Monthly Archives: January 2021

Why #BOYCOTTPUBLIX is stupid

The headlines were breathless: Publix heiress paid for Trump rally preceding Capitol riots. It all traced back to a Wall Street Journal article reporting that Julie Jenkins Fancelli, “heiress to the Publix Super Markets, Inc. chain” donated $300,000 to the January 6 rally that morphed into a coup attempt. Mrs. Fancelli has been a vocal and generous donor to Donald Trump. And her father, the late George W. Jenkins founded Publix in 1930.

Julie Jenkins Fancelli, not the owner of Publix

Taken together, the Jenkins family owns 20 percent of Publix. And both the Jenkins family and Publix have been generous to conservative causes. As the Tampa Bay Times points out, Publix donated heavily to former Florida gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam. It also donated to current governor Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott.

That should be enough, right? Decent people should never set foot into a Publix again, right? RIGHT?

Wrong.

Publix didn’t donate to the January 6 rally. Mrs. Fancelli may have gotten her money as a result of Publix, but she doesn’t own the chain. She isn’t employed by Publix. Nor is she a member of its Board of Directors.

Eighty percent of Publix is owned by its employees. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership, that makes Publix the largest employee-owned company in the country.

That gives weight to the statement Publix put out about Mrs. Fancelli, distancing themselves from her and the insurrection. You could argue that it’s just a public relations post and that Publix turned off comments for that tweet. But you could also argue that they posted the truth, and that the word deplorable is a poke at the people who tried to overthrow the government.

That hasn’t stopped #BOYCOTTPUBLIX from trending on Twitter, with countless tweets informing everyone that it’s their moral and ethical duty to never set foot inside a Publix again.

It’s fine if you want to boycott Publix for contributing to conservative politicians, or to object to their support of the NRA and other pro-gun groups. But the headlines in this case are slipshod, and any boycott of Publix is far more likely to hurt their employees than the Jenkins family, which is currently worth $8.8 billion.

Finally, and it’s a fine point, there’s a difference between a pro-Trump rally and the coup attempt that followed. As distasteful the rally was–and there were definite 1984 overtones–a rally in favor of Trump and his stupid and divisive lies is not insurrection. It’s protected speech. Mr. Trump certainly lit the fuse for the insurrection, but Mrs. Fancelli didn’t fund it.

Today we’re gonna party like it’s 1984. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Personally, I wouldn’t cross the street to support any business run by Mrs. Fancelli, but Publix isn’t that business. You can oppose them for their previous donations and the fact that you need a calendar to time the people making subs, but it’s inaccurate to tie the store to the insurrection that took place on January 6.


LA county is allowing outdoor dining, but no TV young man!!!

Los Angeles County has allowed restaurants, breweries, and wineries to re-open for outdoor seating again, with the following limits:

  • The outdoor seating area can only run at 50% capacity.
  • Tables must be at least eight feet part, and hold only six people–all from the same residence.
  • Alcohol purchases are only allowed with full meal purchases (and no, a big plate of nachos aren’t a meal). (Now I want a big plate of nachos.)
  • Servers must wear both a face mask and a face shield at all times.
  • And finally, NO TV, YOUNG MAN!

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health Director, said the ban on television is because LA county hasn’t finished it’s homewor…sorry, because the Super Bowl is coming up and they don’t want large bar parties to become super-spreader events.

So if you want to be around other people and have the game on, rather than doing it in a place where controls are in place, you’ll just have to do it at home, in your house, where no Covid germs could possibly spread. Los Angeles County has taken an aggressive stance against restaurants not following the rules. And businesses really want to stay open. In other words, it’s in their interests to abide by the rules, lest Mom…err, code enforcement comes and shuts them down.

Last time numbers were available, contract tracing put the spread at bars and restaurants at between 1.4 percent (New York) and 4 percent (Los Angeles). Dr. Ferrer estimated that as much as 15 percent came from bars and restaurants, but that didn’t differentiate between indoor and outdoor dining. Overall, less than 10 percent of Covid cases are estimated to come from outdoor transmission.

