Wednesday: Hili dialogue

March 16, 2022 • 7:00 am

Where we are now: The ship’s real-time map shows, as expected, that we’re off Punta Arenas, having wended our way north overnight on a tortuous path.

We’re docked. Here’s a photo taken from my balcony at 7 a.m., and I can smell the gasoline. Tomorrow they’ll begin fueling the ship and putting on supplies in preparation for Thursday evening’s departure to Antarctica (which I will be on!).

How time flies aboard, even when you’re indolent. Welcome to a Patagonian Hump Day: March 16, 2022. It’s National Artichoke Heart Day, but don’t forget the leaves! And if you’re ever in Pescadero, California, stop at Duarte’s Tavern and have lunch, which must include their splendid artichoke and green chile soup. Alternatively, if you’re in Castroville, stop at the Giant Artichoke and have yourself a plate of deep-fried artichoke hearts. Yummy! And there is a Giant Artichoke outside the joint:

The restaurant:

A full order of deep-fried hearts:

If you’re so inclined, go to the Wikipedia page for March 16 and tell us a notable event or a birth or death that happened on that day. Reader Jez is good at that.

*Every day I open the NYT webpage first thing, hoping for an encouraging headline about Ukraine. This one is not it:

And within a minute I read two depressing excerpts:

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is scheduled to speak via video to Congress on Wednesday, in another high-stakes appeal for help a day after a dramatic meeting with three European leaders in Kyiv as fires blazed in the wreckage from Russia’s relentless bombardment.

. . .President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia disparaged the second consecutive day of negotiations with Ukraine, undercutting the faint glimmers of hope raised from talks the day before that both sides were looking for a way to halt the war.

and yet there’s this:

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said there was “a certain hope that a compromise can be reached” in talks with Ukraine. Russia has been sending mixed signals about the talks. On Tuesday, President Vladimir V. Putin said Kyiv was “not showing a serious commitment to finding mutually acceptable solutions,” according to a readout of his phone call with the European Council’s president.

Of course the wily but rapacious Putin would throw verbal cold water on peace negotiations, and the “faint glimmers of hope” seem faint indeed.  Reading more (watching MSNBC or CNN is tedious; they say the same thing over and over again), I see that civilian buildings in Kyiv are being bombarded, Zelensky is asking the U.S. for more money (which he’ll get) and for more planes (which he won’t get). The BBC article below suspects Zelinsky’s request for planes is a piece of theater, as it will give him a face-saving and war-ending way to not join NATO. From the BBC)

Firstly, an assurance, perhaps even to be written into Ukraine’s constitution, that it has no intention of joining Nato in the foreseeable future. President Zelensky has already prepared the way for this, by asking Nato for something it couldn’t agree to (establishing a no-fly-zone over Ukraine), then criticising the alliance for letting him down on this, and finally musing out loud that he wasn’t sure that if Nato behaved like this, it was actually worth joining.

*Finally, and I do love events like this though they do little to end the war save anger oligarchs, a fancy yacht, the “Ragnar”, owned by a Russian bigwig, is stalled in Norway, with the Norwegians refusing to refuel it. And this despite the fact that the owner is not on the EU sanctions list. The yachtmeister is Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, described as “a former K.G.B. agent who made his fortune in nickel mining and is a longtime associate of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Strzhalkovsky has also served as deputy minister.”

From the NYT:

The ship has been moored for several weeks in Narvik, a port city in northern Norway, the boat’s captain, Rob Lancaster, told NRK. “We are a Western crew of 16,” the broadcaster reported him as saying. “We have nothing to do with the owner.”

Sven Holmlund, a local oil supplier, offered little sympathy for those aboard the vessel. “Why should we help them?” he told NRK. “They can row home. Or use a sail.”

Here’s the yacht:

(From the NYT): Haakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix, via Alamy

*Matthew sent this tweet, which goes to an intriguing and slightly hopeful article from the BBC, “Ukraine: Putin will search for a way to save face.”

An excerpt:

But no-one willingly signs a peace agreement which is likely to lead to their own downfall.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin the search is on for ways of saving face. Ukraine’s President Zelensky has already shown remarkable skill as a diplomat, and he’s clearly willing to say and do whatever is acceptable to himself and his people in order to get Russia off his country’s back.

For him, there’s one overriding objective – to make sure that Ukraine comes out of this appalling experience a united, independent country, not a province of Russia, which is what President Putin originally seemed to think he could turn it into.

For President Putin, all that counts now is that he can declare victory. No matter that everyone in his entire administration will understand that Russia has been given a bloody nose in this unnecessary invasion. No matter that the 20% or so of Russians who understand what’s really going on in the world will know that Putin has bet the house on a fantasy of his own devising, and lost.

The battle will be for the support of the remaining majority of the population, who tend to believe implicitly what they’re told on state television – even when there are moments such as the sudden popping-up on screen of the extraordinarily brave TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova with a placard to say that everything people are being told is propaganda.

