Well, it’s back to work on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, June 20, 2023, and tomorrow at 9:57 a.m. is the Summer Solstice. Today’s food holiday is National Vanilla Milkshake Day, the blandest of all shakes. If you must have one, gussy it up like this:
But what is Kouign Amann? It’s this:
. . . a sweet Breton cake, made with laminated dough. It is a round multi-layered cake, originally made with bread dough (nowadays sometimes viennoiserie dough), containing layers of butter and incorporated sugar, similar in fashion to puff pastry, albeit with fewer layers. The cake is slowly baked until the sugar caramelizes and the butter (in fact the steam from the 20 percent water in the butter) expands the dough, resulting in its layered structure. A smaller version, kouignette, is similar to a muffin-shaped, caramelized croissant.
The name comes from the Breton language words for cake (kouign) and butter (amann), and in 2011 the New York Times described the kouign-amann as “the fattiest pastry in all of Europe.
That’s it! I want one now! How well it would go with my latte. Here’s the full-sized cake:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 20 Wikipedia page.
There’s a Google Doodle again today; if you click on the screenshot below, you’ll go to the search page honoring Magdalena Abakanowicz, a Polish artist born on this day in 1930 (died April 20, 2017).
Here’s one of her last projects, which sits in our city’s Grant Park. Wikipedia notes:
Abakanowicz’s final round of work includes a project called Agora, which is a permanent installation located at the southern end of Chicago’s Grant Park, next to the Roosevelt Road Metra station. It consists of 106 cast iron figures, each about nine feet tall. All the figures are similar in shape, but different in details. The artist and her three assistants created models for each figure by hand, and the casting took place from 2004 to 2006. The surface of each figure resembles a tree bark or wrinkled skin. The work creates a feeling of crowdedness, hence the name “agora”. Furthermore, all the bodies end at the torso, giving them an eerie, anonymous look.
Here it is:
And the artist:
Wine of the Day: Ah, when I first started getting into wine around 1981, German Rieslings, even of world class, were dirt cheap (so were good Bordeaux). As Don Henley wrote, “Those days are gone forever; I should just let ’em go.”
German wines of distinction are graded by sweetness, from the driest, Kabinetts (this one), through grapes pressed with increasing ripeness and hence sugar: Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, and the sweet rarity Trockenbeerenauslese. But even within a grade the sweetness can vary.
This $24 beauty was sweeter than most Kabinetts: not distinctly sweet, but certainly off-dry. And that complemented perfectly a healthy meal of tangy goat cheese, a baguette, ripe tomatoes, and brined, wrinkled black olives in olive oil. (This is my go-to dinner when I don’t want to cook.) The wine, four years old, was at peak drinkability, starting to get darker but not yellow, with a floral perfume of lime blossoms, and very fresh, best when it was right out of the fridge. It was light in alcohol (see below) but long on flavor, and I get to have the other half-bottle tonight (I’m writing on Monday afternoon.
It wasn’t cheap but it was worth every penny. Investigate German rieslings if you want a change, and realize that their sweetness can sometimes be a perfect match for food.
There aren’t many reviews online. One of them, on the site of my old wine guru Robert Parker, gave it a 94/100 and said this:
“The 2019 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett is bright, precise and elegant on the complex, refined, beautifully clear and flinty nose. Lush, refined and salty-piquant on the palate, this is a salty, crunchy and stimulating Kabinett with a long and intense finish. Bottled with 9.5% alcohol and 60 grams of residual sugar. Tasted at the domain in September 2020. (Stephan Reinhardt)”
*According to The Washington Post, the FBI and other agents of The Law didn’t decide to start investigating the January 6, 2001 insurrection as a crime until a year after it took place.
In the two months since the siege, federal agents had conducted 709 searches, charged 278 rioters and identified 885 likely suspects, said Michael R. Sherwin, then-acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, ticking through a slide presentation. Garland and some of his deputies nodded approvingly at the stats, and the new attorney general called the progress “remarkable,” according to people in the room.
A Washington Post investigation found that more than a year would pass before prosecutors and FBI agents jointly embarked on a formal probe of actions directed from the White House to try to steal the election. Even then, the FBI stopped short of identifying the former president as a focus of that investigation.
A wariness about appearing partisan, institutional caution, and clashes over how much evidence was sufficient to investigate the actions of Trump and those around him all contributed to the slow pace. Garland and the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, charted a cautious course aimed at restoring public trust in the department while some prosecutors below them chafed, feeling top officials were shying away from looking at evidence of potential crimes by Trump and those close to him, The Post found.
. . . Whether a decision about Trump’s culpability for Jan. 6 could have come any earlier is unclear. The delays in examining that question began before Garland was even confirmed. Sherwin, senior Justice Department officials and Paul Abbate, the top deputy to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, quashed a plan by prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office to directly investigate Trump associates for any links to the riot, deeming it premature, according to five individuals familiar with the decision. Instead, they insisted on a methodical approach — focusing first on rioters and going up the ladder.
