Saturday: Hili dialogue

May 15, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Cat Sabbath: Saturday, May 15, 2021: National Chocolate Chip Day. It’s also World Whisky Day, International Day of Families, Peace Officers Memorial Day, Astronomy Day, Bring Flowers to Someone Day, Straw Hat Day, Plant a Lemon Tree Day, and, best of all, International Conscientious Objectors Day. Remember, the Sabbath was made for cats, not cats for the Sabbath.

News of the Day:

The trouble in Israel continues, and has been strongly exacerbated by the internecine violence between Israeli Jews and Arabs, as well as threats from Jordan and Lebanon:

By Friday evening, Israel faced furious demonstrations in at least 60 places across the West Bank and new protests just across the borders with Jordan and Lebanon, all atop the vigilante violence between Arabs and Jews within Israel, and the continuing battle with Gaza militants.

From Salon via reader Charles. The indictment they’re preparing from would come from Manhattan. but how many of you think Trump will really be indicted? (One can hope.)

BUT, there’s this:

But the report also noted an “obscure clause” in Florida law regarding interstate extradition that gives Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Republican ally of the former president who is reportedly considering his own 2024 presidential bid, to intervene or investigate “the situation and circumstances of the person” in question “and whether the person ought to be surrendered” to law enforcement in a different state.

No thank you article of the day. (This is connected with religion, of course.) The best way to deal with death, for me at least, is to know you’re gonna die but then don’t dwell on it. Don’t do what  Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble tells you to do—ponder it constantly, keeping skull mementos around!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 584,725, an increase of 610 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,372,845, an increase of about 13,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 15 include:

  • 1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest; she is condemned to death by a specially-selected jury.

Boleyn was executed by beheading four days later.

Do you know Kepler’s Third Law? Neither did I—you can read about it here.

  • 1817 – Opening of the first private mental health hospital in the United States, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends HospitalPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania).

Here’s the hospital, still in use as a hospital and clinic.

  • 1911 – In Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, the United States Supreme Court declares Standard Oil to be an “unreasonable” monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and orders the company to be broken up.
  • 1940 – World War II: After fierce fighting, the poorly trained and equipped Dutch troops surrender to Germany, marking the beginning of five years of occupation.
  • 1940 – Richard and Maurice McDonald open the first McDonald’s restaurant.

Here’s that first McDonald’s no longer operating. But I still remember when a burger, fries, and a shake were each 15¢. Buy ’em by the bag!

This streak is still unbroken and probably will remain so. In second place is Wee Willie Keeler, who hit safely in 45 consecutive games in 1896-1897. Pete Rose, with 44, is in third place.

It’s still going on!

Cresson, still the only female PM France has ever had:

  • 2004 – Arsenal F.C. go an entire league campaign unbeaten in the English Premier League, joining Preston North End F.C with the right to claim the title “The Invincibles“.

Notables born on this day include:

Among the 14 kids of this polymath was his most famous offspring, Rabindranath Tagore.

Author of the Oz books:

  • 1859 – Pierre Curie, French physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1906)
  • 1891 – Mikhail Bulgakov, Russian novelist and playwright (d. 1940)

Do read his The Master and Margarita, one of the great novels of our time. A satire of Soviet society, it was published by his wife—26 years after his death. And the greatness of this novel is one thing that Adam Gopnik and I do agree on! Bulgakov:

  • 1902 – Richard J. Daley, American lawyer and politician, 48th Mayor of Chicago (d. 1976)
  • 1915 – Paul Samuelson, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2009)
  • 1923 – Richard Avedon, American sailor and photographer (d. 2004).

He was a great fashion photographer but I like his portraits like this one:

  • 1930 – Jasper Johns, American painter and sculptor
  • 1981 – Jamie-Lynn Sigler, American actress and singer
  • 1987 – Andy Murray, Scottish tennis player

Those who passed away on May 15 include

The only authenticated portrait of Dickinson, taken in 1846 or 1847, when she was but 16 or 17.  But there’s another one likely to be her as well.


“Cat Studies” by Edward Hopper:

  • 2007 – Jerry Falwell, American pastor, founded Liberty University (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron enjoy the sun and engage in some persiflage:

Hili: I’m worried about the information from the stock exchange.
Szaron: Which one?
Hili: In Shanghai.
In Polish:
Hili: Niepokoją mnie informacje z giełdy.
Szaron: Z której?
Hili: W Szanghaju.

Kulka and Szaron, photos by Paulina:

From Divy:

From Nicole (NSFW?):

Two tweets from Barry. Look at this frog!

Barry says, “I just love the nod. Sound up.”  I don’t understand where Bucky is going to be brought if he doesn’t snore.  I can’t make out the words. The “beefs”?

Tweets from Matthew. For sure this woman hasn’t bathed a cat!

Is that a serious question? If it fits, he sits!

A gorgeous Flower Hat Jellyfish:

First swim for the ducklings. Given their peeping, I think they’re a bit distressed. (Sound up.)

I don’t think I like the image of the Emeritus Professor:

Friday: Hili dialogue

May 14, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Friday the Fourteenth (of May), 2021, and it’s National Buttermilk Biscuit Day, the quintessence of American baked goods. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Southern breakfast of country ham, fried eggs, grits, homemade preserves, red-eye gravy, and tons of freshly-baked biscuits. Here, in Nashville, Tennessee, is where to get the best breakfast in America.

It’s also International Dylan Thomas Day (celebrating the reading of his voice play Under Milk Wood on May 14, 1953, in New York City), and Dance Like a Chicken Day. Not much of a day for celebrations, is it?

News of the Day:

The fighting in the Middle East, both the Israel/Gaza conflict and the nascent civil war within Israel between Israeli and Arab Jews, continues with no sign of abating. Hamas rockets number over 2,000 now, while Israel ground forces are shelling Gaza. For a while yesterday there were reports that Israeli troops had entered Gaza, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. 12,000 Israeli reservists have been called up to deal with the intra-Israel fighting, which is brutal and reprehensible on all sides.

On Thurday the CDC advised that Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus may go maskless in most places. The caveats:

The new advice comes with caveats. Even vaccinated individuals must cover their faces and physically distance when going to doctors, hospitals or long-term care facilities like nursing homes; when traveling by bus, plane, train or other modes of public transportation, or while in transportation hubs like airports and bus stations; and when in prisons, jails or homeless shelters.

However, due to vaccine hesitancy the pace of vaccination has waned—it’s down 38% from what it was in mid-April, and that’s only a month ago.

