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How Did I Miss That? Rescue Dogs at SXSW; Young Gun Misfires

German shepherds are police dogs, Lassie the collie is a movie star, and St. Bernards are rescue dogs, slogging though a snowstorm in the Alps with a keg of brandy around their big, furry necks. Consequence of Sound reported from South by Southwest that persons who were about to lose cell phone power at the music festival could tweet a photo of their battery charge level and current location to Mophie, the maker of portable chargers.

Mophie would dispatch a living representative of the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation. Given the Austin location of SSW, you might expect the dog to be wearing a keg of tequila, but in fact the big woofer is bringing you a Mophie charger for your cell phone.

My cousin Ray Sixkiller noted that St. Bernards are big dogs. “There ought to be room on board for just a snort of tequila.”

Stock picking guru Jim Cramer was celebrating the 10th anniversary of his TV show, Mad Money, when he moved on to the next customary segment:

“Let’s take some calls. The first one is Tim in California. Tim?”

“This is Tim Cook calling from Cupertino.”

Cramer’s staff had set up a call-in interview with the CEO of Apple, a major “get” for a show about investments. Cramer did regain his composure quickly enough to take advantage of the opportunity, but it was touch and go for a while.

“Cramer didn’t ask what I wanted to know,” Cousin Ray complained. “Why does my iPhone keep asking me if I want to buy an Apple watch?”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent turned down a bonus of $2.5 million for his performance in 2014 because he did not meet his performance goals but did fire some 2,000 employees. His compensation still rose 20 percent to $25.2 million, still down from $30.4 million in 2012. “A clear case of things go better with Coke,” Cousin Ray chuckled, “if you have money.”

Time reported that Sheriff’s deputies in Franklin County, Kentucky have recovered five barrels of stolen Wild Turkey bourbon valued between $3,700 and $6,000 each. The Sheriff declined to speculate whether this theft was related to a still unsolved 2013 theft of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon valued at $25,000.

NBC reported that Gilbert Curtsinger, 45, in whose back yard the stolen Wild Turkey was found, was an employee of the distillery victimized in 2013. The raid that recovered the Wild Turkey also turned up a cache of firearms and steroids. “At those prices,” Cousin Ray noticed, “only Muhtar Kent could afford a bourbon and Coke.”

A sign posted in an Oklahoma City mall kicked off a raging Facebook debate. The sign admonishes parents that little boys over six should be sent into the men’s room rather than going in the ladies’ room with mom. Cousin Ray speculated they caught some kid sitting on the john reading Playboy, “but only for the Dick Cheney interview.”

National Public Radio reported on a dandy kerfuffle Belgium kicked off by minting a two Euro coin commemorating Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo. France, apparently still sentimental about le petit caporal, objected…with a bit of poor timing, since 180,000 of the coins were already minted. Rather than force a vote by the European Council of Ministers, Belgium agreed to issue the coins as novelties for collectors rather than legal tender.

Sky News reported that doctors at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, have performed the world’s first successful penis transplant. The 21-year-old patient lost his equipment as a result of traditional male genital mutilation AKA circumcision. An estimated 250 penis amputations take place every year in South Africa as a result of traditional circumcision. Cousin Ray was wondering where they got the organ they transplanted?

The Economist reported that a research team from the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol has built a working prototype of a urinal that generates electricity and therefore light for the building where people go to deposit the fuel for what the researchers call urinicity or P-power. Oxfam is excited about applications to refugee camps where people are often in danger of assault without lighting. The research was funded in part by the Gates Foundation.

WOAI reported that a Bexar County, Texas jury has awarded two former strippers a quarter of a million dollars in back pay from Tiffany’s Cabaret. The club had claimed that wage and hour laws did not apply because accepting “fees” for lap dances made the women independent contractors. The women claimed the lap dances were done for tips and the jury agreed, triggering a right to minimum wage and time and half for more than 40 hours in a week. Spokesmen for strip clubs were crying about “the impact on the industry,” which I took to mean raising the price of lap dances, which would not happen if the women were in fact independent contractors.

KEYE reported that an ex-Marine in Arlington, Texas is suing Vixen Vapors over burns sustained when an E-cigarette battery exploded in his pocket. The man’s attorney said suing the maker of the battery was not possible, because it was made in China by a business that could not be identified. “Ain’t globalization wonderful?” Cousin Ray snarked.

Gallup released a new poll that found neither of the two major political parties can crack 40 percent favorable ratings. Normally, the popularity of Democrats and Republicans are like a seesaw---one side goes up and the other side goes down. Both down at the same time is a first. 43 percent of Americans now identify as independents, and that would include yours truly, after having held office as a Democrat and been a sustaining member of the party.

While the two parties are not equally to blame for the cesspool in Washington, corporate money has captured both parties. The choice is between corporations. I’d rather be ruled by Apple than Exxon, Google than Koch Enterprises, but I cannot stomach legal equality between corporate people and human people, let alone corporate superiority, so the corporate persons will have to party on without me.

Thanks to a Politico open records request, Illinois voters won’t have Aaron Schock representing their best interests any more. Schock, last seen in these pages billing the taxpayers to make his office look like the set of a TV show and for a private jet to carry him to a Bears game, has now resigned after news became public that Schock has billed the taxpayers for 170,000 miles driven on official business in his Chevrolet Tahoe. When he sold the Tahoe, the odometer read about 80,000 miles.

Schock was elected at age 27, the first Congressman to be born in the 1980s, one of the “Young Guns.” The Young Guns were founded by Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan. Cantor, the House Majority Leader, was beaten in his 2014 primary. “Sounds like,” Cousin Ray commented, “the Young Guns were shooting blanks.” He went on to wonder if Rep. Schock billed the taxpayers for the ammo?

Schock’s father claimed the problem was that his son “is different” because he “wears stylish clothing, but he’s not gay.” My Republican Cousin Ray had to admit that the problem was who paid for Rep. Schock’s style choices.

Cantor was the last non-Christian Republican in Congress, so he was not around to threaten when the Seattle Times reported Public Policy Polling asked Republican voters (because PPP piggybacked on a GOP Primary poll) whether they would support “establishing Christianity as the national religion of the United States.”

57 percent would support the idea and 13 percent were undecided. The final 30 percent apparently favor the Constitution, since the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and Article Six, which bans any religious test for public office, should answer the question. PPP is a Democratic polling operation but they have an excellent track record for accuracy.

Oregon has just headed in the opposite direction from the slew of voter suppression laws that started in 19 Republican controlled states just before the 2012 elections. https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/election-2012-voting-laws-roundup Oregon has reversed the usual opt in voter registration to opt out. Using the driver’s license records, for which citizenship must be proven, everyone is automatically registered to vote and has 21 days to opt out.

Good for Oregon, but I do disagree with limiting driver licenses to citizens. This is not out of concern for aliens but for those of us who have to share the road with them whether or not they have licenses or insurance. The license represents a minimal standard of competence behind the wheel and, as important, the license bureau is the choke point to require liability insurance.

Most Indians know somebody in the U.S. military, which just got less safe with Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory in the Israeli elections. Netanyahu got explicitly racist toward the end, threatening the civil rights of Israeli Arabs, and he came out against the two state solution to the Palestinian issue. His attack on Israeli Arabs meant he’s against the one state solution as well.

The U.S. is still on the bus with Israel and with Netanyahu driving, the danger brings to mind a scene in Independence Day where the POTUS is trying to negotiate with one of the invading aliens.

“What do you want from us?”

“Die! Die!”

“Now,” Cousin Ray commented, “maybe people will understand how Indians felt between 1492 and 1890.”

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