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Monday, September 04, 2017

Random Thoughts

With the death of Walter Becker, that leaves only Donald Fagen to explain what the lyrics in all those brilliant Steely Dan songs mean. Don't get me wrong. I love most of them (including the non-hits like "Don't Take Me Alive") and appreciate the musical artistry involved, but I have no idea what they are singing about most of the time.

When I heard that Trump had pledged $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, my first thought was that "pledged" is not the same as "gave." Believe me, if he actually gives the money, he'll make a huge deal about it. Speaking of which, on Thursday, his press secretary asked reporters (you know, the ones he hates and claims create nothing but fake news) to suggest some charities he could give the money to. Because it's not like he's the president, with an entire government full of people who could look into that sort of thing -- or at least click the link for good charitable organizations helping Harvey victims at Charity Navigator.

Kudos to Ed Cunningham, the ESPN college football analyst who, after 20 years of watching young men bash their brains out on the field, has walked away from his six-figure job with a public announcement about his concern for their future well-being. It's never too late to see the pain.

Consumers sued Kraft and other companies for saying their containers of parmesan cheese were full of "100% parmesan cheese," even though there were other ingredients in there, including wood pulp (in the form of cellulose, to keep the grated cheese from clumping up over time). I discovered this a few years ago and, since then, my wife and I have only bought real parmesan cheese wedges and grated them by hand over our pasta. But the judge threw the case out, saying the slogan on the box didn't necessarily mean there was only cheese inside, and besides, consumers should have read the label more closely. It reminded me of my first week of working at McDonald's as an 18-year-old. Bringing a box of frozen hamburger patties out of the storeroom, I noticed it said "100% beef." I asked the manager if that was true and he replied, "Yes, all of the meat in the burgers is beef." I thought it was a less-than-truthful non-answer then, and it still is.

I'm not surprised that Juicero has gone out of business, but you've gotta give its founders credit for major chutzpah. They convinced Silicon Valley that what America needed most was a $400 juicer, an internet-of-things device that squeezed the liquid out of its specially formulated juice packs. When customers noticed that they could do the same thing with their hands -- or that they didn't really want to compress fruit to get juice that's available in cartons in every supermarket -- the scam was revealed, and sales plummeted. Loss to investors: $120 million. Loss to anyone who bought and then bragged about owning a Juicero: human dignity.

It could have been worse. The machine could have added wood pulp to the juice.