Saturday: Hili dialogue

December 4, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the Cat Sabbath: Saturday, December 4, 2021. It’s National Cookie Day, and take your pick. Will you have an Oreo, a chocolate chip cookie, or one of these, which I love? ((I don’t know what they’re called.)

It’s also Cabernet Franc Day, National Rhubarb Vodka Day (UGH!), National Sock Day, National Wear Brown Shoes Day, Wildlife Conservation Day, and International Cheetah Day;

News of the Day:

*The parents of 15 year old Ethan Crumley, who fatally shot four of his school classmates in Michigan, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, an unprecedented step for a situation like this but one clearly justified by the facts. First, they bought him a 9-mm semiautomatic handgun that they left unlocked in the house. Then they laughed off his attempted purchase of ammunition, spotted on his phone by a teacher.

On Monday, when a teacher reported seeing their son searching online for ammunition, his mother did not seem alarmed.

“LOL I’m not mad at you,” Jennifer Crumbley texted her son. “You have to learn not to get caught.”

But that’s not all; they also ignored warnings that their son was about to unleash hell:

On the morning of the Nov. 30 shooting, the suspect’s parents were urgently called to Oxford High School after one of his teachers found an alarming note he had drawn, scrawled with images of a gun, a person who had been shot, a laughing emoji and the words, “Blood everywhere,” and, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”

School officials told the parents during the in-person meeting on Tuesday that they were required to seek counseling for their son, Ethan, Ms. McDonald said. The teenager’s parents did not want their son to be removed from school that day, and did not ask him whether he had the gun with him or search the backpack he brought with him to the office, Ms. McDonald said.

“The notion that a parent could read those words and also know their son had access to a deadly weapon, that they gave him, is unconscionable, and I think it’s criminal. It is criminal,” she said.

He was allowed back to class.

A few hours later, authorities say, those ominous words and drawings erupted into bloodshed. At 12:50 p.m., authorities said, Ethan Crumbley walked into a bathroom carrying his backpack, emerged with the handgun and began to fire.

They didn’t tell the school that the kid owned a gun? Lock ’em up! The whole damn family should go to jail. Remember, four kids died because these parents were morons. If you want to see an example of completely irresponsible parenting, read the article. It’s almost as if the parents wanted the shooting to occur.

UPDATE: The AP reports that the cops can’t find the two parents! But the NYT says this:

Law enforcement officials said that the parents had gone missing on Friday afternoon and that the county’s fugitive-apprehension team, F.B.I. agents and United States Marshals were looking for the couple. “They cannot run from their part in this tragedy,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County said in a statement.

Lawyers for the parents said the Crumbleys had not fled, but had left town for their own safety and were returning to be arraigned.

UPDATE 2: The NYT reports today that the parents were arrested in Detroit early this morning, apparently hiding in a building. They now face extra charges for evading police. Lock ’em up!

*The Biden administration has resumed the Trump policy of requiring asylum seekers coming from Mexico to remain in that country pending adjudication of their request to enter. Biden suspended that policy his very first day in office, but has “reluctantly” resumed it after lawsuits were filed:

Revival of the “Remain in Mexico” policy comes even as the Biden administration maneuvers to end it in a way that survives legal scrutiny. President Joe Biden scrapped the policy, but a lawsuit by Texas and Missouri forced him to put it back into effect, subject to Mexico’s acceptance.

Mexico’s foreign relations secretary said in light of U.S. concessions Mexico will allow returns, expected to begin next week, “for humanitarian reasons and for temporary stays.”

. . . Migrants are expected to be returned starting Monday in one border city, which has not been identified. It will eventually be done in seven locations: San Diego and Calexico in California; Nogales, Arizona; and the Texas border cities of Brownsville, Eagle Pass, El Paso and Laredo.

Jen Psaki, circling around, called the policy “deeply flawed.”

*In a Washington Post op-ed, “It’s time to say it: The conservatives on the Supreme Court lied to us,” political columnist Paul Waldman speaks the truth.

Yes, I’m talking about the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, and the abortion rights those justices have now made clear they will eviscerate.

They weren’t just evasive, or vague, or deceptive. They lied. They lied to Congress and to the country, claiming they either had no opinions at all about abortion, or that their beliefs were simply irrelevant to how they would rule. They would be wise and pure, unsullied by crass policy preferences, offering impeccably objective readings of the Constitution.

It. Was. A. Lie.

We went through the same routine in the confirmation hearings of every one of those justices. When Democrats tried to get them to state plainly their views on Roe v. Wade, they took two approaches. Some tried to convince everyone that they would leave it untouched. Others, those already on record proclaiming opposition to abortion rights, suggested they had undergone a kind of intellectual factory reset enabling them to assess the question anew with an unspoiled mind, one concerned only with the law.

Unfortunately, that lie was and is still enabled by the news media. Even in the face of what we saw at the court on Wednesday — when at least five of the six conservatives made clear their intention to overturn Roe — press accounts continued offering euphemisms and weasel words, about “inconsistencies” or “contradictions.”

