Now That’s Just Bad Luck 

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Last week, Ford announced plans to unveil the all-new Ford Bronco on July 9th. There was just one problem: That’s O.J. Simpson’s birthday.`

Rethink the Police

Friday, June 19th, 2020

In recent weeks, the phrase “defund the police” has entered the zeitgeist. It’s rather sub-optimal, as it’s often conflated with “disband the police”. Those advocating for reform are often falsely painted as wanting to simply leave everyone exposed to criminals. Of course, that’s not the case, even amongst those who seek an abolition of police departments. Given the explanation required, though, this slogan would best be replaced with something more effective.

Let’s look at that explanation though. By and large, what’s really being advocated for is a reformation of policing. Removing both responsibilities and expenditures from police departments, and allocating them toward more efficient social services, is one way to accomplish this. More money would be spent on social services like drug abuse prevention, homeless outreach, and mental health services, which would also hopefully lead to a reduction in crime. A more nuanced slogan might be “Rethink the police”, specifically their role within our society.

The city of Camden is an instructive example. In 2012, they disbanded their police department to root out corruption, replacing it with a new county police force. That force has focused much more on community-oriented policing, which shifts the focus away from punishment, and toward improved outcomes for all.

It starts from an officer’s first day: When a new recruit joins the force, they’re required to knock on the doors of homes in the neighborhood they’re assigned to patrol, he said. They introduce themselves and ask neighbors what needs improving.

Training emphasizes deescalation, he said, and the department’s use of force policy makes clear that deadly force is the last option.

While this sort of measured thinking is sadly uncommon in America, it’s hardly anything revolutionary for other parts of the world. The role of police in Europe is markedly different from what we see in the US. Here’s Megan O’Neill, an expert on community policing at the University of Dundee in Scotland:

[P]olicing isn’t viewed primarily from a top-down, law-enforcement perspective, but rather as part of a bigger solution to social problems. “It’s not: There’s a problem, send the police. It’s: There’s a problem, let’s work together to find a solution,” she said. “Policing is seen as a small part of a bigger set of actors in terms of addressing social issues.”

Intelligently reallocating resources to better serve society’s needs should be something everyone can agree on. One poorly worded slogan shouldn’t be able to undermine that.

Isaac Newton, Master Chef 

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

If you were hoping to obtain Isaac Newton’s recipe for “toad vomit lozenges”, I regret to inform you that bidding has now closed. You’ll have to find something else to spend $81,325 on.

Hire This Man 

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

Perhaps you’ve seen a collection of terrible logos online. For instance, this logo for “The Computer Doctors is rather infamous:

Emanuele Abrate decided to redesign nine of the worst logos ever made. His improvements are impressive.

Previously in logos that failed to follow the ABCs: That’s Just Good Advice

Hurts So Bad 

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

Car rental company Hertz is in bad shape. An inability to pay its debts, related in part to the serious slowdown in rentals and used car sales caused by COVID-19, led the company to file for bankruptcy in late May. Naturally, then, they’re now planning to sell $500 million dollars in new stock, which they predict will be worth nothing at all in the very near future.

Wait, what? Yes, it seems that despite the bankruptcy filing, bored and/or ill-informed investors have been buying up Hertz stock in droves. This has caused the share price to surge in ludicrous fashion from its post-bankruptcy low of $0.40 a share. Rather than sit on the sidelines while other people get rich selling their stock at inflated prices, Hertz now wants in on the action. It’s bold, I’ll give them that.

Aforelinked financial analyst and funnyman Matt Levine has written an epic special edition of his column that covers this whole ridiculous sage in glorious detail. The entire thing is well worth a read, but here’s a brief excerpt:

Imagine writing the prospectus for this offering. Actually in some ways it is nice and clarifying…On the one hand, you don’t have to give investors lavish scary warnings that Hertz might go bankrupt, because Hertz is bankrupt. “We’re in bankruptcy, you dopes, and your stock will probably be worthless”; what more is there to say? The bad thing has already happened; no one who buys this stock can say that they weren’t warned.

On the other hand, you don’t have to give investors a compelling sales pitch for why they should buy the stock, because the whole premise of the offering is that people are irrationally buying the stock already and so they might as well buy it from Hertz. “Hertz: We’ve got some of that Hertz stock you wanted, if for some reason you still want it,” is the entire pitch.

It is a near certainty that Hertz stock will get wiped out, and a whole lot of people will lose their investments. Buyers who are aware of what’s happening are hoping to buy the stock low, quickly sell it at a slightly higher price, and walk away. However, it’s likely that a whole lot of small investors simply have no idea what’s going on. Hertz is trending, Hertz’s share price is jumping, and they can get in on the action.