Well, I think they’ve reached the top of the ladder now.
*William Barr, former Attorney General under Bush père and Trump, and who said that the Florida document charges would make Trump “toast,” has a new piece in the Free Press called “The truth about the Trump indictment.” (Its subtitle is “This time the president is not a victim of a witch hunt. The situation is entirely of his own making.”)
For the sake of the country, our party, and a basic respect for the truth, it is time that Republicans come to grips with the hard truths about President Trump’s conduct and its implications. Chief among them: Trump’s indictment is not the result of unfair government persecution. This is a situation entirely of his own making. The effort to present Trump as a victim in the Mar-a-Lago document affair is cynical political propaganda.
Barr then gives the “plain facts,” which include these:
Some have tried to frame this affair as a simple custody dispute over documents. Trump’s apologists have conjured up bizarre arguments that the Presidential Records Act, a statute meant to prohibit former presidents from removing official documents from the White House, should be interpreted as giving Trump carte blanche to remove whatever he wants, even if it is unquestionably an official document.
These justifications are not only farcical, they are beside the point. They ignore the central reason the former president was indicted: his calculated and deceitful obstruction of a grand jury subpoena.
That Trump had no right to remove national defense documents from the White House is beyond debate. These documents are the very quintessence of the materials that the law expressly forbids an outgoing president from taking with him.
. . . All the razzle-dazzle about Trump’s supposed rights under the Presidential Records Act is a sideshow. At its core, this is an obstruction case. Trump would not have been indicted just for taking the documents in the first place. Nor would he have been indicted even if he delayed returning them for a period while arguing about it.
What got Trump criminally charged was his deceit and obstruction in responding to the grand jury subpoena served in May 2022 after he had stymied the government for a year.
. . .Even if you buy the double standard argument, at most it justifies not holding Trump accountable criminally. It does not mean that his conduct was any less outrageous. And here is where I think too many Republicans are falling down.
It is one thing to argue that Trump should not face criminal liability. Fine. But the next obvious question is whether, given his conduct, the GOP should continue to promote him for the highest office in the land. Many Republicans are avoiding this question and thus implicitly endorsing Trump for the presidency despite his egregious conduct. This posture is untenable.
. . . Many loyal Republicans have instinctively rushed to the ramparts to defend Trump. I understand that impulse. But with each new revelation, they look more and more foolish. Remember when news first broke of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago? The roars of Trump supporters were deafening. “Why didn’t the government simply ask for the documents back?” Well, as it turns out, they did ask, politely, for about a year, and they were jerked around. Trump’s supporters then shifted tack. “Well, why didn’t they use a subpoena first before conducting a search?” Well, as it turns out, they did issue a subpoena, quietly and discreetly, three months before the search, and the search was done only after the government got surveillance video suggesting that, in responding to the subpoena, documents had been illegally withheld. And on and on and on.
Whenever defending Trump is concerned, it is always prudent not to get too far out on a limb until the facts are known. It would be wise to consider that the DOJ has held back a lot of information, and it will be coming out in the weeks ahead. But what we already know about Trump’s behavior is indefensible.
I can’t do anything but agree.
*A submersible vehicle that carries passengers down to look at the wreck of the Titanic has vanished.
A submersible craft carrying five people in the area of the Titanic wreck in the North Atlantic has been missing since Sunday, setting off a search-and-rescue operation by the U.S. Coast Guard, the agency said.
The Coast Guard confirmed Monday that it was searching for the vessel after the Canadian research ship MV Polar Prince lost contact with a submersible during a dive about 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass., on Sunday morning.
The submersible is operated by OceanGate Expeditions, a company that offers tours of shipwrecks and underwater canyons. It said on its website that an expedition was “currently underway.”
“Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families,” a statement said. “We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible.”
Hamish Harding, the chairman of the aviation company Action Aviation, is among those aboard the missing submersible, according to Mark Butler, the company’s managing director. Mr. Harding wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday that a dive had been planned for Sunday: “A weather window has just opened up,” he wrote.
Given that the Coast Guard doesn’t have the right equipment for a proper search in this area, and that the ship is 12,500 feet down, it’s a dire situation. But it’s self-propelled and could just be lost. It’s just a day since the loss, so cross your fingers. By the way, passengers pay $250,000 for the dive.
*The Associated Press recounts all the carnage that occurred during this holiday weekend (it’s Juneteenth), and it’s especially bad. The greatest number of victims (all but one will survive) was in a suburb of Chicago. And the weekend isn’t over yet (it’s late Monday afternoon):
Another four men were shot, one fatally, during an altercation in a garage in the West Side neighborhood of Austin around 3 a.m. Sunday, police said. Five others including a teenage girl were shot early Saturday near Lincoln Park Zoo, and two dozen more were shot in other incidents since Friday evening, city data shows.