The BBC editor, John Simpson, prognosticates that Ukraine will have to declare that it won’t join NATO (the EEU is a harder problem), and perhaps formally acknowledge that Crimea is now Russian territory, perhaps along with parts of easter Ukraine. Ukraine—at least the western bits of it—may, he thinks, retain status as a sovereign nation. Although Simpson notes that  “in the third week of fighting, no-one can seriously doubt who the real winner in this war will be”, implying Ukraine won, this doesn’t sound like a resounding victory to me.

*Once again John McWhorter dares to say the things that only a black man can get away with, and it’s in the New York Times to boot!. His new column is called “Making the SAT and ACT optional is the soft bigotry of low expectations” and says the things we all know to be true but dare not speak out loud. For instance:

According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, around 1,800 colleges and universities will not require high school graduates “applying to start classes in fall 2022 to submit ACT/SAT results,” with a list that includes not only U.N.C. and Harvard, but also prestigious public and private institutions including the University of California, the University of Texas, Yale University and Princeton University. Many of the schools cite the pandemic as the reason for making standardized testing optional, but I don’t buy it. I’ve been in academia long enough, and have experienced the decades-long debate over racial preferences long enough, to suspect that this is cover for a policy change that some schools wanted to make anyway.

Of course that’s true, and every academic knows it.

Questions about how predictive the tests are of student performance are welcome, and it’s certainly true that some students with high scores struggle in college while some with low scores thrive. But those questions don’t conclusively refute the utility of the tests as a tool for evaluating which students are ready to succeed in college. And one of the motivations for eliminating these tests or making admissions “test-optional” (as some colleges now say, as if students are eager to sit for optional exams) is to allow more Black and Latino students to be admitted.

This impulse is based on an assumption that because Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, American Indian and Alaska Native kids, on average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, don’t perform as well on these tests as their white and Asian peers, the tests must be, in some way, racially biased. But what, really, does that mean? Is it that the tests ask racially biased questions? Which ones? Is it that it is somehow unfair to give a Black or Latino student a test of abstract cognitive skill and that Black and Latino students should be tested differently? This would seem dangerously close to saying that they aren’t as intelligent as others. If that isn’t the intention, then is the inference that there is something cultural, broadly speaking, that hinders their ability to perform well on these tests? If so, what?

In many quarters, it’s considered bad form to even dwell on questions such as these.In many quarters, it’s considered bad form to even dwell on questions such as these. Equity is the goal, and so, Black and Latino kids, we won’t require you to ace tests the way white and Asian American kids are expected to. We’ll factor race into admissions decisions and then applaud the diversity that brings to college campuses, but we won’t redouble our efforts to make Black and Latino students better at the tests.

He’s concerned about “tokenism”, but I wonder if in some sense McWhorter is a “token writer” for the NYT. The paper certainly abhors what he says, even though it’s true, but he gets away with it because he’s black. But he’s not a conservative, either. He writes well, but that’s no longer a prerequisite for a NYT columnist. I have yet to suss out what niche McWhorter is filling for the paper’s editors. They’re not known for presenting the antiwoke side very often.

*Speaking of race, Washington Post columnist Paul Butler (who is black, as his race is relevant here) argues that jailing Jussie Smollett for falsely reporting a hate crime is an unjust punishment, and couches the piece wholly in terms of a white judicial system prosecuting a black man.

Smollett’s story quickly fell apart, even as he continued to maintain his victimhood. He was charged with disorderly conduct. The charges were dropped in exchange for community service and surrender his $10,000 bond — an appropriate result for a first-time offender in a nonviolent crime.

But that wasn’t enough for many White people — and some Black people as well — who wanted a pound of Smollett’s flesh. Not for then-President Donald Trump, who tweeted the case was “an embarrassment to our nation.” Not for then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called the resolution a “whitewash.” New York Post columnist Kyle Smith wrote, presciently and unsympathetically, “Smollett has not been nailed, and Chicago wants him nailed. He will get nailed.”

And nailed he was. The case against Smollett was revived, he was convicted of five counts of disorderly conduct, and last week sentenced to 150 days in jail. But incarcerating Smollett for falsely reporting a hate crime has nothing to do with protecting actual victims of racist and homophobic violence. Rather, it’s legal vigilantism that sends a stern warning about the limits of criminal justice reform: If those in power want a Black man locked up, they will find a way to do it.

. . . Sending a Black gay man to jail for lying about being attacked will not encourage hate crime victims to come forward. Instead, it sends the message that they, rather than their assailants, are subject to being incarcerated if authorities don’t believe their stories.

This is wholly misleading. The case was revived because the district attorney, Kim Foxx, recused herself from the case but remained involved with it, angering many Chicagoans, including blacks (Foxx is black, and blacks didn’t like Smollett’s scam). Second, Smollett’s punishment (for several felonies) was pretty light: five months in jail, and he’ll surely be released early. Third, Smollett might have received no prison time had he admitted what was obvious to everyone: he concocted an elaborate hoax and then lied about it to cover it up. His jailing might be considered a “trial penalty.”  His sentence, I think, is a deterrent to those who falsely report hate crimes, and his was an especially egregious example. Hate crimes are often completely excused because the victims are minorities (indeed, their commission is even taken as proof that there’s racism), and we need to stop the high rate of false reporting. Finally, it’s ludicrous to claim, as Butler does, that sending Smollett to jail will deter the reporting of genuine hate crimes. He’s in jail because there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he made up his narrative. Real victims of hate crimes don’t need to fear that fabricated will send them to jail; and I know of no such cases.

*Finally, check out the “oddities” section of the Associated Press for much mirth, including the biggest taro root ever harvested, a boy who got suck in a tree trying to rescue a cat stuck in a tree, with both rescued by firefighters, a man caught trying to sneak 52 lizards and snakes in his clothing across the border to California from Mexico, and a real bat invading a Texas theater that was showing “Batman.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains another enigmatic Hili dialogue:

Hili is looking at Andrzej’s keyboard. In this horrible situation she says that all that is done are words. Andrzej replies that it’s not only words. People are helping with their actions – taking care of the refugees.

Hili: Words, words, words.
A; Not only that, people are incredible now.
In Polish:
Hili: Słowa, słowa, słowa.
Ja: Nie tylko, ludzie są teraz niesamowici.
And Szaron and Kulka (who are good friends) are playing:

From Mark, a creationist d*g:

Coincidentally, this just came from Matthew, but the speaker had no more intelligence than the d*g:

A tweet from Simon, who says, “A woman with some courage.”

Here’s a video of the whole episode.

According to the Guardian, she was a staffer at the station:

Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Channel One, burst on to the set of the live broadcast of the nightly news on Monday evening, shouting: “Stop the war. No to war.”

She also held a sign saying: “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.” It was signed in English: “Russians against the war.”

The news anchor continued to read from her teleprompter speaking louder in an attempt to drown out Ovsyannikova, but her protest could be seen and heard for several seconds before the channel switched to a recorded segment.

Ovsyannikova also released a pre-recorded video via the OVD-Info human rights group in which she expressed her shame at working for Channel One and spreading “Kremlin propaganda.”

Ovsyannikova also put out a pre-recorded antiwar video described in the Guardian piece.

OVD-Info said that Ovsyannikova was arrested shortly after her protest and was being held at the Ostankino television centre. Pavel Chikov, head of of the Agora human rights group, later said Ovsyannikova had been arrested and taken to a Moscow police station.

She could face prison time under a newly introduced Russian legislation that criminalised spreading so-called “fake news” about the Russian military. Those found guilty under the law could face up to 15 years in jail.

Ovsyannikova could also face legal consequences for encouraging “civil unrest” by telling Russians to protest.

. . . Her statement marks the first time that an employee from Russian state media has publicly denounced the war as the country continues its crackdown on anti-war dissent. So strict is the current wave 0f censorship that other news programmes blurred out the message on Ovsyannikova’s sign in their own reports on the incident.

And from Matthew, the video, with English subtitles, of Ovsyannikova’s pre-recorded statement.  She was willing to garner substantial time a Russian prison so she could speak her mind. That’s a rare form of bravery.

Matthew just emailed me with this good news:

“She has been fined about $250, and appeared at a press conference wearing the pro-Ukraine necklace she wore.

More tweets from Matthew (readers are welcome to send me good tweets, but only one or two every few days, please, as internet is dicey here). I loved marbles when I was a kid, as well as the sweet victory of getting some other kid’s prized marble. Do kids still play with them?

There’s apparently a mass protest by athletes about letting transgender women compete in sports against biological women:


And this is incredibly heartwarming. I hope the Ukrainian kids can learn when the teacher’s speaking Italian.  Sound up!

55 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Of course…

    1872 – The Wanderers F.C. won the first FA Cup, the oldest football competition in the world, beating Royal Engineers A.F.C. 1–0 at The Oval in Kennington, London.

    Tomorrow they’ll begin fueling the ship and putting on supplies in preparation for Thursday evening’s departure to Antarctica (which I will be on!).

    That sounds like really good news. Fingers crossed that nobody brings COVID aboard this time.

    The BBC editor, John Simpson, prognosticates that Ukraine will have to declare that it won’t join NATO (the EEU is a harder problem), and perhaps formally acknowledge that Crimea is now Russian territory, perhaps along with parts of easter Ukraine. Ukraine—at least the western bits of it—may, he thinks, retain status as a sovereign nation. Although Simpson notes that “in the third week of fighting, no-one can seriously doubt who the real winner in this war will be”, implying Ukraine won, this doesn’t sound like a resounding victory to me.

    The first thing to note is that John Simpson is probably no better at prognosticating than you or I or anybody else that watches or reads the news.