In other words, the data and science aren’t there to stop outdoor dining, and there’s absolutely nothing to indicate that turning on televisions at outdoor dining facilities running at 50% capacity, with eight feet between tables that can hold no more than six people who all have to live together would result in an increase in Covid cases.

And if your concern is the Super Bowl, then make a one-day exception to the television rule for that day. The current regulations say the televisions must be off until further notice. Because you might also get the Covid by watching the Family Guy reruns every night on TBS. Or something.

To clarify, nothing in this post should be read as an endorsement for running around the world licking all the doorknobs and tongue-kissing everyone in sight. But science is supposed to be the guiding force in our response to Covid, and it is, until someone’s intuition or need for security takes over.

This is a classic case of bureaucratic overreach, where someone who sits in a government building somewhere applying arbitrary rules because they know better than the people who have to live by those rules.

The if one life is saved model–foolish in most cases anyway–can’t apply here. At this point, short of confining everyone to their home for the next month, it’s simply not possible.

Given the variants and the pace at which we’re vaccinating, Covid may be around for the better part of this year. In tort law, a company is responsible both for the correct use of their product and for reasonably foreseen misuse.

It’s reasonable to assume that if Covid restrictions continue to be arbitrary and lacking any scientific or statistical basis (and if the guy making the rules eats indoors at The French Laundry), that people will ignore the restrictions and do as they please.

And yeah, that’s intuition because you can’t prove a negative. But the reasoning that more is better even if the data isn’t there to back it might be part of why we’re in this fix in the first place.


How are we not going crazy?

“I feel like I’m going crazy. How are you not going crazy?” — Nora Durst, The Leftovers

The Leftovers was a show that examined what would happen if 2% of the world’s population just disappeared. The disappearances are random. Nora Durst, the character I quoted at the top of this post, lost her two children and husband–while she was in the room with them. But some of the characters didn’t lose anyone.

Carrie Coon as Nora Durst in The Leftovers

After the disappearance, people try to go one with their lives, but it doesn’t work out very well. Kind of like now.

Except our disappearances–while not nearly 2% of population–have been slow motion. It’s taken us ten months go get here and for at least the next month, it probably won’t get better. And no one really knows when it will end.

We might return to something like normal later this year. But talk of V-shaped recoveries have given way to discussions of vaccine boosters and Brazilian variants and more uncertainty.

Don’t give me no lines and keep your variants to yourself.

And then we can overlay the economic crash, racial tensions, periodic rounds of violence, and the increasing political instability that may have crescendoed with a coup attempt just three weeks ago.

There’s a guy I know of who’s lost eight people to the pandemic. Until this week, I didn’t directly know anyone who’d died of it. But overall, we’ve lost 433,000 people. Worldwide, the number is more than two million. We expect another hundred thousand or so in the next month, just in the United States.

How are we not going crazy?

When I’ve talked to people who went through a lot, I’ve inevitably told them, “I don’t know how you do it.”

The inevitable response is “I just did it. I didn’t have a choice.”

Looking at what’s happened to the world, we haven’t exactly been Mr. Rogers over the last eleven months. But it hasn’t been The Purge either. Most of us are getting up every morning and doing our best to keep some semblance of a normal life.

Some days are horrible and uneven. Some are surreal. Yesterday I laughed like an idiot while listening to someone talk about anal Covid testing in China because the people discussing it played a song by Eddie Murphy called Boogie in your butt in the background. Last night I had a dream that I was on the space shuttle and we almost crashed into trees, but recovered and flew over the Grand Canyon. The flight attendant was nervous.

How did I live through the 1980s and not know about this song?

We’ve collectively gotten through the hard days and the surreal days and haven’t fallen into anarchy. That very fact should give us some level of hope. There was never going to be a smooth road out of this. But it will end, because everything ends.

In the meantime, it’s just really hard.

In reality, we do have a choice. And every day we choose to go forward is a choice that brings us collectively closer to that end, when we can look back and marvel at how we go through it.


As each of our tribes demands more fundamentalism, we all lose

This is Apple’s 1984 commercial. It was broadcast once–and only once–during CBS’s telecast of Super Bowl XVIII.