Meanwhile in the suburbs, at least 23 people were shot, one fatally, early Sunday in a parking lot where hundreds of people had gathered to celebrate Juneteenth, authorities said.
The DuPage County sheriff’s office described a “peaceful gathering” that suddenly turned violent as multiple people fired shots into the crowd in Willowbrook, Illinois, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.
A motive wasn’t immediately known. Sheriff’s spokesman Robert Carroll said authorities were interviewing “persons of interest,” the Daily Herald reported.
That’s 4 dead and 28 wounded in our area, and probably a few more to go. And this is just over two days. The summary? Here’s our “celebration,” but they don’t give a nationwide total.
Mass shootings and violence killed and wounded people across the United States this weekend, including at least 60 shot in the Chicago area alone. Four people were found shot to death in a small Idaho town, a Pennsylvania state trooper was killed in an ambush, and bullets struck 11 teenagers, killing one, at a party in Missouri.
The shootings happened in cities and rural areas alike, following a surge in homicides and other violence over the past several years that accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic. Officers responded to mass shootings in Washington state, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Southern California and Baltimore.
“There’s no question there’s been a spike in violence,” said Daniel Nagin, a professor of public policy and statistics at Carnegie Mellon University. “Some of these cases seem to be just disputes, often among adolescents, and those disputes are played out with firearms, not with fists.”
Researchers disagree over the cause. Theories include the possibility that violence is driven by the prevalence of guns in America, or by less aggressive police tactics or a decline in prosecutions for misdemeanor weapon offenses, Nagin said.
Only the Idaho killings fit the definition of a mass killing in which four or more people die, not including the shooter. However, the number of injured in most of the weekend cases matches the widely accepted definition for mass shootings.
I don’t know where they got the “at least 60 shot in Chicago” part, but so it goes. Other countries are aghast at this carnage, and of course everybody says nothing can be done about it, even if we take away all the handguns.
*An Ecuadorian woman came back to life after she was declared dead, and the discovery that she wasn’t dead occurred during her wake. Sadly, she died again
About five hours into the wake, which was held the same day, her son started to hear noises coming from the coffin.
“The coffin started to make sounds,” Gilberto Barbera told the Associated Press. He said his mother was “wrapped in sheets and hitting the coffin.”
. . .But the apparent resurrection did not mean the 76-year-old former nurse had suddenly made a miraculous recovery. Video of the episode showed Montoya being lifted out of the coffin onto a stretcher, with her hospital bracelet still looped around her arm. She was transported back to the hospital in critical condition.
After a week in an intensive care unit, Montoya was declared dead Friday, Ecuador’s Public Health Ministry said in a statement. She experienced an “ischemic cerebrovascular event,” the ministry said, which involves the restriction of blood flow to the brain.
This is a nightmare on top of another nightmare. The dead coming back to life in their coffins! It would have been better had she stayed alive after she was taken back to the hospital. Ceiling Cat works in mysterious ways.
Finally, to cheer you up, here’s a short but mirthful video:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili left a cool spot to go roaming:
Hili: I’m leaving this shady place to move to another one.A: It’s cooler onside.Hili: But it’s nicer here.
Hili: Wyszłam z cienia, ale chyba poszukam innego.Ja: W domu jest chłodno.Hili: Ale tu jest milej.
From the Aburd Sign Project:
From Pet Jokes and Puns:
More heartening video from Masih (there’s sound, including what seems like duck noise!)
This is one of the brave girls of Iran who continues the fight against the clerical regime and ruling mullahs. Writing on the wall, she is inviting people to continue to strike and protest. The Islamic Republic has no chance against the young generation…especially the brave… pic.twitter.com/IOAGsvPj9s
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) June 19, 2023
From Barry, a new religious app:
— chocolate chip😁🖖🏼🏳️🌈🟧🥂🟦 (@cannoli1000) June 19, 2023
From Bsrry, a good one:
— Dr. Roger 😷 Freedman 🇺🇦 🥑 (@RogerFreedman) June 17, 2023
From Elon Musk. Oy, that stings!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 18, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Czech woman who died in the camp at 48.
20 June 1895 | A Czech Jewish woman, Anna Kleinerová, was born in Prostějov.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 20, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who’s finally back in Manchester, and feeling low:
The most depressing graph I know. None of those meetings and reports has made the slightest difference. We need real action. pic.twitter.com/JhNPhk9YZ0
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) June 19, 2023
Yes, this is a worm, seen in a deep-sea dive:
— Kathy Degner (@CaliKatBird) June 17, 2023
From Ziya Tong via Matthew. Much animal sex is fascinating: check out the way that bedbugs have sex in the video below:
I mean, stick insect sex is really fascinating.
— Earthling / 🦣: journa.host/@ziya (@ziyatong) June 19, 2023