Welcome to Thursday, July 14, 2022, Bastille Day and National Grand Marnier Day, honoring what happens to be a great after-dinner liqueur. It’s also National Mac and Cheese Day, Shark Awareness Day, and International Non-Binary People’s Day.
Wine of the Day: Again we have a nice Rioja, but given to me as a Coynezaa present by a very kind reader. The R. Lopez de Heredia Rioja Reserva from Viña Todonia has a reputation as one of the best bottlings of Rioja, and this one, 14 years old (it’s aged for a decade before release, so it’s been in the bottle for only 4 years) lived up to its reputation.
Because this was a gift, I won’t quote listed prices, but they vary considerably. Let’s just say it ain’t cheap. I drank it with my weekly restorative t-bone steak, and it turned out to be a great choice. The aromas I detected were pear, raspberry, and licorice, and I was elated to see after I sussed out the flavors and aromas that Robert Parker, my wine guru (who awarded this wine a very high 95/100, said this:
The nose of the 2008 Viña Tondonia Reserva is very elegant, fresh and with an herbal twist, starting to show the complexity of the aged wines that are sometimes still too young when they are released 10+ years from the vintage! The palate is medium-bodied, with lightness and depth, very classical with extra freshness and all that is needed for a long development in bottle. This is the more Tondonia of the two vintages I tasted side by side. There are notes of maple syrup, smoke, licorice and crisp fruit. The palate is more austere, crunchy and reveals the chalkiness of the soils. There’s more definition and precision here.
I would say it’s a bit more full-bodied than Parker implies, and it clearly will improve for several more years. I decanted it, expecting a sediment, but there was none—perhaps because of the aging in barrel. This is a fabulous and elegant wine, gutsy enough to stand up to steak. And it was even better when I drank the second half-bottle a day later.
As I always say, the quality/price range for Riojas is much higher than for, say, good French reds, and if you like red wine, you should essay this wine or others made with the temperanillo grape. There are less expensive Riojas than this that still afford excellent drinking.
Stuff that happened on July 14 includes:
- 1430 – Joan of Arc, taken by the Burgundians in May, is handed over to Pierre Cauchon, the bishop of Beauvais.
You really need to watch “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928) with Renée Jean Falconetti in the title role. In my view it’s the greatest silent movie ever made. Sadly, it’s no longer on YouTube, so you can see only snippets. But here’s one:
- 1789 – Storming of the Bastille in Paris. This event escalates the widespread discontent into the French Revolution. Bastille Day is still celebrated annually in France.
Here: ” An eyewitness painting of the siege of the Bastille by Claude Cholat:
- 1865 – The first ascent of the Matterhorn is completed by Edward Whymper and his party, four of whom die on the descent.
Two etchings by Doré: The ascent of the Matterhorn and then the tragic accident when a rope broke:
- 1874 – The Chicago Fire of 1874 burns down 47 acres of the city, destroying 812 buildings, killing 20, and resulting in the fire insurance industry demanding municipal reforms from Chicago’s city council.
There aren’t many photos of the post-fire city, but here’s one from the Chicago Architecture Center:
- 1881 – American outlaw Billy the Kid is shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in the Maxwell House at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
Here’s the only known authentic photo of Billy the Kid (caption from Wikipedia), who died at 21:
And Pat Garrett:
- 1915 – Beginning of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence between Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca and the British official Henry McMahon concerning the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire.
As Wikipedia notes of the exchange of ten letters:
The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence is a series of letters that were exchanged during World War I in which the Government of the United Kingdom agreed to recognize Arab independence after the war in exchange for the Sharif of Mecca launching the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The correspondence had a significant influence on Middle Eastern history during and after the war; a dispute over Palestine continued thereafter.
- 1933 – In a decree called the Gleichschaltung, Adolf Hitler abolishes all German political parties except the Nazis.
Actually, the “Gleichschaltung” was not one degree, but a program of increasing totalitarian control of Germany by the Nazis. This was just one part of it.
- 1933 – Nazi eugenics programme begins with the proclamation of the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring requiring the compulsory sterilization of any citizen who suffers from alleged genetic disorders.
Here’s Part 1 of that decree, which was published on July 25. Its provisions were these:
(1) Any person suffering from a hereditary disease may be rendered incapable of procreation by means of a surgical operation (sterilization), if the experience of medical science shows that it is highly probable that his descendants would suffer from some serious physical or mental hereditary defect.
(2) For the purposes of this law, any person will be considered as hereditarily diseased who is suffering from any one of the following diseases: –
- (1) Congenital Mental Deficiency,
- (2) Schizophrenia,
- (3) Manic-Depressive Insanity,
- (4) Hereditary Epilepsy,
- (5) Hereditary Chorea (Huntington’s),
- (6) Hereditary Blindness,
- (7) Hereditary Deafness,
- (8) Any severe hereditary deformity.
