Once again we’ve reached the end of the week, and with sundown on this Friday, July 29, comes the beginning of Cat Sabbath. It’s National Lasagna Day, and now I’m craving one.
It’s also National Almond Buttercrunch Day, National Waffle Iron Day (time was that every family had one, but now people buy waffles frozen), Hug Holiday Day (hug someone who could use it), and International Tiger Day. Some day I will pet a baby tiger. . .
I am still quite depressed about the premature death of one of Audrey’s babies, so posting may be light today. I do my best.
Stuff that happened on July 29 includes:
- 1565 – The widowed Mary, Queen of Scots marries Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Duke of Albany, at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland.
This marriage didn’t last long; Darnley was killed at in 1567 at age twenty, and we don’t know for sure who murdered him.
- 1818 – French physicist Augustin Fresnel submits his prizewinning “Memoir on the Diffraction of Light”, precisely accounting for the limited extent to which light spreads into shadows, and thereby demolishing the oldest objection to the wave theory of light.
It was the wave phenomenon that led to the blurring of shadows. Here’s a page from Fresnel’s monograph. He was barely honored in his lifetime, as he died at thirty of tuberculosis:
- 1836 – Inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.
Here’s the Arc, draped in black, on the occasion of the state funeral of author Victor Hugo on May 31, 1885:
- 1907 – Sir Robert Baden-Powell sets up the Brownsea Island Scout camp in Poole Harbour on the south coast of England. The camp runs from August 1 to August 9 and is regarded as the foundation of the Scouting movement.
Here’s Baden Powell on Brownsea Island camp in 1907, ready to make s’mores!
- 1921 – Adolf Hitler becomes leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
- 1957 – Tonight Starring Jack Paar premieres on NBC with Jack Paar beginning the modern day talk show.
Here are three clips from the show, described on YouTube this way:
Here are three rare clips from the original Jack Paar “Tonight” show (later called the Jack Paar Show, but often referred to as “Tonight”). The first looks like it is from the late fifties. It is with Elsa Maxwell, who was an American gossip columnist and author, songwriter, and professional hostess renowned for her parties for royalty and high society figures of her day. The second clip is with Attorney General Robert Kennedy. This clip had to have been either 1961 or 1962 while Kennedy was Attorney General and Paar was still on late nights. The last clip is Jack famously walking off his show in 1960 the night after one of his jokes that included the word “water closet” was edited out of the program. We see also his return some weeks later. This clip has rarely been seen in it’s [sic] video form as it is here.
- 1958 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which creates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
- 1973 – Greeks vote to abolish the monarchy, beginning the first period of the Metapolitefsi.
- 1976 – In New York City, David Berkowitz (a.k.a. the “Son of Sam”) kills one person and seriously wounds another in the first of a series of attacks.
His mugshot is below; he shot eight people, several of whom died.
Here’s the end of the first of the several letters that Berkowitz left for the police. He’s now residing in Shawangunk Correctional Facility in New York, and although could be eligible for parole, will never get out (for one thing, he refuses to attend parole hearings.
- 1981 – A worldwide television audience of over 700 million people watch the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Here’s part of what they saw. The pomp is amazing, and look at theat 25-foot train on Diana’s gown! (She arrives at 6:50 into the video.)
- 1987 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President of France François Mitterrand sign the agreement to build a tunnel under the English Channel (Eurotunnel).
In a bit more than three years—on December 1, 1990—the two sides met in the middle of the Channel seabed. Here’s a video of the meeting of the sides. Click “Watch on YouTube”.
*Well, glory be! Renegade Democrat Joe Manchin has done a 180 with regard to supporting Biden’s economic bill on climate change and other goodies.
The deal between Schumer and Manchin aims to lower health-care costs, combat climate change and revise the tax code, fulfilling some of the central elements in President Biden’s economic agenda. As Democrats reviewed the legislation, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Biden said at the White House that it would put the United States on “sounder economic footing.”
“I know it can sometimes seem like nothing gets done in Washington. The work of the government can be slow, frustrating and sometimes even infuriating,” said Biden, acknowledging the painstaking discussions leading up to the deal.
This spending bill must be passable without a filibuster, I guess, as Republicans would never support it. Touting this as a victory, then, means a 50/50 vote in the Senate, a tie that will be broken in favor of the bill by the vote of Kamala Harris. Unfortunately, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has not said whether or not she’ll support the bill.
*According to the Times of London, the Tavistock Gender Clinic in London is set to close next year. The services it renders won’t go away, but it’s being decentralized, revamped, and repurposed. This comes after a review on the clinic that excoriated it for not providing proper service to adolescents under 18. And that appears to be because of what we all knew: Tavistock was “gender affirming,” putting kids on puberty blockers without proper psychotherapy beforehand, and thus endangering kids through drugs and surgery when they may have wound up being gay instead of transsexual. Proper therapy that is not always “affirming” is necessary before proceeding to puberty blockers and then to transition to another gender. (h/t Christopher).
The paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass, who is leading a review of the service, has today issued a series of recommendations for a radical overhaul of how the NHS treats young people who are questioning their gender identity.
She found that the Tavistock clinic was “not a safe or viable long-term option” and that other mental health issues were “overshadowed” when gender was raised by children referred to the clinic.
Cass, former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the current model of a sole provider for gender services should be scrapped as it failed to meet the holistic needs of distressed and vulnerable teenagers.
She said Tavistock should be replaced by regional centres with an “appropriate multi-professional workforce to enable them to provide an integrated model of care that manages the holistic needs of this population”.
Amid concerns that the clinic fails to take into account wider health problems before putting children on puberty blockers, Cass added: “Staff should maintain a broad clinical perspective in order to embed the care of children and young people with gender uncertainty within a broader child and adolescent health context.”
NHS England, which commissioned Cass to review the service in September 2020, say they will implement her recommendations in full and decommission the Tavistock clinic.
*This is a triumph of science that I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. A while back the DeepMind Artificial Intelligence Group came up with the AlphaFold Program to predict the three-dimensionsional structure of a protein from its sequence of amino acids (and that you can get from the DNA sequence). Now DeepMind has both announced and released the three-dimensional structure of basically every protein in the world. This is important because knowing the shape of a protein is important in understanding how it works as well as knowing how to change it to alter its effects. (This would be useful, for example, in making vaccines against the “spike protein” of coronavirus.) The number of proteins whose shape has been deciphered and released is in the millions (h/t Pyers):
Last year, DeepMind published the protein structures for 20 species – including nearly all 20,000 proteins expressed by humans – on an open database. Now it has finished the job, and released predicted structures for more than 200m proteins.
“Essentially, you can think of it as covering the entire protein universe. It includes predictive structures for plants, bacteria, animals, and many other organisms, opening up huge new opportunities for AlphaFold to have an impact on important issues, such as sustainability, food insecurity, and neglected diseases,” said Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s founder and chief executive.
Scientists are already using some of its earlier predictions to help develop new medicines. In May, researchers led by Prof Matthew Higgins at the University of Oxford announced they had used AlphaFold’s models to help determine the structure of a key malaria parasite protein, and work out where antibodies that could block transmission of the parasite were likely to bind.
“Previously, we’d been using a technique called protein crystallography to work out what this molecule looks like, but because it’s quite dynamic and moves around, we just couldn’t get to grips with it,” Higgins said. “When we took the AlphaFold models and combined them with this experimental evidence, suddenly it all made sense. This insight will now be used to design improved vaccines which induce the most potent transmission-blocking antibodies.”
I still can’t grasp how a program can do this—the problem is incredibly complicated—much less apply it to millions of proteins. From what I hear, AlphaFold predictions are quite good.
The rest of the Nooz (3 items) is brought to you by reader Ken, whose descriptions are indented. Excerpts from the articles he mentions are doubly indented.
Andrew Torba, the CEO or right-wing social media platform Gab and a leading supporter of wingnut Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, says real Americans like him are done with being told what they can do in their own country by the 2% of US population that’s Jewish.
Excerpt from MediaMatters:
Mastriano stated in a campaign filing for his Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign that he paid $5,000 to far-right social media platform Gab for “consulting” services on April 28. HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias subsequently reported that the payment seems to be for new followers, as “every new account currently being created on Gab automatically follows Mastriano.” (Torba has denied this while Mastriano has responded by retweeting someone calling the strategy “creative campaigning.”)
In a May interview with Torba, Mastriano told him: “Thank God for what you’ve done.”
Gab caters to far-right extremists, including those who have been banned from other platforms. The site is filled with antisemites, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis. One of its users was the mass shooter who allegedly killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.
Torba himself is antisemitic and has complained that “pagans, Jews, non-believers, atheists” have too much political power, which has purportedly led to destructive results. He has also explicitly said that he does not want Jews in his movement, stating last week: “We don’t want people who are atheists. We don’t want people who are Jewish. We don’t want people who are, you know, nonbelievers, agnostic, whatever. This is an explicitly Christian movement because this is an explicitly Christian country.”
You saw this piece in The Times setting out the stats on how states that have banned (or are likely to ban) abortion are also the worst states to live for pregnant women, children, and mothers?
