Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for March 19th, 2022

Perhaps pareidolic lichens

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On the grounds of Central City Austin on March 4th I photographed these lichens on a dead branch.
If you’re prone to pareidolia, you might see this as the left profile of some long and scaly creature.


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Now imagine this scenario. A man is driving a tractor-trailer down a long hill when a woman driving a station wagon goes through a stop sign and crosses his path not far in front of him. The truck driver swerves and tries desperately to avoid a collision, but the station wagon is too close. Immediately after the horrible crash the man runs over and does his best to help the injured. Nevertheless, the woman and one of her three children in the car dies; the other two children are seriously injured but eventually recover. Decades later, the dead woman’s widower, who was elsewhere at the time of the crash, speaks about it repeatedly. Sometimes he intimates, and other times says outright, that the truck driver had been drinking and killed his wife and daughter. The widower never mentions that his wife drove through a stop sign into the path of the tractor-trailer coming down a long hill, nor that authorities who investigated the collision found that the truck driver had done nothing wrong and didn’t charge him with any offense.

What do you say? Did the widower act honorably?
If you were the truck driver or one of his family members, how would you feel about the widower’s claims?

Take a moment to think how you would answer those questions,
then scroll down for all the details of this true story.



The driver of the truck in the 1972 collision was Curtis C. Dunn. The driver of the station wagon was Neilia Biden. According to a January 25, 2019, article in Politico by Michael Kruse:

The truck carrying corncobs broadsided the Bidens’ white Chevrolet station wagon returning from a trip to pick the family Christmas tree. It sheared off the left rear wheel and drove the back door into the back seat and pushed the car some 150 feet into a thicket of evergreens. Neilia Biden, 30, and Naomi “Amy” Biden, 13 months, were dead on arrival at the hospital. Joseph “Beau” Biden III, 3, had a slew of broken bones, and Robert Hunter “Hunt” Biden, 2, had head injuries that doctors feared might be permanent.

After September 11, 2001, Joe Biden claimed empathy with the victims of that day’s terrorist attacks by referring to his losses in the 1972 accident. “It was an errant driver who stopped to drink instead of drive and hit—a tractor-trailer—hit my children and my wife and killed them.” In 2007, he similarly said: “A tractor-trailer, a guy who allegedly — and I never pursued it — drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch, broadsided my family and killed my wife instantly and killed my daughter instantly and hospitalized my two sons.” Here’s what the Politico article said about that:

The problem was it wasn’t true. The driver of the truck, Curtis C. Dunn of Pennsylvania, was not charged with drunk driving. He wasn’t charged with anything. The accident was an accident, and though the police file no longer exists, coverage in the newspapers at the time made it clear that fault was not in question. For whatever reason, Neilia Biden, who was holding the baby, ended up in the right of way of Dunn’s truck coming down a long hill.

“She had a stop sign. The truck driver did not,” Jerome Herlihy told me. He’s a retired judge who then was a deputy attorney general and once was a neighbor to Biden and remains friendly. A pal of Biden at the time asked Herlihy “to go out to the state police troop where the driver of the other vehicle was to make sure everything was going all right,” and so he did. “In the end,” Herlihy said, “I concurred in their decision that there was no fault on his part.”

As a 2008 article in Delaware’s Newark Post reported:

Dunn died in 1999, but his daughter says she’s fed up with Biden publicly mischaracterizing him as having been drunk when the accident occurred.

According to Delaware Superior Court Judge Jerome O. Herlihy, who oversaw the police investigation 36 years ago as chief prosecutor, there is no evidence supporting Biden’s claim.

“The rumor about alcohol being involved by either party, especially the truck driver (Dunn), is incorrect,” Herlihy said recently.

Police determined that Biden’s first wife drove into the path of Dunn’s tractor-trailer, possibly because her head was turned and she didn’t see the oncoming truck.

Dunn, who overturned his rig while swerving to avoid a collision, ran to the wrecked car and was the first to render assistance.

Police filed no charges against Dunn, who at that time lived in North East, Md. with his wife, Ruby, and their seven children.

Biden has been alluding to alcohol being involved in the crash for nearly a decade. During a speech in 2001, Biden told an audience at University of Delaware that a drunken driver crashed into his family.

So much for telling the truth. The articles linked above offer many more details, as does one by Guy Benson from 2019 in Town Hall. A 2020 article by Megan Palin in the U.S. Sun includes many comments by Dunn’s daughter Deborah Criddle, along with photographs showing the Dunn Family and the Biden Family in the relevant decade and later on. A March 16th article by John Soriano in the Federalist originally prompted me to head down the path that became today’s commentary.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2022 at 4:34 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

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