Welcome to the end of the work week: Friday, April 22, 2022. This evening I’ll be over the Atlantic on my way to Tenerife via Madrid. It’s National Jelly Bean Day (didn’t we just have that?) as well as Earth Day and April Showers Day.
I’lll be traveling until the beginning of May, so posting will likely be light. Bear with me. I do my best.
Stuff that happened on April 22 includes:
- 1529 – Treaty of Zaragoza divides the eastern hemisphere between Spain and Portugal along a line 297.5 leagues (1,250 kilometres (780 mi)) east of the Moluccas.
- 1836 – Texas Revolution: A day after the Battle of San Jacinto, forces under Texas General Sam Houston identify Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna among the captives of the battle when some of his fellow soldiers mistakenly give away his identity.
- 1864 – The U.S. Congress passes the Coinage Act of 1864 that permitted the inscription In God We Trust be placed on all coins minted as United States currency.
And that year, superstition made its appearance on the coins. Here’s one from that year:
- 1876 – The first National League baseball game is played at the Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia.
- 1889 – At noon, thousands rush to claim land in the Land Rush of 1889. Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie are formed with populations of at least 10,000.
Below is a famous photo of the Land Rush. A bit more from Wikipedia:
12 o’clock noon that the Unassigned Land in Indian Territory would be open for settlement. At the time of the opening, which was indicated by gunshot, the line of people on horse and in wagons dispersed into a kaleidoscope of motion and dust and oxen and wagons. The chase for land was frenzied and much chaos and disorder ensued. The rush did not last long, and by the end of the day nearly two million acres of land had been claimed. By the end of the year, 62,000 settlers lived in the Unassigned Lands located between the Five Tribes on the east and the Plains Tribes on the west.
- 1915 – The use of poison gas in World War I escalates when chlorine gas is released as a chemical weapon in the Second Battle of Ypres.
Later they used mustard gas. Here are some “British troops blinded by poison gas during the Battle of Estaires, 1918.”
- 1954 – Red Scare: Witnesses begin testifying and live television coverage of the Army–McCarthy hearings begins.
- 1970 – The first Earth Day is celebrated.
- 1993 – Eighteen-year-old Stephen Lawrence is murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in Well Hall, Eltham.
Here’s Lawrence, who was stabbed to death for no reason except his race. Two murderer were convicted in 2012, receiving 14- or 15-year sentences:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1707 – Henry Fielding, English novelist and playwright (d. 1754)
- 1870 – Vladimir Lenin, Russian revolutionary and founder of Soviet Russia (d. 1924)
Lenin was not a well man in his later years, suffering from a variety of ailments (some say syphilis, others arteriosclerosis), but he did have a series of strokes, the first in 1922. Here he is the next year in a wheelchair:
- 1891 – Nicola Sacco, Italian-American anarchist (d. 1927)
- 1899 – Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-born novelist and critic (d. 1977)
I just realized that Nabokov never won a Nobel Prize for Literature, and I’m wondering why.
Did you know that Nabokov had a lifelong interest in butterflies, and worked on them at Harvard? From the Atlas Obscura:
Between 1942 and 1948, Nabokov was a Researcher Fellow in the Harvard University Comparative Zoology department. The university allowed him to have a little shop furnished with scientific equipment to pursue his taxonomic research. Nabokov was already a practiced expert of Blue Butterflies and focused his classification theory on one specific point: the study of male butterfly genitalia. Invisible to our bare eyes, the butterflies’ privates were described by Nabokov as “minuscule sculptural hooks, teeth, spurs, etc… visible only under a microscope.” These aedeagus would be taken away from each specimen, places in littles vials or on glass plates, and labeled. By doing so, Nabokov could observe new physiognomic differences between identical-looking butterflies and reevaluate their belonging to one species or another. Each specimen was indexed and placed in a small wooden cabinet.
This miraculous little collection still exists today, but is kept out of sight, in the Harvard Entomology Departments.