The sick part is that we knew they lied, but still hoped that they wouldn’t overturn Roe.  And I agree with Waldman’s conclusion:

From this day forward, no one should be naive enough to believe a word any conservative says on this subject, except for those few who forthrightly proclaim that the Supreme Court must read right-wing policy preferences into the Constitution. There was never any mystery about who these justices are and what they would do. There were only liars saying otherwise, and fools who chose to believe them.

*You may remember that Alex Baldwin accidentally killed the cinematographer and wounded the director of the low-budget western, “Rust” they were filming last October. Someone put a live round instead of a blank in the gun he was using. Nobody knows what happened yet, but Baldwin didn’t do himself any favors by saying that “the gun just went off”, and that he had neither cocked the antique Colt revolver nor pulled the trigger.  It’s very unlikely that Baldwin bears any responsibility for the killing, but it’s also very unlikely, say gun experts, that a Colt revolver would go off without being cocked or having the trigger pulled.

*Reader Ken wrote me this and sent a link:

Administrators at the University of Florida have told faculty that they cannot use  the words “critical race” in any course description, out of fear that the Florida legislature and governor Ron DeSantis are contemplating legislation banning critical race theory from any aspect of state government.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 786,270, an increase of 1,121 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,261,092, an increase of about 8,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on December 4 includes:

The historic tavern still exists in Manhattan, at the corner of Pearl and Broad (below). A note from Wikipedia about what George said to his officers:

A week after British troops had evacuated New York on November 25, 1783, the tavern hosted an elaborate “turtle feast” dinner, on December 4, 1783, in the building’s Long Room for U.S. Gen. George Washington during which he bade farewell to his officers of the Continental Army by saying “[w]ith a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.” After his farewell, he took each one of his officers by the hand for a personal word.

  • 1791 – The first edition of The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, is published.

Here’s the first Sunday newspaper in the world:

  • 1861 – The 109 Electors of the several states of the Confederate States of America unanimously elect Jefferson Davis as President and Alexander H. Stephens as Vice President.
  • 1881 – The first edition of the Los Angeles Times is published.

And the first edition of the L.A. Times:

  • 1909 – The Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club, the oldest surviving professional hockey franchise in the world, is founded as a charter member of the National Hockey Association.
  • 1918 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, becoming the first US president to travel to Europe while in office.
  • 1956 – The Million Dollar Quartet (Elvis PresleyJerry Lee LewisCarl Perkins, and Johnny Cash) get together at Sun Studio for the first and last time.

Here’s a live performance from that historic meeting, “Just a little talk with Jesus”. It clearly shows the gospel roots of early rock and roll. Can you recognize the voices?

Here’s the most famous part of free-speech leader Mario Savio on the steps of Sproul Hall, Berkeley, December 2, 1964

Here are the original six members of the Black Panther party with the Wikipedia caption below:

Original six members of the Black Panther Party (1966) Top left to right: Elbert “Big Man” Howard, Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherwin Forte, Bobby Seale (Chairman) Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer).
  • 1978 – Following the murder of Mayor George Moscone, Dianne Feinstein becomes San Francisco’s first female mayor.
  • 1991 – Pan American World Airways ceases its operations after 64 years.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1835 – Samuel Butler, English author and critic (d. 1902)
  • 1865 – Edith Cavell, English nurse, humanitarian, and saint (Anglicanism) (d. 1915)

Cavell was accused of treason for helping Allied soldiers escape from the Germans, and was shot by a German firing squad:

Delbrück,Hershey, and Luria, the Big Three of early molecular genetics, shared the prize in 1969 for genetic work on viruses:

Renoir was the grandson of the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who painted “Girl Sleeping With Cat”, 1880:


  • 1940 – Gary Gilmore, American murderer (d. 1977)
  • 1944 – Chris Hillman, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1944 – Dennis Wilson, American singer-songwriter, producer, and drummer (d. 1983)
  • 1949 – Jeff Bridges, American actor
  • 1964 – Marisa Tomei, American actress

How can you not love Marisa Tomei? Here’s a scene from the movie that made her famous: and for which she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Those were judged at the Pearly Gates on December 4 include:

  • 1131 – Omar Khayyám, Persian poet, astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher (b. 1048)

Read the version of his poems arranged and translated by Edmund FitzGerald; it’s only $7.99 at Amazon or free online here. This was one of the books that changed my life.

My favorite verse:

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes—or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two—is gone.

  • 1642 – Cardinal Richelieu, French cardinal and politician, Chief Minister to the French Monarch (b. 1585)
  • 1893 – John Tyndall, Irish-English physicist and chemist (b. 1820)
  • 1945 – Thomas Hunt Morgan, American geneticist and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1866)
  • 1967 – Bert Lahr, American actor (b. 1895)
  • 1975 – Hannah Arendt, German-American historian, theorist, and academic (b. 1906)
  • 1993 – Frank Zappa, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1940)

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention singing “Approximate” (1974):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili wants to come inside but is being ignored:

Hili: You are not paying me any attention.
A: I have to finish reading this article.
Hili: Everything is more important than me.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie zwracasz na mnie uwagi.
Ja: Muszę dokończyć czytanie tego artykułu.
Hili: Wszystko jest ważniejsze niż ja.

And a photo of Szaron by Andrzej:

From the Not Another Science Cat FB page:

From Mark Plotkin. Can you see the cat?

From Bruce:  I believe this is a real, unaltered photo, and I’ve seen it before with an explanation. I can’t find that now, but can you explain it?

A wrathful God—or is it the Godfather?

A tweet from Luana:

From Barry. This wins tweet of the month so far, but be sure the sound is up!:

This is happening in Chicago. Inclusive bathrooms! What can go wrong? And it starts with 6 years olds.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew, who happens to be in Cambridge now:

This is amazing. How’d they get the head to look like it stuck out?

And some brain food:

84 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

    1. In Dutch they used to be called ‘negro kisses’ (negerzoenen), I’m not sure whether that still is acceptable there.

  1. Regarding that 90 minute spectical on abortion by those mostly catholic robed judges, it must be noted not one word from them about incest and rape. They well know the Mississippi abortion law they were suppose to be discussing also included no exception for the 12 or 13 or 14 year old who is pregnate due to rape or incest. I guess they too are suppose to just smile and do their 9 months and enjoy it. Such clowns don’t belong in traffic court.

    1. Not to mention the 10 year olds (in SA there were nearly 700 of them last year) .

      The SC is composed of 7 Catholics and 2 Jews.
      Catholics are less than a quarter of the US population, and Jews much less. I do not say that it is bad, but that it is weird.
      Now Breyer and Kagan appear quite secular (that is a fifth of the US population), as is Sotomayor. I’m less sure about the other Justices.

      1. 10-yo , getting pregnant? Surely there is some hormonal jiggerypokery going on there too. That’s extraordinarily young to be fertile, isn’t it? And 700-odd cases?

        Somebody better check the water. Literally.

        1. Yes it is very young, the age of menarche has steadily been falling. We can only speculate about the causes
          I heard the close to 700 number from a professoor working with these children on a RSG radiobroadcast. He must have been talking pregnancies, not births, because the official number of births to children under 14 is 934 this year

  2. The Escher car photo isn’t real, it was created what “Swedish photographer, artist, and Photoshop genius, Erik Johansson” according to the Daily Fail.

    1. There are street artists who work in that vein, with images of open manhole in the middle of pedestrian precincts and the like. The trick of course only worked from one very precise viewpoint.
      I was trying to work out how such an artist had painted the underside of an overpass, put a billboard of the top of the blue car on the railings, and the “Belvedere” style pillar painting over the other side of the overpass. etc.
      But of course, Photoshop (other image-editors are available) would be quicker and easier.

  3. D’oh – “created by”! My Kindle does weird things like inserting words when I backspace when writing a comment…

  4. As long as we are covering the republican theme this morning – That dabolical episode up there in Michigan with 4 dead children should be made into a campaign commercial by the democrats on republican shame. Stick that up your second amendment.

    1. I suspect there is no racial motive behind this shooting. Oxford High’s website posts some group photos but nary a Black or Asian face can be seen . . . and this is practically Detroit! As an aside, I haven’t seen such a racially uniform group of students attending segregated schools in the deep South in the 1950s. The linked soccer team photo shows how my suburban Atlanta high school (admittedly 60 years later) looks now. The school website has options for viewing in Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese. Times change, at least in some places.

      1. Is Spanish a legislative language in (parts of) America, yet?
        We only have a few % of Gaelic speakers, but most new road signage has been dual-language for years now. The Welsh are in the 10s of % Welsh-speakers, and have had a bilingual government for as long as they have had a separate government.

        Personally, I *like* browsing the Polish aisles of the supermarket for gustatory novelties.

  5. America – where there are more warnings on school bathroom doors than on the handgun you casually buy on a whim.

  6. The Michigan shooting story is a mess; good job sorting it out. I read a half-dozen stories yesterday, all of which were incomplete and in which the sequence of events was unclear. One additional consideration, the school apparently practiced what is called “restorative justice,” which means that rather than suspending or expelling students, they keep them in school:

    This document intentionally proposes an approach to school discipline that gives preference to keeping students in school where they can receive the academic and social-emotional supports they need. [p. 3]

    1. The school is not far from where I work, and its been a week of working thru a strange mental fog. The kid was preparing to shoot more people when the police came, and he gave himself up.
      Meanwhile there have been several different postings online all over Michigan (at least), where kids posted threats about shooting up their school. This is of course to be expected, following a school shooting of national note. Schools have closed this week all over Michigan as a precaution, and the miscreants are not coming back.
      Its like that first one could have been avoided at so many points, and now there is what I would call appropriate vigilance. The fallout here will grow and grow, given what is being learned.

