Good morning on a TGI Friday, February 18, 2022: National Drink Wine Day. To echo Molly Bloom, “and yes I said yes I will Yes.” Tonight I’ll be having more Roderer Brut champagne (I bought two bottles).
It’s also Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day, and that needs some ‘splaining:
Today we celebrate the day the first cow flew in an airplane, as well as the first day a cow was milked while flying in an airplane. On February 18, 1930, a Guernsey cow named Nellie Jay, who also was known as Elm Farm Ollie, flew from Bismarck, Missouri, on a Ford Trimotor plane, to the International Aviation Exhibition in St. Louis. Nellie Jay was chosen because she was a high milk producing cow, and because she had a calm nature. The trip was taken to show the ability of the aircraft, and to take scientific data about the cow’s behavior. Claude M. Sterling piloted the aircraft, while Elsworth W. Bunce of Wisconsin accompanied the cow, and was the first man to milk a cow in flight.
During the 72 mile flight, the milk that Nellie Jay gave was packaged in paper cartons. It was then parachuted to spectators who were watching the flight. Nellie Jay reportedly produced 24 quarts of milk during the flight, and it is even believed that Charles Lindbergh received one of the quarts at the Exhibition. Nellie Jay became known as the Sky Queen after the flight.
Here’s Nellie. I wonder if this feat has ever been repeated. See also Wikipedia’s article on “Elm Farm Ollie” (her other name was “Nellie Jay”).
And it’s also Crab-Stuffed Flounder Day, National Caregivers Day, Pluto Day, celebrating the discovery of this planet on this day in 1930, Wife’s Day in Iceland, and Thumb Appreciation Day, which of course forces me to post this advertisement for milk (it’s the second best cat-relate ad ever made, after “Cat Herders“).
News of the Day:
*Despite Russia’s cat-and-mouse game with NATO, in which Putin denies being poised to invade and says he’s pulling troops back at the same time he’s beefing them up, I’m now prepared to predict with fair confidence that Russia will invade Ukraine within ten days. Russian troops massed around Ukraine have been estimated to number between 150,000 and 170,000, up about 50% in the last two weeks. Russia has expelled the second-ranking U.S. diplomat from Moscow, there have been exchanges of artillery between Russian separatists in Ukraine and Ukrainian troops, and that suggests that these Russian separatists will give Russia the “false flag” excuse to invade.
In Ukraine, Russian-backed rebels and Kyiv’s forces traded accusations that each had fired across the ceasefire line in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow accuses Kyiv of “exterminating” civilians.
Ukrainian government forces denied accusations of having targeted separatist positions in the breakaway region of Donbass, which borders Russia.
Details could not be established independently, but reports from both sides suggested an incident more serious than the routine ceasefire violations that are often reported in the area.
Putin is a horrible human being, but we can’t get inside his head to figure out his plan, so I’ll just go by his actions. Many people will die because he wants Lebensraum (or комната для проживания) to the west. And, as always, I hope I’m wrong.
*This is sad, but I can’t see the result “child abuse,” as one reporter put it. The story: 15-year-old Russian skating phenom Kamila Valieva screwed up her long program at the Olympics and finished fourth. But the Washington Post makes it into a three-hankie weepie, blaming skating itself for meting out the punishment after the IOC had actually given her a second chance:
The result broke the child. After a disastrous long program, Valieva tumbled from first to fourth place in the women’s individual competition, a supposed sure thing left to watch gold, silver and bronze evade her. There was no need for asterisks, provisional medals or any other winging-it International Olympic Committee gestures to manage a cumbersome situation. The girl lost. She wasn’t crowned, pending the outcome of her peculiar and unsettled case. In the end, she wasn’t recognized at all.
Valieva wasn’t recognizable, either. She fell to the ice twice. She stumbled again and again, resembling a woozy boxer. Almost nothing in her repertoire worked for her: the quadruple jumps, the triples, simple gliding. The more she fought, the worse she looked. Her fundamentals collapsed. Her body stopped working with her, knees not bending, shoulders not straightening.
As she came off the ice, the television cameras caught her perplexed coach, Eteri Tutberidze, saying in Russian: “Explain it to me.”
“The result broke the child?” Child? She is young, but she chose to compete as a woman, and it was as a woman she lost, and as a child she cried. And the saddest thing is that she may never recover the nerve that made her the world’s best woman skater. And she’ll be forever marked as “the one who messed up”
But what puzzles me is how a favorable decision by the IOC to let her compete and maybe even get a medal “broke the child” and ruined her skating. Sure, she was discombobulated as the unwanted center of attention, but athletes can’t blame the sport itself for their failure, especially an athlete who was publicly known to have been taking banned drugs. What if she had been denied the chance to compete? Of course the Russians, who drug their athletes, are largely responsible, and should be sanctioned even more, but was Valieva forced to take the drug? We’ll never know. She’s the only person exculpated by the media for her bad performance. (I haven’t even seen it, as it’s been wiped from the Internet.)
