1. Fire this copy writer: Boll and Branch sheets informed me this morning that their product is “loved by THREE American Presidents.” Well, that settles it: I’m running right out and buying these sheets if Presidents—well, three, anyway, love them. Actually, I’m making the sheets an early target of my new rule to personally boycott any product that insults my intelligence with their ads or packaging.
2. I just realized what climate change hype is like. I’m slow, I guess. I was reading a typical Paul Krugman column about how we are doomed by climate change and only the mean, stupid Republicans refuse to accept it. (The runaway brush fires in Australia, he said, can’t be proven to have come about by climate change, the brilliant economist said, but everybody knows its climate change. All Democrats, anyway.) It then hit me: climate change is like all the reflex explanations for bad things that primitive civilizations, cults and Machiavellian leaders have used to relieve public fears of random misfortune since the beginning of time. The devil, angry gods, witches, Jews…anything to be able to rationalize events that otherwise have no explanation. If you sacrifice people to the gods, hang the witches or exterminate the Jews, you’ll feel better—you’re doing something by addressing the cause of all your pain. Of course, these imaginary “causes” aren’t really responsible for what’s happening, but its comforting to “do something.” In the case of climate change, the proxy trouble-makers are capitalism, personal liberty and democracy. Just get rid of them, and everything will be all right again.
I don’t know why it too so long for me to figure this out. I think it’s because I persist in the romantic notion that we all get smarter over time. I certainly don’t.
3. The vaping maneuvers make no sense. Let me try to get this straight. We know e-cigs help people (like my wife) quit smoking, and that smoking is deadly. There were a bunch of vaping fatalities last year that caused an e-cig panic, and the government threatened to ban them, first banning the flavored variety. Then data showed that it was only the vaping of marijuana-derived chemicals that caused the deaths (except in a single case, which has not been explained) but the government is still going to ban most flavored vaping devices, this time on the theory that they will hook kids on cigarettes. But cigarettes are legal, as always, and, increasingly, so is pot. Meanwhile, a series of investigations and prohibitions are doing their best to put Juul, the leading e-cig device, out of business.
Ban cigarettes outright, and I’ll consider the wisdom of the vaping persecution. If government regulators force my wife back to her deadly cigarette addiction, we’re going to have words…
4. BREAKING! It was reported this morning that the Boston Red Sox violated a new 2018 rule against using the video replay room during regular games that season to steal catchers’ signs to the opposing pitcher. Until 2018, it was a so-called “gray area” whether the replay equipment could be used that way: every team had a replay room in every park, and it was known that many and perhaps all teams were using the equipment to steal signs. Once MLB explicitly prohibited the use of the equipment for this purpose, that practice became cheating. Some points:
- The Red Sox won a decade-high 108 games in 2018.
- Beginning in the 2018 play-offs, MLB placed monitors in all replay rooms, and the safeguard continued during the 2019 season.
- This is different from the Astros sign-stealing methods that are being investigated and will soon bring some kind of punishment. The Astros used their own illicit video equipment and real time relays to their batters. The replay equipment was legally available, but the use of it for sign-stealing purposes was forbidden. (One commentator just likened the situation to a workplace installing a free frozen yogurt machine and telling employees to watch their carbs.)\
- I hate to say this, as I like and admire Boston manager Alex Cora, but he was the bench coach for the Astros when they were cheating, and the first year manager of the Sox in 2018. I find this suspicious.
- Apparently three members of the 2018 Sox spilled the unethical beans.
- More later. This literally was just revealed.
5. Uber is going to “change its culture.” Right. There were over 3000 sexual assaults by Uber drivers in 2018, what the company calls “a small percentage.” Baloney. That’s a loy of sexual assaults by drivers. The “culture” appears to be one that embraced the King’s Pass. When a high performing driver was accused of harassment, it was swept under the rug. (This kind of culture is hardly unique to Uber; indeed, it is more the rule than the exception in business and politics). At the end of 2019, Uber agreed with the EEOC to pay a 4 million dollar fine for its conduct of persistently turning a blind eye to driver sexual misconduct. Uber will record more than 15 billion dollars in revenue in the year just ended.
It’s the proverbial slap on the wrist.
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