That’s especially cool because I worked on fly genitalia for a long time. Here’s Nabokov’s genital cabinet:
- 1904 – J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and academic (d. 1967)
- 1916 – Yehudi Menuhin, American-Swiss violinist and conductor (d. 1999)
- 1922 – Charles Mingus, American bassist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1979)
- 1936 – Glen Campbell, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 2017)
This is my favorite song by Campbell, and his guitar solo is dynamite (remember, he was a session guitarist before he became famous as a solo artist):
I love this scene; it’s from “Five Easy Pieces”.
Those who “passed” on April 22 include:
- 1945 – Käthe Kollwitz, German painter and sculptor (b. 1867)
- 1984 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (b. 1902)
Here’s Adams and his kitten:
- 1994 – Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States (b. 1913)
- 2013 – Richie Havens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1941)
Here’s his famous performance of “Freedom” at Woodstock in 1969. As you can see, he had no teeth in his upper jaw:
*Here’s today’s NYT upper-left-hand-corner headline (click to read):
. . . and the news highlights:
In the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, uncertainty loomed over the fate of the Azovstal steel plant, where hundreds if not thousands of Ukrainian fighters and civilians have been holed up for weeks in fortified underground warrens with diminishing supplies of food, water and ammunition.
The plant was being shelled on Thursday, according to a Ukrainian soldier there, though President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had called off an assault hours earlier in favor of a blockade “that a fly can’t get through,” apparently with the intent of starving the defenders out.
Capturing the steel plant would effectively signal the fall of Mariupol, a significant victory for Russia — allowing a land bridge between the Crimean peninsula in the south, which Russia annexed in 2014, and territory that Russian forces already hold in the Donbas region in the east. Though Mr. Putin prematurely claimed victory in Mariupol on Thursday, a soldier with the Ukrainian National Guard inside a bunker at the steel plant said that Ukrainian forces were holding on while they had ammunition.
Attacks continued across Ukraine on Thursday, even as President Biden announced another $800 million package of weapons to help the country, pushing U.S. support to over $2 billion since the war’s start eight weeks ago. The aid will allow the creation of five new Ukrainian artillery battalions, and it includes more than 120 new drones built specifically to be used by Ukrainian forces.
Satellite images reveal what seems to be a mass gravesite in Kyiv , while over a thousand dead Ukrainians have been found in Kyiv, some apparently shot at close range. And Anheuser-Busch is pulling out of Russia: no Bud for you!
*Meanwhile, the NYT has an editorial board op-ed called “Acknowledging the limits of sanctions.” While praising Biden’s sanctions, the editors also note that “sanctions historically have not been particularly effective in changing regimes, and their record at changing dictators’ behavior is mixed at best.” The solutions? Well, those offered by the editors aren’t promising:
Even Mr. Putin acknowledged that they have “achieved certain results.” But focusing on helping Ukraine financially and with military equipment might prove more productive than thinking up new sanctions on Russia. The Biden administration appears to recognize this, at least in part, with its latest $800 million in military aid and $500 million in emergency funding announced on Thursday.
. . . . The United States could tighten the economic screws on Russia by imposing secondary sanctions. U.S. officials already appear to be threatening as much in meetings and calls with officials in India and China. Secondary sanctions are a powerful tool to compel other countries to get in line with American policy. But the potential benefits need to be weighed against the risks and costs. The extraterritorial application of American laws can also incite deep resentment, even from European allies at times. Secondary sanctions should be used sparingly, and only after consultation with partners.
And that’s about it. In effect, they’re suggesting that we “roll back the sanctions” and try other stuff:
All the more reason that the United States should have a clear plan for how and under what circumstances it would be appropriate to roll back these latest sanctions. Right now, this has been left deliberately vague to allow the Ukrainians to directly negotiate with Russia. It is laudable to give deference to Ukrainians whose lives are on the line in this terrible war. But creating clear goals and communicating benchmarks for sanctions relief is an important factor in successful sanctions. Too often, sanctions are left in place for decades, without evaluation of whether or not they are achieving what they were put in place to do.
