Welcme to Cat Sabbath: Saturday, April 16, 2022: it’s Passover, too, so all the cats get gefilte fish! It’s also National Eggs Benedict Day—a dish that Anthony Bourdain said never to order (he despised brunch) because it, and most of brunch, is made up of leftovers.
Stuff that happened on April 16 includes:
- 73 – Masada, a Jewish fortress, falls to the Romans after several months of siege, ending the First Jewish–Roman War.
Below are the remains of Masada (a World Heritage site), and the legend goes that the siege ended because the remaining Jews all killed themselves. This is what I believed for years, but now I learn that it might not be true.
- 1881 – In Dodge City, Kansas, Bat Masterson fights his last gun battle.
- 1912 – Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly an airplane across the English Channel.
Quimby (below) was the first woman to get a pilot’s license in the U.S., and died in an airplane crash at 37. If this picture from Wikipedia shows her in her flying clothes, those are some pretty fancy duds!
- 1919 – Mohandas Gandhi organizes a day of “prayer and fasting” in response to the killing of Indian protesters in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by the British colonial troops three days earlier.
That massacre, a despicable and bloodthirsty attack of the British Army, is vividly depicted in the movie “Gandhi” (below). Estimates of the killings range between 379 to 1500 victims—or more. 120 dead were pulled out of the well you see.
As for General Dyer, he was removed from duty, but remained a hero to many Brits who hated Indians.
Gandhi in 1918:
- 1943 – Albert Hofmann accidentally discovers the hallucinogenic effects of the research drug LSD. He intentionally takes the drug three days later on April 19.
He was a very strait-laced man to have discovered this drug, but so it goes:
- 1945 – World War II: The Red Army begins the final assault on German forces around Berlin, with nearly one million troops fighting in the Battle of the Seelow Heights.
- 1947 – Bernard Baruch first applies the term “Cold War” to describe the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
- 1961 – In a nationally broadcast speech, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declares that he is a Marxist–Leninist and that Cuba is going to adopt Communism.
- 1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pens his Letter from Birmingham Jail while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting against segregation.
You can read that famous letter here.
Here’s the last three minutes of Jordan’s last game. Sadly, he didn’t do that well and the Bulls lost, but what a career the man had. I’m sad that I never saw him play.
- 2012 – The trial for Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, begins in Oslo, Norway.
Breivick killed 77 people and got the maximum sentence: 21 years in jail. But it can be extended indefinitely in increments if the prisoner isn’t deemed safe to release, and I suspect that Breivik will be in for life. This is one reason:
- 2012 – The Pulitzer Prize winners were announced, it was the first time since 1977 that no book won the Fiction Prize.
There was no prize given for International Reporting, either.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1844 – Anatole France, French journalist, novelist, and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1924)
- 1867 – Wilbur Wright, American inventor (d. 1912)
- 1918 – Spike Milligan, Irish actor, comedian, and writer (d. 2002)
- 1939 – Dusty Springfield, English singer and record producer (d. 1999)
- 1971 – Selena, American singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion designer (d. 1995).
Here’s Selena Quintanilla Pérez , live in Houston and singing a disco medley. Wildly popular, she was shot at just 23.
Those who became extinct on April 16 include:
- 1828 – Francisco Goya, Spanish-French painter and illustrator (b. 1746)
- 1958 – Rosalind Franklin, English biophysicist and academic (b. 1920)
One of Franklin’s favorite hobbies was trekking; here she is on a hike in the Alps:
What can you say about a man who directed The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and Doctor Zhivago (1965), all of them epics and all of them terrific (Lawrence of Arabia isthe best)? I know the second two movies almost by heart. I looked at a number of clip from Zhivago (I’ve seen Lawrence too many times), and decided to put this one up. (The “wife” of Strelnekov turns out to be Lara, with whom Zhivago has an affair.) I think Strelnekov is modeled on Trotsky. The best of these movies is Lawrence, but they’re all good.