This is a shot from the Trump rally that preceded the attempt to overthrow the government a little over three weeks ago. When I saw the screens, the Apple commercial was the first thing to come to mind.

No 1984 overtones here. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

For all the sins of both sides of the political debate these days, there’s one sin in common–the requirement of uniform thought. To be clear, the size of the sins is unequal. One side is threatening to execute people whose thoughts aren’t pure. The other side just wants to cancel them.

Just because the right defines cancel culture as anytime someone challenges anything they say, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t mean every instance charge of political correctness is an asshole asserting privilege to remain privileged. If you want to argue that point, I give you Law & Order SVU’s Olivia Benson.

If you want to argue from the right–your side is the one openly calling for political executions.

Our world is increasingly intolerant of nuance or gray areas. We’ve become a people who can know everything necessary about each other in 280 characters or fewer. We’ve lost the desire to walk in someone else’s shoes. We don’t want to understand the forces that drove people to certain outcomes.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean all stances are valid and must be equally embraced. But our focus has shifted to absolute right and wrong, as if those were binary things.

On the right, this has become high and simple art, where you either fall in line with whatever Trump or Q say, or you’re an unAmerican communist who needs to be cleansed from our national fabric. As documented here yesterday, Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene seems to want execution for all manner of dirty liberals, from President Obama to FBI guys. Not only was she elected, but she’s not walking back her comments for fear of not being re-elected.

The left won’t have you executed, so bonus points there, but there is a constant attempt to parse content to find something that could be offensive. Context or intent don’t count. You offended someone with your blind assertion of privilege, and for that, you must pay.

For the record, the first amendment doesn’t guarantee Josh Hawley’s publisher, Twitter, Facebook, or your employer endorse whatever it is that you say. But as we continue to splinter into smaller online communities, purity of thought will become more important.

And that’ll be too bad. We need to be challenged. We need to be pushed to see things differently. When we become morally certain, we become brittle and inflexible.

A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist, even when Jesus isn’t involved.

If you watch the 1984 ad, it consists of the man on the big screen says the following:

Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them in their own confusion. We will prevail.

As much as Donald Trump wanted that outcome, we don’t need the government to do it for us, we’re eagerly and rabidly doing it to ourselves.


Voters in NW Georgia elected a woman who wants mass execution of political opponents and they’re okay with that

If you disagree with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, she might want you executed, too.

A member of our national legislature is on record calling for Americans to be put to death over political stances. That list includes a former president, members of congress and senators, a couple secretaries of state, and FBI agents.

If you or I posted the things Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, GA-14) posted, we’d probably have a lot of quality time with the FBI, followed by a prolonged period of unemployment. When you’re a member of Congress HR can’t give you a box and escort you to the exit.

Rep. Greene, who calls herself a Christian, a mom, and a proud American on Twitter, used her Facebook account to call for the execution of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Maxine Waters. She liked comments that called for the execution of FBI agents, Nancy Pelosi (again), Obama (again), and John Kerry.

For the record, Rep. Greene says she doesn’t support violence of any kind (then implies all violence comes from Democrats) and says she has teams of people managing her pages, so basically, whatever gets said in her name isn’t really done in her name–unless she wants it to be.

Calling for people to be murdered for political stances is unAmerican. It’s anti-American. No American who takes those stances can accurately be called a proud American. In America, we don’t end peoples’ lives for the sin of disagreeing with the President.

Enough people in northwestern Georgia agree with her that she’s representing them in Congress. And judging by her response, which doesn’t deny the CNN piece, but calls it a hit job, she’s not too worried about that changing over her desire for the blood of anyone who doesn’t see things her way.

This story was released yesterday, less than three weeks after other Christians and proud Americans stormed the Capitol looking for people to execute because they agreed with causes that Rep. Greene already called out. In cases I haven’t beaten this to death, they built a gallows on Capitol grounds.

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s America

The paradox of a free society occurs when people use their freedom to call for those they don’t agree with to have their life or liberty taken away. While stripping those people off their voices is antithetical to freedom, calling for the execution of political opponents is diametrically opposed.

