Some Strange Values in the World of Sports

The Curmudgeon is a sports fan who doesn’t particularly like writing about sports in this space and seldom does so, but sometimes something happens in the world of sports that captures his attention.

This is one of those times – and as is almost always the case, this isn’t really about sports.

James Harrison is a professional football player. He is 39 years old, positively ancient by pro football standards for anyone whose job isn’t to appear on the field three times a game to kick a ball. He has played 15 seasons, 14 of them for the Pittsburgh Steelers. and is beloved by the team’s fans.

A little more than a week ago Harrison was “waived” by the Steelers. “Waived” is sports euphemism for “fired.” One day he was a Steeler and the next the team’s management decided it didn’t want him anymore and showed him the door.

In fairness to the team’s management, Harrison is no longer the player he once was and has played very little this year. Management decided to bring in a replacement who could help the team more.

So there Harrison was, a football player who still wanted to play football, and he was available to any team that wanted to hire him.

And one team came calling: one of the Steelers’ archrivals, the New England Patriots. They said they wanted to hire Harrison, to give him a job, so Harrison joined the Patriots.

Which sounds like a pretty simple and straightforward proposition, except for one thing:

Many Steelers fans were livid – livid! They think Harrison is being disloyal to the Steelers, and to them, by playing for a team that probably stands between their beloved Steelers and a trip to the Super Bowl.

A few examples of their anger, from a web site called TotalProSports.com (with apologies in advance for the language you are about to encounter):

Dig that hat and jewelry

You’re a bitch for going to them

wow…. fucking traitor. To the fans especially. I thought it was a stupid terrible decision to let you go. But didn’t think you’d retaliate against an organization like that.

u can’t be that serious smh u could have just retired as a Steeler man

…you are dead to me as a @Steelers player Jimmy and so is all your history.

If you actually sign with the Patriots the whole city of Pittsburgh classifies you as a trader and you are no longer in the heart of Pittsburgh

And for you @jharrison9292, you’re a fucking trader and a bastard. After all ‪#SteelerNation has done you, you go and disrespect us and go to the damn Pats. Fucking joke.

You disloyal ass bitch

 Respectfully, fuck you [Curmudgeon’s note: leaving one to wonder what this particular fan might have written if he had been less respectfully inclined.]

Hope you tear an ACL

(One quick aside: many Pittsburgh fans referred to Harrison as a “trader” in their comments instead of, presumably, a “traitor.” Someone needs to take a closer look at those Pittsburgh public schools.)

In fairness to Pittsburgh fans, many were highly critical of their team for firing Harrison.

But to recap: a guy gets fired by his employer, which no longer wants him, and one of that employer’s competitors decides to hire him. The team wasn’t loyal to the player – it could have kept him – but decided that it was in the best interest of the team to kick him to the curb and hire someone else instead.

And when people get fired, don’t they usually look for another job – without others begrudging them for doing so? And if they have a somewhat specialized skill in a somewhat narrow field of endeavor, isn’t their pool of prospective new employers pretty much limited to the competitors of the employer that just fired them?

Despite this, many Pittsburgh fans think Harrison was disloyal to them – to them – and should have just retired rather than continue playing football elsewhere.

What’s wrong with this picture?

And more important, what’s wrong with the Pittsburgh fans who feel this way?

A Few Choice Words About Commas

There are two schools of thought when it comes to using commas.

School number one holds that in the term “red, white, and blue” there should be two commas. That comma is known as a serial comma or, more formally, an Oxford comma.

School number two holds that in the term “red, white and blue” using only one comma is perfectly satisfactory.

School number two, dear readers, is sadly, sadly misguided.

Both in his work and in his recreational writing The Curmudgeon uses the serial comma; calling it an Oxford comma is a little too highfalutin for him. For work, he often edits his co-workers writing, and when he does he imposes his own standard: use of the serial comma.

He’s not quite the dictator that might seem. Whenever he gets a new co-worker he waits to see how that person uses commas. If that person uses the one-comma approach, he’s perfectly willing to let that person continue doing so – provided that the person writes that way consistently and doesn’t use one comma sometimes and two commas other times. If the person goes back and forth between the two approaches The Curmudgeon unilaterally imposes his own two-comma standard.

So far, in 35 years of writing for a living, he’s never, ever encountered a co-worker who clearly prefers the one-comma approach without also occasionally wandering into two-comma territory and he has therefore always – always – insisted that it be done his way.

He is, after all, a curmudgeon – and there are few things worse than a curmudgeon who has been empowered by his employer to be that way.

