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    Published on: September 28, 2020

    Can crumb cake be an essential weapon in the competitive battles among food stores?  KC argues yes, and offers an example from the Jersey Shore that illustrates just how potent such a weapon can be.

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    by Kevin Coupe

    There were a number of stories in various newspapers over the weekend about restaurants looking for ways to continuing to serve patrons outdoors even as the weather worsens around the country.

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    "New York City will make permanent a program that allows restaurants to offer sidewalk and street dining, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday, providing a much needed lifeline to an industry that has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic.

    "The outdoor-dining program had been set to end on Oct. 31. The changes announced Friday allow restaurants to use propane heaters and tents to keep customers warm during colder months."

    The story notes that "the city’s restaurant industry has been under immense strain since the pandemic hit in March and lockdown restrictions were enacted to stem the spread of the virus. Indoor dining at restaurants has been prohibited, with only pickup and outdoor seating allowed."

    The Journal goes on:  "Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier this month that indoor dining could resume in the city at 25% capacity on Sept. 30. But some restaurant owners have said that they will continue to struggle at limited capacity.

    "Sidewalk and street dining has helped businesses stay afloat, according to the New York City Hospitality Alliance, which represents restaurants and nightlife establishments."

    From the  Seattle Times:  "Fall has arrived, but the plastic chairs and patio furniture that restaurants usually mothball around this time of the year are staying put for a while. Restaurants are doubling down with awnings and heat lamps to weather the wet autumn, and many are expected to keep their outdoor dining areas going through midwinter.

    "There are streeteries, parklets and dining decks in just about every Seattle neighborhood. Picnic tables have been plopped in alleyways and parking lots. Even secondary streets have closed down and been remade into “plazas” or outdoor dining areas around Ballard and other Seattle neighborhoods; blocks are lined with sidewalk cafes, resembling Paris’s Boulevard Saint-Germain."

    And, from the Washingtonian:

    "Winter is coming - no longer a Game of Thrones cliche, but a real mantra of dread for many bar and restaurant owners who have been scraping by during the pandemic with the help of outdoor spaces. In addition to private patios and rooftops, the District has approved nearly 600 temporary outdoor dining permits for 'streateries,' while Arlington went all-in on parklets, and Bethesda established a huge open-air dining area downtown. So what happens when the temperature drops below 60 degrees?

    "In DC, mayor Muriel Bowser just announced the 'Streatery Winter Ready Program.' The initiative is designed to prevent (or at least stave off) winter closures by providing businesses $6,000 grants—$4 million city wide - to help defray the costs of heaters, tents, lighting, and more. Applications opened Monday, but many restaurateurs across the DMV have long been brainstorming ways to extend the lives of their al fresco spaces."

    While in some cases BYOB means "bring your own blanket," one local restaurant, Centrolina, "is selling super-soft throws to keep customers warm while they dine on the patio."

    Dropping temperatures and various kinds of precipitation are going to put a lot of restaurants to the test, and how they respond will, I think, be an Eye-Opener…

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    Amazon announced this morning that its pandemic-delayed Prime Day promotion has been formally scheduled for October 13-14, "back in time for the holidays," with some early Prime Day deals being made available now.

    In addition to pointing to the wide range of categories in which Prime Day deals will be available, Amazon's announcement made the point that it is working to share some of the love with small businesses that sell as third-party vendors on its Marketplace:

    •  "Amazon is increasing its commitment to small business selling partners by designing Prime Day to support them with our biggest small business promotion yet. Starting today through October 12, Amazon will offer Prime members a $10 credit to use on Prime Day when members spend $10 on items sold by select small businesses in Amazon’s store. This Prime Day, and throughout the holiday season, Amazon will spend more than $100 million on new promotional activities to help small businesses around the world increase their sales and reach new customers."

    •  "Amazon will offer a $10 credit to use on Prime Day to members who spend $10 on items sold by select small businesses in Amazon’s store today through October 12. This promotion is fully funded by Amazon to connect customers with local small businesses selling in its store. Small business promotions kicked off today in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Germany, Italy, France, and Japan."

    •  "Prime Day Deals: Once Prime Day begins, members can use their $10 credit to purchase almost any product in Amazon’s store, including from small businesses. More than half of the items sold in Amazon’s store worldwide are from third-party sellers – mostly small and medium-sized businesses. This year, Prime members around the globe can shop hundreds of thousands of Prime Day deals from these businesses."

