It’s December 20, 2016, with five shopping days left until Christmas and the first day of Koynezaa. The weather report for Chicago yesterday announced that it was colder here than at the South Pole–and on Mars! It’s another weird combination of food days: National Hard Candy Day and National Sangria Day. When made properly, with a decent red wine, not too much sugar, and good fruit, sangria is a tasty and underestimated summer drink. It’s also International Human Solidarity Day.
On this day in history, the Louisiana Purchase was completed (1803), Macau was given to China by Portugal (1999), and, in 2007, Queen Elizabeth II became the oldest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom (second was Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days).
It’s not a great day for the birth of famous people; I’ll cite only Branch Rickey (December 20, 1881), best known for fighting to bring the first black baseball player, Jackie Robinson, into the major leagues (Brooklyn Dodgers). Those who died on this day include Scacagawea (1812), John Steinbeck (1968), Bobby Darin (died young in 1973, as he was born in 1936), and our Secular Hero of the Day, Carl Sagan, who died of myelodysplasia on December 20, 1996. I haven’t read everything that Sagan ever wrote, but one of my favorites is The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (named, of course, after William James’s work on religion), but with “Religious” replaced by “Scientific.” You’ll find that, at least in this book, Sagan was far more crticial of the follies of faith than most people think. It’s a wonderful book, published posthumously and edited by his wife Ann Druyan. Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, we are getting better pictures of Hili since Andrzej bought a new camera; here is The Princess discussing science with Malgorzata, but of course there’s an ulterior motive:
Hili: Science opens eyes.M: In relation to what are you saying this?Hili: Come and tell me how you learned the science of opening cans.
Hili: Nauka otwiera oczy.
Małgorzata: W związku z czym to mówisz?
Hili: Chodź opowiesz mi jak nauczyłaś się otwierać puszki.