Wednesday, May 18th, 2022


Blinded By Science

"Albert Einstein understood the power of images. Throughout his life he conjured simple scenes to illustrate complex ideas: a plummeting elevator, a train speeding through a lightning storm, a blind beetle creeping along a curved surface." Albert Einstein is synonymous with genius. He accurately predicted everything from gravitational waves to black holes. He knew his stuff when it came to topics such as space, time, gravity, and the universe. But he had a blind spot. He never even hinted at the fact that he would one day become an influencer and go viral. And when he did, the name-image-likeness dough started pouring in. "Potential licensors were told to submit proposals, which would then be assessed by unnamed arbitrators behind closed doors. An Einstein-branded diaper? No. An Einstein-branded calculator? Yes. Anyone who did not follow this process, or defied the university's decision, could be subject to legal action. Sellers of Einstein-themed T-shirts, Halloween costumes, coffee beans, SUV trucks and cosmetics found themselves in court. The university's targets ranged from hawkers of market-stall novelties to multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Apple and the Walt Disney Company, which in 2005 paid $2.66m for a 50-year licence to use the name 'Baby Einstein' on its line of infant toys." Who owns Einstein? The battle for the world's most famous face. Even if he had lived in a different era, I doubt Einstein was the type to share selfies or attempt to go viral on Facebook or Instagram. In his most famous photo, he was sticking his tongue out at reporters. (So I guess he would've been a pretty good fit for Twitter.)


Insurrector Set

During Tuesday's primaries, the insurrection was on the ballot. And, sadly, it won in some cases. Consider Doug Mastriano, who just picked up the nomination in Pennsylvania's GOP race for governor. "Mastriano backed baseless reviews of the election results in Pennsylvania, where Democrat Joe Biden won by nearly 100,000 votes. He organized buses to ferry Trump supporters to Washington for the 'Stop the Steal' rally that preceded the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. And he says that if he's elected, he'll ferret out fraud partly by making every single voter in the state reregister." In other election news, Madison Cawthorn's horrible governance didn't doom him, but his talk of cocaine and orgies did. And the Dr Oz Pennsylvania senate primary is still too close to call. Here are six takeaways from the primaries.

+ Greg Sargent in WaPo: "Let's state this plainly: Pennsylvania Republicans just nominated a full-blown insurrectionist who intends to use the power of the office to ensure that, as long as he is governor, no Democratic presidential candidate wins his state again. Mastriano's victory also highlights another story that's bigger than this one contest: The role of Christian nationalism in fueling the growing insurrectionist streak on the right. This nexus underscores the danger this movement poses in a way that also demands more clarity about the worldview of candidates like Mastriano."


Trunk Show

"They found reactions that included touching and standing guard as well as nudging, kicking and shaking. In a few cases, females had even used their trunks to carry calves, or baby elephants, that had died." What we find when we really look at animal behavior. NYT (Gift Article): Elephants in Mourning Spotted on YouTube by Scientists.


A Simple Formula

"In February, an FDA investigation into infections in four infants, two of whom died, led to Abbott Nutrition's plant in Michigan, where traces of the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii were found. This resulted in a recall of several of its brands while Abbott paused production." That pause was a really big deal since "just four companies produce ~90% of all US formula and, among them, Abbott is responsible for about half." Add to that the general supply chain woes, hoarding during the pandemic, and the 2022 baby boom (Quarantine and Chill), and you get the terrible formula shortage. The baby formula shortage, explained.

+ Buy and Hold On for Dear Life: I was at my local Target yesterday and checked the formula section. Empty. That's just one category that hurt Target last quarter. Target shares sink more than 25% after company says high costs, inventory woes hit profits. The whole market has a target on its back. Today was the fifth Dow decline of more than 800 points this year. At this point, the NFT of my 2021 portfolio statement is worth more than my 2022 portfolio.


Extra, Extra

Farming Landmines: "The world is watching — not only the military movements of the war in Ukraine, but the movements of Yuriy Russu and the nation's farmers as well. The question is critical for Ukraine and all those countries that depend on it: Can a nation plant and harvest its crops in the middle of a war?" Farming on the front lines: How Ukraine's farmers are dodging bombs to feed the world. And the latest from the front: Interrogation, uncertainty for surrendering Mariupol troops. Plus, Russian soldier pleads guilty in first war crimes trial of Ukraine conflict. (We're gonna need to move a whole lot higher up the chain of command.)

+ Longing for Relief: "It's the most succinct and dispassionate name for long Covid: U09.9 — a medical diagnostic code created last year to allow doctors to document post-Covid conditions. Now, a large new study has analyzed data from the first few months after the code took effect, and the results paint a sobering picture of long Covid's serious and ongoing impact on people's health and the American health care system." NYT: Over 75 Percent of Long Covid Patients Were Not Hospitalized for Initial Illness.

+ Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner Kick: NPR: The U.S. men's and women's soccer teams will be paid equally under a new deal. (Nice of the women to give the men this deal even though the women's team is more successful and popular!)

+ Tired of All the Wynning: "The Justice Department sued former longtime casino tycoon Steve Wynn on Tuesday to compel him to file as a foreign agent for allegedly lobbying former President Donald Trump on behalf of China in 2017, when he was Trump's hand-picked Republican National Committee finance chairman." (It was all just one giant nonstop crime.)

+ Big Dick Energy: "The lord of Law & Order has taken his television operations to new heights during the 2021-22 television season, which is about to conclude with no less than six Wolf-produced series in primetime's top 10 rankings." TV at Unprecedented Scale: How Dick Wolf Rebounded to 198 Hours of Drama a Season.


Bottom of the News

For the past decade, high speed connectivity has been a key requirement for most travelers. These days, a new batch of properties are doing everything they can to make sure guests use their vacation to disconnect. Are Technology-Free Hotels the Future of Hospitality?

+ Five years after taking its last bow, Ringling Bros. is back – this time, without animals. (I have five pets. Coming back without the animals doesn't sound like a bad strategy...)

+ Beers at the PGA Championship are so expensive that players are complaining on behalf of the fans. How expensive? $18 for a Michelob Ultra. Bababooey!