Welcome to the tail end o’ the week, Friday, August, 25, 2023, and National Whiskey Sour Day, an estimable drink if you can’t handle a straight whiskey (or “whisky”). Here’s one with ice cubes and a lemon slice from Wikipedia:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 25 Wikipedia page.
Reader Rick notes that it’s the birthday of the late Martin Amis, who died in May of this year, and gives a quote from him:
“Bullets cannot be recalled. They cannot be uninvented. But they can be taken out of the gun.” -Martin Amis, novelist (25 Aug 1949-2023)
First, what we’ve all been waiting for: Trump’s mugshot, taken as he surrendered in Georgia. He’s back on Twitter and tweeted it:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2023
*The NYT reports that the plane supposedly carrying Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was apparently downed by an explosion, and adds that Putin has hinted that Prigozhin, whose death hasn’t been confirmed, was killed in the crash. A bomb, eh?
U.S. and other Western officials said that preliminary intelligence reports led them to believe that an explosion on board a plane linked to the Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin likely brought down the aircraft on Wednesday, killing all the passengers aboard.
Although there has been no official confirmation that Mr. Prigozhin was killed, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday, in his first comments on the crash, spoke obliquely of his death, referring to him in the past tense. “He made some serious mistakes in life, but he also achieved necessary results,” Mr. Putin said in a televised meeting.
. . . Mr. Putin’s comments followed a growing drumbeat of reports that Mr. Prigozhin was dead, with at least one Western intelligence official, several Russian military bloggers and a Telegram account linked to his organization all saying he had been killed. However, Mr. Prigozhin’s mercenary force, Wagner, has not officially confirmed his death.
The U.S. and Western officials who said an explosion was the leading theory behind the crash said the blast could have been caused by a bomb or other device planted on the aircraft, though other possibilities, like adulterated fuel, were also being explored.
. . .The Legacy 600 business jet believed to be carrying Mr. Prigozhin was flying at a constant speed and altitude until it plummeted suddenly, flight-tracking data shows. Embraer, the Brazilian maker of the jet, said that it had stopped providing any support for the aircraft in 2019 because of sanctions. Typically that support is largely related to maintenance.
I wonder what happened? (LOL). Prigozhin should have been savvy enough to NOT gotten on airplanes in Russia, but his life was forfeit anyway.
*Once again, and I think this is the fourth time, Trump has had to turn himself into law authorities (in Georgia) to get fingerprinted and booked. According to Politico’s useful and updated guide to these cases, Trump now faces 91 felony counts in total. (The Politico guide is quite handy as a summary of what’s going on and of the strengths and weaknesses of each case.) Here’s an update from The Washington Post:
Former president Donald Trump departed Atlanta after surrendering at the Fulton County Jail on charges connected to his attempts to reverse the 2020 election results in Georgia. A mug shot of Trump was later released by the sheriff’s office. Trump, who was released on bond, was charged earlier this month with violating the state’s anti-racketeering act and other felonies. Before leaving the airport, Trump told reporters that he had done nothing wrong and has “every single right to challenge an election.”
Former president Donald Trump has returned to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, posting an image of his mug shot from Thursday’s surrender at the Fulton County Jail and linking to his campaign website. Trump last tweeted on Jan. 8, 2021 — the day he was banned from the platform following the Capitol insurrection. His account was restored by Elon Musk last November.
Donald Trump’s plane is still in the air, but the former president’s reelection campaign is already trying to capitalize on his recent surrender in Fulton County. The campaign is leaning into fundraising off the booking in a variety of ways, including selling a $34 T-shirt emblazoned with Trump’s mug shot above the words “NEVER SURRENDER.”
And his mugshot again, with caption from the WaPo (you can’t see this too many times). Look at the expression he put on!
*I haven’t read much about the Republican primary debate last night, but apparently the candidates, far outweighed by Trump’s numbers, decided to avoid the subject. But that made the debate even more boring: none of the candidates stands a chance unless Trump is somehow ineligible to run because of his indictments or dies from eating hamburgers:
In the first primary debate of the 2024 race, the eight Republican participants tried to create a Trump-free zone — an alternative political universe where the G.O.P. race turned on issues, ideology and biography.
. . . Yet the former president’s absence created an opening, if an illusory one, for a broader array of conservative positions. Republicans have long discussed the far-off notion of what Trumpism without Mr. Trump would look like. For fleeting moments in Milwaukee, that possibility felt almost like a reality.
