It’s Wednesday already, a hump day (or “Hmoob Dag” in Hmong): August 3, 2022: National Watermelon Day. Here’s the record for greatest distance spitting a watermelon seed:
The July/August issue of Food Network Magazine (on stands June 24) features ten wacky ways that Americans are celebrating their favorite fruit. One way a local Texan celebrates fruit is by holding the watermelon seed-spitting record of 75 feet 2 inches.
Jason Schayot earned the Guinness Book Record for the longest watermelon seed spit in 1995 at the De Leon Peach and Melon Festival.
Here’s a handy guide for spitting seeds as far as possible:
Stuff that happened on August 3 includes:
- 1492 – Christopher Columbus sets sail from Palos de la Frontera, Spain.
- 1527 – The first known letter from North America is sent by John Rut while at St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Here’s the letter, though it’s not clear how it got sent to England. Here’s Wikipedia’s account:
While in St. John’s, Rut, an English mariner, wrote to King Henry on his findings and his planned voyage southward to seek his fellow explorer. The letter in part reads:
Pleasing your Honourable Grace to heare of your servant John Rut with all his company here in good health thanks be to God.
…the third day of August we entered into a good harbour called St. John and there we found Eleuen Saile of Normans and one Brittaine and two Portugal barks all a fishing and so we are ready to depart towards Cap de Bras that is 25 leagues as shortly as we have fished and so along the Coast until we may meete with our fellowe and so with all diligence that lyes in me toward parts to that Ilands that we are command at our departing and thus Jesu save and keepe you Honourable Grace and all your Honourable Reuer. In the Haven of St. John the third day of August written in hast 1527, by your servant John Rut to his uttermost of his power.
- 1778 – The theatre La Scala in Milan is inaugurated with the première of Antonio Salieri’s Europa riconosciuta.
Here it is; it was renovated in 1907:
- 1811 – First ascent of Jungfrau, third highest summit in the Bernese Alps by brothers Johann Rudolf and Hieronymus Meyer.
The Jungfrau (height 4,158 meters or 13,642 ft) as seen from the town of Interlaken. There’s now a railway that takes you to only about 700 meters from the summit; most of it is tunneled through the mountain:
- 1852 – Harvard University wins the first Boat Race between Yale University and Harvard. The race is also known as the first ever American intercollegiate athletic event.
In the varsity race, the big one, Harvard has won 95 times, Yale only 59.
- 1914 – World War I: Germany declares war against France, while Romania declares its neutrality.
- 1921 – Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis confirms the ban of the eight Chicago Black Sox, the day after they were acquitted by a Chicago court.
The jury, after three hours of deliberation, found all eight of the accused not guilty. Nevertheles, Landis banned them permanently from baseball and excluded them from consideration for the Hall of Fame. Here are the eight, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, whose inquisition by a kid, “Say it ain’t so, Joe” (and Joe’s answer “I’m afraid it is, kid”, is both famous and apocryphal.
Here’s a German video of the heats, culminating in Owens’s victory in the race startingat 3:20, with Metcalfe a close second. So much for Aryan superiority!
Hiss, whose case is subject to controversy, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, serving only 3 years and 8 months (the espionage statute of limitations had run out). He was released in 1954, and died in 1996.
- 1958 – The world’s first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, becomes the first vessel to complete a submerged transit of the geographical North Pole.
The ship was decommissioned in 1980 but you can visit it in Groton Connecticut (it’s under renovation for a few months). Here’s a tour of the ship; start about 5 minutes in to skip the unnecessary stuff:
How soon we forget, and I’d forgotten this one which took place in a big Walmart. If you want to be depressed, look at the Wikipedia article on “Mass shootings in the United States,” which lists the deadliest ones in order of most people killed. The El Paso shooting is tied for sixth place (can you name #1?). The El Paso shooting is described by Wikipedia as “the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history, and is the deadliest mass shooting in the US to conclude with an alleged perpetrator being caught alive to face legal repercussions.” The accused shooter, Patrick Wood Crusius, still hasn’t been tried, but is facing 90 federal charges, including 22 counts of committing a hate crime resulting in death, 22 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder, 23 counts of a hate crime involving an attempt to kill, and 23 counts of use of a firearm during a crime. And there are additional state charges that will result in a second trial (the first may not begin for more than a year).
The suspect admitted he was targeting Mexicans, resulting in the hate-crime charges, but has also pleaded not guilty. The suspect:
*Yup, Nancy Pelosi stopped off in Taiwan, as was leaked yesterday, and, as expected, China is furious. Really furious! They have plans to take over the island, and they don’t want the U.S. interfering.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday, casting aside private warnings from the Biden administration about the risk that her high-profile diplomatic visit could stoke a new crisis in Asia and immediately drawing a sharp response from the Chinese government.
