Greetings on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, January 24, 2023: National Peanut Butter Day (exactly what I’ll have for lunch).
Two guys were sitting in a bar talking. One guy was Joe Black, and the other guy was named Fred. As they were talking, people kept coming in and going out of the bar. Everyone who walked past said “Hi” to Joe Black.
Fred finally said. “WOW, Joe—you really know a lot of people”. To this Joe replied, “I do indeed. In fact, I know everyone in the world“. At this Fred laughed. “No, really!” said Joe, “I really do know everyone in the whole world.” They argued quite a while about this until Fred said, “I’ll bet $1,000 that you don’t know the Mayor.”
Joe warned Fred that he did know the Mayor and that Fred was sure to lose his money. Fred took the bet anyway. So onto the Mayor’s office they went. Upon entering, they were greeted by the secretary with, “Hi, Joe, how ya doing today?” Joe said, “Great, I need to see the Mayor”. To make a long long story a little shorter, the Mayor knew Joe very well.
Fred was a little upset about this and asked Joe if he could go double or nothing on whether Joe knew the President of the United States. Joe warned Fred again that he was going to lose his money, but if he was willing to pay for the two to travel to Washington, D.C., he’d gladly take the bet. As it turned out, the President knew Joe very well and invited the two to stay for dinner.
After this Fred was really pissed. He said, “Joe, I’ll bet you $100,000 that you don’t know the Pope.” (Fred was a rich guy). Joe tried to talk Fred out of the bet, again telling him he would lose his money, but Fred insisted. So off to Rome they went.
When they got to the Vatican, Joe told Fred that not just anybody could get inside to see the Pope. He gave Fred a pair of binoculars and told him to climb up a hill behind the Vatican and watch for him and the Pope to come out in the yard and wave to him. Fred was a little wary at first but finally agreed.
Fred waited on the deserted hill in the hot sun for over an hour. Just when he was about to leave, he saw two people coming out the Vatican door. The two walked to the middle of the yard and started waving up at the hill.
Fred wasn’t sure what the Pope really looked like, and, since he had a lot of money riding on this, he wanted to make sure that it really was the Pope, “But how?”, he thought. Just then a dusty-looking old peasant man walked by. Fred figured that a local should know what the Pope looked like, and called him over. Fred gave him the binoculars and asked him who that was waving below.
To this the peasant replied “I’m not sure who the guy in the robe is, but that other guy is Joe Black!”
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 24 Wikipedia page.
*YET ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING!! This happened yesterday in Half Moon Bay, California, where a gunman (apparently another elderly Asian man) killed seven people before surrendering. It’s about one mass killing a week now. . .
The police arrested Zhao Chunli, age 67, of Half Moon Bay in connection with the shootings after he was found in his car in the parking lot of a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office substation in the town, the sheriff’s office said, and there was no continuing threat to the community.
He was taken into custody “without incident” and was “fully cooperating,” Sheriff Christina Corpus said. Investigators believe he acted alone, she said.
Investigators have not established a motive, according to Capt. Eamonn Allen of the sheriff’s department.
*Another person has died in the Monterey, Park California shooting, making a total of 11. The shooter apparently shot himself after a standoff in a Torrance California Parking lot, and has been identified, but there’s still no motive:
The search for the motive behind the shooting massacre that killed 11 people at a Los Angeles-area dance hall led police to a mobile home community as they probed the past of the 72-year-old suspect Monday and his relationship to the ballroom.
Sheriff’s deputies from Los Angeles County searched the home in a gated senior community where Huu Can Tran lived in the town of Hemet, an hour’s drive from the scene of the crime in Monterey Park, Hemet police spokesperson Alan Reyes told The Associated Press.
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said he wasn’t aware of the search results or if Tran, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, left behind any note indicating what drove him to shoot up the dance hall.
“We all want answers to questions that we may never have answers to,” Wiese said. “That’s kind of the enigma of this. I know that my individual officers would like to know why. I know the families want to know why. The why is a big part of this. The problem is, we may never know the why.”