    The second thing is that I think the Ukrainians will win in strategic terms and no deal that doesn’t involve the complete withdrawal of the Russian army would be acceptable and no terms that limit the size and effectiveness of their own army would be acceptable. They may concede the Crimea and possibly the two Eastern provinces that were under dispute before the war, but that will be it. If that’s enough so that Putin can escape without losing his grip on power, it will be the end of the war. If not, it’s going to grind on for years and bleed Russia dry and kill a lot of people.

    The above is my prognostication. It’s probably just as wrong as Simpson’s.

    1. 1/ Those are the Wanderers from Wolverhampton (not from some middle eastern desert) I assume.

      2/ The Russian recent years’ takeover in Crimea was terrible. But, concerning the relevant history of the area over the past 2 or 3 centuries, I do have the impression that popular info in the ‘West’, inc. politicians and news people, has been woefully ignorant in the time since it happened.

      My knowledge of it is also likely pretty weak, so I’d just leave it at that here, except to ask whether it is simplistic of me to think that, from the time of Catherine the Great till the 1950s, the area was almost always either part of, or controlled by, Russia.

      In particular to the above, I am certainly convinced that this in no way at all justifies any of the actions taken by Putin and his cronies in recent weeks. But our reaction then undoubtedly encouraged him to turn himself into an even worse war criminal than he already was.

        1. I’d forgotten about Bolton having that name. Bolton’s grounds was the only away place I ever went to see ManU in the very old days (1964, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton, Knobby Stiles, George Best, …, some of whom occasionally went to a pub where Frances and I went) or since (except all games were ‘away’, I suppose, in the 1966 World Cup, where I saw all 3 Old Trafford round-robin games, inc. Eusabio, IIRC).

          My team won at Bolton. I learned on the return rail platform just before 5 PM for the first time just how serious the ‘hatefulness’ was for a rival local team, not just in Manchester—suddenly there was a roar of approval on the platform. My friend said “Oh, that was because BBC announced that ManCity just lost.” They were 2nd division at the time, not even the same league, but….

          In those days, the price was 3s 7p at Old Trafford. Nowadays, cheapest is probably 100 quid. About 600 times as much, not accounting for inflation, if the 100 is correct. But you get to sit down. They likely still call it the football STANDS.

  2. Re McWhorter’s piece: When the woke control schools:

    “Summing up: Black and Hispanic 11th graders in San Francisco score about the same as or lower than the typical 5th grader who took the same math test. Black 11th graders fall just short of the threshold for being considered proficient in fourth grade math and well below the cut point for demonstrating 5th grade proficiency. The situation is appalling.”

    [Yes, that says 11th grade and 5th grade.]

    Link: San Francisco’s Detracking Experiment.

    1. The analysis makes sense; in general, flattening public school course offerings will mean greater social class disparity as wealthier people use their own resources to work around it. Having public schools offer accelerated courses for all students of ability, regardless of means, will likely most help the students who have the ability but not otherwise the means.

      I expect the woke reaction to be: if the California Smarter Balanced Test results are not in line with enrollments and grades, then the way to resolve the difference is to eliminate the test.

  3. “gasoline”

    I always thought it (the unburnt fuel or the combustion products – blisn through sea water) smelled different, like diesel – anyone?

  4. The problem with the Times and others is way too much time on NATO. Putin’s obsession is not NATO, it is Ukraine. It has always been Ukraine. That is what he makes speeches about and writes about. What has he been doing the last several years bitting off pieces of Ukraine. There is a straight line back to Russia going into Syria with his military. They just sat there and bombed the hell out of Syria. More than 6 thousand refugees. All to help his fellow dictator. We, the U.S. allowed him to do it. This caused a crisis in immigration and lead to the rise of right wing politics, including Trump. All those damn brown people and Muslims wanting to immigrate. So they need to get it right – Putin’s obsession is Ukraine. His corrupt military just like his corrupt country is not fit to do the job. If they cannot roll over Ukraine what chance would they have against Nato. Answer is none. His big bad military that everyone was afraid of is a big zero. Now he is in trouble and can only fall back on what he did in Syria. Bomb the hell out of the cities and hospitals and schools. Kill lots of civilians. That is what Putin is good at. That is Trump’s genius.

    1. error – should be 6 million refugees. Also, the president of Ukraine just gave his short speech to congress. He still asked that the sky be closed over Ukraine. He referred back to WWII and 9/11 and he showed a short video of the war in Ukraine. It was very good.

  5. I am, in general, against hate crime laws, but, if we have them, it is only logical that faking one should carry a greater penalty than faking a normal crime.

    That marble video is great, but the music sucks. There is only one appropriate piece of music for any factory video, and that is Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse. Go start the video again without sound, and listen to this.

  6. His [Smollett’s] jailing might be considered a “trial penalty.”

    Among practitioners this is sometimes referred to as “paying rent on the courtroom.”

