Wednesday: Hili dialogue

July 28, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on arriving at midweek: Wednesday, July 28, 2021: National Hamburger Day (again?) It’s also National Milk Chocolate Day, World Hepatitis Day, and World Nature Conservation Day

Wine of the Day: I see online that this 2016 chardonnay got a near perfect rating from my wine guru Robert Parker, though I probably bought it ($39) based on advice at the store. It’s the premium cuvée of Hartford Court chardonnay, and Parker says this:

Already in bottle, the 2016 Hartford Court Chardonnay Four Hearts Vineyard opens with lemon tart, pink grapefruit, pineapple and ripe apple notes with touches of nutmeg and croissant. Medium to full-bodied, rich and with a pleasantly oily texture, it delivers ripe tropical fruit flavors and a long, creamy finish.

Okay, well let’s try it with chicken and hoisin sauce, rice, and green beans.  And yes, it earned its rating, if for nothing else than its complexity. Any wine with a slight scent and flavor of grapefruit is a wine I like, but there was a lot going on here (though I didn’t detect Parker’s “croissant” flavor). Is it worth $39? If you like superb chardonnays, yes it is.

News of the Day:

Even if you’re vaccinated, it’s time to consider masking up again. The CDC reversed course and recommended that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in areas where the dreaded delta variant of the virus is pervasive. Which parts? These parts:

The guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week. That includes 60 percent of U.S. counties, officials said. New case rates are particularly high in the South and Southwest, according to a CDC tracker. In Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, every county has a high transmission rate.

Don’t worry, you’ll find out what your local rules are. This is all the fault of the eligible chowderheads who chose not to get vaccinated (there are 100 million of them out there). Joe Biden is considering requiring all federal workers to get vaccinated, which I think is an excellent move. Surely a lot of vaccination-resistant people work for the government, and they’ll have to choose between their job and their ignorance.

Simone Biles, the one true Olympic superstar this year, left the team competition after she performed (for her) a substandard vault. At first the news suggested that she might be injured, but that doesn’t seem to be the case; she’s now said to be having mental health issues. She’s also withdrawn from the individual all-around competition and might not compete in any individual events at the games (she was favored to win gold in three of those four events. The NYT says it’s “a matter of her mental health”.  The U.S. team, still game, persisted and won the team silver medal, with the Russians taking gold. I can surely sympathize with Biles: she’s the best gymnast in the world, and the pressure to keep on top in the Olympics must affect one’s head.

The New York Times has a 16-minute video about Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who was the real discoverer of pulsars in 1967, even as her Ph.D. advisor, Antony Hewish, repeatedly doubted her results. Nevertheless, when the paper was published, Hewish was first author Bell (her name at the time) was second, and there were three other authors. Hewish, along with Martin Ryle, got the Physics Nobel Prize for the discovery in 1974, and Bell was ignored (she later got a lot of accolades, though). This is one of the most egregious cases of a discoverer being ignored at Nobel Time, but Bell had the grace to say the following:

First, demarcation disputes between supervisor and student are always difficult, probably impossible to resolve. Secondly, it is the supervisor who has the final responsibility for the success or failure of the project. We hear of cases where a supervisor blames his student for a failure, but we know that it is largely the fault of the supervisor. It seems only fair to me that he should benefit from the successes, too. Thirdly, I believe it would demean Nobel Prizes if they were awarded to research students, except in very exceptional cases, and I do not believe this is one of them. Finally, I am not myself upset about it – after all, I am in good company, am I not!

No, it does not demean Nobel Prizes a bit if they were given to research students: they are awarded for discoveries, not the position of the discoverer. At any rate, she is not nearly as kind to Hewish in the video. The video should make you angry at the sexism surrounding this incident (and pervasive in science at the time), but it’s also a well made and informative piece. Watch it.

Every year at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida, they hold a Hemingway Look-Alike contest, with elderly bearded chaps vying to look the most like Ernest Hemingway, who once frequented that bar. This year’s winner is 63-year-old Zach Taylor, an electrical and plumbing supply company owner from Georgia, who beat 136 other entrants on Sunday (previous winners judge each year’s contest).  Here’s a video of the winner and some entrants, though, compared to some of the competitors, I don’t think he looks a whole like like Hemingway. (h/t Jez)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 611,128, an increase of 290 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,194,208, an increase of about 9,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 28 includes:

  • 1540 – Thomas Cromwell is executed at the order of Henry VIII of England on charges of treason. Henry marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, on the same day.
  • 1821 – José de San Martín declares the independence of Peru from Spain.
  • 1868 – The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is certified, establishing African American citizenship and guaranteeing due process of law.
  • 1914 – In the culmination of the July Crisis, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, igniting World War I.
  • 1917 – The Silent Parade takes place in New York City, in protest against murders, lynchings, and other violence directed towards African Americans.

The parade, which was indeed silent save for the beat of muffled drums, was organized by W. E. B. Dubois and instigated by lynchings and by the East St. Louis riots in May and July of that year. 8,000 to 15,000 blacks marched down Fifth Avenue.  Here’s an appropriately silent newsreel from the time:

  • 1932 – U.S. President Herbert Hoover orders the United States Army to forcibly evict the “Bonus Army” of World War I veterans gathered in Washington, D.C.

This was a group of 43,000 WWI veterans who were awarded cash certificates for their service, which couldn’t be redeemed until 1945. Because of the depression, they marched on Washington to demand early redemption.  Here is a photo of them camped in front of the Capitol, and then after Hoover’s order of eviction, which drove them away;

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/07/27/sports/olympics-tokyo-results-medals

Made around 625 A.D., and part of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial, the helmet was found as hundreds of rusted metal fragments, which were painstakingly reconstructed—twice. Here’s the latest reconstruction at the British Museum (you can see the bits that are original):

Here’s a replica showing what the helmet may have looked like. The artistic motifs were actually found in the fragments. The helmet was made from iron, leather, and bronze, but we don’t know who it belonged to, or who was part of the ship burial.

The plane struck the building after becoming lost in the fog. One of the injured was a badly burned woman who was transported down in an elevator, suffering a double accident (from Wikipedia):

Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver was thrown from her elevator car on the 80th floor and suffered severe burns. First aid workers placed her on another elevator car to transport her to the ground floor, but the cables supporting that elevator had been damaged in the incident, and it fell 75 stories, ending up in the basement. Oliver survived the fall but had a broken pelvis, back and neck when rescuers found her amongst the rubble. This remains the world record for the longest survived elevator fall.

Here’s a photo of the plane embedded in the building, which opened for business only two days after the collision:

I was there! And I got to hear the the Dead, The Band, and The Allman Brothers (I’ve since heard the last two again.

  • 2005 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army calls an end to its thirty-year-long armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland.

Notables born on this day were few, and include:

  • 1844 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet (d. 1889)
  • 1866 – Beatrix Potter, English children’s book writer and illustrator (d. 1943)

My favorite Beatrix Potter Book:

Those who rested in peace on July 28 include:

  • 1741 – Antonio Vivaldi, Italian violinist and composer (b. 1678)
  • 1750 – Johann Sebastian Bach, German organist and composer (b. 1685)
  • 1968 – Otto Hahn, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1879)
  • 1996 – Roger Tory Peterson, American ornithologist and academic (b. 1908)
  • 2004 – Francis Crick, English biologist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1916)

One of the smartest scientists of our era:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains Hili’s actions: “Hili has heard about a scapegoat but she didn’t get the meaning. She thinks it’s an exotic animal and she wants to see it.”

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m waiting for a scapegoat.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Czekam na kozła ofiarnego.

From reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe, a smackdown between Popeye and God, both claiming that they am what they am:

Another superfluous sign from reader David:

From Jesus of the Day:

A tweet from reader Ken, with some explanation:

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, perhaps the most loathsome opportunist in the House of Representatives. She ran as a moderate in 2014, but fell in line behind Donald Trump in 2016, and burrowed ever deeper down the rabbit hole the longer Trump remained in office.

When Liz Cheney was stripped of her Republican leadership position for having the temerity to criticize Trump after the January 6th insurrection, Stefanik maneuvered to replace her as Republican Conference Chair. Here she is blaming the January 6th riot on, of all goddamn people, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

A tweet from Divy with a seacat’s passport. I’m not sure how authentic it is, but I’ve found it in a couple of places (that, of course, doesn’t establish authenticity):

From Barry. Why is an alpaca walking into a Chinese restaurant? It’s almost too cute to be real.

From Ginger K.:

Tweets from Matthew:

Is this a big cat, a small boy, or both?

A funny riposte to a biology tweet. (The humpbacked scaly bee fly is a dipteran with a characteristic hump-backed posture, and probably mimics a bumblebee.)

And this should make you skeptical of all those fantastically colored animals you see on the Internet. This is the Indian Giant Squirrel (also known as the Malabar Giant Squirrel), Ratufa indica. Other pictures of the species online aren’t nearly as colorful, and I suspect Avinash is right. But this could be an unusually bright individual. . . .

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

July 27, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on the cruelest day: Tuesday, July 27, 2021: National Scotch Day (as always, I’ll have a Springbank).  It’s also National Crème Brûlée Day, National Chicken Finger Day, National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day (see below under 1953),and Bagpipe Appreciation Day.  And in North Korea, it’s a national holiday, the Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War.

Posting will be very light today as I have two zoom calls, one about Antarctica.

News of the Day:

It’s now 188 days until the Bidens moved into the White House, and there still is no First Cat. Just sayin’

Predictable News: The Senate is still squabbling about Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, and it’s hit a pretty big speed bump:

The impasse arrives after lawmakers toiled away into the weekend over their proposal to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. Republicans including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah initially hoped to finalize a more robust blueprint as soon as Monday so that the long-stalled debate could finally start, but the prospect now seems unlikely given the sheer scope of policy obstacles that negotiators must resolve.

Lawmakers must still sort through lingering disputes over how to spend billions of dollars to upgrade the country’s railways, for example, along with thorny policy issues around broadband spending — including efforts by Democrats to ensure Internet access is affordable.

Both sides also have failed to come to terms on the formula for doling out money to improve the nation’s highways, as well as the exact funding available for water improvements. And lawmakers remain at odds over provisions sought by Democrats that aim to ensure any federal spending to improve infrastructure will pay workers prevailing wages to do the job.

I have no idea whether this bill will pass, but if something isn’t done, the country will fall to pieces. At least there’s a hint of bipartisanship going on. Will the bill need 60 votes to prevent the dreaded Filibuster?

The final victim in the Florida condo collapse has been identified: Estelle Hadaya, who died at 54. That, at least, leaves no families with relatives still missing. The search continued for a long time, but only one person was found in the rubble. Final death toll: 98, including Ilan Naibryf, a third-year physics student at the University of Chicago set to graduate next year.

Reader Woody called my attention to a yahoo! news piece reporting that Facebook, trying to repair its image among Americans disillusioned with the site, is now partnering with churches, helping them develop attractive online platforms. It’s also a way to increase Zuckerberg’s bottom line, by sucking the goddies onto Facebook:

Facebook, which recently passed $1 trillion in market capitalization, may seem like an unusual partner for a church whose primary goal is to share the message of Jesus. But the company has been cultivating partnerships with a wide range of faith communities over the past few years, from individual congregations to large denominations, like the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ.

But what about the “nones”, Zuk? Aren’t you one of us?

The first openly transgender athlete has competed at the Olympics: their name is simply Quinn (Quinn uses the they/them pronouns), and they played for the Canadian women’s soccer team last Wednesday, in a game that was a 1-1 draw with Japan. From the AP report:

Quinn, who plays professionally for OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League, is not the only transgender athlete participating in the Tokyo Games. Probably the most visible is Laurel Hubbard, a transgender woman competing in weightlifting for New Zealand. Chelsea Wolfe, a transgender cyclist, is a reserve on the U.S. women’s BMX Freestyle team.

