Wednesday: Hili dialogue

November 24, 2021 • 6:30 am

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). 

Beyond that, it’s D. B. Cooper Day (see below under 1971), National Jukebox Day, and What Do You Love About America Day.

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.

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!

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)

I haven’t read Carnegie’s most famous book,  How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), but I’m curious about it. And I probably need to read How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948).

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:

Serial killer Ted Bundy, shown here in 1979, killed dozens of people and his first confessed murder was in Seattle in 1971. He died in the electric chair in Jan. 1989, and authorities believe he killed more victims than he confessed to.
  • 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.
In Polish:
Hili: Ktoś za mną chodzi.
Ja: Masz złudzenia.

From Divy:

From Nicole:

A tweet from Yahweh himself:

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.)

From Barry, “A cute but scary animal noise.” Baby gators, and make sure the sound is up.

Tweets from Matthew. First, a beautiful marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata). Look at that tail and the gorgeous markings!

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 .

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.

Sound up!

This is one nefarious moggy!

Sound up for the patter of little duck feet:

35 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. They had no reason to accost an unarmed man except for their unfounded “suspicions.”

    I generally agree. But I think it’s also worth pointing out that even assuming a worse-case, where Arbuery was a thief returning to case a building site house he had stolen from before, it should still be illegal to kill him for that.

    The Rittenhouse verdict is somewhat informative here, IMO. If a guy can strap on an AR-15 and walk into a riot, planning to point that gun at protestors if they try and vandalize someone else’s property, and still the legal onus is on everyone else not to attack him, then surely a guy can look like he’s casing a house for a future burglary, and the legal onus remains on everyone else not to shoot him. “Asking for trouble is not technically illegal” swings all ways, not just for white guys.

    1. … even assuming a worse-case, where Arbuery was a thief returning to case a building site house he had stolen from before, it should still be illegal to kill him for that.

      Everyone agrees on that. The defendants’ case is that they were attempting a citizen’s arrest (which would have been lawful), whereupon Arbery grabbed a gun, and their shooting him in response to the “grabbing the gun” was self-defense.

      Though, personally (from what I know of the case), I would not buy that and would likely convict them.

      If a guy can strap on an AR-15 and walk into a riot, planning to point that gun at protestors if they try and vandalize someone else’s property, and still the legal onus is on everyone else not to attack him, …

      Just to point out that there’s little or no evidence that Rittenhouse either did or “planned to” point his gun at protestors vandalizing property. Had he done that, it could well have been “provocation” that lost him the right to self defense (see the Sullivan piece).

      1. there’s little or no evidence that Rittenhouse either did or “planned to” point his gun at protestors vandalizing property.

        AIUI, it is Rittenhouse’s own testimony that he went there to guard Car Source’s car lot, which the night before had been burned by rioters. In fact it was Rittenhouse’s testimony that he was invited by the owners to do exactly that, though the testimony from others is a bit confused about whether that’s true or not. Here’s an interesting tidbit of testimony:

        Attorney to Salil Khindri, brother of the owner: “So, all these guys are on your family’s property and you don’t ask them to leave?”
        Response: “Not when they’re dressed like that,”

        It’s ambigous whether that means he liked how they were dressed and armed, so let them stay, or he was intimidated by how they were dressed and armed and let them stay. But either way, there’s no question at all that Rittenhouse’s night started out in a car lot with a group of other armed right wingers with at least the nominal purpose of protecting that property.

        1. Yes, entirely true, but being there to protect property (and in possession of a gun) is not the same as pointing a gun at people who are vandalizing property.

          1. Coel they got up on the roof of the Car Source building.
            It is ridiculous to claim they had no intention of pointing guns at people. A good shooting angle is the only reason to go up there. If they had wanted to intimidate people merely by their armed presence, such an action makes no sense at all. Had they not wanted to point guns at people, they instead would have stayed around the perimeter of the lot where they could confront people.

            1. Other reasons to go up there are “to be seen” (and hence act as a deterrent) and to make it harder for people to approach you (and thus be safer). [It’s also somewhat tangential, since Rittenhouse did not go on the roof.]

      2. The defendants’ case is that they were attempting a citizen’s arrest (which would have been lawful) …

        A disquisition by a noted legal scholar on the law of “citizen’s arrest”:

      3. Based on reported testimony the citizens arrest claim seems to be a post hoc excuse and the defendants testified that they never told Arbery that they were attempting to make a citizens arrest. Even if they had it in their minds that they were making a citizens arrest, standards of cause apply. The law does not allow people to just go around arresting other citizens because of vague suspicions. According to reported testimony the standards necessary to warrant a citizens arrest were not remotely met. In fact the defendants own testimony and that of police involved seem to show pretty clearly that the defendants lied about their claimed reasons for being suspicious enough of Arbery to run him down, trap him and shoot him.

        Unlike the Rittenhouse incident the more information that comes out about this incident the worse it looks for the defendants and local law enforcement.