Tran had visited Hemet police twice this month to report he was the victim of fraud, theft and poisoning by family members a decade or two ago in the LA area, Reyes said. Tran said he would return to the station with documentation but never did.
He was found dead Sunday in the van that he used to flee after attempting to attack a second dance hall, authorities said. The mayor of Monterey Park said Tran may have frequented the first dance hall that he targeted, and his ex-wife told CNN she had met him there and he offered her free lessons.
At 72, Tran is the oldest mass shooter in American history, and, as an Asian, is unlikely to have committed a hate crime, for (as far as I know) all the victims were Asians. All but one was older than 60. Both the cops and the families of the dead and injured are desperate, it seems, to find a motive. This may help prevent other murders based on profiling or whether Tran was part of some aggressive group, but he seems to be a “lone wolf.” But people want to know the motive for “closure” reasons, too, I think, and I’m not quite sure why it’s so important.
*Kyrsten Sinema, known as an obstructive Democrat (she recently switched to “Independent” status, is now going to have her Senate seat challenged iin 2024 by another Democrat, which I’m sure will be good news to other Democrats.
Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona on Monday announced his campaign for US Senate, setting up a potential 2024 clash with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who recently switched her party affiliation from Democrat to independent.
Gallego, a Phoenix-area congressman and retired Marine who served in Iraq, released a video of him telling a group of fellow veterans about his decision to run.
“You’re the first group of people that are hearing this besides my family. I will be challenging Kyrsten Sinema for the United States Senate, and I need all of your support,” Gallego, 43, told the group at a veterans organization in Guadalupe, Arizona.
Sinema has faced fierce criticism from Democrats for opposing elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Early last year, while the Arizona senator was still a Democrat, Gallego said some Democratic senators were urging him to run for her seat. Sinema said in December she was switching parties, though she continues to caucus with Senate Democrats and has not said publicly whether she will run for reelection.
“Most families feel that they are one or two paychecks away from going under. That is not the way that we should be living in this country,” Gallego said in his announcement video. “The rich and the powerful, they don’t need more advocates. It’s the people that are still trying to decide between groceries and utilities that need a fighter for them.”
Gallego, a Marine veteran, has been in the House since 2015, has generally good liberal views (though he’s against turning back immigrants entering the country illegally), and if he wins would be Arizona’s first Hispanic Senator. And I hope he does win. I’m kind of done with Sinema. The Republicans, of course, will be slavering after her seat as well.
*In Florida, pursuant to a mutual suicide pact she made with her terminally ill husband, killed him with a shot to the head. But she couldn’t go through with her part of the deal.
Jerry Gilland, a 77-year-old terminally ill man, made a pact with his wife about three weeks ago, the authorities said: If his failing health did not improve, he wanted his 76-year-old wife, Ellen Gilland, to kill him.
His health continued to decline, and so shortly before 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Ms. Gilland brought a gun inside AdventHealth Hospital in Daytona Beach, Fla., went to Mr. Gilland’s room on the 11th floor and fatally shot him in the head, the police said.
She had planned to fatally shoot herself, too, but in the end, “she couldn’t go through with it,” said Chief Jakari E. Young of the Daytona Beach Police Department.
“It’s a tragic circumstance because it just shows that none of us are immune from the trials and tribulations of life,” Chief Young said at a news conference on Saturday.
Ms. Gilland confined herself to the room and refused to drop her gun when the authorities arrived, Chief Young said.
After an hourslong standoff, officers used a flash-bang device, which typically produces a bright flash and a loud noise, to distract Ms. Gilland, he said. Officers also used a bean bag gun to help take her into custody, Chief Young said.
It’s a shame that she had to shoot her husband, which must have been horrible for her, to end his life. This is what happens in a state where they don’t allow assisted suicide. Given that the pact was genuine, I don’t fault her so much for what was an act of mercy as I do for not surrendering immediately to police. Given similar cases, I suspect she’ll be let off lightly, even though she’s guilty of murder. But an old lady with no record really is no threat to the community; punishment would only be a deterrent—but what kind of a deterrent? And how did she get a gun into the hospital?