- 1994 – Ralph Ellison, American novelist and critic (b. 1913)
Here’s a short documentary on Ellison, who wrote one good novel (“Invisible Man”), but it’s a doozy:
*There is no banner headline in the NYT today, but here’s the upper-left corner headline—the most important. And it’s not good news. Click on screenshot to read:
Here’s the NYT’s news summary:
A large explosion rocked Kyiv early Saturday, and the Ukrainians claimed to have shot down missiles aimed at Odesa in the south and Lviv in the west — a reminder that even as Russia prepares for a large-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine, it can still strike targets across the country.
The targeting of military-related facilities across Ukraine with precision munitions came as Russia continued to move equipment and forces into position for a renewed offensive. The moves appeared to be aimed at degrading the Ukrainians’ military capabilities in advance of the anticipated assault, which military analysts have warned could be both long and bloody.
I still think that the whole country, and not just the eastern bit, will be taken over by Russia. Putin is desperate and has tactical nukes, and is now threatening the U.S. if we keep giving weapons to Ukraine. My fingers are crossed. But in his latest Substack column, Andrew Sullivan proposes his own peace solution, which I don’t like:
How does this unwind itself without a more widespread catastrophe? The key, it seems to me, is to keep our focus on a feasible settlement: a pledge never to admit Ukraine to NATO, a referendum — conducted by international bodies — in the two eastern provinces to determine their future in Russia or Ukraine, and a guarantee of Ukraine’s neutrality. But we are fast walking backwards into something far larger: a Western attempt for regime change in Russia, with Ukraine as the lever. That could make the war truly existential for Russia. Which means, with a nuclear power, truly existential for the world as well.
Worried about a much wider war, Sullivan is urging Ukraine to promise not to join NATO and to hold elections that could (and would, given Russian perfidy) hand over much of eastern Ukraine to Russia.
*In other news, the U.S. is now convinced that the Russian cruiser Moskva was indeed sunk by Ukrainian missiles, and there is much rejoicing, which I share. But remember that people are starving in Mariupol and the body count of Ukrainians will be rising fast–and soon. There is really not much to celebrate. The governor of Donestsk pronounced that Mariupol “has been wiped off the face of the earth”.
*Elon Musk has been trying to effect a hostile takeover of Twitter, though I’m not sure what changes he proposes to make. At any rate, according to the Wall Street Journal, Twitter is fighting back:
The company on Friday adopted a so-called poison pill that makes it difficult for Mr. Musk to increase his stake beyond 15%. The billionaire founder of Tesla Inc. TSLA -3.66% ▼ already owns a more-than 9% stake that he revealed earlier this month.
PayPal Chief Executive Peter Thiel, left, and founder Elon Musk, right, pose with the PayPal logo in 2000.PHOTO: PAUL SAKUMA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Poison pills, also called shareholder-rights plans, are legal maneuvers that make it hard for shareholders to build their stakes beyond a set point by triggering an option for others to buy more shares at a discount. They are often used by companies that receive hostile takeover bids to block an unwanted suitor or buy time to consider their options.
Twitter said in a statement that the rights plan doesn’t prevent the company from engaging with potential acquirers or accepting a takeover bid if the board determines it is in the best interest of shareholders. It earlier confirmed it received Mr. Musk’s offer and is rewriting it.
As long as Musk doesn’t ban cat tweets, I’m not overly concerned.
*Talk about the demonization of the godless! CNN reports that a Nigerian atheist pleaded guilty to blasphemy in the neighboring state of Kano, and was sentenced to 24 years in jail (both countries are majority Muslim). (h/t Paul)
Charges against Mubarak Bala are linked to comments he posted on Facebook in April 2020 that were critical of Islam and which authorities in Kano considered blasphemous and an insult to the religion, his lawyer said.
Bala, who heads the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested at his home in the northern Kaduna state two years ago and was then moved to neighbouring Kano, a majority Muslim and conservative state.
*The Guardian reports that, due to the paucity of chemicals needed for lethal injections (drug companies won’t sell them to prisons), firing squads are making a comeback. (h/t Steve)
On Thursday, South Carolina scheduled the execution of Richard Moore – convicted of murder in a 2001 convenience story robbery – for 29 April. Because state officials say they have not been able to secure lethal injection drugs, they will give him the choice between the electric chair and the firing squad.