There was the possibility for several more elite transgender athletes to compete in Tokyo. Nikki Hiltz did not qualify in the women’s 1,500 meters at the U.S. track and field trials, while CeCe Telfer was declared ineligible in her bid to run in the 400-meter hurdles. Volleyball player Tiffany Abreu did not make Brazil’s final Olympic roster.

The International Olympic Committee has allowed transgender athletes to participate at the Olympics since 2004, but until this year, none had done so openly. In addition to Quinn, Hubbard and Wolfe, some transgender athletes are competing without discussing their transition. Some have been outed and harassed online by people who oppose transgender athletes competing.

(From AP): Canada’s Quinn, left, and Chile’s Karen Araya vie for the ball during a women’s soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Sapporo, Japan. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Speaking of the Olympics, the winner of the women’s “street skateboarding event” was only 13 years old! Japanese athlete Momji Nishiya got the gold, and the total ages of the three medalists was only 42.  But who could be younger than 13? Well, someone 85 years ago was:

Marjorie Gestring, [an American] diver who won gold at age 13 years and 268 days at the 1936 Berlin Games, is the youngest gold medalist in history, according to The New York Times. Nishiya, approaching her 14th birthday, is a bit older than Gestring was.

Here’s a 5-minute video of the skateboarding event, which I’m dubious about. There is another skateboarding competition besides this one: “Park Skateboarding”.

And here’s Gestring diving at the 1936 Olympics:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 610,722, an increase of 275 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,184,307, an increase of about 8,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 27 includes:

  • 1794 – French Revolution: Maximilien Robespierre is arrested after encouraging the execution of more than 17,000 “enemies of the Revolution”.
  • 1866 – The first permanent transatlantic telegraph cable is successfully completed, stretching from Valentia Island, Ireland, to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland.
  • 1890 – Vincent van Gogh shoots himself and dies two days later.

This is the only known authentic photo of Vincent van Gogh, taken in 1873. If you see any others, they’re either fakes or photos of his brother Theo. Also, note that a recent theory about van Gogh’s death involves him being shot by a kid rather than him trying to kill himself.

  • 1919 – The Chicago Race Riot erupts after a racial incident occurred on a South Side beach, leading to 38 fatalities and 537 injuries over a five-day period.

The riot started when a raft containing black kids accidentally drifted into a “whites-only” area of the 29th Street Beach. Whites pelted one black swimmer and killed him. The rest is history. Here’s part of a series of photos of the riot; this one shows a black man being pelted with stones. He died.

It was only two years before Banting and John Macleod won the Nobel Prize for this achievement. At 32, Banting remains the youngest Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine. He split the prize money with his colleague Charles Best. Banting is at the right in this 1924 photo:

Here’s part of that cartoon. Bugs appears at 2:21:

They mean the first jet-powered commercial airliner. Here’s one, the model 4B:

  • 1953 – Cessation of hostilities is achieved in the Korean War when the United States, China, and North Korea sign an armistice agreement. Syngman Rhee, President of South Korea, refuses to sign but pledges to observe the armistice.
  • 1974 – Watergate scandal: The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee votes 27 to 11 to recommend the first article of impeachment (for obstruction of justice) against President Richard Nixon.

Remember when Richard Jewell, who found the bomb, was accused of planting it? (It killed one person and injured 111.) The real perpetrator was one Eric Rudolph (photo below), who’s spending the rest of his life in America’s most secure (and most horrible) prison, the ADX Supermax in Florence, Colorado:

  • 2016 – At a news conference, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump expresses the hope that Russians can recover thirty thousand emails that were deleted from Hillary Clinton’s personal server.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1667 – Johann Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician and academic (d. 1748)
  • 1768 – Charlotte Corday, French assassin of Jean-Paul Marat (d. 1793)
  • 1870 – Hilaire Belloc, French-born British writer and historian (d. 1953)
  • 1905 – Leo Durocher, American baseball player and manager (d. 1991)
  • 1922 – Norman Lear, American screenwriter and producer

Lear’s still with us at 99!

Eggleston is known for his color landscape photos. Here’s one:

  • 1948 – Peggy Fleming, American figure skater and sportscaster
  • 1949 – Timothy Groves, retired schoolteacher and principal, active fud, and friend of your host since 1967
  • 1975 – Alex Rodriguez, American baseball player

Those who took the Dirt Nap on July 27 include:

Here’s Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas in 1934. I still don’t understand why authors like Hemingway admired her so much; in my view, she was a dreadful writer.

  • 1984 – James Mason, English actor (b. 1909)
  • 2003 – Bob Hope, English-American actor, comedian, television personality, and businessman (b. 1903)
  • 2017 – Sam Shepard, American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director (b.1943)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Szaron is busy in the orchard, but nobody knows why he has to count apples.

Hili: Where are you going?
Szaron: I have to count apples on the ground.
In Polish:
Hili: Gdzie idziesz?
Szaron: Muszę policzyć jabłka na trawniku.

An Olympics meme from Bruce:

From Divy:

Another superfluous sign from reader David:

As you know, physicist Steven Weinberg died on Sunday. Here’s his advice for young scientists, from a 2003 issue of Nature. (h/t: Scott Aaronson)

 

From the Internet. Hizzoner realized that he screwed up. However, “whole wheat” is not much of an improvement over “toasted”.

From Ken, who says, “Our 45th president, who plainly knows more about computer tech than anyone, is entranced by a new word he’s encountered: ‘routers.'”

Tweets from Matthew. How does this beetle walk upside down below the surface of the water? Well, nobody really knows, but people have theories. . .  Read the link.

Matthew wants me to ask the readers this question about next year. So answer and then see how people are voting:

This is quite frightening. Matthew says to be sure to watch to the end. For more on this story, go here. The landslide killed nine people and injured three.

(Translation of tweet: “Terrifying video footage of a landslide in Sangla, in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, shows large chunks of rock breaking off a mountaintop and rolling down into the valley below.”

A transparent gut:

. . . and this termite has really weird antennae:

Monday: Hili dialogue

July 26, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings at the start of a new work week: July 26, 2021. It’s National Bagelfest, so have a good bagel, some lox, and a schmear.  Avoid the donut-shaped Wonder Bread that passes for “bagels” in most of America. It’s also National Coffee Milkshake Day, World Tofu Day, Aunt and Uncles Day (only one aunt celebrated?), and Esperanto Day (see 1887 below).

Read this to learn how to choose and eat a bagel properly. You want to avoid junk like the “bagel” below, or the dreaded “everything” bagel, almost as bad as the blueberry bagel.

 

News of the Day:

The latest news is thin. We have two deaths, civil rights leader Bob Moses (86), instrumental in pushing forward voter registration of blacks in the South, and comedian Jackie Mason (93), born Yacov Moshe Hakohen Maza, ordained as a rabbi but gave it up after three years for standup comedy and later for movie roles.

From CNN: an Algerian judo competitor won’t face an Israeli, so he withdrew from the Olympics. So much for international solidarity in athletics! I know of no Israeli athlete who ever withdrew from competition to avoid competing with an Arab, but this isn’t the first time an Arab athlete has withdrawn rather than contest an Israeli. Who’s the apartheid state now?

Algerian judo athlete Fethi Nourine says he has chosen to withdraw from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics rather than face an Israeli competitor.

Nourine told Algeria’s Echourouk TV that he “decided to withdraw out of conviction, because this is the very least we can offer the Palestinian cause.”
“This is my duty,” he said, adding that he wanted to “send a message to the whole world that Israel is an occupation, a lawless country, a country without a flag.”
Algeria does not officially recognize Israel.
After announcing his withdrawal, the International Judo Federation (IJF) said on Saturday it was temporarily suspending Nourine and his coach, Amar Benikhlef.

In a statement, the IJF said that the judoka’s actions were “in total opposition to the philosophy of the International Judo Federation.”

The International Judo Federation suspended Nourine and he faces further disciplinary action.

Speaking of the Olympics, the German women’s gymnastics team, tired of being “sexualized” by wearing skimpy outfits during competition, has exchewed the traditional bikini-cut leotard for unitards that cover most of the body. Here’s the new garment. And more power to them.  You’re supposed to be watching the performance, not ogling women’s bodies.

And speaking of gymnastics at the Olympics, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, undoubtedly the best in the world, slipped up on Sunday, with even Simone Biles off her form. America finished second to Russia, but that won’t count in the finals, in which the competition is restarted with fewer teams. Nevertheless, if the U.S. is to take gold, they have to get their act in order An excerpt:

Perhaps what’s most concerning is that the United States wasn’t undermined by a single disastrous routine. Instead, persistent miscues culminated in an underwhelming outing. And the result is just as much a product of the Russians’ fantastic showing. The Russian Olympic Committee has a deep team that showcased its progress since it last faced the Americans at a major competition.

And another screwup: the U.S. men’s basketball team, which hasn’t lost a game at the Olympics since 2004, lost to France 83-76 on Sunday, blowing an eight-point lead in the game’s last four minutes. That doesn’t bother me as much as the women’s gymnastics, as I like the latter competition far more than basketball. Besides, now with their stupid three-on-three basketball competitions, who cares about the sport at the Olympics at all?

And now one more “disappointment”: swimmer Katie Ledecky finished second in the 400-meter freestyle swim, a race she’d never lost. Well, a silver medal is pretty damn good, but you know they all want gold.

For the first time, researchers have reported lethal attacks on gorillas by chimpanzees! If you wonder how chimpanzees can kill gorillas, read the link: there was an altercation between two groups, one of each species, but two gorilla infants were killed while the adults escaped.  Gorillas are way stronger than chimps. (h/t cesar)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 610,463, an increase of 269 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,176,208, an increase of about 6,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 26 includes:

  • 1745 – The first recorded women’s cricket match takes place near Guildford, England.
  • 1803 – The Surrey Iron Railway, arguably the world’s first public railway, opens in south London, United Kingdom.
  • 1882 – Premiere of Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal at Bayreuth.
  • 1887 – Publication of the Unua Libro, founding the Esperanto movement.

Here’s the Unua Libro by by Polish ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof, who invented the language. I wanted to learn it when I was a kid, but gave up quickly when I learned that it would be useless, though it was envisaged as a universal language (it’s much like Spanish):

Here’s Naoroii, an imposing looking chap, who besides serving in Parliament until 1895, was also elected President of the Indian National Congress three times and was one of the first vigorous exponents of independence from Britain.

Here’s Noether’s and below that the first page of her paper, which was extremely important in showing that if a physical system is symmetrical (“if the Lagrangian function for a physical system is not affected by a continuous change [transformation] in the coordinate system used to describe it”), then there will be a corresponding conservation law.

  • 1936 – Spanish Civil War: Germany and Italy decide to intervene in the war in support for Francisco Franco and the Nationalist faction.
  • 1945 – The Labour Party wins the United Kingdom general election of July 5 by a landslide, removing Winston Churchill from power.

Perhaps someone will explain to me why Churchill, who had led Britain to victory in the war, was unceremoniously dumped as PM right afterwards.

  • 1948 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman signs Executive Order 9981, desegregating the military of the United States.
  • 1953 – Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle orders an anti-polygamy law enforcement crackdown on residents of Short Creek, Arizona, which becomes known as the Short Creek raid.

About 400 Mormon fundamentalists were taken into custody, including children. Wikipedia notes that “The Short Creek raid was the largest mass arrest of polygamists in American history. At the time, it was described as “the largest mass arrest of men and women in modern American history.”  I don’t know of any larger mass arrest in America, but perhaps readers are aware of some. The Utah Supreme Court ruled that the children could indeed be taken from their parents and put in state custody. But of course polygamy quickly revived, and it’s still out there in Utah.

Here’s a photo taken during the raid:

A group of children and women sit and wait under a tree while state policemen guard them in a schoolyard at a Mormon settlement during the Short Creek Polygamy Raid, Short Creek (now Colorado City), Arizona, July 26, 1953. State officials arrested over 100 men on polygamy charges but photos of the raid, especially crying children, caused a backlash against the secular authorities. (Photo by Loomis Dean/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
  • 1956 – Following the World Bank’s refusal to fund building the Aswan Dam, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal, sparking international condemnation.
  • 1971 – Apollo program: Launch of Apollo 15 on the first Apollo “J-Mission“, and first use of a Lunar Roving Vehicle.

Here’s that vehicle in its final resting place on the Moon. The Wikipedia caption calls attention to “the red Bible atop the hand controller in the middle of the vehicle, placed there by [Commander Dave] Scott.” Oy vey! There’s a Bible on the Moon!

  • 1990 – The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
  • 2016 – Hillary Clinton becomes the first female nominee for President of the United States by a major political party at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1875 – Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist (d. 1961)
  • 1894 – Aldous Huxley, English novelist and philosopher (d. 1963)
  • 1928 – Elliott Erwitt, French-American photographer and director

Erwitt, a superb street photographer, is still alive at 92. Here are two of his pictures (he liked to photograph d*gs)

USA,New York city. New York, 1974. Felix, Gladys and Rover.

. . . and a cat

USA. New York City. 1953.
  • 1938 – Bobby Hebb, American singer-songwriter (d. 2010)

Here’s a live performance of Hebb’s most famous song, “Sunny“, in 1972. It’s never been clear what the song, written in 1963, was about.

  • 1943 – Mick Jagger, English singer-songwriter, producer, and actor
  • 1945 – Helen Mirren, English actress 
  • 1959 – Kevin Spacey, American actor and director
  • 1964 – Sandra Bullock, American actress and producer.

Who doesn’t love Sandra, the Girl Next Door? Here she is rapping to “Rapper’s Delight“, the first popular hip-hop song, on the Jonathan Ross show.

  • 1973 – Kate Beckinsale, English actress

Those who found their final repose on July 26 include:

  • 1863 – Sam Houston, American general and politician, 7th Governor of Texas (b. 1793)
  • 1934 – Winsor McCay, American cartoonist, animator, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1871)

I’m a big fan of McCay, who was way ahead of his time in both cartoons and animation, using weird perspectives and angles. Here’s Nemo’s bed taking a stroll in Little Nemo in Slumberland, a cartoon from 1908.

Evita and Juan:

  • 1971 – Diane Arbus, American photographer and academic (b. 1923)

Here’s Arbus at work; you can see a selection of her photos here.

  • 2009 – Merce Cunningham, American dancer and choreographer (b. 1919)
  • 2020 – Olivia de Havilland, American actress (b. 1916)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili detects the scent of deer, but doesn’t understand why she can’t see them.

Hili: Deer were here yesterday.
A: And?
Hili: They must’ve gone somewhere.
In Polish:
Hili: Wczoraj tu były sarny.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Musiały gdzieś pójść.

From Facebook:

Anne-Marie sent another caricature from Serge Chapleu at the French-Canadian paper La Presse. Remember when Bezos thanked all the Amazon employees for making his space flight possible? The header says “Return to the Earth for Bezos,” and I think you can read what he’s saying:

Another superfluous sign from reader David. If you’re old enough to read, you’re old enough to not want to swallow a hanger:

Tweets from Barry, who says, “It’s not just the United States—it’s a whole thread.”. And so it is. Here are but two demonstrations against the Covid vaccination.

From Luana—a d*g who can’t paint! Is this for real? There’s also a cynical comment:

Tweets from Matthew. Read more about Chusovitana here.

Ducklings at the University of Nottingham. I hope they found a pond or lake!

Do you get this one? I got half but Matthew explained the last name to me.

These are honeypot ants, whose workers spend their lives filling their abdomen with liquid food and then regurgitating it to others on demand. They’re a living larder! Translation from Twitter: “Myrmecocystus nest. The queen of this nest is five years old, a colony that has been bred for many years and is often exhibited at events.”

Sunday: Hili dialogue

July 25, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Sunday: July 25, 2021: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day (and it is Sunday!). If you come to Chicago, you must have yours at Margie’s Candie’s in Bucktown a soda fountain unchanged for 90 years. The ice cream confections are incomparable. It’s also National Wine and Cheese Day, Culinarians Day, and International Red Shoe Day. Here’s the source of the last holiday:

International Red Shoe Day remembers and celebrates all those who have passed away from Lyme disease and other “invisible diseases” such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It was founded in memory of Theda Myint of Australia, who passed away from Lyme disease on July 25, 2013. Some of her friends who were in an Australian Lyme disease support group came up with the day. A friend asked what her favorite color had been, and was told, “Her favourite colour was green, unless it was shoes! She loved red shoes.” Karen Smith, another of Theda’s friends, then asked, “Red Shoe Day in her memory?” giving the idea for the holiday.

News of the Day:

The New York Times reports that there is a growing consensus that older Americans (65+) and those who are immunocompromised will need Covid booster shots if they got the two-jab Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna doses. Get ready! (I suppose I have to un-laminate my vaccination card.)

The Associated Press was granted access to a “detention center” in Xinjiang, which can hold up to 10,000 inmates. The inmates are of course Uyghurs, members of the Muslim minority that China is trying to extirpate. The change from “detainees” to “inmates” appear to be a way to convert potential dissidents, or even those completely innocent of everything, into criminals:

China has described its sweeping lockup of a million or more minorities over the past four years as a “war against terror,” after a series of knifings and bombings by a small number of extremist Uyghurs native to Xinjiang. Among its most controversial aspects were the so-called vocational “training centers” – described by former detainees as brutal internment camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.

China at first denied their existence, and then, under heavy international criticism, said in 2019 that all the occupants had “graduated.” But the AP’s visit to Dabancheng, satellite imagery and interviews with experts and former detainees suggest that while many “training centers” were indeed closed, some like this one were simply converted into prisons or pre-trial detention facilities. Many new facilities have also been built, including a new 85-acre detention center down the road from No. 3 in Dabancheng that went up over 2019, satellite imagery shows.

And. . . three-on-three basketball in the Olympics? What is that about? I don’t care what you say: it’s not even a sport! Look at what the NYT says:

Three on three is basketball reimagined for the TikTok generation, with fast-paced choreography and a hip-hop soundtrack. “If you have a short attention span, this is your sport,” said Kara Lawson, the coach of the U.S. women’s team.

The half-court game is played outdoors with a 12-second shot clock, no breaks and four-player rosters. The game ends after 10 minutes or when a team reaches 21 points, whichever comes first. Baskets scored outside the arc are worth two points; buckets inside it are worth one. The play is physical and fouls are rarely called.

“It’s like the X Games,” said U.S. guard Kelsey Plum. “There’s music going on, there’s a commentator making jokes about people’s play, about people getting crossed over, about someone shooting in someone’s face, saying someone is quicker than a Kardashian marriage.” (That omnipresent play-by-play announcer, Kyle Montgomery, peppers his commentary with Meek Mill and Drake lyrics and one liners like: “She’s all business like the front of the plane.”)

That’s enough for me; I ain’t watching, and they should deep-six it. What’s next? Rock/papers/scissors?

Have you heard about the Pegasus spyware? It was created by NSO, an Israeli firm to help governments track terrorists and criminals, but is now being used more widely to track journalists and dissidents, and for general surveillance. (h/t Jean) At least 37 smartphones were tested and shown to be infected, none of them belonging to “terrorists or criminal.” As the Washington Post reports,

The targeting of the 37 smartphones would appear to conflict with the stated purpose of NSO’s licensing of the Pegasus spyware, which the company says is intended only for use in surveilling terrorists and major criminals. The evidence extracted from these smartphones, revealed here for the first time, calls into question pledges by the Israeli company to police its clients for human rights abuses.

The Israeli government has to approve licensing of the software to any country who wants to buy it? So how did these people manage to get hacked? NSO has no answers.

Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder was asked to write an article for Physics Magazine about whether some types of physics could be “too speculative” to prompt fruitful research (e.g., string theory). Her article was too honest, apparently, and the magazine rejected it. So she made her piece into a YouTube video (below). She takes up the issues of speculations about dark matter (does not further progress in understanding the Universe), the “fifth force” (ditto), string theory (overhyped but still worth pursuing), multiverses (Hossenfelder doesn’t even consider the idea scientific), and so on.  Reader Steve, who sent me the link, says he’d love to see a debate between Sean Carroll and Hossenfelder about multiverses. As for the rejection, the editors of Physics Magazine didn’t want to hear an opinion that might offend some physicists, but the video has a link to what she submitted.

She doesn’t pull her punches; I like her.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 610,414, an increase of 267 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,169,613, an increase of about 8,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 25 includes:

  • 1261 – The city of Constantinople is recaptured by Nicaean forces under the command of Alexios Strategopoulos, re-establishing the Byzantine Empire.
  • 1603 – James VI of Scotland is crowned king of England (James I of England), bringing the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland into personal union. Political union would occur in 1707.
  • 1755 – British governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council order the deportation of the Acadians.

Some of the Acadians deported to France returned to the New World and settled in Louisiana; they are the genetic and etymological ancestors of the “Cajuns”. Here’s a Louisiana Cajun speaking the local dialect of French:

Ajinomoto is a Japanese spice and flavoring company specializing in MSG, which is the basis, as Ikeda discovered, of the umami flavor.

Ikeda

Here’s Blériot taking off for his flight:

 

  • From the New York Times, July 24, 1948 (one day late); Olympic Committee caves to Arab threats (the State of Israel came into being on May 14 of that year).

Here’s a short newsreel piece of the sinking:

Indeed it did, and here’s the set:

  • 1976 – Viking program: Viking 1 takes the famous Face on Mars photo.
  • 1978 – Birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilisation, or IVF.
  • 2000 – Concorde Air France Flight 4590 crashes at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, killing 113 people.

A tire blew out during takeoff, and the debris ignited a fuel tank, which rendered the plane unflyable. It crashed into a hotel two minutes after takeoff, killing all on board. Here’s a photo of the takeoff:

  • 2019 – National extreme heat records set this day in the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany during the July 2019 European heat wave. Wikipedia reports some extremes:

France experienced temperatures in excess of 45 °C (113 °F) for the first time in recorded history. A national all-time record high temperature of 46.0 °C (114.8 °F) occurred on 28 June in Vérargues.

Here’s a chart of the maximum temperatures in Europe on July 25, 2019. France and Germany were especially hard hit. More than 567 people died from the heat.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1844 – Thomas Eakins, American painter, sculptor, and photographer (d. 1916)

Eakens was one of the greatest American realist painters. Here’s one of his finest works, Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871):

Who doesn’t love Parrish’s work. Here’s an unusual one, “A good mixer”, that has a cat:

  • 1875 – Jim Corbett, Indian hunter, environmentalist, and author (d. 1955)

He’s famous for killing big cats, and I want nothing to do with him.

  • 1894 – Walter Brennan, American actor (d. 1974)
  • 1906 – Johnny Hodges, American saxophonist and clarinet player (d. 1970)
  • 1920 – Rosalind Franklin, English biophysicist, chemist, and academic (d. 1958)
  • 1941 – Emmett Till, American lynching victim (d. 1955)
  • 1948 – Steve Goodman, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1984)

Steve Goodman didn’t write “The Dutchman“, but it’s a lovely and a sad song—my favorite of his and the most well known cover. I’m putting up the recorded version because it’s the best. The lyrics, about an old Dutchman, somewhat demented, being cared for by his daughter, are beautiful.