    •  Prime Day promotions are available to "Prime members in the U.S., U.K, U.A.E, Spain, Singapore, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Australia, and – participating for the first time this year – Turkey and Brazil."

    Amazon launched its first Prime Day in 2015, and since then has used the annual event to boost sales during the summer.  This year, the pandemic prompted the company to push it later in the year, when it is expected to contribute to a blockbuster fourth quarter.

    While Amazon does not break out its Prime Day sales, last year outside experts estimated that it generated some $7 billion in sales.

    KC's View:

    I have to wonder if Prime Day sales will have an impact on Amazon's holiday sales … or if this is just a canny way for Amazon to undercut its competitors by taking a lot of shoppers out of the market by allowing them to do a lot of holiday shopping in mid-October.  

    I'd bet on the latter.

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    Marketing Daily reports on how "both Walmart and Target announced new tactics, including epic increases in digital offers and fulfillment," as they prepare for the coming holiday season:

    "After watching shoppers closely for the last six months, Walmart says it’s adding 20,000 seasonal associates in its ecommerce fulfillment centers. It’s also making changes to keep shopping as safe and as low-contact as it can.

    "The retailer says it’s bracing for massive demand in COVID-trend Christmas items, including more athleisure, loungewear and sleepwear, outdoor grills, bicycles and exercise equipment, and outdoor sporting equipment.

    "The chain is also bulking up on playtime products and says it intends to offer 1,300 new toys, including puzzles, games and Legos. Then there are 800 Walmart exclusives planned."

    "Target is also reinventing the season, doubling the number of workers focused on Drive Up and Order Pickup. (Demand for those services has quadrupled since the pandemic began.)

    "And like Walmart, it’s dedicated more front-of-store team members to disinfect carts, provide masks and measure access so guests can safely distance themselves."

    But what remains to be seen is how much shopping people actually will do, and when they will do it.

    According to the story, "Morning Consult says that only 12% of respondents in its recent survey expect to shop in-store this Black Friday, and 52% say they plan to sit it out entirely.  Many also  intend to cut back, with 59% saying they will spend less than $300 on gifts this year, up from 50% last year … But not all forecasts are so bleak. The International Council of Shopping Centers also released a survey that finds 53% of respondents have no plans to cut back on spending over the next five months."

    KC's View:

    Who needs Black Friday when you've already had Prime Day?

    As for the ICSC projection … we have no idea what the next 60 days are going to be like, and so it is hard to predict how people are going to feel and what they are going to spend.  This strikes me as closer to wishful thinking.

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that even as the pandemic rages on, "Americans are starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade, according to government data, seizing on pent-up demand and new opportunities after the pandemic shut down and reshaped the economy."

    The story goes on:

    "Applications for the employer identification numbers that entrepreneurs need to start a business have passed 3.2 million so far this year, compared with 2.7 million at the same point in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That group includes gig-economy workers and other independent contractors who may have struck out on their own after being laid off.

    "Even excluding those applicants, new filings among a subset of business owners who tend to employ other workers reached 1.1 million through mid-September, a 12% increase over the same period last year and the most since 2007, the data show."

    KC's View:

    I think this speaks well of the American spirit, even if it isn't quite as simple as people starting new businesses and everything being cupcakes, flowers and rainbows.

    The fact is that most new businesses fail in their first year of operation.  And a sizeable number of these new businesses may have been created by people who had been laid off by shrinking or closing businesses.

    I'm personally familiar with this.  That's essentially why I started MNB almost 19 years ago … it was my third time around being without a gig because of other people's mismanagement, and so I decided to strike out on my own so I'd only have myself to blame.  And that doesn't even count the two clothing stores I worked for when I was young that went out of business.  (Maybe I'm a bad luck charm…)

    It is a good thing that all these people, facing personal and professional hardships that may just a few months ago may have seemed unimaginable, have decided to try to take control of their own destinies.  The Journal story talks about people who did things like start bakeries and workout studios, build mobile apps and fix bicycles.

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    "Grocery stores and food companies are preparing for a possible surge in sales amid a new rise in Covid-19 cases and the impending holiday rush.

    "Supermarkets are stockpiling groceries and storing them early to prepare for the fall and winter months, when some health experts warn the country could see another widespread outbreak of virus cases and new restrictions. Food companies are accelerating production of their most popular items, and leaders across the industry are saying they won’t be caught unprepared in the face of another pandemic surge."