They might be right that the sanctions won’t deter Putin (oh, sorry, I forgot they weren’t a “deterrent”), but then what solution do the editors have to offer while Ukrainians continue to die? They have none.
*But at the Washington Post, Fared Zakaria says that “the only plausible path” to keeping the pressure on Russia is to tighten the sanctions:
To achieve this, the coalition against it needs the staying power to maintain and even ratchet up sanctions and embargoes against Moscow. And that is only conceivable in a scenario in which energy prices come down from their current highs.
*As you know, a federal judge overturned the government’s mask mandate on airplanes and other forms of public transportation (though not all). The CDC has appealed to the Department of Justice to appeal that ruling, and the Department of Justice has indeed filed an appeal. But it won’t be ruled on for several months at the earliest. In the meantime, I will continue to wear my mask on planes and mask public transportation (I’m not sure about Uber). From CNBC.
The new appeal is largely expected to have no immediate effect given that the Justice Department has not yet made an attempt to block Mizelle’s order. The appeal process is slated to unfold over a number of months.
On the heels of Mizelle’s decision, the White House said that it will likely appeal the decision but that the Transportation Security Administration will not enforce the order on public transport while the ruling is reviewed
*You’ve likely heard about the fracas involving Florida vs. Walt Disney Company. Disney was given a special dispensation in 1967 so that its Orlando theme park has its own self-governing district:
The legislation would dismantle Disney’s special district on June 1, 2023. The district, which was created by a 1967 state law, allows Disney to self-govern by collecting taxes and providing emergency services. Disney controls about 25,000 acres in the Orlando area, and the district allows the company to build new structures and pay impact fees for such construction without the approval of a local planning commission.
But Disney transgressed when corporation leaders criticized the new Florida law, signed by DeSantis, that bans “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in Florida’s public schools. That criticism was too much for Florida Republicans and DeSantis in particular:
For months, DeSantis has steadily increased his rhetoric denouncing “the rise of corporate wokeness,” but he didn’t have a clear target until Disney announced its opposition to the measure, which critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, on March 9. Since then, the company — Florida’s largest employer — has been a singular focus for the governor as he runs for re-election and eyes a 2024 presidential bid. As a vestige of Florida’s old business-aligned GOP, Disney provided DeSantis a perfect foil to highlight the revolution in Republican politics as it de-emphasizes talk about free markets in favor of culture war attacks on “wokeness.”
Now, both houses of the Florida legislature have passed a bill that will eliminate Disney’s special district of self-governance. DeSantis will almost surely sign that bill, and Disney will have to be subject to Florida law as of June 1, 2023. Such is the price of dissent.
*A report from reader Ken: “Among the five recipients of this year’s JFK Profile in Courage awards announced today are Ukraine president Voldymyr Zelensky and Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney.” There are three other recipients. I can see Zelensky, and surely Cheney has been admirable in standing up for principle and going against her party, but they’re not exactly in the same class. Never mind: here are all the winners:
In the face of grave threats to democracy around the world, the JFK Library Foundation will honor five individuals with the #ProfileInCourage Award.
— JFK Library (@JFKLibrary) April 21, 2022
*Andrew Sullivan announced that he contracted covid, but he’ll be fine. His weekly column, however, has been postponed. As I recall, he recently had a hip replacement as well.
Because of long-term HIV and chronic asthma problems, my doc put me on Paxlovid, which I’m almost done with. It may be psychosomatic, but I did feel a turn for the better a day after taking it. It turns out that a key drug in this anti-Covid cocktail is my old friend ritonavir, one of the first protease inhibitors to break through HIV in the 1990s — evidence of how progress in one medical area can translate into progress in another. The difference between now and 1996 is that I take two pills a day — when I used to take 18 (we were guinea pigs and they were terrified of under-dosing). But the weird metallic after-taste remains oh so familiar after these decades — like an AIDSy madeleine.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili ruminates on the Spring with Paulina (who took the photo):
Paulina: This time of year everything is more colorful.Hili: The mice are still grey but it doesn’t bother me.
