Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globe Awards proved there is life after making rape jokes. “Maybe so,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller commented, “but will they survive making fun of Bill Cosby?”
Pope Francis scored more points with those who consider occupants of the Chair of Peter too tightly wrapped when he endorsed breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel. Apparently, some of the 33 babies lined up to be baptized were hungry. People reported that was the second time the Pontiff endorsed public breastfeeding, which ought to quiet some who see a “moral” issue.
There was no word on whether Pope Francis would support the protests against Instagram for censoring female nipples. According to Gawker, the celebrity who brought the most followers to her topless photos on Instagram is Miley Cyrus. Chelsea Handler and Rihanna were early victims of censorship that led to the #FreeTheNipple campaign.
The Chinese made a trifecta of men unable to deal with women’s breasts when government censors re-edited a Tang Dynasty drama to turn the cameras away from costumes that showed the mere existence of female equipment. No nipples there. The Independent reported that snarky bloggers changed the title from The Saga of Wu Zetian to The Saga of Wu’s Breasts, a small part of the wide rivers of snark the government got.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported the development of “unhackable passwords,” gizmos that use biometrics. A scanner for your iris. A wristband to compare your distinctive electrocardiogram. Finally, there was a cell phone app that requires you to take a selfie and contains facial recognition software. After assuring me, “There’s no truth to the rumor they are working on biometric breasts,” Cousin Ray had a seriously dire thought. “Two out of three,” he said of the new biometric passkeys, “could be defeated by a terrorist who cut off your head.”
Ray was not the only person whose thoughts easily run to terrorism. The Washington Post reported that 13 United Airlines flight attendants were fired for refusing to fly without a new security check when a “creepy” graffito was found on their scheduled aircraft readied to fly from San Francisco to Hong Kong shortly after Malaysia Flight 370 disappeared. The graffito was high on the tail cone and consisted of two faces—one happy; one sinister—with the message “Bye Bye.”
Somebody claiming to be ISIS hacked the CENTCOM Twitter and Youtube accounts. The accounts do not live in the .mil domain, but it was embarrassing. Government sources were sure the hackers were not ISIS because the organization calls itself the Islamic State.
The Paris tragedy brought out the usual political bottom feeders predicting that the U.S. homeland will be struck again, which is a very safe prediction. Of course we’ll be struck again. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) blamed President Obama for failing to label the situation a “religious war,” presumably the 31.5 percent of Christians and the .2 percent of Jews in the world against the 23.2 percent of Muslims. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) blamed Obama for causing Paris by shutting down Gitmo. Rush Limbaugh (R-Balnibarbi) blamed Obama for causing Paris with Benghazi. “There’s no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray assured me, “that the RNC is starting an ad campaign blaming the Paris attacks on Obamacare.”
Saudi Arabia, allegedly our ally in the war on terror, charged Raif Badawi with “insulting Islam” for criticizing the Saudi government on a blog. Sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for this “crime,” Badawi appealed. The appellate court overturned the sentence and gave him 10 years and 1,000 lashes and a fine of $266,600. ABC reported that this week that he got the first installment of 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks.
What really pissed off the Saudis was ridicule, the same thing that got the editor of Charlie Hebdo and most of his staff assassinated, the same thing this column does to U.S. politicians every week.
Raif Badawi’s family has moved to Canada and the U.S. remains best of friends with Saudi Arabia.
After the murders in Paris, Al Qaeda and ISIS engaged in a Twitter war over who could claim “credit” for killing a bunch of satirists. The dispute quickly escalated from Twitter to dueling press statements and no resolution is yet in sight.
Turning from crazy Sunnis to crazy Shi’a, Der Spiegel reported on evidence that Bashar al-Assad still has an active nuclear weapons program eight years after Israel thought it had destroyed Syria’s one nuclear facility. Should North Korea and Iran succeed in promoting Assad to the nuclear club, they would change the balance of power in the Middle East.
Turning from crazy Muslims to crazy Christians, The Denver Post reported that an alleged pastor of New Hope Ministries, Ray Chavez, stopped a funeral 15 minutes into the service to demand that all traces of the late Vanessa Collier’s spouse, Christina, with whom she shared two children, be expunged. The mourners moved to a funeral home.
The surviving staffers of Charlie Hebdo, working from the offices of Libération because their workspace was still behind crime scene tape, met their publication schedule. The good news is that Charlie went to press in 16 languages and three million copies, up from the normal 60,000 copies in French and the three million quickly sold out. The bad news is that most U.S. news outlets are refusing to show the cover, which depicts the Prophet leaking a tear and holding a sign saying “Je suis Charlie” under the caption “Tout est pardonne” (All is forgiven).
Back in Maryland, part of the world where we ridicule politicians, Republican Councilman Kirby Delauter apparently engaged someone to read the First Amendment to him because he apologized for threatening to sue The Frederick News-Post for using his name without his permission! The News-Post took him to task in an editorial headed “Kirby Delauter Kirby Delauter Kirby Delauter.”
Law Professor Eugene Volokh blogged, “Uh, Council Member: In our country, newspapers are actually allowed to write about elected officials (and others) without their permission. It’s an avant-garde experiment, to be sure, but we’ve had some success with it."
In another avant-garde experiment, The Daily Beast reported on a new product called SKEA (“Smart Kegel Exercise Aid”), invented by physicist Tom Chen after his wife complained of a common aftereffect of childbirth for which doctors prescribe Kegel exercises. SKEA is a video game controller that is, well, inserted. The player manipulates her avatar with Kegel squeezes. The first game for SKEA is called Alice In Continent—get it? Doctors recommend Kegels to prevent urinary incontinence, to guard against organ prolapse, and to make orgasms easier to achieve and more intense. Cousin Ray was wondering “if they make that Kegel stuff for men?”
Some of us were reminded why we make fun of pols when Politifact was asked to evaluate the truth of a remark by California Gov. Jerry Brown that “virtually no Republican” on the federal level accepts climate change science. After beating the brush, Politifact was able to find eight out of 278, almost 3 percent. They were kind enough to call Brown’s remark “mostly true.” Politifact’s brush beating took place before the election. One of the science believers is gone and others Politifact counted were squishy.
Trying to prove they are not squishy, House Republicans passed legislation that would go much farther than anyone expected in undoing President Obama’s executive orders on immigration by deporting the Dreamers, who were brought here as children and have stayed out of trouble and completed high school or enlisted in the military. Kids who have known no country other than this one.
Essence, the magazine that has most successfully blended fashion and politics for the African-American community, has run an issue without a photograph on the cover. It’s a big deal because it’s the only time in 45 years that the magazine has done so, but a bigger deal because it’s like seeing Vogue without a photo on the cover. The cover of Essence is coveted real estate. Of more import than fashion this time was #Black Lives Matter. “If only,” Cousin Ray sighed, “saying it could make it happen.”
In other persistent bad behavior, WFTV reported that George Zimmerman, first infamous for shooting an unarmed Trayvon Martin, got arrested again, Zimmerman’s sixth police contact since his acquittal on self-defense grounds and his third involving violence against women. Three different women. The NRA opposed the automatic suspension of carry permits for domestic violence, so maybe adopting Zimmerman as a poster boy for the more guns = less crime position wasn’t completely crazy.
Plowing the Kirby Delauter furrow one more time from the tribal government side, a certain tribal business committee passed an ordinance in their January 10 meeting to provide for the firing of tribal employees who criticize tribal government on social media. It strikes me that a criticism of a person is not a criticism of tribal government. “I see your point, smart ass,” Cousin Ray interjected, “but would you bet your job on it?”