Good morning on a balmy February 14 in Chicago: Valentine’s Day! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I hope you sent a nice treat to your loved one(s). Meanwhile, a Pakistani court has banned Valentine’s Day in the whole country, declaring that it’s “against the teachings of Islam” (what: they don’t like love?), and the flower-sellers are deeply upset. So be it. Appropriately, today’s food holiday is National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day (I prefer what I got–giant fresh strawberries dipped in rich, dark chocolate). But it’s also “V-Day,” a day to mark and decry violence against women and girls. (Since it was started by Eve Ensler, the “V” stands for “Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.”)
On this day in 1502, during the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic Monarchs ordered Muslims in Granada to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain. That’s a reminder that, in the past, Catholics were as intolerant of infidels as some Muslims are now. Exactly 54 years later, the Church declared Thomas Cranmer a heretic for separating the English church from Catholicism (and translating Scripture into English), and he was executed. In 1859, Oregon became a state, and Arizona followed on this day in 1912. In 1929, the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred in Chicago, with seven rivals of Al Capone gunned down in a garage. On February 14, 1945, the fire-bombing of Dresden by the Allies began, and in 1956, Khrushcheve condemned Stalin in a secret speech—one of the first public criticisms of the former tyrant. In 1990, the Voyager I spacecraft took the famous “pale blue dot” photograph and, finally, on this day in 2005, YouTube was launched, making free kitten videos available to all.
Here’s the “pale blue dot” photo (you can see it as a light speck in the vertical brown band to the right); and let us remember what Carl Sagan said about it in a speech at Cornell University:
We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
[…] To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
Notables born on this day include John Barrymore (1882), Jack Benny (1894), Gregory Hines (1946), the magician Teller (1948), and Renée Fleming (1959). Those who died on Valentine’s Day include James Cook (1779, stabbed to death by Hawaiians at age 50), David Hilbert (1943), Julian Huxley and P. G. Wodehouse (both 1975), James Bond (the ornithologist whose name was used by Ian Fleming, 1989), John Ehrlichmann (1999), and jazz pianist George Shearing (whom Jack Kerouac called “The Great God Shearing”, 2011). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, housebound, needs pepping up:
Hili: I have too little energy.A: You might need some vitamins.
Hili: Mam za mało energii.
Ja: Może potrzebujesz witamin.
And out in Winnipeg, which is experiencing a temporary warm spell, Gus is playing with a toy. His staff, Taskin, says this:
I wanted to try some action shots. It’s not easy to shoot the toy and shoot the camera at the same time. The first two go together and I think I’ve sent ones like this before. I really like his pose in the last one: very elegant lines.