Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, May 24, 2022, and National Escargot Day. Not only is this cultural appropriation, but I cannot abide the ingestion of terrestrial molluscs. I have eaten one in my life, and that was enough. (Same with one bite of tripe.)
Things that happened on May 24 include:
- 1607 – One hundred-five English settlers under the leadership of Captain Christopher Newport established the colony called Jamestown at the mouth of the James River on the Virginia coast, the first permanent English colony in America.
- 1626 – Peter Minuit buys Manhattan.
It cost a more than the traditional lore claims, but it was still a terrific bargain (from Wikipedia):
A letter written by Dutch merchant Peter Schaghen to directors of the Dutch East India Company stated that Manhattan was purchased for “60 guilders worth of trade,” an amount worth ~$1,143 U.S. dollars as of 2020.
- 1844 – Samuel Morse sends the message “What hath God wrought” (a biblical quotation, Numbers 23:23) from a committee room in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail,in Baltimore, Maryland, to inaugurate a commercial telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Morse was a well known portrait painter before he started messing with the telegraph. Here’s a photo followed by a self-portrait he created in 1812, when he was 21:
To me he looks like the famous American statesman John C. Calhoun:
Still the world’s most beautiful bridge:
- 1935 – The first night game in Major League Baseball history is played in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field.
- 1940 – Igor Sikorsky performs the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight.
This isn’t the first flight, but it’s an early one, with Sikorsky at the controls:
- 1940 – Acting on the orders of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, NKVD agent Iosif Grigulevich orchestrates an unsuccessful assassination attempt on exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky in Coyoacán, Mexico.
Here’s Trotsky’s house in Mexico City, which, as you can see, is surrounded by walls and guard towers. He knew Stalin was coming for him. Photographed by me in November, 2012:
- 1976 – The Judgment of Paris takes place in France, launching California as a worldwide force in the production of quality wine.
LOL, this was great. A panel of almost all French judges tasted wines blind in two flights: White Burgundy vs. Chardonnay and Bordeaux vs. California Cabernet. In both categories an American wine finished first. Boy, were the French pissed off!
One French judge even demanded her ballot back! And of course there was much Gallic kvetching about the subjectivity of taste, possible day to day variation, and such. But one thing is solid: this tasting established that California could produce some world-class wines!
- 1999 – The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands indicts Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.
*Ukraine’s first war-crimes trial of a Russian soldier has reached a speedy conclusion: the 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of pleaded guilty last week of killing a 62-year-old Ukrainian man. He broached the usual defense: he was only following orders, but that’s not a valid defense for committing a war crime. The WaPo said the soldier was “found guilty of premeditated murder and violating ‘the rules and customs of war’ under Ukraine’s criminal code.”
This of course means that the Russians will retaliate, and we’ll see a bunch of Ukrainians sent to the gulags (if gulags still exist).
*Well, where the U.S. stands on Taiwan vs. China may be a little bit clearer now, for President Biden has declared that if China invades Taiwan, the U.S. will defend Taiwan.
President Biden indicated on Monday that he would use military force to defend Taiwan if it were ever attacked by China, dispensing with the “strategic ambiguity” traditionally favored by American presidents and repeating even more unequivocally statements that his staff tried to walk back in the past.
At a news conference with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan during a visit to Tokyo, Mr. Biden suggested that he would be willing to go further on behalf of Taiwan than he has in helping Ukraine, where he has provided tens of billions of dollars in arms as well as intelligence assistance to help defeat Russian invaders but refused to send American troops.
Within a few minutes, however, the State Department walked back what Biden says, arguing that we have no treaty commitment to militarily defend Taiwan and that the U.S. position has been one of “strategic ambiguity.” Is Uncle Joe losing it?
*I’m not sure why Britain still has a House of Lords, but most of the hereditary peers were eliminated in 1999, leaving about 90 now. The thing is, hereditary peers are nearly always males, because, according to some British law or custom, nearly all hereditary titles can be passed to males. This has now been thrown into a kerfuffle because a transfemale, born a biological male, is contesting an election for one of those peerages. From the Times of London:(h/t Ginger K):
The House of Lords could shortly welcome its first trans peer and only female hereditary member.
Matilda Simon was this week given permission to contest the next by-election for one of the upper chamber’s remaining 92 hereditary seats.
If she wins, she will doubtless become the envy of peers’ daughters across the country, because the vast majority of titles may only be passed to a male heir.
I frankly don’t give a rat’s patootie, as the whole hereditary peerage thing does not belong in one of Britain’s governmental chambers, and who cares what gender a peer is?
*Princeton has fired well known classics Professor Joshua Katz, but it’s a messy situation that will ultimately wind up in the courts. I’ll just give the brief WSJ summary:
Princeton University’s board of trustees voted Monday to fire longtime classics professor Joshua Katz, adopting the president’s recommendation and finding that the faculty member failed to cooperate fully in a sexual-misconduct investigation.
Dr. Katz’s allies slammed the president’s recommendation last week to fire him, characterizing it as a politically motivated effort to silence the academic after he criticized the school’s antiracism initiatives. They said Dr. Katz’s comments in a 2020 essay didn’t align with what they described as Princeton’s liberal orthodoxy and therefore weren’t tolerated.