Those whose ceased respiring on July 25 include:

  • 1834 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English philosopher, poet, and critic (b. 1772)
  • 1995 – Charlie Rich, American singer-songwriter (b. 1932)

In my view, this is his best song, and it’s one of the best country songs (sexism goes with the genre):

  • 2008 – Randy Pausch, American computer scientist and educator (b. 1960)

Paush is perhaps most famous for his “Last Lecture”, when he’d been given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, with 3 to 6 months of good health left (he died 11 months later). This really was his last lecture, and he talked about his fate with energy and humor.  Listen for yourself:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Szaron is getting sassy:

Hili: You are encroaching on my territory.
Szaron: Get used to it.
In Polish:
Hili: Wkraczasz na moje terytorium.
Szaron: Przyzwyczaj się.

A cat meme from Bruce (note superfluous apostrophe, not his fault):

Another superfluous sign from David:

From Jesus of the Day, though I don’t know who drew the cartoon:

Two tweets from Luana. First, cool flying robots:

Second, claims of white privilege reach peak ludicrousness:

What is this new book about? Waterstones says that Stephen Fry has hundreds of ties, and I guess this book features them:

Stephen’s collection now numbers well into the hundreds. And each tie – whether floral, fluorescent, football themed; striped or spotty, outrageous or simply debonair – tells a story. A tale of the garment itself – the shops, makers and designers – as well as of Stephen, his reasons for choosing it, whether an
occasion or just a whim.

Inspired by Stephen’s hugely popular Instagram posts, this book will feature beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations and photographs to celebrate his expansive collection of man’s greatest asset: the Tie, in all its sophisticated glory.

Tweets from Matthew. The first two features phorids, or flies in the family Phoridae. They prefer to run rather than fly, and the ones below are wingless, and parasitoids of ants.

I guess they had to operate on the snake:

Matthew’s comment: “When atheists know more about religion than the religious”:

An ancient optical illusion. Enlarge the photo and look closely:

Saturday: Hili dialogue

July 24, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Cat Sabbath: Saturday: July 24, 2021: National Tequila Day. It’s also National Drive-Thru Day, National Day of the American Cowboy, Amelia Earhart Day, celebrating her birth on this day in 1897, Cousins Day,  and International Save the Vaquita Day. What is a vaquita? It’s a critically endangered small porpoise ((Phocoena sinus; the smallest of all cetaceans) that’s endemic to the northern part of the Gulf of California off Baja California. Gill-netting has reduced the population to fewer than 19 individuals. Here’s a photo of a calf and its adult size relative to a human:

And it’s Simón Bolívar Day in Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia.

News of the Day:

It’s now 185 days—more than half a year—since the Bidens took residency in the White House.  WHERE IS THE FEMALE CAT THEY PROMISED?

The Washington Post reports that only 83% of U.S. athletes at the Olympics have been vaccinated against coronavirus. That’s higher than the American public, but goes to show only that athletes aren’t all that savvy when it comes to their health. Given the high rate of infection in Tokyo, I’m not sure why the Olympic Commission didn’t require vaccination for all athletes who don’t have a condition that prevents it.

In the NYT, David Brooks has a strange column, “How racist is America?” As I said yesterday, Brooks

. . . answers “yes” but adds that America is not “white supremacist” towards black people. This seems to me a contradiction, since racism is based on the idea that the oppressor is superior to the oppressed. Maybe I’m wrong, but what’s with Brooks, anyway?

And there are two other intriguing op-eds in the NYT, one by Jamelle Bouie called “The Supreme Court needs to be cut down to size.” I admit that the GOP’s machinations in court-stacking are reprehensible, but what does Bouie recommend? Circumscribing what the Court can do!:

Put a little differently, the public and its representatives can and should extend its authority over the Supreme Court, not by “packing” the court or imposing term limits, but by marking the boundaries of its autonomy. Using their broad power under the Constitution to shape and structure the judiciary, federal lawmakers can strip jurisdiction from the court, require a supermajority for decisions that would invalidate an act of Congress or, as Moyn writes, Congress

could also reassign finality of decision to itself through a jurisdictional statute that makes Supreme Court invalidations of federal law provisional unless and until Congress passes on the result (or fails to exercise its option to do so in some time frame).

The point of all this is both to disempower the court and to make it less central to our politics and our constitutional order.

Of course, if the court were more liberal, Bouie wouldn’t be beefing. The issue, of course, is who will do the circumscribing? A Democratic Congress now could be a Republican Congress in two or four years.

The other, by Michael Wolff, who’s written several books about Trump, and is no fan, is called “Why I’m sure Trump will run for President in 2024.” The argument is that without a claim on the White House, Trump would lose his reason for existing, and so he’s compelled to run:

But perhaps most important, there is his classic hucksterism, and his synoptic U.S.P. — unique selling proposition. In 2016 it was “the wall.” For 2022 and 2024 he will have another proposition available: “the steal,” a rallying cry of rage and simplicity.

For Democrats, who see him exiled to Mar-a-Lago, stripped of his key social media platforms and facing determined prosecutors, his future seems risible if not pathetic. But this is Donald Trump, always ready to strike back harder than he has been struck, to blame anyone but himself, to silence any doubts with the sound of his own voice, to take what he believes is his and, most of all, to seize all available attention. Sound the alarm.

I think he’ll run, though he may be defeated in the Republican primary. Yet I see a primary defeat as unlikely, for who can best Trump when half of America still worships the moron and a huge percentage of people really think he won the last election? If the GOP were smart, they’d start looking beyond Trump now, and grooming a candidate. Or perhaps they are smart, and know that Trump can beat either Biden or his successor.

Cultural inheritance in Australian cockatoos: researchers have documented that sulfur-crested cockatoos around Sydney have learned how to open wheelie bins with their beaks and feet to plunder the food scraps. Other cockatoos learn by watching. This is not the first example of birds learning to access human food by watching other birds, but we’ll learn more about that tomorrow in a science post.    (h/t: Jez & Phil)

Ward Branch, a Vancouver Supreme Court judge with a funny bone mentioned Monty Python while adjudicating a suit by a woman against several pharmaceutical companies. As CBC News reports  (h/t: GInger K.):

The woman leading the legal charge — Uttra Kumari Krishnan — claimed she spent years buying glucosamine sulfate products that allegedly contained no glucosamine sulfate.

In giving Krishnan the go-ahead to sue, Branch compared her to “Mr. Praline” — the customer in the decades-old skit who confronts a shopkeeper with a “Norwegian Blue” parrot that turns out to have been nailed to its perch — an “ex-parrot” in the words of Mr. Praline, “expired and gone to meet his maker!”

Much like the poor Mr. Praline, [Krishnan] complains that she was sold a health product that did not contain what it said on the bottle,” Branch wrote.

“[She] admits that she does not know for certain what is in the bottles, but argues that what is important is that it was not glucosamine sulfate.”

Last night listened to Bari Weiss’s 70-minute conversation with Iranian journalist and human-rights activist Masih Alinejad, who has effectively been exiled from her home country.  You have heard that Iran plotted to kidnap Alinejad and take her back to Iran, where she would have faced a dire fate. Fortunately, the FBI foiled the plot. Through all the travails Masih has faced, she “keeps her pecker up”, as the Brits say, and is more determined than ever to call out the perfidies of her homeland.

It’s well worth listening to, and Bari has now posted it on Facebook for all to see and hear. Voilà: the conversation.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 610,356, an increase of 271 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,161,408, an increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 24 includes:

  • 1304 – Wars of Scottish Independence: Fall of Stirling Castle: King Edward I of England takes the stronghold using the War Wolf.
  • 1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is forced to abdicate and replaced by her 1-year-old son James VI.
  • 1847 – After 17 months of travel, Brigham Young leads 148 Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley, resulting in the establishment of Salt Lake City.
  • 1901 – O. Henry is released from prison in Columbus, Ohio, after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank.

The great short story writer (below) died at only 47 from the writer’s disease: alcoholism. His real name was William Sydney Porter:

 

Here’s Machu Picchu, photographed by Bingham in 1912, after it was cleaned up but before it was reconstructed:

And how it looks now (Wikipedia notes that “Modern archaeological research has since determined that the site was not a religious center but a royal estate to which Inca leaders and their entourage repaired during the Andean summer.”)

Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu
  • 1929 – The Kellogg–Briand Pact, renouncing war as an instrument of foreign policy, goes into effect (it is first signed in Paris on August 27, 1928, by most leading world powers).

Well, that was a joke!

The Scottsboro Boys (below) were nine African-Americans falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931 (shades of Emmett Till!).  The accusers finally admitted they made up the story, and eventually the boys were pardoned, but for several their pardons were posthumous and they all spent substantial time in jail. This is one of the great racist miscarriages of justice of the twentieth century.

This was named because Nixon had an acrimonious debate with Khrushchev in a model American kitchen in an American exhibit in Moscow. Here’s a short video from the debate:

The splashdown: home from the Moon!

  • 1974 – Watergate scandal: The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon did not have the authority to withhold subpoenaed White House tapes and they order him to surrender the tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor.
  • 1987 – Hulda Crooks, at 91 years of age, climbed Mt. Fuji. Crooks became the oldest person to climb Japan’s highest peak.

Crooks also climbed the continental U.S.’s highest peak, Mt. Whitney, 23 times between the ages of 65 and 91, as well as 97 other mountains in that period. Here’s a video of Hulda climbing Whitney at 85:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1783 – Simón Bolívar, Venezuelan commander and politician, 2nd President of Venezuela (d. 1830)
  • 1802 – Alexandre Dumas, [JAC: père] French novelist and playwright (d. 1870)
  • 1860 – Alphonse Mucha, Czech painter and illustrator (d. 1939)

Mucha posters are worth a fortune, and rightly so. Here’s one for Monte Carlo:

  • 1895 – Robert Graves, English poet, novelist, critic (d. 1985)
  • 1897 – Amelia Earhart, American pilot and author (d. 1937)

Remember: it’s Amelia Earhart Day:

Zelda (Sayre) at 17. Three years later, she was engaged to F. Scott Fitzgerald:

  • 1964 – Barry Bonds, American baseball player
  • 1969 – Jennifer Lopez, American actress, singer, and dancer

Those whose existence lapsed on July 24 include:

  • 1862 – Martin Van Buren, American lawyer and politician, 8th President of the United States (b. 1782)
  • 1962 – Wilfrid Noyce, English mountaineer and author (b. 1917)
  • 1986 – Fritz Albert Lipmann, German-American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1899)
  • 1991 – Isaac Bashevis Singer, Polish-American novelist and short story writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the editor insists on sleeping on her employees’ desks. Well, she is a cat!

Hili: I have a feeling that you are disturbing me.
A: I’m so sorry.
In Polish:
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że mi przeszkadzasz.
Ja: Ogromnie przepraszam.

From Facebook:

A meme from Bruce:

And another superfluous sign from David:

Titania McGrath has been very quiet lately, and there are no new tweets from “her” in nearly a week.

From Luana: a sign (or cup) of the times:

From Barry, a metaphor for Brexit:

From Simon; the end times:

Tweets from Matthew. First, an astronomer and his cat (look hard):

I can’t deny the caption:

Look at the size of this tooth!

Here’s the size of Rhizodu , a lobe-finned fish, compared to other creatures and a modern human (image from Prehistoric Wildlife):

Matthew says this kind of deportation is legal, and in fact has been done, but in this case it’s especially cruel and inhumane. Jendrycha never left the UK after she arrived decades ago.

