Previous “COVID-19” posts

Sir Charles Does Not Mince Words 

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Never let it be said that Charles Barkley shilly-shallied when it came to the question of whether folks should get vaccinated against COVID.

Paying Through the Nose for COVID Tests 

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

Prior to COVID-19, XpresSpa ran a chain of dozens of airport neck massage locations. When the pandemic made that business model untenable, the company pivoted to a new XpresCheck brand providing airport COVID tests. At $250 a pop, they’re making very good money off travelers with very few options.

Reframing the Options When It Comes to Vaccine Skepticism 

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

I recently read a smart reframing of the debate when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, intended to counter vaccine skepticism. In short, everyone is going to get vaccinated against COVID. Would you rather be vaccinated by a scientifically developed, widely tested vaccine that has proven itself to be incredibly safe, or by the virus itself, which has killed millions of people?

[A]ll of us are going to get vaccinated one way or the other. Sooner or later…people who don’t take one of the approved vaccines will get the virus. They might think of that as an alternative to vaccination, but it’s not. The virus will do the same thing the vaccines do: It will provoke their immune systems to develop antibodies. The difference is that the virus, unlike the vaccines, will attack their bodies and quite possibly kill them.

An abrupt vaccination entirely against your will is not the way to go.

J&J Can’t Catch a Break

Monday, June 14th, 2021

Let’s recap a few things when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in particular:

  • Many people are worried about the COVID-19 vaccines, period, and hesitant to get them.

  • People are also worried about the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine specifically, due to both its slightly lower efficacy numbers, and the temporary pause which was implemented back in April.

  • Further, previously reported problems with the Emergent Biosolutions factory in Baltimore have given reason to be wary of recent doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

With that in mind, here’s a ridiculous plan (emphasis added):

About 60 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine that were produced at a troubled factory in Baltimore will have to be thrown out, the Food and Drug Administration announced Friday. The FDA determined that the tens of millions of vaccine doses that were produced at the factory, operated by Emergent BioSolutions, were possibly contaminated, The New York Times reports. The FDA will, however, reportedly allow 10 million vaccine doses to still be distributed with warning labels noting that regulators can’t guarantee that Emergent “followed good manufacturing practices,” the Times reports.

Just throw these doses out! By mixing these dubious doses in with J&J doses that are not so labeled, the entire supply becomes questionable. As a patient, who would want that risk? No one should have to worry that they’re receiving a dose that “might not have followed good manufacturing practices”.

Get in Early on the Next Pandemic 

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

You’re a trendsetter, an influencer, a real groundbreaker. Now thanks to CVS, when you protect yourself against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, you’ll also have the chance to win a “pleasure” cruise. Catch the next pandemic before it gets popular.

A Strip Club Vaccine Clinic 

Friday, May 28th, 2021

I hereby propose we replace the phrase “as American as apple pie” with “as American as a vaccine clinic at a strip club”.

A Paean to Hipmunk

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

For years, Hipmunk.com was my preferred site for finding flights. With an innovative interface that showed flights from multiple airlines and made it possible to sort by more than just price, they made travel search dramatically better. In the words of former marketing director Alexis Ohanian, they “took the agony out of online travel search”.

Hipmunk’s front page was friendly and made it easy to start your search:

The old Hipmunk.com site
Circa 2016, captured via the always helpful Internet Archive Wayback Machine

As you can see, the front page also prominently featured Chippy, the company’s adorable mascot. The little chipmunk appeared throughout the site, most notably in the site’s tremendous loading animation. While results were being retrieved after you submitted a search, Chippy would be shown, pretending to be an airplane:

Hipmunk's adorable loader image
[Image via Dribbble]

As I waited, I would often join the bucktoothed rodent. You’re never too old to pretend to fly.

What with the global pandemic you may have heard tell of, I haven’t flown in quite some time. As such, I haven’t needed Hipmunk since late 2019, or earlier. However, I’ve now received both shots of the COVID vaccine, and a family matter recently had me needing to check flights. I visited hipmunk.com, and was horrified to discover that the site was no more.

Apparently, Hipmunk was acquired by business travel behemoth SAP Concur in 2016. Though Hipmunk managed to hang on for a few more years, SAP Concur shuttered the site early last year. The domain now leads to the most soulless, corporate garbage ever:

The new landing page for hipmunk.com
Awful. Just awful.

I am distraught. SAP Concur, you have sucked joy from the world. You’re bad, and you should feel bad.

Those monsters, or someone in league with them, even removed Hipmunk’s former Wikipedia page.1 I hope this article can serve as a memorial to a once-great service, now lost to time and bureaucracy.

So long, and thanks for all the flights. You’re flying with the angels now, Chippy.


Footnotes:

  1. Amusingly, there is a LinkedIn page for Chippy, at least until the faceless flunkies at SAP Concur notice. Maybe Google Flights can hire Chippy to work for them. ↩︎

Paying for the Production of a Giant Squid 

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Here in America, the government has spent trillions of dollars to help deal with the economic impact of the COVID pandemic. Other countries have had similar stimulus programs, and friend of the site Ya’ir A. alerted me to one way the money is being spent. In the Japanese fishing village of Noto, they chose to commission a sculpture of a giant squid:

A giant squid in Japan

Now you have to admit, that’s a pretty great squid. And yet:

[T]here have been questions among locals over whether this was necessary or even an effective way to do PR for Noto.

Sure, Noto only has 17,000 residents, and maybe the money (roughly $250,000) could have been better spent, but keeping the world as weird as possible has value. And hey, judging by their Wikipedia entry, I was never going to link to Noto otherwise. So I say this big old squid is delightful, and that it’s working great as a PR measure. Readers, when it’s safe to do so, I urge you to go visit Noto. First one to send me a picture of themselves with the squid wins a free post here on OFT.

No Ink Is Used 

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Since early on in our global pandemic, Anna Chojnicka has been creating art. Her medium of choice? Bananas. Through the simple act of bruising banana peels, Chojnicka has created some impressive works of (temporary) art, and raised money for good causes as well. The Washington Post has more.

[S]he inspects her daily sketch, takes a photo and then eats the banana — she doesn’t like waste.

You can view hundreds of Chojnicka’s creations over on her dedicated Instagram account, @banana_bruiser.

A banana modified into a octopus

If Marizio Cattelan’s “Comedian” is worth $120,000, these ought to sell for millions.

A Shortage of Garden Gnomes 

Friday, April 16th, 2021

Add “garden gnomes” to the list of items now in short supply due to both COVID-19 lockdowns and the Suez canal blockage.