Good morning on Sunday, June 26, 2022: National Chocolate Pudding Day, a dessert ineluctably connected with Bill Cosby, who used to advertise it for Jello-O. One ad (takes on a whole different cast now, doesn’t it?)
It’s also International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking,World Refrigeration Day , International Day in Support of Victims of Torture,and Ratcatcher’s Day (in Hamelin, Germany). The last holiday is in honor of the apocryphal tale of The Pied Piper of Hamlin, a tale that dates back to the Middle Ages (in German it’s der Rattenfänger von Hameln).
Here’s a postcard from 1902 featuring the legend. I won’t translate the whole thing, but the big words say “Greetings from Hamelin”.
Wine of the Day: AT $40, this is a pricey bugger, and I drank it only because I ran out of cheaper white wines at home. But it was serendipitous as this Vouvray (100% chenin blanc) turned out to be fabulous. I always tell people who are tired of chardonnay to try chenin blanc or good sauvignon blanc, and this is a great specimen of the former. I paired it with a foot-long sandwich of young goat cheese and sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil–a great sandwich and a great pairing.
I’m not good at describing flavors, but this highly rated wine smelled to me like pears nestled in a bed of hay, with a bit of minerals. Is that pretentious enough? In fact, I’ve never smelled a wine like it before. I drink my share of Chenin Blanc, but never had a pedigreed high-class one from Vouvray, especially from the Le Mont vineyard. It was off-dry, a light straw color and lasted well until the next day. I have no idea how it will age, but it’s drinking wonderfully now. I was unable to find online reviews of this specific wine.
Stuff that happened on June 26 includes:
- 1483 – Richard III becomes King of England.
As you may know, Richard’s body was found in 2012 in a car park in Leicester and identified by morphology and later by DNA. Here’s his skeleton in situ:
- 1541 – Francisco Pizarro is assassinated in Lima by the son of his former companion and later antagonist, Diego de Almagro the younger. Almagro is later caught and executed.
Curiously, Pizarro is buried in the Cathedral of Lima; I’ve seen his tomb though the picture below is from Wikipedia:
- 1843 – Treaty of Nanking comes into effect, Hong Kong Island is ceded to the British “in perpetuity”.
- 1886 – Henri Moissan isolated elemental Fluorine for the first time.
Here’s a photo from Wikipedia labeled “Moissan trying to create synthetic diamonds using an electric arc furnace”. He actually succeeded! But he got the Nobel for fluorine.
- 1917 – World War I: The American Expeditionary Forces begin to arrive in France. They will first enter combat four months later.
The Yanks marching past Buckingham Palace in 1917:
- 1948 – Cold War: The first supply flights are made in response to the Berlin Blockade.
- 1948 – William Shockley files the original patent for the grown-junction transistor, the first bipolar junction transistor. Here’s a tweet about the patent showing part of the application:
— Bell Labs (@BellLabs) June 26, 2017
- 1953 – Lavrentiy Beria, head of MVD, is arrested by Nikita Khrushchev and other members of the Politburo.
He was a very bad man. Here he is with Stalin and Stalin’s daughter Svetlana on his lap. He kidnapped and raped dozens of women, and ordered the death of many people. Eventually he was tried and shot:
- 1959 – Swedish boxer Ingemar Johansson becomes world champion of heavy weight boxing, by defeating American Floyd Patterson on technical knockout after two minutes and three seconds in the third round at Yankee Stadium.
Here’s a video showing the victory by Johansson. (Warning: boxing!):
- 1974 – The Universal Product Code is scanned for the first time to sell a package of Wrigley’s chewing gum at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.
- 1977 – Elvis Presley held his final concert in Indianapolis, Indiana at Market Square Arena.
- 1997 – J. K. Rowling publishes the first of her Harry Potter novel series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in United Kingdom.
The rest is history. Below is a photo from Wikipedia labeled: “A California bookshop five minutes before Deathly Hallows was released.” It must be nice having that kind of public, with kids showing up at midnight. I admire Rowling’s courage in standing up against the excesses of trans activism; she’s neither a TERF nor a transphobe:
- 2000 – The Human Genome Project announces the completion of a “rough draft” sequence.
