Dumb & Dumber, the Entrées: Woke Froot Loops and Anti-Kardashian Bankers
Hello, December! Soon we’ll enter a new year and make better choices.
But not yet.
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Yesterday I served up November’s appetizers, plates full of unfortunate decisions. Time to dig into the main meal. Here’s the official monthly Dumb & Dumber list.
DUMB — Charissa Thompson Should be Sidelined
Charissa Thompson seems like a nice person. That doesn’t mean she needs to keep working in journalism. And, yes, what she does is journalism.
The host of NFL shows for Fox and Amazon Prime admitted on two podcasts that back when she was working the sidelines, if a coach wouldn’t give her the time of day — other than to say something about her perfume — she’d just make up a report. Later she said that wasn’t true. So she either lied, or she lied about lying.
I don’t pay much attention to sideline reporters, except for injury updates, but I believe they have a hard job. They run all over the place trying to coax comments out of coaches, even though some coaches would rather be skewered by a hot poker. Sideline reporters provide a lot of information to the booth during the game that they never get credit for. And, frankly, it’s not a job with a lot of opportunity for advancement. At best, a sideline reporter can graduate to hosting a pregame or halftime panel, which is the part of the football broadcast where I go to the bathroom and/or freshen my margarita.
Some say Thompson hasn’t been fired yet because she is white and female. I beg to differ. Being white, female and blonde has gone from first to worst in 2023. Has Barbie taught us nothing? Thompson resides in the least likable cohort in America (says the white, female and blonde…kinda…reporter).
But even if she is shown the door, she can take heart. Chris Cuomo and Brian Williams got jobs, and they really lied.
DUMBER — Off-Target Assumptions
Have you been in a CVS or Walgreens lately and tried to find a manager to unlock a case of cosmetics? Store employees are too busy skirting shoplifters who are popping in for a grab-and-go. No wonder consumers are finding it easier to buy health and beauty products on Amazon.
“What we hear from the guests is a big thank you,” he said, “because we are in stock with the brands that they need when they’re shopping in our stores. And because we’ve invested in team member labor in those aisles and make sure we’re there to greet that guest, open up those cases and provide them the items they’re looking for.”
Uh-huh. Maybe instead of investing in team member labor, Target could help police reduce the need to lock everything up!
The Sheriff of Sacramento County says the local Target store refused to cooperate with theft investigations. Nothing to see here! And nothing to buy.
DUMBERER — Anti-Kardashian Bankers?
Someone at Citi must really have it in for anyone named Kardashian. Or Bogosian. Or Garabedian. The bank has been ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to pay nearly $26 million in fines for discriminating against credit card applicants with Armenian names, usually ending in “ian” or “yan.”
According to the CFPB: “Citi treated Armenian Americans as criminals who were likely to commit fraud. From at least 2015 through 2021, Citi targeted retail services credit card applicants with surnames that Citi employees associated with Armenian national origin as well as applicants in or around Glendale, California.” (Glendale is home to one of the largest Armenian American populations. It also happens to be one of America’s safest cities.)
This is a very peculiar and specific form of bigotry in Los Angeles, one that even the success of the Kardashians has failed to erase. (I’m not suggesting that America’s most famous Armenian family has ever committed fraud, though selling a bra with implanted nipples is, well… )
Citi is not admitting or denying the discrimination, but it will pay the fine. BY THE WAY, only $1.4 million of the nearly $26 million will go to the credit card applicants with Armenian names who were discriminated against. The bulk of the money goes to CFPB’s “victims relief fund,” whatever that is. Apparently it’s different from helping the actual victims in this case and includes funding “consumer education and financial literacy programs.”
I like to call such funds “legalized government extortion,” and I keep wondering how I can get in on the action.
DUMBERERER — Loopy Wokeness
I want everyone to feel loved and accepted. I would also like to go through a single hour without Corporate America reminding me that everyone is special.
We’ve talked about the Bud Light snafu before, after the beer giant’s marketing team paired up with a transgender influencer, as if this was going to increase beer sales to a new customer base consisting of open-minded hipsters. Know your audience. Hipsters drink extra-hoppy, small batch IPAs. The campaign blew up, Bud Light lost its crown as the nation’s top-selling beer to Modelo, and the head of marketing is now officially out.
Then came Disney. No, I’m not talking about the naked guy wandering around Small World:
That is one thing the Magic Kingdom will not tolerate.
But the studio’s desire to remake “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” as a live action film — without live action dwarves — has backfired. Actors with dwarfism don’t get a lot of gigs, and the latest publicity photo from the film indicates that Sleepy & Co. are not “live” at all, but computer-generated. That’s dopey.
This follows an uproar last summer when photos of stand-ins for certain scenes in “Snow White” made it appear that Disney was replacing her merry band of helpers with humanoids of all sizes, genders, creeds and colors (the studio says those were merely stand-ins, not the actual characters).
There have been other controversies swirling around the film, like star Rachel Zegler calling the prince in the original 1937 movie a “stalker.” The film’s release has been delayed. And oh yeah, “Heigh-ho” will become “Heigh-ha” because of “ho’s” negative connotation. (I’m kidding. Well, I think I’m kidding.)
Disney CEO Bob Iger said this week that creators need to get their priorities straight. “We have to entertain first,” he told the New York Times. “It's not about messages.”
But! Conservative groups aren’t done hyperventilating and hunting down woke corporate policies destroying our children! Their latest target is north of the border, where Newsweek reports that Canadian boxes of Kellogg’s Froot Loops are promoting access to a free digital library of children’s books “with Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Content.”
