Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

Foodie showdown! 

For those who have not heard - the Impossible Burger is restaurants (and chains) hottest trend right now! If you’re unfamiliar with the Impossible Burger allow me to fill you in. The Impossible Burger is a meat free burger made entirely of soy, potato, flavored with plant molecules with added coconut and sunflower oils to give it that meat sizzle. If you want to learn more about the science behind the Impossible Burger head over to the main site of Impossible Foods, they can explain it much better than I.  

But, basically, it looks like a burger, tastes much like a burger and has just as much protein as a burger. Only, it’s not a burger and it doesn’t have an ounce of meat or use a drop of animal product. Vegetarians, vegans and even meat lovers are giving the Impossible Burger rave reviews and more and more fast food chains and restaurants are putting them on the menu. 

Well, the folks over at Arby’s have gone a different route and told media the roast beef loving chain will never sell “fake meat.”  A rep for Arby’s went as far as saying: “The chances we will bring plant-based menu items to our restaurants, now or in the future, are absolutely impossible.” Fair enough, their motto is “We have the meats.” 

Um, okay. Of course, maybe that’s what they say today and maybe they’ll change their mind tomorrow. I mean, it does seem a bit weird to me that a restaurant chain has no interest in selling food that is extremely popular - but whatever - maybe they have their own thing happening! 

And boy do they ever! 

Arby’s is going to start selling carrot sticks that aren’t carrots! You read that right. The “Marrot,” as they call it, looks like a carrot but is actually made entirely out of - you guessed it - meat! The Marrot is seasoned turkey breast cut, rolled, cooked, then oven-roasted, then finished with a brulee of maple sugar to make it a bit more carrot crunchy. 

Um. Okay. Sounds kind of silly to me. But I’m sure the idea of a plant based fake meat burger sounds kind of silly to others so I guess it’s all fair game. 

But still, we now live in a world where you can have a plant based burger and a meat based carrot. But probably not at the same place. 

The Impossible Burger is currently being served around the country in a large variety of restaurants, several chain restaurants such as White Castle, Burger King and KFC, and sold at select co-ops and supermarkets. The Marrot is currently in the planning stage but Arby’s hopes to test market it in select cities soon which means, depending on customer response, The Marrot may or may not ever be a big thing.  

CNN has released a new poll about the Democratic candidates and it revealed a huge increase in Biden support and a huge drop in interest in Harris. The Biden rise does not exactly surprise me, the Harris decline surprise me a bit. But whatever. There are still something like eighteen candidates in the race, pretty soon some of them are going to be dropping like flies. 

Anyway, Biden is clearly viewed as the most moderate candidate. I know there was some recent progressive pushback against his “inappropriate touching” but any common sense analysis of said videos of Biden “inappropriately touching women” revealed them to be ridiculously harmless. And in some cases the women who were on the receiving end of a Biden hug have come out and said things like, “Ummm … he’s my close friend of 40 of years. Of course it’s okay for him to hug me!”  

But while it turned out to be a nonstory, I think the negative coverage of Biden dropped him in the polls a bit. And … well … I also hate to say this but his pretty bad performance in the first debate didn’t help him. But all that seems to be water under the bridge now and moderate American’s are reminding themselves how much they like Biden. Conservatives even kind of liked him in the same way that liberals kind of liked Senator McCain. That seems to be changing though as Biden is the front runner and now FOXNEWS is running attack ad after attack add on Biden’s health - which, to be honest - looks just fine. 

So - does that mean Biden is about to be our new President? Well - not so fast. This all comes from a single CNN poll of 1.001 people with a sampling error of 3.7%.  I know some folks are skeptical of polls but all you need to do is remind yourself is that a poll is a snapshot of voters, it is not a forecast of the future. BUT, even though it’s true that people can change their mind as in “Someone polls for Biden one day but changes their mind the following week to support Sanders,” and it’s true that this does happen. People change their minds. That being said, snapshots of voters are surprisingly accurate. 

I’ll bring Scientific American into the mix of things. According to their 2004 article, “How can a poll of only 1,004 Americans represent 260 million people with only a 3 percent margin of error?” - polls have a margin of error that depends: 

“... inversely on the square root of the sample size. That is, a sample of 250 will give you a 6 percent margin of error and sample of 100 will give you a 10 percent margin of error.” Okay, I think I’m following that. And by the way, that ten percent margin of error is too high and therefore makes a polling of 100  people statistically worthless. So polls with too small a sampling size are not useful. 