In the context of the attempts to execute former Vice President Pence, members of Congress, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, there’s no way to view Rep. Greene’s stances as anything other than sedition. It’s possible she could be removed from Congress for those stances, but that wouldn’t fix the issue.

The people who voted for her–our fellow Americans–want to execute anyone who stands in the way of their political agenda. If that pattern holds, this country will stop being great. Instead, it’ll become just another place where power means you get to wipe anyone who opposes you from the face of the earth without due process or accountability.


Economic inequality is increasing. What should be done? I don’t know.

According to a report from Oxfam, a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations that focuses on poverty reduction, in the ten months since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, the net worth of the ten richest people in the world has increased by $540 billion. Meanwhile, they project that it could take more than a decade to reduce the number of people living poverty to pre-pandemic levels.

The report indicates that unless rising inequality is address, half a billion more people could be living on less than $5.50 a day or less in 2030, ten years after the start off the pandemic.

The report recommends a temporary wealth tax on profits made by the 32 most corporations and other super-rich entities and people. Oxfam says the half-trillion dollars the ten richest have made would, if taken from them, pay for Covid vaccination for everyone on the planet and reverse the rise in poverty cause by the pandemic.

You don’t have to be Karl Marx to shake your head at those statistics. The fact is, you’re in much better position to weather or thrive during a crisis like this than you are if you’re already financially stressed.

If you’re talking about people living on $5.50 per day, you’re not talking about welfare queens or that guy who used to use food stamps to buy food you couldn’t afford in spite of working a couple jobs. These are severely poor people who struggled to survive to begin with.

The Oxfam recommendations extend beyond any national boundaries and would require an international organization with the ability to override national taxation rules. It wouldn’t be a matter of a one-time levy. Power tends to perpetuate itself. And if we could make things a little better by unilaterally taking from billionaires, just think of how much we good we could do if we did the same to millionaires, or even to the 25% most wealthy in the world (which includes you).To set something like that up in an equitable manner that protects national sovereignty and includes checks and balances would take forever. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the other eight aren’t likely to voluntarily give up everything they’ve made in the past year and more. And no country with wealth is likely to unilaterally cede tax policy to a worldwide body that hasn’t been created and has no rules. (Yes, I know there’s the UN, but it doesn’t have the right to tax and has structural problems of its own.)

YOU are probably in the top 25% of wealthy people worldwide. Don’t argue with Cannon.

There’s more to this than just saying it has to be done and done now. How do you do it? Who has the authority, and how do you stop them from seizing vast tracts of private property or businesses?

I realize people are dying, but if you don’t answer those questions, even more people are likely to die.

In short, I don’t have the answers, beyond “this isn’t working and how do we change it?” It starts with stepping away from the normal accusations we heave at each other and a realization that to solve the problem we have to find a workable way to fund the necessary work, add controls to reduce corruption, and protect the interests of the people who’d otherwise be seen as an infinite checkbook.

If we don’t get past competing shouting about communism and murderous greed, nothing will be done. (But everyone will feel good about defending their version of mortal certainty.)


Hail Tampa Bay, the region of champions

I lived in Washington during the end of their Super Bowl era. My hatred of the team crystallized when the morning guys on WMAL were talking about how the Super Bowl would be in Minneapolis and just their luck, they’d probably go to that Super Bowl instead of one in a nice place.

Poor Redskins fans had to suffer through their third Super Bowl win in ten years in Minnesota. MINNESOTA!

If they play it Nome, Alaska when it’s sixty below, it’s still the Super Bowl. Most fans don’t get the opportunity to bitch about the venue.

The Detroit Lions have never been to the Super Bowl. Their last NFL championship came before the AFL (now the AFC) was born. The Cleveland Browns have never been either. The last time the Jets–my team–was there, Lyndon Johnson was in his last days as President.

The Cleveland Browns last won in 1964. They’ve never played a Super Bowl.