(3) Any person suffering from severe alcoholism may be also rendered incapable of procreation.
- 1957 – Rawya Ateya takes her seat in the National Assembly of Egypt, thereby becoming the first female parliamentarian in the Arab world.
Here’s Ateva, a rara avis as an Arab feminist. Although she served in the Assembly for only two years, she remained politically active until her death in 1997:
- 1960 – Jane Goodall arrives at the Gombe Stream Reserve in present-day Tanzania to begin her study of chimpanzees in the wild.
Here’s a lovely picture Goodall touching Flint, the first chimp born after she arrived at Gombe:
*The NYT reports that more than half of the American population has severe issues with the state of the country and are sufficiently bothered that they want to “upend the system” (my emphasis):
A majority of American voters across nearly all demographics and ideologies believe their system of government does not work, with 58 percent of those interviewed for a New York Times/Siena College poll saying that the world’s oldest independent constitutional democracy needs major reforms or a complete overhaul.
The discontent among Republicans is driven by their widespread, unfounded doubts about the legitimacy of the nation’s elections. For Democrats, it is the realization that even though they control the White House and Congress, it is Republicans, joined with their allies in gerrymandered state legislatures and the Supreme Court, who are achieving long-sought political goals.
For Republicans, the distrust is a natural outgrowth of former President Donald J. Trump’s domination of the party and, to a large degree, American politics. After seven years in which he relentlessly attacked the country’s institutions, a broad majority of Republicans share his views on the 2020 election and its aftermath: Sixty-one percent said he was the legitimate winner, and 72 percent described the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as a protest that got out of hand.
This is not good news given that Biden was the clear winner of the election, and doubting those results is becoming akin to a Republican religion. Fortunately it’s not all Republicans; just 76% of them: here are some data from the survey, and it’s scary:
*Now is the time to go to Europe, for the euro and the dollar are now equal in value— the first time this has happened in over 20 years. I was there during one of these episodes, and stuff seemed a lot cheaper to me than it used to.
The stronger dollar is good news for Americans considering a European vacation or buying goods abroad. It could lower the price of commodities, such as grain, and potentially ease the relentless inflation that has sent household and business expenses surging. But experts say the euro’s retreat also hints at the slower pace of global trade, adding to recession worries.
* The bad news is that inflation in the U.S. is running at its highest yearly rate in forty years: a whopping 9.1%!
U.S. consumer inflation climbed to 9.1% in June, a pace not seen in more than four decades, adding pressure on the Federal Reserve to act more aggressively to slow rapid price increases throughout the economy.
The consumer-price index’s advance for the 12 months ended in June was the fastest pace since November 1981, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. A big jump in gasoline prices drove much of the increase, while shelter and food prices were also major contributors.
The June inflation reading exceeded May’s 8.6% rate, prompting investors and analysts to debate whether the Fed would consider a one-percentage-point rate increase, rather than a 0.75-point rise, later this month.
. . . The Fed last month raised its interest-rate target by 0.75 percentage point, the largest increase since 1994. Slowing demand is key to the Fed’s goal of restoring price stability in an economy that is still struggling with supply issues, but raising interest rates also elevates the risk of a recession.
It also is trying to prevent consumer expectations of higher inflation becoming entrenched, since such expectations can be self-fulfilling. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said the central bank wants to see clear evidence that price pressures are diminishing before slowing or suspending rate increases.
Persistent high inflation is putting a strain on businesses and consumers who, after decades of price stability, aren’t used to it.
Lower gas prices alone will not relieve Biden of what Americans believe is something he should have controlled. Just go to the supermarket! Remember the motto of The War Room: “It’s the economy, stupid.” More trouble for the Democrats is in the offing.
*I’m not trying to be hard on Biden today, but according to a report in the New York Times, he’s seems to be lying to the public about the Iran nuclear deal:
President Biden sought to calm Israeli fears of a potential nuclear deal with Iran as he began a Middle East tour on Wednesday, promising not to give in to a key demand by Tehran and assuring Israelis that he would use force if needed to stop Iran from developing a bomb.
In an interview taped at the White House on Tuesday and aired on Israeli television on Wednesday night shortly after his arrival, Mr. Biden argued that Israel was made more vulnerable in 2018 when President Donald J. Trump withdrew from a nuclear agreement reached under the Obama administration.
It will be safer, he said, with a renewed accord.
“The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is an Iran with nuclear weapons, and if we can return to the deal, we can hold them tight,” Mr. Biden told Yonit Levi of Channel 12. “I think it was a gigantic mistake for the last president to get out of the deal. They’re closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before.”
Anybody with two neurons to rub together knows that Iran is trying as hard as it can to build nuclear weapons, and that it will have them eventually. Moreover, we also know that Biden will NOT “use force to stop Iran from building a bomb.” It already is building a bomb, and no force has been used. It is this kind of mendacity that angers me about my own party, and makes me certain that the Democrats must find a Presidential candidate to replace Biden in 2024.