Well, just poll more folks! Right? 

Well, it sounds like that’s true - up to a certain point. While it’s true that the more people you poll the smaller your margin of error becomes. Again, from Scientific America: 

“... by surveying 4,000 people, you can get the margin of error down to 1.5 percent … but that is generally a waste of time because public opinion varies enough from day to day that it is meaningless to attempt too precise an estimate.” 

Okay. Fair enough. It sounds like it would take too much time to gather polling data from several thousand people because by the time you compile the data, public opinion may have significantly altered. So it sounds like polling folks in the several thousand range - isn’t worth it at all. Which is why pollsters find the sweet spot to be about “a thousand people,” which puts the margin of error at 3.7% but can be done quickly and in enough time that public opinion hasn’t changed much by the time the poll is released. 

Makes sense to me. 

But what about anomalies? What about human error? What about bias? 

Well, Scientific American covers that too:

“The margin of error is a mathematical abstraction, and there are a number of reasons why actual errors in surveys are larger. Even with random sampling, people in the population have unequal probabilities of inclusion in the survey. For instance, if you don't have a telephone, you won't be in the survey, but if you have two phone lines, you have two chances to be included. In addition, women, whites, older people and college-educated people are more likely to participate in surveys. Polling organizations correct for these nonresponse biases by adjusting the sample to match the population, but such adjustments can never be perfect because they only correct for known biases. For example, "surly people" are less likely to respond to a survey, but we don't know how many surly people are in the population or how this would bias polling results.”

Okay. I think I got it - a poll is a snapshot of voter opinion but again - it is not an actual prediction of exactly what will happen. A 3 percent margin of error means that “there is a 95 percent chance that the survey result will be within 3 percent of the population value.” 

What that means is that pollsters, much like weathermen are better at their jobs than we give them credit for. I mean we have plenty of jokes about both are wrong all the time (especially the weatherman), the opposite is true - polls (and the weatherman) for the most part -  are pretty accurate. 

But anomalies do exist, errors happen. I mean, polls predicting the likely outcome of the 2016 Presidential election could have one candidate ten points ahead one week, and then watch that candidate lose mainly due to Widespread Russian Interference in all 50 States which rendered all the polls meaningless - and handing the election to the other candidate.  

For example.

Weird but awesome news! I am totally onboard with this idea! The petition, which was started by the nonprofit Halloween & Costume Association, has received more than ninety five thousand signatures as of Sunday afternoon (the 28th.) Technically, the petition is addressed to President Trump but since it’s not a federal holiday, the President can’t officially change the date. We the people of the United States could simply decide to change the date and celebrate on the last Saturday of October, but that would require Herculean amounts of communication to retail stores, schools and people all over the country. Which means, while I am one hundred percent onboard with changing the date - it might be easier said then done.

Regardless, it kind of seems like common sense to me. Permanently moving Halloween to a Saturday would mean that it would be easier and probably safer for kids to celebrate. It would certainly be much easier for parents to organize a weekend Halloween celebration instead of taking them out on a school night on Tuesday evening or whenever the 31st happens to fall on that particular year. 

But maybe that’s just me. The petition in full reads: 

“It's time for a Safer, Longer, Stress-Free Celebration! Let's move Halloween to the last Saturday of October!

  • 3,800 Halloween-related injuries each year. Talk to your kids about safety before they head out!
  • 82% of parents don’t use high visibility aids on their costume, be sure to incorporate reflective tape, glow sticks, finger lights or light up accessories
  • 63% of children don’t carry a flashlight while they are trick-or-treating. Grab a clip-on light if they don’t want to carry one! Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween. Discuss safety, pre-plan a route, stay on sidewalks and use crosswalks
  • 65% of parents don’t discuss Halloween safety with their children. Talk with your kids and offer ways to ensure a fun and safe experience
  • 70%of parents don’t accompany their children trick-or-treating. You’re never too old to trick-or-treat! Grab a costume and take advantage of some good ol' fashioned family bonding!
  • 51% Of Millennials say Halloween is their favorite holiday, why cram it into 2 rushed evening weekday hours when it deserves a full day!?!”

On Wednesday, July 24th, former special prosecutor Robert Mueller testified before two Congressional committees - the Judiciary in the morning, and the House Intelligence later in the afternoon. Democrats were salivating that Mueller was going to unload a heap of Trump’s impeachable crimes that had somehow been omitted from his special investigation. But basically Mueller just stuck to the script and repeated things that were already detailed in his 448 page report. So, it was really nothing new to anyone who, you know - actually read the report. (I should note that I’ve read half of it and skimmed half of it.) And Mueller pretty much testified exactly what he wrote: 

  1. The Russians interfered in the 2016 Presidential election. Like - a lot. They committed multiple acts of cyber terroism, stole thousands of documents and had (something like) several thousand Russian employees creating multiple fake American social media profiles in order to spread Anti-Clinton propaganda, made up conspiracy theories and outright lies, all in favor of Donald Trump for President. The Russians did so because they felt a Trump presidency would be much more favorable to Russian interests. 
  2. The Russians then contacted the Trump campaign and said, “We have a bunch of stolen materials that will help you win the presidency - do you want it?” The Trump campaign said “Yes!” and had multiple meetings with Russians to obtain stolen information but …
  3. Since there was no long term coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians there was legally no “conspiracy.” And then … 
  4. President Trump tried to obstruct justice and interfere in the investigation a total of nine times but each and every time when Trump ordered a staffer or employee to obstruct justice … get this … the staffer refused to do so knowing that it was illegal. 
  5. Finally, Mueller concluded that the report did not find conspiracy due to the fact there was no long term coordination but also that it does not exonerate the President because he did in fact try to obstruct justice, which is a crime but since he is the sitting President and can not be indicted (because a sitting President can not be indicted) then Mueller would leave it up to the Attorney General to charge him. 
  6. The Attorney General declined to charge the President with obstruction of justice. 
  7. President Trump, Fox News and conservatives everywhere claim, “No collusion. Total exoneration.”  

Which is not even close to what the actual report said. Anyway, you know all this if you read the report. You do not know any of this if you watch Fox News. And remember as soon as the report came out and Barr delivered his four page memo to congress with the “No collusion. Total exoneration” tone a lot of Democrats were skeptical. And then Trump and Fox News said, “Mueller’s a stand up guy! He knows what he’s doing! He did his job! No collusion. Total exoneration.” 

It sounds to me that the “No collusion, total exoneration” kind of stuck in Mueller’s craw and so he felt the need to clear up the general tone of his report for anyone who still thinks that it said any thing like, “No collusion. Total exoneration.” 

And so Mueller said he would testify before congress. And suddenly Fox News and President Trump were like, “Mueller’s an incompetent hack! Don’t trust anything he says! He should have been fired!”

Funny how quickly folks change their mind, eh? 

Anyway, Mueller went to Congress and testified. For several hours. But the additional smoking gun that Democrats were hoping for - never arrived. As mentioned he really just said the same exact things that were in his report. And Mueller refused to answer something like 200 questions -  mainly about sitting A.G. Barr and the Steele dossier.

Okay. I’m not exactly sure why Mueller didn’t answer any of those questions but I guess he had his legal reasons. To be honest, the entire thing played out like Mueller was there to polish his reputation which he felt had been tarnished by Barr “mischaracterizing” his report. Mueller didn’t really give the committees anything new they couldn’t have just gotten from reading the report. 

Honestly, I don’t really see what the point was. But hey, I guess it made for entertaining television for a few hours as Republicans tried to paint Mueller as a hack and Democrats fell all over themselves thanking him for being a veteran and we audience members kept hoping a smoking gun was just around the corner. Which - it wasn’t. 

But still, the actual report is kind of interesting. You should read it. The only time it mentions “no collusion” is in the intro when Mueller discusses how collusion has no real legal meaning so he won’t be trying to prove “collusion.” Instead he was trying to prove coordination and conspiracy. 

And it one hundred percent does not say “total exoneration.” It says the exact opposite, in fact. But I’m no longer sure that facts matter. And that’s a crying shame.

After a 67 year run, Mad magazine will cease publication and join its one time (and only real) rival publication Cracked magazine in going “the way of the dodo.” Cracked closed shop in 2007 and Mad magazine will no longer publish new content as of next month. 

