1

The Wizard of Schnoz

Lynyrd Skynyrd famously asked, Ooooh that smell, Can't you smell that smell? In my case, the current answer is no. I'm testing negative for omicron, but my greatly diminished sense of smell has not returned. I can't say the scentual nose dive is all bad. I live with two beagles, three cats, and two teens who haven't revised their hygiene protocol to its pre-pandemic level, so at least I get a break from what smells like teen spirit.

Even sans covid, when it comes to the ability to smell, everyone is not equal. For a serious nose job, you need to call in Nostrildamus: A South St. Paul guy named Chuck McGinley who – with his trusted Nasal Ranger™ – can always pass the smell test. Get a whiff of this gift article from NYT: Sometimes, Life Stinks. So He Invented the Nasal Ranger. "Spending even a short time with him, one can't help but pick up bits of odor-related trivia. Who knew that most of the air we're inhaling at any given moment passes through just one nostril or the other, not both? ... Listen carefully, though, and he often addresses debates that transcend his day-to-day work, escaping the realm of science altogether and drifting toward the metaphysical: Is the human aversion to putrid smells nature, or nurture, or both? How can one measure a perception? And how do you give people the confidence in their noses that they have in their eyes and ears?" (While you're reading this, I'm gonna finally take some time to not smell the roses.)

2

Hugoes There

"Amid rising tensions and the approaching Beijing Olympics, the US banned Xinjiang cotton last year. But Hugo Boss still took shipments from Esquel, which gins cotton in Xinjiang." Yes, Hugo Boss was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis, providing the fashion ensembles donned by the SS and the Hitler Youth (often manufactured by prisoners of war). So one might write off this particular connection. But it's not just Hugo Boss. Other companies are doing business in a region where the crimes against humanity have been labeled as a genocide by the US government. The perpetrators are just about to host the Winter Olympics. It's not a good look. Buzzfeed: Big brands are still working with this clothing company closely tied to Xinjiang, where forced labor is rampant.

3

Crop Dusted

Whenever my daughter sees a t-shirt of mine that she likes, she asks, "Can I cut it?" She and her friend all love crop tops. So I recently got her this shirt, which says crop top and has a picture of some crops planted in the ground. The shirt was met with eye-rolling and contempt. My wife took my daughter's side on the matter and reminded me that I bought her the exact same shirt last year and like this one, it went straight into the garbage. It turns out I'm not the only one whose gifts end up in landfill. Americans set a new record for returns following the holiday season and much of the stuff isn't even wanted back by retailers. NPR: From living rooms to landfills, some holiday shopping returns take a 'very sad path.'

4

This is Some Good Shit

"In Boston, the amount of the Covid virus detected in wastewater, which has been a leading indicator of case trends in the past, has plunged by about 40 percent since its peak just after Jan. 1." David Leonhardt in the NYT: Is Omicron Peaking? In parts of the Northeast, it seems to be.

+ This is some stupid, and potentially dangerous, shit. Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses.

+ Biden is sending military doctors to hard hit hospitals, and will make face masks and an additional 500 million rapid tests available to Americans. It's all good. But it always seems like we're behind the demand curve. Political infighting (and now, our 6-3 Supreme Court) makes being prepared almost impossible. Related: COVID-19 pill rollout stymied by shortages as omicron rages.

5

Extra, Extra

We Used to Be Royal: With the Epstein-related sexual assault case still on, the Queen strips Prince Andrew of his military roles and royal patronages. (All this make-believe nonsense. She may as well be stripping the roles of King Friday.)

+ The Fall of Caesar: From Bloomberg: Desk Salads Hit by Worst Inflation in U.S. With Romaine Prices Up 61%. "Romaine prices are up even more than gasoline." (So don't toss that salad...)

+ Judge Mental: Some really bad judge behavior: Judge Tosses Teen Rape Conviction, Says 148 Days in Jail Is ‘Plenty of Punishment.' (He also kicked a prosecutor out of court for liking a Facebook Post.) And another judge told a 72-year-old man who has cancer that he 'should be ashamed' of himself after he said he was too weak to keep up with his lawn.

+ College Station 11: "Undergraduate enrollment has fallen a total of 6.6%. That represents the largest two-year decrease in more than 50 years." (Kegstands don't have the same appeal when you're wearing an N95.)

6

Bottom of the News

"Researchers from Oregon State University discovered the two chemical compounds commonly found in hemp — cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) — had the potential to keep COVID-19 from forming." Cannabis compounds might prevent COVID-19 infection. I call my man cave The Cannabis Compound.