Here’s an amazing story as reported by the Guardian. A man paralyzed from the neck down had two small computer chips implanted in the left side of his brain, which controls the right hand. He’s then asked to imagine that he’s writing sentences with his right hand. The electrodes and AI decode the impulses, producing his ability to write 18 words a minute on a computer, and with 94% accuracy. Here’s the paper in Nature reporting this. (h/t Jez)

David Brooks’s new NYT column, called “This is how wokeness ends“, which is curiously unconvincing. While applauding the equality aims of “wokeness,” as do many of us, he decries its increasing reliance on a specialized discourse aimed at academics.  This, he says, will defang the movement, though it’s not sure how. Read his column, but here’s are two excepts (he refers to an article by Rod Dreher on fulminating wokeness):

I’m less alarmed by all of this because I have more confidence than Dreher and many other conservatives in the American establishment’s ability to co-opt and water down every radical progressive ideology. In the 1960s, left-wing radicals wanted to overthrow capitalism. We ended up with Whole Foods. The co-optation of wokeness seems to be happening right now.

. . .Corporations and other establishment organizations co-opt almost unconsciously. They send ambitious young people powerful signals about what level of dissent will be tolerated while embracing dissident values as a form of marketing. By taking what was dangerous and aestheticizing it, they turn it into a product or a brand. Pretty soon key concepts like “privilege” are reduced to empty catchphrases floating everywhere.

The economist and cultural observer Tyler Cowen expects wokeness in this sense won’t disappear. Writing for Bloomberg last week, he predicted it would become something more like the Unitarian Church — “broadly admired but commanding only a modicum of passion and commitment.”

This would be fine with me. As I say, there are (at least) two elements to wokeness. One focuses on concrete benefits for the disadvantaged — reparations, more diverse hiring, more equitable housing and economic policies. The other instigates savage word wars among the highly advantaged. If we can have more of the former and less of the latter, we’ll all be better off.


Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 583,990 an increase of 622 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,359,869, an increase of about 13,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 14 includes:

From Wikipedia:

On 14 May 1796, Jenner tested his hypothesis by inoculating James Phipps, an eight-year-old boy who was the son of Jenner’s gardener. He scraped pus from cowpox blisters on the hands of Sarah Nelmes, a milkmaid who had caught cowpox from a cow called Blossom, whose hide now hangs on the wall of the St. George’s Medical School library (now in Tooting). Phipps was the 17th case described in Jenner’s first paper on vaccination.

You can read about Blossom the cow here.

  • 1800 – The 6th United States Congress recesses, and the process of moving the U.S. Government from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., begins the following day.
  • 1804 – William Clark and 42 men depart from Camp Dubois to join Meriwether Lewis at St. Charles, Missouri, marking the beginning of the Lewis and Clark Expedition‘s historic journey up the Missouri River.

A banner day for evolution, as indicated in this tweet from Matthew:

  • 1870 – The first game of rugby in New Zealand is played in Nelson between Nelson College and the Nelson Rugby Football Club.

I couldn’t find a photo of the Nelson Rugby club, but here’s one showing “Scotland’s first rugby team. . . for the 1st international, v. England in Edinburgh, 1871″

The judge dismissed the case. Here’s Spofford:

  • 1939 – Lina Medina becomes the youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five.

FIVE YEARS OLD! Well, it seems to be pretty credible: a case of precocious puberty. Medina gave birth through Caesarian as her pelvis was too small, and the baby survived. Here’s a photo of mother and child (see more here):

  • 1948 – Israel is declared to be an independent state and a provisional government is established. Immediately after the declaration, Israel is attacked by the neighboring Arab states, triggering the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

For those like Anita Sarkeesian who claims that Israel is not an independent state: take note of the above.

  • 1961 – Civil rights movement: A white mob twice attacks a Freedom Riders bus near Anniston, Alabama, before fire-bombing the bus and attacking the civil rights protesters who flee the burning vehicle.

Notables born on this day include:

Here is “Six Studies of a Cat” by Gainsborough, painted 1763-1769, chalk on paper:

  • 1897 – Sidney Bechet, American saxophonist, clarinet player, and composer (d. 1959)
  • 1897 – Ed Ricketts, American biologist and ecologist (d. 1948)
  • 1936 – Bobby Darin, American singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1973)

Here’s Darin singing my favorite of his songs, originally a French number.

  • 1952 – David Byrne, Scottish singer-songwriter, producer, and actor

Those who departed this life (or any life) on May 14 include:

  • 1847 – Fanny Mendelssohn, German pianist and composer (b. 1805)
  • 1912 – August Strindberg, Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist (b. 1849)
  • 1940 – Emma Goldman, Lithuanian author and activist (b. 1869)
  • 1959 – Sidney Bechet, American saxophonist, clarinet player, and composer (b. 1897)
  • 1987 – Rita Hayworth, American actress and dancer (b. 1918)

The other day I showed a great video of Hayworth dancing the “Shorty George” with Fred Astaire. Here’s a slower number, “Sway with Me” with the same partner:


  • 1995 – Christian B. Anfinsen, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1916)
  • 1998 – Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor (b. 1915)
  • 2015 – B.B. King, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1925)
  • 2018 – Tom Wolfe, American author (b. 1931)

Wolfe wrote some great stuff, but came a cropper when he tried to take down Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky simultaneously (my review of that debacle is here).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are having a micoraggression:

Hili: What are you doing?
Szaron: I’m doing exercises in microaggression in the fresh air.
In Polish:
Hili: Co ty robisz?
Szaron: Ćwiczę mikroagresję na wolnym powietrzu.

The cherry trees are blooming in the orchard, and Kulka enjoys the flowers;

The picture below is from Facebook. This isn’t a genuine old painting but a modern one; one source says this:

There’s an image that’s been shared on social media dozens of times over the past few years. The image depicts a shoeless samurai walking a cat wearing armor. The samurai has a helmet with cat ears, and the image appears to be very old, perhaps dating back to Medieval Japan.

In reality, the painting is the creation of Japanese artist Tetsuya Noguchi, who often depicts samurai in unusual, comic situations. He has also mastered traditional techniques to create highly-detailed armor that would not be out of place in a museum.

From Meanwhile in Canada. I’ll have what they’re having.

From Bruce:

From Not Another Science Cat Page:

A tweet from Teen Vogue. This is the stuff that the magazine, now one of the Wokest of the Woke, is feeding its readers:

From Barry, who thinks this deep-sea squid looks like a teaser for a Pixar movie:

On this day in science. It’s amazing that no Nobel Prize was ever given for the discovery of messenger RNA. Note Matthew’s paper about the issue.

Now THIS is what the Internet is best at!

A paper on how the morphology of snake fangs is adapted to the nature of their prey.

A great footballer. For more video on the Barca midfielder, see the video below this tweet.

Spot the nightjar:

Thursday: Hili dialogue

May 13, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, May 13, 2021: National Apple Pie Day, and you can’t get more American than that. It’s also National Fruit Cocktail Day, World Cocktail Day, International Hummus Day, Cough Drop Day, and Tulip Day. 

