Skip to main content

HDIMT? Raising the Dead and DC Corpse Flowers

The U.S. Botanic Garden in D.C. is following three blooms on corpse flowers, each of which requires 10 years of growth to produce.

Smithsonian is on the scent of a story from the U.S. Botanic Garden, where one, two—count ‘em—three Amorphophallus titanium are about to bloom at the same time. Each bloom is an event that is between one and 10 years in preparation. The scientific name for these odd shaped blooms means “giant, misshapen penis,” but the popular name is more to the point: corpse flowers.

They bloom so seldom because of the energy required to produce flowers so large and odoriferous. They bloom and stink for 24 to 48 hours and they smell like death to attract the flies and beetles that pollinate the plant.

The U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., will be open extended hours while the three flowers are blooming and stinking. If you would like to play botanist from the cheap seats and without a gas mask, the corpse flowers have a live video feed on the World Wide Web.

[text_ad]

My cousin Ray Sixkiller guessed it was bound to happen. The science guys have given us panda cams, eagle cams, condor cams, and many years ago there was a camera trained on a peregrine falcon that decided to nest on a skyscraper. Now, finally, we have a real-time camera trained on a plant—and a slow growing plant at that. “Can a rock cam be far behind?”

Cousin Ray recommended a nice turquoise.

**********

For those who pay attention to the Iditarod and are fascinated by those working dogs, my wife the dog rescuer has come up with an outfit that takes in sled dogs down on their luck because illness, age, or maltreatment. After they get them healthy and socialized they try to find a human good enough for each individual dog.

I’ve done dog rescues where the dogs do airplane rides, but I’m kind of curious how they screen the humans? The Sled Dog Sanctuary is in Talkeetna, Alaska, and I would expect adopting a dog would cost some bucks.

**********

Of course, for some people, money is no object. The New York Post reported on how one of the billionaires in the Trump cabinet introduced the taxpayers of Kentucky to the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s wife, actress Louise Linton, Instagramed a picture of the royal couple exiting a government plane. She helpfully tagged her designer duds, bringing some sunshine into the life of all those coal miner’s daughters with hashtags like #rolandmouret, #tomford, #hermesscarf, and #valentinorockstudheels.

When one of the commoners on Instagram got cheeky, Her Majesty unloaded:

Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch.

She stopped just short of advising the working women of Kentucky to eat cake. Perhaps recalling Marie Antoinette’s fate under similar circumstances, she deleted all evidence, but not before plenty of screen grabs were taken to supplement human memories.

My Republican Cousin Ray, who is getting visibly weary of defending this administration, uncorked a zinger way too subtle for the targets. “There is nothing new,” he reminded me, “except what has been forgotten.”

**********

BloombergPolitics gets notice for this item among many news outlets because crediting Bloomberg offers an excuse to pass on comments from an elderly Floridian that really frost that world class chocolate cake President Trump plugged when speaking of the meeting where he was schooled in the history of the Korean peninsula by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump is the first president since modern ethics rules to do lots of things. Two biggies are his failure to release his tax returns and his failure to put his assets in a blind trust. Trusting that voters are stupid enough not to know the difference, he created a public and revocable trust—meaning he can always see where his money is and he can take it back at any time.

This lack of an ethical screen brings in ethically sketchy business, such as foreign governments with interests on Trump’s desk booking the Trump hotel in Washington or the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Since Trump was elected, Mar-a-Lago has doubled its membership fee to $200,000. Briefly, at least one Trump property trolled for wedding business by pointing out the presidential habit of crashing weddings and posing for a photo with the happy couple. Somebody decided advertising it was going too far, so it’s no longer advertised—but he still does it.

Since the Charlottesville killing by neo-Nazi/KKK/white supremacists among whom Trump said were “very fine people” and whose blame for the violence had to be shared with people who showed up to be counted against Nazis, Klan, and racism, the winds have changed.

Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke tweeted thanks to Trump “for your honesty and courage.”

Charities, which depend on the public’s good opinion, are cancelling out of Mar-a-Lago fundraising events, sometimes even paying a penalty to take their business elsewhere. Evening fundraisers range between $125,000 and $275,000. Luncheons are relative bargains at $25,000 to $85,000.

Cancellations are a rolling total, currently 18. They include the American Red Cross, the Cleveland Clinic, the Palm Beach Zoo, the American Cancer Society, and the Salvation Army. The most surprising cancellation was Big Dog Ranch Rescue, because the Chair for the event is Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law.

The charity exodus appears unlikely to spread to individual Mar-a-Lago memberships. BloombergPolitics asked Ralph Guild, 87, why he intended to stay:

I don’t think that being a member of his club one way or another makes a lot of difference. I just think Trump is an idiot, but he’s also the president of the United States. I’ve been alive a long time, and there are a lot of presidents I thought were idiots.

Cousin Ray asked excitedly whether Guild is Indian? I can understand why people might think so, but I am not informed.

**********

Fr. William Aitcheson, moved by the events in Charlottesville, wrote a letter in the Arlington, Virginia Catholic Herald admitting to having been a member of the KKK. He apologized, asked for forgiveness, and admitted, “My actions were despicable.” He went on:

The images from Charlottesville are embarrassing. They embarrass us as a country, but for those who have repented from a damaging and destructive past, the images should bring us to our knees in prayer. Racists have polluted minds, twisted by an ideology that reinforces the false belief that they are superior to others.

CNN reported that the tragedy in Charlottesville changed another mind. Just last June, Billy Joel told Rolling Stone:

I am a private citizen and I have a right to believe in my own political point of view, but I try not to get up on a soapbox and tell people how to think.

Then we have neo-Nazis in a torchlight parade passing in front of a synagogue chanting anti-Semitic slogans, a rally the next day leaving three dead and 19 injured, and a president unable to hold those who came for racist and anti-Semitic goals responsible without mealy-mouthing.

Attention gotten, Joel appeared at his 43rd sold out show at Madison Square Garden wearing a gold Star of David on his jacket, front and back.

Joel is not an observant Jew, but his father was a political refugee from mass murder in Nazi Germany, coming to the U.S. by way of Switzerland and Cuba.

**********

George and Amal Clooney announced a gift of a million dollars to the Southern Poverty Law Center in a press release that remarked, “There are no two sides to bigotry and hate.”

The SPLC bankrupted the KKK by suing them for burning Vietnamese shrimp boats in Texas and did the same to the Aryan Nation in Idaho when they terrorized an Indian woman and her son at gunpoint.

**********

The BBC reported that German police have seized about 5,000 “carrot colored” ecstasy pills shaped like Donald Trump’s head. In case anybody missed the resemblance, the reverse side of the pills said “TRUMP.” They were marketed with the slogan, “Trump makes partying great again.”

[text_ad]

**********

With all this public and aggressive racism going on and the president confused enough to see “very fine people” marching with the KKK, it’s hard not to sort people into racial boxes, even when you know the boxes are fake.

So, I’m ashamed to say, when I read on CNN’s news feed about a white kid suffering an injustice I associate with Indian kids, I had a “those people” knee jerk. That was stupid and wrong. Neither that kid nor his parents had anything to do with what has happened to Indian kids and if that school district had an Indian boy, he’d be in the same boat.

Jabez Oates, 4, has been chucked out of the Mont Belvieu, Texas public schools until he cuts his hair. He has never had a haircut and doesn’t want one.

Unlike an Indian kid, he has no religious freedom argument. He’s too young for the phrase “xenophobic idiocy,” but that’s the fact of it. It’s stupid and wrong when they do it to Indian kids and I can’t see how doing it to white kids improves it.