Thursday: Hili dialogue

March 24, 2022 • 6:30 am

Where we are now: The ship’s real-time map shows that we’re in the Drake Passage heading back, this time to Valparaiso, (the port for Santiago, and a lovely city in its own right). The next few days will be spent cruising along the coast of Chile. Farewell, Antarctica! Will I be back?

It was the roughest night in the Drake, and still is. It’s not the ship’s rocking in heavy waves that’s discombobulating, but the ship’s bouncing up and down several times a second—and has been doing so for hours. Ergo, I didn’t get not much sleep and I just found out I have to give a lecture at 8:30 a.m. The lecture hall is now open for attendees, but I doubt there will be more than a handful given the early hour and the bouncy night on the ship. And of course there’s no picture worth taking from the ship, as there’s water, water all around, but not a drop to drink.

In the dining room things are extra unstable since passengers are trying to walk around with plates of food. Some are being steadied by waiters as they head to their tables.

So a good but rocky morning on Thursday, March 24, 2022, as we bid farewell to the frozen delights of the South —a “quiescently frozen confection.” It’s National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day, a treat I used to eat in the movies when I was a child (nonpareils, on chocolate disks, was another favorite). My friends would call them “rabbit poop.”  Voilà!:

If you want to help out with “this day in history”, go to the Wikipedia page for March 24 and give us your favorite notable events, births, and deaths.

I’m in a rush, but here’s today’s NYT headline (click to read):

The big news here is that Biden’s in Europe to discuss not only increased sanctions on Russia, but the new deployment of lots of new NATO troops in the region around Ukraine. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s not a good portent. Here’s what the NYT says:

About 40,000 troops are currently deployed under direct NATO command across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. That is a twofold increase since Russian troops entered Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The largest contingent is stationed in Poland, with 10,500 allied troops, on top of Poland’s 120,000 troops. The country’s battle group is led by the United States

. . . .Speaking at a news conference before Thursday’s NATO summit in Brussels, the group’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said that he expected the alliance to make a decision on doubling the number of battlegroups on its eastern flank.

That would mean deploying more NATO troops to Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. He said the alliance would also increase support to Ukraine and to other partners at risk from Russian pressure.

Will this accomplish anything except further enrage and incite an already unhinged Putin? Truly, now I am afraid of a wider war. What will the deployment of more NATO troops accomplish unless Putin is already poised to invade surrounding countries, and that means World War III. But I suppose the brass know what they’re doing.

But then there’s this:

NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, repeated his statements from Wednesday that “any use of chemical weapons would fundamentally change the nature of the conflict.” But when pressed, he said he would “not speculate” about how NATO might respond if chemical agents, borne by the winds, would drift from Ukraine into NATO territory.

*And the “allies” are talking about war crimes now:

The U.S. government has formally concluded that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday.

The finding lends official weight to expressions of revulsion about Russia’s military conduct from top U.S. officials, including President Biden, who last week declared Russian President Vladimir V. Putin “a war criminal.”

But the statement did not mention Mr. Putin himself, saying only that “members of Russia’s forces” had committed such crimes. During a briefing for reporters on Wednesday, State Department officials declined to say whether their findings might implicate Mr. Putin.

Proving Mr. Putin’s responsibility for war crimes in a forum like the International Criminal Court, which is investigating the charges, could be difficult. It would likely require demonstrating Mr. Putin’s intent, something that could require proof of his communications with military commanders.

*The Washington Post reports that now there are “deep divisions in NATO” about how to deal with the Russians. The issue involves public discussion of strategy:

Allied leaders are discussing whether it is best to keep Russia guessing about what will trigger a bigger military response or to outline precisely what would draw NATO into a conflict.

Some NATO policymakers in Europe worry that there has been too much public messaging about what the alliance won’t do — send its troops into Ukraine, nor, for the moment, send fighter jets for which Kyiv has been campaigning. With the threat of Russian nuclear and chemical weapons looming over the battlefields of Ukraine, a better approach, they say, would be not to rule out anything publicly.

The idea is also that by telling the world what the U.S. or NATO won’t do for Ukraine, it makes Putin more aggressive in the Ukraine.

“I don’t think this is very productive when we say every so often, ‘We don’t want World War 3,’ or ‘We don’t want conflict with Russia,’ ” said Marko Mihkelson, the head of the foreign affairs committee of the Estonian parliament, who was in Washington last week to lobby for additional troops and equipment for NATO’s eastern flank. “That’s a green light to the Russians that we’re afraid of them.”

*And the headline of the Wall Street Journal (click on screenshot to read):

NATO estimated Russia has lost as much as one-fifth of its combat forces sent to Ukraine in about a month of fighting as President Biden and alliance leaders gathered in Brussels for a summit to discuss providing further support to Kyiv to repel the Russian invasion.

Between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine and up to 40,000 Russian troops in total have been killed, wounded, taken prisoner or are missing, said a senior military official from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Russia may also have lost 10% of its equipment, impairing Moscow’s ability to maintain its pace of operations, said another NATO official.

Yes but Russia has combat forces elsewhere that can be diverted, and will if the attrition continues. Given the unwillingness of NATO to engage Russia directly—a tactic that surely must be the right thing to do—we’re going to have to accept that whatever the peace terms, Ukraine is  destroyed as a functioning country, with a quarter of its population as refugees and much of its infrastructure gone. Further, I still don’t think that Putin will accept any settlement that doesn’t give him control of either part of or all of the Ukraine.

*Madeleine Albright, the female U.S. Secretary of State, has died at 84. Although you may remember her as a savvy diplomat and counselor to Bill Clinton, you should read the NYT obituary, as she had a far more interesting life than you’d suspect.

The galley proofs for Matthew’s next book came today (he emailed me). I’ve read it in draft, and it’s a good mixture of science and the history of science. The U.S. title sucks, but Matthew had no choice about that. Here’s his announcement on Twitter:

Now pardon me, ladies and gentlemen, while I finish this note at 6:30, take a shower, review my lecture notes, and rush down to gulp my breakfast.  As the Germans say, “Bis bald!”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains the dialogue:

Hili is talking about the solution for Ukraine but also to other insoluble  problems (e.g, Iran). But the idea is for readers to decide for themselves to which problems there are no solutions but there are bad solutions and worse solutions.

Hili: There are no good solutions.
A: But there are better and worse solutions.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie ma dobrych rozwiązań.
Ja: Ale są lepsze i gorsze

From Facebook, a mother crocodile and her babies. I had no idea they could have so many!

From Jesus of the Day:

Also from Jesus of the Day:

Two tweets from reader Barry. First, the difference between cats and d*gs. Note that the d*g also consumes the paper, explaining the reduced longevity of canids.

And a lion—a very tiny one, but a fierce one—on the loose:

And several wily moggies. The d*g doesn’t even know enough to flee!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, 78 years ago today.

Matthew’s in New York but he’s still sending tweets. WHO’S a good boy?

Do not try this at home unless you have a tame duck at home:

Remarkable things beyond our ken lurk in the briny deep. Look at this odd-eyed squid! I wonder if the asymmetry is directional (i.e., the right eye is always bigger than the left or vice versa) or “fluctuating” (one eye is always bigger, but sometimes it’s the left and sometimes the right. Explaining the evolution of directional asymmetry, which does occur fairly often (we have it ourselves) is a fascinating problem in evo-devo. How does a gene know whether it’s on the left or right side of a bilaterally symmetric animal?

What kind of “camouflaged retreat” does this spider build? Apparently a net of thick silk that has a hidden trap door.

I retweeted this, wondering perhaps if there’s a part-time job for someone like me to vet these signs before they go up:

69 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1794 – In Kraków, Tadeusz Kościuszko announces a general uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia, and assumes the powers of the Commander in Chief of all of the Polish forces.

    1882 – Robert Koch announces the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis.

    1921 – The 1921 Women’s Olympiad began in Monte Carlo, becoming the first international women’s sports event.

    1944 – World War II: In an event later dramatized in the movie The Great Escape, 76 Allied prisoners of war begin breaking out of the German camp Stalag Luft III.

    1989 – In Prince William Sound in Alaska, the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (38,000 cubic metres) of crude oil after running aground.

    1993 – Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 is discovered by Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker, and David Levy at the Palomar Observatory in California.

    1999 – Kosovo war: NATO began attacks on Yugoslavia without United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approval, marking the first time NATO has attacked a sovereign country.

    2018 – Students across the United States stage the March for Our Lives demanding gun control in response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

    1693 – John Harrison, English carpenter and clock-maker, invented the Marine chronometer (d. 1776)

    1820 – Edmond Becquerel, French physicist and academic (d. 1891)

    1826 – Matilda Joslyn Gage, American activist and author (d. 1898) – campaigner for women’s suffrage in the United States, Native American rights, abolitionism, and the free exercise of reason in matters of religious belief. She is the eponym for the Matilda effect, which describes the tendency to deny women credit for scientific invention. She influenced her son-in-law L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz.

    1874 – Harry Houdini, Hungarian-Jewish American magician and actor (d. 1926)

    1901 – Ub Iwerks, American animator, director, and producer, co-created Mickey Mouse (d. 1971)

    1909 – Clyde Barrow, American criminal (d. 1934)

    1930 – Steve McQueen, American actor and producer (d. 1980) – Born on the same day of the year as the “Great Escape”, which he later brought to life on film.

    1938 – David Irving, English historian and author – and not to forget Holocaust denier

    1949 – Nick Lowe, English singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer

    1973 – Jim Parsons, American actor – “Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries / That all started with the Big Bang”

    Those who began picking turnips with a step ladder:
    1776 – John Harrison, English carpenter and clockmaker, invented the Marine chronometer (b. 1693) – died on his birthday.

    1882 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet and educator (b. 1807)

    1905 – Jules Verne, French novelist, poet, and playwright (b. 1828)

    1962 – Auguste Piccard, Swiss physicist and explorer (b. 1884) – made record-breaking hydrogen balloon flights to study the Earth’s upper atmosphere; also known for his invention of the first bathyscaphe.

    2016 – Johan Cruyff, Dutch footballer (b. 1947)

    1. On this day in 2018, the Australian cricketers Cameron Bancroft, David Warner, and Steven Smith got into trouble over ball tampering. The whole thing came out when Bancroft was seen shoving something down his trousers. Over the years, many international cricketers have got into trouble over ball tampering, which includes scratching balls and applying foreign substances to balls. During the pandemic, the International Cricket Council banned spitting on balls.

      The England off spinner Graeme Swann was born on this day in 1979. He was probably the best off (right-arm finger) spinner England have had for a while. Jim Laker was very good in his time.

      Bernard Montgomery died on this day in 1976.

    2. I always look for PCC’s “died” euphemisms, and I have been getting some laughs out of your contributions to the list!

      1. I agree, definitely some good “died” euphemisms lately. One that I haven’t seen here yet, I don’t think, is “doing the obituary mambo” (from Tom Waits’s “Swordfishtrombone”).

        Re: other birthdays: the great Carol Kaye was born on March 24, 1935.

        1. Speaking of Tom Waits, I was happily surprised to see him in Paul Anderson’s latest film “Licorice Pizza” playing, as usual, an eccentric persona. The film also debuts Cooper Hoffman, son of Philip Seymour Hoffman, and that 19 year old (playing a 15 year old) can act! He played opposite Alana Haim, of the band Haim, who was also very impressive.

            1. I also liked it a lot. Quirky and Fun. Rereading my comment, I noticed I didn’t actually say I liked the movie! lol!

              1. Wow! I gotta say, that’s a funny story. 😂 Obviously, I didn’t have that problem boiling it. I once had the Japanese “Kobe” beef at a Morimoto restaurant in Napa. I must say it was the best beef I’ve ever had. But like you observed, it was just a tiny piece, very thin, flash grilled…maybe two or three bites. It was so rich, I can see how a large portion would be cloying.

            2. Oh, I just remembered you asked how the wagyu corned beef turned out on St. Paddy’s day. IMO, the extra money wasn’t worth it. It did cook a little quicker…maybe 2.5 hours instead of 3, but if I was in a hurry, I’d put it in the pressure cooker. The flavor was the same as any corned beef I’ve had. Next year, I won’t be “upgrading” to wagyu.

              1. A BiL of mine recently got married, and for the wedding dinner he bought a real wagyu (from Japan) New York Strip. Must have been about a 10 pound piece of meat, and he said it cost $1K.

                I did the cooking, with 3 gas grills at my disposal. I cut the strip into 12 steaks, fired all grills up to max and let preheat for a good 20 minutes, and seasoned with just coarse salt and pepper. Holy smokes. I’d never seen anything like it before. It was a veritable conflagration. Wagyu is so fatty, the steaks flared up so bad I had trouble working the grills. It was scary. Everything was engulfed in flames. I was running back and forth from grill to grill frantically, in fear that I was going to destroy this $1K worth of steak.

                However, all was good. Came out perfectly grilled, though it cost some eyebrows and hair. But, was it worth it? I wouldn’t bother paying for it. It was good, but very high fat content, the whole point of course. More like pork belly than steak. So rich you quickly get tired of it. Probably not meant to be eaten in large steaks like us barbaric USians tend to do. Excellent for shabu shabu where it would make a great broth for cooking the vegetables.

              2. I don’t know where this reply will land, but my reply to Darrelle landed above my original comment about Wagyu corned beef.

  2. As the second month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine begins, the outlook is more positive than I think our host acknowledges although the road ahead is undoubtedly a long and hard one.

    This morning, the BBC is reporting:

    A Russian landing ship has been destroyed and two other boats have been damaged in the occupied Ukrainian port city of Berdyansk, say Ukrainian officials.

    The Ukrainian military posted footage early on Thursday and said the Orsk had been hit by its forces.

    Details of what caused the explosion and fire on board the ship are unclear.

    Berdyansk, which is west of the besieged port of Mariupol, was seized four days after Russia invaded Ukraine.

    Russia says it has used the port as a base to ferry in equipment for its troops.

    Russian army TV hailed the arrival of the Orsk in Berdyansk last week as an “epic event” as it was the first Russian warship to dock there.

    According to The Guardian yesterday:

    Meanwhile, the UK’s ministry of defence has released its latest intelligence update, suggesting Ukraine is increasing pressure on Russian forces north-east of Kyiv while carrying out successful counter attacks against Russian positions in towns on the outskirts of the capital.

    “Russian forces along this axis are already facing considerable supply and morale issues.

    Ukrainian forces are carrying out successful counter attacks against Russian positions in towns on the outskirts of the capital, and have probably retaken Makariv and Moschun.

    There is a realistic possibility that Ukrainian forces are now able to encircle Russian units in Bucha and Irpin.

    It is likely that successful counter attacks by Ukraine will disrupt the ability of Russian forces to reorganise and resume their own offensive towards Kyiv.”


    The Pentagon, in a briefing with reporters, said Russian troops are adopting defensive positions north of Kyiv, rather than advancing, while Russian efforts elsewhere have stalled.

    US security correspondents have been tweeting details from the briefing.

    Jack Detsch, a reporter at Foreign Policy, tweeted that Ukraine’s counter-offensive near Kyiv has pushed Russian forces further from the capital. Russian fighters have been driven back 15 miles in the past few days, Detsch reported.

  3. Any readers have thoughts on this Netchoice v. Paxton lawsuit? (Ken?)

    “Last year, Texas protected free speech from Big Tech censorship by passing a statute finding that the largest social media platforms are “common carriers” and barring them from discriminating against speech on grounds of viewpoint.”

    Personally I’m all in favour of this. Companies with large market share should be regulated for the public good, and that should include regulation for political neutrality.

    As I’ve argued here before, if we can (rightly) have laws (e.g. Civil Rights Act 1964) requiring that companies don’t discriminate on race, sex, sexuality and religious opinion, then it is not that much of a stretch to require non-discrimination over political opinion.

    1. What you say is true, and I believe it, but I was never happier than when Twitter banned you-know-who.

      1. So, therefore, it’s not true, and you don’t believe it…because they deplatformed Unowho.
        He ought to have been the biggest test case for Coel’s oft-made argument. I’m surprised his name-which-cannot-be-uttered took so long to come up.

  4. I’m confused about the * in d*g. I googled and couldn’t find anything relevant. I understand G*d, but not d*g. Thanks!

    1. It’s very possible that the word without the * could cause great harm to ailurophiles. It’s not worth the risk.

    2. It’s one of my quirks, and does come from the Jewish G*d, except backwards. My penchant for cats over d*gs, plus my Jewish ancestry, is familiar to readers here. (I don’t dislike all dogs, but much prefer cats.)

  5. This Antarctica travelogue is the year’s unexpected delight, personally – the ignorance is just melting away – a huge knowledge hole is filling up – clunky expressions, but hey, art is long and time is fleeting.

    1. I am pleased that the lecture hall is now open as of this morning and hope that a good crowd shows up in-person for Jerry’s talk. I am old enough to still appreciate the person to person interaction between audience and speaker and feeling the reactions of other audience members. While reading or audio-casts offer 100% of the information in a lecture, there seems to be a few more per cent I get out of video and even maybe 110% out of a live lecture. It also seems it would be conducive to post-lecture discussions in dining hall or on-deck meetings between passengers or lecturer and passengers.

  6. Why does it take eight months between when the proofs of a 300-page book are ready and the book is available? Matthew’s latest is scheduled for November 15, 2022 availability according to the publisher. There may very well be good reasons and, if so, I am curious to what they be. I have become more sensitive to this issue as I approach the end of my shelf life.

    1. It might be related to the publishing industry’s tendency to publish a huge glut of books in the autumn, rather than resulting from logical/logistical processes.

    1. Thank you for the link! I’ve only late in life come to appreciate a bare little bit of the joy of topology and other realms of “pure” math that I disdained in younger years.

  7. Yes but Russia has combat forces elsewhere that can be diverted

    Have they? The Russian Army has about 280,000 people in it on active duty. The entire military is about a million but that includes the navy, airforce and conscripts, none of whom are likely to be on the ground in Ukraine.

    The forces invading Ukraine numbered around 190,000 of which most would have been ground troops. You have to assume a large proportion of the Russian Army is already in Ukraine.

    Those personnel not in Ukraine aren’t doing nothing. They may be holding down areas of Syria and Chechnya and there’s probably a risk in stripping the troops from those locations. Not to mention the fact that it’s not a trivial exercise to relocate troops especially when your logistics infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired as now seems obvious.

    Russia could call up its reservists, but how are you going to equip them and mobilise them and what message does it send to the Russian people when you say “oh the war is going great, but we need to mobilise 200,000 reservists”.

    1. And I don’t think that Russian reservists will be nearly as motivated as Ukrainian reservists.

      It’s starting to come apart at the seams for Putin, I would hope that the more sane in his inner circle have already started his transition from power (and most likely life).

    2. Apparently, Putin has learned nothing about asymmetrical warfare, which seems to be the most common type of international warfare since World War II. It is extremely difficult for a more powerful nation to conquer and retain control of a weaker nation, no matter how much physical damage it wreaks on the latter, if the latter’s populace is determined to resist the former by using guerrilla tactics. This should be the lesson of Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and the United States in Afghanistan.

      1. Weeeelll…it’s extremely difficult using regular rules of war. When armies start ‘cleansing’ whole towns, I don’t think we can rely on the history of the Afghanistan wars any more. Even US use of agent orange and (occasional) destruction of towns in Vietnam don’t really reflect that very well.

        Which is one of the issues here. Putin doesn’t seem to be focused on adding Ukraine to Russia as a viable socioeconomic unit. With his attacks on civilians, earlier rhetoric about ‘protecting native Russian’ citizens, and paranoia about NATO weapons on his doorstep, I’d say that there is a real possibility that he’d be perfectly happy to completely depopulate Ukraine, with the plan to rebuild and repopulate it with Russians over time.

        Also, I’m not sure what happened when he took over Crimea, but there seems to be very little resistance to him there. So he may be basing his expectations on that rather than on Russia’s decades-past experience in Afghanistan.

        1. “and (occasional) destruction of towns in Vietnam…”

          That’s got to be the understatement of the year. The U.S. razed thousands of towns, villages, hamlets, etc. in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The best reference I know of would be “Manufacturing Consent” by Herman and Chomsky. As your comment suggests, the media and their propaganda model linked to the state has consistently kept facts about the Vietnam war “under wraps”.

          1. I was prompted to skim the Wikipedia entry on the My Lai Massacre:


            I could have missed it, but I don’t see where any U.S. service member was convicted of being a war criminal, as such.

            “Victims included men, women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated, as were children as young as 12.[1][2] Twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted. Found guilty of murdering 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served three-and-a-half years under house arrest after President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence.”

            “Initially, three U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and rescue the hiding civilians were shunned, and even denounced as traitors by several U.S. Congressmen, including Mendel Rivers (D-South Carolina), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Thirty years later, these servicemen were recognized and decorated, one posthumously, by the U.S. Army for shielding non-combatants from harm in a war zone.”

            (IIRC from listening to/reading Chomsky, post WW II the Allies took care not to charge German and Japanese service members with any war crime with which U.S./Allied service members could be – reasonably? – charged.)

            I don’t imagine the MSM will be inclined any time soon to refresh the U.S. public’s fading collective memory of this.

        2. How is Agent Orange, which is/was a defoliant and not a poison gas, relevant in any way to a discussion about cleansing a place of its inhabitants? It’s use in Vietnam doesn’t reflect the concept at all, never mind not “very well.”
          You can cite the possible health consequences of incidental exposure to Agent Orange if you like but it was never deployed to kill people. It’s just not effective for the purpose.

      2. True, but there is one other necessary ingredient. A source of supply from a nation outside the conflict area. Which Ukraine has in spades. There’s no real chance Russia is going to win this war.

    3. I’m pretty sure some Russian POWs have been conscripts – I’m not sure if their posting to the frontline was the result of desperation or complacency, though.

      1. That’s normal and not the same as reservists. The Russian military is a conscript military, not a professional one like the US and most European militaries.

        Really the comparison is worse than what “conscript” by itself conveys. Some European countries do require all citizens to serve a term in the military. The real differences are training, the percentage of “conscripts” and where they are placed. Long story short, most western militaries consider senior NCOs (non-commissioned officers), sergeants, to be the backbone of the military and these ranks are occupied by professionals. These are the people that train, command, and care for the troops. The Russian military doesn’t really have that backbone. Their senior NCO ranks are, on average, much less experienced and much less well trained.

    4. I think you mean “Oh, the special military operation is going great….” It’s not a war, after all! /s

    1. On the issue of whether to broadcast these policies or keep the Russians wondering, it is hard to know what is best as there are so many variables. One not mentioned is that keeping deliberately silent about use of weapons and so on will play hell with speculation, and speculation will play hell with the market.

  8. But the statement did not mention Mr. Putin himself, saying only that “members of Russia’s forces” had committed such crimes.

    SeeInternational Committee of the Red Cross Rule 153 regarding Command Responsibility. If Putin is aware that Russian troops are committing war crimes in Ukraine (and it seems impossible that he wouldn’t), he is responsible for those crimes.

    1. Ken, on an aside, I asked you a few days ago whether Justice Thomas should recuse himself in all cases involving 1/6 (if there are cases going to the SC), since his spouse participated . 28 U.S. Code § 455 , 5, iii appears to say so. Is that correct? And if he doesn’t recuse himself would that be grounds for impeachment? Or does it not apply to SC Justices? And if so why?
      I would highly appreciate to hear your opinion.

      1. Sorry, Nicky, I missed that.

        Under the applicable section of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judicial officer is required to recuse him- or herself in any case in which his or her spouse is a party. Judicial officers are also expected to recuse themselves in any case in which their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” This latter standard affords the judicial officer somewhat more flexibility in deciding whether to opt for recusal.

        Historically, SCOTUS justices have been chary to recuse themselves where it is a close call — the reason being that (unlike lower court judges who, when they recuse themselves, are simply replaced by another judge selected by blind draw) a recused justice cannot be replaced by another justice, inasmuch as all nine justices hear all cases in which the Court has granted certiorari. Also, unlike in lower courts, a party aggrieved by a justice’s failure to recuse him- or herself cannot seek review of that decision from a higher court.

        As to the specific situation you raise, I think it might be appropriate (depending upon the specific circumstances of the case) for Thomas to recuse himself from cases arising from the 1/6/21 attack on the Capitol given his wife’s involvement, though I doubt he will — unless an organization to which Ginni Thomas is a member (or for which she has at some point served as counsel) is a named party to the case.

        Regarding possible impeachment, I strongly doubt that a failure-to-recuse in a single case, even if egregious, would serve as a successful basis for seeking a bill of impeachment in the House of Representatives.

        1. I see that it was revealed today that Gini Thomas sent multiple text messages to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 presidential election advising him on how to overturn the election results in Trump’s favor.

          Interestingly, Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenting vote in SCOTUS’s decision rejecting Trump’s claim of executive privilege — the decision that resulted in these text messages being provided to House Jan. 6th subcommittee. This raises the specter that Thomas may have been aware that disclosure of his own wife’s texts hung in the balance in that case.

          For a sense of just how unhinged some of the conspiracy theories advanced by Ginni Thomas in these texts were, see this article from today’s New York Magazine.

      2. Yesterday, CT missed a 3rd day of oral arguments. He was admitted to the hospital 6 days ago with “flu-like symptoms”, and when reporters ask about his condition, the answer is “no update.” So who knows what’s going on with him- like Putin’s thinking, it’s a mystery. Some have speculated that his crazed wife doesn’t want anyone to know his condition, which I guess translates to: his condition is bad.

  9. I think if there are Russians who are getting real news about their invasion of Ukraine they probably know by now, they are in deep do-do. Taking a look at what is going on in their own country they should know they are losing this war. We see a lot more of the outside Russia situation but little about inside. How long will Putin pretend he is winning when he is not. Hard to say but eventually his people will tell him.

    1. How long will Putin pretend he is winning when he is not.

      His life may depend on it, so I think indefinitely.

      It might be worth investigating the possibility of offering Putin safe passage out of Russia to a foreign location and immunity from prosecution and round the clock security on the condition that he withdraws his forces from Ukraine and abdicates.

      1. Better make him post a security bond first to rebuild Ukraine and other war damages. In dollars or euros, not roubles.

    1. I was gong to say the d*g didn’t have to flee because he knew he was innocent and trusted the judicial process. But I like your explanation better.

  10. Regarding Judge Jackson, I can’t listen to Senate confirmation hearings, and watch all those Senators (on both sides) grandstand. I don’t really care if she’s a liberal. My only concern is that she not be a supporter of injecting “equity” into the process. Oh, well:

    “I also try to convince my students that sentencing is just plain interesting on an intellectual level, in part because it melds together myriad types of law — criminal law, of course, but also administrative law, constitutional law, critical race theory, negotiations, and to some extent, even contracts. . . .”

    1. The crocodile is a Gharial, judging from the long and narrow snout, typical of fish eaters. They are reputed to have from 20 to more than 90 offspring per batch.
      I guess that means the infant mortality is enormous.
      They are endangered, or at least protected in India and Nepal.
      The high number of offspring should make it relatively easy to restore populations if the habitat is restored.

      (Note, I made about the same post 2 hours ago, but it doesn’t appear, so my apologies if it doubles).

      1. Came here to post that. Also, it’s a male, going by the swelling at the end of the snout. Male gharials are apparently the ones that tend the newly-hatched young, or at least act as life-rafts for them.

        1. Can you tell from the photo (I know this is probably asking a lot) how old the young ones are? And also, how long can the young ones get away with doing that? At some point will the parent chase them away or attack them?

          1. The little ones are hatchlings – less than a month old, I’d say.
            I’m not sure how long this will go on. My crocodile references are all in my office and not readily accessible, I’m sorry to say, so I can’t be more definite than that.

  11. I think that croc is a Gharial croc. They are known to have broods of 20 to more than 90 eggs.
    (I guess that means the mortality of the young ones is pretty high)

  12. When Madeleine Albright was confirmed as US Ambassador to the United Nations and then as Secretary of State on both occasions the Senate’s approval was unanimous. Of course, that was then…

  13. the new deployment of lots of new NATO troops in the region around Ukraine. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s not a good portent.

    Well based on Stoltenburg’s statement, I would assume he’s implying that if the Russians start dropping sarin on Ukrainians (like they did Syrians), NATO will intervene. Perhaps not force-on-force, but at least with medical, food/shelter, and evacuation support.

    I might also expect that, as the Russians fire missiles closer and closer to the borders of NATO countries, there might be some recriprocal response to any “accidents.” To be clear, I don’t think Putin would order a strike on a NATO country (…at this time). However there’s probably a low but significant possibility of (a) hotheaded field commander might, (b) sloppy targeting, or (c) ‘fog of war’ mistake. In any of those three cases, in my opinion it would be reasonable for NATO to use either a single missile or single air strike to take out the offending missile battery.

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