by John Walters
Tweet Me Right
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 14, 2019
That’s O’Rourke, Harris, Pet, Gillebrand and Castro. Belated Happy Birthday to Mr. Tapper, a good-humored smart dude with a good heart, who turned 50 yesterday.
Do I Detect A British Accent
The Round of 16 of UEFA Champions League concluded yesterday and guess what? All our Barclays Premier League squads that received bids to the annual 32-club tournament have advanced to the Round of 8: Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Manchester City and yesterday, Liverpool.
The Champions League is the March Madness of soccer with a twist or two: instead of the USA it’s Europe and instead of conference champions and the best at-large teams, it’s various nations’ top league champions and best at-large clubs. The Premier League receives four slots each year but this is the first time in 10 years that all four clubs have advanced to the quarters.
For those of us more casual soccer fans, know that Lionel Messi’s Spanish club, Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Italian club, Juventus, have also advanced. Messi scored two goals yesterday while Ronaldo had a hat trick on Tuesday.
2. You’re Grounded!
After two Boeing MAX 737 flights crashed, each minutes after takeoff, in the past six months, killing more than 350 people, the following nations and/or continents and/or cities grounded the aircraft from their airspace: Europe, United Kingdom, Oman, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Ireland, Iceland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland. Greece. Latvia. Lithuania, Luxembourg, Dubai, India, Mongolia, Vietnam, Bermuda, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Turkey, South Korea, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UAE.
Two countries you may have noticed not on that list: Russia and the United States.
Finally, yesterday, President Trump grounded the MAX 737, which honestly we feel is kind of off-note since planes don’t kill people, gravity does (Rule No. 1). If you make the MAX 737 illegal, then only bad guys will fly them, right? Isn’t that how it works?
Wow — Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, is shouted down outside the courthouse after he falsely claims “2 courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with any Russians.”
“Liar! That’s not what she said!” someone yells. pic.twitter.com/gGqdrP2ihJ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 13, 2019
Also, Paul Manafort was sentenced to another 3 1/2 years in jail, his lawyer got shouted down working the “No Collusion” falsehood afterward, and almost immediately following the sentence New York charged Manafort with 15 new felony counts, and that is a jurisdiction in which President Trump has no pardoning power. So, not great, Bob!
3. TheYang And The Restless
So what do you know about Andrew Yang, who declared his presidential candidacy all the way back in November of 2017? Born and raised in Schenectady (pop had a PhD in physics, mom a masters degree in statistics), he’s 44, with an undergrad degree from Brown and a law degree from Columbia. Of Taiwanese descent.
In the past 19 years Yang has worked as an entrepreneur and with health-care start ups. His big proposal is a $1,000 a month “Freedom Dividend,” which will be given to all adults over the age of 18, his response to the coming wave of automation and AI. As he calls it, and not incorrectly, the “robot apocalypse.” Yang has received enough donations from enough states to qualify to be part of the Democratic (that’s his declared party) debates.
Whether or not you agree with his Universal Basic Income idea, here’s the truth, Ruth: automation and AI is going to put millions (more) Americans out of work. For us, and we’ve witnessed this first-hand on both sides, simply giving people an income without work doesn’t solve the greater problem. Sure, people need money to get by, but what they need nearly as much is a real reason to wake up every morning. And let’s face it, not everyone can pen a daily blog that is read by literally dozens of people.
So while the Freedom Dividend is a progressive and thoughtful idea, some leader further down the line is going to have to reckon with the idea of a few very, very wealthy Americans, a score of robots making the rest of the populace irrelevant, and then an overwhelming majority of potheads, drug addicts and Fortnite participants. So, kinda like now…
Maybe they/we can all just pick up plastic in the Pacific? Which leads us to…
4. Wanna Get Away From It All?
Last night we were researching the planet’s longest flight (oh, no reason), which is a just shy of 19 hours trek from Newark to Singapore courtesy of Singapore Airlines (no, not the MAX 737). And we were slightly surprised to discover that the flight from Newark heads eastbound, which gives you a clue of just how VAST the Pacific Ocean must be that it’s shorter to fly across the Atlantic, across northern Africa and the Middle East and even India, than it is to fly across the USA and the Pacific.
So we thought, Okay, given that, what is THE most remote island/islands in the Pacific? While a very good argument may be made for Hawaii, we’re going to go with the Pitcairn Islands in the southern Pacific. The Pitcairns are a chain of four volcanic islands, and while Henderson Island (below) accounts for 85% of the land mass, the only inhabited island of the four is Pitcairn (above). It boasts approximately 50 residents who sprung from four main families that were a mix of Tahitians and mutineers from the H.M.S. Bounty (yes, that Bounty).
So, how remote is it? Pitcairn, a British territory, is 3,464 miles east of New Zealand (so, yeah, a much greater distance than from Maine to San Diego) and 3,570 miles west of Lima, Peru. How do you get there? Well, if you don’t own your own yacht, you’re going to be booking passage on another person’s yacht. There are no flights and no cruise ships and no, it isn’t cheap.
Go to Maui. You’ll never know the difference.
5. Citizen Caine
That tall, dashing, wavy-haired, blue-eyed rake was the true Swingin’ Sixties London sex bomb to which Austin Powers always aspired. It’s Michael Caine, love, and he turns 86 years young today. If you’re not too familiar with his films, we suggest:
–The Italian Job (1969)
–Get Carter (1971)
–Hannah And Her Sisters (1986)
–Dressed To Kill (1980)
Lots of great one-off lines from Nineties tunes, but none better than “I wanna be the girl with the most cake.” It never got to the point of, No, Kurt is Courteney’s husband, but Courteney Love’s debut album with her band Hole was so much better than “Band-aid can also play guitar.”
The Twilight Zone
More than a few modern TV geniuses, such as Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, consider this anthology series that Rod Serling created to be in a class by itself. Netflix now has all 156 episodes of the epochal, ground-breaking series that ran from 1959-1964. Television history right here, with a psychological twist. It’s a cookbook!