*Here’s a NYT piece with a terse title, “What was Stonehenge for?” This derives from a new exhibit at the British Museum, “The World of Stonehenge.”. The answer, after extensive analysis, seems to be that no, it wasn’t a calendar or astronomical indicator, nor was it built by alients. Rather, it was a kind of spot for social cohesion, or so the experts say:
Stonehenge was built at a time of drastic population decline and dispersal, said Mike Parker Pearson, a professor at University College London who has made major Stonehenge-related discoveries, including the Durrington Walls settlement. There were few, if any, villages, and society was “trying to create a sense of unity and collaboration among its members,” he explained.
Built on the site of an ancient cemetery, Stonehenge was a “monument of remembrance,” he said, and an “expression of unity” that pulled people together in the pursuit of a common endeavor.
Yet, he said, “People don’t want it to be that simple as an explanation.”
Of course this answer is only provisional. Below: a lovely photo of the place, where I’ve never been:
*And this is plain weird. According to the Associated Press, the leading dictionary of standard usage has altered the definition of the word “Jew”, changing it into a pejorative against the advice of ACTUAL Jews.
The Duden dictionary had recently added an explanation to its online edition saying that “occasionally, the term Jew is perceived as discriminatory because of the memory of the National Socialist use of language. In these cases, formulations such as Jewish people, Jewish fellow citizens or people of the Jewish faith are usually chosen.”
This explanation led to an outcry from leading Jewish groups and individuals who stressed that identifying themselves or being called Jews is not discriminatory, in contrast to what Duden’s definition implied.
. . .The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Joseph Schuster, said last week that for him the word “Jew” is neither a swear word nor discriminatory.
“Even if ‘Jew’ is used pejoratively in schoolyards or only hesitantly by some people, and the Duden editors are certainly well-meaning in pointing out this context, everything should be done to avoid solidifying the term as discriminatory,” Schuster said.
The executive director of the Central Council of Jews, Daniel Botmann, wrote on Twitter “Is it okay to say Jew? Yes! Please don’t say ‘Jewish fellow citizens’ or ‘people of the Jewish faith’. Just JEWS. Thank you!”
We JEWS may be persecuted, but we’re funny! And a couple of days later the dictionary changed the definition again (this is Lexicography via Twitter):
“Because of their antisemitic use in history and in the present, especially during the Nazi era, the words Jew/Jewess have been debated … for decades,” the entry on the dictionary’s website now says. “At the same time, the words are widely used as a matter of course and are not perceived as problematic. The Central Council of Jews in Germany, which has the term itself in its name, is in favor of its use.”
JEWS is fine, thank you!
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 930,302, an increase of 2,306 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,883,641, an increase of about 12,400 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on February 18 include:
- 1861 – In Montgomery, Alabama, Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the provisional President of the Confederate States of America.
- 1885 – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is published in the United States.
A first edition and first printing of this book will cost about $50,000, which seems cheap:
- 1911 – The first official flight with airmail takes place from Allahabad, United Provinces, British India (now India), when Henri Pequet, a 23-year-old pilot, delivers 6,500 letters to Naini, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away.
An Indian stamp commemorating the first airmail:
Pluto waas found using this “blink comparator”, in which, I guess, you blinked alternatively with your eyes and could see if one image had shifted:
- 1930 – Elm Farm Ollie becomes the first cow to fly in a fixed-wing aircraft and also the first cow to be milked in an aircraft.
The three main members, Sophie and Hans Scholl (brother and sister) and Christoph Probst, were beheaded on February 2. Here are the Scholl’s mug shots by the Gestapo after they were arrested. Four days from arrest to beheading, with a mock trial thrown in.
Here’s part of that famous speech in which Goebbels declared “Totaler Krieg” (“total war”) and also had a few pungent remarks about the Jews:
- 1954 – The first Church of Scientology is established in Los Angeles.
- 1957 – Walter James Bolton becomes the last person legally executed in New Zealand.
Bolton had poisoned his with with arsenic, and was hanged.
- 1970 – The Chicago Seven are found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Here’s the Chicago Seven at a news conference on February 28, 1970. How many of them can you name?
- 1972 – The California Supreme Court in the case of People v. Anderson, (6 Cal.3d 628) invalidates the state’s death penalty and commutes the sentences of all death row inmates to life imprisonment.
- 2001 – NASCAR Champion Dale Earnhardt dies from an accident on the final lap of the Daytona 500.
Before the crash:
- 2010 – WikiLeaks publishes the first of hundreds of thousands of classified documents disclosed by the soldier now known as Chelsea Manning.
- 2021 – Perseverance, a Mars rover designed to explore Jezero crater on Mars, as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, lands successfully.
Remember the joy at the landing and touchdown. Here’s the touchdown sequence. I’m still thrilled watching it!
Notables born on this day include:
- 1838 – Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist and philosopher (d. 1916)
- 1848 – Louis Comfort Tiffany, American stained glass artist (d. 1933)
He made the most beautiful windows. Here’s one; caption from Wikipedia:
- 1906 – Hans Asperger, Austrian pediatrician and academic (d. 1980)
- 1909 – Wallace Stegner, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (d. 1993)
- 1931 – Toni Morrison, American novelist and editor, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2019).
- 1933 – Yoko Ono, Japanese-American multimedia artist and musician.
John and Yoko’s “bed in”, 1969. Do you remember where this was? Yoko is 89 today.
- 1968 – Molly Ringwald, American actress
Those who became carcasses on February 18 include:
- 1546 – Martin Luther, German priest and theologian, leader of the Protestant Reformation (b. 1483)
- 1564 – Michelangelo, Italian sculptor and painter (b. 1475)
- 1967 – J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and academic (b. 1904)
Here’s Oppenheimer briefly describing his reaction at the Trinity test explosion of the A bomb. His line from the Bhagavad Gita became famous.
- 2001 – Dale Earnhardt, American racer and NASCAR seven times champion (b. 1951)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is getting peeved at having to see Kulka sitting on the inside window ledge (Hili lets people know she wants in by jumping onto the outside ledge). Kulka’s in the foreground:
Hili: Again the same.A: What’s the matter?Hili: KUlka is again sitting in the window I want to come through.
Hili: Znowu to samo.Ja: O co chodzi?Hili: Znowu Kulka siedzi właśnie na tym oknie, przez które chcę wejść do domu.
And here are, in order, Leon, Mietek, and an unnamed cat, one of three that were abandoned by a Polish man who went to jail. Elzbieta drives an hour to feed them every day. Anybody want that beautiful Polish tabby?
The caption, as characterized by Malgorzata:
This caption, extremely difficult to translate but the idea is: “A normal day, why so much noise about nothing.” I don’t know which of the cats is saying that and I don’t know what noise he means. (In Polish: “Dzień jak co dzień, nie wiadomo, o co tyle hałasu.”)
Fostered tabby (isn’t it beaut?):
A meme from Bruce, which rings so true!
More snow creations from Peter:
The Tweet of God:
The secret to effective prayer is asking for things that were going to happen anyway.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) February 15, 2022
I highly recommend watching all three seasons of Ricky Gervais’s series “After Life”. This is the final scene, and if you haven’t seen the show, but will do so, DO NOT WATCH THIS CLIP. If you have, you’ll see once again that it’s a bit of genius. And it will make you tear up. (Sound up.)
The last few moments of After Life impacted me just as much as any of the beautiful dialogue. Genius.
— Kerry Fowler ツ (@kerryfowler_) February 17, 2022
From Simon, who says, “Cub needs to assess size of potential prey more carefully”:
Tiger cub sneaks up on its mom.🐅😅 pic.twitter.com/kn7YsZsMpC
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) February 16, 2022
From Ginger K.:
Marketing genius. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/nZLviqIwu9
— TimTheEnchanter 🏳️🌈🏴☠️⚛️💉💉💉✊🏼 (@TimTheEnchantar) February 17, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial, we have two tweets:
18 February 1919 | A Dutch Jewish woman, Henriëtte Vriesman, was born in Middelburg.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) February 18, 2022
The expressions on some of these newly-arrived inmates are sometimes frightening:
18 February 1898 | A Polish Jew, Lejb Michalowicz, was born in Mława. A butcher.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) February 18, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. I wonder whether this crow will suffer from beak fatigue:
this file when shared to me was entitled "Crow acquires UNREASONABLE amount of cookie" pic.twitter.com/iwyYyHCEmI
— Rev. Poppy Haze (@poppy_haze) February 16, 2022
Matthew says that this is a real e-book that you can buy on Amazon. And, sure enough, it is. Be sure to click on the tweet to see the whole title.
Taking panpsychism to its logical conclusion. Next: rocks. pic.twitter.com/RWIlAImtMQ
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) February 17, 2022
As Hawks notes, Darwin’s views of human evolution were pretty clear here. At the top you see “man” as a sister group to other apes like gorillas. This means that he saw all human groups as having a single origin, i.e., he was an advocate of monogeny, which comported with the Wedgwood familial view of “am I not a man and a brother?” And his speculation below turned out to be right.
Charles Darwin did not include a tree diagram in Descent of Man, his work expressing his ideas about the place of humans in nature. As a result, the text is confusing. Yet his notebooks as he wrote the book include trees. This one from 1868 provides a clear view. #DarwinDay2022 pic.twitter.com/BhddCHambE
— John Hawks (@johnhawks) February 13, 2022
I just found this; it’s the passport photo of my mother, my sister, and me taken for our 2.5 year stay in Greece Oy, did I have big ears! (They’ve flattened with age.)