 

Of course, “no longer publish NEW content” is far from “closing permanently.” Cracked ceased publication but evolved into a highly successful website: Cracked.com. Mad magazine will cease publishing “original content” and instead will revert to publishing “new” monthly issues that contain recycled material from its previous 67 year run. Of course, the “new” issues will still have original cover artwork and it sounds as if the planned end of the year “holiday” issue will actually have new art and new content. The other kicker is that Mad magazine will no longer be widely available in, say - supermarkets or bookstores. In order to receive a copy you will have to either subscribe or visit a specialty comic book shop (Mad magazine is now owned by DC comics).  So, Mad magazine is not exactly ceasing all publication as reported at the beginning of the week. I mean, at least for now. 

 

A subscription based model that reprints recycled bits from Mad’s long history, um … miiiiiight work.  But, probably not. Which is too bad because, like many, I grew up reading Mad (and Cracked) thinking that Mad host character Alfred E. Neuman and his moniker, “What, me worry” was pretty damn cool. Spy vs. Spy was my jam and Mad introduced me to artist Don Martin and all his various characters up to and especially including, The Mad Adventures of Captain Klutz (which was published in the Mad magazine paperback line of books, not the actual magazine itself). 

 

So, it appears as if Mad is not exactly going out of print; however, it is changing to subscription only that reprints previously written material which means that it’s not exactly dead but it might as well be. I mean, if you want to publish collections of old material in a Volume 1, Volume 2 compilation, well - that’s a totally legitimate thing to do. Lot’s of comic runs do that. But, that’s not exactly what is happening here. In fact, I would say just dump the “new” monthly recycled material magazine and only publish a holiday “year in review” with all new content and all new art. Just make it a once a year magazine. Make it an event. Make it something special. 

 

The recycled once a month model really seems to be a - we’re going out of business  but, um not really. But, kind of. But we’re shutting down, but not really. But … you know … we kind of are.  But we also - kind of aren’t. 

 

Which, to be honest - is driving me a bit …. Mad.  =)

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Two huge upsets at Wimbledon

A couple of shocking Wimbledon twists for tennis fans. The very well liked and number two ranked Naomi Osaka lost today 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to Yolia Putintseva (currently ranked 39). This was Putintseva’s first time at Wimbledon. (Editor’s note: Osaka has been in a recent slump and during the Wimbledon match committed 38 unforced errors, to Putintseva's seven.) But the real stunner is that young tennis prodigy Cori Gauff (ranked 313) beat five time Wimbledon champion super star Venus Williams (ranked 10) in round one of the tournament. 

Gauff is fifteen years old playing in her debut tournament where she handedly defeated her tennis idol Williams 6-4 6-4. “It’s the first time I have every cried after winning a match,” Gauff told reporters after. 

Wimbledon is a little different than the other three Grand Slam tennis tournaments as it is the only one played on grass, the others play on hardcourt. 

The Australian Open plays on an acrylic topped hardcourt, the French Open and the US Open play on clay courts. 

Why does this matter, you might ask?  Well, clay courts slow down the ball and produce a high bounce in comparison to grass or hard which means it takes away any advantage of big serves. Acrylic hard courts can vary is speed but generally faster than clay courts but not as fast as grass courts. 

Grass courts, according to Wikipedia: 

 

“Grass courts are the fastest type of courts in common use. They consist of grass grown on very hard-packed soil, which adds additional variables: bounces depend on how healthy the grass is, how recently it has been mowed, and the wear and tear of recent play. Points are usually very quick where fast, low bounces keep rallies short, and the serve plays a more important role than on other surfaces. Grass courts tend to favour serve-and-volley tennis players.

Grass courts were once among the most common tennis surfaces, but are now rare due to high maintenance costs as they must be watered and mown often, and take a longer time to dry after rain than hard courts. The grass surface, however, is the most physically forgiving to the human body because of its softness.”

Wimbledon continues and wraps up mid July with the Women's final on Saturday the 13th and the Men’s final on Sunday the 14th.

 

Update 7/8/19: Alas, Gauff's magical journey came to an end as she just lost 6-3 6-3 in the fourth round to former world number 1 and Grand Slam winner Simona Halep. 