    It would be unconstitutional, of course, to penalize defendants for exercising their Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. To avoid this, the additional time a defendant receives after taking a criminal case to trial is generally couched as a benefit foregone by not pleading guilty. In federal courts, for example, under section 3E1.1 of US Sentencing Guidelines, defendants receive a two-point reduction (three points, in the event of an early plea that avoids the necessity for preparing for trial) in their total guidelines’ score for the “acceptance of responsibility” demonstrated by the entry of a guilty plea. Depending upon a defendant’s total guidelines’ score (based on the seriousness of the crime of conviction and the defendant’s relevant conduct), this can mean a savings of a couple months’ to a couple years’ imprisonment.

    1. the additional time a defendant receives after taking a criminal case to trial is generally couched as a benefit foregone by not pleading guilty.

      But that seems equally unethical, as it treats the decision to plead innocent or guilty as a transaction, rather than a matter of truth. A defendant who is – or who truly thinks of themselves as – innocent should not be encouraged by the system to reap this ‘benefit.’ If we are to incentivize the behavior we want people to do, then we should be incentivizing honesty come what may, not incentivizing pleading guilty. For example, how about reducing the score for uncontested testimony and adding score for perjury on the stand, instead.

      1. This is one of the reasons why I think the idea of a plea bargain where an innocent person is encouraged to plead guilty to get a reduced sentence is morally repugnant. Firstly, it encourages people to take responsibility for a crime they didn’t commit which is obviously unjust and may also let the actual miscreant off. Secondly, it assumes a serious problem with the justice system i.e. the probability is that an innocent person will still get convicted. If this is true, they ought to be fixing it, not extorting guilty pleas out of innocent people.

        Plea bargains by guilty people are just fine AFAIC (caveat: depending on the crime). I have no problem with guilty people getting some incentive not to waste quite as much tax payers’ money or to squeal on some bigger fish.

        1. I see circular reasoning there. You don’t know at the time a plea bargain is proposed or concluded if the accused is in fact guilty of anything, and neither does the Crown or the judge or anyone except the accused himself. So you have no way of knowing, in the individual case, if you ought to feel morally repulsed or “just fine AFAIC”. Your moral test works only if you know if the true state of the accused’s guilt, which could only be determined at the trial which will now not be held.

          Plea bargains annoy people also because the deal invariably results in a lighter sentence for two reasons: the offence pleaded guilty to is less serious than the original charge and the sentence meted out for the lesser charge is itself lower than what that charge would receive upon trial conviction, as Ken explains. Because we generally make the unsupported assumption that almost everyone charged by the police is guilty of whatever they are charged with, we see plea bargaining as the cause of excessive leniency. While we know intellectually that some innocent indigent defendants plead guilty to get it over with, fearful that their inability to afford a good lawyer will otherwise result in a long prison sentence, we are unwilling to back up this concern with tax money to support robust defence of criminal defendants.

          And so the criminal justice mill grinds on. Nobody wants to fix it, else it grind to a halt.

          1. The accused probably knows if they are guilty and their lawyer should probably believe them.

            Frequently the prosecution also knows, at least if all those TV dramas I watch are a true reflection of reality.

      2. Many criminal defendants do not take the witness stand at all, and so have no opportunity to get brownie points by not perjuring themselves. In rape cases involving people who knew each other and went home together, it often comes to whether you believe the defendant sincerely thought he had obtained consent or whether you “believe the victim” that he didn’t. If you convict him, it doesn’t necessarily mean you thought he was perjuring himself. Proving perjury would take a second trial, which would be still in its infancy when the judge had to pass sentence for the original conviction. And then if you were really vindictive, you could add the sentence for the perjury conviction to run consecutively with the primary conviction. You don’t have to capture it all in the primary sentence just to be on the safe side.

      3. Without plea bargaining, the American court system would quickly collapse under the weight of its caseload. Without some incentive to plead guilty, every criminal defendant would be encouraged to roll the dice at trial.

        The innocently accused are not overtly “encouraged” to plead guilty. While “no contest” pleas are common in some state court systems — and while the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure make provision for them (and for similar so-called “Alford pleas”) — every federal judge I ever practiced before refused to accept them. In federal court, a defendant must stand before the judge and acknowledge his or her guilt in open court at the time of the plea. The defendant must also acknowledge a written “factual basis” read into the record at the time of the plea that would establish a sufficient basis for a jury to return a guilty verdict at trial. (The only nolo contendere plea accepted in federal court that springs to mind was back in 1973 when former VP Spiro Agnew copped to a tax beef in a Baltimore courtroom on the heels of his resignation.)

        From a penological perspective, the justification for rewarding guilty pleas is the widely held belief that acceptance of one’s responsibility is the first step toward an offender’s rehabilitation.

        1. Without some incentive to plead guilty, every criminal defendant would be encouraged to roll the dice at trial.

          But that is as it should be! That is justice – to encourage people accused of a crime to resolve the matter through a court trial in front of a jury of their peers. The fact that our society is unwilling to spend the resources to do what is ethical does not magically transform the alternative from unethical to ethical. “Society would collapse if we had to pay for X” is not an argument that stealing X is morally good.

          The innocently accused are not overtly “encouraged” to plead guilty.

