Alan Douglas, 82, walked on as a result of injuries sustained in a fall. Douglas was a music producer renowned within the profession, but mostly known to the general public for the controversy over his remixing the outtakes of guitar great Jimi Hendrix, who really did have a full-blooded Cherokee g-g-grandmother and was inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame in 1998.
Douglas’s judgment to replace some of the backup players for “substandard” work enraged many Hendrix fans, who to this day judge the posthumous releases Midnight Lightning, Crash Landing and Nine to the Universe greatly inferior to the Hendrix classics Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland. The controversy had legs because of the creative wars Hendrix fought when living over unauthorized mixes of his early material, but many critics praised the Alan Douglas remixes as faithful to the legendary talent that was Jimi Hendrix.
Eric Cantor of Virginia resigned as House Majority Leader after being defeated in the Republican Primary by the very Tea Party he had encouraged for years. Cantor told ABC, “There is a divide within our party.” Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said on Face the Nation, “I don’t think it’s divided at all.” “And there you have the major division,” my Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller commented, “between people who live in fact-based reality and people who don’t. Notice that Mr. Cantor left the fact-free zone only after he got beaten? The Tea Party has created a generation of fact-free zombies!”
In other zombie news, The New York Times reported that “a shoestring group of civilians headquartered in a decommissioned McDonald’s” have adopted the task of awakening a zombie spacecraft, the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3, which was last living in 1997. The operating manual for ISEE-3 no longer exists, but the self-styled “techno-archaeologists” of Skycorp have succeeded in executing the electronic handshake that determines ISEE-3 is awakened, fueled, and ready for orders.
They have not yet figured out how to give orders or what orders to give. NASA’s original plan was to have the craft returned to Earth on the space shuttle, but the space shuttle is no longer operating. Skycorp raised the money by crowd funding on RocketHub after NASA deemed the resurrection too expensive for the scientific payoff. The goal was $125,000 and they raised $160,000. Cousin Ray suggested a “Spacecraft for Rent” category be added to Craigslist.
For those who want to be rocket scientists, Starbucks has announced an agreement with Arizona State University unusual in the universe of employer funded education: a degree with no strings. For any of 135,000 Starbucks employees in the US working at least 20 hours a week, the company will pick up the cost of an on line degree from ASU with no requirement that a graduate stay with the company. After two years of credit, the company shoulders the entire cost; for the first two years, there will be partial coverage that can be brought down to zero with other financial aid. Starbuck’s was already known for offering health insurance to part timers and stock options to all employees, and it joins companies like Costco and In-and-Out Burger in proving it’s possible to succeed without screwing entry-level workers.
Those who are already rocket scientists will be entertained by an extensive report in the Texas Observer http://www.texasobserver.org/aliens-without-borders-exploring-the-del-rio-ufo-festival/ on a new kind of aliens in South Texas, where hatred of Mexicans as “aliens” does not play well because of familial and economic ties that span the border. Laredo, Presidio, Edinburg, and Del Rio have all begun festivals devoted to the history of space alien visitations along the Texas-Mexico border, the most important of which was the crash of an alien spaceship just across the border from Langtry, Texas, immortalized in a book called The Other Roswell.
KTEN in Texoma, Texas reported that Rory Hogenson, 51, was sentenced to five years in prison for retaliation against the state trooper who arrested him for driving while intoxicated. He went to the trooper’s home several times and scattered nails behind the police car. DWI carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail.
The Daily News of Galveston County reported that Conroe police Sgt. Jason Blackwelder was sentenced to five years probation for manslaughter after shooting to death a 19-year-old man suspected of shoplifting at Wal-Mart.
Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving defendant in the Boston Marathon bombings, have filed a motion for change of venue based on the saturation coverage of the event by local media. “If they want to get away from saturation coverage,” Cousin Ray speculated, “the only venue that might help is somewhere in Alaska, where the marathon is the Iditarod.”
