Greetings on Sunday, September 18, 2022, and National Cheeseburger Day.
It’s also Rice Krispies Treats Day (I love ’em!), Wife Appreciation Day, World Bamboo Day, National Women’s Friendship Day, National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day ,World Water Monitoring Day, and First Love Day (here’s to Devan Powell, my fellow safety guard in the sixth grade, to whom I passed a note—reading something like “I like you”— when I was twelve).
Stuff that happened on September 18 includes:
- 1066 – Norwegian king Harald Hardrada lands with Tostig Godwinson at the mouth of the Humber River and begins his invasion of England.
Hardrada’s invasion involved 300 longships and 10,000 men. He successfully raided the coast and defeated the English at Battle of Fulford near York on 20 September 1066. Five days later, though, he was defeated, killed, and most of his forces wiped out in the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066. Wikipedia notes that Harald’s death is marked as the beginning of the end of the “Viking Age.” Here’s a rendition of that last battle painted in 1870 by Peter Nicolai Arbo:
From a mural by Allyn Cox; GW is wearing the hat. Not very arduous work!
- 1809 – The Royal Opera House in London opens.
- 1851 – First publication of The New-York Daily Times, which later becomes The New York Times.
First page on the first day. Now it’s the best paper in the U.S. but is polluted by the infusion of ideology into its reporting:
I’ve never seen this but would like to. Old Faithful erupts!
- 1914 – The Irish Home Rule Act becomes law, but is delayed until after World War I.
- 1939 – World War II: The radio show Germany Calling begins transmitting Nazi propaganda.
Here’s 75 minutes of “Germany Calling” with Lord Haw-Haw, the name used for at least five people who broadcast Nazi propaganda in English. The most famous was William Joyce, executed for treason in 1948 (the last such execution). This version is by Joyce; note that he says “Germany calling” at the beginning (0:21).
The legend that many non-Jewish danes donned the yellow Star of David to show solidarity with their Jewish countrymen is untrue, for Danish Jews didn’t have to wear that insignia. But Denmark, more than any other European country, did protect its Jews. Wikipedia notes that very few were sent to the camps:
In 1943, the situation came to a head when Werner Best, the German plenipotentiary in Denmark, ordered the arrest and deportation of all Danish Jews, scheduled to commence on October 1, which coincided with Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish Danes were warned and only 202 were arrested initially. 7,550 fled to Sweden, ferried across the Øresund strait; 500 Jews were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Danish authorities often interceded on their behalf (as they did for other Danes in German custody), sending food. Of the 500 Jews who were captured, approximately 50 died during deportation. Danes rescued the rest and they returned to Denmark in what was regarded as a patriotic duty against the Nazi occupation. Many non-Jewish Danes protected their Jewish neighbours’ property and homes while they were gone. After the war, many Danish Jews migrated to Sweden, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith of Maine becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate without completing another senator’s term.
Smith replaced her sick husband in a special election, but then was elected to her own term. After 7 years in the House, Smith was elected to the Senate, where she served until 1972. Here are two famous women politicos with moderator Stuart Novins on the television show “Face the Nation” (1956). They were the first women to ever appear on the show. (Surely you recognize the woman on the left!) Note that Smith, on the right, is wearing a single red rose, her emblem. (Can you name another head of state famous for wearing a red rose? Answer below the fold.) She was in fact responsible for getting the rose adopted as the National Flower.
Here’s that photo from NASA, taken from 7.25 million miles away: the first picture of the Earth and Moon in a single frame:
Voyager also took the famous “Pale Blue Dot” photo of Earth from 6 billion kilometers away. The Earth was less than a pixel of the photo; here it is enlarged. Sagan of course used that to show how trivial human pursuits were when seen on a cosmic scale, and it was Sagan himself who requested that the picture be taken.
- 2001 – First mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
- 2014 – Scotland votes against independence from the United Kingdom, by 55% to 45%.
