Top of the morning to you on Thursday, September 15, 2022. I get my flu shot today, and a COVID booster in two weeks. Sleep last night: about 2.5 hours, so I am a wreck. It’s National Double Cheeseburger Day. The best version in Chicago, which I haven’t tried, is the double cheeseburger at Au Cheval in the West Loop. It’s actually three patties, and you can get it with bacon and a fried egg on top (stents are complimentary):
It’s also National Linguine Day, National Cheese Toast Day (see “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend“), National Crème de Menthe Day, Free Queso Day (at Moe’s Southwest Grill), World Afro Day, Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie Day, Greenpeace Day, International Day of Democracy, the beginning of German American Heritage Month, celebrated until October 15, also the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated until October 15 (United States), and World Lymphoma Awareness Day.
Stuff that happened on September 15 includes:
- 1530 – Appearance of the miraculous portrait of Saint Dominic in Soriano in Soriano Calabro, Calabria, Italy; commemorated as a feast day by the Roman Catholic Church 1644–1912.
- 1588 – The so-called “Invincible Armada” sent by Catholic King Philip II of Spain to overthrow Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England has been handed a crushing defeat in the English Channel.
Here’s a fantasy depiction, even showing Elizabeth I (arrow). The caption is from Wikipedia:
- 1812 – The Grande Armée under Napoleon reaches the Kremlin in Moscow.
- 1835 – HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin aboard, reaches the Galápagos Islands. The ship lands at Chatham or San Cristobal, the easternmost of the archipelago.
- 1935 – The Nuremberg Laws deprive German Jews of citizenship.
Here’s a tweet showing one page of laws as well as a chart about who’s Jewish and who’s not. For a translation of the citizenship laws, go here.
15 September 1935 | The Nuremberg Laws – discrimination, racist & antisemitic laws, were enacted by the Reichstag in Nazi Germany. The laws excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship, disenfranchised them, and deprived them of most political rights. https://t.co/IkQ5aWaSdz pic.twitter.com/H9DtmxQeoK
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 15, 2022
. . . and a photo from two years before that showing the SA picketing Jewish stores during the boycott. The signs say: “Germans! Defend yourselves! Don’t buy from Jews!”
Article 1 of the Nuremberg laws above says, “The colors of the Reich are black/white/red. Aticle 2 says “The Reich and National flag is the swastika flag. It is also the commercial flag.”
The famous scene (see 1:07). Her husband, Joe DiMaggio, was outraged by this violation of decency, and they separated a month later.
From “The American Experience,” here’ a three-minute video of Khrushchev’s visit; Eisenhower was President.
- 1962 – The Soviet ship Poltava heads toward Cuba, one of the events that sets into motion the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- 1963 – Baptist Church bombing: Four children killed in the bombing of an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
I remember this well, as I was 13. This heinous act, and the death of children, helped push the civil rights movement forward; the 1964 Act was passed in the next year.
Here are the dead children. Four members of the Klan did the deed; two were later convicted. J. Edgar Hoover had initially blocked their prosecution:
- 1981 – The John Bull becomes the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution operates it under its own power outside Washington, D.C.
Here’s that fabled journey, taken when the locomotive was 150 years old.
- 2008 – Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.
*As we head towards a recession, the worldwide markets are wobbly, consumer prices in in Britain reached a yearly rate of 9.9% this month, down a tad from last month but still the highest in nearly four decades, and U.S. railroad workers are contemplating a strike for higher wages and better working conditions, a just cause but one that could raise prices even more. The only good news for Americans is that older ones like me can expect the highest cost-of-living increase in Social Security forty years: about 8.7%.
To top that, the Gates Foundation says that things are worse than we think:
In 2015 the United Nations established 17 sustainable development goals — measurable benchmarks of human progress that might guide a path “to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change by 2030.” Every year since 2017, the Gates Foundation has released a sort of progress report tracking key data points: poverty, malnutrition, maternal mortality and 15 more.
This year, at the halfway point, how do things look? “Seven years in, the world is on track to achieve almost none of the goals,” Gates and his ex-wife, the foundation’s co-founder Melinda French Gates, write in the introduction to the latest report. On poverty, the goal was to eradicate extreme poverty, and since 2015, the percentage of the world living on less than $1.90 a day has fallen only to about 8 percent from just above 10 percent; on malnutrition, the prevalence of growth stunting in children under 5 is still above 20 percent; maternal mortality is more than twice as high as the standard set by the 2015 goals. “As it stands now, we’d need to speed up the pace of our progress five times faster to meet most of our goals — and even that might be an underestimate, because some of the projections don’t yet account for the impact of the pandemic, let alone the war in Ukraine or the food crisis it kicked off in Africa,” the introduction reads.
There follows an interview with Gates by science writer David Wallace-Wells, with a lot about climate change.
*Ukraine continues to advance, reclaiming territory in the Northeast (though Russia still has a big presence in the SE part of the country. According to the Washington Post, Putin is putting a happy face on this rout, but to me that means he’s going to implode and do something rash.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Monday that the war “will continue until the goals that have been set are achieved.” What those goals are, however, is difficult to know. Putin’s initial goal, of capturing Kyiv and topping Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, failed.
Now, Western intelligence and military analysts argue Russia is unlikely to achieve its presumed fallback goal of conquering all of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
Presuming that Putin’s goal involves being able to declare victory in some form, the messy Russian retreat from Kharkiv — what Moscow called a “regroup” — now leaves the 69-year-old president with stark and shrinking choices.
Here are his choices:
He could scale-up and announce a politically risky national mandatory military mobilization — something Peskov on Tuesday denied was even under discussion. He could grind on, plowing in poorly trained and increasingly de-motivated soldiers, and carrying out brutal artillery attacks on towns and cities to terrorize the Ukrainian population.
Or, he could escalate in some extreme fashion, as some of Putin’s fiercest critics fear, turning to chemical or even nuclear weapons.
I am worried about the last bit. Seriously worried. What could we do if he starts using tactical nuclear weapons?
*But enough of the bad news, except for a bit of bad news that’s not horrible but is still weird. I’ve written about how the Biden administration is proposing new regulations for implementing Title IX about sex discrimination, and the changes are not good, severely weaking the rights of those accused of sexual assault or harassment, and reducing the chances of a fair “trial” (violations of the law should first go to the police and courts anyway). It will also allow someone to claim to be any gender they choose, without surgery or any treatment at all, which of course has dire implications for women’s sports.
The public had a limited period to comment on the proposed changes, and that expired on September 12. But, according to the Catholic News Agency (of all places!), a “clerical error” eliminated nearly half of the 300,000+ comments:
The department told Politico reporter Bianca Quilantan it had found a “clerical error” that “boosted” the number of comments on the rule.
Regulations.gov states that the number of posted comments may be lower than the number it receives because agencies can choose “to redact or withhold certain submissions,” such as those including private information, inappropriate language, or duplications.
. . .Regardless of the disparity, the record number of comments reflects vehement concerns from parents fearing the rule will affect their children’s safety in schools or the ability of girls to play on all-girls’ sports teams.
“Allowing male[s’] entry into girls’ locker rooms, showers, and sports under the nebulous concept of ‘gender identity’ is discrimination against girls,” one commenter wrote, “a violation of [a] girl’s privacy, safety, and equal opportunity.”
I could give a rat’s patootie about bathroom issues, care a tiny bit more about shower issues, but I care more about fairness in sports and, most of all, about fair adjudication of Title IX claims in colleges. I just hope they didn’t selectively eliminate the most critical comments. (h/t GInger K.)
*Matthew sent some tweets indicating that the queue to see Queen Elizabeth in her coffin, lying in state in Westminster Hall, is VERY LONG. The queue now stretches over three miles, and moving at about 0.1 mile per hour. Some people have stood in line for 48 hours! There is no sitting or sleeping—you have to keep moving. (There are portable toilets and water on the way.) The latest updates from the BBC are here.
Here’s this morning’s tweet:
If you’re British, this is the queue you’ve been training for all your life. The final boss of queues. pic.twitter.com/5auXopBfOr
— Jof (@JofArnold) September 13, 2022
And some from yesterday afternoon:
Right, everyone. I need to be serious for a moment. Because the greatest thing that ever happened is happening right now.
I don't particularly care either way about the Queen. But the queue? The Queue is a triumph of Britishness. It's incredible.
— ❓🦎 (@curiousiguana) September 14, 2022
More from that thread:
You can read more about it at the BBC, and be sure to see the livestream video here. Here’s a shot I took at about 4:45 pm yesterday (there are several cameras that alternate). There’s also a queue tracker here, with the line at the time I took the screenshot being 2.4 miles long. You can expect to wait nearly a whole day to see the Queen, shuffling along slowly all the while, but thousands of Brits are doing it.
There is a FAQ at the BBC, for example:
What are the rules once inside?
People are asked to respect the dignity of the event, and should remain silent while inside the Palace of Westminster and dress appropriately, Anyone wearing clothes with “political or offensive slogans” will not be allowed in.
Mobile phones and other electrical devices should be turned off or put on silent mode.
Once inside Westminster Hall, the queue will be divided to pass on either side of the catafalque, which is the raised platform where the closed coffin lies.
Visitors are asked to keep moving forward at all times while in line, until they have exited into Parliament Square.
How can you pay tribute online?
There is an online book of condolence on the Royal Family website which can be accessed by clicking here.
A selection of messages will be passed on to members of the Royal Family, it says, and they may be held in the Royal Archives for posterity.