There’s a very interesting piece by Joan Biskupic (a highly respected reporter who’s long covered the Supreme Court beat) at the CNN website about the maneuvering that went on behind the scenes at the Court regarding the Dobbs decision — including how Justice Alito’s draft opinion was leaked by conservatives to stop Chief Justice Roberts’s efforts to persuade Brett Kavanaugh to join him in upholding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban without outright overruling Roe v. Wade.
Excerpt from CNN:
It appears unlikely that Roberts’ best prospect — Justice Brett Kavanaugh — was ever close to switching his earlier vote, despite Roberts’ attempts that continued through the final weeks of the session.
Multiple sources told CNN that Roberts’ overtures this spring, particularly to Kavanaugh, raised fears among conservatives and hope among liberals that the chief could change the outcome in the most closely watched case in decades. Once the draft was published by Politico, conservatives pressed their colleagues to try to hasten release of the final decision, lest anything suddenly threaten their majority.
Roberts’ persuasive efforts, difficult even from the start, were thwarted by the sudden public nature of the state of play. He can usually work in private, seeking and offering concessions, without anyone beyond the court knowing how he or other individual justices have voted or what they may be writing.
The final decision flouted the court’s traditional adherence to judicial restraint and precedent. Polls show public approval of the court falling significantly, as the decision has been regarded as a product of politics rather than neutral decision-making.
Roberts’ efforts directed toward Kavanaugh and to a lesser extent newest conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett were anticipated. Some anti-abortion advocates and conservative movement figures had feared that Roberts would sway either Kavanaugh or Barrett from the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that was an all-out rejection of Roe and women’s privacy rights.
It’s a long article, but an interesting look into the intrigues of the Supremes. It’s clear that conservatives leaked the draaft decision, and they’re still investigating who did it. But they’re investigating aides, and I bet dollars to donuts that one of the Justices themselves ordered the leak or gave a wink and a nudge.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron kvetch about the environment:
Szaron: Too little rain.Hili: Yes, nature is not balanced.
Szaron: Za mało deszczu.Hili: Tak, natura nie jest zrównoważona.
A fully loaded puffin from Unique birds and animals“on FB. Imagine how much skill it takes to catch them one after the other and then arrange them sideways!
From Sara on Facebook: “Joni Mitchell, Self Portrait, ‘Taming the Tiger’ album cover art (1991-97)”.
A Scott Hilburn cartoon from Irena, and if you don’t get this, you’re too young:
The Tweet of God. Unfortunately, he admits that he gave humans free will. The good news is that this is a lie because God doesn’t exist.
Free will was a mistake.
I should have charged for it.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) July 27, 2022
From Barry, who says, “I didn’t know that bats could swim.” I had heard that, but never saw it until now. This one does a mean breaststroke!
While not part of their usual behaviour, bats can swim, especially in stressful situations if the need arises. This video by Krishnendu Mitra, though, shows they are indeed surprisingly good at it [source, read more: https://t.co/sUeMlpkBvV] pic.twitter.com/3AaZJBgKFf
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) July 27, 2022
From Simon: “That selection thing again.” If this thing isn’t a leaf mimic I’ll eat my hat. The colors aren’t visible when the butterfly (an orange oakleaf from tropical Asia) is at rest. Since males and females have pretty much the same pattern, I suspect the colors indicate selection for either species recognition or show the results of mutual sexual selection.
Probably the most famous example of camouflage.
With its wings closed, Kallima Inachus closely resembles a dry leaf with dark veins.
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) July 26, 2022
Here’s one from a butterfly house in Germany:
From Ziya Tong. Ducks will be ducks: they can’t help themselves!
Don’t be the duck pic.twitter.com/bjcNoObe2g
— Earthling (@ziyatong) July 28, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial. She lived but a month in the camp, and who remembers her save this website?
29 July 1890 | A Polish woman, Anna Diadia, was born in Ruszów.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 29, 2022
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. Never seen a wasp butt? Well, you’re about to, and it’s a fine one. You get to see the rest of the wasp, too.
Here's the rest of it. Hedychrum, a cuckoo wasp. Specimen in the UT insect collection. pic.twitter.com/UY5JS902Dh
— Alex Wild (@Myrmecos) July 26, 2022
This article by Topol recommends getting TWO boosters, especially if you’re over 50. My doctor disagrees.
Eric Topol summarising things. Not good. https://t.co/EGxRWNwduh
— James McInerney (@jomcinerney) July 24, 2022
A nice way to end: two lovely tails in this tweet:
My ASPCA adopted cat Willy convinced a feral cat on the farm that living with us was the best way to live, that we’d be family. Took months before I could even touch Orange Kitty, but now look at his favorite napping spot. pic.twitter.com/xon0bV93sa
— Frances Morrighan (@TelaDrin) July 23, 2022