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HDIMT? One Mare Time! Plus, Scorpions on a Plane

In this week's roundup of odds and ends ripped from the headlines, news of a rare twin birth to a quarter horse mare has hopes soaring mom and foals will pull through.

“A man that don’t love a horse,” Will Rogers said, “there is something the matter with him.” On May 11, a quarter horse mare gave birth in Bastrop County, Texas, a rural area just east of Austin where the birth of a horse is no big deal. The live birth of twin foals was a big deal and the veterinarian put the odds of a live birth at one in 10,000. A week later, the newborns—dubbed Bonnie and Clyde—are still alive, although Clyde is not out of the woods yet. Both foals started with IVs and feeding tubes at Elgin Veterinary Hospital. Bonnie started nursing right away and Clyde has now doing the same, raising his odds of survival from 50-50 to 60-40. Both foals and Sophie the mare are expected to be in the hospital until sometime in June. Vet expenses are estimated at $4,000-$5,000.

“If a man loves a horse,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller opined, “I guess a family loves two horses.” He was referring to the Tucker family of Paige, Texas, for whom friends started a GoFundMe site to raise the vet bills.


Associated Press reported that United Airlines had another scorpion scare after the incident last month when a passenger was stung by a scorpion when it decamped an overhead bin during a flight from Houston to Calgary. The latest uproar came when United Airlines Flight 1035 interrupted takeoff in a flight from Houston to Ecuador to hunt for a scorpion that had, United said, “reportedly emerged from a customer’s clothing.” United switched airplanes and gave all the passengers a meal voucher in consideration of 3 and ½ hours of scorpion delay.

Cousin Ray claimed United is experimenting with a new category of tickets. “First class seats are all the same,” he explained. “But economy seats can be bought with or without scorpions.”

Reuters reported that the German cabinet has approved a plan to fine social networks up to $53 million if they do not remove hate speech quickly enough. The current draft of the law allows 24 hours to take down obvious hate speech and seven days to deal with hard cases. Because of its Nazi past, Germany takes the hardest line on hate speech in the world, but Germans appear to understand enough about how the Internet works that they are not seeking to make ISP’s liable for everything nutcases post. They are not even required to moderate postings, but rather to respond to complaints.

Cousin Ray wondered whether, should the Washington football team play an exhibition game in Germany, the promoters would dare to advertise it on line?

Sears Holdings, the company we used to know as Sears, Roebuck, filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission saying:

"Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern."

Translation: they are circling the bankruptcy drain.

Makes me sad. I grew up with the Wish Book, the big one and the little Christmas issue they put out every year.

When they sold the Craftsman brand, I figured the writing was on the wall. At least, I'm happy to report they did not sell it to some outfit in China or Taiwan.

The Craftsman brand was acquired in 1927 for $500.

Sears built Craftsman to a national reputation among shade tree mechanics. We all have a story about taking back a tool we broke doing something stupid and getting a new one, no receipt required.

Now Sears has sold Craftsman to Stanley Black & Decker, which makes decent quality tools and therefore is not likely to mess up the brand. The purchase price was $900 million. Not a bad mark-up.

WKBN reported East Liverpool, Ohio police witnessed what they thought was a drug transaction from a blue Monte Carlo. When they got the car blocked in, there appeared to be a lot of activity going on inside it. Patrolman Chris Green approached the car after the driver and passenger had been arrested. Green observed, ”white powder on the seat, on the floor, on the guys’ shoes and on …(the driver’s) clothing.”

Green, following protocol, put on gloves and a mask before searching the car. Back at the station, another officer pointed out that Green had white powder all over his shirt. Absentmindedly, Green brushed it off…with his bare hand. About an hour later, Green passed out. When the EMT’s arrived, they gave him a dose of Narcan and transported him to East Liverpool City Hospital, where he got three additional doses.

The diagnosis was an overdose of fentanyl, which can be easily absorbed through the skin. Green was kept in the hospital for observation but he has now been released and a police spokesman said he is “fine.”


I read this item to Cousin Ray and then commented about how the Austin cops used to joke about coming in on marijuana burning day to stand downwind. Trying to impress him about my days as a police magistrate, I asked him if he knew how many people have died from marijuana overdose?

Cousin Ray gave me a funny look. “Zero,” he deadpanned. “Everybody knows that.”

I don’t think everybody knows that, but I’ll be more careful about pulling Cousin Ray’s leg next time.

Foreign Policy reported on the scramble in Europe to prepare for the NATO meeting, with management asking heads of state to limit their remarks to two to four minutes as a concession to President Trump’s attention span. A source on the ground at the NATO headquarters claimed, “it’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing...they’re freaking out.”

DuffelBlog claimed that Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis “is reportedly running out of things in his office to throw in anger after the latest crisis of the Trump administration’s own making.”

While I was writing this, Chris Hayes reported on MSNBC that The Washington Post had accidentally published Mad Dog Mattis’s private cell number. A story in the Post about Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller was illustrated by a picture showing Schiller strolling along with Trump with a load of papers under his arm. Clinging to the papers was a yellow sticky note, decorated with a phone number and “Jim, Mad Dog, Mattis.”

Responding to a reader tip, the Post found the number. To be sure, they called it. It went to voice mail. Jim Mattis’s voice mail. If DuffelBlog were not a known satirical site, I would be calling them to suggest Mattis might be excused for throwing things this time.

The New York Times reported a world class case of bad conduct carrying its own punishment. A ransomware worm has attacked computer systems all around the world, shutting out the owners and demanding a ransom in bitcoin to release the data. The worst hits have been on health care systems, where the lockout can kill. Early indications are that the culprits are North Koreans, but it’s too soon to have confidence in that conclusion.

What we do know is that the country suffering the worst is China, the world leader in software piracy. People who have registered copies of Windows already got a patch that would have kept the ransomware out had they installed it, and they can still get the patch for the asking. Those running pirate copies of Windows will have to run naked until they can patch it themselves or make peace with Microsoft.

In this country, software piracy is a few friends in a college dorm. In China, Microsoft already knew piracy was a big deal. They’ve been complaining about it for years. The ransomware hackers have now proved that some of China’s biggest corporations and most prestigious research universities are running pirated software. The hack cut off electronic payments to the government oil company, PetroChina. Hainan Airlines had its systems locked, as did China Telecom.

Last year, a trade association of software vendors found that 70 percent of the software in China was not licensed. Russia was the runner up at 64 percent and Russia is also suffering in the current ransomware attacks.

While this built in penalty for piracy may be just, it’s also ironic in the case of China, which is losing manufacturing jobs to Vietnam, Indonesia, and Mexico (Mexican wages are higher than many Asian countries but Mexico makes up for it with access to the U.S. market under NAFTA). China’s plan is to move to a service economy. The popular meme about a service economy—burger flipping or Walmart greeting—is far from the truth. A service economy is based on sale of intellectual property protected by patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The Chinese know this and understand that to become a service economy they need to police piracy of software, music, and movies. This hacker attack might build a fire under that move to legality. In the meantime, it’s hard to feel sorry for them.

The Cherokee Phoenix serves tribal citizens spread out all over the map. Everybody expects Cherokees in the places now called North Carolina and Oklahoma, but there are enough Cherokees connected with each other to amount to a community—one or more—in Texas, New Mexico, California, and states that would sound even less likely. This might be why the Phoenix editorial board will have its May meeting by conference call, apparently engineered to be as big as it needs to be for whatever number of Cherokee citizens wish to “attend” by signing on to what amounts to a temporary network. It’s the same technology corporations sometimes use for shareholder meetings and it’s worth a try to enable the participation that makes a community.