*However, on the good deeds of the administration, we have the Biden administration apparently set to issue an executive order requiring all pharmacies that get federal money from programs like Medicare and Medicaid to dispense “reproductive health prescriptions”, including pills that induce abortion. Presumably this also applies to states where abortion is or will be illegal, and where those who abet it will violate the law. That puts those states in a dilemma, so this move is very clever on the Administration’s part. It also goes hand in hand with two other attempts to circumvent the Dobbs ruling on the national level:
The Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that pharmacies receiving federal money from programs such as Medicare and Medicaid cannot discriminate in how they supply medications or advise patients on prescriptions.
The agency noted that discrimination against people based on their pregnancy or related conditions would be a form of sex discrimination.
The announcement comes as the administration seeks to ensure reproductive health services for women following last month’s Supreme Court decision that ended a constitutional right to abortion.
On Monday, the administration told hospitals that they “must” provide abortion services if the life of the mother is at risk. The government said federal law on emergency treatment guidelines preempts state laws in jurisdictions that now ban the procedure without any exceptions. Now, all states provide an exception for the life of the mother.
President Joe Biden also has signed an executive order to try to protect some access to the procedure, but he also has acknowledged that his administration is limited in what it can do. He noted earlier this month that an act of Congress would be required to restore nationwide access to abortion services, and he has urged Americans angered by the Supreme Court’s ruling to vote in November.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron are involved in a grass-is-always-greener discusison:
Szaron: I have a feeling that there are more attractions on the northern side of the orchard.Hili: I think that the southern side looks more interesting.
Szaron: Mam wrażenie, że na północnej stronie sadu jest więcej atrakcji.Hili: Ja myślę, że południowa wygląda ciekawiej.
From Stash Krod, a beautiful poem by Michael Leunig, extolling the healing powers of my favorite waterfowl:
I forgot the source, but thank you, whoever you are, for this John Deering cartoon:
And from Tom, a cartoon by Dave Blazek:
From Ken, with his note
“Words of Scriptural wisdom from US senate hopeful Kelly Tshibaka (whom Donald Trump has endorsed in the Alaskan Republican primary as part of his vendetta against incumbent Lisa Murkowski, who voted against Trump at his second impeachment trial)”.
The second tweet will self-start after the first one ends:
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) July 12, 2022
Ricky Gervais makes ample use of the “c word” in his wonderful Netflix series, “After Life“. Do watch the first two seasons if you can.
It’s not big, and it’s not clever 😂
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) July 12, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
Liane and Eva are pictured here with their younger brother, Al, who is a Museum volunteer. "I never knew my sisters," Al recalled. "And it's one of the terrible losses that I suffered … that they did not survive when I did.” https://t.co/BMAuuEFkmb
— US Holocaust Museum (@HolocaustMuseum) July 12, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. This woman simply made up stuff: fictitious states, battles, and people. She was found out last month.
Wow! This is one hell of a story
A Bored Chinese Housewife Spent Years Falsifying Russian History on Wikipedia https://t.co/f87wH8CsRd
— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) July 13, 2022
If you have some knowledge of genetics, read this paper:
Some thoughts on genetic ancestry groups and genetic similarity https://t.co/trSQ9a8kyC
— Graham Coop (@Graham_Coop) July 12, 2022
Here’s a five-minute clip of a discussion between Pat Churchland and Briane Greene about the “hard problem of consciousness”. Churchland goes hard after panpsychism, but they do differ in their construal of the word “hard”.
— Institute of Art and Ideas (@IAI_TV) July 12, 2022
And a tweet from Dr. Cobb, who of course is busy writing the definitive biography of Francis Crick. I think what Crick means below is not that the structure of DNA itself supports natural selection per se, but that the structure shows us how mutations can occur and affect the sequence of proteins, which then affect the traits of individuals. In other words, I think he’s emphasizing not the structure itself, but the errors it makes possible.
13 June 1989: Crick is asked by a biology teacher for a single sentence summing up the significance of the understanding of DNA: ‘I think the most significant aspect of DNA is the support it gives to evolution by natural selection.’
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 13, 2022
The caption is a bit misleading, but this is cute!
No one knows the exact age of the Bowthorpe Oak but it is estimated to be 1000+ yrs. It’s the UK’s largest girthed oak tree at 13.5m 🤯
It’s on a farm in Lincolnshire and you can make a booking to see it here (highly recommended).https://t.co/aAbhx1dlM4 /2 pic.twitter.com/EQPjCXYPrw
— Adam Cormack (@AdamCormack_) July 12, 2022
I want to see this oak! Where is Bowthorpe? You’re allowed to have private time with the tree in an hour-long guided tour at 10 pounds per person. I’d say that’s £10 well spent!