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How Did I Miss That? Lassie's Back; $38 Million Ferrari

A comeback is in the works for a canine star from 1938. The New York Times calculated that date would make Lassie’s career span 532 dog years. Still, Lassie retains an 83 percent brand awareness, with the most common associations being “loyal” and “hero” and “heartwarming.” “Run that dog for Congress!” exclaimed my cousin Ray Sixkiller. “She’s got a better reputation, she’s harder-working and she’s smarter.”

The new owners of the Lassie brand, DreamWorks Animation, have determined that she’s unlikely to make it again in the movies, since she can’t drive and there are only so many ways a dog could blow stuff up, so they are going to cash in on her good reputation to make her a merchandising star. To that end, Lassie has been on a national publicity tour and has accepted a pro bono gig as “animal ambassador” for a world-class rescue center my wife and I visited in Utah last month, Best Friends Animal Society.

Doctors David Fedson and Steven Opal published an op-ed in The New York Times arguing that there is good evidence that Ebola can be treated with statin drugs, which are widely available and cheap. They support the recent authorization for use of experimental Ebola drugs that have not been tested on humans because the current outbreak is an emergency but they advocate documented use of statins on Ebola patients for the same reason. The big money was milked out of statins when their patents expired. “Fewer drug company honchos driving Ferraris if old drugs work on Ebola,” as Cousin Ray saw it.

Speaking of Ferraris, The New York Times posted a video of an auction in Pebble Beach, California where a Ferrari 250 GTO became the most expensive car ever sold at $38 million. “Dang,” Cousin Ray complained, “if I hadn’t needed a bathroom break, I woulda got that sucker.”

Before leaving the Ebola outbreak entirely, I note that the two American healthcare workers who were evacuated from Africa with Ebola infections have been released from Emory University Hospital, virus free. I am not informed whether those who publicly objected to bringing them home to be cured or to die will now apologize.

Speaking of apologies for which we should not hold our breath, The Washington Post reported that Bank of America agreed to pay $17 billion for its part in the massive frauds that nearly brought on a depression, eclipsing the $13 billion paid by JP Morgan Chase and the $7 billion paid by Citigroup. On the news, Bank of America stock spiked 4.12 per cent at the bell and continued to rise in after hours trading. The Post quoted Bart Nalor of the watchdog group Public Citizen, “The penalties are being paid by the shareholders, so where is the justice?”

Montana Democrats, down for the count in their battle to keep the U.S. senate seat held by John Walsh, have staggered to their feet after eight and discovered the fight, er, election is not over. To oppose the millionaire Republican Congressman (if that’s not redundant) Steve Daines, who was trouncing Walsh in the polls even before the plagiarism scandal, the Democrats have selected State Rep. Amanda Curtis, 34, a high school math teacher who is the daughter of a union worker and who grew up with a first hand knowledge of food stamps. She was nominated when everybody connected statewide refused the uphill battle, apparently on the strength of YouTube videos she posted during the legislative session.

She has no money to Daines’ $4 million and no organization and no chance, since the election’s in three months. Under Federal Election Commission rules. Sen. Walsh is not allowed to turn over the $713,000 in his campaign kitty to Ms. Curtis. Cousin Ray pointed out, “you can’t door knock a state the size of Montana in three months.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been indicted for threatening a veto of funding for the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney in order to force her to resign after a conviction for driving while intoxicated. Had she resigned, Perry would have named her successor. The indictment has launched a stinging round of ridicule.

I am weary of Texas being the butt of so many political jokes. Of course, when we keep electing these political jokes, and they keep showing their butts, there is some cosmic justice in the resulting discourse.

There are three reasons why this indictment is a bad idea, and the first is that it subjects the great state of Texas to national ridicule.

The second is that, like every legal blade, this one would have two edges if upheld. The whole point of public debate on the wisdom of the line item veto is that it empowers the executive to play politics with appropriations and normally only the legislature gets to play politics with appropriations. 

The third is…er…I can’t think of the third.

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Bloomberg Businessweek published a tasty research article scientifically demonstrating that the ratio of Twitter mentions between kale and bacon perfectly correlates with Democratic and Republican votes. I thought my Republican Cousin Ray’s recent move to the middle was the Tea Party running him off. Now I understand it’s his liking for kale and bacon sandwiches.

The Daily Beast carried a report that showed the Ferguson, Missouri police, accused of shooting Michael Brown for jaywalking, are nothing if not creative. On September 20, 2009, Ferguson police swore out a complaint charging Henry Davis, 52, with “destruction of property” for bleeding on the uniforms of four officers who caused the bleeding by beating him.

Davis was in custody in the first place under a warrant for a different man with the same surname but a different middle name and Social Security number. He had driven off the freeway to get out of a rainstorm. Lucky for Davis, he did not get caught jaywalking, which, Cousin Ray remarked, “is the subject of a nationwide crackdown."

NBC News reported that the good paranoids at the Department of Homeland Security have bought the bustling metropolis of Keene, New Hampshire, an armored Bearcat anti-terrorism vehicle to protect the annual Pumpkin Festival and a Ballistic Armored Tactical Transport (BATT) for the Bossier Parish, Louisiana Sheriff, in case of an invasion by terrorist crawfish.

“There is no truth to the rumor,” said Cousin Ray, “that Missouri has enacted a death penalty for littering and hired SEAL Team Six to enforce it.”

Speaking of littering, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch aka Trash Vortex is now hundreds of miles across and so thick in places you can stand on it, according to recent observations by its discoverer, Charles Moore. The trash cannot be measured by satellite because much of it consists of plastic particles floating just beneath the ocean’s surface. The Pacific Garbage Parch is the largest of five known “gyres” that collect floating trash in the world’s oceans. Scientists claim that a concentrated effort to clean the gyres would take about five years and collect 7.25 million tons of plastic.

Amnesty International has sent observers to the disturbances in Ferguson, Missouri. Foreign Policy reported on some Twitter reactions:

@Oopsy. Somebody in the tweet department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington tweeted their mind yesterday in response to an Amnesty International tweet earlier yesterday but is now in the doghouse.

@AI: US can't tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won't clean up its own human rights record.

@CSIS: @AI your work has saved far fewer lives than American intervention. So suck it.

The inevitable apology came just a bit later: @CSIS Our sincerest apologies to @amnesty & our followers. Our last tweet was sent in error. We're reviewing internal policies for social media.

Reuters reported that armed robbers attacked a Saudi Arabian prince's convoy in Paris on Sunday night, allegedly seizing around 250,000 euros ($335,000) in cash and sensitive documents. The convoy had been heading for Le Bourget Airport. A group of heavily armed men attacked the last car in the convoy and then drove off in it. The police speculated that the robbers knew the victims’ plans. Cousin Ray asked, “Doesn’t that nail it down to a few bankers?”

National Geographic reported that a NASA probe has captured “space dust” thought to be from beyond our solar system. “Hah,” Cousin Ray snorted, “there’s dust in my grandson’s room I’d bet is older!”