    Some examples:

    •  "Southeastern Grocers LLC secured holiday turkeys and hams over the summer, months before it normally starts inventory planning, said Chief Executive Anthony Hucker.

    •  "Grocery wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc. has loaded up on extra inventory of cranberry sauce, herbal tea and cold remedies, said President Chris Testa."

    •  "Associated Food Stores recently started building 'pandemic pallets' of cleaning and sanitizing products so it always has some inventory in warehouses, said Darin Peirce, vice president of retail operations for the cooperative of more than 400 stores. The company is establishing protocols so it can better manage scenarios of high demand."

    •  "Ahold Delhaize USA, SpartanNash Co. and others say they are buying more food as soon as they can, stocking warehouses with wellness and holiday items. Many retailers are expanding distribution capacity, augmenting warehouse space and modifying shifts.  They say they want to be ready for a potential Covid-19 surge that experts are warning could hit as soon as this fall, as daily reported cases are increasing again in many states after falling in the summer. More than 200,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S."

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, there now have been 7,321,465 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 209,454 deaths and 4,560,742 reported recoveries.

    Globally, we've crossed the grim line - there now have been 1,002,965 coronavirus-related deaths, with a total of 33,340,693 confirmed cases and 24,653,826 reported recoveries.

    • From ABC News:

    "With the U.S. averaging 40,000 new cases per day, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci says the country is 'not in a good place' right now.

    "'It's something you don't want to be in a position like that as the weather starts getting cold,' Fauci said, warning that the numbers are particularly worrying to him as the colder months set in and people begin to move to more inside activities.

    "In August, Fauci said the U.S. needed to get to 10,000 cases per day to have some control over the coronavirus.

    "Fauci is warning that we may see an increase in deaths as states show an uptick in cases and hospitalizations."

    •  From the New York Times:

    "Less than 10 percent of Americans have antibodies to the new coronavirus, suggesting that the nation is even further from herd immunity than had been previously estimated, according to a study published Friday in The Lancet … The results roughly matched those of an analysis to be released next week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that about 10 percent of blood samples from sites across the country contained antibodies to the virus.

    "Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., was referring to that analysis when he told a congressional committee this week that 90 percent of all Americans were still vulnerable to the virus, a C.D.C. spokeswoman said."

    The story says that the study "found wide variances in antibody levels around the country. In the New York metropolitan area, including New Jersey, antibody levels were higher than 25 percent of samples tested. In the western United States, they were below 5 percent.

    "Over all, the researchers estimated the prevalence to be about 9.3 percent."

    •  The Times goes on:

    "In the U.S., the virus is spreading fastest in the heartland.

    "The heart of the American outbreak is shifting to the heartland. As the coronavirus crisis drags on, less populous states in the Midwest and the Great Plains are seeing furious growth, while dense states in the Northeast are experiencing some of the slowest rates of new infection.

    "In South Dakota, cases have risen steadily throughout the month of September. In the past week, more new cases have been diagnosed than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic and twice broken a record for coronavirus hospitalizations. Officials announced 457 new cases Friday."

    And, the Times writes, "Across state lines, North Dakota is experiencing the single fastest rate of growth of coronavirus cases per capita in the country. In the past week, the state has averaged 390 new cases per day — a 50 percent increase from the average two weeks ago … In Wisconsin cases have more than doubled since the beginning of September. The state, a critical battleground in the presidential election, has had an average of more than 2,000 cases per day in the past week … Two more central states also reported single-day case records on Friday: Oklahoma with 1,276 and Missouri with more than 2,020. The other three states that reported single-day records were Idaho, Oregon, and Utah.  In Oklahoma, more cases have been announced over the last week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic."

    •  The New York Daily News reports that "coronavirus continues to spread 'at an alarming rate' in several New York City neighborhoods, the Health Department said Sunday, a day before it is expected to decide whether to shut down private schools and nonessential businesses there.

    "The COVID infection rate in Gravesend/Homecrest, Brooklyn, is 6.75%, up from 6% last week; 5.34% in Midwood, Brooklyn, up from 4.95%, and 4.41% in Borough Park, Brooklyn, up from 3.53%, according to the Health Department.

    "It also flagged Kew Gardens, Queens; Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Queens; Bensonhurst/Mapleton, Brooklyn; Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Flatlands/Midwood, Brooklyn, as areas of concern."

    Last week, the Daily News writes, "the agency said it would shutter private schools and nonessential businesses in the neighborhoods, which include large Hasidic populations, if the outbreak is not brought under control by Monday night.