Realistically, whether one uses one or two commas seldom matters. In his own writing he may notice two or three occasions a year when using one comma instead of two changes the meaning of what he’s trying to write.

But in his eyes, those two or three occasions completely justify doing it his way.

A quick web search turned up a few examples of when you really, really need to use the serial comma.

Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.

They went to Oregon with Betty, a maid and a cook.

I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.

 After beating the Steelers, Tim Tebow thanked his parents, God and Mrs. Trunchull.

See how the omission of the second comma changes the meaning of these sentences? Try it yourself: add that second comma and see what you get.

Aha!

So 99 percent of the time it really doesn’t matter and it’s only fussbudgets like The Curmudgeon who care AND insist on having it their own way.

But…

You knew The Curmudgeon was going somewhere with this, didn’t you?

Sometimes it really, really does matter – $10 million worth of matter in one recent situation, as described by the web site “The Write Life” (and brought to The Curmudgeon’s attention by Mrs. Curmudgeon, who’s really getting the hang of this thing):

In this class action lawsuit, drivers for Oakhurst Dairy sued the company over its failure to grant them overtime pay. According to Maine law, workers are entitled to 1.5 times their normal pay for any hours worked over 40 per week. However, there are exemptions to this rule. Specifically, companies don’t need to pay overtime for the following activities:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

  • Agricultural produce;
  • Meat and fish product; and
  • Perishable foods

Note the end of the opening line, where there is no comma before the “or.”

Oakhurst Dairy argued its drivers did not qualify for overtime because they engage in distribution, and the spirit of the law intended to list “packing for shipment” and “distribution” as two separate exempt activities.

However, the drivers argued the letter of the law said no such thing. Without that telltale Oxford comma, the law could be read to exclude only packing — whether it was packing for shipment or packing for distribution. Distribution by itself, in this case, would not be exempt.

Without that comma, as the judge maintained, this distinction was not clearcut:

Specifically, if that exemption used a serial comma to mark off the last of the activities that it lists, then the exemption would clearly encompass an activity that the drivers perform. And, in that event, the drivers would plainly fall within the exemption and thus outside the overtime law’s protection. But, as it happens, there is no serial comma to be found in the exemption’s list of activities, thus leading to this dispute over whether the drivers fall within the exemption from the overtime law or not.

 As a result, the court found in favor of the drivers, costing the dairy an estimated $10 million.

Failing to use commas correctly could cost you bigly

So there you have it: use the serial comma or you, too, could have your meaning and intentions misunderstood.

And you never know when failing to do so could end up costing you $10 million.

The choice is entirely yours.

Greetings of the Season

The Curmudgeon would like to wish his readers the best of the holiday season. Because this is not a time for curmudgeonliness he gives you as a gift a break from all the doom and gloom, shall take some time to go silent and recharge his batteries, and will return in about a week.

Scratch This One Off Your Christmas Gift List

Courtesy of Mrs. Curmudgeon, who’s starting to recognize the kind of subject her highly idiosyncratic yet lovable husband can’t resist, The Curmudgeon was recently introduced to a product that should be on absolutely no one’s gift list this Christmas:

Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun someone introduces a $129.99 dog collar

A fitbit-style collar for dogs. In addition to being a tracking device – itself a worthy feature, although for a monthly subscription fee of $9.95, perhaps a bit on the outrageously pricey side – the “Link AKC,” according to the folks who manufacture it,

… helps you manage your dog’s wellness so you can have peace of mind knowing you are doing what’s best for your dog.

Because you know the subject of your pooch’s wellness has been keeping you up nights.

So what do you get for your $129.99 device (more than twice the price of some fitbits)? The collar and an app for your smartphone – oh, The Curmudgeon didn’t mention that? If you don’t already have one, you need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars to buy a smartphone that, despite your best intentions, will absolutely take over your life.

Sorry, The Curmudgeon digresses. Smartphones are still a sore subject with him.

Anyhow, this app offers, among other things, the following features:

Precise activity tracker – 3-axis accelerometer to accurately identify moderate vs intense movement throughout your dog’s day

Two observations here: first – 3-axis accelerometer? How utterly cool is that?

Um, what utterly IS 3-axis accelerometer?

Meet Sable, The Curmudgeon’s step-dog. She taught him about the 19 hours sleeping and one hour licking and she is way, waaay cuter than your dog but has never, ever heard a command she was willing to obey

Second: do you really need a gizmo to tell you that Fido sleeps approximately 19 hours a day and spends another hour licking himself/herself?

