Wow! I Wonder Why So Many People Have Offered Clarence Thomas Such Expensive Gifts!

Charles Pierce / Esquire

According to a new report, the Supreme Court justice has accepted $2.4 million worth of gifts in the past two decades.

The folks at Fix the Court have put together a chart about the members of the Supreme Court and their respective outside incomes. To nobody’s surprise, Justice Clarence Thomas tops the list. From CNBC:

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted millions of dollars’ worth of gifts over the past two decades on the bench, a total nearly 10 times the value of all gifts received by his fellow justices during the same time, according to a new analysis. Thomas received 103 gifts with a total value of more than $2.4 million between 2004 and 2023, the judicial reform group Fix the Court said in a report Thursday. In contrast, Thomas’ fellow justices over the same period accepted a total of just 93 gifts worth a combined value of only about $248,000, according to the nonprofit group. Thomas’ fellow conservative justice Samuel Alito accounted for the lion’s share of that value. Fix the Court’s analysis found that Alito accepted 16 gifts worth a combined $170,095.

I didn’t know that the gravy train had a luxury car.

Fix the Court noted that the total figures it calculated for gift values are likely lower than the actual values because the analysis erred on the low end of the cost of some gifts, such as free travel or tickets to sports events. Its tally also makes some assumptions. The group assumed the cost per hour of a flight on a private plane is $10,000, for instance, and it counted each leg of a roundtrip flight as a separate gift. The Supreme Court did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Fix the Court’s findings.

“The Supreme Court did not immediately respond...” is now carved into the side of the Supreme Court building. In Latin, of course.

On June 5, on Utah Beach in Normandy, a new monument was raised to honor the members of the United States Merchant Marine for their service on D-Day and throughout the war. My father’s first assignment in the Navy was commanding a gun crew aboard Liberty ships as part of the Navy’s Armed Guard, so I’ve always felt kind of like an adopted child of the Merchant Marine. (See the classic Bogart movie Action in the North Atlantic for further details.) The sailors of the MM—and of the Armed Guard—have worked hard to achieve recognition of their service, and this was another step toward that.

Weekly WWOZ Pick to Click: “Crescent City” (Loose Cattle): Yeah, I still sort of love New Orleans.

Weekly Visit to the Pathe Archives: Here, from 1944, are some clips showing the preparations for D-Day in England. Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in the narration—“Let us show you how cleverly we’re disguising a massive influx of military wherewithal”—but it was a remarkable triumph of logistics and good luck. Somebody gets drunk and piles his lorry into that weird-looking pile by the side of the road and half of Surrey gets blown off toward Norway. History is so cool.

If it’s not one damn thing, it’s another. From CBS News:

The Northeast U.S. is bracing for an invasion of giant venomous spiders with 4-inch-long legs that can parachute through the air. Earlier this year, New Jersey Pest Control warned of the incoming spiders, saying Joro spiders will be “hard to miss” as females have a leg span of up to 4 inches and are known for their vibrant yellow and grey bodies. “What sets them apart, however, is their ability to fly, a trait uncommon among spiders,” the company said. “While not accurate flight in the avian sense, Joro spiders utilize a technique known as ballooning, where they release silk threads into the air, allowing them to be carried by the wind.”

Invasive species are, of course, another delightful aspect of the work of those clever Chinese climate hoaxsters. While the Joros appear to be relatively harmless, if genuinely scary, it is the new variety of mosquitoes that has the medical establishment nervous. From NPR:

Climate change, international travel and global trade are all factors in the spread of invasive species. According to Reeves, 10 new species of nonnative mosquitoes have been found in Florida since 2000. And more are on the way. Reeves says, “There’s one in particular right now that a lot of people are worrying about, Aedes vittatus.” Originally from India, the mosquito “is kind of a vector for pretty much everything we’re worried about: dengue, chikungunya, Zika,” Reeves says.

So, for the moment, don’t sweat the Joros.

“They seem to be OK with living in a city,” Davis added, saying he has seen Joro spiders on street lamps and telephone poles, where “regular spiders wouldn’t be caught dead in.” The arachnids are venomous, but Coyle says that they do not pose a danger to humans. That venom, he said, is reserved for the critters that get caught up in their webs, including butterflies, wasps, and cockroaches. They could also pose a threat to native spiders. “We have no evidence that they’ve done any damage to a person or a pet,” he said.

I don’t care. The phrase “giant venomous flying spiders” is quite enough, thanks.

In 1775, John Glover was an irascible ship owner and fisherman from Marblehead, Massachusetts. He was also fed up with the British colonial government. He involved himself in the local militia and in the local Committee of Correspondence. In March of that year, Parliament passed the Fisheries Act, one of a series of laws aimed at disciplining the unruly colony. This was the end for Glover. By that fall, he had organized six hundred local fishermen and other tradesmen into what became the 21st regiment of the Continental Army, one of the country’s first truly amphibious military units. Glover thereupon embarked on a career saving George Washington’s ass.

It was Glover and his people who evacuated the Continental Army when the British seemed to have the command trapped on Long Island. Later, they covered the army’s retreat as it escaped from New York entirely. And on Christmas night of 1776, it was Glover and his boatmen who ferried Washington and his army across the ice-choked Delaware River in order to facilitate the successful attack on the Hessian mercenary troops in Trenton, New Jersey. After the war, Congress awarded him an estate that had been confiscated from a Loyalist named William Browne. (The house dated back to the 1600s and once belonged to a man who’d testified in the Salem witch trials.) It was later transformed into an inn and a restaurant. The restaurant closed in the 1990s, and the building has been vacant ever since.

It is now in great disrepair and is slated to be demolished. Efforts to preserve it have come from a number of local and national historic-preservation outfits, including the American Battlefield Trust. I generally don’t shill for donations here, but if you’re so inclined, y’know. Some coin for the boatman.

Discovery Corner: Hey, look what we found. From Popular Mechanics:

Dahomey’s leader from 1818 to 1852, Ghezo’s decor matched his militaristic ambitions. The alley leading to his hut was supposedly paved with skulls and his throne rested on the bones of his enemies. Legend says that even funerary huts inside Ghezo’s palace (part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site) were constructed using mortar derived from the blood of 41 sacrificial victims (41 is an important number in voodoo). Now, French archeologists have put the myth to the scientific test, and it turns out the legends are true. The results of the study were published last week in the journal Proteomics.

“We conceived an original strategy to analyze the proteins present on minute amounts of the cladding sampled from the inner facade of the cenotaph wall and establish their origin,” the authors wrote in the study. “Several indicators attested to the presence of traces of human and poultry blood in the material taken.”

I never have been so grateful for Home Depot in my life.

Hey, New York Times, is it a good day for dinosaur news? It’s always a good day for dinosaur news!

In the summer of 2022, two boys hiking with their father and a 9-year-old cousin in the North Dakota badlands came across some large bones poking out of a rock. They had no idea what to make of them. The father took some photos and sent them to a paleontologist friend. Later, the relatives learned they’d made a staggering discovery: They’d stumbled upon a rare juvenile skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Part of the fossil, which measures about 32 inches, is believed to be the tibia, or shin bone, of a 10-foot-tall, 3,500-pound dinosaur that scientists are calling Teen Rex. Only a few such fossils have been discovered worldwide, according to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which announced the finding on Monday.

Three kids and a dad, out for a walk through time. How cool is that? And “Teen Rex”? Classic. Teen Rex lived then to make us all happy now.

I’ll be back on Monday for whatever fresh hell awaits. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake line. Wear the damn mask. Take the damn shots, especially the boosters, and especially the most recent boosters. Watch out for the damn bird flu. And spare a moment for the good people in Iowa and across the Plains states who have been living under the gun of all the tornadoes, especially the folks in Texas, who are staring down the barrel again this weekend. And for the people of Baltimore, and for the people of Israel and of Gaza, the people of Ukraine, of Lewiston, Maine, and for the victims of monkeypox in the Republic of the Congo, and of the earthquake zones in Taiwan, Iraq, Turkey, Morocco, and Colombia, and in the flood zone in Libya, and the flood zones all across the Ohio Valley, and on the Horn of Africa, and in Tanzania and Kenya, and in the English midlands, and in Virginia, and in Texas and Louisiana, and in California, and the flood zones of Indonesia, and in the storm-battered south of Georgia, and in Kenya, and in the flood areas in Dubai (!) and in Pakistan, and in the flood zones in Russia and Kazakhstan, and in the flood zones in Iran, where loose crocodiles are becoming a problem, and in the flood zones on Oahu, and in the fire zones in western Canada, and Australia, and in north Texas, and in Lahaina, where they’re still trying to recover their lives, and under the volcano in Iceland, and for the gun-traumatized folks in Austin and at UNLV, and in Philadelphia, and in Perry, Iowa, and especially for our fellow citizens in the LGBTQ+ community, who deserve so much better from their country than they’ve been getting.