The Fox News hosts waited nearly an hour to ask only two questions in the entire two-hour debate on Mr. Trump, or, as Brett Baier, one of the moderators, called him, “the elephant not in the room.” Asked whether they would back the former president if he was convicted, all but Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, and Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, indicated that they would.
The Trump-free spell, it seemed, was broken.
. . .But without Mr. Trump dominating the stage, the face-off signaled that the race to emerge as Mr. Trump’s chief rival remains far from set.
Mr. DeSantis failed to cement his place as Mr. Trump’s central foe, finding himself often relegated to the sidelines of the debate. Senator Tim Scott, a rising figure in Iowa, struggled to cut through the fray with his positive, future-forward message. And without the foil of Mr. Trump, Mr. Christie’s case against him — his central campaign argument — fell flatter.
Here are the internecine targets of most of the attacks in the debate (from the WaPo):
Do I care? Nope. We already know who the GOP is going to run.
*But the WSJ’s editors pronounced it “A very good Republican Presidential debate.”
Donald Trump ducked the first Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, and his absence did the party and country a favor. Voters were able to hear eight other candidates and size up their policies, sparring abilities and differences. GOP voters who want to nominate someone who can defeat a highly vulnerable President Biden have more than one capable non-Trump to choose from.
A few assessments:
Ron DeSantis had to counter the perception that his campaign is in free-fall, and he did a good job of explaining his greatest hits as Florida Governor on Covid and fighting progressive prosecutors. He said he would have sacked Anthony Fauci, a nice contrast with Mr. Trump’s Covid delegation to the doctor.
But the Governor also ducked more than one question, such as whether he’d support a national ban of 15 weeks on abortion. He didn’t raise his hand at first on whether he’d vote for Mr. Trump if he’s convicted of a felony, but then did raise it when he saw others do it. He had to be coaxed into saying Mike Pence did the right thing by counting the electoral votes on Jan. 6.
Vivek Ramaswamy is close to Mr. DeSantis in the polls, and he has the gift of energy and verbal facility. He can sling appealing phrases, and his line that Americans are hungry for purpose will resonate with many voters. But he can also sound like a young man in too much of a hurry, and his rapid-fire one-liners and insults (“I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for”) give him the air of a supercilious grad student.
He seems to have made a calculation that he can prosper by running as Mr. Trump’s biggest defender, almost as if he wouldn’t have to defeat Mr. Trump to get the nomination. But he would be more credible if he weren’t so slavish in his defense. He left himself open for Chris Christie’s roundhouse that landed about being the candidate from ChatGPT.
Former Vice President Mike Pence often seemed like the adult in the room, especially on foreign policy. He and Nikki Haley pounded Mr. Ramaswamy for his willingness to withdraw support for Ukraine. Mr. Pence was especially good in eviscerating the glib false choice between aiding Ukraine or controlling the southern U.S. border. And Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina Governor, made the moral case against Vladimir Putin’s depredations.
But again, all of these people will be as passé as t.v. dinners after next summer, so this is news only for newshounds.
*Did you know that octopuses were so smart that they use thermal vents in the ocean to help their eggs hatch faster? (Octopus moms incubate their eggs for a long time, and then die immediately after they hatch.) If you can reduce the time to hatching, it gives your offspring a significant survival advantage given that predators sometimes eat the eggs. It also means you have to protect them for less time. From the AP
Most octopuses lead solitary lives. So scientists were startled to find thousands of octopus huddled together, protecting their eggs at the bottom of the ocean off the central California coast.
Now researchers may have solved the mystery of why these pearl octopus congregate: Heat seeping up from the base of an extinct underwater volcano helps their eggs hatch faster.
“There are clear advantages of basically sitting in this natural hot tub,” said Janet Voight, an octopus biologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and co-author of the study, which was published Wednesday in Science Advances.
The researchers calculated that the heated nest location more than halved the time it took for eggs laid there to hatch — reducing the risk of being munched by snails, shrimp and other predators.
The nesting site, which the scientists dubbed an “octopus garden,” was first discovered in 2018 by researchers from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and other institutions. The team used an underwater remote vehicle to film the throng of nearly 6,000 octopus nesting 2 miles deep.