Artificial Intelligence – Patent-pending algorithm that learns what constitutes intense activity for your dog so you can make sure your dog gets enough active minutes each day.

An algorithm! You can’t get better than an algorithm, can you? Google INVENTED algorithms, you know! Of course, when you discover that getting your precious Fifi “enough active minutes each day” involves YOU getting more active minutes each day, too, you might want to suggest that this product’s creators stick their algorithms where the sun don’t shine.

Personalized & Insightful – Provides activity level recommendations based on your dog’s age, breed or mixed breed, behavior, and size

Again, a nice idea in theory, but surely you realize that any resulting attempt to increase Rover’s “activity level” will mean increasing your activity level as well.

Is that something you REALLY want?

Besides, don’t dogs run when they want to run? And stop when they’ve had quite enough, thank you? It’s not like there are dogs out there jogging along and saying to themselves, “I made two miles yesterday and need to go three today if I want to work my way up to five. Feel the burn, baby!”

Temperature Alerts – Be alerted when your dog is in an environment that may be too hot or too cold for them

Even The Curmudgeon, who knows precious little about dogs, understands that when a dog is too cold it will shiver and when it’s too hot it will stick out its tongue and pant and search for water and then just refuse to move. Let’s see them thar nerds develop an algorithmic response to “Say whatever you want, offer me a treat, try to play go fetch, knock yourself out, but I ain’t movin’, buster.”

Forget the Link AKC. If you must get your dog something for Christmas – assuming your dog celebrates Christmas or is even aware that it’s Christmas and isn’t one of those fussy pets that prefers Chanukah or Kwanzaa or even Festivus – get it a nice rawhide bone. Or a squeaky toy to chase.

Or a nice, new, soft, well-padded bed. Now THAT your dog surely will appreciate.

 

 

It Should Hardly Come as a Surprise…

…that the first real “accomplishment” of a Republican president working with a Republican Congress is a great big wet kiss in the form of massive tax breaks for rich people and big businesses.

And a defiant middle finger for working people.

Anyone who expected anything less is delusional.

The Republican Congress

Especially those millions of working people who voted them into office expecting that things would somehow be different with this particular crew of steal-from-the-poor, give-to-the-rich politicians whose first priority is always – always – themselves and their campaign contributors and not the people they represent and who voted them into office.

The Trump Watch: Mid-December

The Season of Thanks

Most people, including most elected officials, treat holidays as a time to make nice with others. Donald Trump, though, is not “most people” and chose Thanksgiving as a time to vent his spleen over slights and oversights real and, mostly, imagined.

He cast doubt on the women who accused Roy Moore of inappropriate behavior.

Trump, of course, is the ultimate authority on all things inappropriate.

Quick: which one’s the turkey?

By now we’ve grown accustomed to his predilection for self-congratulation, but he took that further than usual even for him when, upon participating in the traditional Thanksgiving pardoning of a turkey, he declared that

I feel so good about myself doing this.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

On the campaign trail Trump repeatedly belittled references to the unemployment rate, saying it was inaccurate and insisting that many, many more people were unemployed and the rate was much higher than advertised.

Now that he’s president?

Under President Trump unemployment rate will drop below 4%.

So Much for Getting Tough on the Pharmaceutical Industry

First on the campaign trail and then throughout his first year as president, Trump has repeatedly criticized the pharmaceutical industry for the high and ever-climbing cost of prescription drugs.

If he’s so unhappy with that industry, though why does he keep appointing its executives and lobbyists to high-ranking positions in his administration?

The web site Statnews explains:

His Food and Drug Administration chief, Scott Gottlieb, was a longtime industry investor and adviser to major players like GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb. A senior adviser at the Health and Human Services Department, Keagan Lenihan, joined the administration after running the lobby shop for the drug and distribution giant McKesson. And Trump has a former Gilead lobbyist, Joe Grogan, reviewing health care regulations at the Office of Management and Budget. The chief of staff at HHS, Lance Leggitt, lobbied for a whole host of drug clients, even last year.

And to top it off, his nominee to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services spent more than a decade at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly – exactly what we need to lead the charge against high prescription drug prices.

“Pocahontas” Returns

Most people would never talk that way right in front of them. But then Trump’s not “most people”

Yes, that really was Agent Orange speaking at an event honoring Native American Code Talkers who served in World War II and turning to the men he was honoring and explaining that

You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.