    "The department flagged four additional areas — Rego Park, Queens; Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok, Queens; Kensington/Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, and Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn — as 'showing increased growth of cases and test positivity between 2% and 3%.'

    "Statewide, the percentage of COVID tests that came back positive Saturday was 1.02%, according to Gov. Cuomo’s office."

    "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance," someone once said.  He or she was not referring to a pandemic, but it seems appropriate … the minute we stop paying attention and get complacent, the virus senses an opening and moves in.

    •  Axios reports that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "announced Friday the state will completely reopen its economy, allowing restaurants to operate at full capacity and barring localities from ordering businesses to close … The state now enters Phase 3 of its reopening, lifting the vast majority of any remaining restrictions on gyms, bars and retail spaces. These spaces had already been operating at or near full capacity under previous phases of Florida's reopening.

    "Cities and counties would be forced to justify any localized restrictions that bring capacity below 100%."

    Some context:  "Florida's coronavirus case count over the past week has been steady, averaging about 2,700 new daily cases over the past week.  Nearly 700,000 people have contracted COVID-19 in Florida, and the death toll is more than 14,000, according to the state's health department."

    •  The New York Times writes that even if adults are able to get a Covid-19 vaccinating by next summer, it may be "a lot longer" before children will have access to a vaccine.

    While "a number of Covid-19 vaccines for adults are already in advanced clinical trials … no trials have yet begun in the United States to determine whether these vaccines are safe and effective for children."

    “Right now I’m pretty worried that we won’t have a vaccine available for kids by the start of next school year,” Dr. Evan Anderson, a pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and a professor at the Emory University School of Medicine, tells the Times.

    According to the story, "Whenever these trials do start, it could take upward of a year to get vaccines for Covid-19 ready for children. Vaccine makers will need to write protocols and get them approved by the F.D.A. They’ll need to recruit volunteers — a process that is more time consuming for pediatric vaccines since parents must give informed consent. Getting to the first injections could take a couple of months.

    "By necessity, the trials would have to start small, with researchers giving perhaps just half a dozen kids a low dose of the vaccine and then monitoring them for several days. Then the trial could expand to dozens and then hundreds of kids.

    "A couple more months might pass while the vaccine developers give a low dose to a small group of kids. Each group of children would need two months of observation to check for their immune response and to make sure they don’t have any side effects. Only then would vaccine developers start a new trial with a higher dose."

    •   The New York Times has a story saying that doctors are noticing that one result of the coronavirus pandemic seems to be an increase in hair loss, "a phenomenon they believe is indeed related to the coronavirus pandemic, affecting both people who had the virus and those who never became sick.

    "In normal times, some people shed noticeable amounts of hair after a profoundly stressful experience such as an illness, major surgery or emotional trauma.  Now, doctors say, many patients recovering from Covid-19 are experiencing hair loss — not from the virus itself, but from the physiological stress of fighting it off."

    And it isn't just people who have had Covid-19:  "Many people who never contracted the virus are also losing hair, because of emotional stress from job loss, financial strain, deaths of family members or other devastating developments stemming from the pandemic."

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    •  From CNBC:

    "Amazon Care, the virtual health clinic for employees, is undergoing its first major expansion beyond the Seattle area.

    "The service, which is available to Amazon employees and their dependents, is designed to make it easier to access primary care by letting employees exchange messages with a health-care provider or jump on a video visit. There are also at-home visits available in some ZIP codes, although these are not part of the expansion.

    "The clinic, which launched as a pilot in September of 2019, is described on its website as a new benefit for employees that offers 'the best of both virtual and in-person care.'

    "While most of Amazon’s corporate employees in the state are located in Seattle and its suburbs, it also has fulfillment and other types of facilities in Spokane, Cheney, Vancouver and elsewhere. The company declined to say how many employees are being covered now."

    Amazon also has not said exactly how much it is expanding the service, except to say that this move "is the first big step."

    •  The New York Times has a story about how the pandemic has allowed Amazon to conquer Italy.  An excerpt:

    "Amazon has been one of the biggest winners in the pandemic as people in its most established markets — the United States, Germany and Britain — have flocked to it to buy everything from toilet paper to board games. What has been less noticed is that people in countries that had traditionally resisted the e-commerce giant are now also falling into its grasp after retail stores shut down for months because of the coronavirus.