The lying-in-state ends “at 06.30 BST on Monday, 19 September, and the queue will close early to ensure as many people as possible can get in.” If the crowds continue, it have to close a day early!
*From the I Have No Clue Department. The subject: a NYT op-ed “What a young philosopher discovered more than 200 years ago about nature“. Well, of course I clicked on the piece by science and nature writer Andrea Wulf, as the title was intriguing (she has a new book out, Magnificent Rebels. The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self). But what was the big discovery?
After a long and tedious introduction, Wulf tells us it was this, supposedly hit on by Friedrich Schelling and popularized by Alexander Humboldt (a subject of another book by Wulf):
Humboldt would later describe nature as an interconnected whole where everything was entangled in what he called “a wonderful web of organic life.” Humboldt had seen these connections during his five-year expedition through South America where he encountered many Indigenous peoples who had long regarded earth as alive and interconnected. Humboldt was also the first scientist to talk about harmful human-induced climate change when he saw the environmental devastation caused by monoculture and deforestation during his explorations.
Once nature is understood as a web, its vulnerability becomes obvious. If one part is damaged, other parts might suffer, too. This concept of nature still shapes our thinking today.
We live in a world of climate emergency — from rising sea levels and torrential floods to a striking loss of biodiversity and mass human migration. This summer there have been extreme and terrifying heat waves across Europe, Asia and the Americas and devastating floods in Pakistan but also in Yellowstone, Kentucky and St. Louis.
Today, the Jena set’s ideas of unity with nature have been imbued with a new and desperate urgency. For decades scientists and activists have tried to convince us with predictions and statistics — but somehow they don’t change our behavior. Most of us understand on an intellectual level what’s at stake, but that doesn’t seem to be sufficient.
. . . The Jena set explained this deep bond between humans and nature more than 200 years ago. We are nature, and Schelling’s philosophy of oneness reminds us that we’re part of a great thumping web of life.
That’s it? Is that what the sweating author was trying to say? Well, I’m sorry to inform her that this idea wasn’t new with Schelling, nor is it essential or even contributory to our concern about climate change. For years people have been telling us not to screw with nature, and the “new and desperate urgency” has been trumpeted by people from Paul Ehrlich to Rachel Carson to other conservationists of yore. The piece is a total disappointment, perhaps meant to flog Wulf’s book
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Editor-in-Chief is feeling grumpy today (but her photo is excellent):
Hili: I’m thinking about how to prioritize my tasks today.A: What tasks?Hili: What I’m going to be appalled about first and how strongly.
Hili: Zastanawiam się jak dzisiaj ustawić moje priorytety.Ja: Jakie priorytety?Hili: Na co mam się oburzać najpierw i jak mocno.
Here are Szaron and Kulka in the hallway:
From Hilary Price’s cartoon Rhymes with Orange:
From Clear Redemption. Note, this is not Elizabeth but Princess Margaret.
She was a fan and met them several times, though once George was rude to her.
From Only Duck Memes:
The tweet of God, who is wrathful:
Just because someone else is stupid doesn't mean you're not stupid.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) September 13, 2022
It’s Masih’s birthday, and she loves her mom but is forbidden to see her. If she put one foot in Iran, she’d be as good as dead:
It’s me and my mom in my village in Iran.
How many of you haven’t seen your mom for 14 years?
It’s my birthday. I haven’t hug my mom for years. I don’t deserve this.
Jus because of having different opinion from our government, I should not be punished like this. pic.twitter.com/RyXQRGTQNr
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 13, 2022
From Ken, who says, “Considering what she was put through, I’d say Ms. Lewinsky handles herself with quite a bit of class.” (She’s reacting to the death of Ken Starr, the independent Whitewater investigator who eventually went after Bill Clinton for lying about his relations with Lewinsky, and also used the tapes of Lewinsky confiding in her friend Paula Jones.)
as i’m sure many can understand, my thoughts about ken starr bring up complicated feelings… but of more importance, is that i imagine it’s a painful loss for those who love him.
— Monica Lewinsky (she/her) (@MonicaLewinsky) September 13, 2022
From Malcom, a hungry kitty shown on Facebook:
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a boy gassed at age eleven:
15 September 1931. | A Dutch Jewish boy, Joseph Karel Vos, was born in Kempen.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 15, 2022
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. Not many people get to do this:
that's all great but did you ever liberate your own mama's village pic.twitter.com/wnZK97Mr72
— jabuttee – luxurious memes and takes (@jabuttee) September 13, 2022
Britain continues to mourn:
Remember: it’s disrespectful to be aware of guinea pigs this week. pic.twitter.com/ZEB5ZNqTUq
— GrieveWatch (@GrieveWatch) September 13, 2022
And what could be cuter than a friendship between a kitten and a duck?
— World birds (@worldbirds32) September 13, 2022