No, THEY don’t call her Pocahontas. Only Trump does – and only Trump would have the audacity to do so directly to Native Americans while pretending to honor them.

Billy Bush Revisited

Surely you’ve heard about this but it bears retelling: Trump is now suggesting that the voice on the Access Hollywood tape in which he declares that he grabs women by the you-know-what may not be his.

Of course it is – and he even apologized for the remarks.

The lying comes so naturally to him that he can’t stop himself.

There Ain’t No Way to Hide Your Lyin’ Eyes

Bella DePaulo is a social scientist who has written extensively on the psychology of lying. Recently she wrote an op-ed piece that was published in the Washington Post. The title of her column:

I study liars. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.

Among her observations:

I spent the first two decades of my career as a social scientist studying liars and their lies. I thought I had developed a sense of what to expect from them. Then along came President Trump. His lies are both more frequent and more malicious than ordinary people’s. 

And…

The college students in our research told an average of two lies a day, and the community members told one. A more recent study of the lies 1,000 U. S. adults told in the previous 24 hours found that people told an average of 1.65 lies per day; the authors noted that 60 percent of the participants said they told no lies at all, while the top 5 percent of liars told nearly half of all the falsehoods in the study.

In Trump’s first 298 days in office, however, he made 1,628 false or misleading claims or flip-flops, by The Post’s tally. That’s about six per day, far higher than the average rate in our studies. And of course, reporters have access to only a subset of Trump’s false statements — the ones he makes publicly — so unless he never stretches the truth in private, his actual rate of lying is almost certainly higher.

Also,

Nearly two-thirds of Trump’s lies (65 percent) were self-serving. Examples included: “They’re big tax cuts — the biggest cuts in the history of our country, actually” and, about the people who came to see him on a presidential visit to Vietnam  last month: “They were really lined up in the streets by the tens of thousands.” 

And

Trump told 6.6 times as many self-serving lies as kind ones. That’s a much higher ratio than we found for our study participants, who told about double the number of self-centered lies compared with kind ones. 

And then there’s this:

The most stunning way Trump’s lies differed from our participants’, though, was in their cruelty. An astonishing 50 percent of Trump’s lies were hurtful or disparaging.

What, me lie?

Finally, her conclusion on the impact of all of this lying:

By telling so many lies, and so many that are mean-spirited, Trump is violating some of the most fundamental norms of human social interaction and human decency. Many of the rest of us, in turn, have abandoned a norm of our own — we no longer give Trump the benefit of the doubt that we usually give so readily.

It’s sad when so many people don’t trust – or even believe – their president. It’s even sadder when that disbelief is grounded not in disagreement over the policies he’s pursuing but in his long, strong, and unmistakable track record as an out-and-out liar.

Accomplishments

Trump recently declared that no president has accomplished as much at the start of a term since Harry Truman.

You have to wonder: what exactly does he think he’s accomplished?

(And no, a president getting a nominee onto the Supreme Court when his own party is in the majority in the Senate isn’t an accomplishment: it’s a fait accompli.)

Murder, He Wrote

A murder mystery requires a real detective

Quick, somebody call Jessica Fletcher.

Sixteen years ago a woman who was an intern in the office of then-Congressman (and now annoying and uninteresting MSNBC morning host) Joe Scarborough fell, hit her head, and died. Who said so? The coroner.

But Quincy, M.E., the current occupant of the White House, has a different idea:

And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!

(sing along – you know the melody) “Are you staring at Scarborough’s hair?…”

Translation: Trump wants us to wonder whether Joe Scarborough was somehow responsible for this woman’s death – despite anything even approaching evidence.

And he also wants to distract Scarborough from his frequent criticisms of the current occupant of the White House.

That doesn’t seem likely. The only thing that would probably distract Scarborough is high winds, considering that his hair rivals only Trump’s for sheer ridiculousness.

Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Country

Ask only what your country can do for you.

A government shutdown is truly a terrible idea; even most Republicans believe that. The last time Republicans inspired a real government shutdown was the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich forced it on the Clinton administration, and it led to a backlash that led to Democrats regaining control of Congress and Gingrich being shown the door.

Even today’s Republicans, not including the lunatic fringe on the far, far, far edges of the far, far, far right, understand this and have made it clear that they do not – do not – do not – want to force a government shutdown.

If only they could convince the man in the White House.

As the Washington Post reported,

President Trump has told confidants that a government shutdown could be good for him politically and is focusing on his hard-line immigration stance as a way to win back supporters unhappy with his outreach to Democrats this fall, according to people who have spoken with him recently.