News of the Day:

The violence continues to flare in Israel and Palestine, and now a sort of civil war has erupted in Israel, with Israeli Arabs attacking Israeli Jews and vice versa. Drivers are getting beat up on both sides, and it’s disgusting. From the NYT:

One of the most chilling incidents occurred in Bat Yam, a seaside suburb south of Tel Aviv, where dozens of Jewish extremists took turns beating and kicking an Arab motorcycle driver, even as his body lay motionless on the floor.

Another occurred in Acre, a northern coastal town, where an Arab mob beat a Jewish man with sticks and rocks, also leaving him in a critical condition.

Another 130 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza last night.

The New York Times more or less replaced Bari Weiss with an Israel hater, Peter Beinart, who believes in a “one-state” solution to the Israel/Palestine problem. In a new column, he pushes the ludicrous “right of return” of Palestinians, which would inundate Israelis with over a million hostile Palestinians and lead to a mass genocide. This is wht the New York Times has become these days.  Here’s a paragraph from Beinart’s latest, which just makes me laugh and sad at the same time. The man is an arrant idiot:

Perhaps American Jewish leaders fear that facing the crimes committed at Israel’s birth will leave Jews vulnerable. Once the Nakba [return] taboo is lifted, Palestinians will feel emboldened to seek revenge. But more often than not, honestly confronting the past has the opposite effect.

Yeah, right. Has Beinart seen what’s going on now in Israel between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews?

In a move that I consider boneheaded, Chicago’s tree House Animal Society has released 1,000 feral cats into Chicago’s streets to control rats. This has been since 2012, and they claim that the cats are spayed or neutered, and property owners take care of the moggies. I don’t believe them.

If you’re into mountain-climbing, you’ll want to read this NYT article on people who claim to have climbed all 14 8000-meter peaks in the world. It turns out that perhaps none of the 44 people making that claim have succeeded, mainly because a fair number of those mountains have “summits” that are virtually unattainable, so climbers often stop 5-20 meters below the high point.

Reader Jez called my attention to a pretty good Guardian column in which, celebrating their 200th anniversary, they list the best and worst typos that ever appeared in the paper.

The house in which most of James Joyce’s novelette “The Dead” takes place—a story I consider the finest piece of writing in English—is set to be renovated and become a hostel. This is a TRAVESTY!

It was in the upstairs rooms of the [15] Usher’s Island house that Joyce’s great-aunts ran, for a time, a small musical school. Their annual get-together each Jan. 6 — the Roman Catholic feast of the Epiphany, also known in Ireland as “Women’s Christmas” — was the model for “The Dead’s” haunted dinner party, which confronts Gabriel Conroy, Joyce’s fictional avatar, with the swooning mysteries of love and mortality.

The house was also a setting for John Huston’s 1987 movie adaptation of the story, his Oscar-nominated swan song.

A petition opposing this monstrous act has been signed by the likes of Edna O’Brien, Anne Enright, Sally Rooney, John Banville, Pat McCabe and Eoin McNamee. Other non-Irish signers were Richard Ford, Rachel Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Salman Rushdie, Tobias Wolff and Ian McEwan.  Here is 15 Usher’s Island:

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 583,210 an increase of 629 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,346,556, an increase of about 13,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 13 includes:

  • 1846 – Mexican–American War: The United States declares war on the Federal Republic of Mexico following a dispute over the American annexation of the Republic of Texas and a Mexican military incursion.
  • 1888 – With the passage of the Lei Áurea (“Golden Law”), Empire of Brazil abolishes slavery.
  • 1917 – Three children report the first apparition of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima, Portugal.

Here are the three children who saw the apparition, as well as a newspaper report showing people gazing at the Sun to see the supposed Virgin:

(From Wikipedia): Lúcia dos Santos (left) with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 1917
(From Wikipedia): Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary
  • 1958 – Ben Carlin becomes the first (and only) person to circumnavigate the world by amphibious vehicle, having travelled over 17,000 kilometres (11,000 mi) by sea and 62,000 kilometres (39,000 mi) by land during a ten-year journey.

Here’s Carlin’s vehicle, “Half Safe”, arriving in Denmark in 1951:

  • 1985 – Police bombed MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia, killing six adults and five children, and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.
  • 1995 – Alison Hargreaves, a 33-year-old British mother, becomes the first woman to conquer Everest without oxygen or the help of sherpas.

Here’s Hargreaves, who died in a tragic fall after reaching the top of K2 at 33. Her son also died in a mountaineering accident on Nanga Parbat.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s a Braque etching, “Black Cat”:

He caused this. Religion poisons everything, including, literally, 918 people below.

  • 1940 – Bruce Chatwin, English author (d. 1989)
  • 1950 – Manning Marable, American author and academic (d. 2011)

Marable, whose work was handled by my own editor, won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Malcolm X (he died shortly thereafter of sarcodosis). Do read the book, it’s terrific.

  • 1950 – Stevie Wonder, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer
  • 1961 – Dennis Rodman, American basketball player, wrestler, and actor
  • 1986 – Lena Dunham, American actress, director, and screenwriter

Those who were potted like plants on this day include:

  • 1884 – Cyrus McCormick, American businessman, co-founded the International Harvester Company (b. 1809)
  • 1916 – Sholem Aleichem, Ukrainian-American author and playwright (b. 1859)

Aleichem, whose stories about Tevye the Dairyman, led to the famous musical Fiddler on the Roof:

Now THIS (Nansen) is a Viking! He won the Nobel for peace for helping create the “stateless passport” to allow displaced people to cross borders:

  • 1961 – Gary Cooper, American actor (b. 1901)
  • 1977 – Mickey Spillane, American mobster (b. 1934)
  • 2018 – Margot Kidder, Canadian-American actress (b. 1948)
  • 2019 – Doris Day, American singer and actress (b. 1922)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sets out on a journey whose destination and purpose are unclear.

Hili: We are going southwest.
Szaron: But what for?
Hili: To secure our sphere of influence.
In Polish:
Hili: Idziemy na południowy zachód.
Szaron: Ale po co?
Hili: Żeby zabezpieczyć naszą strefę wpływów.

Here’s a photo of Szaron:

From Bruce:

A wedding invitation from Nicole. Is a child served like veal?

From Jesus of the Day:

Anita Sarkeesian is back with more stupid. I don’t think she has the slightest idea what she’s talking about, but wants to take the ideologically popular position.

Tweets from Matthew. There are lots of videos of this diligent and agile red squirrel. Note that in the third tweet below, it’s got nesting material in its mouth.

Here’s a biological difference between the sexes. Lesson: have similar rather than disparate sex chromosomes:

This should freak you out good and proper.

A very dreadful statue of Darwin:

I agree with Matthew here. Living wage! (Matthew notes, “I am a Brit and I endorse this message.”


Wednesday: Hili dialogue

May 12, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Wednesday, May 12, 2021: National Nutty Fudge Day. It’s also International Nurses Day, National Root Canal Appreciation Day, National Numeracy Day, and Day of the Finnish Identity (are we all allowed to identify as Finns today?)

Posting may be light today as I’m quite low about the events of the world. As always, I do my best.

News of the Day:

The violence in Israel and Gaza continues to escalate, with more than 500 rockets fired at Israel, and Israel retaliating, it claims, only against military targets, including Hamas officials and those involved in Hamas-fired missiles. The Washington Post reports this on Tuesday evening:

By Tuesday night, 30 Palestinians had been killed in Israeli airstrikes, including 10 children, and 203 others were wounded, according to Gaza health officials. One airstrike toppled a tower that houses the offices of several Hamas officials.

UPDATE Wednesday morning: The NYT adds this. Things are very grim.

ASHKELON, Israel — The worst fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in seven years intensified on Tuesday night, as Israeli airstrikes began targeting Hamas offices in Gaza City and militants in Gaza fired rockets at the metropolis of Tel Aviv, the southern city of Ashkelon and Israel’s main airport.

In Gaza, at least 35 Palestinians, including 10 children, had been killed by Tuesday night, and 203 others were wounded, according to health officials. In Israel, five people were killed in strikes on Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Lod, and at least 100 were wounded, according to medical officials.

Away from the military conflict, a wave of civil unrest spread across Arab neighborhoods as Palestinian citizens of Israel expressed fury at the killings in Gaza and longstanding complaints of discrimination inside Israel itself.

There goes any hope for a two-state solution, which became an impossible dream in the last few years.

According to the NYT, the positive drug test produced by the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit was, the horses’s trainer claimed due to an antifungal ointment used to treat Medina Spirit for dermatitis. They are running other tests, and if the colt fails again, his Kentucky Derby win will be taken away and given to the second-place horse. Curiously, though, Medina Spirit will be allowed to race in the second of the Triple Crown races, the Preakness, on Saturday.

Airline passengers are becoming increasingly unruly, and at an exponential pace. Since February, the FAA has received 1300 “unruly passenger” reports, with four people facing nearly $70,000 in fines. Compare the 1300 reports to the 142 in all of 2019, 159 in 2018, and only 91 in 2017. The increase is due to resistance to pandemic precautions by the airlines, which has angered passengers. Lock ’em up!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 582, 362, an increase of 619 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,332,764, a big increase of about 14,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 12 was very sparse, including this::

  • 1551 – National University of San Marcos, the oldest university in the Americas, is founded in Lima, Peru.
  • 1932 – Ten weeks after his abduction, Charles Jr., the infant son of Charles Lindbergh, is found dead near Hopewell, New Jersey, just a few miles from the Lindberghs’ home.

This was one of the biggest stories of that era; here’s the headline after the infant was found dead. Bruno Hauptmann was convicted of the crime, but many still doubt whether he did it.

  • 1937 – The Duke and Duchess of York are crowned as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Westminster Abbey.
  • 2002 – Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives in Cuba for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro, becoming the first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since Castro’s 1959 revolution.

Fidel, Carter and Rosalynn in Cuba; note that Jimmy is wearing a Cuban style shirt.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Lear in 1887 holding his cat Foss, who was about to jump off his lap:

  • 1820 – Florence Nightingale, Italian-English nurse, social reformer, and statistician (d. 1910)

Here’s Nightingale at about 40:

  • 1889 – Otto Frank, German-Swiss businessman and Holocaust survivor; father of diarist Anne Frank (d. 1980)
  • 1907 – Katharine Hepburn, American actress (d. 2003)

Hepburn’s yearbook photo from Bryn Mawr College when she was 21:

Look at these headlines when she won her prize! This would never stand today. A “wife”!

  • 1925 – Yogi Berra, American baseball player, coach, and manager (d. 2015)
  • 1928 – Burt Bacharach, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer
  • 1937 – George Carlin, American comedian, actor, and author (d. 2008)

Here’s a great half-hour by Carlin on religion, which he despised. It’s very good:

  • 1948 – Steve Winwood, English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
  • 1966 – Deborah Kara Unger, Canadian actress

Those who met Cerberus on May 12 include:

  • 1700 – John Dryden, English poet, playwright, and critic (b. 1631)
  • 1925 – Amy Lowell, American poet and critic (b. 1874)
  • 2001 – Perry Como, American singer and television host (b. 1912)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is worried that the 1930s are going to repeat themselves:

Hili: A new era is coming.
A: How does it look?
Hili: I have a feeling I’ve seen it somewhere before.
In Poish:
Hili: Idzie nowa era.
Ja: Jak wygląda?
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że już ją gdzieś widziałam.

Szaron licking little Kulka (photo by Paulina):

From Divy:

From Thomas:

From Bruce:

Israel’s “Iron Dome” intercepts Hamas rockets, with an explanation below. To read more about the system, go here.

Tweets from Matthew. I don’t quite get the advantage of this: it’s easy to mix but you’re left with a messy countertop:

Two Tik-Tok tweets. Matthew sez: “Two more brilliant Tik Tok vids, the second from a couple of years back. Damn, there are some talented people out there with too much time on their hands!”

A fabulous nature photograph:

And a fabulous astronomy photo taken from the Moon:

The world’s chillest rodent (and the largest) enjoys a good soak in a hot tub. What other mammal can compare? Matthew and I both love capybaras.

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 11, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Tuesday, May 11, 2020: National “Eat What You Want” Day. But why the scare quotes? Are we supposed to want only healthy food like carrots and broccoli? On the bad-food side, though, it’s Hostess CupCake Day (a staple of my school lunches, and first sold on this day in 1919).  I also liked Twinkies, but my favorite were the marshmallow-and-coconut covered Sno-Balls. I wonder if they still make these:

News of the Day:

Hamas fired more than 50 rockets into Israel in the last two days; Israel responded with airstrikes. This is a complicated situation, but there’s no excuse for firing rocket at civilians. The odd thing is that the Palestinian rockets were aimed at Jerusalem for the first time in seven years, and Palestinians themselves could have been killed. Nevertheless, they applauded the attacks.

A survey of mainstream media shows a fair amount of venues that don’t even mention in the headlines the instigating Gaza rocket attacks. Here’s one from the Washington Post:

I would call that blatantly dishonest journalism. “Palestinian officials say”: only one side quoted. This kind of biased reporting is reprehensible. The situation overall seems unresolvable.

Ever eaten a banana peel? Probably not, but if you have the curiosity (I don’t), the New York Times offers a number of recipes for the inedible peel, including some from Nigella Lawson.

The travails of the rich: The Guardian reveals that Gwynnie (see screenshot below),driven to distraction by the quarantine (and apparently not distracted by her millions), broke down in a big way:

In the latest celebrity attempt to prove they had it just as hard as normal people in the pandemic, Gwyneth Paltrow has admitted she was driven to extremes during quarantine.

