Thursday: Hili dialogue

August 3, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Thursday, August 3 2023, and National Watermelon Day. About time, too!  Here’s a fine watermelon sculpture:

It’s also National IPA Day (the proliferation of overhopped beers, usually IPAs, is a schande), Clean Your Floors Day, Grab Some Nuts Day, and, in Niger, Independence Day, celebrates the independence of that country from France in 1960. Now, however, it’s all messed up by a military coup.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 3 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*A NYT article describes all the twists and turns in the new Trump indictment, which represents an incursion into new legal territory. (See a similar article in the WaPo.). BTW, Trump will appear in court in Washington this morning, undoubtedly pleading “not guilty.”

Let’s have a poll!

Will Donald Trump ever be put in jail?

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But not since the framers emerged from Independence Hall on that clear, cool day in Philadelphia 236 years ago has any president who was voted out of office been accused of plotting to hold onto power in an elaborate scheme of deception and intimidation that would lead to violence in the halls of Congress.

What makes the indictment against Donald J. Trump on Tuesday so breathtaking is not that it is the first time a president has been charged with a crime or even the second. Mr. Trump already holds those records. But as serious as hush money and classified documents may be, this third indictment in four months gets to the heart of the matter, the issue that will define the future of American democracy.

At the core of the United States of America v. Donald J. Trump is no less than the viability of the system constructed during that summer in Philadelphia. Can a sitting president spread lies about an election and try to employ the authority of the government to overturn the will of the voters without consequence? The question would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, but the Trump case raises the kind of specter more familiar in countries with histories of coups and juntas and dictators.

In effect, Jack Smith, the special counsel who brought the case, charged Mr. Trump with one of the most sensational frauds in the history of the United States, one “fueled by lies” and animated by the basest of motives, the thirst for power. In a 45-page, four-count indictment, Mr. Smith dispensed with the notion that Mr. Trump believed his claims of election fraud. “The defendant knew that they were false,” it said, and made them anyway to “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

. . .Despite prognostications to the contrary, the last two indictments succeeded only in enhancing his appeal among Republicans in the contest for the party nomination to challenge President Biden next year.

In a court of law, however, the challenge for Mr. Trump will be different, especially with a jury selected from residents of Washington, a predominantly Democratic city where he won just 5 percent of the vote in 2020. Mr. Trump’s strategy may be to try to delay a trial until after the 2024 election and hope that he wins so that he can short-circuit the prosecution or even try to pardon himself.

The most essential facts of the case, after all, are not in dispute, nor did he deny any of the assertions made in the indictment on Tuesday.

Pardoning himself, of course, opens up a whole new legal can of worms, and I’m not sure whether he can short circuit the prosecution, save claiming that he can’t do his duties if he’s on trial.  If he gets elected, the rabbit hole gets even deeper. I was ashamed of America when he won his first term but now that he’s

*Jennifer Rubin at the WaPo answers a number of questions you might have about the new indictment, including, “Can we get Trump off the ballot?” Here are a few Q&A’s:

Will Trump’s co-conspirators be charged?

It is altogether appropriate that Trump stand alone for the conspiracies that led to Jan 6. The historic, serious nature of the crime is emphasized with Trump being the only defendant. But what of the co-conspirators? They should be held accountable, too. They can be charged separately, but when is it likely to happen?

Jennifer Rubin
Jennifer Rubin
If a state attempts to do so, he would no doubt sue, and the case would likely eventually reach the Supreme Court. If he were first convicted on federal charges, there might be a better argument to invoke the 14th Amendment, although Trump was not charged with sedition. I think it’s unlikely he’ll be taken off the ballot this way. Maybe Republicans should finally put country over Trump and not vote for him? If not, the rest of the country surely must prevent a catastrophe for democracy.


How could it possibly be legal for Trump to pardon himself?

That would clearly puts him above the law. Why do so many people continually suggest this is a possibility? I’d like to see it legally answered before the election.

Jennifer Rubin

I find the concept ludicrous. The pardon power comes from English common law, which allowed the sovereign extended mercy to others. In short, the president is not a king, and he is not his own subject. If the president could pardon himself, Nixon certainly would have. Moreover, if the president could pardon himself, there would be no need for a debate about whether a sitting president can be indicted. The Framers did not conceive of the presidency as a ticket to go on a crime spree without accountability.

*It’s astounding how Republican voters and politicians can justify all the indictments falling on Trump, and continue to support him. This lunacy is described in a WSJ article, “Indict, rally, repeat: reactions to latest Trump charges follow similar script.”

The new charges divided the GOP field running against Trump for the 2024 nomination, while triggering key Republicans on Capitol Hill to rally to the former president’s side. Among voters, the latest legal action appears likely to energize Trump’s most ardent supporters and exacerbate national divisions as the presidential race heats up.

. . .“Unlike the previous indictments, this could be a real political liability for the former president,” said Republican consultant Alex Conant, who led communications for Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign and served as a spokesman in the second Bush White House. “But only if his Republican challengers actually try to exploit it.”

That wasn’t the initial approach taken by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s closest current challenger for the nomination. “I will end the weaponization of government, replace the FBI director, and ensure a single standard of justice for all Americans,” he said in a tweet that made no mention of Trump or his actions after the 2020 election.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy repeated his pledge that if he is elected and the former president is convicted, he would pardon Trump.

. . . Most of Trump’s challengers have been reluctant to directly attack him because he enjoys solid support with roughly a third of GOP primary voters. That means contenders have to find a way to try to knock him from the lead without alienating his supporters amid a large field that is splitting the anti-Trump vote.