*Ukraine is still advancing in its northeast, reclaiming territory captured by Russia, but Russia is holding on or even advancing in the south of the country. During the past few days, the leaders of both India and China have both given Putin intimations that “now is not the time for war”. But that won’t stop the rapacious Russian madman. who has threatened to escalate the campaign while at the same time saying from the other side of his mouth that his war aims are limited:
In a news conference Friday after the summit of Asian leaders, Mr. Putin described recent Russian cruise missile attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure as “warning strikes” that could portend an even more vicious campaign.
At the same time — apparently mindful of the unease among key partners like China and India — Mr. Putin insisted that he was ready for talks without naming any preconditions and that his war aims did not necessarily extend to all of Ukraine. He made no mention on Friday of the broader goals of “demilitarizing” and “denazifying” Ukraine that he announced when he started the war in February — terms that were widely seen as Mr. Putin declaring his intention to achieve political control over the entire country.
He said that the “main goal” of his invasion was limited to capturing the Donbas. . .
And what could he do. The worst fear is tactical nukes, of course, or even attacks on supporting NATO countries:
But Mr. Putin claimed that Ukraine was attempting to carry out “terrorist acts” inside Russia and that Moscow was poised to retaliate.
“We are, indeed, responding rather restrainedly, but that’s for the time being,” Mr. Putin said. “If the situation continues to develop in this way, the answer will be more serious.”
. . . Yet Mr. Putin has repeatedly warned that Russia’s assault could still intensify — a threat now weighing on American officials, who believe Mr. Putin could increase the size of Russia’s forces deployed to Ukraine or could mount attacks against the NATO countries providing Ukraine with arms. The officials also say Russia could mount a new push in Ukraine’s east or south, or step up a campaign to target the Ukrainian leadership.
A “general mobilization”—a draft of Russians—seems unlikely, but Putin is capable of anything when his back is against the wall, and when erstwhile friendly countries begin to chew him out.
*Let nobody say that Ukrainian President Zelensky doesn’t press the West as hard as he can to get weapons, money, or anything his country can use against the Russians. This time, though, he asked Biden for very powerful weapons, and Biden apparently didn’t agree.
Flush with success in northeast Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky is pressing President Biden for a new and more powerful weapon: a missile system with a range of 190 miles, which could reach far into Russian territory.
Mr. Zelensky insists to U.S. officials that he has no intention of striking Russian cities or aiming at civilian targets, even though President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces have hit apartment blocks, theaters and hospitals in Ukraine throughout the war. The weapon, Mr. Zelensky says, is critical to launching a wider counteroffensive, perhaps early next year.
Mr. Biden is resisting, in part because he is convinced that over the past seven months, he has successfully signaled to Mr. Putin that he does not want a broader war with the Russians — he just wants them to get out of Ukraine.
A shipment of long-range guided missiles, which could also give Ukraine new options for striking Crimea, the territory Russia annexed in 2014, would likely be seen by Moscow as a major provocation, Mr. Biden has concluded.
“We’re trying to avoid World War III,” Mr. Biden often reminds his aides, echoing a statement he has made publicly as well.
What Zelensky wants in particular is the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which can be fired from the HIMARS launchers that we’ve already given the Ukraine. Those can fire six smaller rockets or one big ATACMS one. Biden’s doing a difficult balancing act here: trying to help Ukraine win, but not goad Putin into a serious escalation. And I have to give him kudos. He may be a bit too woke for my taste, but Biden has handled the Ukraine/Russia conflict like a pro, and that including getting all the NATO states in line with us—and recruiting two new countries into the alliance.
*The recession I think will strike (not just the U.S.!) keeps creeping forward, and people are starting to get worried as the markets plunge, governments keep raising interest rates, and yet prices aren’t falling. As the Washington Post reports:
The Fed and other central banks are tightening credit to fight historically high inflation even as three of the world’s main economic engines — the United States, Europe and China — are sputtering. With the United States and other governments also reducing spending on pandemic relief measures, the global economy is getting less support from policymakers than at almost any time in 50 years, the World Bank said on Thursday in a new report that warned of rising global recession risks.“I see a bumpy path ahead,” said Daleep Singh, chief global economist for PGIM Fixed Income. “We’re in a world in which the shocks are going to keep coming.”