*The dude who, in a breathtaking feat of jerkitude, put his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk during the January 6 Capitol invasion, has been convicted of several crimes, and could get a fairly long prison sentence.
An Arkansas man who posed with his boot propped on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was convicted by a federal jury on Monday of eight counts, including disorderly conduct in a capitol building, prosecutors said.
The man, Richard Barnett, 62, of Gravette, Ark., became one of the highest-profile defendants charged in the storming of the Capitol after he was photographed in Ms. Pelosi’s office, wearing a hat, plaid jacket, bluejeans and brown boots, with a stun gun dangling from his belt, prosecutors said.
Mr. Barnett faces up to 47 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 3, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Mr. Barnett’s lawyer, Joseph D. McBride, said that his client, a former window salesman, planned to appeal the verdict, which he said a jury had returned after deliberating for only two hours.
“He loves God,” Mr. McBride said in an interview on Monday. “He loves his country. He understands he did something wrong. He doesn’t think his life should end because he put his feet up on somebody’s desk.”
In one photo taken on Jan. 6, Mr. Barnett put a boot on the desk in Ms. Pelosi’s office and reclined in a chair, arms stretched wide.
In another photo, he held up an envelope from Ms. Pelosi that was addressed to a congressman, which he then stole, prosecutors said.
What? Is two hours too short a time for a jury to deliberate an open and shut case. I grant you: 47 years is too long even given the arrogance of this loon, but he won’t get anywhere near that in prison. But since when has believing in God been considered a mitigating factor in sentencing? And he didn’t think he did anything wrong at the time. Finally, given that he did it, whether he knew it was wrong is irrelevant to a determinist like me. He was compelled by the laws of physics to put his pedal extremities on Pelosi’s desk.
Here’s a photo from the NYT (their caption). Look at that entitled s.o.b.!
Four Oath Keepers were also found guilty of seditious conspiracy (a rare charge), as well as obstructing Congress. Their boss, Stewart Rhodes, has already been convicted, and five more Proud Boys await trial. Rhodes and the others face up to twenty years in jail, but nobody’s been sentenced yet. I wonder if they’re still proud.
*On his Substack, Lawrence Krauss discusses advances in academic freedom in Sweden and regressions in the U.S. and Canada. The good news is that Sweden is trying to stop language purification in the classroom:
Last week began with a rare bit of good news. In Sweden, following a television news program’s documentary series on cancel culture issues at Konstfack and Uppsala Universities—where 33% of lecturers in the humanities said their use of language when speaking about race or sensitive issues in classes was restricted—the Minister of Education, Mats Persson has decided to take action.
As the Minister correctly put it: “It is completely unacceptable. At universities and in higher education, certain words cannot be forbidden to use.” Referring to academic freedom he added “Individual researchers should not be silenced, you should have your academic freedom”.
In response to the reviews by the program Kalla Fakta Persson has mandated that a review of the current situation be carried out by the University Chancellor’s office. The office must conduct case studies and map potential threats to free inquiry and dissemination of knowledge. It must promote “a culture that allows the free pursuit of knowledge”.
The bad news is all in the U.S., and we’ve heard some of it before: DEI statements are being mandated with applications for jobs in a majority of Arizona universities (Arizona????), there’s that dumb paper about racist chemistry I posted about before, and Krauss describes two bizarre talks on white supremacist mathematics, with that work promoted by (oy!) the National Science Foundation. Krauss finishes with news that the lunacy is spreading northwards:
Just as I was about to publish this piece, I learned from a tweet by Jonathan Kay that the ideological attack on mathematics now extends north of the border into Ontario. At the Ontario Assoc. of Mathematics Educators 2023 meeting, a keynote speaker argued that “mathematics teachers need to be prepared with much more than just content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, or knowledge of diverse students if they are going to be successful. They need political knowledge.” and further argued, building on apparent Indigenous principles in favor of “a new form of mathematics where humans are no longer centered. This form of mathematics is referred to as living mathematx.” Another speaker was the Coordinator of Secondary Mathematics for the Toronto District School Board, where he worked to de-stream mathematics classes in order to meet the needs of students with “special educational identifications”. This distorted focus on Identity was based on his stated belief that “anti-racist, anti-oppressive and inclusive approach to mathematics education is needed to fulfill the promise of a critically numerate citizenry.”
