retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from an MNB reader about the FDA's decision to allow the sale of at-home DNA testing kits designed to allow people to determine which diseases they may be predisposed to get:

I’m not convinced that this is a ‘change for the better’.  It will be a nice boon for the pharmaceutical companies that will make the test kit and then for any that produce anti-anxiety pills which the uneducated consumer will need in the wake of using the DNA test.

Guess I need to buy some Pharmaceutical stocks…and then emphasize for my family as to why we simply don’t need this type of ‘fortune tellers’ snake oil.  (Matthew 6:26)

I checked Matthew 6:26, and don't think it was about fortune tellers' snake oil ... best I can tell, it says, Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

I might've gone with the more appropriate Matthew 6:25 ... Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Or Matthew 6:27 ... Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Then again, I'm anything but a Biblical scholar, so who am I to say?

The thing is, I'm not sure it is fair to describe all at-home DNA testing as snake oil. Will the companies that create these tests do well for themselves? Probably. But that's hardly a reason to denigrate the whole concept. Seems to me that if we can make DNA testing more accessible and then use the results to help people live longer, happier, healthier lives, that's hardly a bad thing.

Does this transcend to worrying too much about food or drink or clothes? Not to me ... I'm totally okay with this, at least conceptually.

Regarding the apparent terrorist threats against shopping centers in the US and Europe, one MNB user wrote:

As one who lives in the shadow of the Mall of America, thought I’d weigh in on this weekend.

While I try to stay away from the MOA on the weekends (SO many people!), I know of three families who went yesterday to escape the “arctic air” we are experiencing in Minnesota.  It’s a fantastic place to ride the amusement park rides, window shop and see a movie.
People need to stay alert, but shouldn’t stop living their lives.


By the way, there was one MNB user who took issue with something I wrote yesterday:

One hesitates to comment too much on a story like this, lest anyone be given an idea. But these kinds of stories, about the vulnerabilities of commercial properties in America, are going to grow in frequency, I think ... and this won't be the first warning we're going to see along these lines. I've always felt that if you want to terrorize America, it would be a lot more effective to hit a major shopping center than a national monument.

The suggestion was that I didn't hesitate enough.

Maybe. But the thing is, I think these stories are out there enough that it is not exactly planting original ideas to say that we need to adjust our thinking about the things that threaten us. I'm a little uncomfortable about writing it - some would say not uncomfortable enough, I suppose - but I'm also not sure what is gained by not stating what I think ought to be obvious.

Finally, I also got an email from an MNB reader who appreciated a recommendation I made last week:

My spouse and I have also gotten hooked on Bosch (on Amazon Prime).  It’s a gloomy but great bit of television.  Long live the Fire Stick!

Don't just tell me. Go on Amazon and tell them .. so we can get more episodes produced.
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