So on one hand he has what’s good for the country. On the other, what’s good for him.

So of course what he’s talking about is what’s best for him.

Yet again.

Behind the Scenes

Four to eight hours a day

The New York Times recently published an article titled “Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation.” It’s an extensive look at a day in the life of the president. It’s clear that the Times reporters had sources inside the White House, and when they finished their reporting they ran 51 individual facts past White House officials, seeking their agreement or denial. The only one to which the White House appears to have objected was the assertion that Trump watches four to eight hours of television a day.

Which suggests that the White House is on board with everything else the article says.

If you’ve heard only two things from the article, it’s probably that television assertion and the news that Trump drinks a dozen diet Cokes a day.

Which may explain all that odd-hours tweeting: when he can’t sleep and there’s nothing to watch on television he’s picking up his phone for some caffeine-fueled mad tweeting.

Why is Trump so combative – and often, so unnecessarily so? The article explains:

Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.

The eventual fate of pretty much everyone who works for him

Is it any wonder that he almost always refuses to cooperate with Democrats in any way, lashes out so harshly at Republicans who don’t agree with him 100 percent of the time, and is even willing, at the blink of an eye, to throw his own aides and cabinet members under the bus?

Then there’s his apparent obsession with seeing his name in the news – and seeing it constantly:

To an extent that would stun outsiders, Mr. Trump, the most talked-about human on the planet, is still delighted when he sees his name in the headlines. And he is on a perpetual quest to see it there. One former top adviser said Mr. Trump grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it.

During the morning, aides monitor “Fox & Friends” live or through a transcription service in much the way commodities traders might keep tabs on market futures to predict the direction of their day.

If someone on the show says something memorable and Mr. Trump does not immediately tweet about it, the president’s staff knows he may be saving Fox News for later viewing on his recorder and instead watching MSNBC or CNN live — meaning he is likely to be in a foul mood to start the day.

One of the real challenges of a Trump presidency is a man whose entire and brief political career has focused on becoming president but who never gave any meaningful thought to actually being president, as House majority leader Nancy Pelosi explained.

“At first, there was a thread of being an impostor that may have been in his mind,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, who has tried to forge a working relationship with the president.

“He’s overcome that by now,” she said. “The bigger problem, the thing people need to understand, is that he was utterly unprepared for this. It would be like you or me going into a room and being asked to perform brain surgery. When you have a lack of knowledge as great as his, it can be bewildering.”

 Republicans often share this view. According to Senator Lindsey Graham,

“You can expect every president to change because the job requires you to change,” he said. “He’s learning the rhythm of the town.” But Mr. Graham added that Mr. Trump’s presidency was still “a work in progress.” At this point, he said, “everything’s possible, from complete disaster to a home run.”

That lack of readiness is reflected in his inability (and his unwillingness) to sift through information in search of what is true and useful.

In almost all the interviews, Mr. Trump’s associates raised questions about his capacity and willingness to differentiate bad information from something that is true.

Monitoring his information consumption — and countering what Mr. Kelly calls “garbage” peddled to him by outsiders — remains a priority for the chief of staff and the team he has made his own. Even after a year of official briefings and access to the best minds of the federal government, Mr. Trump is skeptical of anything that does not come from inside his bubble.

Also,

Other aides bemoan his tenuous grasp of facts, jack-rabbit attention span and propensity for conspiracy theories.

And often, he just gets it wrong – sometimes because he’s apparently not looking to get it right.

Mr. Trump is an avid newspaper reader who still marks up a half-dozen papers with comments in black Sharpie pen, but Mr. Bannon has told allies that Mr. Trump only “reads to reinforce.” Mr. Trump’s insistence on defining his own reality — his repeated claims, for example, that he actually won the popular vote — is immutable and has had a “numbing effect” on people who work with him, said Tony Schwartz, his ghostwriter on “The Art of the Deal.”

Scary stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Carlin and the Centers for Disease Control

The late comedian George Carlin had a routine about oxymorons or words that didn’t go together: things like “jumbo shrimp” and “military intelligence,” and “ non-dairy creamer.” Find a few more here, and there are more elsewhere as well.

Until last week, “George Carlin and the Centers for Disease Control” would have been one of those oxymorons. They just don’t go together.

But now, thanks to the Trump administration, they do.

Carlin was famous for his seven words you can’t say on television – words The Curmudgeon won’t reproduce here because this isn’t that kind of site. But if you’ve heard of Carlin you’ve probably heard the routine. If you’d like to refresh your memory or just want to laugh, you can find it here.

