Tuesday: Hili dialogue

January 24, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, January 24, 2023: National Peanut Butter Day (exactly what I’ll have for lunch).

It’s also National Lobster Thermidor Day, Beer Can Appreciation Day, Macintosh Computer Day (I’ve never used any other type), and Belly Laugh Day.  Here’s a belly laugh; add yours below:

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.

Da Nooz:

*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.!


Richard Barnett inside Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He was convicted on eight counts on Monday. Credit:Saul Loeb/ Getty Images

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.
In Polish:
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.”

In Polish: Kolejne sobotnie zdjęcie zrobione przez Paulinę:


From Malcolm, a very smart d*g:

From Facebook:

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..”

From Malcolm: another story from DodoLand that turns out all right!

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:

From Barry, some sad news from John Cleese:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, another Dutch Jew who didn’t make it:


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.)

It’s a metaphor!

This AI poem on the species concept may rhyme, but it sucks because it doesn’t even give a species concept!

56 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. That belly-laugh is the best joke I’ve heard in ages. A bit long — if I was telling it orally my wife would be saying, “Les, this had better be good…” — but the homely little details like staying for dinner with the President and the hot sun on the hillside above the Vatican really make it sing. And of course the twist at the end comes at you from out of nowhere.

      I had no idea where the joke was going. The Pope is the third of the trio and so obviously is going to be the punch line. The circumstances for the viewing that change after the bet is placed arouse your suspicions — false as it turns out — that Joe Black was planning to cheat, without telegraphing any hint how he might. The punch line even leaves it hanging as to whether Joe or Fred in fact wins. A perfect joke.

      And no, this isn’t really a dead-frog dissection because another success of the joke is that no one will have any trouble getting it. I’m just admiring it in detail, savouring it again.

      1. I’m a bit tired, but now I’m wondering if the last guy could have been in cahoots with Joe… I think it makes less sense if so, but… zzzzzz…. zzzzz…

  1. Why don’t they ever give ample credit to the Good Guy With A Gun in shootings?

    Surely, the Good Guy With A Gun is saving everyone from even more … more … Bad Guy Things…. that… Good Guys stop … With A Gun…

    Thank you, Good Guy With A Gun – you saved us!

    1. Breaking news: 3 shot dead in Yakima, Washington. Chalk up one more for the bad guy with a gun. America has a serious problem, but those who can actually do something about it enjoy the look, smell, taste and sound(lessness) of sand.

  2. It’s about one mass killing a week now</block

    I am very sorry to have to disagree with you, but it's way more than one a week.


    That's the list of mass shootings in the USA in 2023. Even if you only count the ones in which more than one person died, it's 13 so far this year.

    As for the 45 – 33 – 16 thing, at first I thought it was a thermostat at first, but then I realised the scale didn't make sense, even in Fahrenheit.

    My brother had one of those that went 78 – 45 – 33. I've never seen a record that had to be played at 16 rpm.

    1. I thought, “Lame, where’s the option for 78?” as I still own and buy 78s. I have never seen a 16 rpm record, either, though. My understanding is that they were fairly uncommon.

        1. If I recall correctly, and that is a bif “if”, that type of slide switch may do just that: move a belt/cable drive to different pulleys changing the ratio for the drive speed at the turntable. There was only one drive-motor speed.

        1. I remember when phonographs had a “16” setting, although I never saw a 16 rpm record. I was told that those were spoken -word records.

      1. Yeah, I’d never heard of a 16 rpm setting, either. I looked it up, and apparently RCA and Columbia pressed some 16 2/3 rpm LPs in the 1950s. The slow speed meant low fidelity, so it was used mostly for spoken-word discs and a short-lived in-car record player made in the ’50s (something else I’d never heard of before).

        1. My dad had one of those in-car record players. It played 45s. He said it sucked because it would skip whenever going over a bump, railroad tracks, etc.

          1. Yeah, from what I’ve read, the 16 2/3 rpm disks were used for the in-car turntables because the grooves were bigger and, thus, the stylus was less likely to skip. It didn’t stop them from skipping, though, and the in-car record players still sucked anyway.

            In the Sixties we got 8-track tapes for cars. They sucked in their own way, too, and would probably also be unrecognizable to young people. Still, I loved mine, and played the hell out of it while I had it.