Peggy Orenstein published an op-ed in The New York Times about the latest wave of public school dress codes, observing that the hammer is falling on girls this time. In the last wave of fashion policing, it was boys’ hair length, and Indian boys with a fairly common belief about needing their hair were often targets. Objecting to “imposing purdah on middle school girls” because of the way boys might react, Orenstein ticks off a list of bad effects on girls, including the American Psychological Association’s attempt to explain to a lay audience how girls’ “self-objectification” leads to “compromised cognitive function.” In English, girls taught obsession with their bodies fail to achieve all they might have. Sort of like Indian kids being mascotted.
The Associated Press reported on June 16 that a Jackson, Mississippi girl’s humiliation over her appearance had a semi-happy ending. Three-year-old Victoria Wilcher was asked to leave a KFC because her facial injuries from being attacked by a pit bull were “disrupting our customers.” KFC has apologized and contributed $30,000 toward the girl’s medical bills.
The Independent reported that creationist Darek Isaacs attacked evolution on his TV show by claiming that if the theory of evolution is true, then rape is not wrong and monogamy is absurd, since the goal is for the strong to maximize their seed in the gene pool. Isaacs is the author of a book, Dragons or Dinosaurs?, which claims the legends about dragons support the fundamentalist Christian view that humans co-existed with dinosaurs. “This guy,” laughed Cousin Ray, “plainly emerged from the shallow end of the gene pool.”
Notice that the Austin Lounge Lizards sing about “the shallow end of the gene pool” in the first person? I was reminded why when Daniel Keyes, 86, showed up in the obituary section of The New York Times. Keyes wrote the book that took us unforgettably into the world of intellectual limitations, Flowers for Algernon, later filmed with an Oscar winning performance by Cliff Robertson as Charly, a man who lives a science experiment that raises his IQ from 68 to genius level…and back again. “R.I.P.,” Cousin Ray said, “to a man who taught common decency with science fiction.”
On June 17, several news outlets reported a development that had been embargoed since the weekend for security reasons. The US has made the first arrest for the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya that took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens (Chinook) and three other Americans. When I rushed to tell Cousin Ray the news, he asked with an ironic smirk, “Did they arrest Susan Rice or Hillary Clinton?” The man arrested, Ahmed Abu Khattala, faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) dominated this week’s news. In the “battle” for Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, ISIS squared off against a regular Iraqi army that outnumbered ISIS about 30 to one and was better equipped. The army in the Bush Administration slogan “as they stand up, we will stand down” folded like a cheap suit and left its equipment in the hands of ISIS, which marched toward Baghdad. Meanwhile, the Kurds in Northern Iraq took advantage of fighting between ISIS Sunnis and government Shi’a when the Kurdish Peshmerga militia seized the city of Kirkuk. Cousin Ray busted loose an ironic horselaugh at reports ISIS threatens to “destabilize” the Middle East. “The Middle East was stable when?”
Al Arabia News reported a claim by the outlawed Baath Party of Saddam Hussein that the hangman who literally put the noose around Saddam’s neck has been killed in the current fighting. All sides involved in Middle East fighting, including the US, have histories of false claims that named persons have been killed.
Many American Indians will understand the lack of stability in the Middle East because we, too, have been subjected to illogical borders drawn by colonists either ignorant of or hostile to the arrangements on the ground before the colonists arrived. The Middle East was cast into the hellish cauldron we see on the news when two diplomats, Mark Sykes for Great Britain and François Picot for France, agreed on what the borders would be after the Ottoman Empire was defeated in WWI. The Sykes-Picot borders were founded on treachery against the Arab leaders who were promised independence in return for their help in overthrowing the Ottoman Empire, a treachery comparable to the experience of Indians snookered into supporting colonial wars against other Indians.
Daniel R. Wildcat (Yuchi) published an op-ed in The Washington Post about why Indians don’t join some African-Americans to demand reparations for historical and ongoing injustices. Wildcat pointed out correctly that the harms inflicted on Indian nations could not be recompensed with money, because the things taken were not for sale at any price.