. . .Democrats in Congress praised the indictment. “It’s about damn time Trump joins the thousands of domestic terrorists charged for participating in the January 6th insurrection,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D., Calif.) said.

Republicans called the case a partisan sham. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) alluded to the indictment as a diversion from President Biden’s current problems with his scandal-plagued son, Hunter.

“Everyone in America could see what was going to come next: DOJ’s attempt to distract from the news and attack the front-runner for the Republican nomination,” McCarthy said.

So it goes. Both parties are going to have trouble with Republican support for Trump, but in different ways. Democrats, on the side of the angels with this one, nevertheless have to worry that the indictments could improve Trump’s chances for reelection. Republicans, or at least the candidates, have to walk that fine line between calling attention to Trump’s crimes and alienating his supporters. I’d like to see the approval ratings in a month

*Robert Bowers, 50, who killed 11 Jews worshiping at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, was convicted earlier, but yesterday got the death penalty from the jury, a recommendation that the judge cannot overturn.

The jury’s decision, which is binding on the judge, was announced Wednesday in the same federal courtroom where the jurors in June convicted the gunman, Robert Bowers, 50, of carrying out the massacre during sabbath services nearly five years ago. The judge will formally impose the sentence at a hearing on Thursday morning, when families of some victims are expected to address the court.

Since I oppose state-sanctioned killing, and am opposed to all capital punishment, I think this next rabbi is sensible:

Rabbi Jon Perlman of the New Light congregation, who was leading services on the morning of the attack and lost three members of his congregation, said in an op-ed published on Wednesday that he did not believe executing Bowers “would bring either justice or peace.” Writing in The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, the rabbi said: “Revenge will not bring our slain loved ones back to life. And seeking it may even hurt ourselves and extend our sadness.”

This was a federal sentence, which means the execution should be carried out in Terre Haute, Indiana, but there are also state charges pending. Is there any sense in having another trial, though? Yes, because this one could be overturned on appeal.

After a jury determined on Wednesday that Robert Bowers, the gunman who killed 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, should face the death penalty, loud sobbing could be heard in a hallway of the courthouse and several relatives of victims of the shooting could be seen crying as they walked out of the courtroom.

Since the attack in 2018, there has been no consensus among victims’ family members and the members of three congregations at the synagogue about whether the government should seek the death penalty for Mr. Bowers.

. . .The election in 2020 of Joe Biden, who had pledged to end the federal death penalty, prompted speculation that prosecutors would reverse the decision to seek death for Mr. Bowers. But despite offers from Mr. Bowers’s lawyers to have him plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without possibility of release, the government stuck to its plan.

. . . The decision in the Pittsburgh case, prosecutors said in a motion in April, was based not only on the factors that make a crime eligible for the death penalty under the law — like the substantial planning that went into the attack, or the particular vulnerability of older adults and intellectually disabled victims — but also on other considerations.

If Biden is serious about ending the death penalty, he has the power to commute the federal sentence to life without parole. Will he do it? If he doesn’t, I’ll lose a lot of respect for the man. A promise is a promise!

*And let’s have some biology. A new report in Nature, as reported by the AP, describes the fossil remains of an ancient whale that may have been the heaviest animal that ever lived.

There could be a new contender for heaviest animal to ever live. While today’s blue whale has long held the title, scientists have dug up fossils from an ancient giant that could tip the scales.

Researchers described the new species — named Perucetus colossus, or “the colossal whale from Peru” — in the journal Nature on Wednesday. Each vertebra weighs over 220 pounds (100 kilograms) and its ribs measure nearly 5 feet (1.4 meters) long.

“It’s just exciting to see such a giant animal that’s so different from anything we know,” said Hans Thewissen, a paleontologist at Northeast Ohio Medical University who had no role in the research.

The bones were first discovered more than a decade ago by Mario Urbina from the University of San Marcos’ Natural History Museum in Lima. An international team spent years digging them out from the side of a steep, rocky slope in the Ica desert, a region in Peru that was once underwater and is known for its rich marine fossils. The results: 13 vertebrae from the whale’s backbone, four ribs and a hip bone.

. . .The massive fossils, which are 39 million years old, “are unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said study author Alberto Collareta, a paleontologist at Italy’s University of Pisa.

After the excavations, the researchers used 3D scanners to study the surface of the bones and drilled into them to peek inside. They used the huge — but incomplete — skeleton to estimate the whale’s size and weight, using modern marine mammals for comparison, said study author Eli Amson, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany.

They calculated that the ancient giant weighed somewhere between 94 and 375 tons (85 and 340 metric tons). The biggest blue whales found have been within that range — at around 200 tons (180 metric tons).

Its body stretched to around 66 feet (20 meters) long. Blue whales can be longer — with some growing to more than 100 feet (30 meters) in length.

This means the newly discovered whale was “possibly the heaviest animal ever,” Collareta said, but “it was most likely not the longest animal ever.”

In contrast, the massive Brontosaurus is a flyweight, clocking in at a mere 34 tons.  Here’s its size compared to a human and then its position on the scale of vertebrate weight. Look how big it is compared to an elephant! (Figures from paper.)


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats have taken over the Staff Bed:

Hili: Aren’t you asleep as well?
Szaron: Yes, but I’m pretending to be asleep.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy też nie śpisz?
Szaron: Też, ale udaję, że śpię.


From Paula:

From Merilee (click to enlarge):

From BuzzFeed, and every word is true! All Chicago residents feel queasy when they see an uninformed tourist put ketchup on their dog.

From Masih, an Iranian actress arrested for doffing her hijab, and then sexually abused in prison:


From Bryan: Dawkins and Helen Joyce discuss the difference between politely using pronouns and believing in a genuine sex transformation:

From Malcolm, a glass harp:


From Barry; look at Astaire go at age 70!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a rare woman rabbi who died in the camp at 42:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. These “gladiator crabs” may be on the road to speciation.

Ancient Ignatz!

A later version:

And a wonderful duckling rehab video from Dodoland!

57 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. In your comments on Trumpe you say “I was ashamed of America when he won his first term but now that he’s”
    What happened to the rest of your comment?

  2. Wow. Off the top of my head: Fred Astaire, Buddy Ebsen, Dick VanDyke, Sammy Davis, Jr. just keep on going. They seem ageless and are amazing.

    1. I can’t dance and I embarrass everyone if I try, but I do love Fred. I think I shall schedule a viewing of The Gay Divorcée tonight!

    1. I eat hot dogs with ketchup unless they’re chili dogs. That’s the way I like them, and if someone doesn’t like it they can mind their own business. I’m very sensitive to sour and bitter flavors. If a hot dog (or anything) is covered with mustard, the only thing I’ll taste is the mustard, and I’ll hate it. If I use mustard at all, it’s a very small amount. (I’ve sometimes had to scrape mustard off of something I purchased when I specifically asked for just a little mustard but they poured it on – I finally learned to ask for no mustard, or on the side). I don’t even like Chicago dogs, they have just about everything I don’t want on a hot dog.

  3. I personally cannot stand watermelon–or indeed, any kind of melon. Eggplant makes me sick to my stomach (literally, even the smell). I think avocado is bland and squirmy and disgusting, and putting guacamole on nachos or anything else ruins it (for me). I don’t like lobster or shrimp. I hate pecans and nearly all that’s made with them. But I would never try to tell someone else they were wrong for eating and enjoying any of these things. If anything, I envy them their enjoyment, which, alas, I cannot share.

    Similarly, I lived in Chicago for years, and while there, I would frequently have hot dogs on which I would sometimes put ketchup, depending on my mood. I have been doing so for as long as I can remember. To anyone who tries to tell me I shouldn’t put ketchup on my hot dog, or pineapple on a pizza, or olives on my ice cream, or anything else, I say: I’ve got something else for YOU to eat, right here*.

    *A delicious cake, your choice of flavor, with the peace sign drawn in icing on it. Enjoy!

  4. I got a Chicago dog at Kim and Carlo’s yesterday. The guy in front of me ordered two hot dogs, and when asked what he wanted on them, he said “Just ketchup”, in a tone of voice that suggested he wanted just the simple, standard condiments. I was aghast, but, perhaps seeing I was waiting behind and not wanting to delay, the vendor did not make him dance.


    1. “Just ketchup.”

      That is perfectly, dismally sublime.

      BTW I take “just ketchup” if I am in a certain “cheap” mood – for the catharsis.
      Don’t judge.

    2. Ketchup on any hotdogs is just plain obscene… tend to ditch the tomato on my Chi-dogs (which may well be sacrilege) but otherwise I’ve not hat a better dog anywhere.

  5. It appears that Trump’s defense will rest on the argument that Trump’s statements after the election regarding that the election was stolen from him will was nothing more than the exercise of his free speech rights. According to this view, Trump genuinely believed the election was stolen On the other hand, the DOJ in the indictment and what it will present to the jury is that free speech is not the issue. Free speech protections do not apply when a person knowingly urges people and colludes with them to break the law. Specifically, the DOJ will attempt to prove that Trump knew he had lost the election, but, despite this, he supported schemes, such as the fake electors, to obstruct justice and thwart the democratic process. Thus, the case will hinge on his state of mind and his intent, a difficult thing to ascertain considering that Trump is a sociopath. At the core of Trump’s free speech defense is that despite being told by his aides that he had lost the election, he was so deluded that he refused to believe them. Pundits and scholars will debate this issue through thousands of articles, but only the assessment of the twelve people on the jury will count.

    1. I somehow think the jury is smarter than that but who knows. The free speech defense is kind of like the insanity defense. Oh, I’m fine now but when I did that I was nuts. Trump has often said he is a most stable genius. If one reads the indictment, there are several examples to show Trump knew it was a lie and he lost. I’ll bet they have more examples of that fact. The fourth count — conspired against people’s right to have their vote counted has nothing to do with free speech. I also expect there might be one or more of those unindicted co-conpirators who does not want heavy prison time. As a last word — it is irrelevant whether they believe it if he knew he was using illegal means to disrupt congressional business.

      1. It is probably important to demonstrate that Trump knew that he lost the election, but went ahead anyway. But I have yet to come across a description that specifies how he knew the truth of that other than that he was told that he lost by numerous persons in his cabinet and elsewhere. Nowhere do I see a record of him admitting that he lost. To me, on technical grounds, that is rather critical. Further, he was reportedly trying to get the key states to re-investigate their election results. This will be argued that he truly believed, deludedly, that he did not lose and that there was real fraud going on.

        1. I can recommend the Indictment. It’s only ~45 pages long. It’s worth reading. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a civic duty to read it. There is evidence described in the indictment from several points during the period from the election to January 6 which make it clear Trump knew he had lost. Including out of his own mouth.

          And, at what point does it not matter anymore whether he truly believed he had won or not? Everyone, with the possible exception of Giuliani (can’t remember), told him not just that he had lost but that every new lie he came up with was not true. And all of those people were Republicans. I guess you could go with an insanity defense on that?

          But, no. The evidence is clear. Of course there will be plenty of people that claim the evidence is not clear. Just like there’s lots of people who claim that the evidence that evolution is true is not clear.

          1. I just read it. Perhaps I overlooked something, but only on pg. 33, #90, item c do I see any hint of Trump actually admitting that he knew he was pushing a lie. And this one little ‘blip’ is not the smoking gun I’d need to conclude that Trump admitted the truth. There, Pence was once again telling Trump that he believed he lacked the authority to send the results back to the states, to which Trump replied “You’re too honest”.
            Elsewhere I only see a solid wall of denial from Trump that he’d lost. The man really seemed to believe all the fantasies about dead people voting, underage children voting, etc.Being told over and over by those in a position to know (his cabinet, state election officials) that he’d lost is not in itself evidence that Trump knew the truth in that he never admitted that he knew the truth. He had meanwhile surrounded himself with some shyster lawyers who kept feeding him what he wanted to hear.

            1. “Before the lawsuit was even filed, the Defendant retweeted a post promoting it. The Defendant did this despite the fact that when he had discussed
              Conspirator 3’s far-fetched public claims regarding the voting machine company in private with
              advisors, “the Defendant had conceded that they were unsupported and that Co-Conspirator 3
              sounded crazy
              [J6 Indictment, Para 20 Page 12]

              “On December 23, a day after the Defendant’s Chief of Staff personally observed the signature verification process at the Cobb County Civic Center and notified the Defendant that
              state election officials were conducting themselves in an exemplary fashion and would find fraud
              if it existed, the Defendant tweeted that the Georgia officials administering the signature
              verification process were trying to hide evidence of election fraud and were [t]errible people!
              [J6 Indictment, Para 28 Page 14]

              “In advance of the filing, Co-Conspirator 2 who was advising the Defendant on the lawsuit
              acknowledged in an email that he and the Defendant had, since signing a previous verification, been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate and that signing a new affirmation with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.” The Defendant and Co-Conspirator 2 caused the Defendant’s signed verification to be filed nonetheless.”
              [J6 Indictment, Para 30 Page 15]

              “The next day, on January 3, the Defendant falsely claimed that the Georgia Secretary of State had not addressed the Defendant’s allegations, publicly stating that the Georgia Secretary of State “was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!”
              [J6 Indictment, Para 32 Page 16]

              Note that Para 31 relates statements Trump made during a phone conversation with the Georgia Secretary of State, which he then lied about the next day as per the quoted Para 32.

              This is too long already. Also see paragraphs 74, 83, 90 b & c (you mentioned c), 93, 100 a & b, 104 a & b, and 111. I’ve only mentioned incidents other than ones in which officials denied claims of election fraud by Trump.

              1. That is helpful, and I thank you for taking the time to ferret these out! Of those, only the one on pg. 12, and (weakly) the one on pg. 13 may be a direct admissions, other than the one that I cited. But you do provide locations for many others that could be looked at. 👍

    2. I’ve read the indictment. There are several specific incidents that demonstrate that Trump was aware that he had lost the election. Seems to me the only way the defense could convincingly show that Trump believed he had won the election is to show that the apparently air tight evidence to the contrary is false. That doesn’t seem likely to me.

      Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that a jury wouldn’t find in favor of Trump on that issue.

      I’m not sure it matters whether or not Trump really believed he had won anyway. Regardless of his belief his actions with respect to the fake electors plan are illegal regardless of the provocation.

      But really, I don’t see any reason to treat with that hypothetical. Any reasonably rational and ethical person that has read the various reports and analyses of investigations like the Mueller investigation, the J6 Committee, and has read the Documents and J6 Indictments is well aware that Trump is a liar, a thief, a criminal and that he knew he had lost the election.

      Though that this issue will figure large in what passes for public discourse these days does illustrate a major problem. That being that even leaving aside Trump’s firm base there are too many people across the entire political spectrum that continue to treat Trump and the RP as if their actions are due the same consideration as normal politics. As if their actions were within the norms. Not to mention the press, which continues to fail our society. Too many people, even among liberals, perceive whatever faults they find with the Biden administration to be weighty enough to compare to the faults of Trump and the RP and decide that they’ll vote for a spoiler like RFK Jr. or Trump because Biden is worse. Leaving personality assessments and ideological commitments aside and looking only at the facts, that is delusional.

    3. “Specifically, the DOJ will attempt to prove that Trump knew he had lost the election. . . .”

      The only evidence I’ve seen for the assertion that Trump “knew” that the results were legitimate is that he was told they were legitimate. This is such an obvious non sequitur that I have to wonder whether the DOJ really cares about a conviction or is merely happy to have an indictment.

      1. Read the indictment. If you can stand by your comment here afterwards, please come back and explain your reasoning because I’d like to honestly understand an opposing analysis.

        Or do you think Jack Smith is lying? Fabricating evidence?

      2. Please. You all need to read the indictment again. Let’s try this one for those of you who seem obsessed with whether Trump is truly believing his own crap.
        If you want, you can say the U.S. money is junk and it is no good. You can say that all day long if you want. However, if you begin making plates and printing your own money you will be arrested for counterfeiting. The law does not care how delusional you are about the money. Get it….

        1. I’ve read the indictment. I’m paying attention. I want to believe that Trump knew the truth. But I don’t see it. He (Trump) seems highly delusional in the indictment, and telling a deluded person the truth does not mean that he knows the truth.

          1. But, a delusional person committing crimes is still guilty of committing crimes. So even with absolutely no proof to back it up saying 100s of times the election was a fraud all of the attempts to show fraud failed. To then try to stop congress from completing the election process is still a crime. The delusion does not get you off.

  6. I fully agree. Overhopped beers, es ist eine Schande. Are we losing our tastes? Do we need – not only with beer – overdoses of flavoring and flavor enhancers? It was a long time ago when a little salt was enough to make food palatable. Most prepackaged foods are hopelessly oversalted. Good morning, hypertension.

    1. Call me old-fashioned, stick-in-the-mud, whatever; but I like my beers to taste of malted, fermented barley, with enough hoppy bitterness to balance it. I do not want my beer to taste of grapefruit, mangoes, or cherries.

      Thank you.

    1. Such heavy bones are common in aquatic and semiaquatic animals that live in shallow waters (the bones act as ballast), so it’s not surprising. And the authors write that this is not pathology, because pathological morphology is highly variable both within a single bone and across the entire skeleton, while in this whale, the morphological alterations are uniformly distributed across the skeleton.

      1. I wouldn’t put a huge stress on the weight of the bones today – 30-some Myr in the ground can make for a lot of additional mineralisation beyond what was the state in life. Detailed bone anatomy could resolve that, to a degree, but really you’d need to look all the way through the bones, estimate the degree of mineralisation on a cubic-cm by cubic-cm, count volumes, add numbers. 30 years ago you’d have had to cut a number of sections (or cores) through the bone, but these days, if you can find a big enough CAT-scanner you can do it non-destructively. Big research project though, to relatively small effect.
        It’s a doozy of a specimen though!
        Would a fully-aquatic animal benefit from ballasting their bones though. I can see a benefit to “bottom walkers”, but a fully-aquatic animal?
        Many sharks have large livers packed with oil less dense than sea water, which suggests they’ve some tendency to try to acquire neutral buoyancy (assuming their skeletal cartilage is negatively buoyant – which is also going to be mineralisation dependent, and almost certain to vary with size and age). But sharks are also essentially air-free blobs from a buoyancy PoV, whereas a whale this size has several tonnes (10 tonnes? conceivable) of positive buoyancy in it’s lungs at surface, which compresses away to under a tonne 100m into a dive and down to a few hundred kg minimum below that. Whales have heavily armoured trachea and larger bronchi that maintain a minimum gas volume deep in a dive – with it’s associated buoyancy effects. In theory, those armoured trachea are potentially fossilisible … and I bet that was a topic around the excavation camp fire of an evening.

        With that large a buoyancy change, having significant static negative buoyancy is what my SCUBA instructors would have called a Very Bad Idea. What you don’t want when you’re deep into oxygen debt at a kilometre or more depth is to have to fight gravity to get back towards the surface and an air supply. Do that multiple times a day, and getting it even slightly wrong is likely to add up to no offspring for your genome.
        Oh – looking for pathological changes, for example healed breaks in ribs, would have been another camp fire topic in the excavation. Even if your trowel-meister isn’t themselves an expert on bone pathology, “this” is different to “that”is something to go into the records for the excavation report and passed on to the preparation tech and palaeontologists.

        At 30-several million years, I think this is a bit early for these to have been sharing the seas with the various Megalodon species (genera, even ; slight absence of skeletal fossils ; teeth breeding with teeth, like Triassic mammals) which are hypothesised as growing to predate the nice new whales. But even without predators, some within-species violent sexual competition is pretty likely given their relatives.

        1. It’s not just about bone weight, it’s about the structure. The bones of shallow water animals are heavy because of pachyostosis (bone thickening), osteosclerosis (increased bone density), or pachyosteosclerosis, a combination of both. All of these conditions can be identified in fossil animals. Yes, the authors made thin sections and studied the microscopic structure.

          As I mentioned, heavy bones are found in shallow water animals (like manatees). This whale was not an active swimmer and did not dive deep.

  7. I don’t understand the overhopped IPA fetish. They taste like strong, bitter grapefruit juice to me. I’d say “Too each its own” except for the fact that it’s hard to find a microbrew that is anything else.

    Speaking of “To each its own” (I avoid using “his”), I’d like to see Trump behind bars, but I’d rather see him disqualified and forbidden from holding office. Forbidding him from holding office directly solves the Trump problem; putting him in jail allows us to gloat but doesn’t remove him from where he can do the most damage—the White House. I’d be OK with a plea deal where he agrees never to run for office again. (But, we can’t trust him even with that. He might run again anyway.) We need to get rid of this scourge!

  8. On this day:
    1492 – Christopher Columbus sets sail from Palos de la Frontera, Spain.

    1527 – The first known letter from North America is sent by John Rut while at St. John’s, Newfoundland.

    1778 – The theatre La Scala in Milan is inaugurated with the première of Antonio Salieri’s Europa riconosciuta.

    1852 – Harvard University wins the first Boat Race between Yale University and Harvard. The race is also known as the first ever American intercollegiate athletic event.

    1914 – World War I: Germany declares war against France, while Romania declares its neutrality.

    1921 – Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis confirms the ban of the eight Chicago Black Sox, the day after they were acquitted by a Chicago court.

    1936 – Jesse Owens wins the 100 metre dash, defeating Ralph Metcalfe, at the Berlin Olympics.

    1946 – Santa Claus Land, the world’s first themed amusement park, opens in Santa Claus, Indiana, United States. [An odd choice of opening date?]

    1948 – Whittaker Chambers accuses Alger Hiss of being a communist and a spy for the Soviet Union.

    1949 – The Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League finalize the merger that would create the National Basketball Association.

    1958 – The world’s first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, becomes the first vessel to complete a submerged transit of the geographical North Pole.

    1972 – The United States Senate ratifies the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

    1977 – Tandy Corporation announces the TRS-80, one of the world’s first mass-produced personal computers.

    1997 – The tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, Sky Tower in downtown Auckland, New Zealand, opens after two-and-a-half years of construction.

    2004 – The pedestal of the Statue of Liberty reopens after being closed since the September 11 attacks.

    2014 – The genocide of Yazidis by ISIL begins.

    2018 – Two burka-clad men kill 29 people and injure more than 80 in a suicide attack on a Shia mosque in eastern Afghanistan.

    2019 – Six hundred protesters, including opposition leader Lyubov Sobol, are arrested in an election protest in Moscow, Russia.

    2019 – Twenty-three people are killed and 22 injured in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. [Shockingly, thoughts and prayers achieved nothing to prevent a recurrence…]

    1803 – Joseph Paxton, English gardener and architect, designed The Crystal Palace (d. 1865).

    1811 – Elisha Otis, American businessman, founded the Otis Elevator Company (d. 1861).

    1887 – Rupert Brooke, English poet (d. 1915).

    1900 – John T. Scopes, American educator (d. 1970).

    1920 – P. D. James, English author (d. 2014).

    1921 – Richard Adler, American composer and producer (d. 2012).

    1926 – Tony Bennett, American singer and actor (d. 2023).

    1937 – Steven Berkoff, English actor, director, and playwright.

    1938 – Terry Wogan, Irish radio and television host (d. 2016).

    1939 – Jimmie Nicol, English drummer. [Best known for replacing Ringo Starr in the Beatles for eight concerts of the Beatles’ 1964 world tour during the height of Beatlemania, elevating him from relative obscurity to worldwide fame and then back again in the space of a fortnight.]

    1940 – Martin Sheen, American actor and producer.

    1941 – Martha Stewart, American businesswoman, publisher, and author, founded Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

    1950 – John Landis, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.

    1963 – James Hetfield, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1967 – Skin, English singer and guitarist.

    1977 – Tom Brady, American football player.

    Here comes the rain again
    Falling from the stars:

    1721 – Grinling Gibbons, Dutch-English sculptor and woodcarver (b. 1648).

    1792 – Richard Arkwright, English engineer and businessman (b. 1732).

    1916 – Roger Casement, Irish poet and activist (b. 1864).

    1917 – Ferdinand Georg Frobenius, German mathematician and academic (b. 1849).

    1924 – Joseph Conrad, Polish-born British novelist (b. 1857).

    1929 – Emile Berliner, German-American inventor and businessman, invented the phonograph (b. 1851).

    1954 – Colette, French novelist and journalist (b. 1873).

    1964 – Flannery O’Connor, American short story writer and novelist (b. 1925).

    1966 – Lenny Bruce, American comedian, actor, and screenwriter (b. 1925).

    2004 – Henri Cartier-Bresson, French photographer and painter (b. 1908).

    2006 – Arthur Lee, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1945).

    2020 – John Hume, Northern Irish politician (b. 1937).

  9. If Biden is serious about ending the death penalty, he has the power to commute the federal sentence to life without parole. Will he do it?

    No federal death warrant for Robert Bowers could be signed until he exhausts all his appellate rights and potential collateral remedies. In any event, I don’t think the current Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Collette Peters, will be signing any death warrants while Biden is in office, and I expect that Biden will commute all pending federal death penalties to life without parole before leaving office.

    Pennsylvania has a capital punishment statute of its own, but has not executed a prisoner since 1999, and has executed just three prisoners since SCOTUS reaffirmed the constitutionality of the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976.

      1. I think it would be more apt if he got killed by a big house…you know, like the Wicked Witch of the East.

  10. “Preferred pronoun” is precisely the same notion as “preferred preposition”, or how about if someone wants a “preferred adjective” : “correct”, or their comment as “true”.

    I still think the target of Queer praxis is to problematize and disrupt innate human discernment, in particular male from female – to assert knowledge superior to innate biological function, and only knowable by Queer Theory gnosis, with false pretense of “empathy” and “kindness”

    Dawkins is exemplary in showing grace and benefit of doubt for fellow humanity – the precise attitude Queer Theory needs from society for its objectives. That is why this is disturbing, depressing. It is Queer Theory that is impolite.

    1. Reporting back after using one (of a pair, so far) of these public / government operated bathrooms with the sign with three-point sex symbol and “all gender expression” on it.

      Back when I first heard of this, I didn’t particularly care. It looked the same as 1960s civil rights struggles. Now, after reading Butler, Foucault, Muñoz, Halperin, et. al., it is clear what this bathroom thing – which Fox viewers rightly, but ignorantly, objected to:

      There is no “gender expression”. There is sex. There is how one expresses themselves on any given day. How any given person expresses themselves is individual. It is not collective. The person for whom the bathroom serves as a focus of expression is not me, and does not exist because it is impossible.

      Queer Theory is a doctrine. The “space” (Foucault is infatuated with “spaces”) serves the function of a pew, or altar, in the religious church. Here, society has imposed upon it knowledge asserted as superior to empirical knowledge, by virtue of it being antagonistic to empiricism – especially children. Consider, they (all of us, by Queer Theory), enter as a mystical rite, and emerge with their thoughts changed, to match the doctrine, to make the world a boundary-less Utopia. Read some Foucault. It used the Motte of New Civil Rights for the Bailey of Queer indoctrination. Motte and Bailey – a rhetorical tactic.

      I cut short, apologies, but “gender” was the Trojan Horse for that preposterous but true project. More is coming, I am confident.

      1. I meant just that Foucault (France) is important to read for background. Not necessarily that Queer bathrooms was his project modeled on civil rights in the U.S.

  11. Any possibility of adding another choice to the poll “will DT ever be put in jail?”–maybe add a category like “will DT ever receive some sort of confinement?” The fact that he has to be protected by Secret Service basically precludes jail time, but he might be confined to his luxury estate. Not real jail time, but at least he would have some constraints on him.

    1. The fact that he has to be protected by Secret Service basically precludes jail time

      Why? Just have a SS person sit outside his cell. Actually, he’s safe in his cell, so have the SS person follow him around when he’s let out for a stroll in the yard. Easy peasy.

      1. 3 SS people, on 8-hour shifts. But you might have to provide for a #2 SS guy in the warder’s room to cover when #1 meeds a toilet break. So, 6 SS per day ; a 10-14 strong detail overall including leave in various coverage patterns (2 weeks on for 1, 2 or 3 weeks off).
        It’d probably be cheaper to incarcerate him in a PortaKabin in a corner of Area 51, or some other already highly controlled piece of landscape. Since you know who is around him, and they’re already under some sort of discipline, the SS detail could be a deal lighter.

  12. I know another great dancer: Christopher Walken. Although he was “only” 58 years old when the video for “Weapon Of Choice” was filmed.

    1. I love that video so much. I hadn’t even known he was a dancer the first time I saw it. And apparently, he’s so good that, after one show or another when he was younger, Fred Astaire himself complimented him on his dancing, and supposedly, so did Gene Kelly. Pretty high praise. And clearly it was merited.

  13. Norman, do you not think it is a grave danger for democracy that the government could rule that a particular opposition candidate could not run for office against it? (Especially one who was the nominee of the other major party with a clear chance of winning.). Isn’t that almost like a bill of attainder rolled in together with the party in power limiting who can oppose it? The only Constitutional limits to who can be elected President are age, birth, citizenship, residence, and, with the 14th Amendment, insurrection and rebellion (aimed at Civil War renegades.) If the Democrats wanted to use the 14th against him, they had their chance in the DC indictment but for whatever reason chose not to, despite the loud confident assertions for two and a half years by the partisans that Jan 6 was an open-and-shut case of insurrection by President Trump.

    To each his own, but I find the constant scheming and calls for Trump to be got rid of on the grounds of “danger” without the nuisance of applying due process to be more scary than anything Trump is alleged to have done. I do hope the thinking is restricted to amateur partisans and has not infected the organs of the state. Like it or not you are stuck with putting him before a jury and the voters, and you have to accept you might lose in both arenas.

    1. (Especially one who was the nominee of the other major party with a clear chance of winning.)

      Only if you believe polls, and for the last couple of election cycles, they’re not to be believed. Pollsters can’t successfully poll the largest voting block, millennials through gen Z, thus polls are no longer reliable. And there are 4,000,000 Americans turning 18 every year. (Not that it means they’ll vote, but it does make it that much more difficult for the accuracy of pollsters.)

  14. This David Brooks column is pretty interesting:

    It’s easy to understand why people in less-educated classes would conclude that they are under economic, political, cultural and moral assault — and why they’ve rallied around Trump as their best warrior against the educated class. Trump understood that it’s not the entrepreneurs who seem most threatening to workers; it’s the professional class. Trump understood that there was great demand for a leader who would stick his thumb in our eyes on a daily basis and reject the whole epistemic regime that we rode in on.

    If distrustful populism is your basic worldview, the Trump indictments seem as just another skirmish on the class war between the professionals and the workers, another assault by a bunch of coastal lawyers who want to take down the man who most aggressively stands up to them. Of course, the indictments don’t cause Trump supporters to abandon him. They cause them to become more fiercely loyal. That’s the polling story of the last six months.

  15. This article by Michael Lind is also quite perceptive:

    To add insult to injury, when the multiracial working class rebels at the ballot box against this unrelenting and unprovoked bullying by the overclass and casts protest votes for demagogic and usually ineffectual anti-establishment politicians like Silvio Berlusconi or Donald Trump or Boris Johnson, the elite denounces the protest voters as irrational and bigoted cretins who threaten to overthrow democracy, liberalism, and the rule of law. By declaring the democratic preferences of the working class a danger to society, the West’s oligarchs justify subjecting their enemies to pervasive surveillance and other counterextremism measures originally designed for foreign terrorist groups.

  16. Mark [@ #15], please. Both major parties in a two-party system always have a clear chance of winning, even if polling had never been invented, or was banned because it gives aid and comfort to the enemy. Even in blow-out landslides like Nixon-McGovern, the Democrat had a chance of winning. Right up until he lost. It’s third-party candidates who have no clear chance of winning because none ever has, at least not since the current two major parties achieved their national dominance.

    My point is that anti-Trump partisans want to knee-cap the front runner in the major opposition party. That is just not done in democracies. (Knife fights are OK within a party but not between them.). If you are so confident that the unpolled “kids” will come out of the woodwork to defeat Trump, just as they were going to defeat Nixon in ‘72, let him face those voters and go down to ignominious defeat. What you can’t do is say, “Oh, the kids are going to cream him anyway so we can defenestrate him by skullduggery, save them the trouble.”

    Polls have entertainment value but their well-known problems with validity in an era when no one answers the phone don’t directly tell you that one party or the other can’t win.

    1. So your recommendation is to overrule the justice system and let the voters decide regardless of probable serious crimes? You seem to effectively advocate for inequal justice. And arguing that if there were a real case to be made against Trump it would have been made already is not persuasive for a number of reasons.

      The amount of time that has passed is not particularly unusual in matters of justice.

      Fair or not the wheels of justice turn even slower when it involves high level politicians, and POTUS is a high as it gets in the US.

      Fair or not, given that it’s POTUS politics is a very large factor. Namely the fact that Trump and the RP have used political means to obstruct every investigation into Trump’s alleged criminal actions. That entails more time.

      The proof of whether or not there is a real case to be made lies in the merits of the case, not how much time it has taken to bring it. Read the January 6th Committee’s report and the indictments brought by Jack Smith, and when it comes out the Georgia indictment, and base your assessment on those.

      You seem to assume that the Justice Department under a Democratic president is obviously so biased against Trump that it should be assumed that any case it bring is bogus by default. Again, shouldn’t the case be judged on its merits? Also, since United States attorney general Barr substantially redacted the Mueller report, gave only his personal word that it didn’t implicate Trump in any activities that warranted impeachment, and denied releasing an unredacted copy even to Congress, that his claims were bogus?

      1. Darelle, your Constitution allows the voters to elect anyone they want to the Presidency, subject only to the restrictions I listed. Being a convicted imprisoned felon or a thoroughly despicable person is not on the list, and of course Eugene Debs proves the former case. By all means put the former President in jail if you can prove your case(s). But you can’t disqualify him from office no matter what he’s done unless it was insurrection and rebellion (as per 14A).

        Ah, you say, but Jan 6 was obviously an insurrection. The TV cameras and the hearings proved it. This is what you told us for two and half years. Even without the indictment, you all said, the “fact” of the insurrection means he can’t get on the ballot. (The time is no shade on the legal process, of course it’s complex. I’m just commenting on how long you have been telling us that Trump’s career is finished because he will be ineligible as an insurrectionist under the 14th Amendment. “He hanged himself on Jan 6.”)

        Well, on second thought, let’s wait for the indictment to see if the grand jury thinks an insurrection count could be successfully prosecuted. Then we’ll have him. Surely an iron-clad indictment for insurrection will move the disqualification process forward so he can’t run, even if the case never goes to trial. Well, maybe it would have, but the insurrection law isn’t mentioned in the indictment. A large number of foul crimes are alleged, no doubt, and people poring over it are sure the claims are true, but not insurrection. Even the partisan media aren’t talking about the 14th Amendment anymore. I guess Trump isn’t in the same category as Jefferson Davis after all. The Capitol Building wasn’t Fort Sumter, or Shiloh, and Gettysburg, and Bull Run, and Antietam, all that horrible blood-letting.

        So you’ve lost your only constitutional chance to prevent him from putting himself before the voters, and winning, even if he gets convicted of everything.

        I don’t actually doubt the non-partisan professionalism of Jack Smith’s team. I don’t see any need to pore over the indictment as if my opinion about the case means anything. (I did read the Mar-a-Largo indictment and was most impressed. But indictments are only allegations, not tested in court.) I have every confidence that the grand jury did not indict on insurrection because there was no reasonable likelihood of a conviction, not because President Biden put a word in Merrick Garland’s ear to say, “Whatever you do don’t let your boy indict on insurrection as that will cause civil war.”

        1. I see that we may be arguing different points. I’ve never argued that Trump should or could be barred from running. By “kneecapped” I assumed you meant prosecuting investigations and bringing charges against Trump during campaign season. A general theme in your comments on current US politics does seem to be an attitude that the investigations into Trump are not legitimate and that the DP is playing dirty, or something, in pursuing them.

          1. Actually I don’t think that at all. The theme I pick up is that many commenters and Democratic Party politicians loathe Donald Trump. They want him put in jail or excluded from the ballot (or both) and it’s a case of going through his life to find something that will accomplish that. Somehow he must be prevented from serving a second term. That’s normal for partisans.

            The Democratic Party does not pursue legal investigations. The non-partisan justice department does that (even though the Attorney General is necessarily a political appointee serving at the pleasure of the President.). It would be playing dirty if politicians in any party tried to influence the justice department to pursue or drop an investigation.* The U.S. Dept. of Justice has shown admirable probity and I have never expressed the opinion that what their professional prosecutors and investigators are doing is illegitimate. (FWIW, Jack Smith is not a Democrat.) It is surely very difficult to prosecute a former president who is running for election against the party currently in power. The case is inevitably political even if the professionals involved are not playing politics and I don’t think they are.
            * With one exception. While only the A-G (and not the president) can fire an independent prosecutor, the A-G as a political appointee of the president can direct the prosecutor to drop a case for any reason that he, the A-G, is willing to explain to Congress. This is why I say the cases are inevitably political because eventually the president gets to decide whether the cases should proceed and have a heart-to-heart with his A-G. Or not.

    2. “My point is that anti-Trump partisans want to knee-cap the front runner in the major opposition party. That is just not done in democracies. (Knife fights are OK within a party but not between them.)”

      Netanyahu has been indicted for corruption in Israel. So, I guess knee capping can be done in a democracy, although the knee capping may not have worked.

    3. “If you are so confident that the unpolled “kids” will come out…”
      I’m not confident that they’ll vote (that’s why I inserted my caveat). I’m just confident they can’t be polled and when they vote, they vote (D).

      I can buy your argument that it’s always close in a two-party system, but I think you put too much of your argument on the shoulders of a two-party system…at least in contemporary American politics. The real reason there is never a “clear chance” of winning in a modern American POTUS election is because of the Electoral College. It used to match the popular vote quite well, but since computer modeling allowed for the creation of precise gerrymandered districts, SCOTUS undoing the Voting Rights Act in 2013, allowing states to enact racially targeted voter suppression, and other GOP shenanigans trying to suppress the (D) vote, the popular vote has grossly exaggerated the problems with the EC; and from where I’m sitting, it will continue to do so.

      Anyway, I’m done with this topic, and might be posting too much on this thread, but thanks for your time.

  17. Not knowing the USian constitution in any detail, what legislative steps would be required to make the definition of the “power of presidential pardon” apply only to other people : viz – the only way a President can be pardoned – be it axe-murder on Broadway or parking ticket – is by another President.

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