CNN reported a new island has appeared practically overnight off the coast of North Carolina in an area protected as Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
“There is no truth to the rumor,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller assured me, “that the Eastern Band Cherokees sent a party of explorers to ‘discover’ the new island.”
You don’t see crimes like the theft of the Americas any more, but thieves take what they can with all kinds of methods. KVUE reported that a Williamson County, Texas bakery is offering four free cupcakes a week for one year for information leading to the arrest of a man who passed a counterfeit fifty-dollar bill by buying one cupcake.
I only report to embarrass Cousin Ray that he said, “that takes the cake.”
Alex Jones of Infowars infamy has goaded NASA into denying one of his “stories.” MSN reported that the Sandy Hook deniers—of which Jones is the best known—have accounted for the missing children who were not really murdered by discovering a slave colony on Mars.
The government, you see, packed them off in rockets and by the time they got to Mars they were grown up but had no way to return.
NASA has now, for the record, denied building a slave colony on Mars. Your tax dollars (not) at work.
Infowars has gotten press credentials from the Trump White House enabling their bureau chief, Jerome Corsi, to attend press briefings. Corsi is best known for popularizing if not inventing the story that John Kerry was not really a war hero and that Barack Obama was not really born in the U.S.
As long as we are at the bottom of the journalistic barrel, I must note that even Michael Savage has suggested to the POTUS that it’s not very presidential to sling mud on Twitter.
“He is the president,” Savage announced. “He’s supposed to act like a world leader.”
My Republican Cousin Ray was just looking down and shaking his head. It’s been a hard year for him.
In other ophidian news, KENS5 reported that a van blew a tire on Interstate 35 in San Antonio and the driver lost control, winding up upside down. He and his 9-year-old grandson hung by their seat belts and watched as the cargo escaped: a baby alligator, a turtle, and 30 venomous snakes. So far, 23 of the 30 snakes—mostly rattlesnakes and cottonmouths---have been taken into custody by responding animal control workers and volunteer helpers from the New Braunfels Snake Farm.
KVMC reported a less scary accident when high winds caused the derailment of a freight train in Mitchell County, Texas just upstream from Lake Champion. One of the derailed cars contained whipped cream, which leaked into a stream and caused several hundred fish to go belly up when the microbes feeding on the cream sucked up all the oxygen.
The folks responsible for Lake Champion took to social media to reassure potential lake-goers:
Just to put everyone’s mind at ease, there are no dead fish at Lake Champion. We are way down stream and in no danger whatsoever. But their diet is totally ruined and they are getting wide in the hips.
Next month, the line of sight for a total eclipse of the sun will swoop across North America, including a large swath of Indian country. The exact size depends on whether you are tracking the total eclipse or a partial eclipse on either side of it, which is still a pretty exciting thing to see that does not come around often.
The Washington Post reported a warning that we could hope is unnecessary, but the experience of past solar eclipses tells us to repeat it early and often: staring at the sun will make you go blind.
The Post report contained gruesome video of a deceased pig’s eyeball being exposed to direct sunlight. Retina burns are permanent. A study of the 1999 solar eclipse followed up on persons who had enough pain to visit a doctor. Half had permanent damage.
The same eclipse in the U.K. permanently damaged the eyes of 14 people. That’s not very many unless you are one. Most of the people with permanent damage were watching the partial eclipse rather than the total eclipse because the pain does not ramp up quickly enough in a partial eclipse to make people look away in time.
The bad news is that sunglasses, no matter how dark the tint, will not save your eyesight. The good news is that almost 5,000 Science and Technology Activities and Resources (STARnet) libraries will be giving away protective glasses that are adequate to the task. The STARnet Facebook page is already loaded up with eclipse related material.
See the map here to understand where the free glasses are located.
And be careful out there.
I suspect there was a different kind of pain at Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. Contestants have 10 minutes and are required to consume both the sausage and the bun.
NBC reported that Joey “Jaws” Chesnut logged his tenth win and beat his own record, downing 72 dogs.
Miki Sudo of Las Vegas won her fourth straight title with 41 dogs. Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas came in third this time with 30, but she still holds the women’s record for the contest at 45.
The Washington Post bent a Beatles lyric for the title of an article about guitars that could have been written to make me feel like the product of the age that I am. Why my guitar gently weeps tries to make sense of the incredibly shrinking market for electric guitars.
My first reaction was that this is a new verse to the old tune Decca Records was playing when the company opined after a 15-song audition on New Year’s Day, 1962, “The Beatles have no future in show business” because “guitar groups are on the way out.”
When I was a teenager everybody had a guitar and most were living avatars of the quote we attributed to Andres Segovia, “Guitar is the easiest instrument to play badly and the hardest instrument to play well.”
It turns out that quote has been attached to many instruments and attributed to many people. Still, there has to be some truth to it when you remember that many folks got to be famous while not having much in the way of guitar chops.
Two undeniable geniuses come to mind: Woody Guthrie and his acolyte, Bob Dylan. Woody usually just whacked away at major chords and didn’t pick much beyond the noodling between verses in a talking blues. Dylan improved his playing substantially but few noticed when he was touring with Robbie Robertson or Tom Petty or recording with Michael Bloomfield. Last time I saw Dylan, he stayed behind a keyboard.
Most opinions in the Post were that fewer electric guitars are selling than acoustic guitars because we no longer have guitar heroes inspiring youngsters to acquire a Fender or a Gibson of the electric variety.
DNA exonerations, 159 of which have snatched wrongly convicted individuals off death row, ought to make us more cautious about the majority of criminal cases where there is nothing to test for DNA.
DNA exonerations have taught us that innocent people confess, that eyewitnesses often make mistakes, and that even a trout in the milk sometimes has an innocent explanation.
DNA has given us a class of persons called “exonerees” and many states have passed laws to compensate the wrongfully convicted. The average exoneree has served just over 14 years, and exonerations are common enough to worry about the tax treatment of damage awards.
Picking up the rules from ordinary tort cases, the IRS had decided that any sum awarded because of physical harm was tax free. Separating the elements of a damages award was difficult, but the exercise was necessary until 2015, when Congress cleared it up in a law that remains obscure.
The Texas Bar Journal recently informed lawyers that the entire award is not federally taxable. Cousin Ray wondered if the situation is common enough to be covered by Turbotax?
Jia-Rui Cook’s writing in The New York Times reminded me of a couple of cases I saw where Indians were getting grief either for not having a birth certificate at all or for lack of coordination between state and tribal records. The hard part is when they ask if there was a notation of the birth in a family Bible and you reveal the folks with the paperwork problem are not Christians.
Jia-Rui Cook’s daughter Jemma was born in the passenger seat of her Toyota Prius. Cook advised:
You don’t want to have a baby in a car. It’s for all the reasons you think — the pain, the worry, the mess. But the biggest problem, it turned out, was one we would never have foreseen: getting a birth certificate for our baby.
Without a birth certificate, they couldn’t even file a health insurance claim for the baby, who was a year old before everything was settled in the paperwork realm. The whole fandango reminded me of what Will Rogers said about the lack of birth certificates in Indian Territory:
We generally took it for granted that if you were there, you must have at some time been born.… Having a certificate of being born was like wearing a raincoat in the water over a bathing suit.