Things got dark. She admitted to drinking as many as two cocktails a night during lockdown (quinoa-based whiskey cocktails, of course); and even sometimes eating bread and pasta – shock, horror!

OMG! Bread—and PASTA!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 581,669, an increase of 650 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,318,777, an increase of about 11,300 over yesterday’s total.

Today is a thin day in history. Stuff that happened on May 11 include:

  • 868 – A copy of the Diamond Sutra is printed in China, making it the oldest known dated printed book.

Here’s the frontispiece of that book, which was blockprinted from carved wooden templates, not made from movable type like the Gutenberg Bible:

After a trial, the odious Eichmann was hanged in Israel in 1962, but I oppose that, as I oppose all capital punishment. Here he is in prison in Israel in 1961.

  • 1963 – Racist bombings in Birmingham, Alabama, disrupt nonviolence in the Birmingham campaign and precipitate a crisis involving federal troops.  

In 1964 Norman Rockwell exemplified the whole tenor of the era with this one painting, “The problem we all live with.” It is a great painting; note that the n-word is written on the wall, which we wouldn’t see in any modern rendition. This painting appeared on the cover of Look magazine:

  • 1997 – Deep Blue, a chess-playing supercomputer, defeats Garry Kasparov in the last game of the rematch, becoming the first computer to beat a world-champion chess player in a classic match format.

The Battle of the Titans:

  • 2010 – David Cameron takes office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats form the country’s first coalition government since the Second World War.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1888 – Irving Berlin, Belarusian-American pianist and composer (d. 1989)
  • 1894 – Martha Graham, American dancer and choreographer (d. 1991)
  • 1904 – Salvador Dalí, Spanish artist (d. 1989)
  • 1924 – Antony Hewish, English astronomer and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1941 – Eric Burdon, English musician

Here’s Burdon with one of the worst songs ever recorded:

Those who shuffled off this mortal coil on May 11 include:

  • 1927 – Juan Gris, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1887)
  • 1979 – Lester Flatt, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1914)

Here’s flat with Earl Scruggs performing “Earl’s Breakdown”. This should wake you up!

  • 1981 – Bob Marley, Jamaican singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1945)

And here’s Marley doing “Stand Up, Get Up” in Munich in 1980, the year before he died of melanoma.

  • 2001 – Douglas Adams, English novelist and screenwriter (b. 1952)
  • 2020 – Jerry Stiller, American comedian, actor (b. 1927) 

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron is being nice to Hili:

Szaron: It’s nice to see you.
Hili: Really?
In Polish:
Szaron: Miło cię widzieć.
Hili: Naprawdę?

Here is little Kulka having a lie-down:

A meme from Nicole:

From Lenora:

From Pradeep. Not only is there a gun, but there are bowling pins and ducks!

A tweet showing Ricky Gervais saying goodbye to his dog at the vet’s (it’s a television scene, but still so sad):

From Dom, who says he too can’t stop laughing at this.

Sent by Luana, and it seems pretty accurate:

Tweets from Matthew. An incompetent cat (almost an oxymoron):

A magpie teases a fox. Corvids just can’t resist pulling tails:

Just think of how many amazing adaptations occur on such small scales that we don’t see them. Here’s one. Read the thread to understand the adaptation:

Yes, but how many mated?

Sophie Scholl’s last words before, at 21, she was decapitated by the Nazis for being part of the White Rose resiistance. I believe Scholl spoke these on the way to the guillotine.

This is most likely the guillotine on which the Scholls and hundreds of others were executed by the Nazis:

A guillotine found in a Bavarian museum’s storage area is believed to have been used to execute thousands of people during the Nazi era. Credit…Walter Haberland/Bayerisches National Museum, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

From an excellent movie about the White Rose resistance; the final scene.  This always distresses me, but I watch it nonetheless. There’s no gore but it’s ineffably sad as she says goodby to her brother and her comrade before a perfunctory sentence and execution.

Monday: Hili dialogue

May 10, 2021 • 6:30 am

Top o’ the morning to you on this top o’ the week: Monday, May 11, 2021. Unfortunately, once again it seems to be National Liver and Onions Day, a dish I and many others despise but that some people actually like. One of those was my dad, and so we were occasionally subject as kids to my mother cooking this malodorous dish. It’s National Shrimp Day, too, but offset that with the fact that it’s also National Lipid Day, and shrimps are loaded with lipids. It’s Golden Spike Day, celebrating the linking of the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad, and National Clean up Your Room Day (mine is clean, and every morning I make my bed, which, Konda-like, I see as a key to getting the day started right).

I have not yet fed the ducks and ducklings this morning and am in fact afraid to go down to the pond for fear of what I’ll find. But I will; our motto is “no duckling left behind”.

Wine of the Day: As you can see from the purchase price I wrote on the label, this Argentinian chardonnay was about $23. At that price, it’s a terrific value if it doesn’t exceed your psychological price limits. Slightly off-dry, and blessedly not overoaked like many California chards, this rich and luscious wine is redolent with apples and pears (malic acid?), and is just a delight on the palate: it goes down like velvet, and has a lovely light gold color.   I don’t know if it’s available, but if you can find this vintage, buy it. (I don’t know about other vintages.)

News of the Day:

More than 80 schoolgirls, victims of a school attack by what seems to be the Taliban, were buried in a mass grave yesterday. It was heartbreaking to see the ceremony on the news with the wailing families and the bodies of children who never had a chance to live, but there was one heartening thing: many parents wrote “Education” on the ground in the local language.

Medina Spirit, the horse who just won the Kentucky Derby, has failed a drug test. According to the NYT:

The drug found in Medina Spirit’s system was betamethasone, a corticosteroid injected into joints to reduce pain and swelling. In a news conference Sunday morning outside his barn at Churchill Downs, Mr. Baffert said neither he nor anyone else on his team had administered the drug to Medina Spirit. He insisted the colt had not been treated with it.

The trainer, Bob Baffert, has had his horses fail drug tests five times in five years, so it’s suspicious, though Baffert strenuously denies the charges. It’s unclear whether Medina Spirit will be allowed to run in the Preakness.

The Washington Post reports that a rare calico lobster appeared at a Red Lobster (it’s not red!), destined for dinner, but was saved. (Photo below.)

Freckles is a rare catch. The odds of seeing a calico-colored lobster like it, with its head, tail and claws dotted with dark blue and bright orange spots, is about 1 in 30 million.

And the crustacean was almost dinner at Red Lobster.

But instead of being butter-poached and served alongside cheddar biscuits, the calico lobster is headed to an exhibit in Virginia.

Employees at a Red Lobster in Manassas, Va., discovered the creature on April 25 as part of a shipment from Maine. Recognizing the unique animal, the Virginia restaurant contacted the company. Red Lobster then contacted a zoo that had rescued a different rare lobster from one of its restaurants last summer.