          I do not see how you can say that. Your own comment makes it clear that judges rarely accept an Alford plea, so the *only* way an accused can eliminate the risk of a long sentence is to plead guilty and in doing so, if they think they are innocent, lie to the court. And prosecutorial leeway to decide which charges to pursue can absolutely be manipulated to pressure an accused into pleading. ‘Plead to charge A, or go to trial on charges A-Z’ is a very overt encouragement to plead guilty.

          If only to solve the resource problem, I would be okay with something like Alford. While not great, it is IMO far better than the standard alternative of forcing an accused to say they are guilty. And I’d note that the criminal deal-making process is pretty much opposite to corporate civil cases, where the standard ‘plea deal’ has the party paying the penalty getting to declare they admit no wrongdoing as part of the deal. So it’s not like that is unworkable, we use it all the time, albeit for fines and the like rather than incarceration. I think the criminal system rejects that model largely because the government has a lot of power compared to the accused, so they don’t think they need put that in the negotiation pot – they *don’t* reject it out of some inherent ethical objection to the idea of penalize someone who doesn’t admit to wrongdoing….because our court system does that all the time.

    2. Smollett’s jail sentence is also a deterrent to other hoaxers. Fake hate crimes are surprisingly common per Wilfred Reilly.

      1. I’m really not sure adding the jail sentence does much deterring. As a general rule, IIRC, studies of criminal justice tend to show that increasing the harshness of the penalty does not result in lower rates of a crime; what does the most to reduce the number of incidents is improving the rate at which people are caught. As one of my LE buddies says, making what you do after you catch them worse doesn’t matter to most criminals, because none of them do the crime planning to be caught.

        So probably the main deterrent value gotten out of this case was in publicly exposing that he lied, and that the system figured out he was lying before he reaped any social/professional benefit from the lie.

        1. What kind of caring person throws two black “friends” under the the bus? What size must your ego be to carefully script your own scene, but when the police do show up, to break character entirely? (Apparently he thought he’d ad lib the rest. Watch the video— he acted like someone was responding to a routine noise complaint.)

          Smollett was a bad actor in every sense of the word.

        2. Sure I agree with you he shouldn’t go to jail for a long time (his sentence seems short).

          The difference between what Smollett’s family, friends and advocates say (something like ‘He screwed up, yes it was wrong to lie, but he’s been punished enough already, so he shouldn’t go to jail’) and what Smollet says himself (essentially ‘I was the victim of a hate crime, I didn’t lie or perjure myself, I was unjustly convicted’) shows where the deterrence lies.

          I’m sure it’s true that the typical criminal that your LE buddy deals with would not take any kind of punishment into account. But it seems clear that what wealthy upper-class information-economy criminals like Smollett really fear is incarceration. His friends and advocates concede his guilt and embrace his public exposure and loss of social/professional benefits as punishment enough. But they really don’t want him to go to jail. I think it would have some deterrent effect on other hoaxers, at least those from a similar social background.

  7. I’m late again – how our host does this in a timely fashion day after day is astonishing!I

    On this day:
    1190 – Massacre of Jews at Clifford’s Tower, York. – Clearly not a good day for religious tolerance (see next entry)…

    1244 – Over 200 Cathars who refuse to recant burn to death after the Fall of Montségur.

    1802 – The Army Corps of Engineers is established to found and operate the United States Military Academy at West Point.

    1872 – The Wanderers F.C. won the first FA Cup, the oldest football competition in the world, beating Royal Engineers A.F.C. 1–0 at The Oval in Kennington, London.

    1935 – Adolf Hitler orders Germany to rearm herself in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Conscription is reintroduced to form the Wehrmacht.

    1939 – From Prague Castle, Hitler proclaims Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate. – Putin is now copying his playbook.

    1945 – World War II: The Battle of Iwo Jima ended, but small pockets of Japanese resistance persisted.

    1945 – Ninety percent of Würzburg, Germany is destroyed in only 20 minutes by British bombers, resulting in at least 4,000 deaths.

    1968 – Vietnam War: My Lai Massacre occurs; between 347 and 500 Vietnamese villagers are killed by American troops.

    1985 – Associated Press newsman Terry Anderson is taken hostage in Beirut; he not released until December 1991. – It looks like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned in Iran for years, has just been released and is about to come home to the UK.

    1988 – Halabja chemical attack: The Kurdish town of Halabja in Iraq is attacked with a mix of poison gas and nerve agents on the orders of Saddam Hussein, killing 5,000 people and injuring about 10,000 people.

    2003 – American activist Rachel Corrie is killed in Rafah by being run over by an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer while trying to obstruct the demolition of a home.

    2005 – Israel officially hands over Jericho to Palestinian control.

    2014 – Crimea votes in a controversial referendum to secede from Ukraine to join Russia. – Yeah, right…

    2021 – Atlanta spa shootings: Eight people are killed and one is injured in a trio of shootings at spas in and near Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. A suspect was arrested the same day. – A year already, time flies.