Regardless of the sport, winning or even playing for a championship is a rare and wonderful thing. As much as fans of whoever happens to be good right now might claim otherwise, it’s not a birthright. Tommy Lasorda was probably disappointed that the Big Dodger in the Sky was largely ambivalent about who wins the World Series.

Sorry, Tommy. I’m a San Francisco Giants fan.

He loves all his teams equally (though he probably loves the Jets less equally than the others).

So the Bucs are playing in their second Super Bowl. Tom Brady is playing in his tenth Super Bowl–something that’s never happened before.

And Bucs fans are probably going to be insufferable about it until the game–and until Super Bowl LVI (56), if they win.

Packers fans are irritated. They’re complain about a pass interference call late in the game that helped the Bucs keep the ball until the clock ran out.

But if you lost because of one call, you should’ve lost. Aaron Rodgers should’ve run instead of passing on third down. And the Packers should’ve gone for it instead of kicking the field goal. And they shouldn’t have purposely committed encroachment to give the Bucs a first down.

I could’ve run this in from there. (Abject fear makes me a lot faster.)

The Packers have been there recently (ten years ago). They have four Lombardi trophies. I’m not crying very hard for them.

So it’s a day to be happy for Bucs fans, to wish them to enjoy the home Super Bowl. (For the record, Rams played in Pasadena and the 49ers played at Stanford, but no one has ever ever played a Super Bowl in their home stadium.)

Roger Craig high steps the 49ers into an almost-home victory and into a Dire Straits video.

In six months, Tampa-area teams will have played in the Super Bowl, World Series, and Stanley Cup Finals. They won the cup.

Some will complain that this happened in a pandemic year, so they didn’t get the full championship experience. A championship’s a championship, regardless of the year.

It was 2002 when the Bucs last won the Super Bowl. There’s been a lot of losing since then. Joe Garagiola once said losing hurts more than winning feels good.

I don’t agree. Losing hurts, but not even getting there creates a longing–an itch you can never scratch. And winning is incredible.

A lot changes in 19 years, but the feeling of winning never changes.


If Republicans want unity, it’s up to us to restore trust and provide justice

After September 11, people of the Islamic faith were nervous. Fringe elements of that faith had launched an attack that killed 3000 Americans and destroyed a worldwide symbol of this country. This attack came on top of other smaller attacks on American interests. Islamist leaders openly called for the end of this country and death for its leaders and anyone else who didn’t hold to their view of the world.

Just three weeks ago, the leader of the Republican Party goaded party members to keep him enthroned as the leader of the country. Those party members invaded and ransacked the Capitol building–a symbol of American freedom. They tried to find and publicly kill elected leaders who disagreed. While this happened, other elected members were supporting the position that our election should be overturned and Donald Trump installed as President.

One member seemed to provide intelligence on where the Speaker of the House was so the group whose members built a gallows could find her.

This happened just a few weeks after the FBI foiled a plot to kidnap the duly-elected Governor of Michigan, try her for treason in a non-sanctioned court, and presumably execute her.

The Islamist terrorists toppled two buildings. The insurrectionists, with the support of a large swath of the Republican party, tried to topple our entire system of government. Their public executions would be fair warning of what happened to any who opposed them going forward.

If Islamists had dared such a brazen overthrow, no one would be speaking of unity.

Like it or not, every member of the Republican party is subject to the same suspicions Muslims felt after September 11. Members of our party came perilously close to ending the United States as a republic.

As the FBI rounds up the insurrectionists, they’re finding people you might expect–that guy who proudly waved a Trump flag the size of Montana in his yard. But they’re also finding that guy at church who seemed pleasant enough. The guy you talked to at the bar as he served you drinks way back in 2019. That mom you thought was nice at the PTA meeting.

Those who sat traumatized on January 6 don’t know which ones of us supported people who would potentially kill them for political opposition.

If Republicans want unity, it’s up to us to restore some level of trust. Our neighbors probably aren’t sure about us right now–and they have cause.

It’s up to us to let them know most of us still believe in free elections. It’s up to us to vocally oppose anyone who would round up political opposition to give them a “fair trial” followed by a first-class hanging. It’s up to use to disown every single member of our party who encouraged this attempted coup.