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Democratic Debate: Part II

Well, this is going to be easy to write. Wednesday night’s Democratic debate (that wasn’t a debate) was pretty tame and stuffed to the brim with a whole lot of “meh.” Last night’s Democratic debate (that was slightly more of a debate) had more fire. Not, much - but a bit. 

And here’s the thing. It was so painfully, clearly obvious that Senator Kamala Harris came out on top that I don’t actually have anything quippy to say. I mean, when the issue of race came up, Harris beat Joe Biden down like he was an amateur. (Editor’s note: This is the same link as the one on the front page). 

Just like Warren on the previous evening’s debates, Harris was razor sharp across the board and was, again (as we always say) … presidential. I think Biden, Warren and Sanders have been the obvious front runners but that’s simply because they’ve raised a lot of money and get a lot of press. Which is important. 

And, while it’s true that I don’t think you can have much of a “debate” when you only allow each candidate 60 seconds to answer questions (because you’re not really going to get to the meat of the deal.)  That being said, when you put ten people up on the stage, sometimes it does become clear - “who is out of their league?” 

And, there was a whole lot of “this candidate is out of their league.” Andrew Yang, who is mainly an “automation is a huge problem” candidate (he’s right); self-help author Marianne Williamson, former Gov. John Hickenlooper; Rep. Eric Swalwell (who had a nice “pass the torch” exchange with Biden); Sen. Kristen Gillibrand; and finally Sen. Michael Bennet - all of which, performed well (except, perhaps for Williamson) but are clearly just “out of their league.” 

Which brings it down to Harris, Biden, Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Frankly, Biden kind of bungled it. Harris clearly got under his skin and it showed. After her beat down exchange, Biden awkwardly tried to explain his positions but it didn’t matter. From that point on he was stony faced and submissive. He, quite literally, lost -  and he knew it.

Sanders was … well, he was Sanders. He didn’t offer anything that he hasn’t been consistently saying his entire career in politics - free health care, go after wall street and big Pharma, end student loan debt. His usual playbook. BUT THEN, he said something that I thought took guts. When asked if he would “raise taxes on the middle class,” he told the truth. He said, “Yes.” Because - that’s how government pays for things. 

I mean, politicians usually say “no” to that question (and then raise taxes on the middle class anyway). So, at least Sanders is consistent and truthful. And I do like Sanders but, compared to the youth on stage he really did stand out as … old. 

So, I wouldn’t say Sanders lost the debate in the same way that Biden did; however, Sanders, I feel, probably didn’t win over new voters. 

Which brings us to Pete Buttigieg, or “Mayor Pete” as his constituents know him. He’s still not mainstream well known but is considered a rising star on the left. And he is. He’s incredibly smart. He’s extremely well spoken. He’s a veteran having served in Afghanistan. He has governing experience (several years Mayor). And, to be honest - he’s just flat out likable. I don’t see him as a front runner though. He’s just too unknown. But, perhaps a VP pick or a cabinet position?

Anyway, it all comes down to this. Biden has the money. He has the reputation. But he got his butt handed to him by the fiery Senator Harris. Who also has money. Primary’s are still a long way away and anything could happen, but after two nights of hearing twenty candidates, it really does look like these folks are at the head of the pack: 

Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders and VP Joe Biden (even though he lost big time last night, I wouldn’t count him out just yet). Then I would add both Julian Castro and Mayor Pete near the top of the race as they appear to be exceptionally good candidates … that probably don’t have a chance to make the top of the ticket.

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Democratic Debate: Part I

I probably know what you’re thinking. Either - “I hate all the libtard Democrats and don’t care what they have to say” or, “There are too bloody many Democratic Presidential nominees for me to care what any of the non-front runners have to say (because we all know the three obvious front runners are Biden, Warren and Sanders.)”

Fair enough. But last night’s debate (that wasn’t actually a debate) held a few surprising moments. But, only a few. I mean, Warren basically - crushed everyone. And, I say, “wasn’t actually a debate” because, rarely did the candidates - debate one another and when you only get 60 seconds to answer complex policy questions then, well - it’s not a debate.

Anyway. A few takeaways:

In his after the “debate that wasn’t actually a debate” coverage Trevor Noah was spot on when he said, “This was a chance for many of the unknown candidates to introduce themselves to a national audience. They could go from who is that?” - all the way too … “ooooooh, yeaaah - that guy! (pause). No, I’m not going to vote for him. No.” (It’s probably a bit funnier when Noah says it).   