    1750 – Caroline Herschel, German-English astronomer (d. 1848)

    1751 – James Madison, American academic and politician, 4th President of the United States (d. 1836)

    1789 – Georg Ohm, German physicist and mathematician (d. 1854

    1839 – Sully Prudhomme, French poet and critic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1907)

    1911 – Josef Mengele, German physician, captain and mass-murderer (d. 1979)

    1920 – Leo McKern, Australian-English actor (d. 2002)

    1926 – Jerry Lewis, American actor and comedian (d. 2017)

    1959 – Jens Stoltenberg, Norwegian economist and politician, 27th Prime Minister of Norway, 13th Secretary General of NATO – A busy guy right now…

    Ceased to be:
    A lot of royal dead dudes, and also:
    1898 – Aubrey Beardsley, English author and illustrator (b. 1872)

    1975 – T-Bone Walker, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1910)

    2019 – Dick Dale, American surf-rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter (b. 1937)

    1. You missed the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Boroughbridge. An unhappy day for Roger de Clifford who got a spear up the Gary…

    2. You missed the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Boroughbridge. Nasty for the Earl of Hereford who was stabbed from below!

      1. “And as the noble lorde stode and fauʒt oppon þe brugge, a þef, a ribaude, scolkede vnder þe brigge, and fersly wiþ a spere smote the noble knyght into þe fondement, so þhat his bowailles comen out þhere.” – charming!

          1. Anglo-Saxon letters for
            th, þ = thorn,
            ʒ = yogh –

            He got them by copying from the source!

            yogh is seen in modern spelling sometimes eg of the Scottish name Menzies represented by the z – there it is pronounced something like Min-gies, NOT with a zed sound.

    3. Jez,
      Thanks for carrying on during the JCC hiatus. One small nit, his different ways of saying died all start with “Those who …”

    4. 2014 – Crimea votes in a controversial referendum to secede from Ukraine to join Russia. – Yeah, right…

      Just because it’s politically unacceptable, doesn’t mean it’s untrue.
      The wife was on the phone to Auntie Valentina in one of the Donbas cities (I can never remember which one, not sure I ever asked) last night. She’s not going down into the bomb shelter (6 floors down; no lifts; 80-several y.o. ; her choice, not her first war) when the air raid warnings come, but sheltering in her bathroom – which has no windows, and so she can have the light on too. (There isn’t a formal blackout in effect AIUI, but people are strongly advised against showing lights at night.) Regardless, if she had to evacuate, she’d go East because she considers it much safer than going west. She doesn’t give a damn about which country her home is part of – which is politically unacceptable, and potentially lethal, whichever way she goes.
      Given the number of Russian emigrees in the Crimea (let alone the Donbas) I don’t find it particularly surprising that they’d choose to vote in large numbers to associate with “Uncle Vlad”. It’s as surprising as a Belfast resident on one street voting Green, and their colleague on a different street voting Orange.
      Ah, civil wars – they can get neighbour fighting neighbour in a way that international wars just can’t.

  8. Coincidentally, this just came from Matthew, but the speaker [Herschel Walker] had no more intelligence than the d*g …

    Herschel Walker is Donald Trump’s hand-picked choice for Republican candidate in this November’s US senate race in Georgia (apparently on the theory that to beat one black candidate — incumbent Raphael Warnock, who won the January 5, 2021, special election to complete an unexpired term — you find another black candidate with higher name recognition among Georgia’s white citizenry, in this case a former University of Georgia football standout and Heisman trophy winner).

    Walker’s candidacy hasn’t proved popular with Mitch McConnell (whose chances of recovering the senate majority leadership may hang in the balance) or with other GOP machers not thoroughly committed to the Trumpist camp, given Walker’s complete dearth of political experience, his long history of mental-health and domestic-abuse problems, his endorsement of various fringe conspiracy theories, and his not having been an actual resident of the state of Georgia for the last 20 years.

    Walker and Trump have a long history together, dating back to Walker’s having signed a personal-services contract in the 1980s to play for Trump’s New Jersey Generals in the ill-fated United States Football League.

    1. Ah, that explains it. I was wondering why the GOP would support a candidate like him. He seems like he has a very high risk of (their campaign) falling apart due to some scandal. But “Trump picked him” rules all, I guess.

  9. I’d like to recommend an excellent program on Putin from Frontline. It was on PBS last night. If you go to the Frontline website you can watch it there. The title is “Putin’s Road to War”

    1. We’ve taped it. Glad it’s worthwhile. Only so many hours a day a person can absorb all this horrendous news without going bonkers. Christiane Amanpour had some very interesting guests on last night, including Marie Yovanovitch and the current Prez of Finland, who talks frequently to a Pooty Poot.

  10. She [Marina Ovsyannikova] was willing to garner substantial time a Russian prison so she could speak her mind.

    Russian prisons are notoriously rugged places to do time — from the czarist era when Dostoevsky was hauled before a mock firing squad, to the Siberian camps where the kulaks were sent after The Revolution, to the gulag archipelago described by Solzhenitsyn.