    2. In the early 90’s, our school division thought it important to keep kids in school rather than push them to the streets or homes with people like we see in the michigan case passing for parents IF the kid posed no harm to the school. We had set up a small middle school and a small high school to receive these kids. There also was a very small third school to receive hard cases such as juveniles returning to the city from the state juvenile retention facility and still entitled to a “free and appropriate” education under state law. We created it when four eighteen year olds who had been in involved in murdering an old man on the street finished their juvenile sentences and were released by the state. I recall that it was staffed by gentlemen who reminded me of an nfl defensive line and housed in a former elementary school that was restored for this clientel. But the other two schools were staffed by principals and teachers who wanted to work with the kids assigned there and were very successful in getting most of these kids through graduation. These were small and less rigid environments than the regular middle and high schools. Determination of placement was done by a discipline review committee of about a dozen teachers, administrators and two school board members in a review of cases that involved recommendations of long term (more than ten day suspension) or expulsion. The committee saw about 100 cases a year in a district of about 30,000 students. Cases involving the justice system were worked with our city’s juvenile judges if i recall correctly, but certainly this kid in michigan, from all first appearances, would have had his person, backpack and locker searched, would not have been returned to class, and if a weapon were found, would have been turned over to police. We also shared funding of one uniformed policeman in each of our regular middle and high schools and among their duties was the preservation of a proper chain of evidence. I do not know what the disciline process is now, 25 years later.

      1. Visual astronomers call this the “averted vision” technique. The fovea (thank you, Bloody AutoIncorrect! – retina area with the highest density of rods+cones) isn’t generally where the locus of attention is in the visual field, and “averting your vision” can often bring detail into view which you can’t see if you stare at it.

        1. I do this often in our not-so-dark city skies to see any stars or planets with naked eyes. I’m always fascinated that I can see things with averted vision that I can’t see if I stare directly at them. It is also interesting that my attention can be directed independently of where my fovea is pointed. The visual system is a strange and wondrous thing.

      1. Are you talking about the optical illusion cat, or the cat in what would sometimes be called a “night jar” (but more often a “guzzunder” because it “goes under” the bed, preferably lidded)?

  7. I don’t think that particular Zappa number is with the Mothers of Invention. “Approximate” does demonstrate Zappa’s ability to write hard-to-play instructions for his band and have them follow them. It isn’t very impressive beyond that though. One of my favorite Zappa numbers is “Inca Roads” which is from the same era and the same personnel as far as I can tell. Zappa bands are often tracked by who’s the drummer and on both of these it’s Chester Thompson.

    “Inca Roads (live)”

    1. Inca Roads is my favorite Zappa tune! I’m a huge fan. Had every single album of his on CD. Hmmm…Actually, I still do! I can’t part with my CD collection.

      I think I might move to Montana soon. Become a dental floss farmer. Maybe marry a girl named Dynamo Humm.

      1. Yup, my favorite of his albums. After that (excluding live albums), I have The Grand Wazoo, Apostrophe, Hot Rats, and Over-Nite Sensation. (I consider Waka/Jawaka to basically be Side B of The Grand Wazoo).

        Man was that guy talented. And man did he have a nose for talent! The bands he put together were just ridiculous.

      1. Did a booger bear come from somewhere out there? Guacamole queen, guacamole queen, guacamole queen, at the Armadillo in Austin Texas…

        It’s kind of crazy to me how many Zappa lyrics I know when I realize how absurdly obscure, protracted, and ridiculous they are.

  8. The Michigan school shooting is a strange one for lots of reasons. Although the prosecutor is attractive and good with words, it was noted by CNN’s legal analysts that she held a press conference telling everyone she was going after the parents before the parents were in custody, thereby giving them a chance to flee. All signs are that she’s leveraging the shooting to advance her career. Perhaps I’m too cynical.

    1. Yes, I thought was she was doing was craven and calculated solely to her own benefit. I found it disgusting, regardless of whether or not she’s legally correct, which I don’t believe she is.

      1. Legally correct about what? Certainly it sounds like the parents were complicit in the crime. We don’t know the details but that works both ways, We don’t enough to let the parents off the hook or claim the prosecutor has no case.

  9. The sick part is that we knew they [the conservative Supreme Court justices] lied [during their confirmation hearings], but still hoped that they wouldn’t overturn Roe.

    I didn’t hear much that was surprising — or anything encouraging — in this week’s oral argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Going into the argument, we had to know that there were at least four solid votes to gut Roe, since it took at least four votes to grant certiorari to hear Dobbs, and since there was no reason to take up the case except to gut Roe. (The Fifth Circuit had struck down the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban, as it was required to do under the controlling precedent of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and it would’ve been easy enough for the SCOTUS to have left well enough alone, unless at least four justices wanted to overturn Roe.)

    At oral argument, Chief Justice John Roberts came down about where most of us expected, saying all that precedent requires is that women have a reasonable opportunity to obtain an abortion, and 15 weeks sounds reasonable to him. (This is a disingenuous reading of Casey. That case held that states could not impose an “undue burden” on women’s right an abortion before viability; it did not say that the states could prohibit women from obtaining abortions before viability as long as it left them with a “reasonable” opportunity to terminate their pregnancies before the prohibition takes effect.)