“It was completely incredible – we suddenly saw thousands of pearly-colored octopus, all upside down, with their legs up in the air and moving around. They were pushing away potential predators and turning over their eggs,” for an even flow of water and oxygen, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration marine biologist Andrew DeVogelaere, a study co-author.
Only the hazy shimmer of escaping hot water meeting the frigid sea alerted the researchers to the hydrothermal seep. But they still didn’t know exactly why the octopus had gathered there.
. . .The researchers found that eggs at this site hatch after about 21 months — far shorter than the four years or more it takes for other known deep-sea octopus eggs.
Here’s a photo of the octopus’s garden, with caption from the AP:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,
A: What are you doing?Hili: I’m mortifying myself for a cause.
Ja: Co tu robisz?Hili: Umartwiam się dla dobra sprawy.
From Merilee, hearkening back to Bill Clinton:
From Andrew (click to enlarge): a Matt Groening favorite:
From Bad Cat Clothing:
From Masih. Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police on September 13 of last year for not wearing her hijab as well as “tight pants”. She died in hospital three days later, with witnesses saying she’d been beaten and tortured in the police van. She was 22. (The Iranians claim Mahsa died of the effects of a previous brain operation, which she never had.) It’s a certainty that she was beaten to death for not adhering to Muslim dress codes, and this touched off the protests against the Iranian theocracy that continue today.
The mother of Jina Mahsa Amini, whose tragic murder ignited the #WomanLifeFreedom movement, posted this photo and mentioned how Iranians are visiting her daughter's gravesite from all across the nation. Her message suggests a powerful undertone: people won't remain silent on her… pic.twitter.com/gX0piFJYR9
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 22, 2023
Going around the Internet. There are several more slides in the thread.
Spot the intersectional oppression and privilege! pic.twitter.com/yN6oK4wJBL
— Catherine Kronas (@CatherineKronas) August 22, 2023
From Malcolm; two men rescue a feral cat caught in a trap. Traps should be outlawed!
Two men rescue a wild cat with limited tools at their capacity.🦸 This bravery requires nerves of steel. Wild animals ought to live in a world without traps.🙏 pic.twitter.com/4Kv6rrVOUv
— Hakan Kapucu (@1hakankapucu) August 9, 2023
From Barry, who says it’s “a bird doing finger guns”. Why? Who knows?
The curious choreography of the striped cuckoo
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) August 19, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman who died in the camp at age 20:
25 August 1923 | A German Jewish woman, Bertha Katz, was born in Schlitz.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 25, 2023
Tweets from Professor Cobb. The first is a good memoriam for Michael Ashburner, a lovely fellow who was concerned more with compiling genetic knowledge (in particular, his magisterial edited 12-volume series of The Genetics and Biology of Drosophila, all of which I own) than advancing his own career by writing research papers. As author Gerry Rubin says,
Many scientists are motivated by ‘how will this help me’ or ‘how will this get me another high-profile paper’, not by ‘how is this going to advance the field or help the progress of science’. Michael was different. He was a tremendous force for good in the scientific community through his efforts in research, writing, establishing databases of genetic and genomic information, and teaching. He brought individuals — who otherwise would not have chosen to collaborate — together for the common good. Michael, more than anyone else of his generation, practised and inspired others to continue the great traditions of the Drosophila community established 100 years ago by Bridges, Morgan and Sturtevant.
Thanks to Gerry Rubin for this remembrance of Michael Ashburner, a pioneer of Drosophila molecular genetics and of genomics. It's well worth a read. 1/nhttps://t.co/CRSP02zFDZ
— Mark Peifer (@peiferlabunc) August 24, 2023
The human Y chromosome has finally been completely sequenced, and it’s very complex: full of inverted regions and repeated sequences, with some regions able to recombine with its X-chromosome partner but most of it not. The new Nature paper is a link in the following tweet:
Assembly of 43 human Y chromosomes reveals extensive complexity and variation https://t.co/W9EORE8vZm
— Chris Stringer (@ChrisStringer65) August 24, 2023
As Matthew says, “These are lovely things.” They are, but what is a tayra? Go here to see that it’s a mustelid native to Central and South America, and a mammal I’d never heard of.
A Tayra couple
Una pareja de Eirá pic.twitter.com/wDD0eWsFO6
— Bruno Brack (@Brkbru) August 23, 2023