  11. It was reported that Ukraine received a shipment of Russian anti-aircraft missiles. They have a much larger range than the Stinger missiles and can take down cruise missiles. They also have the advantage that Ukrainian soldiers are already trained on them. They also claim to have downed two Russian jets over the Black Sea. Perhaps the new missiles are already on the job.

    I have a hard time believing Putin is ready to negotiate a reasonable end to this war. My guess is that anything they are saying is disinformation. Putin will never admit defeat and, if he withdraws now, he is going to have a hard time calling this a victory with a straight face. He also knows that the West is unlikely to immediately lift the sanctions no matter what the deal is. The damage to his reputation and country has already been done.

    1. t was reported that Ukraine received a shipment of Russian anti-aircraft missiles. […]They also have the advantage that Ukrainian soldiers are already trained on them.

      That is a very under-appreciated point. It applies doubly to aircraft :

      Zelensky is asking the U.S. for more money (which he’ll get) and for more planes (which he won’t get).

      Every (and I do mean “every”, not “many” or “most”) aircraft crash report that I’ve read includes a description of the PIC (Pilot In Control) and the other pilot’s flight qualifications and experience, including recent experience on that type of aircraft. It is included because it is a common contributor to crashes. That’s civilian aircraft ; adding armaments and “counter-measures” is not going to make the problem simpler.
      There was a report I heard a day or two ago (and wasn’t interested to find a web link for) that the Polish had offered some Soviet era MiGs they have, which the Ukrainian airforce are type-trained for, but needed to replace them with western fighters (for which the Polish are also type trained, or have a training scheme for). That would probably be more useful (as well as the associated Polish stores & spares), but the report was that someone (NATO, US govt, commerce? I dunno.) was objecting to that aspect, putting the deal on ice.

  12. According to the Beeb:

    When Marina Ovsyannikova burst into Russian living rooms on Monday’s nightly news, denouncing the war in Ukraine and propaganda around it, her protest highlighted a quiet but steady stream of resignations from Russia’s tightly controlled state-run TV.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked her, appealing to anyone working for what he calls Russia’s propaganda system to resign. Any journalist working in what he calls the fourth branch of power risks sanctions and an international tribunal for “justifying war crimes”, he warns.


    Hours after Marina Ovsyannikova’s on-screen protest, three resignations came to light.

    Channel One colleague Zhanna Agalakova quit her job as Europe correspondent while two journalists have left rival NTV. Lilia Gildeyeva had worked for the channel as a presenter since 2006 and Vadim Glusker had been at NTV for almost 30 years.

    1. Russian journalist Ovsyannikova apparently faces further punishment.

      In addition to the fine of 30,000 roubles the Russian journalist is facing a further penalty. The state agency Tass reported that investigations had been launched into the alleged spreading of lies about Russia’s armed forces, citing a source at the investigating authorities. It was feared that Ovsyannikova could still be prosecuted under Russia’s new media law. This provides for up to 15 years in prison.

  13. *Every day I open the NYT webpage first thing

    Does the vessel’s IT Ossifer run a caching proxy – “Squid“, or something of that ilk – to try to manage the constrained traffic over the satellite link? With multiple consumers who probably have similarly stereotyped browsing habits, you’re probably not the only person on board who regularly d/ls the NYT. So why d/l it several times?
    I’ve never run one myself, but more than a few times have considered it when having to manage a link being swamped by everyone (and their dogs) within reach connecting for internet service. Considered, then just implemented a MAC whitelist instead, which was good enough.

  14. The duck photo is incredible. It resembles the statue of winged victory in the louvre. It’s wonderful when photographers can capture the wings like that. In all of my photos of birds in flight, the wings look like hummingbird wings. I also love that the duck looks serious and even a little menacing. I’m not used to seeing them like that.

    That criticism from Hili made me really cackle. She is so irreverent!

  15. I have some familiarity with how fast glass cools, or at least loses the orange glow, and wonder if those aren’t actually steel ball bearings being produced vs. marbles?

  16. I found this analysis the most thorough yet of why NATO can’t impose a no-fly zone and why transferring Polish MiG-29s to Ukraine is unlikely to be a good idea.

    Ward Carroll is a retired naval flight officer from the U.S. Navy’s F-14 Tomcat days. He actually flew in no-fly zones over the former Yugoslavia and Iraq. He has discussed the logistical and combat challenges at the tactical level on other videos. In this video he interviews Justin Bronk, Royal United Services Institute Research Fellow, Airpower & Technology on several aviation-related topics relevant to Ukraine. They discuss (and pretty much debunk for the short term) the MiG-29 idea from 34:25. The likely diplomatic folly of attempting a no-fly zone is covered from 40:26, particularly from 42:50.

    Military Aviation Expert on Why a No Fly Zone Would Solve Putin’s Problem

    I linked this according to Da Roolz

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