A U.S. military jet carrying Ms. Pelosi landed in Taipei late Tuesday, after weeks of speculation about her travel plans. Her decision to proceed with the trip — shrouded in official secrecy until the last moment — makes her the highest-ranking congressional official to come to the disputed island in 25 years, and sets up a tense standoff with China that American officials said could lead to more aggressive military posturing.
In a statement released after her arrival, Ms. Pelosi said the visit was a sign of the United States’ “unwavering commitment” to supporting the island’s democracy.
“America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” she said. She added that the visit did not contradict U.S. policy on Taiwan.
China, which bristles at any perceived challenge to its claims on Taiwan, had repeatedly warned Ms. Pelosi not to make the visit, and the United States had urged Beijing not to turn the moment into a crisis. After a telephone call last week between President Biden and Xi Jinping, the president of China, the Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned Ms. Pelosi’s expected visit, saying that “playing with fire will set yourself on fire.”
. . . Recently, Mr. Biden said he would act to defend Taiwan in the event of a conflict, but White House officials have repeatedly walked back those statements, saying a longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the defense of Taiwan remains in place.
The Chinese seem to be much concerned that Pelosi might actually spend the night in Taipei, which to them is an even more flagrant violation. Do I care that Pelosi visited there against Biden’s advice? No; the more support we show Taiwan, the better. Do I think her visit will make a difference, prompting military action by the Chinese against Taiwan? No again. But in the long term something’s gonna happen, and it won’t involve China giving up claims to the island.
*According to the Washington Post, Ivana Trump has been given a burial by her ex-husband, the Donald. The bizarre part? He buried her at his golf club. At least he had the decency to put her plot where it can’t be seen from the links. Why there? Read on: (h/t David)
Photos published by the New York Post on Sunday show a lone grave at the edge of a field with some yellowed grass around it, a clump of white flowers on the freshly turned earth and a flat stone marker with a less-than-effusive epitaph: “IVANA TRUMP, February 20, 1949 – July 14, 2022.” She died last month of an apparent fall.
The former president has shown little interest in conventional post-presidency pursuits, such as building a presidential library; he’s not much for reading, and he’s trying to hide his presidential papers, not display them. But why would he bury himself in, of all things, the interment trade?
Simple: He has seemingly turned his late ex-wife (and his oldest kids have turned their late mother) into a tax dodge. Dartmouth professor Brooke Harrington, a specialist in tax optimization, checked the New Jersey tax code and reported that operating a cemetery at the Trump National offers “a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated.” She tweeted that it “looks like one corpse will suffice to make at least 3 forms of tax vanish.”
Here’s how she was laid to rest (photo from the NY Post):
*Legal news from Ken about another botched execution, and one that even the family of the victim opposes.
The State of Alabama executed Joe Nathan James, Jr., on July 28th. The execution was delayed for three hours because the executioners could not find a suitable vein on James with which to start an IV for the lethal injection. (Alabama has a history of botched executions.)The victim’s family, which had pleaded unsuccessfully with Alabama’s Republican governor Kay Ivey to commute James’s sentence, requested to be allowed to go to the execution viewing room to hear James’s final statement, but than to be permitted to leave before the execution itself. They were told by an Alabama Dept. of Corrections official that they would not be allowed to do so, because “Once you’re in, you’re in.”In other news from the James execution, Alabama journalist Ivana Hrynkiw, who had previously covered Alabama executions in the same outfit, was refused admittance to Holman Correctional Facility, where the execution was carried out, because it was claimed her skirt was too short. Instead, to be allowed entrance, she had to borrow another reporter’s fishing waders and a pair of tennis shoes — attire in keeping with Alabama’s standards of solemnity for the occasion, I take it.In Alabama, it apparently presents more of an affront to public morality to see a woman’s knees than to watch an inmate put to death.
Here’s the statement of the victim’s family requesting that Joe Nathan James’s death sentence be commuted:
Faith Hall's family has released this statement concerning tonight's execution of Joe Nathan James: "We pray that … one day our criminal justice system will listen to the cries of families like ours even it goes against what the state wishes." @DPInfoCtr #Alabama #deathpenalty pic.twitter.com/PTnnp1TABj
— Robert Dunham (@RDunhamDPIC) July 28, 2022
Three hours to find a vein? Is that humane? If they’re going to do this, a simple injection of barbiturates would work, but nobody’s going to let a prison have decent drugs to do this. All this is just another set of reasons why we have to stop executing people.