And a lovely astronomy photo: a moon-forming annulus around a planet!

Friday: Hili dialogue

July 23, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a predicted warm and sunny Friday (it’s been a good week): July 23, 2021, and National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, a flavor I eat only when mixed with fruit or maple syrup. It’s also Peanut Butter and Chocolate Day (eat a Reese’s Cup), Sprinkle Day (celebrating those odious bits of wax and sugar they put on top of cupcakes), Gorgeous Grandma Day, and, for Rastafarians, the Birthday of Haile Selassie, born on July 23, 1892. Selassie, who is a human god to the Rastas, visited Jamaica just once, on Thursday, April 21, 1966, a holiday now celebrated as “Grounation Day.” As Wikipedia notes,

Some 100,000 Rastafari from all over Jamaica descended on Palisadoes Airport in Kingston, having heard that the man whom they considered to be God was coming to visit them. They waited at the airport playing drums and smoking large quantities of marijuana.

Selassie in Jamaica:

There’s a Google Doodle today celebrating the start of the 2020 (yes, 2020) Tokyo Olympics, whose opening ceremony is tonight. It’s an interactive anime game featuring a cat; as C|Net reports:

Google joined the Tokyo Olympics hype on Thursday with its “largest-ever interactive Doodle game.” Doodle Champion Island Games casts you in the role of ninja cat Lucky as she competes in various minigames in her quest to become a sporting legend.

It feels like an adventure pulled out of the 16-bit era of gaming as you move around the island and partake in table tennis, skateboarding, archery and other sports challenges. In the spirit of competition, you also join one of the four color teams to contribute to the real-time global leaderboard.

Click on the screenshot to go to the site, and then push the arrow button:

Wine of the Day: Here from Domaine Lafage, is an inexpensive but reliable source of French wine, in a bottle I have no recollection of buying. It’s from 2013, and the price listed at the time of release was about ten bucks. Here’s a review Robert Parker wrote in 2014, which ranks it very high, with a score of 94, but implies that it might be over the hill.

Outer quote mark A custom cuvee and joint venture with importer Eric Solomon, the 2013 Tessellae Vieilles Vignes is 100% Carignan and comes from 70-year-old vines and the schist soils of Maury and Les Aspres. It is an off-the-charts value that offers up thrilling notes of black raspberry, chocolate, graphite, tar and licorice to go with a voluptuous, decadent, yet seamless and gorgeously pure feel on the palate. Seriously, this wine is smoking good and should thrill for 4-5 years, if not longer. Just pretend you paid more for it. Most of these wines are custom cuvees made for importer Eric Solomon. All of these are incredible values and should not be missed! (JD) Inner quote mark

Carignan, says Jancis Robinson, is an odd grape that’s in a lot of plonk but also in some very good wines. That’s an unbelievably high rating for a ten-buck wine, and I should have probably bought a case. Well, let’s try my one bottle with a big pot of turkey chili.

I’ve now had my two glasses, and the wine is superb, not over the hill at all, and fruity and full. At ten bucks, this is a terrific value.  The 2015 and 2017 vintages, both highly rated, are also available for about fifteen buck. Pick one up if you see it!

News of the Day:

FIrst, Chicago had three mass shootings on Wednesday evening, with a total of three killed and 32 injured. It’s typical here, but also unconscionable. Merrick Garland is visiting the town on a five-city anti-gun initiative, but the solution is dumb: they think they can stem the violence here and in other cities by stopping the sale of legally owned guns to others who shouldn’t be buying them. That’s a crock, and it won’t work at all.

In the New York Times, legal Scholar Richard Pildes makes the case for a four-year House term instead of the entrenched two years. I’m convinced:

The ability of the American political system to deliver major policies on urgent issues is hampered by features of our institutions that we take for granted and rarely think about. Take the Constitution’s requirement that House members serve for only two-year terms.

Just a few months into a new administration, as the country grapples with issues of economic recovery and renewal, Congress’s actions are being shaped not by the merits of policy alone but also by the looming midterm elections. It’s not just the fall 2022 election; many incumbents are also calculating how best to position themselves to fend off potential primary challenges.

. . . . . The two-year House term has profound consequences for how effectively American government can perform — and too many of them are negative. A longer, four-year term would facilitate Congress’s ability to once again effectively address major issues that Americans care most about.

. . . . The president’s party nearly always loses House seats in the midterm elections. Since 1934, this has happened in all but two midterms. Yet it cannot be the case that all administrations have governed so poorly they deserve immediate electoral punishment.

So why does it happen so regularly? Presidential candidates can make vague appeals that allow voters to see whatever they prefer to see. But governing requires concrete choices, and those decisions inevitably alienate some voters. In addition, 21 months (Jan. 20 to early November of the next year) is too little time for voters to be able to judge the effects of new programs.

One of the most difficult aspects of designing democratic institutions is how to give governments incentives to act for the long term rather than the short term. The two-year term for House members does exactly the opposite.

Also in the NYT, there’s a discussion of why vaccinated people are still coming down with the virus. (Remember, it was never touted as being “100 effective” at protecting you.) It’s mostly the Delta variant, of course, combined with the high percentage of morons in America who refuse to get vaccinated, and thus can expose even the vaccinated to the virus. Still, if you’ve had your jabs, you’re very unlikely to wind up in the hospital, much less to die. Some useful information:

The uncertainty about Delta results in part from how it differs from previous versions of the coronavirus. Although its mode of transmission is the same — it is inhaled, usually in indoor spaces — Delta is thought to be about twice as contagious as the original virus.

Significantly, early evidence also suggests that people infected with the Delta variant may carry roughly a thousandfold more virus than those infected with the original virus. While that does not seem to mean that they get sicker, it does probably mean that they are more contagious and for longer.

Dose also matters: A vaccinated person exposed to a low dose of the coronavirus may never become infected, or not noticeably so. A vaccinated person exposed to extremely high viral loads of the Delta variant is more likely to find his or her immune defenses overwhelmed.

As for me, I’ll continue wearing my mask indoors until things settle down a bit.

More disappointment from Eric Clapton, who put out a song opposing masking but did get his jab, saying that it made him horribly ill (see here and here). Now, in light of an order from the PM that anyone going to nightclubs and music venues by the end of September must show a “vaccination passport”, Clapton said that he reserves the right not to play at such events:

In response to the government announcement that vaccination passports will be required to access nightclubs and venues by the end of September, the musician has issued a statement saying he would not play “any stage where there is a discriminated audience present.

“Unless there is provision made for all people to attend, I reserve the right to cancel the show.”

Now here’s a twist: the first Orthodox Jewish baseball player drafted by a major league team. Pitcher Jacob Steinmetz, only 17 years old, was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the 77th draft pick. He’s consoled by the fact that Arizona has kosher food on sale. What about pitching on the Sabbath? Steinmetz made a deal with his family (not G-d): he can pitch on the Sabbath so long as he walks to the stadium on the Sabbath. (Hyperorthodox Jews aren’t allowed to take public transportation on the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday until stars appear in the sky on Saturday night.) If he’s not living near the stadium, he’ll take a hotel room within walking distance. Oy!

They had a photo competition in Włoclawek (the largest city near Dobrzyn), and Paulina entered with this photo of “Karate Kit” Kulka and WON! Paulina (Andrzej and Malgorzata’s upstairs lodger) takes great photos.) Kulka got a prize: 50 zlotys worth of cat treats! (There were 800 entries, and the photo of Kulka below is the winner.)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 609,870, an increase of 252 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,152,562, an increase of about 8,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 23 includes:

Here’s a drawing of the first one, which was inefficient. Wikipedia says this:

Burt had two versions of his mechanical apparatus. The first was built in a wooden box that could be carried by hand. The second was a large advanced model that was mounted on four legs. The first working model provided by Burt for his 1829 patent was destroyed in the 1836 Patent Office fire. Although his typographer, as his innovation was first known by, could print neat documents the mechanism was slow as each letter had to be done by hand. His invention ultimately did not accomplish the goal of speeding up office work as he had intended.

(From Wikipedia): Burt’s “typographer” 1830 patent model version mounted on four three foot long legs showing the lever hammer imprinting assembly in up position.

This meant that Canada was still a British colony until 1867, when it became the Dominion of Canada, its own country.

Grant, who was impecunious, sold his memoirs in advance, with Mark Twain buying them at a huge royalty (70%). Grant finished the memoir a few days before he died. Here he is working on the book in June, 1885, near the end.

  • 1903 – The Ford Motor Company sells its first car.
  • 1926 – Fox Film buys the patents of the Movietone sound system for recording sound onto film.

A tweet sent by Matthew commemorating this day in 1943:

Here’s another one of those weird British murders that people still remember. The murderer, Eric Brown, was the son of the victim (wheelchair bound Archibald Brown, aged 47), who killed his dad by putting a Hawkins grenade under the seat cushion. Eric was declared insane and committed until his release in 1975.

  • 1962 – Telstar relays the first publicly transmitted, live trans-Atlantic television program, featuring Walter Cronkite.
  • 1962 – Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Branch Rickey joins Jackie and Rachael Robinson in Cooperstown after Robinson’s induction ceremony in 1962. Robinson Jackie 193.83_HOF Ind_ NBL (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
  • 1967 – Detroit Riots: In Detroit, one of the worst riots in United States history begins on 12th Street in the predominantly African American inner city. It ultimately kills 43 people, injures 342 and burns about 1,400 buildings.

Here’s a short video showing some of the riots and news about them.

  • 1992 – A Vatican commission, led by Joseph Ratzinger, establishes that limiting certain rights of homosexual people and non-married couples is not equivalent to discrimination on grounds of race or gender.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1892 – Haile Selassie, Ethiopian emperor (d. 1975)

See above

  • 1935 – Jim Hall, American race car driver
  • 1961 – Woody Harrelson, American actor and activist
  • 1973 – Monica Lewinsky, American activist and former White House intern.

Those who died on July 23 include:

  • 1948 – D. W. Griffith, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1875)
  • 1973 – Eddie Rickenbacker, American pilot and race car driver, founded Rickenbacker Motors (b. 1890)
  • 1989 – Donald Barthelme, American short story writer and novelist (b. 1931)
  • 2001 – Eudora Welty, American novelist and short story writer (b. 1909)

I read some Welty during the pandemic, and she’s good. Here she is getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Jimmy Cater in 1980:

  • 2002 – Chaim Potok, American novelist and rabbi (b. 1929)
  • 2010 – Daniel Schorr, American journalist and author (b. 1916)
  • 2011 – Amy Winehouse, English singer-songwriter (b. 1983)

It’s the tenth anniversary of Amy’s death. Here’s a song to remember her by. It’s my favorite of hers:

 

  • 2012 – Sally Ride, American physicist and astronaut (b. 1951)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s hunting in the orchard:

A: Why are you lying here?
Hili: I’m Listening whether a mole is going in my direction.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu tu leżysz?
Hili: Słucham, czy kret idzie w moją stronę.

From Nicole, a book I desperately need:

From Stash Krod, a boat I want!

And another superfluous sign from reader David:

Readers Dom and Jez went to a pub and had some pints of Landlord in my honor. Here’s Dom’s drawing of the venue: the Fox and Duck in Herts.

From Ginger K., who says the emphasis is on “alleged”!

Here’s an animated tweet from Simon, who says it’s “a graphical representation that I thought was good to explain increasing proportions of vaccinated people with covid.”

Tweets from Matthew. I can’t resist some posts showing cute bats:

A heartwarmer; sound on:

Here’s a stupendous gynandromorph, split right down the middle. You know the right side is female because the big jaw is on the left (dorsal view to the left). It’s a good way to compare the morphology of males vs. females in a single individual.