    The only real question left is whether Roberts will be able to peel off a vote from one of the five hardcore justices to his right to join him in gutting Roe and Casey by a half-measure, rather than overruling them completely. The two of those justice appointed by a Bush — Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — are lost causes. Plainly, they are champing at the bit to overrule Roe outright, and have been since they were appointed to the high court. That leaves the three Trump appointees — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. I didn’t hear anything from any of them at oral argument that suggested they were with Roberts at this point.

    My only real surprise at oral argument was Brett Kavanaugh. During his senate confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh made a big deal over his commitment to upholding precedent under the stare decisis doctrine, particularly “super precedent” like Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh didn’t have a lot to say at oral argument, but what he did say was almost all to the effect that “we overrule precedent all the time. BFD.”

    Kavanaugh’s performance at oral argument makes Maine senator Susan Collins look like the biggest sap in Washington, DC. Collins — one of only three putatively pro-abortion-rights Republicans (all of them women US senators) in the entire 263-member GOP congressional delegation — emerged from a private meeting in her office with Kavanaugh during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, saying that she was convinced Kavanaugh had too much respect for precedent ever to vote to overrule Roe v. Wade. Here’s Collins — Maine’s answer to Aunt Clara — after that private meeting:

    1. Comey-Barret said that Stare decisis was the crux of the matter. Hence she will shoot down the proposed Mississipi legislation, that’s 4. Roberts doesn’t want his court to be the one to kill Roe, so thats 5. And i guess that partyboy Kavanaugh had too much of his spawn aborted to vote against it that’s 6.
      They will shoot it down 6-3.

    2. I suspect if one carefully examines Kavanaugh’s actual words at the confirmation hearing, while keeping fully in mind he’s a lawyer and a mega-ambitious one, it’ll be basically a lawyer joke in real life. Something like:

      “Is Roe precedent?
      “Yes, of course it’s precedent. Super-precedent. Super-duper-double precedent. Been precedent for years, decades even. Precedent is very important to the law and to respect for the Court.”
      [decision overrules Roe]
      “LIAR! LIAR! Pants on fire! You said Roe was precedent! PERJURY!!!”
      “What I said was the absolute truth. It was precedent. Right up to the moment we overruled it, as we were empowered to do. I never said longstanding precedents couldn’t ever be overruled.”

      1. Yeah, I think you’re right, and I think he didn’t fool most of the rest of us, either. But he fooled Susan Collins (or at least she pretended to be fooled). And her vote was crucial, given that Kavanaugh was confirmed by a 50-48 vote in the senate. (If Collins would have voted against him — as her fellow pro-abortion-rights Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), did — I think Joe Manchin would have held the Democratic line, and Kavanaugh’s confirmation would’ve gone down in defeat.)

        You may also recall that, despite Kavanaugh’s likely being a vote to overrule Roe, and despite the credible (but inadequately investigated) allegations of sexual misconduct made against him, Collins took the senate floor and gave a 43-minute speech endorsing Kavanaugh for his SCOTUS seat.

        She’s the most gullible US senator sitting today (or pretends to be).

        1. But even if Kavanaugh was not confirmed, the next nominee would have been no different in terms of being anti-Roe. No Republican judicial nominee is ever going to say “I hereby solemnly pledge not to overturn _Roe v. Wade_” (even apart from nobody being able to hold them to it once they’re on the Court – it would be quite a different world if there was a Congress which said “Take the Roe pledge for confirmation, and if you don’t keep it, you’ll be impeached.”). Given that, it’s all a matter of performance, of lawyer-gaming statements in order to imply such a pledge, but turning around later and claiming it was never made.

          I suspect Collins knew exactly what was going on, as you don’t get elected to the Senate if you’re not very politically savvy. She was doing it so she could say it wasn’t her fault for being misled. Thus she manages to keep reasonably happy both the Party establishment and her constituency, which is exactly being politically savvy.

          1. Agree. It really doesn’t matter what they say in the nomination hearing as they rightly state that they aren’t going to give judgements on hypothetical cases. Except when very unqualified candidates are nominated, it only matters who is doing the nominating. Even then how they rule in individual cases isn’t 100% predictable.

            Prediction: If the GOP retake the presidency in 2024, there will be calls from GOP congress people that put the lives of sitting liberal justices in danger.

    3. You’re absolutely right about Collins. She’s such a loathsome person.

      I thought it strange that Kavanaugh listed a bunch of cases that broke precedent, as if to say, “See, the court has done it before, so it’s OK to do so now.” Yet in each case he cited, the court was righting previous wrongs. The precedents he cited that were overturned were segregation, restrictive voting rights, bad business practices or the criminality of consensual gay-sex. Is this guy stupid, or what?

    1. “Mammals with cell surface chemistry not wildly different to bats or humans susceptible to bat-derived disease that affects humans”.

      Less surprising new?

      Care to take a bet on whether marsupials turn out to be COVID-susceptible? Stake of a pint of beer (-ish) each way.

    2. In Belgium Edith Cavell is honoured. There is a large and well known Hospital named after her. (In the Churchill avenue, yes).
      As a child my appendix was removed there.