*Hospitals continue to ignore federal law by refusing to post the prices for various procedures and drugs. This arrant behavior by greedy hospitals is the subject of an engrossing five-minute video by Martin Schoeller at the New York Times. The federal Hospital Price Transparency Rule, passed with bipartisan support, is ignored by 86% of hospitals.
The upshot, as I’ve said before, is that patients can’t comparison shop for procedures, which is exactly why hospitals are ignoring the law. Schoeller interviews several patients who were slapped with exorbitant bills that they couldn’t predict. This often ruins a patients savings as well as their credit rating.
Click below to watch the video. It’s important, and you’ll be infuriated. It’s time that we start demanding hospitals to give us prices in advance. Why have there been no lawsuits against hospitals that refuse to comply with the law? An there are only two fines. It’s as if the government doesn’t care.
The government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services have put up a list of all fines incurred by hospitals since this law took effect on January 1, 2021. Here’s their chart: two lousy fines that amount to beans for a hospital!
*Finally, reader Jez sends us a headline guaranteed to make you click (from the Guardian):
A large tortoise on the track caused trains to come to a halt in south-eastern England, a rail company informed travellers on Monday.
Greater Anglia rail tweeted that trains between Norwich and Stansted airport were stopped for more than an hour due to a “giant tortoise”.
The operator first announced the line was blocked by “animals on the railway” early on Monday afternoon.
One passenger on a train to Norwich, Diane Akers, posted a photo of the tortoise standing on the track just after noon, reporting to the train company: “It’s still alive but injured.”
The tortoise’s shell appeared to have a large gash on top.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes to be honest!” Akers wrote.
A Greater Anglia customer adviser called Georgie later wrote that the tortoise was injured and had been taken to a specialist team for treatment. “We have been informed that he will make a full recovery,” the adviser updated.
Well. . . here’s the picture. It’s not a Galapagos or Aldabra tortoise, which are too heavy to lift. I’m not sure of the species, but it shouldn’t take an hour to remove a tortoise this size.
But I am very glad it can be saved. And yes, I’d gladly wait an hour if that could be done, but really, British rail needs to work on these delays.
By the way, sing out if you know the species
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili shows catlike indecision:
A: Are you coming in?Hili: I’m just one step from deciding.
Ja: Wchodzisz do domu?Hili: Jestem o krok od podjęcia decyzji w tej sprawie.
From Divy (they forgot the hat):
A crack in the Earth’s magnetic field over the weekend (not uncommon around the Equinox) allowed the Solar Wind to pour in over Norway. It result in a fantastic display of Northern Lights, that look like it’s almost flowing to the ground.
And from Anna:
The Tweet of God:
It's over. https://t.co/Xxxf97tHSD
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) August 1, 2022
she accidentally turned off her game and politely asked me to turn it back on 🥺 pic.twitter.com/wAGIB21HE8
— ✨ Maaike Scherff ✨ (@yesmaaike) July 28, 2022
From Simon, who adds “Old but still funny (as long as he doesn’t get re-elected).
Since Biden will be announcing the Al-Zawahiri killing tonight it’s a good time to repost this gem pic.twitter.com/F7i5hLQKZM
— Wu-Tang Is For The Children (@WUTangKids) August 1, 2022
From Ginger K. (I don’t know where this definition comes from, but it has to have something to do with wokeness.)
Changing the definition of definition takes the cake. What itmust it be like to live in a constant state of make believe?? pic.twitter.com/UWKUZpmHI9
— Paul Thacker (@paulthacker11) July 30, 2022
From Barry, one smart macaw (I refer to the second tweet, but the first is good, too). Sound on!
Don't turn the tap off…😅❤️ pic.twitter.com/HDBl2dsMq8
— Strong Roots (@StrongRoots11) July 31, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: This fellow lasted about a month:
3 August 1911 | A Frenchman, Jean Berthout, was born in Limoges.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 3, 2022
Tweets from Matthew; the first via Ziya Tong:
— Earthling (@ziyatong) July 21, 2022
Ah, remember this. It’s the craziest paper I’ve ever seen published in a first-class journal. You can see it here; the editor was Lynn Margulis. . . .
So let's talk about one of the most batshit insane papers ever published.
There's a dude who thinks complete metamorphosis evolved when an insect boinked a velvet worm. pic.twitter.com/ebo3tFL66T
— Joe Ballenger (@Stylopidae) July 20, 2022