Welcome to un giorno di gobba: Wednedsay November 24, 2021: National Sardines Day, a malodorous fish which I eschew.
It’s also EVOLUTION DAY: the day that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published in 1859 (see below).
News of the Day:
*In a civil trial four years after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that resulted in one death and many injuries, a jury has found organizers of the rally culpable for damages, notably the injuries from the fracas they envisioned and planned (the intention to incite violence was crucial for the verdict). The damages: $25 million. But the jury was deadlocked on two other charges of engaging in a race-based violent conspiracy.
The verdict in the civil trial, though mixed, was a rebuke for the defendants — a mix of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Confederate sympathizers. They were found under Virginia law to have engaged in a conspiracy in the lead-up to the rally, which began as protest over the removal of a Confederate statue and resulted in a car attack that killed one counterprotester, 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
The case in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville was brought by nine plaintiffs, four men and five women, including four people injured in the car attack. In addition to their physical injuries from the crash, including three concussions and a skull fracture, the plaintiffs testified that they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, including insomnia, the inability to concentrate, flashbacks and panic attacks.
All were seeking compensatory and unspecified punitive damages, including payment for medical costs as well as $3 million to $10 million for pain and suffering depending on the degree of their injuries.
Now who among these defendants can afford $25 million? (Those found liable include Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler and Christopher Cantwell.) Will this stop right-wing bigotry? Probably not, but if you can bring civil suits against these people when criminal charges aren’t warranted, it’s a deterrent to planning violent demonstrations.. Also, the standard for conviction in a civil suit isn’t “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” but a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, i.e., the defendants are more likely than not to have done the deed.
*The trial of Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan for the murder of unarmed Ahmaud Arbery has gone to the jury, which has now deliberated six hours and may take a break over Thanksgiving. I’d be surprised if they weren’t convicted, and my own view is that they are guilty. They had no reason to accost an unarmed man except for their unfounded “suspicions.”
*Over at Arc Digital, Cathy Young has a very good article on the Rittenhouse case, comparing it to similar cases with races swapped around. But her piece, “After the verdict: race, gender, violence and ‘Social Justice’ in Kenosha,”, while it may no longer surprise you with how slanted and misleading the media coverage was, will surprise you with the gender angle and with revelations about the background of of the white men who were killed or wounded by Rittenhouse. These are things that aren’t ancillary bits of gossip, but essential facts in forming an opinion about the case. The media screwed up big time.
*And if you’re not Rittenhoused out, you should read the analysis of the trial at Quillette by Harvard Law School prof Ronald Sullivan: “The Rittenhouse Trial: A legal scholar responds.” Sullivan, who’s black, says the verdict was fair:
Viewed in this light, Rittenhouse’s acquittal comes as no surprise. The state’s case was infirm from the beginning. I cannot emphasize enough how problematic it was that the state’s star percipient witness, whom they put on the witness stand very early in the trial, admitted to pointing a firearm at Rittenhouse. This handed the jury reasonable doubt on a silver platter. Trial lawyers know and academic psychologists confirm that juries respond to concepts of primacy and recency: they remember best what they hear first and last. One of the very first things the jury heard from the prosecution’s witness was that Rittenhouse reasonably responded to an imminent threat of death. That did not bode well for the remainder of the trial.
*The New York Times reports that a mammoth tusk has been found on the abyssal depths of the sea: 10,000 feet down and 150 miles from land. It presumably got there as a dead mammoth’s remains were washed into the sea. (Remember that nearly all fossils, including those of terrestrial plants an animals, are formed in sedimentary rock, which means they must find their way into water.) The whole tusk was recovered by a remotely operated vehicle, and DNA analysis determined that came from a young female. Estimates are that the tusk has been there for over 100,000 years. This gives new impetus to scientists to examine the deep sea for other fossil remains. (h/t Paul)
*The annual migration of red crabs from the forest to the coast to spawn has begun on Christmas Island: The crabs can’t swim, but need to spawn on the coast so they can release their eggs into water.
Here’s a bit more in an Attenborough video:
The location of Christmas Island (circled in red), which belongs to Australia.
A video here shows you the various devices that rangers put in place (e.g., crab fencing and underground “crab crossings”) to allow the crabs to get to the sea without being hit by cars.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 774,579, an increase of 1,125 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,186,728, an increase of about 9,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on November 24 includes:
- 1429 – Hundred Years’ War: Joan of Arc unsuccessfully besieges La Charité.
- 1642 – Abel Tasman becomes the first European to discover the island Van Diemen’s Land (later renamed Tasmania).
Tasman (below, painted during his lifetime) was also the first European to see New Zealand, but didn’t set foot on it.
- 1835 – The Texas Provincial Government authorizes the creation of a horse-mounted police force called the Texas Rangers (which is now the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety).
- 1859 – Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.
A good-condition first edition of this book (one of 1250 copies printed) will run you $400,000:
A first edition like the one below will run you upwards of $48,000:
Here’s the famous video of the shooting. Oswald died shortly thereafter from massive internal injuries. Ruby, convicted of Oswald’s murdered, dies in prison of lung cancer in 1967.
- 1969 – Apollo program: The Apollo 12 command module splashes down safely in the Pacific Ocean, ending the second manned mission to land on the Moon.
- 1971 – During a severe thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper (aka D. B. Cooper) parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane with $200,000 in ransom money. He has never been found.
Cooper got $200,000 in cash, and although some of the money was found in 1980, the majority of the ransom has disappered, and Cooper was never found (many think he died during or after the jump. Wikipedia notes that “The crime remains the only unsolved air piracy in commercial aviation history.” His FBI “wanted poster”
- 1973 – A national speed limit is imposed on the Autobahn in Germany because of the 1973 oil crisis. The speed limit lasts only four months.