      1. Well good, I can still get this in here at this late date. I just came across this, that if there is anything good about Edith Cavell’s execution, it may be that it tipped the German conscience to allow Herbert Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium to continue. This is from Herbert Hoover and Germany (Louis Lochner, 1960), chapter 2.

        General von Sauberzweig, who was the acting military governor of occupied neutral Belgium, had apparently ordered the execution as an example to deter resistance operations, and the international outcry was weighing heavily on him. That Hoover’s Commission had been able to operate at all was itself nothing short of miraculous, requiring both British and German acquiescence to granting passage to their shipping from Jan 1915, but things hit a snag, summer 1916, and the Germans had decided to stop letting the shipments go through because of a dispute stemming from crops that Germans had planted on abandoned Belgian farms. The Commission naturally said that those crops should go to Belgium and the Germans naturally disagreed.

        After some discouraging meetings Hoover asked to have the question taken to Berlin where he had had more favorable dealings, but he wasn’t able to meet directly. At the Esplanade Hotel in Berlin, von S and a sympathetic Major conveyed the news to Hoover and Commission Chairman (and Stanford entomologist Dr.) Vernon Kellogg that the whole thing was to be called off. von S was also distraught because his son had just been blinded in a gas attack von S had also been drinking heavily.

        Then Hoover had an idea. If the General was upset over the international outcry over Edith Cavell, he should wait to see what would come from starving French and Belgian women and children to death. He went on, getting more and more worked up with more intense language. Kellog was reluctant to translate all of it for the General. The English-fluent Major said that he would. The General had a change of heart, and after some papers were hastily signed, Hoover and Kellogg split for Belgium lest they change their minds.

        For a sense of the scope of this operation, they were getting 350M pounds of food into Belgium/France every MONTH, which kept those countries from starving and for which Hoover took no pay. At the end of the Commission’s existence, he also personally covered a $600K shortfall.


    “They didn’t tell the school that the kid owned a gun? Lock ’em up! The whole damn family should go to jail. Remember, four kids died because these parents were morons. If you want to see an example of completely irresponsible parenting, read the article. It’s almost as if the parents wanted the shooting to occur.”

    What law says they needed to disclose that he owns a gun? And what show that they “wanted the shooting to occur?” That last statement is pretty damn important!

    My parents said to me last night (paraphrasing, “what kind of people would give this kid a gun? And let him go back to class? And not get him counseling? People this stupid deserve to be in jail.”

    My answer was that we don’t lock up people for being idiots, unless their idiocy is defined as a crime by the law. We already have the highest incarceration rate in the world. If we started locking up people because “they should have seen ‘x’ coming,” or “they should have known ‘x’ would do this,” the implications for the law would be outrageous. It would imply that anyone who can be shown to be dumb or ignorant enough that smarter, more observant, or simply better people might have done something differently, can be thrown in jail, despite committing no actual crime. As far as I’m aware, the laws of their state do not make it a crime to give him a gun as a present. He had never been ruled by any court or even hospital or doctor to be a danger to himself or others. Looking up ammunition online is something probably millions of American students do in school every day. And sending the kid back to class on the day of the shooting? That’s on the school, not the parents. The school had ultimate authority on whether or not he was allowed to return to class.

    Unless it can be shown that the text saying, “don’t do it” referred to knowledge that they had of his fantasy of committing a shooting, there’s simply nothing here. That text could easily mean, “please don’t hurt yourself,” as the signs we’ve been told about so far seem to imply that he was possibly suicidal. As of yet, we haven’t been told of any signs that he intended to hurt anyone else, nor even any signs that he intended to hurt himself. The only signs of possible issues we’ve been given are his drawings and words, which speak to a disturbed mind, but certainly not one necessarily bent on hurting other people, or even himself necessarily.

    This prosecutor either needs to release evidence that the parents knew he had discussed committing harm to himself or others before this occurred, and then maybe she could charge them with some kind of negligence. As of this moment, all the prosecutor has shown is that these parents were highly irresponsible and unbelievably stupid people. But, as I often say to many people I know, “you know almost nobody who has even an average IQ, and 50% of the country is below average. You don’t understand just how many stupid people there are in a country of 325 million.”

    1. The parents are being held accountable for facilitating a crime committed by their troubled child. Given what is known now about the horrific shooting at this Michigan school, the state is justified to pursue charges against the parents. Sadly, the attitude of these parents is all too common in our gun obsessed culture of ignorance. They will have their day in court where all the evidence will be presented.

      1. “Facilitating a crime” has meaning in the law. We don’t lock people up for offending our moral or intellectual sensibilities. There are certain things that must be proven. See the conversation between me and Ken below.

    2. We do actually lock people up for being idiots in certain circumstances. If the parents knew there was a reasonable chance their son would commit a deadly crime and did nothing to stop it, they are guilty of some crime, though I don’t know its name. Perhaps an accessory to murder?

      1. In certain circumstances. See the conversation between me and Ken below. They will need to prove a duty to warn, and then gross negligence. And “gross negligence” is a very high bar.

