Hooray: it’s the Fourth of July (2022), marking the day we declared independence from our colonizers!
Below we have an appropriate Google Doodle today, and if you click on it (do so), you will go to a page on the holiday, but you’ll also see animated fireworks. Note the capital “G” flipping burgers on the barbecue, appropriate for the holidays (see below):
Appropriately, it’s National Barbecue Day, but I’m sure my favorite BBQ joint on 47th Street will be closed today. Here’s a large order of rib tips (the best!) and links from my secret restaurant in Bronzeville. The “vegetable” (about 5 grams of coleslaw) is at upper right, along with the obligatory slices of white bread. The tips and links are to die for—especially the tips.
Stuff that happened on July 4 includes:
- 1054 – A supernova, called SN 1054, is seen by Chinese Song dynasty, Arab, and possibly Amerindian observers near the star Zeta Tauri. For several months it remains bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants form the Crab Nebula.
Here’s the nebula photographed in natural light through the Hubble Space telescope. It can also be seen by amateur astronomers:
- 1776 – American Revolution: The United States Declaration of Independence is adopted by the Second Continental Congress.
Read the caption (bolding is mine) to this facsimile of that Declaration:
- 1802 – At West Point, New York, the United States Military Academy opens.
- 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase is announced to the American people.
Here’s the land that was bought from the French superimposed on a modern map of the U.S. The price? $15 million, or less than three cents an acre. In 2020 currency that would be about $323 million or 61 cents per acre: a terrific bargain:
- 1817 – In Rome, New York, construction on the Erie Canal begins.
It’s 363 miles (584 km) long. Here’s a map of the Canal from the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
- 1826 – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, respectively the second and third presidents of the United States, die on the same day, on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence. Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” not knowing that Jefferson had died hours earlier.
That is one of the weirdest coincidences (and saddest events) in American history.
- 1831 – Samuel Francis Smith writes “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” for the Boston, Massachusetts July 4 festivities.
- 1832 – John Neal delivers the first public lecture in the US to advocate the rights of women.
- 1845 – Henry David Thoreau moves into a small cabin on Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau’s account of his two years there, Walden, will become a touchstone of the environmental movement.
A first edition and first printing of this classic account will run you about $25,000:
- 1855 – The first edition of Walt Whitman‘s book of poems, Leaves of Grass, is published in Brooklyn.
Now this puppy will cost you a lot more. A first printing of the first edition is about $125,000:
- 1862 – Lewis Carroll tells Alice Liddell a story that would grow into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels.
And for this one, the first edition in its second issue is about $47,000. And it has the Cheshire Cat on the back!
- 1892 – Western Samoa changes the International Date Line, causing Monday (July 4) to occur twice, resulting in a year with 367 days.
I don’t understand that at all.
- 1910 – The Johnson–Jeffries riots occur after African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocks out white boxer Jim Jeffries in the 15th round. Between 11 and 26 people are killed and hundreds more injured.
The fight was filmed for distribution in movie theaters. It was silent, of course, but this one has an informative narration. The 15-round fight starts at 4:37.
The fight took place in Reno, Nevada, but ignited race riots all over the U.S. White Americans couldn’t stand their “champion” laid low by a black man. But as you’ll see, Johnson (who had a colorful life and was the subject of a short Ken Burns documentary) punished Jeffries severely, especially in the last two rounds.
Here’s a Russian dramatization of the execution (warning: violence and blood). It was brutal:
- 1939 – Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, informs a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considers himself “The luckiest man on the face of the earth”, then announces his retirement from major league baseball.
Not all of what Gehrig said was recorded, but we do have these famous words below. He died on June 2, 1941 at age 37.
- 1954 – Rationing ends in the United Kingdom.
Note that it took nine years for food distribution to get back to normal after the war.
- 1987 – In France, former Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie (a.k.a. the “Butcher of Lyon”) is convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Barbie died of cancer in prison four years later.
- 2012 – The discovery of particles consistent with the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider is announced at CERN.
*Is there any good nooz this month, or even this year? The latest bad news is that the Ukrainian military has withdrawn from the city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk subregion of the Donbas. I’ve circled the approximate location of Lysychansk on the map below.
From the NYT:
Russia’s capture of the strategic city of Lysychansk means the front line in Ukraine’s east will shift as Russian forces regroup before pushing further south and west, military analysts and Ukrainian officers said Sunday, ensuring that the next phase of the battle will be just as bloody as the last.
Moscow’s victory in Lysychansk means its forces are in control of large parts of the Donbas, a region of mining towns and rolling fields that have become the focal point of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine since their defeat around Kyiv, the capital, in the spring.
The Donbas is made up of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. Capturing Lysychansk effectively hands full control of Luhansk province to Moscow, meaning that its forces can now focus to the southwest into Donetsk.