            1. 8-tracks were cool! We had an 8-track in the family Oldsmobile growing up…mid 70s. It was in this car that I was introduced to the Beatles’ red and blue albums and The Beach Boys, among others. Those are the two I remember the most. Hearing “Michelle” for the first time gave me goose bumps, and I didn’t even know there was a language called “French.” I found it beautiful- still do.

      2. For those that still have a record player (I have two turntables, four tonearms and a phono stage for which the price is a state secret) I strongly recommend you discover discogs.com which is like eBay for disks . Your life, and your bank balance will never be the same again.

    2. The 16 RPM records were generally spoken word content. The lower speed allowed for even more time per side than if it were on standard LP, and the loss of fidelity was considered tolerable for this material.

      1. I had not heard of such a thing. However, I just went and looked at my Mom’s wonderful old Olympic OPTA radio, and it has 78,33,45, and 16 on the slider.

    3. I gather from this it is some sort of speed setting for flat disc recordings? On mine i just hand crank at a speed so the that it sounds right, once i have put the wax cylinder on.

  3. Speaking of the Ten Commandments, we are finally getting a sequel to History of the World, Part I. (“I bring to you these fifteen–” *crash* –“ten! Ten commandments!”) Mel Brooks is doing a series (History of the World, Part II) on Hulu premiering in March.

  4. “It’s a tragic circumstance because it just shows that none of us are immune from the trials and tribulations of life,” do Chiefs of Police and other who have to stand up and deliver platitudes following tragic events have a book of silly statements they can draw from ? This one gets a prize for self-evidence, as they say too.

  5. Maybe I am even older than dirt, because my first thought was: “Why is there no ’78’ position?”. (BTW, who ever owned a 16-rpm record?)

  6. On this day:
    41 – Claudius is proclaimed Roman emperor by the Praetorian Guard after they assassinate the previous emperor, his nephew Caligula.

    1848 – California Gold Rush: James W. Marshall finds gold at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento.

    1857 – The University of Calcutta is formally founded as the first fully fledged university in South Asia.

    1916 – In Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., the Supreme Court of the United States declares the federal income tax constitutional.

    1977 – The Atocha massacre occurs in Madrid during the Spanish transition to democracy.

    2018 – Former doctor Larry Nassar is sentenced up to 175 years in prison after being found guilty of using his position to sexually abuse female gymnasts. [Wow – five years ago already!]

    76 – Hadrian, Roman emperor (d. 138). [Built a big, beautiful wall – but didn’t get the Picts to pay for it…]

    1712 – Frederick the Great, Prussian king (d. 1786).

    1862 – Edith Wharton, American novelist and short story writer (d. 1937).

    1917 – Ernest Borgnine, American actor (d. 2012).

    1941 – Neil Diamond, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1943 – Sharon Tate, American model and actress (d. 1969).

    1947 – Warren Zevon, American singer-songwriter (d. 2003).

    1949 – John Belushi, American actor and screenwriter (d. 1982).

    1957 – Ade Edmondson, English comedian and musician.

    1959 – Vic Reeves, English television personality.

    1972 – Beth Hart, American blues-rock singer and piano player.

    Pushing up the daisies:
    1965 – Winston Churchill, English colonel and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1874). [His father Randolph also died on this day, in 1895.]

    1986 – L. Ron Hubbard, American religious leader and author, founded the Church of Scientology (b. 1911).

    1989 – Ted Bundy, American serial killer (b. 1946). [Executed by electric chair at Florida State Prison for the murder of over 30 known victims.]

  7. Both Republicans and Other outnumber Democrats in Arizona. The likely outcome of Gallego running is to hand the seat to Republicans. Sinema and Gallego will split the non-
    republican vote.

  8. There were 647 mass shootings in the US in 2022. An order of magnitude more than 1 per week. We don’t hear about most because they are so routine as to no longer be news.

    1. So what makes the ones we hear about make the news? Especially since it’s said that only 1.8% of homicides occur in mass shootings, a statistic offered against the control of “assault rifles” which are tagged in the popular imagination with mass shootings, (of white and white-adjacent people, anyway.) Are there different kinds of mass shootings? Does a mass shooting with an Uzi at the birthday party of a gang member’s sister’s toddler not make the news? Something doesn’t add up here.

  9. I showed my dad (who is 84) the walking to school picture. He immediately protested that it could not be accurate since they had shoes on.

  10. I think the record speed guy showed he is older than dirt, not by recognizing what that photo was, but in apparently being clueless
    that many would recognize it since vinyl has become roaring back in popularity and is part of pop culture again.

    It’s almost like saying “kid let me tell you about these spinning black discs we used to listen to music on…” and being met by an eye roll from the young person who has just come back from the record store.

    Almost all my son’s friends recognize my turntable and most have one in their family now. We now have 8 thriving record stores in walking distance from our house and tons more in the city.

    1. I still have a large collection of vinyl. It was a big hit with all my kids friends when they were in high school, just a couple of years ago.

      For some stupid reason I can’t even remember anymore I got rid of my turntable several years ago. Now I want to get a new one. The good news is that because, as you explained, vinyl is popular again there are plenty of turntables on the market. The bad news is that most are either kitschy krap or rather expensive for what you get. Decisions, decisions.

  11. “But since when has believing in God been considered a mitigating factor in sentencing?” I’m guessing that “forever” would not be far wrong.

    1. Prisons are full of offenders who have embraced religion prior to sentencing. But under the policy statement set out in section 5H1.10 of the sentencing guidelines applicable in federal criminal cases, “religion” and “creed” are (along with race, sex, national origin, and socio-economic status) factors “not relevant in the determination of a sentence.”

      1. From the book I am reading about judgements in law (or any situation needing a judgement call) researches have found this is sadly not always the case.
        Bias and noise, noise being the differences between judgements made on similar cases, can be subjective, arbitrary, to the point of not having a good breakfast can influence a decision. Most examples are from the US. In some cases the judge should serve time… joking aside, the authors stress it’s a big problem (lives disproportionately effected) and no one wants to deal with it.
        In the cases you’ve worked on or not, have you found some verdict that surprised you?
        The book:
        Noise. A Flaw in Human Judgement
        Daniel Kahneman
        Oliver Sibony
        Cass R. Sunstein

        1. Thanks for the book recommendation.

          Bias, whether intended or unconscious, is always a potential problem in sentencing — as it is in any other system dependent upon human judgment. Guidelines sentencing has been adopted in many jurisdictions, in part to limit the discretion judges have (and, thus, to limit the extent to which bias plays a role). Before the federal sentencing guidelines were enacted by congress in the 1980s, federal judges had absolute discretion to sentence convicted defendants to anything from probation to the statutory maximum.

          1. Thanks for the reply Ken.
            The problem according to this book is bias plus noise as they define it.
            The noise problem has been ignored or not recognised and it is this that shows judgement decision not being consistent or fair for similar cases.
            But no doubt if you ever read the book you would have better insights than I.

  12. The church pamphlet error partly exemplifies what I think is a recent trend in [US?] English where the singular substitutes for plural, notably “is” standing in for “are”. Ex.: “There is flowers over there!”

    If real, what is the linguistic term for this trend?

    Is the trend perhaps confined to “There is …”?

    1. ” . . .what is the linguistic term for this trend?”

      When a language needs to express only a few basic and concrete concepts to meet the communication needs of its speakers, it can simplify its grammatical structure substantially.

  13. “Mr. Barnett’s lawyer, Joseph D. McBride, said that his client, a former window salesman . . . .”

    Of what possible relevance is it that Barnett was a former window salesman?

  14. I will presume to mention what I consider a note-worthy news item:


    The guard was Calvin Munerlyn, shot in the back of the head. This occurred around the time of the George Floyd murder. Mr. Munerlyn was Black. The ethnicity of his murderer and accomplices is (as the media is wont to remark) “not clear” from the article. They got life without parole.

    Why would the reporter go out of her way to say the following?:

    “The sentencing concluded a case that began more than two years ago in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic — a period when scarce information about the virus and its spread led to rampant fear and anger among the public. Often, that anger was misdirected at shop clerks, managers and hospitality workers, who were suddenly tasked with enforcing ever-shifting preventive rules, around mask-wearing in particular.”

    Well, if the anger was “misdirected,” should someone else – responsible for promulgating the “ever-shifting preventive rules” – have been more appropriately shot in the back of the head?

    It would seem that any behavior short of shooting someone in the back of the head is to be tolerated – at least by some NY Times reporter.

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