Good day on Cat Sabbath, Saturday, May 21, 2022—the day when dogs have to turn on the lights and the oven for the cats. It’s National Strawberries and Cream Day, which is kosher, but cats don’t like it. It’s also International Tea Day, Saint Helena Day (celebrating the discovery of Saint Helena in 1502), and World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
Saint Helena is remote, small (about 6 miles across) and used to be accessible only by an infrequent mailboat from Capetown. Now, however, it has an airport and flights from Joberg in December and April. Here’s how small the populated part is:
Stuff that happened on May 21 includes:
- 1881 – The American Red Cross is established by Clara Barton in Washington, D.C.
- 1924 – University of Chicago students Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks in a “thrill killing“.
If you don’t know about this case, which involved two University of Chicago students killing a young boy just to see if they could get away with it, at least read the Wikipedia entry. It’s full of twists and turns, and involved local lawyer Clarence Darrow (whose place was a few blocks from where I live now), talking for over a day straight (and emphasizing determinism) to get the judge to sentence Leopold and Loeb to life in prison instead of execution.
Left to right: Loeb, Darrow, and Leopold:
- 1927 – Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
- 1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.
If you saw the 1976 Japanese movie 1976 In the Realm of the Sense, you’ll have sen a dramatization of Abe’s life as a prostitute. She served five years for strangling her lover and the ancillary snippings, but then became famous and sought-after. She finally wound up as a nun. Here’s a photo from 1935:
- 1946 – Physicist Louis Slotin is fatally irradiated in a criticality incident during an experiment with the demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The “demon core” ultimately killed two men in accidents that made it go critical. It’s a long and painful way to die.
- 1972 – Michelangelo‘s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is damaged by a vandal, the mentally disturbed Hungarian geologist Laszlo Toth.
Here’s the sculpture with the damaged hand, nose, and eye.
The Pietà is also the only work Michelangelo ever signed. Here’s the signature, on Mary’s sash:
- 1992 – After 30 seasons Johnny Carson hosted his penultimate episode and last featuring guests (Robin Williams and Bette Midler) of The Tonight Show.
Here’s Williams on the last show with guests:
- 2011 – Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on this date.
*Yesterday a federal judge in Louisiana, ruling on behalf of a passel of Republican state attorneys, decided not to end Biden’s Title 42 bill that substantially restricted immigration at the U.S. southern border on the grounds of the pandemic. This restriction was set to expire Monday, but the judge decided that suspending the order would. . .
result in “immediate and irreparable harm” because of a projected increase in border crossings, overcrowded processing facilities and, in turn, greater costs to provide health care and education services.”
“The record reflects that – based on the government’s own predictions – that the Termination Order will result in an increase in daily border crossings and that this increase could be as large as a three-fold increase to 18,000 daily border crossings,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, the CDC’s own Termination Order acknowledges that the order ‘will lead to an increase in a number of non-citizens being processed in DHS facilities which could result in overcrowding in congregate settings.”
Regardless of whether you think extending the bill was wrong, there’s no doubt that immigration is out of control at the border. A substantial percentage of migrants enter illegally, for economic reasons rather than as refugees, and many simply disappear into the U.S. and never show up for their court dates. In April, over 234,000 migrants tried to cross the border, a figure not seen for 22 years. Democrats need a credible immigration policy, but what we hear are crickets. If they want open borders, which is what their actions seem to say, they should just say so, but that would be political suicide.
*It’s way, way too early to think about the death of Wokeism, much less its senescence, but there’s a heartening harbinger reported in both Variety and The Daily Fail. I’ll take Nellie Bowles’s summary from Bari Weiss’s TGIF column (also h/t Bill):
At the end of last week, Netflix updated its corporate culture memo, which now includes a jab at the company’s increasingly agitated Red Guard: “Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.” And this week Netflix made that decision for 150 people. The company framed the firings as “layoffs”—but 150 people doesn’t really make a dent for a company of 11,000 people. Those 150 happen to include, just by chance, some of the most Twitter-active social justice workers in the place. Netflix also announced it would cancel the upcoming animated film “Antiracist Baby,” based on the Ibram X. Kendi book.
Now, I am personally conflicted on this news. Of course I salute Netflix and Ted Sarandos for ousting anyone who tried to come between me and Dave Chapelle. On the other hand, the home screening of “Antiracist Baby: The Movie” was going to be the best party I’ve ever thrown, and Netflix stole that joy. So for TGIF, this news is a wash.
