“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” — Helen Keller
So That’s Why that Guy Was Standing in the Street Yelling, “Stella!”
Sorry, folks. We don’t have any news for you today. Winter storm Stella made it a little messy in New York and DC, and therefore nothing happened in the rest of America or the world.
(No, wait. The complete opposite of that.)
Set Phasers on “Stun”
In defense of the less-than-spectacularly-received American Health Care Act, President Trump and other Republicans, including Paul Ryan and Tom Price, have claimed that the ACHA is only the first of three steps.
Well, Tom Cotton knows what they’ve got planned and doesn’t care for it. In an appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Cotton said, “[T]here is no three-phase process. There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It's just politicians engaging in spin.”
He elaborated: “Step one is a bill that can pass with 51 votes in the Senate. That's what we're working on right now. Step two, as yet unwritten regulations by Tom Price, which is going to be subject to court challenge, and therefore, perhaps the whims of the most liberal judge in America. But step three, some mythical legislation in the future that is going to garner Democratic support and help us get over 60 votes in the Senate.”
So step two is unspecified regs and step three is a bill that doesn’t exist yet that somehow Democrats will magicly support? Well, guess that’s okay, sounds like a good plan ... if you believe in magic.
Somalis Party Like It’s 2012
Monday evening, the oil tanker Aris 13 was hijacked by Somali pirates while en route from Djibouti to Mogadishu. The tanker is owned by the UAE, manned by eight crew from Sri Lanka, and flagged in Comoros, an island country off the east coast of Africa. (Welcome to the 21st century.)
While such piracy used to be fairly common, this is the first seizure of a large commercial ship off the coast of Somalia since 2012. The phenomenon peaked in 2011, then the international community got into gear, and the EU began running anti-piracy ops there, which, along with support for the local fishing industry, seemed to resolve the problem.
It’s worth noting that the European Union Naval Force hasn’t yet confirmed that pirates did the deed, but they’re investigating. And it’s unclear if this incident is an aberration or the start of a new trend. But it's something to keep an eye on.
No, Stop Laughing, This Is Real
Over the weekend, the Iranians unveiled the Karrar, a new main battle tank, built and manufactured in Iran. It’s supposed to have all the bells and whistles, including a laser rangefinder, a ballistic computer, and an electro-optical fire control system. (You know, all the stuff modern Western tanks already have.) The Iranians claim it can compete with any other tank out there, specifically the Russian T-90.
Okay, so ... can it? Well, we don’t know. Other than a short video clip and some pictures, we don’t know much yet. Okay, but this is a brand-new tank, and America’s main battle tank, the M1 Abrams, first entered service in 1980, almost 40 years ago. Should we be concerned? Not really. The M1 has been continually upgraded and is still one of the top tanks in the world. The other thing is that while this is an Iranian-built tank, they probably haven’t and won’t produce many. By contrast, the US has thousands of M1s.
It’s also worth pointing out that big tank-on-tank engagements aren’t all that common. It’s not like Ivan is gonna come through the Fulda anytime soon. And the odds of this Iranian tank going head-to-head with a modern tank in a nation-on-nation war seems pretty low. That being said, the Saudis own a couple hundred M1s and have deployed some of them to Yemen. So maybe if the Iranians start shipping Karrars to their Yemeni allies, there’s a chance we could find out...
We Like Pizza and All, but If It's Brown, Stay Away
Bad news, MRE fans, the much longed-for pizza MRE, which optimists were hoping would arrive in 2018, has been delayed, probably indefinitely. (We don’t need to explain MREs, do we? They’re the US military’s field rations.)
By design, MREs are supposed to be able to withstand 80-degree temperatures for three years. To simulate this, they put them in a 100-degree box for six months.
Well, the problem is that when you do that, the MRE pizza turns brown. It’s still safe to eat, but it’s a quality thing: no grunt wants to chow down a brown pizza. (And nobody wants to give soldiers brown pizza.)
Maybe someday God and science will conspire to allow MRE pizza to be a thing, but it won’t be in 2018. However, in the meantime, keep an eye out for caffeinated beef sticks. (Yes, really.)
Nothing Like Riding the Popularity of a Show That Went Off the Air in 2015
Many years ago (like, 2013), there was an episode of “Mad Men” in which Don Draper gives a pitch to Heinz ketchup where they just show pictures of food, and the tag line is “Pass the Heinz.” (Spoiler alert: They don’t get the account, and after coming up with the “Buy the world a Coke” thing, Don has a kind of rough 1980s.)
Well, it’s been half a century (that episode was set in 1967), but the execs at Heinz have come around to the idea. Starting yesterday, Don Draper’s Heinz ads will be appearing on a trio of billboards in New York City and in Variety magazine. They’ll even be credited to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the fictional ad agency in the show (with an assist from David Miami, the real ad agency).
And yes, it’s been two years since “Mad Men” went off the air (prompting everyone to stop talking about it), but it’s at least enough to get Heinz some free press. It’s also the first case that we know of of ketchup imitating art.