University administrators have said there was ample reason to dismiss the professor and that politics played no role in the decision.
Dr. Katz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. His lawyer, Samantha Harris, said last week that a past relationship with a student had already been adjudicated and that the university was condemning the professor for his political beliefs.
Katz had been fully punished a while back for his relationship with the student (always a transgression), and if you’ve followed the case, it’s hard to conclude anything but that Katz was fired for opposing Princeton DEI’s initiatives. (See also Brian Leiter’s report here.) And that’s why the case will go to court.
UPDATE: I was just informed that, in the op-ed section of the WSJ, Katz has a piece called “Princeton fed me to the Cancel Culture mob.” A small excerpt:
For better or worse, I was the first on campus to articulate some of these opinions, publicly criticizing a number of “antiracist” demands, some of them clearly racist and illegal, that hundreds of my colleagues had signed on to in an open letter to the administration in early July 2020.
While I stand by my words to this day, even in the immediate aftermath of the faculty letter, few of my colleagues gave signs of standing by theirs. But as they go about their merry destructive way, I live with the tremendous backlash against me, which has never ceased. It was during a fleeting and illusory lull in late July 2020—after Princeton’s president, Christopher Eisgruber, who had initially condemned me, stated that what I had written was protected speech after all—that I rashly suggested all was well.
So what did I get wrong? There are at least five things of which I was unaware. . .
*A self-contained news report from reader Ken:
I see that an investigation has revealed a sexual-abuse-of-minors scandal among Southern Baptist pastors to rival that of the RCC.And yet, with their “Don’t Say Gay” bills, the Religious Right would have you believe that the greater risk is posed by gay teachers “grooming” school kids.
*If you’re a fan of advances in animal behavior, you’ll want to read this new Wall Street Journal article, “The Year’s Nuttiest Discovery: Stingrays Do Math.” Yep, they can add or subtract, so long as the numbers are five or smaller. (Do they have a concept of negative numbers?) I haven’t yet read the paper, but the article adds some lagniappe about other recent discoveries, including the dubious one I wrote about recently suggesting that cats recognize the names of other cats they live with. And here’s another:
Imagine their chagrin when word came in that almost simultaneously—this is the honest, unvarnished truth—a group of researchers in Australia had published a study in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution proving that honeybees could learn to distinguish between odd and even numbers. Heretofore it had been assumed that only human beings were capable of doing this. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
What’s more, because honeybees have tiny brains that are vastly outstripped by our species, the study strongly suggests that human beings may not be anywhere as smart as they think they are. Take that, cat guys!
I haven’t read that study, either, but I’d like to know how they reached that conclusion with honeybees.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has displaced Andrzej:
A: You are sitting on my keyboard.Hili: But I don’t have my own.
Ja: Siedzisz na mojej klawiaturze.Hili: Przecież swojej nie mam.
Now this is a weird one! (h/t: Tom)
From Meanwhile in Canada:
From somewhere on Facebook:
From Divy: There are four men in this photo. Can you find the hidden one? Answer below the fold.
A LOL from reader Paul. Be sure to watch all the way through.
Seeing is NOT always believing😅pic.twitter.com/4ovrieDEYl
— Tansu YEĞEN (@TansuYegen) May 22, 2022
From Simon: Anne Applebaum’s take on Putin. Have a look at her linked article in The Atlantic.
Putin does not need an "off-ramp." He needs to lose. And only when he loses – only when he is humiliated – will Russia's wars of imperial conquest finally come to an end https://t.co/FX82PpWmix
— Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) May 23, 2022
From Thomas; I may have posted a similar tweet before, but with a different photo:
Correlation vs causation pic.twitter.com/8fDtsmupOK
— Maarten van Smeden (@MaartenvSmeden) May 15, 2022
Me on my first visit to the gym 😂 pic.twitter.com/Z68K4vOju6
— CCTV_IDIOTS (@cctv_idiots) May 17, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
24 May 1942 | A Jewish boy, Tamas Ovits, was born in Marosvásárhely (then in Hungary, today Târgu Mureș in Romania) to Tibor and Lili.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) May 24, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First, a very nice man!
— Alison Cameron 🤍❤️🤍💙💛 (@allyc375) May 23, 2022
I don’t understand this. Did everyone really contribute to the project?
A physics paper with 8,778 authors. I want them all to built a little city to live in together, with schools and parks and a nice cozy supercollider. https://t.co/EdTH4xK6Gu pic.twitter.com/2Ken7fc4fH
— Jason Priem (@jasonpriem) May 21, 2022
Mallard ducklings. We have none so far this year, and it makes everyone at the Pond sad.
— mochi(o (@mochico251) May 14, 2022
Two ways to help our friends the animals. Help turtles cross the road!
Lmao so I was driving my brother to his friends house during a rainstorm & we had to stop to help this big kid across the road. Remember if uninjured, just help them in the direction they were going, don’t relocate them! pic.twitter.com/16hHmEuwvL
— Jess in the Wild (@Jess_inthewild) May 23, 2022
And it takes a special kind of person to feed watermelon to a slug:
— invertebrate (@crevicedwelling) May 23, 2022
Click “read more” to see the hidden person from the picture above:
The man’s in camouflage garb; I’ve outlined his arm in red.