It’s Hump Day, or, as they say in Estonian, “Küürupäev”. Yes, it’s Wednesday, May 18, 2022: and National Quiche Lorraine Day, an arrant act of cultural appropriation. It’s also International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and World Hypertension Day.
Some mushbrain put a single duckling into Botany Pond last evening. Several of us tried to rescue it but it got dark and the duckling crawled onto one of the tree “islands” to rest. I am hoping desperately that it’s still alive, in which case I’ll try to rescue it this morning, and that means getting into the pond. I am a wreck and slept very little last night. Wish me luck! “No duckling left behind.”
Stuff that happened on May 17 includes:
- 1536 – Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage is annulled.
- 1673 – Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.
- 1900 – The children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, is first published in the United States. The first copy is given to the author’s sister.
Want a first edition and first printing? It’ll set you back a paltry $35,000.
- 1902 – Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovers the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer.
This was an amazing computer used to calculate eclipses and other astronomical events. Here’s the original, dated between 70 and 60 BC, and a modern reproduction:
. . . and the complex gear scheme from Wikipedia:
- 1939 – The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers play in the United States’ first televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game in New York City.
- 1984 – Prince Charles calls a proposed addition to the National Gallery, London, a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”, sparking controversies on the proper role of the Royal Family and the course of modern architecture.
The proposal for the addition was dropped after Prince Charles’s criticism, and a different addition was built instead.
Here’s the first to benefit: the happy couple is Tanya McCloskey and Marcia Kadish, with Kadish on the right:
*Mariupol is on the verge of falling now that 260 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered to the Russians. While many assumed they may be used in a prisoner swap, things might not go that easy for them:
The Ukrainians expressed hope that the fighters would be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. But Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, said without evidence that there were “war criminals” among the defenders and that they should not be exchanged but tried.
The AP adds that “An additional seven buses carrying an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers from the plant were seen arriving at a former penal colony Tuesday in the town of Olenivka, approximately 88 kilometers (55 miles) north of Mariupol.” It’s all over in that town, and it’s a substantial victory for Russia.
*As covid rages throughout North Korea, Kim Jong-un says he will follow the “Chinese plan” for stemming the epidemic. But it’s unlikely to work:
China has used strict lockdowns, mass testing and vaccinations to keep cases low throughout the pandemic. North Korea — which by its own admission is experiencing an explosive outbreak of the virus — lacks the basic therapeutics and food supplies that China has mobilized to enforce the extreme restrictions seen in cities like Wuhan, Xi’an and Shanghai.
Now, public health experts are warning that Mr. Kim’s desire to follow the Chinese model will only worsen the impact of a fast spreading disaster. Already the number of new suspected patients in North Korea has soared from 18,000 last Thursday to hundreds of thousands a day this week, though it is impossible to know the true scale of the outbreak.
North Korea wouldn’t even admit there was an outbreak until last week. And we’ll probably never know what happens. Have a gander at this:
North Korea called itself Covid-free for two years until it confirmed an outbreak for the first time last Thursday. Most people are unvaccinated, and the country is so isolated that when an estimated two million people died during a famine in the mid-1990s, the outside world didn’t know about it until the bodies of famished North Koreans started washing up along the shallow river that borders China.
*The saga of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos will not die. Convicted on January 3 and scheduled to be sentenced on September 26 (she faces 20 years but won’t get nearly that much), she’s already been the subject of a television series and is the subject of an upcoming movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.
But now, “Theranos” branded items made for the company are going for huge amounts on the Internet. As the Guardian reports,
On eBay, more than a dozen allegedly authentic products from the now-defunct Silicon Valley firm are being sold – and much like the company itself, are listed at inflated prices.
Many of these products are typical of Silicon Valley firms, which are known to hand out branded pens, shirts and water bottles at conferences. But the demand for those emblazoned with the “Theranos” logo have soared following the company’s spectacular downfall.
More Theranos “swag” on eBay. Who knows if it’s genuine?
*As an Andy Rooney in statu nascendi, it’s always bothered me that people lug around water tumblers like baby bottles, sipping from them from time to time to demonstrate the virtue of hydration. To me it seems like a form of adult infantilism, but lacking the opprobrium of carrying around a Linus blanket. Now there’s a “hot” water bottle ($40) that’s taking the country by storm. Do yourself a favor and don’t read this NYT article (click on it if you must):
Lately, a new vessel has found its way into the hands, and onto the social media feeds, of the well hydrated: the Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler from Stanley, a 109-year-old brand that specializes in camping gear and outdoor accessories. It has become the model of choice among a lot of millennial and Gen Z women, many of whom are mothers, and the influencers they trust.
The 40-ounce tumbler, which costs $40, comes in 11 colors and occasional limited-edition shades. It features a lid with a removable straw, a handle and an insulated body that is tapered, allowing it to fit in a cup holder.
The Quencher has inundated TikTok, where the hashtag #StanleyTumbler has received more than 10 million views, and Instagram, where influencers share photos of their tumbler collections spilling out of their arms.
Collections? Why do you need more than one. Some day archaeologists will dig these things out of landfills and wonder what our civilization was up to.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has made herself comfortable in Andrzej’s chair. He wants it back, but it’s unlikely he’ll get it:
A: Away with you. I will be sitting here now.Hili: Well, I don’t know.
Ja: Uciekaj, bo teraz ja tu będę siedział.Hili: No nie wiem.
A New Yorker cartoon by Roland High from Jean:
God advertises his new book, and makes a funny:
"I don't bless sneezers.
There's only one bodily fluid whose emission should evoke the loud calling of My name,
And it ain't mucus."
–The Book of Pslams.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) May 10, 2022
One I found myself. There are a LOT of these cables!
— Tyler Morgan-Wall (@tylermorganwall) September 22, 2021
A pair of baby dippers from Dom. But why are they dipping? The Cornell site notes a unique feature of the American species, a passerine:
A bird that walks underneath the water, the slate-gray American Dipper is North America’s only truly aquatic songbird. It flits among midstream rocks and logs, rhythmically bobbing its tail, and then disappears for long moments to forage for aquatic larvae on the stream bottom, using its wings to negotiate the current. These birds build mossy, domed nests on boulders, cliff ledges, and bridges. The burbling song is evocative of the rushing whitewater streams this species calls home in western North and Central America.
— Mary Birchem (@marycbirchem) May 16, 2022
From Barry: a beleaguered cat escapes a d*g mosh pit:
That was a close call..🐶🐾🐈😅 pic.twitter.com/JelRIjifRZ
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) May 6, 2022
Tweets from Professor Cobb. Remember this brave women? She’s now living in Berlin and her husband in Russia wants custody:
Marina Ovsyannikova (the state TV antiwar protester who many in Ukraine believe was acting out an FSB plot to uncancel Russian society) says her RT-employed ex-husband is suing her, potentially threatening her custody of their kids (ages 17 and 11). https://t.co/Wp0wU7s9YU pic.twitter.com/eIZnPojIzT
— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) May 15, 2022
Matthew’s beloved cat Pepper:
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) May 17, 2022
Astro Sam shows the different types of floating on the ISS:
— Samantha Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 17, 2022
Diptera (the flies) is an underappreciated order of insects. Look at this one!
A most remarkable fly.
— Alex (@alexriesart) May 16, 2022