Thursday: Hili dialogue

July 22, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a soon-to-be-sunny Thursday, July 22, 2021: National Penuche Day (“penuche” is a fudgelike sweet made only from butter, brown sugar, and milk). It’s also Mango Day, Lion’s Share Day (take the extra donut!), and Spoonerism Day, named after the reverend and Oxford lecturer William Archibald Spooner, born on this day in 1844. He was famous for garbling language in a humorous way, and is supposed to have said these things:

  • “It is kisstomary to cuss the bride” (…customary to kiss the bride) [JAC: supposedly said while Spooner was officiating at a wedding]. 
  • “I am tired of addressing beery wenches” (weary benches)
  • “Mardon me padam, this pie is occupewed. Can I sew you to another sheet?” (Pardon me, madam, this pew is occupied. Can I show you to another seat?)
  • “You have hissed all my mystery lectures, and were caught fighting a liar in the quad. Having tasted two worms, you will leave by the next town drain” (You have missed all my history lectures, and were caught lighting a fire in the quad. Having wasted two terms, you will leave by the next down train)

Finally, it’s also Pi Approximation Day, (22/7 approximates π at 3.14286, but see also March 14) and Ratcatcher’s Day, celebrating the mythical Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Note that the number of subscribers has now fallen to 72,999. One person please subscribe!

News of the Day:

You’ll be pleased to know that my teeth and gums are in excellent condition; the hygienist particularly complimented me on my excellent gums. But that is my due given the amount of time I spent flossing, brushing, and stimulating. I am now recommended to get a WaterPik.

Some good news from the ACLU—for a change. Remember when Biden was accusing Facebook of helping kill people by spreading lies about COVID-19? That sounds well meaning, but is in fact a violation of the First Amendment. As a newsletter from FAIR notes:

As private entities, social media companies have the ability to censor content on their own. However, as journalist Glenn Greenwald noted, “the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee is violated when government officials pressure or coerce private actors to censor for them. That is exactly what [the White House] is doing with Facebook.”

After the White House announced plans to “review” Section 230, which protects social media companies from culpability regarding content on their platforms, The ACLU issued a statement in opposition to the White House’s actions.

As the CNN story referenced by the ACLU notes:

The White House is reviewing whether social media platforms should be held legally accountable for publishing misinformation via Section 230, a law that protects companies’ ability to moderate content, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said Tuesday.

The Section 230 debate is taking on new urgency in recent days as the administration has called on social media platforms to take a more aggressive stance on combating misinformation. The federal law, which is part of the Communications Decency Act, provides legal immunity to websites that moderate user-generated content.

Biden has long railed against the law for its protection of social media companies from misinformation, whereas Trump has claimed that it leads to the censorship and suppression of conservative voices. Supporters of the provision, meanwhile, argue that the law protects free speech. Trump’s attempts to use the executive branch to change how Section 230 is applied to tech companies was called unconstitutional by legal experts, lawmakers and officials at the Federal Communications Commission.

And now Biden’s in the same boat.

Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped more steeply last year than any time since World War II. Naturally, the cause is the coronavirus pandemic. And the drop is substantial; as the NYT reports:

From 2019 to 2020, Hispanic people experienced the greatest drop in life expectancy — three years — and Black Americans saw a decrease of 2.9 years. White Americans experienced the smallest decline, of 1.2 years.

. . .Racial and ethnic disparities have persisted throughout the coronavirus pandemic, a reflection of many factors, including the differences in overall health and available health care between white, Hispanic and Black people in the United States. Black and Hispanic Americans were more likely to be employed in risky, public-facing jobs during the pandemic — bus drivers, restaurant cooks, sanitation workers — rather than working from home in relative safety on their laptops in white-collar jobs.

They also more commonly depend on public transportation, risking coronavirus exposure, or live in multigenerational homes and in tighter conditions that were more conducive to spreading the virus.

The Kennedy Center Honors this year (the second of 2021 because of the pandemic) will go to these five people in December: Berry Gordy (the founder of Motown Records), Lorne Michaels (creator of Saturday Night Live), singer Bette Middler, opera singer Justino Díaz, and, my favorite, Joni Mitchell! Joni doesn’t appear in public very often, so I hope she shows up; it’s likely that Joe Biden will confer the awards.

Well, this was a surprise. The U.S. women’s soccer team, the world Gold Standard, lost its first game to Sweden 3-0—the first game the team has lost since January 2019. I didn’t watch it, but HuffPost has a bunch of tweets about the lackluster U.S. play. Let’s just see a summary of the highlights.

The U.S. isn’t out, but they have to beat New Zealand in the next game to advance.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 609,508, an increase of 249 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,143,645, an increase of about 8,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 22 includes:

What on earth is a schiltron? See here. This was the end for Wallace as a leader for Scottish independence, but he hung around for seven more years before he was captured and, then, well, the end is gruesome (they leave out the worst bits in Braveheart. FREEEEEEDOMMM!

  • 1598 – William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, is entered on the Stationers’ Register. By decree of Queen Elizabeth, the Stationers’ Register licensed printed works, giving the Crown tight control over all published material.

I found the entry at the Folger Shakespeare Library site and have put a rectangle over what I think is the entry, at least as indicated by Folger:

The Merchant of Venice was entered into Liber C of the Stationers’ Company on July 22, 1598, under “the title the Marchaunt of Venyce or otherwise called the Jewe of Venyce.” James Roberts, the London printer and publisher who entered the title, was allowed to enter the play under the restriction that any printing had to be authorized by the Lord Chamberlain.

Lord was the handwriting weird in those days!

Here’s one of my favorite versions, performed by Ray Charles in 1972.

This, and not The Star-Spangled Banner, should be America’s National Anthem.

  • 1933 – Aviator Wiley Post returns to Floyd Bennett Field in New York City, completing the first solo flight around the world in seven days, 18 hours and 49 minutes.

Here’s a brief documentary of Post’s accomplishments. Sadly, both he and comic Will Rogers died in an accident in Alaska on August 15, 1935, crashing in bad weather.

  • 1937 – New Deal: The United States Senate votes down President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 1942 – The United States government begins compulsory civilian gasoline rationing due to the wartime demands.

Here’s how it worked:

An “A” sticker on a car was the lowest priority of gasoline rationing and entitled the car owner to 3 to 4 US gallons (11 to 15 l; 2.5 to 3.3 imp gal) of gasoline per week. B stickers were issued to workers in the military industry, entitling their holder to up to 8 US gallons (30 l; 6.7 imp gal) of gasoline per week. C stickers were granted to persons deemed very essential to the war effort, such as doctors. T stickers were made available for truckers. Lastly, X stickers on cars entitled the holder to unlimited supplies and were the highest priority in the system. Clergy, police, firemen, and civil defense workers were in this category. A scandal erupted when 200 Congressmen received these X stickers. Referring to the lowest tier of this system, American motorists jokingly said that OPA stood for “Only a Puny A-Card.

Clergy got the highest priority, along with “first responders.” Why is that? So they could drive around and visit their parishioners?

  • 1942 – Grossaktion Warsaw: The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto begins.

Here are Warsaw Jews being loaded onto trains, and you know what’s waiting at the other end:

  • 1990 – Greg LeMond, an American road racing cyclist, wins his third Tour de France after leading the majority of the race. It was LeMond’s second consecutive Tour de France victory.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1849 – Emma Lazarus, American poet and educator (d. 1887)
  • 1882 – Edward Hopper, American painter and etcher (d. 1967)

Hopper drew cats! Here’s his “Cats Study”:

  • 1888 – Selman Waksman, Jewish-American biochemist and microbiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1973)
  • 1923 – Bob Dole, American soldier, lawyer, and politician

He’s 98 today!

  • 1955 – Willem Dafoe, American actor
  • 1992 – Selena Gomez, American singer and actress

Those who paid Charon on on July 22 were few, and include:

  • 1916 – James Whitcomb Riley, American poet and author (b. 1849)
  • 1932 – Flo Ziegfeld, American actor and producer (b. 1867)
  • 1934 – John Dillinger, American gangster (b. 1903)

The “Lady in Red” who helped the government track down Dillinger, with the FBI shooting him dead in front of Chicago’s Biograph Theater, was Ana Cumpănaș, a Romanian prostitute and brothel owner who hoped to gain citizenship by helping the government. She got her $5000 reward for fingering Dillinger, but then was deported to Romania anyway. Here she is (she identified herself and Dillinger to the FBI by wearing red as she accompanied the gangster to the theater):

  • 1967 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (b. 1878)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is enforcing the Orchard Roolz:

Hili: A spider made a spiderweb on our tree.
A: So what?
Hili: It’s illegal.

In Polish:

Hili: Pająk zrobił sobie pajęczynę na naszym drzewie.
Ja: I co z tego?
Hili: To jest nielegalne.
And Andrezej has a photo of Szaron:

 

From Anne-Marie, another cartoon. She says this is from “André-Philippe Côté, another well-known artist\cartoonist from the French Canadian press.”. The title is “The Veiled Sky in Afghanistan,” which of course is what’s coming. It’s an excellent cartoon.

From Barry, who comments, “We aren’t going to make it, are we?”

And yet another superfluous sign from reader David:

A pinned tweet put up by Masih in March (we featured her yesterday). Her conversation with Bari Weiss last evening was superb.

From Ginger K., a refreshing heartwarmer:

From Ken, who says, “Fox News falsifies Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity by announcing a new, superluminal Russian jet” (i.e., it flies faster than the speed of light). Sound up. I think they mean Mach 2:

From Luana, a map of racism, defined as whether you’d want to live next to someone of another race. The U.S. isn’t doing so bad!

Tweets from Matthew. He says to note the date this one was first tweeted:

What is this thing?

Except for government vehicles:

Carolyn, like me, is a huge Beatles fan. Be sure to turn the sound up and listen for that high note:

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

July 21, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a humpy Wednesday, July 21, 2021: National Crème Brûlée Day, and thus a day of cultural appropriation. The weather will be “clement” this week (as opposed to “inclement”) with lots of sun and high temperatures ranging from 72° F (22° C) today to the mid 80s later in the week. Good weather for ducks!

It’s also National Junk Food Day, National Hot Dog Day, Legal Drinking Age Day (“celebrating” the lowering of the legal drinking age in the U.S. on this date in 1984), and Take a Monkey to Lunch Day (that could be another person, as we’re all monkeys).

News of the Day:

It’s been 182 days since Biden took office, and that’s six months. Where in tarnation is the White House cat that they promised us? Below are Joe and Dr. Jill saying that a female cat was “waiting in the wings”. That was on May 20, and clearly they already had a candidate for First Cat. Fricking lies!

You know the news: COVID hospitalizations and deaths are rising in the U.S., and in every state. One thousand Americans are infected every hour. In some states, like Louisiana, fewer than 40% of the residents are fully vaccinated. What is wrong with these people? In Tokyo, 71 people connected with the games, and a few more athletes, are now infected while the city-wide rate of infection spikes. Opening ceremonies are on Friday; will the games really go on?

And there’s a scary report from three Indian scholars: the real COVID-19 death toll in that country could be as high as ten times the official count of 414,000 dead:

It said the count could have missed deaths that occurred in overwhelmed hospitals or while health care was disrupted, particularly during the devastating virus surge earlier this year.

“True deaths are likely to be in the several millions not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India’s worst human tragedy since Partition and independence,” the report said.

In fact, since about a million died in the 1947 Partition, this tragedy would be much greater than that. And a death toll of four million would put India way above the next most afflicted country: the U.S., which has about 609,000 deaths so far (see below).

