Good morning on Monday, June 20, and it’s a federal holiday in honor of Juneteenth, which was actually yesterday (see info given then). There’s a special Google Doodle celebrating the holiday (click on screenshot below), and after you click, wait a second for the animated celebration to begin.
It’s also National Vanilla Milkshake Day, though I have no idea who would want such a thing.
Note that the summer solstice occurs at 4:13 a.m. tomorrow, which will be the longest day of the year.
Wine of the Day: Below: my Father’s Day wine along with a honking t-bone, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and rice. I picked the bottle out of my collection, and have no idea when I bought it or what I paid for it (prices now tend to be about $20-$24). It’s a Finca Villacreces Pruno 2012 from the Ribiera del Duero, a wine region in northern Spain near Rioja. Indeed, this wine resembles a gutsy Rioja—but much cheaper.
Robert Parker, giving it a high rating of 93, made these notes in 2014: :
This blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon emerges from a vineyard situated adjacent to one of the famous vineyards utilized to produce Spain’s greatest red wine, Vega Sicilia. Made from relatively old vines, the 2012 Pruno is a sexy, opulent, voluptuously textured effort that spent 12 months in two-year-old French oak barrels. Reminiscent of a baby Vega Sicilia, it possesses a dense ruby/purple color as well as notes of high-class, unsmoked cigar tobacco, creme de cassis, licorice, graphite and spice box. Full-bodied, deep, velvety textured, lush and heady, at $20 a bottle, it is another sensational bargain from Eric Solomon. Enjoy it over the next 5-6 years.
I’ll leave the tobacco and graphite stuff to Parker, but this is a dark garnet, full-bodied, blackberry-flavored tour de force, dry and powerful. And at this price point it’s a real bargain. Note that I drank it 2 years after Parker’s “drink by” date, but it was still terrific, with no signs of being over the hill. This one comes highly recommended, but be sure to decant it, as there’s a moderate sediment. A great value for the quality.
Stuff that happened on June 20 include
There were either 146 or 64 prisoners jammed into the cell (designed to hold 2 or 3 prisoners) overnight, and we know that when they opened the door the next morning, only 23 were left alive. Here’s a brief video:
Here’s the two sides of the original seal, and the machine meant to impress it, still in use though the stamping machine was made in 1903:
- 1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.
- 1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.
Here’s part of the patent:
- 1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
- 1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.
- 1942 – The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The escape was successful in that none of the escapees were returned to the camp, though Piechowski was imprisoned for seven years by the Communists. Here he is in an Auschwitz prison suit. See the tweet below about Piechowski’s death at 98.
- 1944 – The experimental MW 18014 V-2 rocket reaches an altitude of 176 km, becoming the first man-made object to reach outer space.
Here’s a German video showing some tests of the original V-2 (a lot were failures):
- 1945 – The United States Secretary of State approves the transfer of Wernher von Braun and his team of Nazi rocket scientists to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip.
The eponymous song by Tom Lehrer. Remember this?
- 1972 – Watergate scandal: An 18½-minute gap appears in the tape recording of the conversations between U.S. President Richard Nixon and his advisers regarding the recent arrests of his operatives while breaking into the Watergate complex.
Here’s Rose Mary Woods’s demonstration of the “Rose Mary” stretch that supposedly explained the gap:
Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s loyal private secretary, was tasked with transcribing the tapes before they were turned over to prosecutors. Woods testified in front of a federal grand jury in 1974 that she was using a dictaphone, which had a pedal that would pause the recording when she lifted her foot off it, and she claimed she had erased part of the tape by mistake.
“Her explanation was that she was listening to the tape and … the telephone rang,” said Wine-Banks. “So she kept her foot on a pedal, pushed the wrong button. She pushed record instead of off and reached for the phone.”
- 1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters“.
The most famous scene from the movie:
- 1991 – The German Bundestag votes to move seat of government from the former West German capital of Bonn to the present capital of Berlin.
*The NYT examined over a thousand photos taken by its own photographers and other wire-service photographers, looking to see what kind of weapons the Russians were using against Ukraine. They identified 2,000 munitions (I assume this means individual weapons, not 2,000 different munitions, and found what you expected:
Of the weapons identified by The Times, more than 210 were types that have been widely banned under international treaties. All but a handful were cluster munitions, including their submunitions, which can pose a grave risk to civilians for decades after war has ended. More than 330 other weapons appeared to have been used on or near civilian structures.
Because of the difficulties in getting comprehensive information in wartime, these tallies are undercounts. Some of the weapons identified may have been fired by Ukrainian forces in an effort to defend themselves against the invasion, but evidence points to far greater use by Russian forces.