Paulina: O tej porze roku wszystko jest bardziej kolorowe.Hili: Myszy są nadal szare, ale mnie to nie przeszkadza.
I found this in my folder of future stuff to post:
And lagniappe from Natalie, a lovely cat of amr via Harmonia Early Music. The caption: “Weird medieval cats of the week: Cat of arms.
(Scheibler Armorial, Germany ca. 1450-1480, Munchen BSB,_sheet 44)
Abigail Shrier goes after Jen Psaki and “affirmative care” in a Substack piece:
In an address full of fiction, Psaki’s most surprising assertion was that – unlike the economy and COVID – the risks gender activists pose to children is not a “kitchen table issue.”
She couldn't be more wrong.
My newest, for Substack:https://t.co/zMHMoBs8vB
— Abigail Shrier (@AbigailShrier) April 8, 2022
From Ginger K.. I still couldn’t bear it! I bet it makes them faster and more precise because they want to get it over with faster so they don’t have to listen to the damn music!
— former fetus 4 choice is tired. So very tired. (@godfree_kd) April 16, 2022
I’ve gotten this thread from a lot of people. Of course Sean is right that we should be speaking of “the laws of physics” and not “determinism”, but you can also call what he’s talking about “naturalism”, which is what I do. However, you can also assert that quantum mechanics, when properly understood some day, is deterministic, and add that on the level of human decisions, classical mechanics (“macro” determinism) is a sufficient explainer. The last tweet is especially important to understand if, like me, you don’t accept libertarian free will.
Anti-free-will people have to stop leaning on determinism. It's perhaps the most wrong that an argument can be.
1) The world is not deterministic. Quantum mechanics exists. When there is hidden determinism (MWI, Bohm), it's hidden! Irrelevant to what people experience. (1/n)
— Sean Carroll (@seanmcarroll) April 20, 2022
2) The question of whether the laws of nature are deterministic is utterly irrelevant to the question of whether there is libertarian free will. All that matters is whether there are laws. Stochastic laws don't allow for free will any more than deterministic ones do. (3/n)
— Sean Carroll (@seanmcarroll) April 20, 2022
Sean is a compatibilist, but he does reject libertarian free will, so far as I know from reading his books. (I wish he had said that in this thread.)
Tweets from Matthew. This, is says, is a genuine part of a Japanese reception for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She was there to promote the sale of Kiwifruit (a big NZ export) to Japan.
This is the greatest day of my life pic.twitter.com/KIp4bP7h8u
— henry cooke (@henrycooke) April 21, 2022
I got this one before Matthew did; usually it’s the other way round:
me: what do you know about atoms?
friend: very little
me: besides that
— Adam Cerious (@Browtweaten) April 20, 2022
peace was always an option pic.twitter.com/DnyQVHdlNV
— CAPYBARA MAN (@CAPYBARA_MAN) April 20, 2022
Ah, the famous Hodge; this is the first time I’ve seen a drawing. The bit about the oysters is true:
Every good ghost hunter needs an animal side kick. Here's Dr Johnson cat Hodge, who he treated with great indulgence, tasking a resentful servant to go out and buy the cherished feline fresh oysters pic.twitter.com/suFJXKYzA5
— Skionar (@Skionar) April 21, 2022
To imagine the hell of the last Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol is impossible. To witness the heartbreak and terror of their loved-ones in Kyiv is deeply moving. Our #BBCNewsTen piece with relatives of those on the frontline. With Chris Parkinson @MichaSteininger @MarianaMatevic1 pic.twitter.com/yjOZ8OtBib
— Mark Lowen (@marklowen) April 21, 2022