      2. If they actually gave the kid a pistol, then they face federal charges for doing so.

        But there are some details to sift through, beyond the statements made available thus far.
        I would say it is completely normal in many parts of the country,for parents to buy a hunting or target rifle for their kids.
        But that is completely different from allowing the kids unsupervised access to the firearm. I have an image of myself at 7 years, pointing to “my” rifle in the gun cabinet. Locked in the cabinet.
        That first gun is part of a process that takes years, as the kid slowly and incrementally learns gun safety and personal responsibility.

        If the details revealed are correct, then this is a staggering example of criminal negligence, and a specific and serious violation of federal law.

        1. Many states prohibit the ownership of handguns by persons under 21 years of age. Some states make an exception for hunting or target rifles and shotguns under the supervision of an adult. In Michigan, no one under 18 can own a handgun. It is also illegal there to conceal a handgun unless the person has a CPL (concealed pistol license). Michigan law also prohibits loaning a handgun to another person. Buying a gun for someone who cannot legally own one (straw purchase) is a felony under federal law and can be punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    3. The parents of the Michigan school shooter, Ethan Crumley, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter under section 760.321 of the Michigan Penal Code. “Involuntary manslaughter” means that the defendants had no intention of killing another, but due to their careless or reckless actions they caused the death of a human being.

      The prosecutors would appear to be proceeding under the theory that Crumley’s parents failed to perform a legal duty. Under the applicable Michigan model jury instruction, to succeed under this theory, the prosecution would have to establish the following essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

      First, that the defendant had a legal duty to [name deceased]. The legal duty charged here is [state legal duty]. [A
      legal duty is one imposed by law or contract.]

      Second, that the defendant knew of the facts that gave rise to the duty.

      Third, that the defendant willfully neglected or refused to perform that duty and [his / her] failure to perform it was grossly negligent to human life.

      Fourth, that the death of [name deceased] was directly caused by defendant’s failure to perform this duty, that is, that [name deceased] died as a result of [state act or omission causing death].

      The legal duty at issue here would appear to be not to permit one’s minor child to bring a loaded pistol to school. I’m unaware of parents ever being charged criminally in a school shooting before, but, assuming the reporting thus far is accurate, the parents’ actions (and inactions) here seem egregious.

      1. Oh, I agree, they seem egregious, but “grossly negligent” will be difficult to prove, as will a duty to stop someone from doing things that weren’t illegal right up until the point that they did do something illegal. I guess they can try to find a “duty to warn,” but, as I was alluding to, this will be difficult if they didn’t have beyond a reasonable doubt knowledge that their son was an immediate danger to others. It seems to me that, even after establishing a duty, proving gross negligence to human life will be very, very difficult, and, if they are found guilty of such, could easily be overturned because of the precedent it would set.

      2. So, what do you think about establishing that duty and, if they manage to do so, establishing gross negligence beyond a reasonable doubt? Or even getting it past a grand jury (which they probably will, considering the high-profile nature of the case).

  11. Oh, and I’d like to make an early mea culpa to someone on here, with whom I debated a couple of months ago about SCOTUS’ ultimate position on Roe. I said that Roberts and one other conservative justice would find a way to maybe decrease the window that counts as “viability,” and tack on a couple of other somewhat more restrictive measures to abortion, but wouldn’t come anywhere close to overruling Roe or Casey. As of right now, it appears that I was wrong about this. I hope I turn out to be right, but it doesn’t look good.

  12. Assuming the Escher car photo is real, the only explanation I can come up with is that the car and street are real. The artist then built huge panels on the sides of the road to be used as a canvas to paint 3D roadside art. This photo was taken from an elevated camera angle to maximize the 3D Escher effect and blur the distinction between real and photo-real painting using distance. This might also not be a bridge but a road and the artist used the extra roadside surface as canvas so as not to have to add huge flat panels on either side of a bridge but rather painted the ground (or covered ground) itself to simplify the execution of it.

    I hope it’s real and not photoshopped.
    I’ve become fascinated of late with good 3D art and photorealistic art. To create 3D art using 2D painting at scale in our 3D world is the pinnacle of optical illusion. But I’m biased…my brain can’t view it any other way. 😉

    1. Some years ago my wife sent me a collection of such pictures (I forget which continent I was on at the time) under a title like “pictures taken at just the right angle”.
      It’s a genre, which my “Engineering & Geometric Drawing” teacher, back in the days of pencils and T-squares, would have liked. Whether it’s “Art” …

      How does one book the Colloseum for a gladiatorial resolution of otherwise unsolvable arguments?

  13. It’s very unlikely that Baldwin bears any responsibility for the killing

    On a personal level: no. As one of the producers of the film, he may bear some civil liability because it looks like the firearms safety on set was not up to standard.

    1. Just because you may like this guy your judgement may be bent just a little. If someone gives me a gun and I shoot someone with it – I am guilty of shooting someone. I already heard all that noise about only the one person in charge of weapons can look and check the gun but everything i have heard from those people on the news says no. Anyone who is handed the gun can check it. To think they have rules that says they cannot is just wrong..