Bezos, of course, made it to space with his three buddies, in a picture-perfect flight that lasted ten minutes. Unfortunately, he also made a post-flight gaffe: as the Washington Post reports:

During an event after the flight that had been billed as a news conference but where only three questions were asked, Bezos said, “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”

I wonder if that sits well with the Amazon employees who work their butts off, don’t get proper bathroom breaks, make low wages, and can’t afford a $125,000 ten-minute space ride.

On his Substack site, “The Why Axis”, Christopher Ingraham gives the mainstream media, including the New York Times, some responsibility for keeping alive the bogus practice of “dowsing” (finding water with sticks held in the hand). (I wrote about this more briefly a few days ago.) An excerpt:

There are a lot of ways to cover this story. You could frame it by asking why people continue to believe in the practice, despite the overwhelming empirical evidence against it. You could situate dowsing within the broader context of rising misinformation and conspiracy-mongering in the U.S. At the very least you could make it clear — without equivocation — that dowsing is a pseudoscience no different from Ouija board divination or telepathy.

Alas, in its recent story on dowsing in California the New York Times did none of those things. It described dowsing as a “disputed method for locating water,” as if it were a topic of political debate rather than a claim about objective reality. It gave dowsers a platform to spread misinformation at length — one described how the “energy around him changes,” boasted of laughing at critics “who don’t know the facts” and claimed he was “rarely wrong” — without being challenged.

The story gave the strong impression that dowsing is a valid economical alternative to scientific well-digging methods . .

What is going on with this “he said/she said” coverage of science? And it’s not just the New York Times, either; according to Ingraham, it’s also the Associated Press, Outside Magazine, and other venues. (I’ll add that the NYT is soft on religion, too.)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 608,717, an increase of 249 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,134,856, an increase of about 21,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 21 includes:

The 356 BC destruction was of third temple erected. Here’s a model in Istanbul of what we think the Temple of Artemis looked like and, below that, a photo what remains of the original: only fragments. (Only one of the famous Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still remains; do you know which one?)

  • 365 – The 365 Crete earthquake affects the Greek island of Crete with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme), causing a destructive tsunami that affects the coasts of Libya and Egypt, especially Alexandria. Many thousands were killed.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: First Battle of Bull Run: At Manassas Junction, Virginia, the first major battle of the war begins and ends in a victory for the Confederate army.
  • 1865 – In the market square of Springfield, MissouriWild Bill Hickok shoots and kills Davis Tutt in what is regarded as the first western showdown.

The duel involved the men standing 75 yards apart and aiming at each other, firing simultaneously. Tutt missed; Hickok didn’t. Here’s Wild Bill four years after the shootout:

The gang, which robbeed and murdered, was headed by Jesse James and his brother Frank, shown here in 1872 with Jesse on the left. Jesse was shot at 24, but Frank, who never spent a day in jail, lived to the ripe old age of 72.

  • 1904 – Louis Rigolly, a Frenchman, becomes the first man to break the 100 mph (161 km/h) barrier on land. He drove a 15-liter Gobron-Brillié in Ostend, Belgium.
  • 1925 – Scopes Trial: In Dayton, Tennessee, high school biology teacher John T. Scopes is found guilty of teaching human evolution in class and fined $100.

Scopes’s guilty verdict was overturned because the judge levied the fine, while fines over $50 were supposed to be levied by the jury. Note again that the law Scopes brook prohibited the teaching of only human evolution, not evolution in general.

Here’s Campbell’s record-setting run. Note that he’s wearing a tie while driving.

Here’s an informative ten-minute video of von Stauffenberg’s plot and his execution:

  • 1959 – Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green becomes the first African-American to play for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to integrate. He came in as a pinch runner for Vic Wertz and stayed in as shortstop in a 2–1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
  • 1960 – Sirimavo Bandaranaike is elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, becoming the world’s first female head of government
  • 1969 – Apollo program: At 02:56 UTC, astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the Moon, followed 19 minutes later by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
  • 1983 – The world’s lowest temperature in an inhabited location is recorded at Vostok Station, Antarctica at −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F).

Here’s Vostok Station, a Russian research base, and its location in Antarctica. It looks cold!

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1899 – Ernest Hemingway, American novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1961)
  • 1911 – Marshall McLuhan, Canadian author and theorist (d. 1980)
  • 1948 – Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), English singer-songwriter and guitarist

Which one is Cat Stevens?

  • 1951 – Robin Williams, American actor, singer, and producer (d. 2014)
  • 1968 – Brandi Chastain, American soccer player and sportscaster

Those who made their final exit on July 21 include:

  • 1796 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet and songwriter (b. 1759)
  • 1899 – Robert G. Ingersoll, American soldier, lawyer, and politician (b. 1833)

The Great Agnostic! Here’s the only known photo of Ingersoll addressing an audience:

See above.

You should learn about Lee Miller, who managed to pack more life into 70 years than just about anybody.  Photographer and photojournalist, and one of the very few women who photographed WWII (including the concentration camps), perhaps the most famous photo is of her, not by her. Here she is in Hitler’s bathtub! The caption from the Guardian. She her own photos here.

  • 1998 – Alan Shepard, American admiral, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1923)
  • 2015 – E. L. Doctorow, American novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1931)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili shows her usual pessimism:

Szaron: The fog is lifting.
Hili: There may be another storm.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Szaron: Mgła się podnosi.
Hili: Pewnie znowu będzie burza.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

From Facebook:

From reader Bruce:

Another superfluous sign from reader David:

A tweet from reader Ken, who notes, “Here’s the type of trenchant medical discussion concerning COVID vaccines that Fox & Friends morning viewers are being exposed to”:

From Ginger K.  I’m waiting for the papers, too.

Tweets from Matthew. I wonder if drakes make better guard duck than hens, as only the females can quack:

These look like disguises that Austin Powers would wear:

A very clever Venn diagram:

Parallel movies 43 years apart:

Now this is a headline!

This has got to be the Tweet of the Week:

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

July 20, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Tuesday, July 20, 2021: National Lollipop Day (Americans also call them “suckers”).  It’s also National Anisette Day, World UFO Day, International Chess Day, and National Fortune Cookie Day:

The tweet is now two days old but I’m putting it up because it shows what a breath of fresh air Biden is after the horrors of the last four years. Joe has always loved his cones! (Sadly, he had two scoops of vanilla with chocolate chips on top.)

And, of course, the Pecksniffs tore into Biden for his “tone deaf tweet.” Even I got some pushback just for retweeting it.

I’m going downtown to get my six-month tooth (teeth?) cleaning today, so posting will be light. It takes a long time to get down there and back, and the cleaning takes an hour. Bear with me.

News of the Day:

This is a first in what I hope are many similar rulings. A federal judge of the U.S. District Court of Northern Indiana has ruled that Indiana University in Bloomington can indeed require that all students, faculty, and staff be vaccinated before going back to campus. (Presumably, those with legitimate medical issues would be exempted.) However, it’s an honor code pledge; you just attest that you’re vaccinated and needn’t provide proof. But I approve of the ruling.  If children must be vaccinated to attend public schools, why shouldn’t students be vaccinated to attend public univerities?

I have once again acquired swimmer’s itch (also known as cercarial dermatitis) from rescuing those six ducklings a week ago. Just like last year, the eruptions seem to take a week to come on, and then they itch like hell. I swear I have not scratched any of these lesions so I haven’t made them worse, but they are driving me mad. I’m using 2.5% hydrocortisone cream.

The condition is supposed to develop within a couple of days after exposure, but, just like last year, it took about a week. It’s caused by being infected by a stage of a flatworm whose primary hosts are snails and, of course, waterfowl. The lesions are allergic reactions to the parasites which, I guess, bore into my skin.

This is what I get for rescuing ducklings (as well as a scalp laceration that’s almost healed), but you know I’d do it again to save the lives of those little guys.

Here are the results of yesterday’s poll on whether the Manchester Museum (a science museum affiliated with Manchester University) should construct a “multifaith space” for prayer (and also for meditation). The “no”s outnumbered the “yes”s by nearly 17 to 1, though the comments were not quite that lopsided.

According to CNN, and in line with the Zeitgeist, Apple is introducing pregnant man emojis. They come in several colors, and with or without facial hair. But how can you tell they’re pregnant rather than fat?

Is Wikipedia “at war with the Jews”? So maintains David Collier on his website, where he claims that there’s an editing war on the site about all Jewish issues, with those who hate Jews vastly outnumbering those who are either pro-Jewish or want a more balanced presentation:

But Sanger [the co-founder of Wikipedia] only gets part of the picture. He assesses a Wikipedia environment in which two sides – both powerful are battling – with one having the upper hand. This leads to an inevitable and clear bias and editorial domination – which is what Sanger references. But Sanger fails to comprehend the true scale of the problem. For example – in a situation in which one side is vastly numerically superior to the other.

The Jews are the quintessential minority group. The enemies of the Jews far outnumber them. Islamists. far-left activists and neo-Nazis are all out there writing Wikipedia edits. The pages on Wikipedia that relate to the Jews or Israel are often the target.

. . . Every Wikipedia page that deals with the history of Jews or Israel – is tainted. The website spreads ‘fake news’ and provides legitimacy to antisemitic arguments. Toxic academics like David Miller provide written source material, extremist websites such as Electronic Intifada produce conspiracy theories and an army of Islamist / hard-left Wikipedia editors spend all their time reworking history.

A few examples he cites:

Just a few examples. Take the ‘massacre at Balad al Shaykh’ in 1948. It is an event that source documents prove never happened – but despite numerous protests – Wikipedia is still telling everyone that it did. Or the events during the 1920 Nebi Musa festival. It was an anti-Jewish riot, fuelled by anti-Jewish rhetoric of religious Islamic leaders. Yet Wikipedia’s page – which originally told a version much closer to the truth – has been edited by Israel’s enemies until the truth can no longer be seen.

An Ohio woman, with her daughter in the car, and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, let go of the steering wheel because she “wanted God to take the wheel” as a test of faith. God failed: her car ran a red light and then crashed into another car, a utility pole and then a house.

The woman told police that she intentionally drove at that high rate of speed and through the red light to “test her faith with God,” according to the report.

She told police she’s been going through some “trials and tribulations” and was recently fired from her job.

The woman said she “let go and let God take the wheel,” according to the police report.

Neither the woman nor her daughter were injured, but she was charged with felony assault, endangering a child, and driving under suspension.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 608,811, an increase of 324 deaths over yesterday’s figure. Remember when 200,000 deaths was an unimaginable figure? With the high proportion of unvaccinated people and the new variants, we may get to a million. The reported world death toll is now 4,113,943, an increase of about 7,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 20 includes:

Here’s a diagram by Niépce and his brother of the Pyrélophore:

  • 1848 – The first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, a two-day event, concludes.
  • 1903 – The Ford Motor Company ships its first automobile.

The first car shipped was imaginatively called the “Model A”; here’s one of them. Unlike the Model T, it came in colors other than black.

  • 1938 – The United States Department of Justice files suit in New York City against the motion picture industry charging violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act in regards to the studio system. The case would eventually result in a break-up of the industry in 1948.
  • 1940 – California opens its first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway.
  • 1941 – Soviet leader Joseph Stalin consolidates the Commissariats of Home Affairs and National Security to form the NKVD and names Lavrentiy Beria its chief.

Beria was an extremely nasty piece of work, not only ordering the killing of prisoners of war, but orchestrating purges and kidnapping and raping many women. He met his own end when, begging and pleading, he was executed with a shot through the head.  He had been “convicted” (if that’s the word) of treason and terrorism. Here he is with Stalin and Svetlana (Stalin’s daughter) on his lap.

From Wikipedia: Beria with Stalin (in background), Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, and Nestor Lakoba (obscured)

Here’s Stauffenberg’s death certificate. He was shot, but there’s no indication of “cause of death”:

  • 1960 – Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) elects Sirimavo Bandaranaike Prime Minister, the world’s first elected female head of government.