“Calico-colored lobsters like Freckles are so rare, it was almost unbelievable that we received one,” the company said in a statement sent to The Washington Post. “We are so proud of our employees for recognizing that Freckles was so special — and for reaching out so we could make arrangements for rescue.”

After contacting the zoo, the company was put in touch with the Virginia Living Museum, which has a science center, zoo and aquarium in Newport News. It sent a rescue team to Manassas on April 29 to retrieve Freckles.

Voilà: Freckles!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 581,302, an increase of 667 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,307,496, an increase of about 9,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 11 include:

  • 1497 – Amerigo Vespucci allegedly leaves Cádiz for his first voyage to the New World.
  • 1503 – Christopher Columbus visits the Cayman Islands and names them Las Tortugas after the numerous turtles there.
  • 1534 – Jacques Cartier visits Newfoundland.
  • 1773 – The Parliament of Great Britain passes the Tea Act, designed to save the British East India Company by reducing taxes on its tea and granting it the right to sell tea directly to North America. The legislation leads to the Boston Tea Party.
  • 1774 – Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette become King and Queen of France.
  • 1869 – The First Transcontinental Railroad, linking the eastern and western United States, is completed at Promontory SummitUtah with the golden spike.

Here’s a photo of the Golden Spike Ceremony with the Wikipedia caption below it:

The ceremony for the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869; completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. At center left, Samuel S. Montague, Central Pacific Railroad, shakes hands with Grenville M. Dodge, Union Pacific Railroad (center right).

Here’s the golden spike itself now in on display at the Cantor Arts Museum at Stanford University:

Notables born on this day include:

I love to show this dance number by Astaire and Rita Hayworth, “The Shorty George”. She matched him step for step. The movie is “You Were Never Lovelier”  (1942). Xavier Cugat is the bandleader. Did you know that Rita Hayworth was such a great dancer?

  • 1909 – Maybelle Carter, American autoharp player (d. 1978)

Here’s mother Maybelle on a guitar, doing her most famous song, “Wildwood Flower.”

  • 1946 – Donovan, Scottish singer-songwriter
  • 1957 – Sid Vicious, English singer and bass player (d. 1979)
  • 1960 – Bono, Irish singer-songwriter, musician and activist

Those whose existence was obliterated on May 11 include:

  • 1818 – Paul Revere, American engraver and soldier (b. 1735)
  • 1977 – Joan Crawford, American actress (year of birth disputed)
  • 1990 – Walker Percy, American novelist and essayist (b. 1916)
  • 1994 – John Wayne Gacy, American serial killer (b. 1942)
  • 2012 – Carroll Shelby, American race car driver and designer (b. 1923)

Here’s Shelby with his famous Cobra:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili wonders whether critical race theory might be less divisive if it were applied to different species (“CST”):

A: What are you thinking about?
Hili: About a critical race theory of canaries.
In Polish:
Ja: Nad czym myślisz?
Hili: Nad krytyczną teorią ras kanarków.

And we have some photos (of Kulka) from yesterday.

“A few of Paulina’s pictures for this Sunday” (In Polish: “Kilka zdjęć Pauliny na niedzielę dzisiejszą.”)

A tweet from Bruce:

From Stash Krod. I love this contest:

From Jesus of the Day. It’d totally use this; in fact, I have a cream pitcher shaped like a cow that dispenses milk from its mouth:

A tweet from Ginger K.  Bo, the Obama’s family dog, died two days ago:

From Luana:

Tweets from Matthew. First: lanternflies (actually planthoppers or “true bugs”—hemipterans, not dipterans).

A talented elephant playing cricket:

As Paul Crowley shows, trees are not monophyletic (i.e., all sharing a common ancestor). The tree “phenotype” with wood and leaves has evolved multiple times independently.

I don’t often read comments on my tweets, but when I do I discover this truth that Matthew imparted to me:

Matthew says this is “Iggy Pop” and his bird. Well, I don’t know from Iggy Pop, so I’ll take his word for it:

How many takes did each of these scenes take?

Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a chilly and rainy Sunday, May 9, 2021: National Coconut Cream Pie Day.  It’s also Mother’s Day, with the apostrophe implying the celebration of only a single mother (shouldn’t it be either “Mothers Day” or “Mothers’ Day”?), National Butterscotch Brownie Day, Lost Sock Memorial Day (where do they go?), and National Moscato Day, celebrating a wine that is often dire but can be superb.

Google celebrates Mother’s Day with a gif that links to tips on how to celebrate (click on screenshot):

News of the Day:

The New York Times reported that a bomb placed outside a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan (most likely by the Taliban) killed at least thirty and wounded dozens more yesterday; but last night’s evening news reports the death toll of over fifty. What kind of filthy, misogynistic pig would try to kill women for trying to learn? The only thing that was heartening about this reprehensible act was the interviews with the wounded girls in hospital, one who said that she was going to become a doctor no matter who tried to stop her.

By the time you read this (I’m writing on Saturday), the remnants of the Chinese rocket booster will likely have struck Earth as it tumbles to the surface. It’s unlikely someone will be hurt, even though the pieces could be sizable (up to 200 pounds!), as there’s a 70% chance the debris will land on water. Still, there’s a not negligible chance that some debris could land in an inhabited area. I will give a free autographed copy of WEIT to anyone who is struck but survives.

UPDATE: CNN reports that most of the booster burned up, but some landed near the Maldives. It’s unclear whether any debris hit the island.  CNN also says that “NASA has lambasted China for its failure to ‘meet responsible standards’ after debris from its out-of-control rocket likely plunged into the Indian Ocean Saturday night.”  As if the Chinese will pay any attention!

Also in the NYT, Liz Cheney, soon to be deposed as a Republican House leader for her opposition to Trump, is the subject of a column by Frank Bruni, who tells us (as if we didn’talready  know) that Cheney has a record of diehard conservative voting. No, she’s not perfect (a “perfect Republican” is an oxymoron), but she’s sure as hell better than Mitch McConnell. Bruni ends with a moment of charity:

But Americans deserve the truth, and Cheney, not McCarthy [the House Minority leader], is telling it. So she can’t be discounted as a villain having a rare good-ethics day, just as she shouldn’t be anointed St. Liz. She refuses our tidy categories. How frustrating. How human.

Great: South Carolina is bringing back the electric chair, which seems to be one of the cruelest ways to execute anyone. Because of a lack of lethal-injection drugs, the state hasn’t killed anyone in over a decade, and so the new bill, passed by the state legislature, allows death row inmates to choose between the electric chair and a firing squad. The article will also tell you how that state executed 14-year-old George Stinney, Jr. in a gruesome spectacle, a boy later exonerated of the murders for which he was convicted. (The jury deliberated all of ten minutes.) There’s a 22-minute YouTube reenactment of this tragedy here. And here’s 14-year-old Stinney’s mug shot, taken the year he was executed. Because he was too small for the electric chair, he had to sit on a Bible as he was executed.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 581,056, an increase of 675 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,298,072, an increase of about 12,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 9 include:

  • 1662 – The figure who later became Mr. Punch makes his first recorded appearance in England.

