Another four-legged whale fossil discovered

One of the facts about evolution that really blew my mind when I first learned about it was that whales had evolved from land mammals that had returned to the sea. Even though I had no formal training in biology beyond eighth grade, I was aware of course of the basic evolution story of how we all evolved from ocean organisms but the idea that at some point the process got reversed for some branches of the evolutionary tree and they become sea-dwelling creatures again just captured my imagination and I have posted about it before.

This animation shows how a reconstruction, based on the fossil record, of how it happened.


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Faking a vaccination card is a federal offense

I had been curious about the legal consequences of issuing and using fake covid-19 vaccination cards. I had assumed that it would be at most a violation of state laws and would depend upon what the individual states had decided. But it turns out that it is a federal violation and can thus be prosecuted anywhere in the country. This is because the Centers for Disease Control is a federal agency and the CDC logo is on the cards.
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Democrats also practice election shenanigans

I recently wrote about how a socialist India Walton won the Democratic primary to be the party’s nominee to be mayor of the city of Buffalo and, since the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, would almost certainly be elected mayor at the general election in November. So how did the party establishment that had opposed her react? Not well. They are now trying to eliminate the position of mayor.
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How the sharing economy became professionalized (and hence more expensive)

I have never actually used Vrbo, Airbnb, and similar businesses that offer accommodation. I had been vaguely under the impression that they offered cheap, short-term, accommodations because people were renting out spaces in their homes that were under-utilized, often because their children had left home. They provided basic things like a bed and bathroom access and enabled the renter to make a little extra money and for the budget-conscious traveler to avoid expensive hotels.

But recently I was planning a trip where there was no hotel near the place I wanted to be in. So I looked up Airbnb. I was surprised at how expensive the accommodations were, close to and even more than hotels. It seems like this so-called sharing economy has gone from providing cheap accommodation to being expensive ‘experiences’. I decided that I might as well stay a little distance away in a hotel where at least you have some idea of what you are getting.
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Has it really come to this?

Flight attendants are taking self-defense classes in order to deal with passengers who become unruly and violent, often over the issue of wearing masks.

Is martial arts training going to be part of the orientation program for new employees? Where else are we going to see this trend? Teachers? Bus drivers? Shop assistants? Hospitality workers? Is any job where one has to deal with the public now becoming a potential physical conflict zone?

Madness.

The unconscionable tragedy that the US created in Afghanistan

On his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver castigates all four presidents (Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden) and the members of their administrations as well as the US military and intelligence agencies for the disaster that they created that has led to massive tragedy for the long-suffering Afghan people.

This appalling situation reveals once again that when your basic policy goals are flawed, you start on a road which eventually leads nowhere, however many resources one assigns to it.

Charlie Watts (1941-2021)

The drummer for the Rolling Stones has died at the age of 80. He had played with them for 60 years. This great rock band has stayed together a phenomenally long time, continuing to perform live, and were planning yet another tour.

Always using a straightforward four-drum setup – positively minimalist compared with the multi-instrument setups favoured by many rock groups – he gave the Rolling Stones propulsive, unfussy backbeats on every one of their studio albums, beginning with their self-titled 1964 debut. “I don’t like drum solos,” he once said. “I admire some people that do them, but generally I prefer drummers playing with the band. The challenge with rock’n’roll is the regularity of it. My thing is to make it a dance sound – it should swing and bounce.”
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