USA Today reported the significance of October 21, 2015. That date was a time travel destination in 1989’s Back to the Future, Part II. It’s the most significant case of a date catching up with fiction since 1984, from the 1949 book where George Orwell anticipated Eric Snowden, or 2001: A Space Odyssey, a date which reminded us that earthlings did not have a research station on the moon (although we did have the International Space Station since 1998). Space Odyssey’s 1968 predictions seemed on the way when men walked on the moon just a year later, but the U.S. backed out of exploring to support the most expensive military on the planet.
Now we depend on the Russians for rides to and from the ISS, which may be good for international harmony but what it says about the U.S. sense of curiosity is as sad as ceding the Superconducting Super Collider to Switzerland. This decline in motivation is an important backdrop to the Back to the Future report card.
The most unlikely thing in Part II, my cousin Ray Sixkiller pointed out, was the Cubs winning the World Series. This year, the Cubs made the playoffs. The Cubbies always succumb to Murphy’s Law in October, and this year Murphy’s first name is Daniel, but an appearance in the playoffs is unlikely enough to require props to Back to the Future. Beside the rise of the Cubs, flying cars and hoverboards are trivial.
Lexus has made a hoverboard and a hoverboard park in Barcelona. However, Lexus has no plans to market the hoverboard at this time and the most scientifically advanced car, the Tesla, does not yet fly.
Back to the Future anticipated biometric identification and life sized holograms, but was too conservative on telephone booths and fax machines—primitive gear almost extinguished by cell phones and email.
Cousin Ray is still holding his breath for self-lacing sneakers while making do with Velcro.
Oklahoma Indians got some time travel in the sense of déjà vu all over again when the Associated Press reported Chesapeake Energy Corporation has been assessed a civil penalty of $2.1 million for practicing the tradition of under reporting the amount of natural gas produced on Oklahoma Indian leases. The royalties due the Indians are tied to the amount of production.
The Department of the Interior had ordered Chesapeake back in 2011 to audit reports for more than 100 Indian leases. Chesapeake claimed compliance in 2012 but additional under reporting was found in 2013.
Cousin Ray seemed distracted. “I was just wondering,” he explained, “what white folks who leased to Chesapeake must be thinking?”
Always time traveling to November 22, 1963, the Secret Service has extended protection to Donald Trump and Ben Carson and beefed up the security detail assigned to ex-FLOTUS Hillary Clinton.
The Donald cited the size of the crowds he draws as a security threat, but something a bit more concrete was threatened in the Twitter account attributed to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman after Trump commented on his prison escape. TeleSUR, the Venezuelan TV network, reported a rumor that El Chapo has put a bounty on Trump.
Cousin Ray was wondering whether El Chapo could outbid the GOP establishment?
Carson has been getting death threats in numbers not seen since the Obama campaign, and he attributes that to the asinine things he’s said about Muslims. More likely, it’s the same reason as the Obama threats and the same reason Herman Cain was the first candidate to get Secret Service protection last election. White supremacy is alive in the U.S. and as well as it’s ever been.
“There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray chuckled, “that Carson refuses to release his birth certificate.
CBC reported that Canada’s election of Liberal Justin Trudeau to replace Conservative Stephen Harper means less spending on military hardware. Trudeau promised to scuttle the plan to purchase 65 F-35 Strike Fighters at a cost of $44 billion and to scale back the purchase of Arctic patrol ships from eight to five or six.
Cousin Ray was scandalized. “How will Canada prosecute the war with Iran when the U.S. starts it?”
The Hill reported that Tea Party Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) proposes to impeach Hillary Clinton as soon as she takes office and before she has a chance to do anything.
“You gotta admit,” Cousin Ray snarked, “it would save time and money to go directly from the swearing in to the impeachment.”
The Hightower Lowdown reported that a Louisiana corporation, Harvest Time Seafood, came up with an inventive way to take advantage of Mexicans in the country on H-2 “guest worker” visas. On the canning line, foremen would squeeze the juice from the crabmeat the Mexicans had extracted from the crab’s exoskeleton, causing it to weigh less. The workers were paid by weight. Before the meat went into cans, the juice was added back in!
“Guests” are only allowed by law to work for the corporation that sponsored their H-2 visa, so a complaint is a ticket home. The Labor Department investigated what they could last year and found violations of the law in 82 percent of the cases. Congress refuses to fund enough investigators to enforce the law or to assess fees on employers to do so.
Telemundo journalist José Díaz-Balart, who inherited The Rundown on MSNBC from Chuck Todd when Todd took over the iconic Meet the Press, reported that Whitney Beall, 23, of Lakeland, Florida, used the Periscope app to record herself driving drunk. Beall had Periscoped her evening of drinking and, upon leaving the bar, she remarked, “I am drunk beyond belief, people. Let’s see if I get a DUI. I don’t think I will.”
Smartphone broadcasting, she weaved, sped, ran into curbs, and got lost. The Lakeland Police Department got numerous 911 calls trying to stop her before she hit a person rather than the curb, but action was delayed because nobody understood Periscope.
When police finally figured it out, they got an idea of her general location from a landmark on her broadcast. One officer had Periscope on his personal smart phone and so was able to see her live feed. Her broadcast continued as she hit the curb again, got stopped, failed a sobriety test, and ended up in the crossbar hotel.
José Díaz-Balart last made news when Donald Trump yelled at him during a press availability, “You’re finished.” It was unclear in the context whether The Donald meant he would not take the question or that the question would cost Díaz-Balart his job. Trump did not let him finish the question but Díaz-Balart is still working.
Salon reported that Ben Carson is “suspending” his presidential campaign to hawk his book, A More Perfect Union, just in case anybody wants to get instructions on constitutional law from a guy who had to be informed that document guarantees no religious test for political office. “Suspending” is normally what candidates say when they quit. If they say “ending,” then they cannot continue to raise money and pay bills.
“So what?” Cousin Ray snorted, “Every time the debt ceiling comes up the Tea Party proves they think it’s OK not to pay bills. Not to mention all the people Carly Fiorina stiffed from her senate campaign.”
Forbes reported on the wealth of all the presidential candidates. Carly Fiorina, known for stiffing her campaign staff, comes in at $58 million, second only to The Donald.
The Washington Post reported that Fiorina neglected to pay about $500,000 in bills from her unsuccessful California senate race, including $30,000 owed to the widow of a campaign staffer for her late husband’s work. At the same time, she managed to pay back $1.3 million she had lent her campaign. She settled up the bills before announcing for POTUS.
The only candidate with negative net worth is Martin O’Malley, who took on debt to put his kids though college. He’s one of three at the bottom worth less than a million, the other two being Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders. The Donald is the only one worth billions.
Raw Story reported that Tom Carter, an actor in a reenactment of the “shootout at the OK corral” in Tombstone, Arizona, shot a fellow actor and a bystander with live bullets. The actor was in good condition after surgery and the bystander refused treatment.
The historical incident happened in 1881 and took 30 seconds. It took the lives of Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers, Tom and Frank. On the law enforcement side, Virgil and Morgan Earp were wounded. Doc Holliday was grazed by a bullet that hit his holster. Wyatt Earp was unscathed, as were Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne.
According to the Rapid City Journal, the same kind of accident in 2011 sent three tourists to the hospital with gunshot wounds from Hill City, South Dakota.
Cousin Ray was glum. “I suppose this means my Greasy Grass reenactment is cancelled?”