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How Did I Miss That? Cow Lottery; Zombie Apocalypse Polled

WFAA reported that a cow in Dekalb, Texas named Fifteen (no known relation to Seven of Nine) has given birth to quadruplets. The attending veterinarian said that the chance of a cow delivering living quadruplets is “more than 1 in 11 million.” Dr. Michael Baird has taken DNA samples to quiet skeptics.

I wish I could be more skeptical about a report in Jim Hightower’s Lowdown. There are 158,000 kindergarten teachers in the U.S. All put together, they took home $8.3 billion in 2013. In the same year, the top four hedge fund managers took home $10.4 billion. Hightower invited readers to guess which group pays a higher percentage of their income in taxes.

DuffelBlog reported that the Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department has cleared the merger of ISIS and Boko Haram, surprising the interveners from Al Qaeda. However, the Civil Rights Division is opening an investigation of the ISIS “kill list” because it contains no female GIs at all. Did I mention this column is being written on April 1?

The New York Times reported that the forces of the bloody-handed Chadian dictator Idriss Déby have handed Boko Haram its ass in Nigeria but are now unable to advance because Nigerian troops have not arrived to occupy the territory Chad is ready to hand back from the terrorist group. The Times called Déby “a small-country president cleaning up a far bigger and richer one’s mess.” From here, it appears that expedience in lying down with dogs will once more bring on fleas.

Slapping incompetence if not fleas, Nigerian voters ousted bumbling Goodluck Jonathan for a former military dictator, Muhammadu Buhari, who claims to be a convert to democracy. Some observers expressed surprise that Jonathan complied with the election results, but the acid test will be if Buhari does. Cousin Ray pointed out that one election does not confer an office for life “except in some tribal governments where terms end with federal indictments.”

I remain amazed that people who don’t trust government to fix potholes trust that same government with life and death.

Debra Milke was exonerated and released from Arizona’s death row after 22 years, the 151st innocent person found on death row and the second woman. The 151 spent an average of 11.2 years on death row. Only 20 of the cases turned on DNA.

Milke had been convicted of hiring the killer of her child to collect a $5,000 insurance policy. That’s five thousand. The evidence was the she allegedly confessed to a detective in an interrogation that was not witnessed or recorded and the detective even claimed he lost his notes, making cross-examination futile and short. The prosecutor did not tell the defense that the detective had been disciplined for lying in several cases much less serious than capital murder.

In other legal news, the Sugar Land Sun reported that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a pretrial challenge to the law against “animal crush” videos. Ashley Richards, 24, and Brent Justice, 53, both of Houston, are accused of torturing and killing puppies, chickens, and kittens to produce videos for sale. The case will now be set for trial in federal court. They face separate animal cruelty charges in state court.

I noticed another case of inexplicable cruelty when visiting the Idaho Fish and Game website to check on the status of the lab reports from the die-off of snow geese reported last week. This item got my attention:

Nine snow geese were shot and wasted and Fish and Game Conservation Officers need your help. 

According to Senior Conservation Officer Lauren Lane, "The snow geese appear to have been shot within the last several days, and were left to waste in Fremont County near Teton and Newdale." 

The last snow goose seasons closed on March 10 in Idaho.

I can understand poaching by a person who is hungry and desperate. I cannot understand shooting game and leaving it where it falls.

Turning from threats to non-human animals by humans to threats that put us more clearly in the same boat, a YouGov poll addressed the pressing question: What do you think will be the most likely cause of the apocalypse? Answers ranged from nuclear war (28 percent) to alien invasion (one percent). The margin of error was four percent.

Science took a pounding when climate change tied with Judgment Day at 16 percent. Nine percent expected a worldwide revolution, leading me to wonder against whom? A hardy two percent anticipates zombies. That two percent watches too much C-SPAN.

Eight percent think the cause of the apocalypse has not appeared yet and a full 20 percent do not expect an apocalypse. Personally, I think the apocalypse will arrive when a tribal government imposes taxation that reaches non-resident tribal citizens. Cousin Ray figured it will be set off when the U.S. Supreme Court equates tribal sovereignty with state sovereignty.

State governments can make the same kinds of messes tribal governments do, and Politico reported on the mess Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, the location of my second career, made and then made worse on national TV when he could not explain his anti-gay law as anything but what it is. The Indiana University honcho had to disclaim discrimination, one business after another did the same, and the final straw was a front-page editorial in the Indianapolis Star demanding “Fix This Now.”

Having gifted bigotry with legal cover, Pence’s problem now is how to withdraw that cover without taking hits from the very people he was happy to have at the bill signing. He’s now agreed to the kind of amendment that was voted down in the original debate to say that religious freedom in public matters does not trump anti-discrimination laws like it does in private matters.

The Daily Mail reported on the celebrity wedding of Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter, noting the “jaw-dropping” custom made bridal gown by Valentino. Custom made because she’s very pregnant, which gives me an excuse to offer legal advice in light of modern mating habits: having a child together is a reason to get married because you cannot replicate the advantages to the child outside of marriage. I’m not advocating shotgun weddings. Just saying that the third person you have brought to the relationship is helpless and real men take care of all children, but especially their own.

Paul Westerhoff of Arizona State University and six others published a study in Environmental Science and Technology about the feasibility of mining….ah…er….human solid waste. They estimate that just the 13 most valuable elements present would be worth $280 per ton of sludge, the technical scientific name for the goo that is left after separating the solids from the water that goes down the toilet. Among the elements currently flushed in commercial quantities are silver, gold, chromium, and titanium.

I would be skeptical if I had not studied at the University of Nevada near enough to a major mining school to lose my shock at 30 tons of ore bathed in cyanide for an ounce of gold. Interviewed in Science, Westerhoff cited one city in Japan that currently extracts gold from sewage, retrieving two kilograms per metric ton of ash left from burning sludge. Cousin Ray’s comment on extracting gold from human excrement was “finally, Congress will be doing something useful!”

CNBC reported on the resignation of a wealthy investment banker who will not be named in this column because his name is not news but his situation is. While he made the usual claim that he quit “to focus on family matters,” the divorce then pending included a pleading by his estranged wife that contained “allegations of cocaine and mushroom use, a four-person orgy involving a client and anecdotes of questionable parenting.”

After running down a number of other messy affairs involving Wall Street titans, CNBC quoted one of the lawyers about what is happening to the poor rich people "Money, sex, drugs, betrayal, domestic abuse and dirty low-down tricks all playing out in a public courtroom." Cousin Ray claimed he hadn’t seen so much excitement since a tribal official ran his pickup truck into a ditch and then his wife locked the door on him when he got home. I reminded him about when it came out that former Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith had two families.

CNBC’s point is that we’ve always treated entertainers this way, and the media circus has expanded to include politicians. There was no reporting on extramarital hijinks by FDR, Dwight Eisenhower or JFK. Now it’s normal political reporting and the tabloids are expanding their publicity net to rich people. “There’s no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray snickered, “that Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress will be displayed at the Clinton Presidential Library.”

The Cherokee Phoenix reported that a non-Indian couple was asked to leave an advanced Cherokee language course offered by the Cherokee Cultural and Community Outreach Program. The couple had already been studying the Cherokee language at Northeastern State University, and they agreed to the condition of the Master-Apprentice Program that they teach Cherokee for two years. Cousin Ray wondered if tribal government would next demand that Tahlequah take down the street signs in English and Cherokee because non-Indians might see them?