*In a Washington Post op-ed, columnist J. J. McCullough argues that “If Queen Elizabeth can’t do her job, she should abdicate.” Now you’re probably thinking, “But she doesn’t have a job!” Not so. McCullough says this:
It may seem cruel to be too judgmental of the queen’s increasingly rare and brief appearances — by my count, the tube thing is her first attendance at a public ceremony in about seven months (unless you count her presence at Westminster Abbey in March for her late husband’s memorial service) — given she recently celebrated her 96th birthday and is said to have the sort of limited capacities common among people of that age.
Yet the queen is not merely a kindly old lady whose decline we can passively observe with a mixture of sympathy and pity. She is a paid employee of the British state with a specific job to do, and if that job is now beyond her capacities, she should do what the rest of us are expected to when our employment becomes too onerous: retire.
I’m sure Prince Charles is thinking the same thing!
*The NYT shares a group of 13 text messages from dying covid patients to their loved ones. They’re hard to read (there’s also interpolated text and explanation), but I found them moving and ineffably sad.
*There is no end of advice from NYT columnists about how Democrats need to change their behavior if they’re to hold on to the Congress and the Presidency. From David Brooks, “How Democrats can win the morality wars.” It’s based on the arguable premise that Leftist morality is based on the Manichean view that their opponents are bad people and obdurate racists, while the Rightist morality adheres to norms: “American values.” What to do? Brooks’s advice involves:
- Give religion a bigger break insofar as “people of faith” should be exempt from some issues involving LGBTQ issues
- Become less vociferous on moral issues, such as ones involving transgender rights
- And this:
America needs institutions built on the “you are not your own” ethos to create social bonds that are more permanent than individual choice. It needs that ethos to counter the me-centric, narcissistic tendencies in our culture. It needs that ethos to preserve a sense of the sacred, the idea that there are some truths so transcendentally right that they are absolutely true in all circumstances.
Brooks is a bloviator. Does that make any sense to you? Well, I can understand the words, but it doesn’t seem like a great panacea to save the Democratic Party. Plus the editorial is boring.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is checking out the appetizers:
Hili: Starlings have colonized our garden.A: They are feeding their nestlings now.Hili: I know, I tried to take a closer look.
Hili: Szpaki skolonizowały nasz ogród.Ja: Karmią teraz pisklęta.Hili: Wiem, próbowałam to obejrzeć z bliska.
From Merilee. I hope you get this:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Ricky Gervais; a short take on believers:
— Sue💚 (@SueTaylor_) May 18, 2022
Red pandas stand up when they fight to make themselves look larger:
Cutest fight ever.. 😊 pic.twitter.com/uZLUDEvCqJ
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) May 20, 2022
From Ginger K.:
Look what, huh??? pic.twitter.com/eSHwa1FID4
— Cats are smart little guys (@smartlittleguys) April 2, 2022
From Dom: the spider is parasitized itself and is thus doomed:
— Tim Jonas (@TimothyJonas) April 20, 2022
From Barry, who asks, “Is this any way to treat a Trump doll?” I think the answer is obvious:
It's true tho. https://t.co/J2iYKOyvnt
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) May 5, 2022
Tweets from Matthew, who, like me, loves DodoLand because everything turns out fine. This rescue cat looks a lot like my late cat Teddy. Sound up.
Cat abandoned when his owners moved away goes on epic boat trips with his new family now 💙 pic.twitter.com/wtvzByc6pe
— The Dodo (@dodo) May 20, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
21 May 1944 | Betty Vredenburg, a Dutch Jewish girl, was murdered in a gas chamber in #Auschwitz II-Birkenau
Betty was born in Amsterdam on 6 May 1940.
She was 4 years old. pic.twitter.com/VzdAcEz0cP
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) May 21, 2022
A mesmerizing video:
Something a bit different… Gannets over the Bass Rock lighthouse in slow motion… pic.twitter.com/PfwoQDwBYB
— David Steel (@SteelySeabirder) May 20, 2022
What are these pelicans up to? Often murmurations of starlings are thought to be anti-predator formations, but I don’t think pelicans have any avian predators.
A murmuration of White Pelicans?
Alt Text: a video of the sky showing a large flock of American White Pelicans flying in circles pic.twitter.com/ghVghGXlDg
— Heather, M.S.🐦🏳️🌈 (@swampolina) May 19, 2022
I want one of these, and also one of those cups!
2/🧵 this is how it works; The internal shape remains unchanged, the external walls have variable sides, these form the illusion.
Explained here https://t.co/LHURIvsmJ8
The Ambiguous grid is by Kokichi Sugihara of Meiji University in Japan
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) May 19, 2022