.com/XXl07jsbrQ
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) April 17, 2022
Two DEI experts started this fracas when they mistakenly reported a black Arizona DJ for wearing blackface (article here or at link below). After they were set straight and apologized, one of them doubled down by accusing the man of darkening his complexion anyway!
Absolutely priceless. https://t.co/ScG7tswLml
— B. 📚🐾 🟢⚪️🟣 (@ebvwilkerson) April 17, 2022
A lucky cygnet:
The coach and his team.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/qSTx3aMLEb
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) April 17, 2022
From Abe. These two tweets may not be violations of the First Amendment, but I don’t think it’s seemly for a President to proselytize his faith in public. Beyond that, he’s making untrue statements that come from faith.
As we reflect today on Christ’s Resurrection, we are reminded that with faith, hope, and love — even death can be defeated. From our family to yours, we wish you hope, health, joy, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding. Happy Easter and may God bless and keep you.
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 17, 2022
Jill and I join our fellow Christians in observing Good Friday. Today, we remember Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, pray for all who suffer, and seek to love others as God has loved us.
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 15, 2022
He did issue a “happy Passover” tweet, and I’m sure there’s a Ramadan one somewhere in his thread. Still . . .
Tweets from Matthew. This first one he retweeted and damn, those things are fast!
Racing a dinosaur https://t.co/B4SHPvTNKn
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) April 18, 2022
The comments (ignore the “their”) suggest that this is an unexpected landslide caused by a detonation during mining operations:
Insane video 🎥 ⛑️⛑️
Can anyone translate what their saying. … pic.twitter.com/pvBacstpQb
— RawNews1st🎥📰 (@Raw_News1st) April 18, 2022