I find it hard to express my bewilderment, and sadness for the students being taught in programs influenced by individuals whose pedagogical research is motivated by the view that mathematics education is systemically racist and oppressive.
Or did the lunacy start in Canada and spread south? Who cares: it’s metastasizing everywhere.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Malgorzata explains this conversation: “Hili happened to read a bit of the Bible and is using her new knowledge (burning bush directly from Torah!)”
A: What are you doing here?Hili: I’m discussing the weather with the burning bush.
Ja: Co tu robisz?Hili: Rozmawiam z płonącym krzakiem o pogodzie.
And a picture of Kulka with Andrzej’s caption, “And Paulina’s picture of Kulka in the snow from last Saturday. Now no snow is left.”
From Malcolm, a very smart d*g:
If you don’t know what “making biscuits” means for a cat, move on. . .
God and Titania have stopped tweeting for a while. I guess Mastodon doesn’t have many visitors yet, but there’s plenty of craziness for Titania to post about on Twitter.
Here’s one from Masih, with the Farsi caption: “We will not forget you. (43) #Habibollah_Fathi, 62 years old, from #Divandreh On November 28, he was killed by government forces. He was the elder of the Fathi clan, a family-friendly man with a happy and fighting spirit. After his brother Abdullah Fathi was killed by the Islamic Republic in 1958, Mr. Fathi expressed his opposition to the government..”
فراموشتان نمیکنیم.(۴۳)#حبیبالله_فتحی، ۶۲ ساله، اهل #دیواندره
در ۲۸ آبان با شلیک گلوله نیروهای حکومت کشته شد. او بزرگ طایفه فتحی بود، مردی خانواده دوست با روحیه شاد و مبارز. پس از کشته شدن برادرش عبدالله فتحی در سال ۵۸ توسط جمهوری اسلامی، آقای فتحی مخالفت خود با حکومت را ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XpJZLbFtZ5
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 22, 2023
From Malcolm: another story from DodoLand that turns out all right!
Watch these tiny kittens win over their dad who “isn’t a cat person” 💜 pic.twitter.com/xgkkeaOvYi
— The Dodo (@dodo) January 22, 2023
From Simon, whose reaction was, “Apparently I’m as old as dirt. I imagine much of your audience is, too.” I guess he’s right on both counts, and I had no trouble recognizing this:
— Kevin W. (@Brink_Thinker) January 22, 2023
From Barry, some sad news from John Cleese:
One of our Maine Coons died yesterday
One minute Frankie was lying on his side, purring. The next minute, not purring
And not breathing
…Out of the blue…
Something to do w/his heart
What a sweet, wonderful cat, loved to death by a Fish
RIP: Francis Feline-Cleese pic.twitter.com/0e9xrf7QkM
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) January 20, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, another Dutch Jew who didn’t make it:
24 January 1901 | A Dutch Jewish woman, Judith van Dam-Blok, was born in Amsterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 24, 2023
Tweets from Matthew Cobb. What I found funny in this one (the singular/plural error in the penultimate sentence) differed from what others found funny (the last sentence.)
Thinking about sending this to all our authors to highlight the importance of proofreading. On the other hand, horses, water etc pic.twitter.com/4obB8rSxU2
— Caroline Palmer (@CanaryCaroline) January 22, 2023
It’s a metaphor!
Birth, life and death in six seconds. pic.twitter.com/AdogiwNfqq
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) January 22, 2023
This AI poem on the species concept may rhyme, but it sucks because it doesn’t even give a species concept!
I'm getting on the ChatGPT bandwagon: I asked it to write a poem about the species concept in biology as a duet between @nickcave and @taylorswift13 with a breakdown by @SnoopDogg pic.twitter.com/5QlKq8haBV
— Alex Slavenko (@AlexSlavenko) January 22, 2023