Wikipedia notes this: “The Punch and Judy show has roots in the 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte. The figure of Punch is derived from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella, which was anglicized to Punchinello. He is a variation on the same themes as the Lord of Misrule and the many Trickster figures found in mythologies across the world. Punch’s wife was originally called “Joan.”

Here’s Mr. Punch:

  • 1671 – Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempts to steal England’s Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.
  • 1726 – Five men arrested during a raid on Mother Clap‘s molly house in London are executed at Tyburn.

A molly house is where gay men met to find partners. Sodomy was a capital offense in England until 1861, and the men were executed for “buggery.”  And people say that we haven’t advanced in morality?

  • 1926 – Admiral Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett claim to have flown over the North Pole (later discovery of Byrd’s diary appears to cast some doubt on the claim.)

Here’s the plane that supposedly flew over the Pole. Now that feat seems dubious:

  • 1942 – The Holocaust in Ukraine: The SS executes 588 Jewish residents of the Podolian town of Zinkiv (Khmelnytska oblast. The Zoludek Ghetto (in Belarus) is destroyed and all its inhabitants executed or deported.
  • 1945 – World War II: The final German Instrument of Surrender is signed at the Soviet headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst.

Here’s the last page of that instrument of surrender:

  • 1960 – The Food and Drug Administration announces it will approve birth control as an additional indication for Searle’s Enovid, making Enovid the world’s first approved oral contraceptive pill.
  • 1974 – Watergate scandal: The United States House Committee on the Judiciary opens formal and public impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon.
  • 1979 – Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian is executed by firing squad in Tehran, prompting the mass exodus of the once 100,000-strong Jewish community of Iran.

Notables born on May 9 include:

  • 1860 – J. M. Barrie, Scottish novelist and playwright (d. 1937)

Barrie was most famous for creating Peter Pan. Here he is (Barrie, not Pan):

by Herbert Rose Barraud, sepia carbon print on card mount, 1892

Carter is of course the man who discovered and excavated King Tut’s tomb. Here he is opening Tut’s coffin in 1922:

And two rebels born on the same day:

A tweet sent by Matthew about Sophie Scholl, beheaded in 1943 along with her brother and a comrade for opposing the Nazis. Sophie was only 21.

  • 1927 – Manfred Eigen, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2019)
  • 1949 – Billy Joel, American singer-songwriter and pianist

Here’s Joel explaining his hit “PIano Man” at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre in 1994:

Those who died on May 9 include:

  • 1931 – Albert Abraham Michelson, German-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1852)
  • 1977 – James Jones, American novelist (b. 1921)
  • 1986 – Tenzing Norgay, Nepalese mountaineer (b. 1914)

Tenzing and Hillary, the first people to summit Everest:

  • 2010 – Lena Horne, American singer, actress, and activist (b. 1917)

Here’s Horne doing her timeless hit, “Stormy Weather,” and I believe that Cab Calloway is conducting the orchestra:

  • 2020 – Little Richard, American singer, songwriter, and pianist (b. 1932)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina shows Kulka to Hili on the windowsill. Hili doesn’t like it, but at least she’s not hissing! You can see Szaron lounging on his blanket to the left.

Hili: What are you doing on my windowsill?
Kulka: I’m looking at you fuming.
In Polish:
Hili: Co ty robisz na moim parapecie?
Kulka: Patrzę jak się złościsz.

Here’s a picture of Kulka taken by Andrzej:

From Linda, a new Pearls before Swine cartoon:

From Facebook via Alex:

From Jesus of the Day:

Titania keeps pace with the ever-changing list of Approved Words:

From Luana: Walt Disney has gotten into the heavy-duty antiracism business. Here are two tweets, but there are more:

From Simon, who really wants this sign. Grammar and punctuation matter!

Tweets from Matthew. This whole thread has some amazing feats of bird migration:

A lovely glass sculpture of a tarantula:

New life: a lamb is born. This guy really knows what he’s doing!

Tweet of the week!

Hili dialogue!

May 7, 2021 • 10:18 am

Several readers pointed out to me that I omitted the Hili dialogue, which is my fault entirely. So, here you go:

Hili: A seagull is walking on our grass.
A: So what?
Hili: I will chase her away.
In Polish:
Hili: Mewa chodzi po naszym trawniku.
Ja: I co z tego?
Hili: Zaraz ją wygonię.

And “Cats in Paulina’s Lens” (In Polish: {Koty w Pauliny obiektywie.”) Three Kulkas and a Szaron:

Friday: Hili dialogue

May 7, 2021 • 9:30 am

Sorry for the late posting. This morning I tried to reintegrate Honey’s other duckling with the brood—after it had been viciously pecked by Dorothy yesterday, but it didn’t work this morning. It was lying on its side in the mud when it tried to join the brood, so I rescued it again. I cleaned it up, dried it, and fed it, and it’s doing surprisingly well. I had to spend the night with it last night and so again got no sleep (2 nights out of three) and am a wreck (see photo below). Hili will be late and truncated today, and perhaps tomorrow, as I don’t know how long I have to take care of this duckling until we can get it rehabbed. If you know someone who can do a good job with this baby, let me know. It’s quite vigorous but I don’t want to traumatize it for a third time by sticking it back in Botany Pond.

The end of the week already? Well, yes, it’s Friday May 7, 2021: National Lamb Day (and not for petting them. . . ). It’s also National Cosmopolitan Day (the drink) Be Best Day (promoted by Melania Tr*mp), International Space Day, International Tuba Day, and No Pants Day, in which you’re supposed to doff your trews.  It’s in both the U.S. and Canada; here’s a scene from the Montreal subway:

News of the Day:

The standard model of physics has now been cast into doubt, as I reported before. This week Nature magazine reports

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 578,804, an increase of 701 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,257,603, an increase of about 14,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 7 includes:

Notables born on this day include:

Those who reached their demise on May 7 include:

Meanwhile, back in Dobrzyn,

From Rick who got it from a post by Phil Plait. All these spheres are the same color! (Credit: David Novick)

Just to prove it, here’s the same picture without the stripes going across the balls:

From Bruce:

Emma Newman put up a video, “Operation Mallard” about her dad, who happened to love mallards! It’s a brilliant story.

No tweets today, sorry!

Thursday: Hili dialogue

May 6, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, May 6, 2021: National Crepe Suzette Day (overrated dessert). It’s also International No Diet Day, National Beverage Day, National No Homework Day (that’s been the case for over a year!), and National Nurses Day (like schoolteachers, nurses are one of the most underappreciated professions).