If you’re a Republican, it’s up to you to let people know whether you supported this.

It’s up to us to let them know we aren’t in league with people who want them dead.

If you’re a Republican and you don’t do those things, they’re entitled to distrust and visceral dislike–the kind of dislike that turns to hatred.

It’s our side that put this country on the cliff, teetering over oblivion. Our side has an obligation to work hard at restoring the unity we crave.

We still get to have principles. We still get to disagree. But we have an absolute obligation for civility and, more important, for justice.


Henry Aaron, who opened my eyes to racism, dies at 86

Henry Aaron, who passed away yesterday at the age of 86, has always been an American civil rights icon to me.

Henry Aaron connects off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing for number 715.

When I was a kid, Aaron and Willie Mays were chasing Babe Ruth’s career record of 714 home runs. As much as I rooted for Mays, Aaron was the one who’d catch, then pass Ruth.

He finished the 1973 season with 713 home runs. In 1974, the Braves opened in Cincinnati, which resulted in a brawl when the Braves threatened to sit him for that series so he could set the record at home. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn required him to play at least two games and he hit home run 714 there. Kuhn attended the opening day game, where Aaron hit number 714 to tie the recoord.

In the months leading up to all this, Aaron spoke of the pressure of it all, something I didn’t understand. He had the perfect job and he was good at it.

A book I read later that year talked about the racism, and about the threats to his life–all for hitting home runs. Except it wasn’t the home runs, it was his skin color. To ten-year-old Chris, it seemed ridiculous. Skin color didn’t matter. Home runs are home runs. If he hit more than Ruth, he hit more than Ruth.

Though I’ve been far from perfect with regard to race, Aaron’s experiences stayed with me as I grew. Skin color always seemed a stupid thing to be material in judging a person’s worth. It seemed as irrelevant as eye color or hair color.

And yet it was relevant in the eyes of far too many people.

In a 1973 interview with the New York Daily News, Aaron said, “If I were a white man, all America would be proud of me. But I’m black. You have to be black in America to know how sick some people are.”

The book showed a picture of bags filled with hate mail, as well as some of the letters he got.

Hate mail received by Hank Aaron

Aaron was no stranger to racial hatred. He grew up in Mobile, Alabama. He talked of his mother telling him to hide under the bed when the KKK marched down the street. After, he could come out and go play again. Imagine that being part of your daily life.

He briefly played for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues in 1952 before the then Boston Braves signed him and sent him to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He was 19 the year he was sent to Jacksonville of the class A Sally League. Then, after playing 12 seasons with the team in Milwaukee, the Braves moved to Atlanta. At the time, baseball free agency didn’t exist. Aaron couldn’t leave the Braves on his own and didn’t have a lot of leverage to force a trade. And the south wasn’t a friendly place at the time.

The night he broke the record, April 8, 1974, his bodyguard, an Atlanta police officer named Calvin Wardlaw, was in the stands and armed. Snipers stood ready on the roof of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Aaron received so much hate mail, so many threats, that his children had bodyguards.

Bowie Kuhn, who’d attended one of the games in Cincinnati, didn’t attend the game in Atlanta, citing a previous engagement. He was the commissioner of baseball. It was his job to be there. His action was rightfully seen as a snub.

Al Downing, the pitcher whos started for the opposing Los Angeles Dodgers that night, walked Aaron his first time up, resulting in an avalanche of boos. His second time up, he hit a ball deep to left field. Dodgers left fielder Bill Buckner (yes, that Bill Buckner) climbed the wall trying to rob him of the home run, but to no avail. Relief pitcher Tom House retrieved the ball so Aaron could have it.

The game was on NBC that night and when two fans approached Aaron as he rounded the bases, I was too naïve to think they were a threat. But Aaron’s wife Billye wasn’t. She was worried. Wardlaw and the snipers decided not to shoot. And they congratulated him and moved away (alcohol may have been involved).

Two fans congratulate Aaron after he rounds second base.

And because the Dodgers were the Braves’ opponent that night, Vin Scully, as he does, had maybe the perfect call.