Here’s the full announcement at the White House with President Clinton, Francis Collins, and Craig Ventner. It’s long (40 min), so you don’t have to watch the whole thing. Tony Blair appears by satellite video at about 10:30.
And it’s the anniversary of three good Supreme Court rulings:
- 2003 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Lawrence v. Texas that gender-based sodomy laws are unconstitutional.
- 2013 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5–4, that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- 2015 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5–4, that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Ah, those were the days of the (narrowly) liberal Supreme Court. The 2015 ruling was in Obergefell v. Hodges, and, despite Clarence Thomas’s dissent yesterday, I don’t think same-sex marriage is in danger.
This is a great photo showing plaintiff Jim Obergefell (center, holding green folder) and attorney Al Gerhardstein (left) reacting to the decision. Obergefell had married another man in Ohio but the case got started when the state wouldn’t recognize the marriage:
It’s really almost too depressing to looks at da nooz. Here’s yesterday evening’s banner headline from the NYT (click to read):
Across the United States, doctors immediately halted procedures and canceled scheduled weekend appointments, even as patients were sitting in waiting rooms at abortion clinics. Women scrambled to face the new legal reality, abruptly making plans to cross state lines into places where abortion was still allowed — traveling from Missouri to Illinois, from Wisconsin to Minnesota.
Americans said they were steeling themselves for a fight in the wake of the court’s decision, whether that meant pushing for still more restrictions on abortion, or working to elect politicians in the midterm elections who favor abortion rights.
“I fear for my child. I worry that she isn’t going to have choice,” said Abbye Putterman, 36, who stood outside an abortion clinic in Overland Park, Kan., on Saturday and spoke of the impact the decision could have on her 12-year-old daughter. “I feel like a whole bunch of white men are trying to decide what my daughter should do. Those men don’t know anything about what it’s like to carry a child — what pregnancy does to your body.”
The NYT has a series of maps, beginning with how far a person had to drive to reach an abortion clinic under Roe v. Wade. White is 50 miles or less, dark purple is 400 mile or more. (The map on the front page is also animated.)
Within a few weeks, the map will look like this. And look at south Texas for chrissake!
Somebody asked me today what we’re going to do about this. My answer was that we live in Illinois, where abortion is legal, and the only other thing we can do is lobby Congress to pass legislation that would legalize abortion on a national scale, and that ain’t gonna happen.
Last night’s NBC Evening News had a short interview with a Planned Parenthood official in a clinic, and she recounted, almost in tears, that she had to go into the waiting room and tell women that they were not going to get their abortions. I imagine the pro-lifers would be jubilant at that. It makes me ill.
*The Washington Post has a story about what happened in a Women’s Reproductive Services Clinic in Houston, Texas:
“Can we still do abortions today?” asked patient advocate Marjorie Eisen, thinking about the 20 women they had booked for appointments.
Several were already in the waiting room, scrolling through their phones as they waited.
“No,” said Kathy Kleinfeld,a co-owner of the clinic. “We’re done.”A silence settled over the staff as they reckoned with the stunning news — and what it would mean for the patients they served every day.
*On the science front, the AP reports the discovery of the word’s largest bacterium:
Olivier Gros, a co-author and biologist at the University of the French West Indies and Guiana, found the first example of this bacterium — named Thiomargarita magnifica, or “magnificent sulfur pearl” — clinging to sunken mangrove leaves in the archipelago of Guadeloupe in 2009.
But he didn’t immediately know it was a bacterium because of its surprisingly large size — these bacteria, on average, reach a length of a third of an inch (0.9 centimeters). Only later genetic analysis revealed the organism to be a single bacterial cell.
“It’s an amazing discovery,” said Petra Levin, a microbiologist at Washington University in St Louis, who was not involved in the study. “It opens up the question of how many of these giant bacteria are out there — and reminds us we should never, ever underestimate bacteria.”
Do not underestimate bacteria! Now how big is it?
Most bacteria are microscopic, but this one is so big it can be seen with the naked eye.
The thin white filament, approximately the size of a human eyelash, is “by far the largest bacterium known to date,” said Jean-Marie Volland, a marine biologist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-author of a paper announcing the discovery Thursday in the journal Science.