And it was one hundred percent true! There were at least three people on stage where I had that exact moment of “who” to “oh, him” to “nope.” Let’s call them “the debate that wasn’t actually a debate losers” - Tim Ryan, John Delaney, Jay Inslee. I’m not even going to rank them on their policy choices because, most of the Democrats have similar ideas (in the same way the most Republican’s have similar ideas). These three public figures just, well, quite figuratively - didn’t even need to be at the “debate.”  It’s not like any of them were bad, per say. They, along with Klobuchar, were all fine (even though she kept getting cut off). But all of them were just kind of. “meh.” 

And “meh” will NEVER beat Donald Trump. 

Then, we come to the nights actual loser. And there really is only one actual loser and that’s Beto O'Rourke. He’s been polling fairly high. People seem to like him. I was expecting him to, at the very least - beat out Bill de Blasio in the debate but - nope. De Blasio beat down O'Rourke on multiple occasions and Beto came off as kind of a stammering dolt. De Blasio did what New Yorkers do (I lived there for many years), they shout over you to get their point across, and they expect you to do the same to them to get your point across too! 

I swear, walking the streets of NYC, I’ve seen that exact scenario dozens and dozens of times. Two New Yorker’s, usually men - have a minor dispute over something, then yell at each other to get their point across. And then they’re both like, “Oh, cool, that’s your point. I understand it now.” 

And then they literally shake hands and are like, “We should grab a beer some time,” and walk away from each other.  

Lots of folks outside of NY are appalled by this kind of behavior. Especially if you’re from the passive aggressive Midwest. I think it’s kind of great, TBH. Get it out in the open and then move on. 

Anyway. That’s my take on De Blasio. He’s a typical New Yorker. He might actually do well against Trump. Can you imagine the debates between those two. Because I’m thinking -  Shouting. Match.

Alas, it’s really not going to be De Blasio. He might stick around for a bit but … nope. Not him.  

Moving on. Tulsi Gabbard and Cory Booker both came out fine, Booker probably more so. In fact, along with De Blasio, I expect both of them to be in the race for a while - until they all drop out and offer their full support for the obvious front runners - Warren, Sanders, Biden. 

Which brings me to the remaining two stand out stars of last nights “way too many candidates on stage” debate (that wasn’t a debate.)

The first, truly great stand out star: Julian Castro. As the kids these days say, Julian Castro - “killed it.” He was razor sharp on policy, he was razor sharp on social reform, he was a charismatic speaker, he was comfortable on stage and he was, as we all like to say - “presidential.” My opinion on this seems to be par for the course because Castro shot up on Google about 4000% and trended himself right to the top of the candidates list. 

But … honestly … it probably won’t matter. Because, the second stand out from last night was Elizabeth Warren. Warren just crushed everyone the first half of the “debate.” The second half she had much less speaking time and so other folks were able to step up more and “meh” the heck out over everyone watching.  

As sharp as Castro was on policy, social reform and being “presidential,” Warren has pretty much been doing exactly that for the last few months. And she continued to do it at last night’s debate.

I would love to see Castro right at the top with the three front runners and the other two popular candidates (Harris & Buttigieg) but I honestly don’t see any of them taking down Warren, Sanders or Biden. 

And, if that’s not enough Democratic candidate talk for you. Well, don’t worry! There are another ten candidates speaking tonight! And only two of them are named Sanders and Biden. You know, the obvious front runners. 

But, then again - you never know who will stand out and who will tank but I guess we’ll find out tonight. 

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Weird News: Are bananas going extinct?

The first time I heard that banana was “going extinct,” I kind of ignored it. I mean, one paranoid lunatic screaming on the internet does not a fact make - you know what I mean? But after reading about it another dozen times over the next several years, it’s clearly NOT a paranoid lunatic screaming on the internet. It appears as if banana extinction is legit.

