Ah, I remember it well: in 1972 on this date, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer defeated Russian Boris Spassky to become the first U.S. player to achieve the World Championship. At the time, this was seen as a major Cold War victory, because Soviet players had essentially been trading the crown back and forth for decades. The feel-good story soon turned sour, however, because Fischer rapidly proved himself to be emotionally unstable, not to mention a massive jerk and an anti-Semite. I thought about this as the Emmys approached, with Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” carrying several nominations into the broadcast. That show is about an emotionally damaged female chess champion, also, like Fischer, a former child chess prodigy. As far as I can determine, all chess prodigies are maladjusted, and their parents are guilty of child abuse for allowing them to devote their childhood to a single-minded obsession with a game, however valuable it is as intellectual stimulation. A current American child chess whiz revealed that he practices ten hours a day.
I used to play competitive chess, but like the lifetime underachiever I am, I refused to do the work to become really excellent. That would have required spending many hours memorizing chess opening and classic games, and I had other interests. I was a talented instinctive player, but eventually plowed under by pale-skinned, dead-eyed contemporaries who may well be in rubber rooms now. Bobby Fischer was a warning, but not one that has been heeded as well as it should.
1. As promised, a CVS update! The original post is here. As of today, I have called CVS’s complaint line three times over the episode described here. In total, this has cost me almost three hours that I will want back when I am on my death bed. The first call resulted in the usual scripted sympathy and apologies (one I had reached a real human being) and a promise that I would receive a call from someone in authority in “24 to 48 hours.” I did not receive such a call, so I called the complaint line again, adding the failure to live up to the commitment to my list of complaints. This time, after the wait for a human voice and the scripted sympathy and apology, I was told that there was no notation mentioning a follow-up call on my complaint report “That’s your problem,” I replied. “I know this game: you make that promise, and hope the complaining customer gets busy, or forgets, or otherwise moves on without you having to do anything. That won’t work with me.” The nice woman swore that this was not the case. This time, she read me my complaint report number, and gave me the name of the “group leader” who would be calling me in—yup!—24 to 48 hours.
Again, I did not receive the promised call. So yesterday, I called for the third time—same wait, same scripted sympathy and apologies—and said that I now had three complaints: the outrageous treatment I received in the initial incident, the failure of CVS to follow up as promised after my first call, and now the failure to deliver as promised with a call from the “group leader.”
This time, I got a different story. The agent said that it takes 7 to 10 days to investigate such complaints, as the process includes reviewing store video. I told her that no one mentioned that at all previously, though it made sense. Now I know there’s security video of me being accosted by a women who had just walked into the store while I was objecting to the handling of my problem. It will show her pointing and gesticulating, and making the bluff of taking out her phone to call the cops on me. Since it will not have sound, however, its probative value will be limited.
Meanwhile, I’m moving our prescriptions to Walgreen’s, and doing incidental shopping elsewhere. Stay tuned…
2. Stupid vaccine resistance tricks: The Boston Red Sox, desperately trying to hold on to a play-off spot after a disastrous August that saw the team go from four games ahead in the American League East race to ten games behind and third place, is now facing a do-or-die stretch of games with eight players out of action after either testing positive for the Wuhan virus or being a “close contact” of an infected player. The Red Sox are one of the minority of teams that is less than 85% vaccinated. There is no excuse for this.
3. Meanwhile, in Terrible Analogyland, there is this:
Identifying the flaws in this one could be a parlor game. Conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds immediately responded with “The experts told us the Titanic was unsinkable.” I like “Not wearing life vests didn’t make the Titanic sink any faster.”
4. Why no prosecution of Elizabeth Holmes’ celebrity enablers? Jury selection begins today in the federal criminal trial against Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the blood-testing tech start-up Theranos. Indicted in 2018, she faces a dozen counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for making false claims about Theranos’s blood tests and business prospects. Holmes, prosecutors say, intentionally misled investors about her company’s technology. She has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Holmes, 37, faces up to 20 years in prison.
One of the ways she duped investors into sinking billions into her fraudulent company was by enlisting board members and other allies whose names and reputations would signal trustworthiness. Former members of Theranos’s star-studded board include the former secretaries of defense Gen. James Mattis, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. Also a board member was progressive legal icon David Boies, who also worked to shut down whistle-blowers trying to alert law enforcement about Theranos and reporters who questioned the company’s business practices.
Shouldn’t there be some legal obligation to engage in due diligence before allowing one’s name to be used to confer perceived legitimacy on a product or business? I believe there is definitely an ethical obligation.
5. President Biden makes the Rationalization #64 Hall of Fame! #64. is Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is,” of course, and Joe’s assertion yesterday that his inept withdrawal from Afghanistan was an “extraordinary success” brought all sorts of film clips to mind, like…
..and of course,
as well as the obligatory
How could anyone go in front of the American people and call this mess an “extraordinary success,” unless “extraordinary” means one of the strangest kinds of success in world history? I suppose Biden and his flacks are assuming that the news media will accept this gaslighting and successfully implant it in the brains of dumb Americans, but even the New York Times paired the column about Biden’s speech with a second headlined, “As the Taliban Exult, Suffering Mounts.” You know: success!
I don’t know if there’s another Hall of Fame for false dichotomies, but if there were, Biden’s statement that his choice was “was between leaving and escalating” would be quickly enshrined…or you could just call it a lie.