    2. I agree.

      As always I’m considering that I don’t have all the information available to the jury and that some of what information I do have could be inaccurate. And that I’m not a legal expert. But this case does seem pretty clear to me. At least I am very sure that killings like this one should not be justified.

    3. Although I haven’t followed the trial closely, the most compelling evidence against the three is their 911 call to report “a black man running down the street”, or something like that, as it shows that they really had no evidence that Arbery had committed a crime. Of course, I’m assuming that’s all the caller said and it’s not some MSM editorial distortion of the call — we can never be sure these days.

  2. If there is a way to get people off for killing other people with a gun, they will find it. It is the American way. Pursuing an animal in a vehicle with a loaded gun use to be illegal in several ways. At least it was when I was growing up. You could not have a loaded gun in a vehicle. You could not have a gun in the car without a gun case or you broke the gun down. Pursuit with a vehicle was illegal hunting. You could not shoot from a road. You could not shoot across a road. My how things have changed.

    Yes, there use to be laws but then they corrupted the second amendment and now it is open season.

    1. I’ve no idea if any have been filed yet, but it is certainly possible. It’s pretty common. Though, given the background of the victims I wouldn’t be surprised if no civil suits were brought either.

  3. 1941 – Pete Best, Indian-English drummer and songwriter.

    I recall when I was a youngster, and the Beatles went huge with their first tour of the USA and appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Pete Best released on album titled Best of the Beatles. Many disappointed Beatles’ fans bought it under the mistaken assumption it was a collection of the biggest hits off the Beatles’ first couple albums.

    1. Best later worked at the unemployment agency and could really understand folks who said “unfortunately I’ve been fired from a really good job”. Yes, his title was rather dodgy. Bist they are all on good terms now. Apparently he made a lot of money from the Anthology stuff.

  4. “2002 John Rawls – philosopher…”. A real highlight of my liberal arts education as a math and physics major at William and Mary in the 1960’s, was an introduction to John Rawls’ “Theory of Justice” in a class taught by (the recently late) Professor David Jones who I think had been a student of Rawls at Harvard. The concept of the veil of ignorance regarding ones station in life has served me well for these many years and is even brought up to me by former high school students of mine from the 1970’s. A simple but very important concept.

    1. There you go with your right-wing talking points again, DrBrydon. 🙂

      We on the Left are still going to conduct our annual War on Christmas again this year. 🙂

      Happy Thanksgiving back at ya.

    1. Before Jerry gives up on sardines altogether, I hope he will try grilled sardines in Lisbon. One of the great street foods of all time. Some chewing required.

  5. Regarding the Rittenhouse verdict, I rely on legal scholars’ analyses, rather than journalists’ takes, which are biased in both directions. Cathy Young’s article seems to do a lot of cherry-picking to support her view.
    I noticed this at the beginning of her article: “What’s more, the black man whose shooting by the police triggered the riots (and the protests) was, the investigation found, armed with a knife while resisting arrest for felony assault on the children’s mother, and the police feared that he might have taken the children hostage.” If the police were so fearful for the children, why did a number of police officers just stand there and let Jacob Blake walk right past them? Were they so afraid of a pocket knife, that they couldn’t have grabbed him?
    Later, she mentions Kyle Rittenhouse walking toward police with his hands up, but fails to mention that the police waved him aside.
    Further, she gives no real stats to support her view, but instead uses vague terms, such as “Many cases,,,,,”

    1. I didn’t think the Cathy Young article was cherry picking. She criticizes those who generalize from a single case (Rittenhouse), and she offers counter-examples. Seems pretty fair.

      Her main point is criticism of the intersectionality approach to Rittenhouse. In some cases, the media focus on race and ignore misogyny (e.g., the multiple prior convictions for domestic violence or sexual assault by Jacob Blake and by the guys who were shot by Rittenhouse) when it suits the narrative about racial injustice. In other cases, the media focus on misogyny and ignore race (e.g., the Black defendant in the Steubenville football rape trial) when it suits a different #metoo narrative.

      She does give some “stats” wrt the idea that self-defence claims by white and black shooters are treated differently. Her example shows that there isn’t good evidence for that difference:

      “A 2013 analysis of 200 ‘stand your ground’ cases in Florida found that whites and blacks who actually used such a defense fared very similarly—including in the small number of interracial homicide cases. Five of the six white defendants who had killed a black person were acquitted; so were four of the five black defendants who had killed a white person.”

      Again that seems pretty fair. But maybe there are other examples she could have chosen where those outcomes differ by race. IDK.

  6. “We shall not fear the Hottentot,
    For we the Maxim gun have got.
    And they have not.”

    —Catch phrase from the late days of the British Empire.

  7. I remember Mark Harmon playing Ted Bundy on TV in the eighties, back when he had a bit of a Tom Cruise vibe going: he was rather good, charming yet chilling. Since then I’ve always refused to help anyone with a broken arm.

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