Customary international humanitarian laws and treaties — including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their protocols — demand that the driving principle in war be military necessity, which mandates all combatants direct their actions toward legitimate military targets. The law requires a balance between a military mission and humanity. Combatants must not carry out attacks that are disproportionate, where the expected civilian harm is clearly excessive, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to the direct and concrete military advantage that would be anticipated. Combatants must consider distinction, that attacks are directed only toward lawful targets and people and are not applied indiscriminately. And they must not use weapons calculated to inflict unnecessary suffering.
“The Russians have violated every single one of those principles almost daily,” said Mike Newton, a Vanderbilt University law professor who frequently supports efforts to prosecute war crimes all over the world.
One issue, however, is that I’m pretty sure that the Russians aren’t signatories on treaties that ban most of these munitions. By the way, besides cluster munitions, the dubious weapons include unguided missiles, rockets and bombs (stuff mostly abandoned by the West in favor of guided weapons), booby traps, and antipersonnel land mines. There are photos and diagrams in the article.
*Shoot me now! Sarah Palin is back, running for a House seat that’s vacant because its Republican holder died. The good news is that the seat expires next January. The bad news is that Palen is first among four candidates—three Republicans and one Democrat (the Dem is last). And if she gets her tuchas in a House seat, she may get to keep it, and then think about how many loons we’ll have in Congress!
*I heard this on the ABC Evening News (my usual NBC News was preempted by a GOLF GAME, for crying out loud, which is itself a crime), and it’s verified on their site. Nearly 60% of Americans think that Trump should be criminally charged for his shenanigans around the election and the January 6 insurrection:
With the first full week of hearings for the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol now complete, nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe former President Donald Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the incident, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.
Six in 10 Americans also believe the committee is conducting a fair and impartial investigation, according to the poll.
In the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, 58% of Americans think Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the riot. That’s up slightly from late April, before the hearings began, when an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 52% of Americans thought the former president should be charged.
When I heard this, I had a question. Ex-Presidents are protected by the Secret Service until they die. If Trump goes to jail, will the Secret Service be there to protect him?
*Helaine Olen, a young Washington Post writer, gets the Andy Rooney of the Future Award in her new column, “QR code menus are the death of civilization.” I could have written that title! And Olen is right. These are increasingly common menus that consist of a QR code; when you scan it with your phone, the menu comes up on your screen, and that’s how you order. It sucks big time, as Olen notes (and they’re no longer needed for covid prevention):
A physical menu sets the stage. It highlights the fact that this is a special occasion, even if it’s simply a quick bite at a local diner. The menu signifies that it’s time to take a break in a busy day, that this meal is something separate from the normal course of events. It also pushes us to interact with others. We share menus. We point to things; we ask the wait staff questions about the meal and what they particularly like. It’s like opening a program at a theater, for a show you and your companions are about to experience together.
Whipping out a phone to check the menu, on the other hand, is hardly conducive to setting a mood, unless you want to dine in the metaverse. Smartphones are endlessly distracting, and it takes discipline to put them away after checking a menu, a bit of self-control many can’t always muster. (Guilty.) It’s all too easy to rationalize checking just one email, sending just one tweet, taking just one glance at Instagram. (Guilty again.) We already spend almost five hours a day staring at our smartphone screens. Do we really need a prompt to spend even more time in our electronic silos?
. . . Yes, QR code menus have their defenders. I actually know a few of these benighted souls. Some of them are even my colleagues. They say QR code menus are healthier, and better for the environment. But let’s get real. Germy? If you’re that concerned, ask the restaurant management about paid sick leave policies for the staff, something that’s bound to be much more effective at cutting contagion. And no one who writes for a print newspaper has any business complaining about the waste of paper in printing a menu.
Look at the “likes” on this tweet!
what do we, as a culture, have to do to kill QR code menus
— allison (@allisongeroi) May 31, 2022
This is a writer who knows how dining out is supposed to work: it’s an event! Ceiling Cat bless you, Ms. Olen!
*In the middle of last September, Jack the Cat, who’s staffed by the offspring of old friends, had a bad accident, falling off a third-floor porch and severely injuring his mandible and front paws. For a while we didn’t think he was going to make it, but thanks to the staff at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston and his own loving staff, he got fantastic care. I’m delighted to report that Jack is pretty much back to normal, walking without a limp and gallivanting about. (Go here to see the story of his original mishap and healing.)