Central banks, meanwhile, are engaged in the most aggressive campaign of rate increases since the late 1990s, according to Citigroup. This month, central banks in Europe, Canada, Australia and Chile have hiked rates, and the Fed is expected to do so for the fifth time since March at its meeting next week.
Some economists fear that the world’s central bankers are misreading the global economy in their rush to raise rates, just as they did — in the opposite way — last year when they insisted inflation would prove temporary and resisted acting. The cumulative effects of multiple countries tightening credit at the same time could strangle global growth.
*About Time Department. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Biden Administration, in another laudable action, is quietly moving to close the detention facilities in Guantanamo, which have been there for two decades. Only 36 of the 700-detainees still remain, and because it’s not in the U.S., they don’t have to obey U.S. rules about speedy trials and the like. That’s a travesty, no matter how odious the crimes of the detainees are said to have been. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Biden administration is revamping its effort to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, for the first time appointing a senior diplomat to oversee detainee transfers and signaling it won’t interfere with plea negotiations that could resolve the long-stalled prosecution of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants.
These negotiations would involve the five defendants (all accused or organizing the 9/11 attacks) admitting guilt in return for the government promising not to execute them. (They’ll be imprisoned without parole).
After taking a low-profile approach to the matter for the first year of his term to avoid political controversy, President Biden is moving closer to fulfilling a campaign promise to shut the facility, people familiar with the matter said.
The facility at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba was set up in January 2002 to house alleged foreign terrorists captured overseas. Guantanamo has held nearly 800 men since then; only 36 detainees remain at the facility today, after hundreds were returned home or resettled in third countries by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. The newest detainee arrived in 2008; some of the men have been held for two decades.
Nine of the remaining detainees are defendants in military commission proceedings, including five accused of conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft, and terrorism in the Sept. 11 case.
This is reprehensible:
Four detainees are being held indefinitely without charge because authorities consider them a security risk. Twenty others have been cleared for transfer by a review board including defense, intelligence and law-enforcement officials, but moving the men out has proven harder than the Biden team expected, the people said.
Some critics of the Biden administration’s action on closing the prison, both within and outside the administration, say newer crises have been occupying the national security staff, and the potential for being branded soft-on-terrorism has slowed the administration’s efforts, they say.
You can’t hold someone indefinitely without charges on American soil, and on that soil those charged have the right to a speedy trial. Screw the “soft on terrorism” fears; these are human beings (even if horrible ones) and deserve to be treated like other accused people. I’ll be glad to see Gitmo go.
*Finally, there’s good news tonight. The Ig Nobel prizes have been awarded again, and, as I mentioned recently, the physics prize went to two groups who figured out why ducks swim in a line behind their mother. The AP summarizes some other prizes and gives a link:
The sex lives of constipated scorpions, cute ducklings with an innate sense of physics, and a life-size rubber moose may not appear to have much in common, but they all inspired the winners of this year’s Ig Nobels, the prize for comical scientific achievement.
Held less than a month before the actual Nobel Prizes are announced, Thursday’s 32nd annual Ig Nobel prize ceremony was for the third year in a row a prerecorded affair webcast on the Annals of Improbable Research magazine’s website.
The winners, honored in 10 categories, also included scientists who found that when people on a blind date are attracted to each other, their heart rates synchronize, and researchers who looked at why legal documents can be so utterly baffling, even to lawyers themselves.
Even though the ceremony was prerecorded, it retained much of the fun of the live event usually held at Harvard University.
As has been an Ig Nobel tradition, real Nobel laureates handed out the prizes, using a bit of video trickery: The Nobel laureates handed the prize off screen, while the winners reached out and brought a prize they had been sent and self-assembled into view.
Winners also received a virtually worthless Zimbabwean $10 trillion bill.
Here’s the list of winners, and the entire ceremony is in the 1.5 hour video below.