This is apparently a whole bacterium, though it looks like it’s dividing:
*Things aren’t going well in Ukraine as the Russians cement their gains in the eastern part of the country and are beginning to fire missiles on the west. The Associated Press reports:
Russian forces were seeking to swallow up the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern Luhansk region, while pressing their momentum following the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the charred ruins of Sievierodonetsk. The military said Saturday that Moscow-backed separatists were now in full control of the chemical plant that was the last Ukrainian holdout in the city.
Russia also launched dozens of missiles on several areas across the country far from the heart of the eastern battles. Some of the missiles were fired from Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time, Ukraine’s air command said.
The bombardment preceded a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, during which Putin announced that Russia planned to send the Iskander-M missile system to Belarus.
*I have a gazillion airline miles on American, United, and Southwest, but I never use them because redeeming them is not at all straightforward. But I need to use them. If you’re in my situation, the Wall Street Journal has a useful article called “8 tips for making the most of your airline miles.” It’s pretty depressing, especially this part (emphasis is mine):
Get a sense of what your mileage balance is worth. That’s harder now that most airlines have stopped publishing fixed award charts, moving to a “dynamic” model with ever-changing redemption levels. Depending on whom you ask, your miles are worth at least a penny or two each, maybe more. “It all depends on how you redeem them,“ said Mr. Leff. Airlines also have added fees to many of these “free” award tickets, making the calculation even more difficult to nail down. If you’ve got miles banked in a specific airline program, check out what your carrier offers in the way of tools to help simplify the process. United Airlines has added mileage-award searches to its interactive route map; American Airlines has a “Miles Finder” map.
There are also “points concierges” who, for a fee, will help you make the best use of your points.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign:
A: May I make up the bed?Hili: There is no need to.
Ja: Czy mogę posłać łóżko?Hili: Nie ma powodu.
From Charles: a cookie in honor (?) of yesterday’s overturning of Roe v. Wade:
Kudos to the cartoonist, but I can’t make out his/her name. Readers?
If commentator Van Jones is anything, he’s a liberal who works hard for social justice. But he’s not keen on promulgating nonsense. Here he talks about the schism among Democrats.
— Andy Grewal (@AndyGrewal) June 21, 2022
One I found from The Onion:
— The Onion (@TheOnion) June 24, 2022
And Simon sent this tweet of The Onion‘s front page. It’s funny and sad:
The Onion front page right now pic.twitter.com/0HLWQ2nicE
— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) June 25, 2022
Along those lines. . . see second tweet (I’m not worried too much about Thomas’s stupid addition to the decision):
— Tim Abbott (@AbbottTim) June 24, 2022
From Satan (second tweet):
This what they really meant when they said “you have the right to bear arms” pic.twitter.com/4IzmNQzynZ
— Satan (@s8nstan) May 24, 2022
From Simon, whose 21-year-old moggie had to be put down this week. This video is cheerier, and I might have shown it before. If you know what the duck is, let me know. Condolences to Simon.
The penguin is being rescued by the ducks… Amazing I want to cry! 💕💕
— Figen (@TheFigen) June 24, 2022
From Richard Dawkins. This remarkable coincidence might be called the “Misanthropic Principle”:
How thoughtful of God to arrange matters so that, wherever you happen to be born, the local religion always turns out to be the true one.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) June 23, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: A survivor’s words on his 96th birthday:
"If you are indifferent, you will not even notice it when upon your own heads, and upon heads of your descendants, some another Auschwitz falls from the sky.”
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 26, 2022
Tweets from the famous Professor Cobb. He’s starting writing the text of his bio of Francis Crick, and has hit the point, which I know well, when everything sounds like crap. The answer is that the writing gets fun when you’re on about the 12th draft. I’m sure the book will be excellent.
The secret of writing is in the re-writing, they say. Well this is about the 10th draft of this chapter and it is still rubbish. Plus I sometimes can’t read my own corrections. pic.twitter.com/0awpa4NQ44
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) June 25, 2022
I really haven’t followed the theological position of Jews on abortion (there are so many sects!), but this big group seems pro-choice:
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) June 24, 2022
Retweeted by Bette Midler:
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) May 3, 2022