Where’s the free digital library dealing with childhood obesity due to sugary cereals?
It’s gotten to the point where I… I… um… I can’t believe I’m saying this. I agree with Elon Musk.
Of course, Elon continues Eloning. He claimed that a post on X alleging “Jewish communities” hate whites is “truth.” No, it’s not, and Elon now says the tweet was “one of the most foolish, if not the most foolish, thing I’ve ever done on the platform.” He also visited Israel to try to make things better. At the same time, he’s suing Media Matters over a report claiming to show ads on X appearing next to pro-Nazi posts (causing advertisers to flee). On Wednesday he told Andrew Ross Sorkin, “If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising? Blackmail me with money? Go f—k yourself.”
His trip to Mars can’t get here soon enough.
That said, I’ve been reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Elon, and while it’s convinced me to never buy a Tesla, because Musk works people until they’re bleary-eyed in the pursuit of reducing parts and cutting costs, I did enjoy the part where Elon walks into Twitter headquarters after buying the company.
Here’s how Isaacson describes it:
Twitter prided itself on being a friendly place where coddling was considered a virtue. “We were definitely very high-empathy, very caring about inclusion and diversity; everyone needs to feel safe here,” says Leslie Berland, who was chief marketing and people officer until she was fired by Musk. The company had instituted a permanent work-from-home option and allowed a mental “day of rest” each month. One of the commonly used buzzwords at the company was “psychological safety.” Care was taken not to discomfort.
Musk let loose a bitter laugh when he heard the phrase “psychological safety.” It made him recoil. He considered it to be the enemy of urgency, progress, orbital velocity. His preferred buzzword was “hardcore.” Discomfort, he believed, was a good thing. It was a weapon against the scourge of complacency. Vacations, flower-smelling, work-life balance, and days of “mental rest” were not his thing.
It’s not really my thing either. #GetOffMyLawn #KidsTheseDays
DUMBERERERER — OpenAI Wises Up
The board of OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, thought it could rise above the profit motive.
It was wrong.
OpenAI’s board members had created an unusual corporate structure that I’m still trying to understand. It’s a nonprofit, but it established a for-profit subsidiary to commercialize ChatGPT in order to make money to fund its future. However, profits were capped to resist the natural tug of greed.
Turns out that wasn’t an intelligent move, artificial or otherwise.
It was Sam Altman’s job to sell ChatGPT. And sell he did. Altman was phenomenally successful. Astonishingly, stunningly, (checks thesaurus) magnificently successful.
So when the other board members fired him in November for reasons that still aren’t clear (not even ChatGPT could give me an answer), hundreds of employees threatened to quit unless the board resigned, and Microsoft offered to hire them.
Well, faster than you can say “AI,” Sam is back, and most of the old board is gone.
DUMBEST — The Day of the Locust
In 1939, Nathanael West wrote The Day of the Locust, a novel that portrays Los Angeles as an angry, hopeless city of broken dreams. (It also includes a character named Homer Simpson.) The protagonist, Tod Hackett, seeks inspiration in Hollywood for a dystopian painting he’ll call “The Burning of Los Angeles.”
Well, Tod, the inspiration is everywhere these days in the City of Angels.
Nothing typifies how far south things have gone than the sad story of Sam Haskell IV. Described as the son of a successful movie executive, Haskell is charged with killing his wife, dismembering her body, and placing parts of her remains in trash bags. Her parents are missing, and police believe he killed them, too.
Horrible, but such crimes are not unique to L.A.
What is unique is the following.
Police say Haskell hired day laborers to dispose of the bags for $500, because day laborers do everything in Los Angeles. I’m surprised anyone is able to lift a latte anymore without help.
However, the laborers sensed something wasn’t right, so they opened the bags and discovered the body parts. According to the local NBC station, the laborers say they returned the bags and the money to Haskell, who “tried to pass the body parts off as Halloween props.”
The workers then drove to two law enforcement agencies — the CHP and LAPD — to report a crime.
The police ignored them.
I guess the cops have bigger fish to fry these days, like arresting people who won’t be prosecuted.
The workers say police told them to call 911, even though they were already at the police station.
Eventually, someone at a nearby shopping center found a bag of body parts in a trash bin, as Haskell — or somebody — resorted to more traditional disposal methods. Police responded to the call and eventually tracked down Haskell, finding enough evidence to arrest him.
The LAPD is now looking into who in blue blew off the day laborers.
This is La-La Land, my friends. We’re back to the days of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. The only honorable people in this tragic episode are the poor laborers, who probably approached the police with trepidation. I pray their California dreams someday have a Hollywood ending.
Some Silly, Wonderful Things
Let’s lift the mood before we sign off.
— Brooke Shields says she was drinking so much water during a rehearsal for her one-woman show in New York that she was low on sodium and had a seizure. She collapsed, and as she was lifted into an ambulance, suddenly another restaurant patron appeared by her side… Bradley Cooper. “I thought to myself, ‘This is what death must be like,’” she told Glamour. “You wake up and Bradley Cooper's going, ‘I'm going to go to the hospital with you, Brooke.’”
— More Hollywood heroes! Kevin Bacon, a Pennsylvania pig, escaped. Then Kevin Bacon, the actor, jumped into action. Bacon put out a call to find Bacon. The footloose pig was soon lured home, reportedly with a sticky bun laced with pet-safe Benadryl.
— Finally, some AI that I can get behind. How many Zoom meetings have you suffered through with people eating loudly? Doritos has created crunch-cancelling AI technology to remove the sound of chomping. It’s mostly for gamers, but this should be standard software for all virtual office meetings. If only it worked in person.
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