 

Anyway, going back to 2015 is when I came across this Huffpost article called: “Your Favorite Banana Is Facing Extinction As Deadly Fungus Spreads.” From the article:

 

“Before 1960, your grandparents and great-grandparents were eating better bananas. Called Gros Michel, they were tastier, bigger and more resilient than the bananas found in supermarkets worldwide today ... So why can’t we too enjoy the robust creaminess of the Gros Michel, once the world’s export banana? Turns out, the species went virtually extinct in the 1960s thanks to an invasive and incurable fungus that wiped out most Gros Michel plantations around the world. That explains how the Cavendish — the blander banana we now eat — grew in prominence. It tasted worse and was less hardy than the Gros Michel, but the species seemed able to resist the fungal invasion, known as “Panama disease.”

That is, it was able to.”

So, back in 1960’s they knew all about this banana killing disease but thought that they had figured it out by creating a “blander” banana that was more resilient to this Panama disease.

Okay. Sounds good. Bananas saved. But now it looks like a new disease called Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is killing the Cavendish. According to wikipedia:

This virulent form of fusarium wilt has wiped out Cavendish in several southeast Asian countries and has recently spread to Australia, India and Mozambique. It has yet to reach the Americas; however, the soil-based fungi can easily be carried on boots, clothing, or tools. This is how TR4 travels and will be its most likely route into Latin America. Cavendish is highly susceptible to TR4, and over time Cavendish will almost certainly be eliminated from commercial production by this disease.”

Okay. Sounds bad. Bananas endangered (again). The banana industry is huge. And, I mean - colossal. There are entire Latin American regions where the banana industry is so important they are literally called “banana republics,” because they are that dependant on the corporations that maintain and export from said plantations.  

The three big boys on the block are, Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte - all of which primarily have plantations in South America. So, again, while the TR4 hasn’t yet reached Latin America, if it does - that will literally mean the end of bananas as we know it.

Not necessarily 100% extinction but, obviously, no longer a fruit you would be able to find all year round. I mean, consider the fact that Gros Michel bananas are not 100% extinct, they are still grown in areas where Panama disease is not found, BUT, they export less than 1% of what they used to in the 1960’s before Panama disease devastated the crops. So, there’s that to think about.

Obviously, there are a lot of smart folks trying to solve this problem, but, as of yet nothing is working. It’s just one of those things were we can hope TR4 doesn’t reach Latin America.

But if it does, that’s pretty much banana game over.

If you want to read a more detailed version of the history of, and the potential banana apocalypse, I recommend: The Quest to Save the Banana.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will leave her position at the end of the month. Apparently, she plans to run for office somewhere with some speculating a gubernatorial run in her home state of Arkansas. Which, to be honest, is a little odd, as Hutchinson just won a reelection for Governor in 2018, so the next election won’t happen until 2022. It seems a little strange to me that Sanders would leave the press secretary job at the end of the month so she can - run for office years from now?

But, maybe. I guess campaigns do take a long time to build.

Regardless, Sanders has been something of a controversial figure. Her literal job description is to “act as spokesperson for the executive branch of the US government administration, especially with regard to the president, senior executives and policies.”  Okay, fair enough. But, she hasn’t held a press conference in something like four months, and has only held eight press conferences in the last year. So, I don’t really know what she does at work all day long.

How long would you keep your job if you only did your actual job description like, once every four months? Because I know I wouldn’t have my job long if I did that.

Anyway, it also does appear, to even the most casual observer that, even when she does speak to the press (which is, again - literally her job), she seems to have a hard time speaking truthfully, on behalf of said administration. From June 13th, Vanity Fair piece, “As Sarah Sanders Signs Off, A Look Back At Some Of Her Biggest Lies:

“In fact, it appears that the only known instance of Sanders telling the truth involved a nine-year-old nicknamed “Pickle” writing a letter to the White House about how much he likes Donald Trump. But her track record was so bad that initially, no one believed her.”

Okay, that’s a little snarky - but kind of funny. I mean, I doubt it’s the “only known instance of Sanders telling the truth” but it does illustrate the amount of times Sanders created “alternative facts.” And, here’s a pro tip for life - there is no such thing as an “alternative fact.” The phrase, “alternative fact” just a funny way of saying, “I’m lying my @$$ off” and/or “I have no idea what I’m talking about.”

But, whatever.  It’s not like the new White House press secretary will be more truthful. Hopefully, though, whomever it is - he or she will actually, you know - hold press conferences and “act as spokesperson for the Executive Branch.”

Basically, their job.

That’s probably wishful thinking on my part but a man can dream, can’t he?  

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