Here he was right after the accident and the operations on his paw (the buttons are there to help fasten the wires in his jaw):
But look at him now!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is offended, and now I am offended by Hili. But the insult to ducks is really an insult to something else. Malgorzata explains:
The name of the leader of the party ruling in Poland since 2015 (and take my word for it – it’s the worst government in the history of Poland) is Jarosław KACZyński. “Duck” in Polish is KACZKA. His name is a derivative of it. All possible jokes about ducks are now circulating in Poland. This man is the remaining twin of the duo which we call “the horrible twins”, who have been a bane of Poland for decades. The other twin died in an air crash in 2010. He was then President of the country and the remaining twin was Prime Minister. So Hili is criticizing the horrible man who is the de facto ruler of Poland.A: In Egypt they again found a whole lot of mummies of ancient cats.Hili: And what were they supposed to mummify? Ducks?
Ja: W Egipcie znowu znaleźli mnóstwo mumii starożytnych kotów.Hili: A co mieli mumifikować? Kaczki?
From Debra, who says, “This is the guy that saved all those kittens on the road. I like how this kitten put his/hers hands up when faced with a shooter.” Yes, it’s probably a Photoshop job, but I still like it.
From Stash Krod:
More later on this announcement from God. The data cited by Axios happen to be true:
My belief in America has hit a new low too. https://t.co/zkxGWmiVa5
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) June 17, 2022
From Simon: the “infinite monkeys” scenario:
Infinite monkeys type Shakespeare pic.twitter.com/j1MQM1Tzf0
— Adrian Bliss (@adrianbliss) June 18, 2022
A couple of days ago NYT staff writer Emily Bazelon produced a really good piece on “The battle over gender therapy,” detailing all the fighting about puberty blockers, “gender affirming therapy”, and so on. Because she didn’t hew absolutely to the trans-activist line, but actually gave arguments from both sides, the activists are ripping her apart (look at the comment below by the odious Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s chief lawyer for gender affairs. I suggest you read Bazelon’s long article for yourself.
The tweet is from Josh Szeps, who works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Because it doesn’t mindlessly recite every catechism of the gender cult, cultists are angry. Good.
I just wish more journalists weren’t cowed by bullies. https://t.co/SURf6vYzSY
— 𝕁𝕠𝕤𝕙 𝕊𝕫𝕖𝕡𝕤 (@joshzepps) June 18, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial. See the note (and link) above about this escape:
Kazimierz Piechowski, the last surviving participant of the escape from 20 June 1942, passed away on 15 December 2017 at the age of 98. pic.twitter.com/KzwdLyRCdD
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 20, 2022
Tweets from the estimable Professor Cobb.
My thoughts on the existing dangers to American democracy https://t.co/psI0c017OO
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) June 19, 2022
A quote from Rather’s piece:
Trump and his confederates — and I choose that word in full recognition of its historical meaning — sought to foment this chaos through the raw exploitation of power and intimidation to nullify Joe Biden’s victory. That a conservative of Judge Luttig’s stature would speak with such unequivocal force, and that it would be echoed by Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and the Republican staffers on the committee, makes clear that there is a delineation in what they are investigating that is based not on politics but on fidelity to the law and America’s democratic principles.
As the hearings paint a devastating picture of Trump’s plot, there is an emerging Republican talking point that this is all old news. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose ambition to be president is about as naked as a jaybird, called it “beating a dead horse.” It’s an approach that works both to minimize the coup attempt and suggest the Republican Party should move beyond Trump and embrace something new (as in him).
DeSantis’s self-serving protestations, and those of others like him, deliberately obscure the truth. Exposing an attempt to override elections and the will of the voters is not beating a dead horse, unless that horse is American democracy. Promoting the Big Lie as an excuse to nullify Democratic victories has become a mantra for large swaths of the Republican Party.
Read the thread below: what they found inside the building, preserved by the landslide, is stunning, especially the floor and frescoes:
1) The Roman Capitolium of Brescia (ancient Brixia). Fortuitously buried by a landslide in the Middle Ages, the remains of the Capitol temple are a wonder in themselves – but what archaeologists discovered inside is truly unique. Let's take a journey into this remarkable site.. pic.twitter.com/0alxk1kML8
— Gareth Harney (@OptimoPrincipi) June 19, 2022
Some of the interior:
5) This incarnation of the temple, built in 73 AD under Vespasian, had many such wonders to present to archaeologists, but before we look at those let's delve deeper. This was the last of three rebuildings of the sanctuary on the site, with one built on top of another.. pic.twitter.com/1OlAqiu92y
— Gareth Harney (@OptimoPrincipi) June 19, 2022
The big news on those interested in sports and gender is below, but we’ll have more on it later today. This means that any transgender woman who has gone through any part of male puberty cannot swim against biological women in the Olympics, period. FINA sets the criteria for Olympic swimming and other international competition in water sports.
FINA come through.
No male who has experienced any part of male puberty is eligible for female categories.
— Emma Hilton (@FondOfBeetles) June 19, 2022