*There was a police shooting in Akron, Ohio on Sunday. The man killed by the cops, 25 year old Jayland Walker, was fleeing from police after a traffic stop. Walker, 25, was black, and so police racism has become a big deal in Arkron. But worse: Walker was hit sixty times after cops fired 90 rounds at him. They claimed that they tried to use a taser but it failed.
The reason given for the carnage was that Walker fired a shot from the car as he fled. The evidence for that is a flash of light from a nearby streetcam. And they did find a gun in his car, but he was unarmed when he was shot, for he was shot after he left the car and ran. It baffles me why cops would fire sixty rounds at someone who was not shooting at them at the time and, in fact, running away from them. Perhaps the claimed firing of a gun from the car is sufficient reason to riddle the man. And we’re not sure he fired from the car.
Of course there’s an investigation underway, so we must simply wait to see what the bodycam videos show. But it still seems that too many people are being killed after traffic stops, too many people are being shot at when they are fleeing, and, in this case, sixty shots must have turned Walker into the human equivalent of hamburger.
*More bad news: Biden is slipping even more in the approval polls, as the Associated Press reports.
The latest poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that his approval rating remains at 39%, the lowest since taking office and a steep slide from 59% one year ago. Only 14% of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction, down from 44%.
Douglas Brinkley, another historian, said Biden suffered from a case of presidential hubris after a largely successful run in his first five months in office, which included an overseas trip to meet with allies excited about welcoming a friendly face back to the international scene. He compared Biden’s Fourth of July speech last year to President George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” moment during the second Iraq War.
“He was trying to deliver good news but it didn’t pan out for him,” Brinkley said. “Suddenly, Biden lost a lot of goodwill.”
White House officials reject the comparison, noting that Biden warned about the “powerful” delta variant in his 2021 speech. Chris Meagher, a spokesman, said deaths from the virus are at a record low now, reducing disruptions in workplaces and classrooms.
“Fighting inflation and lowering prices is the president’s number one economic priority, and he’s laser focused on doing everything he can to make sure the economy is working for the American people,” he said. “And we’re in a strong position to transition from our historic jobs recovery to stable and steady growth. Because of the work we’ve done to bring the pandemic under control, COVID is not the disruptive factor it has been for so long.”
Of course the White House will never admit that Biden is becoming less popular, even though he is. What we should worry about is finding some Democratic candidates in 2024 who can beat either Donald Trump (who is making “I’ll be back” noises) or Ron DeSantis.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili wants to avoid her nemesis:
Hili: Kulka is under the stairs.A: So what?Hili: Nothing, I’m on my guard against her seeing me.
Hili: Pod schodami jest Kulka.Ja: I co?Hili: Nic, pilnuję, żeby na mnie nie patrzyła.
From Doc Bill:
Yesterday’s Far Side by Gary Larson, sent in by Tom:
This is today’s world; a cartoon by Bill Bramhall sent by reader Bruce:
Here’s the photo that Jango, the cat staffed by reader Divy, is going to use to attract females in his online dating profile. Isn’t he a beaut? But perhaps that gaze is too intense for the lady cats?
The Tweet of God:
There are plenty of things people can do to help save life on Earth. Die, for example.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) July 2, 2022
A tweet from Barry; the ending is inevitable:
Game of thrones..🐕🐾🐈🛏️😅 pic.twitter.com/snfV0ewNRJ
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) July 2, 2022
From SImon: a CSPAN statement by Liz Cheney during an election debate. SImon adds, “I disagree with her on most things, but this is worth listening to, especially the end.”
Will she be re-elected?
.@Liz_Cheney: "I will never put party above my duty to the Constitution. I swore an oath under God and I will abide by that oath. I won't say something that I know is wrong, simply to earn the votes of people, to earn political support." pic.twitter.com/XImssdWVJc
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 1, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial. Died at age 12:
4 July 1930 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Betty Kitty Verveer, was born in The Hague.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 3, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First, from wonderful Dodoland, a real cat maven. Be sure to see his Instagram page, The Catluminati.
All the neighborhood cats run to greet this guy when he goes on walks — and one ends up changing his life 😻
— The Dodo (@dodo) July 3, 2022
A lovely cartoon strip:
‘PIG LATIN’ by Grant Snider. pic.twitter.com/6F0aPI4VGn
— Gareth Harney (@OptimoPrincipi) July 1, 2022
Okay, what kind of bird is this?
"Excuse me, my eyes are up here" pic.twitter.com/TisWKF0xkb
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) July 3, 2022
Why not? Cats love butter:
cat churning butter, germany, 14th century pic.twitter.com/pzo8Cx5Ngb
— weird medieval guys (@WeirdMedieval) July 3, 2022
This is a stunning (and adaptive) simulation of death. Be sure to watch the end!
Apparent death is a behavior in which animals take on the appearance of being dead, most often triggered by a predatory attack. This is a robin redbreast showing this behavior [read more: https://t.co/HYls1aPOZz] [full video, HD: https://t.co/LdsqUXtw8J] pic.twitter.com/YGgc8jtqfb
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) July 2, 2022