But now Carlin’s not the only one laboring under limits on what he can say. Last week the Trump administration reportedly delivered unto the folks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a list of seven words they can’t use in documents that are part of the budget they’re submitting to the administration for the 2019 federal fiscal year.

Those words:

  • vulnerable
  • entitlement
  • diversity
  • transgender
  • fetus
  • evidence-based
  • science-based

The Washington Post elaborated:

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

Now that the (one of Carlin’s banned words) has hit the fan, CDC officials are denying the ban (“It ain’t so, I tell ya, it just ain’t so”).

But it’s apparently…so very so.

And apparently not the first time, either. Other agencies within the federal Department of Health and Human Services reportedly have had their typewriters washed out with white-out, too, and been told to watch their language, because this administration is now apparently intent on turning around its belief that if you keep saying something often and loudly enough people will eventually believe it to suggest that if you pretend a problem or condition or situation doesn’t exist eventually people will stop caring or even thinking about it and conclude that it, too, doesn’t exist.

That strategy hasn’t worked yet and that’s not going to change.

 

A Really Bad Idea

We learned last week that CVS, which sells prescription drugs but is far more interested in selling you mixed nuts (Gold Emblem Deluxe Mixed Nuts, Lightly Salted, 18 ounces, now on sale for $8.99), cheap perfume (Charlie White by Revlon Eau, De Toilette Spray, 3.4 ounces, now $9.99), laundry detergent (Tide Pods Detergent, Spring Meadow, $6.99), and toilet paper (Charmin Ultra Strong Toilet Paper, four rolls for $4.99), has decided to get into the health insurance biz by purchasing Aetna, one of the biggest health insurers in the country.

The Curmudgeon thinks this is a really bad idea.

The people who can’t even figure out how to have in stock everything in their weekly sales circulars think they’re smart enough to run a health insurance company?

The folks who staff their “Minute Clinics” with nurse practitioners instead of doctors, like most other urgent care centers, think they have any insight at all on how to care for sick people?

The folks who send you texts reminding you to pick up refills of prescriptions you haven’t needed in more than a year think they can keep track of anything more complicated than their inventory of razor blades, deodorant, and toothpaste?

The people who hang signs that say “Free flu shots today” when those shots are in no way free for many customers because they understand so very little about health insurance?

The folks who will record your purchase of a 25-cent pack of gum on a cash register receipt longer than your arm?

The people who tell you they’re out of the medicine you’ve just been prescribed when you’re sick and can have it for you in three days and then, when you ask them if it might be available at one of their other stores, just a three-minute drive away, look at you like you’re the smartest person they’ve ever met in their lives?

No, this is not a good idea. There is no one at CVS smart enough to run a health insurance company. Shoot, they can’t even keep in stock those little cards telling you that you have to go to the pharmacy counter to buy a small package of Sudafed (as The Curmudgeon discovered himself two Saturdays ago, around midnight).

CVS ought to stick to doing what it does best – okay, what it does with a modicum of effectiveness: selling tampons and condoms. It should leave real health care to the grown-ups.

P.S. After The Curmudgeon wrote everything above and posted it to appear today he received a phone call from CVS informing him that his prescription needed to be ordered and would not be available for several days (and by the way, how many days are there in “several”?). He visited the store and spoke to a clerk, who confirmed that the medicine was not in stock and, after some prodding, asked him whether he wanted the brand name or generic and agreed to call another store to check on its availability. She returned after several minutes and asked him the brand name/generic question again and then placed a second call to that same other store. After 30 exasperating minutes another clerk who had been eavesdropping on the conversation disappeared into the shelves and came back seconds later with the medicine in question in her outstretched. It had been there all along.

The Curmudgeon rests his case.

A Day After Roy Moore, See Joe Biden

Today The Curmudgeon offers a stark contrast to yesterday’s post on Roy Moore in the form of Joe Biden, who appeared on The View a few days ago with Meghan McCain, whose father John is now suffering from the same brain cancer that killed Biden’s son Beau.

Watch Biden here.

The Curmudgeon’s people have a term for people like Joe Biden. He is a mensch.

The Last Word on Roy Moore

Moore, pictured here shaking hands with Satan

Actually, The Curmudgeon will give Roy Moore the last word on Roy Moore: remarks he made after his election loss on Tuesday. They paint a clear picture of a man who is thoroughly unfit for public office – or for much of anything, for that matter.

See it for yourself here.