But first let’s see the actual prize, which includes that $10 bill:
The ceremony, should you wish to see it. But don’t miss the Physics Prize for studies of duck swimming beginning at 56:17!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are both sleeping on MY SOFA. I will join them soon, as I’m going to Dobrzyn for the Christmas holidays and my birthday. My dream is to get them both sleeping with me on the couch. As you see, Hili isn’t keen on having a couchmate:
A: May I sit here as well?Hili: Buy yourself your own sofa.
Ja: Czy ja też mogę tu usiąść?Hili: Kup sobie własną sofę.
From Facebook via Malcolm:
Also from Malcolm:
Okay, answer this question from Tom Holland Fans:
God has finally spoken on the misogyny of Islam in Iran. (Note: He follows just one person on Twitter. Go look.)
Any government threatened by a woman not wearing a hijab is a government of teeny, tiny men.#MahsaAmini
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) September 16, 2022
. . . and a crowd of brave Iranian women protesting the killing of Mahsa Amini, beaten to death by the morality police for wearing her hijab “wrong”.
Women of Iran-Saghez removed their headscarves in protest against the murder of Mahsa Amini 22 Yr old woman by hijab police and chanting:
death to dictator!
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 17, 2022
From Titania. I still can’t get over this story, which seems to be true but is almost impossible to believe.
I see the usual bigots are body-shaming this inspiring schoolteacher.
It doesn’t matter if the breasts are “prosthetic”. They are her truth and should be celebrated. https://t.co/OBAfpNep7m
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 16, 2022
A tweet from Erik. Go to the site to see more excellent art by Desportes, who loved to paint pictures of cats stealing food.
One of my favorite sub-genres of art is Cats Stealing Food in Still Life Paintings. It’s so wonderfully disrespectful. So here is a thread celebrating the need for snacks triumphing over art. First, Still Life with Cat. Alexandre-Francois Desportes, 1705. https://t.co/pvPWJOYuZj pic.twitter.com/dGtRqaB62V
— Cats of Yore (@CatsOfYore) September 14, 2022
I don’t know if this is real, but it’s hilarious.
It's funny because it's true.😹 pic.twitter.com/cOmklvUs0J
— Really American 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) September 16, 2022
I couldn’t find that tweet in Ménard’s Twitter feed, but I think it was real because she later issued this one:
I feel bad dunking on Zelda when she's not even on Twitter to defend herself. Here's some bump cuddling pics. pic.twitter.com/4s7ja19pnB
— Dr. Dana Ménard (@Shufflersunite) September 14, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: An infant gassed at eight months of age:
17 September 1943 | A Hungarian Jewish, girl Gyurika Fried, was born in Nagyvarad
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 17, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. This one, as you may know, is a parody of a famous poem by William Carlos Williams.
This is just to say
I have binned ⁰the plums ⁰that were in ⁰the icebox
and which ⁰you you had forgotten about ⁰when you went on holiday
Forgive me ⁰but sweet Jesus
what the fuck. pic.twitter.com/Bwrpj0kzcc
— Michael Moran (@TheMichaelMoran) September 17, 2022
Gloriana, the royal barge, with a photo of it in action below (this is during Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012):
The Gloriana royal barge pic.twitter.com/caQzn8nAWV
— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) September 17, 2022
Matthew got a terrific review of his latest book in The Times. If you click on the tweet, you can enlarge it enough to read it. There’s one in New Scientist that is paywalled, but Matthew says it’s just a summary of the book with no judgment save saying it’s “disturbing and readable”. Finally, there’s one in the paper edition of the Mail on Sunday (below) which isn’t online but says the book is “The ideal guide to what is not just a fiendishly complex area of science but also an ethical minefield.” Indeed! I read it (and made a few suggestions in draft) and it’s well worth reading. Links to Amazon UK and US sites for purchase are below.
Congrats, Dr. Cobb!
Click on tweet and then on review to read:
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) September 17, 2022
From the Mail on Sunday, click to read.
UK edition (purchase here):
U.S. edition (different title, same book); out Nov. 15. Purchase here.
Next up (in a couple of years), Matthew’s biography of Francis Crick.
Now, which head of state always wore a rose in his (yes, a man) lapel. Click “read more” to find out.
It was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, political activist and Prime Minister of India for 16 years. The sad story of the rose is here.