A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that hurricanes with female names kill about twice as many people as hurricanes with male names because people do not respect the power of “female” storms and so are less likely to protect themselves. The result was obtained even though Katrina and Audrey were excluded as statistical outliers because they were exceptionally deadly. The reason for the differences in body count—disrespect—was teased out by laboratory experiments, where people were asked to predict the danger in storms described identically but for the names.
The Washington Post reported on an unfortunate event in a recent royal visit to Australia in addition to getting picketed by Aboriginals. A gust of wind swooped down—or up—on the Duchess of Cambridge and proved to the world that she was going commando. The gender of the wind was not reported. Unlike the topless photos of Ms. Middleton in the French magazine Closer, there is no violation of privacy that would allow her to have another successful lawsuit, so the German tabloid Bild was setting some circulation records.
Morning Joe was making fun of an article on bitcoins in the latest GQ, illustrated by a female backside. The hilarity was provoked by the irrelevance of the picture to bitcoins. Then I discovered a 2013 report in the UK version of GQ that a British escort service was accepting payment in bitcoins
Feminists would argue that all the news above was joined at the hip, if not the buttocks, with the news immediately below. My cousin Ray Sixkiller bristled. “Are you calling me a feminist? I’m a Republican!” I did not intend to insult Ray, but rather to point out that disrespect of women is part of a continuum that can lead from mere ridicule to horror.
Reuters reported that in Northern India, sisters aged 14 and 15 were gang raped, tortured, and left hanging from a mango tree. Gruesome pictures of the scene were broadcast when hundreds of people surrounded the tree and refused to allow the police to cut the bodies down until arrests were made.
Al Jazeera reported from across the border in Pakistan the “honor killing” of a three months pregnant Farzana Parveen Iqbal, 25, who was beaten to death by her father and other relatives for refusing an arranged marriage. The public attack took 15 minutes. Because the young woman was smashed with bricks, early reports were that she was “stoned to death,” but it was more up close and personal than that. The attack was outside a courthouse where she had come to testify that the man she married had not, as her family charged, kidnapped her. “Police officers” watched the attack without moving to protect her, ignoring her husband’s tearful pleas.
In a bizarre postscript to the Pakistani tragedy, Muhammad Iqbal, the man Farzana had married against her family’s wishes, admitted to the AFP news agency that he had murdered his first wife out of love for Farzana and escaped prosecution by paying “blood money.” He was unable to raise the 100,000 rupees (about $1,000) his new wife’s family had demanded to let her live.
On June 2 at 11:05 am, an email blast went out from the GOP Insider Brief that led with a link to the Rupert Murdoch tabloid New York Post, where the linked article contained a takedown of the POW recently released in the prisoner swap with the Taliban, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Sgt. Bergdahl had become critical and ashamed of how US forces were treating Afghans, and the Post mined the speculation at the time of his capture that he had deserted. The Post quoted an anonymous “White House official” as saying “Frankly, we don’t give a shit why he left. He’s an American soldier. We want to bring him home.” Cousin Ray sided with the anonymous official, adding, “My only regret is that we couldn’t swap Murdoch for the POW.”
Newsmax, the website Forbes once described as “the great right hope,” ran a “news” story on nothing but The Donald Trump’s opinion that the POW prisoner swap was a “catastrophe” for President Obama and it put “every American at risk,” sentiments The Donald first aired on Fox & Friends. The echo chamber is in full cry.
The media have identified the first American jihadist suicide bomber to be Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a young man who grew up in Florida and, according to The New York Times, spoke “broken Arabic.” I watched his suicide video, and came away thinking that the Nusra Front, for whom he was fighting in Syria, is allegedly allied with Al Qaeda, and a trained American jihadi would be priceless to Al Qaeda. The video shows a truck being loaded with explosives and an explosion of a size, the Times noted, to make it impossible to identify Abusalha’s remains. Jess sayin’…. Cousin Ray said it’s an open question whether Al Qaeda would blow up such a valuable asset. “They didn’t get where they are operating like sane people.”
Turning to domestic crazy, ThinkProgress reports that after Republican Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas engineered $1.1 billion in tax cuts over the last two years to jumpstart the economy, Kansas lags behind the national average in economic growth. Starved of money, the state has cut services at a time when the number of people in poverty has risen each year. Cousin Ray noted that rich Kansans were doing much better. “I always heard a rising tide lifts all yachts. I guess it didn’t work because Kansas is landlocked.”
The Times-Picayune reported that both houses of the Louisiana legislature have now passed bills to end the authority of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority to maintain a lawsuit it has filed against 97 oil and gas companies for destruction of the wetlands that used to buffer New Orleans from hurricanes. As soon as minor differences in the two bills are ironed out, the law will go to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who favors sticking the taxpayers with the damage rather than making the oil companies pay.
The New York Times carried a report that would melt the heart of a rock, but apparently not the heart of Republican Governor of Wisconsin and presidential candidate Scott Walker. Eric Pizer, two days off of one of his two tours as a Marine in Iraq, threw one drunken punch that should have been a misdemeanor assault or a pretrial diversion. He’s been living with a felony record. His victim has forgiven him, but he can’t get his life back because Gov. Walker believes that any use of the pardon power “undermines” the justice system. The pardon power is part of the justice system. And this non-believer in the pardon power wants to be POTUS? “Look at it this way,” said Cousin Ray, “there won’t be any reason to ask President Walker to pardon Leonard Peltier.”
Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s commercial space flight business, signed an agreement this week on the protocols for navigating though Albuquerque air traffic control when lifting tourists into space from Spaceport America in New Mexico. Virgin expects to launch its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft on suborbital space flights this year, to be followed in the future by orbital flights and, eventually, moon tourism. The rocket plane that will launch from WhiteKnightTwo carries a pilot and six passengers. Tickets are on sale now at $250,000. “I thought that was a bargain,” Cousin Ray complained, “until I saw the surcharge for carry-on luggage.”
Science reported that a research team from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands has apparently demonstrated that the theory of quantum entanglement—that the spin of one electron can affect the spin of another over long distances faster than the speed of light—might, in spite of Albert Einstein’s skepticism, be correct. Taming this effect down to practical consequences would provide absolutely secure and instantaneous communications and, eventually, teleportation. Cousin Ray was jubilant. “No more waiting until we’re about to get killed before Scotty beams us up!”
For the first time in 52 years, two youngsters were crowned “co-champions” of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, after the contest ran out of words and neither was stumped. Twitter erupted in racist lament that “American kids” did not win. Ansun Sujoe, 13, is from Ft. Worth, Texas. Sriram Hathwar, 14, is from Painted Post, New York. “I’ve never understood,” Cousin Ray muttered, “why one set of immigrants is always lording over a newer set of immigrants.”
The Washington Post reported on the utterly paranoid reaction by the Chinese Communist Party, which is the same as the Chinese government, to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which that same government sent tanks to kill hundreds of unarmed protestors rallied under a paper mache Statue of Liberty. It is unlawful in China to discuss that incident other than to denounce the protestors. “Who do those Chinese Communists think they are to rewrite history,” asked Cousin Ray, “American Indian fighters?”