Good morning on Saturday, February 25, 2017. The warm weather is over in Chicago, at least for the nonce, and temperatures will hover around the freezing point today, not rising much for most of the week. Today is an odd combination of food holidays: National Chocolate-Covered Peanuts Day and National Clam Chowder Day: a pairing guaranteed to make you ill. I’ll have the chowder, thank you, but only the New England “white” variety without tomatoes. Today is also celebrated as Meher Baba‘s birthday in honor of the amiable guru (1894-1969) who never uttered a word for the last 44 years of his life, communicating via an alphabet board or hand gestures (he didn’t write by hand, either). Nevertheless, he collected many followers, including The Who’s Pete Townshend, who dedicated the rock opera “Tommy” to Meher Baba.
Here’s the guru in a short 1932 newsreel, when he had already been silent for for 7 years. He’s shown using his alphabet board, though I must say that I don’t see how he could point fast enough to convey the translated message:
And here’s a card I still have on my office wall, given to me by my friend the biologist Russ Lande, who got it from a Baba acolyte. The guru’s smile is so infectious that simply looking at this card would cheer me up. (I wonder if his words inspired the Bobby McFerrin song.)
On February 25, 1870, Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first African American to ever join the United States Congress; he was a Republican from Mississippi. Here’s his photo:
And on this day in 1932, Hitler obtained German citizenship (he was born in Austria), allowing him to begin his ascent to power in Germany. On this day in 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli-American Jewish extremist, killed 29 Palestinians and injured another 125 after firing an automatic rifle at Muslim worshipers in the city of Hebron. He was beaten to death on the spot, and it’s a sign of sickness and hatred that his grave is still worshiped by Jewish extremists.
Notables born on this day include, beside Meher Baba, Karl May and Ida Lewis (both 1842, see today’s Google Doodle, soon to be posted, about Lewis), Enrico Caruso (1873), Zeppo Marx (1901), Sun Myung Moon (1920), and George Harrison (1943). Those who died on this day include Christopher Wren (1723; the simple stone plaque marking his grave inside St. Paul’s, a cathedral he designed, reads in part [in Latin], “Reader, if you seek his monument – look around you”), Elijah Muhammad (1975), Tennessee Williams (1983), and C. Everett Koop (2013). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili ponders her lineage:
Hili: My feline ancestors liked to sit beside kerosene lamps.A: Probably.Hili: Don’t argue with me.
Hili: Moi koci przodkowie lubili siedzieć przy lampach naftowych.
Hili: Nie sprzeczaj się ze mną.