It’s Saturday, June 18 (I think that’s right), and I”m waking up in Los Angeles, where of course the weather is perfect but the traffic is dreadful. As Dionne Warwick sang, “L.A. is a great big freeway.” And it is, especially on Friday afternoons.
This is a famous day in history, for it was on June 18, 1858, that Charles Darwin received a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace in Ternate, laying out Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection—very close to the ideas Darwin had been developing for over twenty years. Freaked out, Darwin turned to his colleagues Lyell and Hooker for advice and support, who decided to broker a deal in which both Wallace’s ideas and Darwin’s hastily-written paper were published in the same (August 20) issue of Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society: Zoology. Darwin then hastily put together On the Origin of Species, published only 13 months later. The rest is history. While some argue that Darwin had received the letter earlier, and withheld it from base motives, that now appears to be wrong.
One other famous event happened in Britain on this day: in 1940, Churchill delivered his “This was their finest hour” speech in the House of Commons. It is a masterpiece of oratory, and the ending bears repeating:
But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.
Notables born on this day include mountaineer George Mallory (1886), Roger Ebert (1942), and Lisa Randall (1962). Those who died on this day include Roald Amundsen (1928), Walter Alvarez (1978), and I. F. Stone (1989). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is angry that she was accidentally deprives of noms. You can see how affronted she is by her demeanor in the photo below:
Hili: We cats have good memory.A: And that means?Hili: Yesterday you poured the last of the milk into your coffee and I had to drink water.
Hili: My, koty, mamy dobrą pamięć.
Ja: To znaczy?
Hili: Wczoraj wlałeś sobie resztkę mleka do kawy, a ja musiałam pić wodę.
Finally, the 7000th post on this site (Feb. 4,, 2014) announced that reader Gayle Ferguson, a biologist at Massey University in New Zealand, was fostering a litter of kittens, one of which she named Jerry Coyne. Over the past few 2½ years I’ve documented his growth: his illness (he’s fine now), his adoption into a loving home in Christchurch, and his development into a striking long-haired ginger tom. Today we learn that Jerry has just moved into a new home, and Gayle sends a photo and a report:
Jerry Coyne the Cat has just moved in to his newly rebuilt home, 5 years after it was destroyed in the Christchurch earthquake!
Jerry’s owner adds this:
Jerry has settled into our new house. Looking resplendent in his winter coat with the view of the city behind. Great to be back here although Jerry is still pretty freaked out by all the space and ‘wilderness’. Loki [the other cat] just settled like he had never been away.
And, lest ye have forgotten, here’s Jerry as a kitten: