Posting will be light today as it’s the American Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 24, 2022), and all good Americans (save vegans and vegetarians) are tucking into copious portions of turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, potatoes, yams, and dessert. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is followed by a nap, and then watching an (American) football game. Reader Debra sent a video of Curly of the Three Stooges making Thanksgiving stuffing (here’s another with Mo and Shemp doing the same routine).
There will be no “readers’ wildlife” feature today as few people will be looking at it on a holiday, and I don’t want to stint a photographer. I may put up one or two other posts.
Google also has an animal-themed Thanksgiving Doodle (click to see where it goes). It’s all carved by hand.
It’s also National Sardines Day (ecch) and D. B. Cooper Day, marking the day in 1971 when a man who called himself “Dan Cooper” hijacked a plane, got $200,000 ransom, and then parachuted out of the plane somewhere between Seattle and Reno. His body was never found, though some of the ransom money was recovered. Cooper is presumed to have died from the jump; the case is unsolved, and the feds suspended the investigation in 2016.
And it’s Evolution Day (International observance), marking the publication of On the Origin of Species on November 24, 1859. A first edition of that book will now run you a whopping $950,000 as a presentation copy (sent by the publisher to specified individuals, but not inscribed in Darwin’s hand. (No copies inscribed by Darwin are known.) A “regular” copy will still run you $400,000. These are two of the 1250 copies printed; they sold out on the first day.
And a tweet; read Darwin’s correspondence! (h/t Matthew)
To celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species today, we have published the full edition of Charles Darwin's correspondence online! Explore more than 15000 letters, from Darwin's first letter in 1822 to his death in 1882.
— MyDearDarwin (@MyDearDarwin) November 24, 2022
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 24 Wikipedia page.
*This is why it’s not safe to assume that a given crime is a “hate crime” directed at a particular group without more direct evidence. Remember the nightclub shooting at a gay club in Colorado Springs that killed 6 and wounded 18? Many people, including journalists, jumped to the conclusion that it was a homophobic shooting based on hatred of LGBTQ people Well, that may be true, but new evidence makes that less likely:
Before a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, new details were emerging about the person the police have accused of killing five people in the attack.
The suspect, who may face hate crime charges, identifies as nonbinary and uses they-them pronouns, the suspect’s lawyers said in court papers filed before the hearing.
The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was being held without bond, and was expected to appear at the hearing by video from the El Paso County Jail.
. . .Prosecutors had not yet filed formal charges, or said what they believed the motive was for the attack.
Public defenders representing the suspect indicated their client’s preferred pronouns in a series of court filings that were made public late on Tuesday.
One footnote in the filings said: “They use they/them pronouns, and for the purposes of all formal filings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich.”
Lawyers for the suspect did not respond to requests for comment.
Kristen Prata Browde, a co-chair of the National Trans Bar Association, said that a suspect’s gender identity should have no bearing on whether they can be prosecuted for a hate crime in the Club Q shooting.
“The motive for a crime isn’t dependent on whether you are or are not a member of a protected class,” Ms. Prata Browde said. “It legally has no significance, as far as whether the actions of this individual fit within the law regarding hate crimes.”
She said it would be best for the court and prosecutors to respect the suspect’s preferred pronouns and gender identity, and treat them “like any other defendant.”
Well, there’s such a thing as Bayesian inference, and if an Orthodox Jew shoots up a synagogue, it would perhaps be a bit rash to deem it an anti-Semitic hate crime.
*Speaking exactly of that, Jesse Singal has a column about journalists who jump to conclusions about motives when they know little: “Controversial take: It’s bad to put words in the mouths of murder victims.” He’s referring specifically to reporter Ben Collins on NBC’s “Morning Joe” column, and Collins immediately said the Colorado Springs murder was a hate crime, and blamed fellow reporters for not doing more to quash hatred of the LGBTQ community:
Watching Collins’ emotional appeal to his fellow journalists to Do Better, you would think that it had been determined that Aldrich had been radicalized by, say, LibsofTikTok or Matt Walsh. You’d think this was a case-closed claim, because here is a Disinformation Reporter going on a cable TV news program and treating it as such. He is the authoritative voice, the antidote to all the right-wing smoke that obscures so many Americans from the truth.
Except four days later, we actually don’t know why Aldrich committed his heinous acts. We do know a bunch of useful details thanks to actual reporters (as opposed to Disinformation Reporters), including Joby Warrick, Robert Klemko, Razzan Nakhlawi, Alice Crites, and Cate Brown of The Washington Post (I feel like if I’m going to mention Ben Collins’ name, I should mention all of theirs as well).
. . .This was a very disturbed young man who both menaced others and was menaced himself. That’s really all we know, motive-wise — the Post reporters don’t speculate, because they are real journalists (they do note that authorities are seeking to charge this as a hate crime, but — this is me talking — that doesn’t tell us anything on its own, since prosecutors often try to charge as heavily as possible). Another Post article, this one by Scott Wilson and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, notes that the authorities are still trying to figure out Aldrich’s motive (someone inform Ben Collins). Further complicating everything, Aldrich said through his lawyers that he is nonbinary and wants to be referred to as they/them (you’ll note I refer to Aldrich as male throughout this piece — if it later comes to light that he’d previously come out as nonbinary, I’ll refer to him using they/them pronouns, but I think there are limits to politeness and self-ID, and I’m not going to take a mass murderer at his word on the basis of one legal filing).
So the fact of the matter is we don’t know why Anderson Lee Aldrich shot up Club Q. But to Ben Collins, that doesn’t matter. What matters is immediately to tie the shooting to a broader narrative. This, it goes without saying, is utterly bankrupt journalism. It could certainly be that Aldrich shot up the club out of antigay or anti-trans animus fueled by (say) LibsOfTikTok’s endless spotlighting of the most off-putting left-wing LGBT people on social media. But until you know that, you can’t assume. This is something you learn in the first week or two of any intro to journalism class. What Collins has done here is really wrong. He has spread a huge amount of… well, not even misinformation, because we don’t know yet! This is basically the journalistic equivalent of being not even wrong.
*According to the Washington Post, quite a few present and former staffers of the House’s January 6 investigating committee are mad at its vice-chair Liz Cheney, and for two reasons: she’s focusing the report too much on Trump (neglecting other important stuff), and is using the committee to further her own political ambitions.
Now, less than six weeks before the conclusion of the committee’s work, Cheney’s influence over the committee’s final report has rankled many former and current committee staff. They are angered and disillusioned by Cheney’s push to focus the report primarily on former president Donald Trump, and have bristled at the committee morphing into what they have come to view as the vehicle for the outgoing Wyoming lawmaker’s political future.
Fifteen former and current staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, expressed concerns that important findings unrelated to Trump will not become available to the American public.The feuding brings to the fore a level of public acrimony within the Jan. 6 committee that previously had largely played out behind the scenes, as public attention was focused on a series of blockbuster public hearings focused on Trump’s role fomenting the attack.
Several committee staff members were floored earlier this month when they were told that a draft report would focus almost entirely on Trump and the work of the committee’s “Gold Team,” excluding reams of other investigative work.
Potentially left on the cutting room floor, or relegated to an appendix, were many revelations from the “Blue Team” — the group that dug into the law enforcement and intelligence community’s failure to assess the looming threat and prepare for the well-forecast attack on the Capitol. The proposed report would also cut back on much of the work of the Green Team, which looked at financing for the Jan. 6 attack, and the Purple Team, which examined militia groups and extremism.
“We all came from prestigious jobs, dropping what we were doing because we were told this would be an important fact-finding investigation that would inform the public,” said one former committee staffer. “But when [the committee] became a Cheney 2024 campaign, many of us became discouraged.”
Cheney’s staff and others have defended her, characterizing the kvetchers as “disgruntled.” Well of course they’re disgruntled! How else should they feel if what they claim is true? (We don’t yet know.)
*The latest mass shooting in the U.S. took place Tuesday evening at a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia. It seems that these things happen about three times a week now. This time, six people died (all employees) and several were injured, two critically. The shooter was a manager of the store, and shot himself after killing the other six.
It was the third recent high-profile mass shooting in the United States, after three students were killed at the University of Virginia last week and five people were killed on Saturday night at a gay club in Colorado Springs.
Here are the details:
The Walmart gunman used a pistol and was found dead at the store, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Chief Mark Solesky of the Chesapeake Police Department. Donya Prioleau, an employee on the overnight shift, said she saw the gunman come into the break room and, without a word, begin shooting. Read her account.
The police identified the six people who were killed as Lorenzo Gamble, Brian Pendleton, Kellie Pyle, Randall Blevins, Tyneka Johnson and a 16-year-old boy whose name they are withholding because of his age. Several other people were injured and taken to hospitals, and two remained in critical condition late Wednesday, according to officials.
Fifty people were in the store at the time of the attack, the police said. One shopper, Jeromy Basham, said he heard what sounded liked several loud claps, then people yelling, “It’s a gun, get out!” He described the ensuing chaos.
Police identified the gunman as Andre Bing, 31, and said they were seeking a motive. Walmart said in a statement that he was an overnight manager who had worked for the company since 2010. Here’s what his co-workers said about him.
Walmart’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said his “heart hurts for our associates and the Chesapeake community.” The retailer has long been at the center of the gun-rights debate. After a series of mass shootings, Virginia tightened its gun laws in recent years, but Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, has suggested rolling back some of those changes.
How is it at the center of the gun-rights debate? In a mixed way:
Although the chain sells guns at its stores throughout the United States, Walmart has imposed increasingly strict restrictions on firearm sales as mass shootings have continued in the country. In recent years, it stopped selling handguns and certain rifles, including AR-15s, and raised the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21.
After 23 people were killed by a gunman in a Walmart store in El Paso in August 2019, the company publicly urged Congress and President Donald J. Trump to strengthen background checks and renew the debate over an assault rifle ban.
Do you think Walmart will stop selling guns now, just as a gesture towards its murdered employees? I wouldn’t bet on it.
*A live cat, trapped in a suitcase, was detected by an X-ray machine in New York City. (h/t Matthew) It apparently belonged to someone else in the household and jumped into the suitcase, which some idiot locked and closed without looking inside. (h/t Christopher).
A TSA agent in New York City spotted a live feline trapped inside checked luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport — but safely got the cat out of the bag, authorities said Tuesday.
The orange tabby’s brush with potential tragedy happened on Nov. 16 when the bag was checked from JFK to Atlanta for a connecting flight to Melbourne Orlando International Airport in Florida, officials said.
“The cat did not belong to the individual with the suitcase, it belonged someone else in the household,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told NBC News.
The flagged luggage was taken aside and the cat rescued before the tabby could have ended up in the pressurized cargo hold.
A bit more from CNN:
The traveler is thought to have missed his flight, but rebooked for the following day, sans cat. Meanwhile the cat — apparently called Smells — appears unbothered by his escapade, according to the New York Post, which appeared to have tracked it down.
Here’s the X-ray. How could the traveler have overlooked that cat?
And a TSA tweet; at least one person among the TSA authoritarians has a sense of humor:
We’re letting the cat out of the bag on a hiss-toric find. This CATch had our baggage screening officers @JFKairport saying, “Come on meow”! Feline like you have travel questions reach out to our furiends @AskTSA. They’re available every day, from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (ET). pic.twitter.com/LpIkLbAgzC
— TSA (@TSA) November 22, 2022
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is gathering wood:
Hili: Are you preparing for winter?A: The newspapers wrote that there might be trouble.
Hili: Przygotowujesz się do zimy?Ja: W gazetach pisali, że mogą być kłopoty.
. . . and a picture of Baby Kulka:
From Merilee, a Mark Parisi cartoon:
From Jean: the bronze ducks in the famous “Make Way for Ducklings” statue in the Boston Commons have been dressed up as Puritans for the holiday:
God’s over at Mastodon, but still has tweeted only once.
From Barry. Chuck Jones, who directed the Roadrunner cartoons, lays out Da Roolz:
Chuck Jones nine rules for how the coyote and roadrunner functioned.
So cool. pic.twitter.com/zIeltnh1cA
— Danny Deraney (@DannyDeraney) November 22, 2022
From Masih: Iranian soldiers fire on civilians while chanting “Allahu Akbar”:
A scene from #Javanrud.Those attacking unarmed protesters with guns by chanting “Allah-o Akbar” are soldiers of the Revolutionary Guards. Same solders that killed innocents in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon. We won’t stop until these soldiers are rooted out of Iran
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 22, 2022
From Luana. So much for the police’s theory (and the FFRF’s, too) that the crime was motivated by “anti LGBTQ animus”—a “hate crime”:
BREAKING: Colorado Club Q shooting suspect is non-binary, uses "they/them" pronouns: attorneyshttps://t.co/z79fAftBs8
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) November 23, 2022
From Ken, who says this, “Secretary Mayor Pete’s got a bone to pick with some people. (I’d sure like to see Uncle Joe throw the 2024 race open to the field. All I am saying, is Give Pete a Chance)”. I agree; I’ve always been a fan of Mayor Pete.
If you’re a politician or media figure who sets up the LGBTQ community to be hated and feared – not because any of us ever harmed you but because you find it useful – then don’t you dare act surprised when this kind of violence follows.
Don’t you dare act surprised.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) November 22, 2022
Also from Barry, who says, “What a showoff!”. Hey, it’s sexual selection, Jake!
Peacock showing off.. 🦚 pic.twitter.com/IQ2I7zbDec
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) November 22, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a boy about three years old was gassed:
24 November 1939 | A Dutch Jewish boy, Alex Weijel, was born in Enschede.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 24, 2022
Tweets from the estimable Professor Cobb. A simple equation shows why the first one must be true:
sweet zombie jesus how am I just now finding this out pic.twitter.com/sr0g177PIZ
— Brent Black (@brentalfloss) November 22, 2022
I hope the guy put this fish back:
Good God! Where did it drop from? pic.twitter.com/Ry1ADL2SiG
— Gavin Curnow 〓〓 (@GavinCurnow) November 23, 2022
The Pale Blue Dot revisited: Earthrise as the Artemis-1 capsule comes around from the backside of the Moon:
This is worth 35 seconds of your time.
Earlier today. pic.twitter.com/6O2XkcikN5
— Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) November 23, 2022