Whether investors know it or not, with this offering of new stock, Hertz is coming very close to just asking the market at large “Would you like to pay back back our creditors for us?”. That should be a laughable question, and yet incredibly, the answer seems to be “Yes”.

Dr. Khama Ennis Kicks Ass 

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Dr. Khama Ennis is the chief of emergency medicine at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Massachusetts. Despite that impressive accomplishment, she’s had to put up with far too much nonsense over the years.

Once, as I walked past a patient’s room, I heard the family berating their nurse, demanding to be seen by a doctor because they had been waiting for hours. I popped in to reassure them that I was, in fact, their doctor. I’d already been in the room several times. I had done a rectal exam. All I could think was, “Why would you let me do that if you didn’t think I was your doctor?”

I wonder how much of what Dr. Ennis has experienced can be attributed to racism, how much to sexism, and how much to a combination of the two. But mostly, I marvel at how she powers through.

It’s Just a Phase 

Friday, June 12th, 2020

Massachusetts has a four-phase plan to re-open, and those phases each contain multiple parts. Since it was first announced, though, I’ve mostly been tickled by the ridiculous names given to the four phases: “Start”, “Cautious”, “Vigilance”, “New Normal”.

Still, I suppose it could be more ridiculous.

Two Emails in Two Hours Is a Bad Sign

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

At 6:31 PM last night, a well-known theatre in Princeton, New Jersey sent out an email with the following subject line:

  • Subject: Arts and Culture Matter

Exactly 100 minutes later, a second email was sent:

  • Subject: My Apology

Yeah.

The apology was solid, noting the “very poor choice of words…in the subject line for today’s email”, which “came across as if we were equating arts and culture with the Black Lives Matter movement…not a belief that McCarter or I hold”. Of course, with a bit of thought and more judicious editing, the need for a second email. could have been avoided entirely.

Take heed, marketers. The lessons from Rothy’s screw-up six years months weeks ago don’t just apply to COVID-19.

Just Stay in Your Bunker 

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

You should wear a mask. You should wear a mask when you leave the house, you should wear a mask while you’re donating platelets, you should wear a mask when you’re wearing Rothy’s, and you should obviously wear a mask when you’re visiting the Mayo Clinic.

Another time you should wear a mask is when you’re touring a factory making sterile swabs for use in detecting COVID-19. As you can surely guess, Donald Trump chose not to do so when he visited Maine’s Puritan Medical Products last Friday.

“The running of the factory machines is very limited today and will only occur when the president is touring the facility floor,” Virginia Templet, the company’s marketing manager told USA TODAY in response to questions about the event. “Swabs produced during that time will be discarded.”

The above statement is obviously an attempt to downplay the problem here, but even a small number of wasted swabs is too many. The underlying arrogance of Trump’s refusal to wear a mask in even the most straightforward of situations really shouldn’t be glossed over. However, the fact that the machines ran in a very limited capacity on the day of Trump’s tour is also a major problem, given this:

Nearly a third of Maine nursing homes reported last month they had no nasal swabs to collect specimens, the Portland Press Herald reported. Nearly 61% of those that responded to a Maine Medical Directors Association survey said they had seven or fewer at their disposal.

National shortages of swabs was part of what severely hampered early coronavirus testing efforts…Puritan, which received millions of dollars from the federal government to double production, is one of only two companies that make the kind of swabs needed in coronavirus testing.

Despite major shortages of testing swabs, the president’s actions disrupted one of the only active factories making this critical product, leaving workers play-acting instead. In any sane world, this would be a major scandal. In 2020, and Trump’s America, it’s just a scantily reported story garnering little attention as we lurch to the next massive screwup from this ill-equipped administration.


Voting Information: There are many things we can do to end the Trump presidency, but it all starts with voting. Visit https://vote.gov to register to vote, or to check your registration status. Once you’ve done that, get your friends and family registered next.

Look Up to Her 

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Later this year, in celebration of the centennial of women’s suffrage in America, the faces of 14 female leaders of the suffrage and civil rights movements will appear on Mt. Rushmore. It’s a start.

[Christina] Korp, an entertainment industry veteran, said she wanted to create some type of visual mosaic to honor the anniversary this August, prompting her friend to joke that Korp, a South Dakota native, should put images of women on the facade of Mount Rushmore in her home state. Korp took it seriously.

I like Korp’s moxie.