Oh, those speed-loving Germans!
- 1974 – Donald Johanson and Tom Gray discover the 40% complete Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, nicknamed “Lucy” (after The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar Depression.
Lucy’s remains, below, were remarkably complete, and it’s fitting that the discovery took place on the anniversary of Darwin’s big book, which timidly suggested in one sentence that humans had an evolutionary history.
- 2013 – Iran signs an interim agreement with the P5+1 countries, limiting its nuclear program in exchange for reduced sanctions.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1632 – Baruch Spinoza, Dutch philosopher and scholar (d. 1677)
- 1713 – Junípero Serra, Spanish priest and missionary (d. 1784)
- 1864 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French painter and illustrator (d. 1901)
Toulouse-Lautrec (below) was a “little” person, but his deformity is undiagnosed. It is possible that it was the result of inbreeding, as his parents were first cousins. I regard him as one of the greatest of modern painters.
Here’s his portrait of the dancer (and his muse) Jane Avril, painted c.1891-92:
- 1888 – Dale Carnegie, American author and educator (d. 1955)
- 1897 – Lucky Luciano, Italian-American mob boss (d. 1962)
Lucian (below) lived up to his nickname, for he died a natural death in Italy at 64. His scar was from an early encounter in which he was bludgeoned and stabbed by other mobsters.
- 1912 – Teddy Wilson, American pianist and educator (d. 1986)
- 1925 – William F. Buckley, Jr., American publisher and author, founded the National Review (d. 2008)
- 1941 – Pete Best, Indian-English drummer and songwriter
- 1946 – Ted Bundy, American serial killer (d. 1989)
Bundy confessed to 30 murders, but there were likely more. Here’s his mug shot:
- 1961 – Arundhati Roy, Indian writer and activist, recipient of Booker Prize.
I must read her Booker Prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things.
Those who popped off on November 24 include:
- 1572 – John Knox, Scottish pastor and theologian (b. 1510)
- 1916 – Hiram Maxim, American-English engineer, invented the Maxim gun (b. 1840)
The Maxim gun was the very first automatic machine gun. Here’s a brief documentary about it and showing it in action:
- 1929 – Georges Clemenceau, French physician, publisher, and politician, 72nd Prime Minister of France (b. 1841)
- 1957 – Diego Rivera, Mexican painter and sculptor (b. 1886)
On my first visit to Mexico City in 2012, I made a point of scouring the city to see Rivera’s murals; permission is required to see some that are in government office buildings. The first one ws in such a building, and shows his wife Frida Kahlo. The second shows the Inquisition (he hated the church). Photos are mine.
- 1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, American assassin of John F. Kennedy (b. 1939)
- 1991 – Freddie Mercury, Tanzanian-English singer-songwriter, lead vocalist of Queen, and producer (b. 1946)
Mercury, whose real name was Farrokh Bulsara, loved cats and owned several. Here are two:
- 2002 – John Rawls, American philosopher, author, and academic (b. 1921)
- 2016 – Florence Henderson, American actress, singer and television personality (b. 1934)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is nervous:
Hili: Somebody is following me.A: You are deluded.
Hili: Ktoś za mną chodzi.Ja: Masz złudzenia.
A tweet from Yahweh himself:
Jesus is pansexual. He loves everyone.
— God (@god) November 19, 2021
Butterflies that have evolved “false heads” at the rear of their wings to deceive predators, who will strike at the wrong end. (False antennae, too.)
— ひがしこまつがわ (@komatsugawa92) November 23, 2021
From Barry, “A cute but scary animal noise.” Baby gators, and make sure the sound is up.
my favorite category of animal noise is space laser pic.twitter.com/26b1MgWygZ
— Gators Daily 🐊 (@GatorsDaily) November 23, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a beautiful marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata). Look at that tail and the gorgeous markings!
One of worlds most elusive and lesser known wild cat species- the marbled cat. Here photographed in central Bhutan, probably looking up to the trees for a bird? a squirrel maybe? pic.twitter.com/tIDtpdZlEI
— Tashi Dhendup 🐾 (@_tashidhendup) November 23, 2021
This is not a leaf with a hole in it; it’s a Lepidopteran (butterfly but more likely a moth) that has evolved a pattern to mimic dead leaves. The resemblance is remarkable .
穴の開いた枯れ葉、、に、見える？30-Oct-2021 Thailand pic.twitter.com/ikwGHPpu5d
— カオヤイ (@hayashi19511112) November 23, 2021
The bombardier beetle, once a favorite of creationists who said that a system of mixing two chemicals that beccome hot and gaseous when combined could never have evolved, ergo God. Now, though, we have a good idea of how it happened.
Play video with sound on. This is the bombardier beetle that fires hot (near 100oC) noxious gasses from its anus. The ‘pops’ are the explosive release of gas. An evolutionary marvel: Tom Eisner’s work on the mechanism is still a lesson in how to conduct experiments. https://t.co/A9385OmGTj
— Michael Siva-Jothy (@sivajothy) November 23, 2021
This is one nefarious moggy!
The chances of being murdered by a cat are higher than you think… pic.twitter.com/9YfjM6vlVl
— Extraordinarily Pleasing (@pleasingnesss) November 18, 2021
Sound up for the patter of little duck feet:
Duck having a great day!! pic.twitter.com/qMHzMvbsqv
— Extraordinarily Pleasing (@pleasingnesss) November 23, 2021