HuffPost reprinted a photo essay documenting the last day in the life of Duke, a black lab, suffering from osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Duke’s family made that call dreaded by those of us who keep companion animals. They had to identify the point where his quality of life was gone, but Duke’s people went one step further and filled his last hours with all the things that gave him joy. Everybody who has known a lab recognizes the perpetual puppy in their temperament, and Duke was channeling his inner puppy throughout the process.
The pictures are bittersweet because they bring back memories of the four-legged friends who have enriched my life. I tried to help them walk on with more dignity than we typically allow human beings. Like human beings, each one was a distinct personality.
I agree with my favorite Cherokee, Will Rogers, who said, “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” R.I.P. Duke.
Across the Atlantic, the nation still reeling from the economic fallout of the vote to leave the E.U. got a little diversion that did not involve rising prices or lost jobs.
After the Brexit referendum, hissing and spitting continued in the U.K. when Larry the Cat—who kept his Civil Service position at 10 Downing Street after former Prime Minister David Cameron made his Brexit exit—chose to take up for Cameron by invading the turf of the new Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.
Larry quickly encountered the Foreign Service cat, Palmerston, and feline fisticuffs ensued. The British tabloid press, always objective, declared Larry had prevailed in spite of the plain fact that the Chief Mouser of 10 Downing Street required veterinary care for an injured leg.
While the British tabloids were being catty, the East Coast in the U.S. was focused on a missing bird. The news percolated for several days but NJ.com reported the seriousness got ramped up when Crime Stoppers of Hunterdon County posted a $250 reward for information concerning the disappearance of Clinton, New Jersey’s rubber ducky.
The missing bird looks like every other yellow rubber ducky floating in your child’s bathtub except it is a bit larger than a Volkswagen. It was last seen floating in the Raritan River near the Hunterdon Art Museum at 10 pm July 17. There have been no ransom demands.
No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the ducknapping, but authorities pointed out that a Statue of Liberty floating in the same part of the river also disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
“There is no truth to the rumor,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller cautioned, “that the rubber ducky failed to endorse Chris Christie.”
Poor Chris Christie. It’s hard to feel sorry for a blowhard with so little regard for others, but Christie had, as The New York Times said, a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” that became a bad week after Donald J. Trump passed him over for the VP slot he lusted after to the point of self-abasement.
Christie made himself hard to satirize when The New Yorker reported seriously that he had made a burger run for The Donald and satirist Andy Borowitz reported that Christie drew the line at picking up Trump’s dry cleaning.
In one day last week, one Christie appointee copped a plea in the scandal over closing the busiest bridge in the country to cause traffic havoc for a small town mayor who had refused to endorse Christie, while another was indicted in a related scandal at the same agency, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, that involved allegations of shaking down United Airlines.
If Trump wins, he will find something for Chris Christie, but Christie will have to bear snide remarks like the one a GOP operative delivered to the Times on the prospect of making Christie Secretary of Transportation, that Christie “has some experience there, controlling bridges and planes and that sort of thing.”
There appeared to be one less federal job when New Scientist reported that NASA has licensed the Curiosity rover, prowling the surface of Mars since 2012, to open fire with its laser cannon without a command by a human operator. The laser is connected to ChemCam, an instrument tasked to determine the chemical composition of rocks. ChemCam zaps rocks and analyzes the gases released.
Now that Curiosity has a double O license, it is no longer required to clear shots with mission control.
“E.T.,” Cousin Ray shouted, “phone 911!”
Reuters released a video of Pepper, a robot just brought to market in Taiwan that claims to be “the first personal robot that can read emotions.” Pepper is currently for sale only to corporate clients, not retail consumers, but he or she is meant to use programmed empathetic skills in jobs like babysitting and, eventually, nursing. Can RoboCop be far behind?
The Hacker News reported that a “bug bounty program” announced two months ago by PornHub paid off its first bounty to a team of three researchers who uncovered a method to either pirate user data or run malware on the mammoth pornography site. The hackers got a total of $22,000 for disclosing the vulnerability.
Cousin Ray was impressed. “A porn site pays hackers less to avoid hacking than a bank pays for advertising false claims it can’t be hacked. Seriously?
Those folks who still have Jim Thorpe fever enough to go crazy for the Olympics must have already figured out some way to avoid the Brazilian mosquitoes with their malaria/dengue fever/Zika viruses. Maybe they have finessed the fact that Olympic swimming, sailing, and rowing events are scheduled to run in raw sewage and all the teams are scheduling with advance estimates of the number of athletes that will be sidelined by infections.
The waters off the storied beaches of Ipanema, in a recent study, hosted fecal coliform at three times the level acceptable for human bathing. After a rain, both Ipanema and Copacabana are toilets and they smell like it.
Authorities recommend hepatitis A vaccine for anybody going near the water and a study by Associated Press reported that ingesting three teaspoons of water from Guanabara Bay—the Olympic sailing venue—yielded a 99 percent chance of an infection.
If the mosquitoes or the feces don’t get you, the criminals might. CNN reported that Rio police called a press conference to announce, in advance of the Olympics, “We can’t protect you!”
Cousin Ray claims that the judo competition in Brazil has added a timed event called “disarming an assailant.”
The shooting events will be enlivened this year by taking place in the favelas around Rio, where the targets will be encouraged to shoot back.
The Olympic anti-doping rules will be suspended for athletes that test positive for dengue, chikungunya, or Zika.
The 50-yard dash to the toilet was approved for competition.; bobbing for turds was not.
The sometimes expensive and painful removal of women’s pubic hair known as “the Brazilian” will be un-necessary, since infections likely to result from visiting the Rio beaches cause pubic hair to fall out.
The Department of Defense has updated its manual called Law of War to clarify that reporters are non-combatants and entitled to the same protections as other civilians caught in a war zone.
“There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray reminded me, “that the new rule does not apply to Geraldo Rivera.”
China appears to be spoiling for a fight over a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that China has no historic claim to the South China Sea, where the Chinese have been building artificial islands and claiming extraterritorial jurisdictions around them.
Turkey has turned the electricity back on at Incirlik Air Force Base. The juice was cut during the attempted coup against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, who appears to have finally quit blaming the U.S. officially.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) speaking to the Democratic Convention about how much work will be required to beat Donald Trump:
You all have jobs. You all have families. Ignore them.
Bernie Sanders supporter Sarah Silverman was more to the point when she answered boos from the “Bernie or Bust” crowd:
You’re being ridiculous.
CNN commentator Scottie Nell Hughes described Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine’s speech at a Florida rally “divisive” because he delivered it in Spanish. Hughes told Wolf Blitzer, “I didn’t have to get a translator for anything that was going on at the RNC this week.”
Apparently, Hughes missed GOP Sen. Ralph Alvarado’s speech to the RNC. She did admit that Melania Trump speaks five languages but Ms. Trump was deemed polite enough to hide her language ability.
“English,” Cousin Ray reminded me, “was good enough for Jesus.” He went on to speculate that Hughes would have really gone ballistic if a candidate broke into Navajo or Cherokee or any other indigenous tongue.
I, too, would go ballistic to hear a candidate speaking Indian, but ballistic in a good way.