One of Honey’s ducklings disappeared yesterday. I don’t think it was the one I introduced yesterday, but how and why it disappeared is a mystery (this happened to one of Dorothy’s last year). Of course I am devastated. Every duckling life taken away is one fewer mallard that gets to live out its life in the wild, doing what it evolved to do. Send jokes or something.

News of the Day:

The oversight board appointed by Facebook upheld Trump’s being blocked from the platform, but must reconsider that decision within six months.

The board said it concluded that Trump’s posts on January 6, which praised the rioters, “severely violated” Facebook’s policies and “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.”

However, the board criticized Facebook for having made the suspension indefinite and said Facebook must review the decision and impose disciplinary actions such as a “time-bound period of suspension” or permanently disabling the account — sanctions consistent with Facebook’s policies.

Trump is still banned from Twitter and YouTube.

Is there a war impending in Ukraine? Russia still has 80,000 troops massed near the border of that smaller, beleaguered nation. This more than matches the nearly 30,000 NATO troops involved in exercises in Eastern Europe. While Ukraine is a U.S. ally, it’s not a member of NATO, although it’s seeking membership (the U.S. is not particularly supportive). Remember that in 2014 Russia annexed Crimea, which was part of Ukraine. Putin, I believe,  is counting on the fact that nobody wants to go to war with Russia over a country like Ukraine.

Is Liz Cheney on the way out as a GOP House leader for opposing Donald Trump? The Republicans, still swearing a misguided and twisted fealty to Trump, want Cheney out of the way (she’s the third most powerful Republican in Congress). But she’s an anti-Trumper, largely because of Trump’s role in accusing the election of being “stolen”, which led to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Read her outspoken op-ed in the Washington Post.

I am a conservative Republican, and the most conservative of conservative values is reverence for the rule of law. Each of us swears an oath before God to uphold our Constitution. The electoral college has spoken. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple Trump-appointed judges, have rejected the former president’s arguments, and refused to overturn election results. That is the rule of law; that is our constitutional system for resolving claims of election fraud.

.  . . History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.

I cannot bear to think of Trump reappearing on the political scene, yet he’s making noises about running for President again in 2024. I can’t imagine that he could win if Biden just keeps doing what he’s doing, but then again I lost several hundred dollars betting against Trump’s win in 2016.

Covid continues to ravage India, with nearly 4,000 people dying of the virus yesterday and over 380,000 infected.  Only 2.% of the population is fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Modi, an evil and manipulative man if ever there was one, and a man who cares nothing about his people, still resists ordering a nationwide lockdown.

Here’s India’s mortality-over-time plot


Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 578,804, an increase of 701 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,257,603, an increase of about 14,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on May 6 include:

  • 1536 – The Siege of Cuzco commences, in which Incan forces attempt to retake the city of Cuzco from the Spanish.

The siege against Pizarro’s forces was unsuccessful after ten months, and the Incas were pretty much done.

While institutionalized, Smart wrote  a fragment of a longer poem, Jubilate Agno, which is the best cat poetry in history, “For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffrey.”

  • 1840 – The Penny Black postage stamp becomes valid for use in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • 1877 – Chief Crazy Horse of the Oglala Lakota surrenders to United States troops in Nebraska.

There are no authenticated photos of Crazy Horse, but this one purports to be from 1877:

This act prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers into the U.S., following an earlier law prohibiting the immigration of Chinese women. As Wikipedia notes, “the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first, and remains the only law to have been implemented, to prevent all members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating to the United States.” Here’s a racist political “ad” for “Magic Washer” which was to get rid of Chinese people:

Here’s a paorama of Paris from the top of the tower. I have to confess that I’ve never been up it:

Amazingly, many survived the crash. Here’s Pathé footage of the disaster:

A first edition and first printing of this classic will cost you around $20,000:

Here’s a historical tweet referring to this day in 1945, contributed by Matthew. See more information here.


Once again, here’s a video of the race with Bannister’s narration. The current record is 3:43:15, set by Hicham El Guerrouj.

  • 1994 – Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and French President François Mitterrand officiate at the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

  • 1998 – Kerry Wood strikes out 20 Houston Astros to tie the major league record held by Roger Clemens. He threw a one-hitter and did not walk a batter in his fifth career start.
  • 1998 – Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. unveils the first iMac.

Here’s Jobs showing the first iMac (I have a three-year-old model):


Notables born on this day include:

I visited Freud’s digs in London and saw the famous couch. This, however, is not my photo. Note where Freud sat, and sometimes fell asleep during the patient’s narration:

Photo: SCMP Pictures
  • 1856 – Robert Peary, American admiral and explorer (d. 1920)
  • 1895 – Rudolph Valentino, Italian actor (d. 1926)
  • 1915 – Orson Welles, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1985)
  • 1931 – Willie Mays, American baseball player and coach

Here’s “the Catch,” Willie Mays’s famous over-the-should catch during the 1954 World Series. It’s often regarded as the best outfield catch of all time, but I think there are many now that at least match it:

  • 1953 – Tony Blair, British politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  • 1961 – George Clooney, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter

Those who punched out on the Time Clock of Life on May 6 include:

  • 1859 – Alexander von Humboldt, German geographer and explorer (b. 1769)
  • 1862 – Henry David Thoreau, American essayist, poet, and philosopher (b. 1817)
  • 1919 – L. Frank Baum, American novelist (b. 1856)
  • 1992 – Marlene Dietrich, German-American actress and singer (b. 1901)

The move “The Blue Angel” (1930; made in both German and English) was what brought Dietrich to fame. It’s the story of how a showgirl made a fool of a professor, who eventually dies. Here’s the famous song from the movie, “Falling in Love Again“.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is being nefarious and duplicitous.

A: What are you looking for?
Hili: I’m looking to see whether there is a mouse here admiring a beautiful flower.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Patrzę, czy nie ma tu jakiejś myszy podziwiającej piękny kwiat.

From Barry, who notes that this may be Photoshopped.

From Rick. I’ve always wondered why cat rather than dogs are the stars of the Internet, and I have no idea. (But of course it’s the right way to go.)

From Bruce. The significance of the conch shell can be seen here.

All today’s tweets come from Matthew (I welcome readers sending me really good tweets).

A poor sheep gets bamboozled, and a cat massages a dog (which is just WRONG):

Yes, there’s vandalism and damage, but I would love to have been party to this:

Matthew sent me the Guardian article, and I found another tweet. This moth has a 25 cm wingspan (about ten inches) and lives at most a few days after eclosing. What a beauty!

Goose parade! I think this is in the Netherlands:

Poor horses! Fortunately, this is highly curable:

A lovely turquoise Anolis; Matthew says that apparently they aren’t always this color.

I may have published this before, but if so, here it is again. Another geriatric fruit bat (remember Stadler?). For some reason I love these aged bats, perhaps because I empathize with them.