      1. Everything I’ve heard including from real movie armorers says that this isn’t true. Oftentimes, especially with revolvers, they use special loads E.g. several dummy rounds and a blank. If the actor interferes in any way, the gun has to be rechecked.

        Anyway, the opinion I stated had nothing to do with that and everything to do with the video on the subject by Legal Eagle.

        1. I watched the video. Thanks. Rapid-fire presentation and he got blanks and dummy rounds conflated once but recovered OK. I’m not even sure I knew who Alec Baldwin was before this so I have no opinion about him.

          I think I understand Legal Eagle’s point that on a movie shoot, the actor is hired because he can act, not (necessarily) because he knows anything about firearms safety other than common sense. The actor is being told, “OK, this is all make-believe. In real life you don’t point a gun at anyone you don’t want to shoot — and for sure you don’t ever pull the trigger — but we can’t make this movie unless you do just that. Therefore we’re all here to make sure that it is safe for you to do stuff that would be negligent use of a firearm or assault with a deadly weapon or a bunch of other felonies if you did them off the set. Literally, don’t try this at home!”

          What’s not clear to me is if the State of New Mexico is OK with private citizens giving themselves licence to stick-handle around its laws like this. Does the State say, “Yeah, Penal Code Section 99.99 says its OK to point a firearm and even discharge it at someone as long as there is a licensed armourer controlling the scene.”? I didn’t watch it to the end. Maybe the DA is mulling over that question right now. Of course it wants to encourage Hollywood to keep shooting movies in the state.

          Baldwin as an experienced actor probably knows movie protocol and has “normalized the deviance” in doing things with firearms that would be illegal or foolish off a set….and maybe are even illegal on set but everybody does it and nobody gets caught and hardly ever gets hurt. Until one day…..

          All I can say as someone who has some basic firearms safety training (long guns only — we can’t own handguns), I could never bring myself to point a gun at someone unless he deserved it. I’d have to say, “No, I can’t do that, even in make-believe.” If I did get over that — dough is dough –, I’d have to have the armourer go through the loading sequence with me and personally check the bullets with her as she put them into the gun, making sure I knew the difference between live, blanks, and dummy — which a casual off-set shooter might not be familiar with, especially the special-effects loads — and the other stuff you do with handguns that I don’t know about. And then not let the gun out of my possession — mine, not hers — until I’d finished doing the gun thing. If Baldwin had done that, a woman wouldn’t have died. Trusting someone else unseen to make sure the gun I am going to fire won’t hurt anybody just seems demented to me. They will never care as much about it as I do. This case shows that. Now if I didn’t know anything at all about firearms, or responsibility for them, then I might say, “Duh, Sure! if you say so.”

          And. as per our host, why is Baldwin trying to have us believe he didn’t cock the hammer or pull the trigger? What’s he hiding there? Even with the armourer controlling the scene the gun wasn’t meant to be discharged at that moment — they were only setting up the shot, not actively filming. Is he trying to hide behaviour that wouldn’t be criminal had it happened when it was supposed to, but might be criminal for it to happen when it did?

      2. The actor is not only not required to check a gun on set, but expressly not supposed to interfere with it in any way. All they’re supposed to do is exactly what the armorer/prop artists/director tells them. They’re handed it right before the scene starts; they film the scene; they give the gun back. The armorer and the prop artists are the only ones responsible. Yes, anyone who is handed a gun can check it, but that doesn’t mean they’re supposed to, and it definitely doesn’t mean that they should.

        But, as jeremy noted, Baldwin may be liable as a producer, if it turns out he made a decision to hire unqualified people to fill certain roles on set and those choices led to this unfortunate set of circumstances.

    2. I’d also take his not-terribly consistent statements about “I didnt pull the trigger”, “I didn’t cock the gun” with some granulated sodium chloride.
      I don’t necessarily remember precisely what order I do my checks on *my* SCUBA gear – it’s a routine operation, and I check multiple times during kit-up. And then I check again before getting to the “breathe air or breathe water” step. But if I were a life support tech on a dive spread with a half dozen other people’s lives depending on that check-out, you can bet your life that I would be working from a printed checklist, with an ink pen, and expecting any of my colleagues, senior or junior, to challenge me on any step. Doubly so if I’m prepping kit for a novice.

      Now if Baldwin holds (or held) certifications in “firearms operations”, then he’s potentially in deep water. Oterwise … at worst “culpable homicide” (second-degree in EN_US?), and with negligible chance of a recurrence, nothing worse than public admonition. Possibly a financial penalty for the company.

  14. My wife and I ate at the Fraunces Tavern when we were on vacation in New York City in 2016. The food was excellent. Knowing our host’s appreciation of fine noms, I’d recommend it to him, should he ever find himself in NYC.

  15. This probably isn’t novel, but it just struck me that His CeilingCatness’s preamble to this weekly feature suggests that cats may, generally be some of the most Sabbath Observant Jews on the planet (culturally, if not theologically).

    Well, did you ever see a cat do a stroke of work on Caturday, the Feline Sabbath?
    Observant. In at least one aspect of the Law.

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