Man, there’s no choice there: take the firing squad! Or better yet, have them shoot you in the back of the head with a single bullet. But of course all this is pilpul because I’m adamantly opposed to capital punishment.
Until now, Utah was the only state still using firing squads, and the last execution was in 2010.
This all comes from a recent Supreme Court decision that “if prisoners want to fight an execution method, they need to propose a ‘known and available’ alternative in court.” They thus become complicit in their own death.
It is true that if you’re going to kill someone painlessly, either give them pure barbiturate, as they do with assisted suicide in Switzerland, or shoot them, which often kills them more quickly than does lethal injection. But no form of capital punishment is acceptable. (The reason people object to firing squads is that it’s messy) And if we’re going to have it, we should televise it. Let people see what they’re in favor of!
*Over at Freddie de Boer’s Substack, he argues that “Self-actualization is not the sole purpose of human existence.” He’s pushing back against “the notion that healthy, well-adjusted people are possessed of absolutely deranged self-confidence and pursue their desires with remorseless and violent ambition”; and sees this instantiated in some Disney films. He’s got a point, in that one must take others into account, but I think he goes a bit overboard.
*A snide characterization of some lousy news from reader Ken: “Turns out, a good guy with a gun is the only way to stop a nine-year-old girl from having her picture taken with the Easter Bunny at the mall.”
A Southern California shoe store owner opened fire at two shoplifters, police said, but mistakenly shot a 9-year-old girl about to get her picture with a mall Easter Bunny. The store owner fled the state and was arrested in Nevada, authorities said Wednesday.
Marqel Cockrell, 20, was chasing the shoplifters out of the store Tuesday evening at the Mall of Victor Valley in the small city of Victorville when he “fired multiple shots at the shoplifters,” Victorville police said in a statement.
“Cockrell’s shots missed the shoplifters and instead hit the 9-year-old female victim,” the statement said.
First of all, you don’t fire at shoplifters. Second, if you can’t fire properly, don’t use a gun. Third, the poor girl, who will live (she had three wounds), may have permanent nerve damage.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s been unsuccessful in her hunting:
Hili: I’m losing hope.A: What for?Hili: That something tasty will come to me.
Hili: Tracę nadzieję.Ja: Na co?Hili: Że coś smacznego samo do mnie przyjdzie.
Here’s Karolina grabbing Kulka:
From Jesus of the Day::
From Doc Bill:
From my magical Twitter feed: puppy imitates rabbit:
Puppy thinks he’s a bunny.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/BleJqE6mN8
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) April 13, 2022
From Barry; this is new to him and to me, too. The cat is apparently feigning injury to get back in the house!
Cat knows trick or two to get in after escaping out..🐈🐾🤕😂😂 pic.twitter.com/J7El6zFRZL
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) April 15, 2022
From Ginger K.:
The chief medical officer at New York City's Department of Health has apologised for calling pregnant women of colour "mothers". She's issued a statement saying: "We apologize for inadvertently gendering Black and Puerto Rican birthing people"https://t.co/O16jFFIRrJ
— ripx4nutmeg (@ripx4nutmeg) April 3, 2022
From Simon, who says the guy probably just pissed off the ants:
You are looking live at the Republican Party! https://t.co/LjuBJwA1Bf
— Reed Galen (@reedgalen) April 14, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. Is the one on the left really a Ukrainian stamp?
Hoping they can release a new stamp so we can buy them as a pair- pic.twitter.com/i9DHJLR8TQ
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) April 15, 2022
A lovely arthropod that is not an insect:
Springtail from the forest floor. pic.twitter.com/dSGjzH4zGZ
— Nicky Bay (@singaporemacro) April 15, 2022
It’s lunchtime for the eels:
Y’all want some eels pic.twitter.com/7DAsdUq8B0
— apple logo sticker on a taser holster (@bumwees) April 14, 2022
This is proposed as a solution to the trolley problem, but I don’t think this is one choice. Translation: “How to save everyone in the ‘trolley problem’ How about such an answer?”
— B作 (@Btoretsukuru) April 15, 2022
Matthew found this on the Auschwitz Memorial site:
16 April 1933 | A German Jewish girl, Liselotte Speier, was born in Angenrod.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) April 15, 2022