“A black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep south for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol.”

When Jackie Robinson played in Cincinnati, which as close as it gets to the South, Pee Wee Reese who was from Louisville, Kentucky, made a point of standing next to Robinson during infield practice, putting his arm around him, showing acceptance.

Later, after teammate Pete Reiser said that democracy should means everyone is equal, Reese said, “Well, that’s true, but Jackie is catching special hell because he’s the only black player. Maybe we ought to to something to make it more equal.”

Robinson, Aaron, Willie Mays, and countless others bore a weight I can only imagine. And for the most part, they did it with a sense of grace and class that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t approach. From the time he was a kid in Mobile and his mother made him hide under the bed when the Klan came by, thought the death threats, and beyond, he–along with others in similar shoes–had every right to be angry and bitter.

But they weren’t, and that was their gift to us. All while they were trying to be more equal, so they could be truly equal.

After his playing career, Aaron continued his fight to continue to integrate baseball and life. He was the first black to hold a senior management position with a major league team (the Braves) and he founded the Chasing the Dream foundation to support underprivileged kids.

It wasn’t until 1974 that baseball had a black manager (Frank Robinson of the Indians). The following year, Bill Lucas became the first black general manager in baseball, taking over the Braves. It wasn’t until 1989 that the NFL, a majority black league, had its first black head coach in Art Shell.

And it last May, 46 years after Aaron’s home run, that a white police officer knelt on a black man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he died. It wasn’t remotely the first time something like that happened, but it was the first time we finally took notice.

Because blacks tend to be reluctant to get medical care and there are concerns they won’t get the coronavirus vaccine, Aaron and his wife Billye joined Andrew Young and Louis Sullivan to get the vaccine just two weeks ago. He hoped his action would spur others to follow suit.

Hank Aaron gets a Covid shot on January 6.

In short, Henry Aaron, though he was never my favorite ballplayer, casts a long shadow for me. Sometimes he made me uncomfortable with the mirror his statements and positions held up. And that’s a good thing.

The Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers, who Aaron played for the last two years of his career, both retired his number. The Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United soccer team will both retire his number 44 this year in honor of him.

Hopefully some of the people who shouted or wrote hateful things in 1974 have had the opportunity to reconsider those things. Hopefully his example of grace under pressure and abuse opened their eyes.

Henry Aaron died in his sleep Friday. He was 86. The world was a better place for Henry Aaron’s presence in it. It’s poorer for his passing.


They can have my gendered playing cards when they pry them from my cold, dead hands

“If we have this hierarchy that the king is worth more than the queen, then this subtle inequality influence people in their daily life because it’s just another way of saying, ‘hey, you’re less important.'” That’s a quote from Indy Mellink, a 23-year-old forensic psychology graduate who has created a genderless deck of playing cards so Kings can’t be worth more than Queens.

Her cards replace Kings, Queens, and Jacks with Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

Indy Mellink and her playing cards. (Photo: REUTERS/Eva Plevier)

Because feelings. And maybe an endorsement deal with the Olympics.

So far, Mellink has sold about 1,500 decks of her new, woke playing cards to assure that people can feed their gambling addiction and fight the patriarchy at the same time.

My first reaction on seeing this story was to role my eyes so hard that they almost stuck that way. It’s stupid.

Then I thought again.

To be clear, I’ll never think there’s a moral or ethical imperative to modify playing cards. And I don’t intend to throw out mine and get with the 21st century. I’m a purist when it comes to playing cards.

But it is a free society, which means if Ms. Mellink wants to create gender-free playing cards, she gets to do that. As Voltaire once didn’t say, “I disagree with with your stupid playing cards, but I’ll defend to the death your right to play Blackjack…err, Blackbronze with them.”

And if she can make money selling them to other people who feel the same way, that what we capitalists call “living the dream.”

That freedom extends both ways. The people who prefer to play with the queen of hearts (knowing it ain’t really smart), also get to do that. Especially Juice Newton.

And Kevin James.

Put another way, you can have my suicide king when you pry him from my cold, dead hand.