Well, here we are in 2017, and although of course the designation of a year’s beginning is arbitrary, we can’t help but take stock of the past year (not a great one!) and anticipate what will come (in U.S. politics, horrible things). Yes, it’s New Year’s Day, and has been declared National Bloody Mary Day and National Black Eyed Pea Day. Both, I believe, are New Year restoratives. In Scotland, it’s the second day of Hogmanay, and all around the world it’s International Nepali Dhoti and Nepali Topi Day. If you have those clothes, wear them today in honor of the wonderful but hard-pressed folk of Nepal.
On this day in 1773, Wikipedia tells us that “The hymn that became known as “Amazing Grace“, then titled “1 Chronicles 17:16–17,” [was] first used to accompany a sermon led by John Newton in the town of Olney, England.” In 1804, Haiti gained its independence from France, though how “independent” it’s been in recent decades is questionable. On this day in 1901, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia, formerly British colonies, joined to become the Commonwealth of Australia. And the Euro was introduced on the first day of 1999.
I’m saddened to report a tragic beginning to this year. Last night, at about 1:30 a.m., a gunman attacked a nightclub in Istanbul, killing at least 35 people (including 15 foreigners) and leaving 69 wounded. The gunman, who seems to have acted alone, hasn’t yet been apprehended. It’s depressing to think that the wave of terrorist attacks we’ll see this year—for I suspect this was one of them—began on its very first day. Turkey, already groaning under the despotic Erdoğan, and rapidly becoming more Islamicized (a friend who visits regularly says that during his visit last month the number of hijabis had increased dramatically), is on the downhill slide. Atatürk would be horrified.
Notables born on this day include Paul Revere (1735), Betsy Ross (1752), E. M. Forster (1879), J. Edgar Hoover (1895), J. D. Salinger (1919), Larry King (1929) and Mary Beard (1955). Those who died on this day include Johann Bernoulli (1748), Heinrich Hertz (1894), Edward Weston (1958), Eugene Wigner (1995), and Patti Page (2013). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has gloomy prognostications for 2017—not surprising given the rightward tilt of Poland:
Cyrus: Come and see what the New Year looks like.Hili: I’m not sure I want to know.
Cyrus: Chodź zobaczymy jak wygląda Nowy Rok.
Hili: Nie jestem pewna, czy chcę wiedzieć.
Finally, Gus got a present—a puppet. Staff member Taskin reports this:
Gus got a gift from a friend, and get this, it’s from Ikea!!! [JAC: that’s the source of the first box he nommed to shreds.] The other half of Gus’s staff thinks this video is a bit weird…
Finally, Douglas S. sent a Theology Meme; he tells me that he believes that the man on the right is Karl Barth and the other Emil Brunner. As I haven’t read much Barth, and no Brunner, readers will have to explain their opposition. If it’s about God, which it almost surely is, then it’s funny: it’s like two smart men arguing whether Superman’s cape is made of silk or polyester.
Final lagniappe: Douglas E. sent a “spot the . . ” photo; this one is called “Spot the Monarch.” Even if it were a butterfly it would be easy: