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How Did I Miss That? The Many Wives of Joseph Smith

The Washington Post splashed the front page with the beginning of a series on the N word, which the Post reported is used 500,000 times a day on Twitter. The article within that series about the etymology of the slur made me pine for an identical analysis of the R word. Did it really come from the time of bounties on human scalps or was the term coined for the very purpose of honoring the Noble Red Man? If the etymology does not matter, why do the defenders of the slur make up one to serve their purpose?

The NFL has determined to throw flags on players who utter the N word in the heat of the game under the existing rule against abusive language rather than giving the slur a rule of its own. Richard Sherman, the colorful cornerback for the Seahawks, called an N word rule “an atrocious idea.”

Students of film history can hardly miss the controversy over Clark Gable delivering the first on screen profanity, Rhett to Scarlett: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” The script for Gone With the Wind, like the book, was littered with the N word before the censors did their work.

Speaking of censors, how did the Mormons miss that? The New York Times reported that the Mormon church has been pushed by the Internet to admit some of the more controversial parts of Mormon history: Joseph Smith had approximately 40 wives, the youngest 14, and on several occasions he married women already married to others. “I was surprised,” said my cousin Ray Sixkiller, “that a Mormon whose wife dies can be sealed to another woman, meaning that there is still polygamy in heaven. But a woman can’t be sealed to more than one man.”

Courtesy Mike Williams Jr.

Mike Williams Jr., Yu’pik, and his team will set off on their fifth Iditarod on March 1.

Julia Amalia Heyer published a series in Der Spiegel, “The Lost Children,” about the thousands of middle class children who have left Western Europe to join the jihad blazing in the Middle East. The series started in France, which is thought to have “contributed” about 100 teenage girls. “Several religions,” Cousin Ray noted helpfully, “teach about polygamy in heaven."

Nicholas Kristoff wrote more about teen sex and motherhood in The New York Times. U.S. teenagers are sexually active only a tiny bit before European teenagers, but European politicians respond to teenage hormones in a more grownup manner. As a result of public policies, Kristoff points out, “the American teenage birthrate is three times Spain’s rate, five times France’s, and 15 times Switzerland’s.” Teenage pregnancies in the U.S. happen at a rate of one a minute and 82 percent of them are unplanned.

A Florida website, TCPalm, posted surveillance video of a shoplifter stuffing a small chainsaw down the front of his pants and waddling out the door. Cousin Ray said he really, no kidding, did not relate that item to birth control until he put the item above together with the one below.

Paper magazine scored a viral tweet with a preview of their cover, which featured a NSFW picture of Kim Kardashian’s naked buttThe Washington Post claimed that Kardashian had an X-ray on her reality show to prove she has not had butt implants. Cousin Ray had never heard of butt implants, but he took advantage of the revelation to wonder if so many Indian males lack butts because they have donated them for transplant to white females?

Presumptive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky continues to promise de-fund the Environmental Protection Agency and, with any luck, investigate it until it has no money to do anything but respond to subpoenas. The incoming Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is James Mountain Inhofe of Oklahoma, author of The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. I was thinking by the time these guys get though, H. sapiens will be on the endangered species list. “No way,” Cousin Ray corrected me. “There won’t be an endangered species list.”

I had to remind Ray about a CNN report on climate change that claimed humans have “hunted the dildo to extinction.” After lecturing me about the childishness in dildo jokes, he pointed out that on November 12, Megyn Kelly dropped the F-bomb on Fox News when introducing Mike Huckabee, a slip that apparently involved nothing more sinister than the rhyme with it in the first syllable of Huckabee’s name.

House Speaker John Boehner is the trail boss of more Republicans than have been in the House since 1929. And some of us know what happened then. Jon Stewart: “Historical context. It’s why old people are sad.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) seems so certain to lose her runoff that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pulled away national money. In response, Landrieu has come out swinging with a thirty second spot that encourages voters to watch a complete speech by her opponent, Bill Cassidy. To call Cassidy’s oration “bizarre” is a huge understatement, but you have to listen to him for a while before he runs off the rails. Spending money to invite voters to listen to your opponent will go down in political history as…well, as what depends on whether she pulls her race out.

Cassidy does have the new GOP party line on Obamacare down: “repeal and replace.” Replace with what? (Crickets chirping.)

Landrieu’s other desperation move is to engineer a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline in the lame duck session of Congress to get the Senate to concur with a bill her opponent sponsored in the House. “Nothing like drawing a clear distinction between yourself and your opponent,” Cousin Ray snarked. The purpose of Keystone XL is to deliver Canadian bitumen to refineries in Louisiana and Texas, from which refined products can easily be shipped to world markets.

There were more confused voters in Washington, confronted on election day with Initiative 594, requiring background checks for all sales of firearms, and Initiative 591, banning background checks in any transaction where they are not required by federal law. The NRA spent $450,000 opposing I-594, but Cousin Ray said he knew I-594 was going to win when an NRA spokesman equated closing the gun show loophole with Nazi Germany. Cousin Ray chuckled, “Whoever invokes the Nazis first in any political argument, loses.” Ray had no comment on the six counties that passed both 594 and 591, one measure requiring background checks and the other making them illegal.

Recent research by the Health Policy Institute and Washington University reported on the Institute’s blog, Metro Trends, that 10 percent of the general population is limited in reading and arithmetic abilities to the degree they have a hard time understanding health insurance choices. For the uninsured, that figure climbs to 20.1 percent. Add to that low income, the people affected by Medicaid expansion (where Republican governors have not blocked it) or premium subsidies under Obamacare, and 60 percent of the target population lack sufficient reading and arithmetic skills to shop for insurance.

Proving that history may be as much of a problem as reading and arithmetic, Swiss retailer Migros ordered some cream containers with quaint vintage photos. Apparently, nobody who vetted the photos recognized Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini. A spokesman for Migros apologized, telling The New York Times, “You cannot put …a terrorist on a milk creamer.”

The Albany Times Union posted a video on its website of Sgt. Shawn Glans of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department slapping a young man who refused immediate consent to search his car. Asked by the person who took the video whether Glans intended to hit him next, the officer responded by offering to "rip your (expletive) head off and (expletive) down your neck."

Huffpost, reporting on Sophia Loren’s new memoir, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: My Life, went directly to the famous photo of Loren in 1957 appearing to peek down the front of Jayne Mansfield’s dress, which appeared to be on the verge of what we call in this century “wardrobe malfunction.” Turns out that what was going through Loren’s mind was…the probability of a wardrobe malfunction. “Not every mystery,” Cousin Ray snickered, “has a surprising answer.”

On a similar subject, Jason Zinoman published a laudatory review in The New York Times of Tig Notaro’s performance at the New York Comedy Festival, where she one-upped the 2012 show which made her breast cancer diagnosis a part of a comedy monolog. This time, she took off her shirt and performed topless, revealing a double mastectomy with no reconstructive surgery. Only a cancer survivor is entitled to joke about such things, but I had to chuckle, wondering how the jerks who object to women breastfeeding in public would respond to Notaro?

Business Insider reported the title of the latest movie in a series most of us have watched: Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens. Principal photography has wrapped, and if the Force is with the editors, the film will open December 18, 2015. “A long time, that is,” grumbled Cousin Ray.