She served three terms: 1960–1965, 1970–1977 and 1994–2000. Here’s Bandaranaike around 1981:

  • 1968 – The first International Special Olympics Summer Games are held at Soldier Field in Chicago, with about 1,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities.

The Wikipedia entry says “intellectual and physical disabilities”, though perhaps this first event concentrated on the intellectual ones (it’s not clear from the entry)

I well remember watching this live at a friend’s house. If you’re old enough to remember that, you’ll remember what a thrill it was. All Americans were glued to their television sets:

  • 1989 – Burma’s ruling junta puts opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

She was once a hero of mine; now I disdain her because of her silence over the persecution (indeed, genocide) of the Rohingya Muslim minority. I don’t know what happened.

  • 1997 – The fully restored USS Constitution (a.k.a. Old Ironsides) celebrates its 200th birthday by setting sail for the first time in 116 years.

You can still see the ship in Boston Harbor. Here she is firing her cannons:

  • 2005 – The Civil Marriage Act legalizes same-sex marriage in Canada.
  • 2015 – The United States and Cuba resume full diplomatic relations after five decades.
  • 2017 – O. J. Simpson is granted parole to be released from prison after serving nine years of a 33-year sentence after being convicted of armed robbery in Las Vegas.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1804 – Richard Owen, English biologist, anatomist, and paleontologist (d. 1892)
  • 1822 – Gregor Mendel, Austro-German monk, geneticist and botanist (d. 1884)

Mendel is 199 today! Peas be upon him

  • 1919 – Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer (d. 2008)

Here’s Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first people to step on the highest spot on Earth. Here they are after returning from the summit of Everest:

Here’s the ice axe Hillary used when making his climb; I photograped it in the Te Papa Museum in Wellington in 2017:

  • 1933 – Cormac McCarthy, American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter

Read him; he’s a fabulous writer.

  • 1971 – Sandra Oh, Canadian actress

Those who knocked on Heaven’s door on July 20 include:

Villa on horseback. Do not wear this costume on Halloween:

  • 1945 – Paul Valéry, French author and poet (b. 1871)
  • 1973 – Bruce Lee, American actor and martial artist (b. 1940)
  • 2007 – Tammy Faye Messner, American Christian evangelist and talk show host (b. 1942)

Yes, that’s Tammy Fay Bakker, who remarried after her husband’s disgrace. Here they are in “better” times.

  • 2011 – Lucian Freud, German-English painter and illustrator (b. 1922)

Here’s Freud’s “Girl with a Kitten” (1947) from the Tate. It apparently depicts his first wife, who looks as if she’s strangling the poor beast.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, all the cats are convening in the orchard, but little Kulka (whom Hili still doesn’t much like) is worried she won’t fit in:

Hili: The orchard is huge; we can share it.
Kulka: With me as well?
Photo: Paulina R.
In Polish:
Hili: Sad jest wielki, możemy się nim podzielić.
Kulka: Ze mną też?
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

Reader David sent a series of superfluous signs. Here’s the first:

From Facebook:

From Jesus of the Day, with the caption, “It is shark week and they are often vilified. Let’s set the record straight.”

A tweet from reader Ken, who asks, “Aren’t these the same people who called others ‘snowflakes’ and shout facts don’t care about your feelings’?”

Tweets from Matthew. First, a cat faked out with a drawing that’s analogous to the red laser dot:

It’s amazing that this guy caught the photo given the speed of the transit and the narrowness of the path. Note that this is from last year. Do watch the video below to show how clever the photographer was to get this shot.

. . . and here’s the video:

Two coincidences (or were they miracles?)

A scuba dolphin. But Matthew says, and he’s surely right, “It’s cute but it’s either been trained or, more likely, it is just utterly bored.” No marine mammals or penguins in captivity! Close the zoos and most of the aquariums!

Two of Matthew’s three cats are occupying his chairs:

And what was this all about?

Monday: Hili dialogue

July 19, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Monday, July 19, 2021: National Daiquiri Day (Hemingway’s favorite tipple). It’s also National Flitch Day (a “flitch” is half of a pig), National Raspberry Cake Day, and Stick Out Your Tongue Day. Even the greats observe it! (The story behind this iconic photo, taken in 1951 when Einstein was leaving his 72nd birthday party) is told here.

Wine of the Day: After a hard day at Botany Pond, I treated myself to an Oregon Pinot Noir, about which I have little information save it cost me $30. One rating from 2020 (they’re all good) says this (I’m giving up on this kind of subtle tasting note describing a panoply of flavors):

Ruby red in color. 13.8% ABV. Terrific nose of red fruits, black tea, rose petals and forest floor. Medium body with exquisite acidity. Expressive and fruit forward. Boysenberry, raspberry, spice and earth on the palate. Exceptional length on the finish. Tremendous Pinot Noir from a well established vineyard. Best over the next 4-6 years.

The food: two chicken thighs with hoisin sauce and rice, and fresh tomatoes.

The verdict: fabulous wine, all of the above with a bag of chips. Smooth, ripe, and fruity. Considering you’d pay $90 for this in a restaurant (they often triple the retail price, which means increasing the wholesale price sixfold), it’s worth buying for a special occasion and taking it to a restaurant, paying whatever corkage free they charge (never more than $20 in my experience). According to the above, it will be good for five more years, so if you like Pinot, want a splurge but don’t want to pay the exorbitant prices of Burgundies, I recommend this one very highly.

News of the Day:

Yep, we’re in another uptick of Covid in the U.S., with mask mandates being re-imposed, hospitals filling up with the unvaccinated, and many people still resisting vaccination. There are now at least three infected people in the Olympic Village, including two athletes, and tennis star Coco Gauff, after testing positive for the virus, has pulled out of the games. I couldn’t find out if she’d been vaccinated, and the absence of information implies that she hadn’t.  I’m completely baffled about why the Olympics didn’t require all athletes to be vaccinated. Nevertheless, the games must and will go on, as Japan’s investment is too great to stop them now. Let’s hope there’s no debacle in the offing.

Why are people such jerks on social media? At the NYT, op-ed writer Roxane Gay gives her take, which involves the relative powerlessness people feel at the dire state of the world. In such situations, people try to gain control by wielding power over others on the Internet, like petty dictators. Gay says this:

Increasingly, I’ve felt that online engagement is fueled by the hopelessness many people feel when we consider the state of the world and the challenges we deal with in our day-to-day lives. Online spaces offer the hopeful fiction of a tangible cause and effect — an injustice answered by an immediate consequence. On Twitter, we can wield a small measure of power, avenge wrongs, punish villains, exalt the pure of heart.

In our quest for this simulacrum of justice, however, we have lost all sense of proportion and scale. We hold in equal contempt a war criminal and a fiction writer who too transparently borrows details from someone else’s life. It’s hard to calibrate how we engage or argue.

Is she right? Well, I have noticed things getting more acrimonious, both on my site (thankfully, not much of a problem) and lots of other sites, with people hoping that folks from the other side of the political spectrum suffered terribly when they died of cancer. And yet horrible people like this think that they themselves are on the side of the angels. Is Gay right? As someone once said, “All this is as plausible as anything else.” It’s basically an extended kvetch, though.

There’s more discussion at the NYT about whether we’re going to need booster shots for COVID. The consensus of the experts, like Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, M.D. and journalist, is “yes”, though it’s not clear whether the shots will, as in Israel, be reserved for the very old and the immunosuppressed. It may also be a moneymaking venture for Pfizer, which stands to make $26 billion this year alone. But one thing’s for sure: if the FDA approves a booster, I’m getting it.

The Taliban has issued a diktat in Afghanistan ordering the locals to turn over their women to become “wives” (i.e., sex slaves):

The Taliban, fighting with Afghanistan forces to take control of a large part of the war-torn country, has issued a statement ordering local religious leaders to give them a list of girls over 15 years of age and widows under 45, reports have said. According to reports, the Taliban has promised for them to be married to their fighters and taken to Pakistan’s Waziristan, where they will be converted to Islam and reintegrated.

Do the women have any choice in this matter? Hell, no! This is only the beginning of the horrors that Afghani men—and especially women—face in the weeks to come. Such is theocracy: an imaginary God dictating what women can wear, whether they can work, whether they can sing and dance, and whom they can marry.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 608,189, an increase of 273 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,106,672, an increase of about 6,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 19 includes:

  • AD 64 – The Great Fire of Rome causes widespread devastation and rages on for six days, destroying half of the city.
  • 1588 – Anglo-Spanish War: Battle of Gravelines: The Spanish Armada is sighted in the English Channel.
  • 1843 – Brunel’s steamship the SS Great Britain is launched, becoming the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull and screw propeller, becoming the largest vessel afloat in the world.

The ship is still preserved in dry dock; you can see it in Bristol:

The meeting was organized by Quakers and by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (below; not a Quaker):

Here’s Garin. He won the 1904 Tour de France, too, but lost the title that year for CHEATING!

Here’s an X-15, launched, as are all of them, from underneath another airborne plane. In a few days Jeff Bezos will also exceed the international 100 km “space line”, though Branson didn’t.

He didn’t report the incident till 10 a.m. the next day, and the excuse was lame. It was this incident that, many thought, would bar Teddy Kennedy from ever running for President (it didn’t, but he lost the Democratic nomination to Jimmy Carter in 1980). Here’s Kopechne, who was 28 when she died:

I hiked there right before they created the National Park, and then soon thereafter. It’s lovely, of course, but I haven’t been back for ages and I suspect it’s really crowded (they’re building a road to Namche Bazar). Here’s a view from one of the trails (h/t Discover Nepal). Everest is in the distance, right below the snow cloud, while Ama Dablam is to the right. Lhotse is to the immediate right of Everest.

  • 1977 – The world’s first Global Positioning System (GPS) signal was transmitted from Navigation Technology Satellite 2 (NTS-2) and received at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at 12:41 a.m. Eastern time.
  • 1983 – The first three-dimensional reconstruction of a human head in a CT is published.

Here’s one of the CT scans from the paper of an infant with Apert Syndrome:

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s a patent for Colt’s 1836 revolver:

  • 1860 – Lizzie Borden, American woman, tried and acquitted for the murders of her parents in 1892 (d. 1927)
  • 1894 – Percy Spencer, American physicist and inventor of the microwave oven (d. 1969)
  • 1922 – George McGovern, American lieutenant, historian, and politician (d. 2012)

Notables who dropped on July 19 were few, and include:

  • 1374 – Petrarch, Italian poet and scholar (b. 1304)
  • 2009 – Frank McCourt, American author and educator (b. 1930)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a premonition (probably related to d*gs):

Hili: I’m not going any farther.
A: Why?
Hili: My intuition tells me that I ought to stop here.
In Polish:
Hili: Dalej nie idę.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Intuicja mi mówi, że tu powinnam się zatrzymać.

And Andrzej has a photo of Kulka sleeping on MY sofa, where she is not wont to nap:

Caption: Kulka follows the example of grownups and is sleeping where nobody asked her to.

In Polish: Kulka idzie w ślady dorosłych i śpi tam, gdzie jej nie proszą.

From Stash Krod:

From David, a warning for the morons:

Here’s a lovely “super scratcher” from Jesus of the Day. Remember, a normal cat has 18 toes:

A heartwarmer from Barry:

Two tweets from Ginger K. The first should be tattooed on every Wokester:

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose:

From Matthew: another good example of Batesian mimicry:

Here’s a man from 1918 who bears a remarkable resemblance to Donald Sutherland. I’ve put a picture of Sutherland below the tweet:

Today’s Donald Sutherland:

You call that a chair? Now THIS is a chair!