    "The shift has been particularly pronounced in Italy, which was one of the first countries hard hit by the virus. Italians have traditionally preferred to shop in stores and pay cash. But after the government imposed Europe’s first nationwide virus lockdown, Italians began buying items online in record numbers.

    "Even now, as Italy has done better than most places to turn the tide on the virus and people return to stores, the behavioral shift toward e-commerce has not halted."

    The success is notable:  Amazon started doing business in Italy in 2010, but "the company had only muted success over the next decade. Fewer than 40 percent of Italians shopped online last year, compared with 87 percent in Britain and 79 percent in Germany, according to Eurostat, a European Union government statistics group."  During the pandemic, in Italy, the number hit 75 percent.

    You can read the piece here.

    •  From the Puget Sound Business Journal:

    "Much of the economy is in shambles in the wake of Covid-19. Yet Amazon this month launched a new luxury shopping experience available by invitation only.

    "Why? Because well-heeled shoppers are more likely to buy online in the current economic climate, and the high-end fashion industry is foundering as brick-and-mortar retail is on the decline, experts say.

    "'The luxury market has suffered considerably' during the pandemic, said David Camp, a former Amazon marketing executive who is now co-founder and managing partner of Metaforce, a Seattle boutique marketing consultancy.

    "'Amazon has always been good at exploiting weakness in other categories,' he said. 'It’s a classic Amazon strategy to recognize that there’s an opening in a market that’s compromised'."

    •  Interesting interview in the Wall Street Journal with Toni Reid, Amazon's vice president of Alexa experience and Echo devices, who talks about new skills that have been built into the Alexa system since the beginning of the pandemic.  The goal, the story says, was "to give consumers coronavirus safety tips and information about its spread, the same way they teach Alexa to tell jokes and read the news. And people’s interactions with Alexa changed as the pandemic progressed, with more turning to Alexa for at-home exercise tips and recipes. The sheer volume of customers using Alexa-enabled devices jumped 65% from a year earlier between April and June."

    According to Reid, " We started with hospitals and nursing homes. We donated tens of thousands of Echo devices that allowed hospital staff to communicate with their patients who were in isolation without having to use personal protective equipment each time.

    "We built a bunch of new Alexa routines for working from home and staying at home. They’re things like reminding you to get up and stretch. Or go eat. Or maybe it’s time to stop working. It’s like a prepackaged routine.

    "Third-party developers started building skills to help with their situations. In India, the Bengaluru city police created a skill for customers to ask what they can and can’t do during lockdown. The Spanish Red Cross created a way for people to donate by talking to Alexa, and then offered guidance on how to avoid Covid contagion."

    The fastest growing skill needs on Alexa, Reid says:  meditation and cooking.

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    •  ABC News reports that "Stop & Shop employees who worked in the company's grocery stores during July and August will receive a lump sum payment for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The company announced the agreement in a joint statement with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union."

    The agreement means that "about 56,000 employees will receive payments equal to 10 % of their hours worked between Jul. 5 and Aug. 22."

    "UFCW and Stop & Shop are proud to announce a tentative agreement has been reached on a new premium that recognizes Stop & Shop workers for their incredible efforts. The UFCW wants to acknowledge Stop & Shop for not only recognizing its workers, but for remaining committed to work with UFCW, America’s largest food and retail union, to better the lives of these dedicated workers and their families," officials said in a statement.

    •  FMI –The Food Industry Association and the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education have released "a midyear Power of Meat study and found sales of meat increased an unprecedented 34.6 percent and revealed changing consumer behaviors … The survey found that as a result of the pandemic 75% of consumers made changes in their meat purchasing behavior with at least half buying different brands (58%), cuts (51%) or types (50%) of meat. 

    "Additionally, during the pandemic, consumers are now cooking more meals and need more variety (50%), cooking new recipes (37%) and experimenting with different cuts/kinds of meat (34%)."

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    •  Wakefern Food Corp. announced that it has hired Nazesh Cattelona as its new Director of Diversity & Inclusion, a newly created position. Cattelona previously served as director of Human Resources at Guitar Center, and before that held several positions at Target.

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    Got the following email from an MNB reader:

    Thank you for your recommendation to read “The Secret Life of Groceries.”  I just finished the book.  It is written so that it develops into a sobering reflection of the consequences to our drive to remove cost and price.  The story about Tun Lin and the working slavery that developed in the Thai shrimp industry is a heartbreaking reminder to those of us on the other side of the world, and life.  Mr. Lorr states that the most amazing thing about this story is that he is able to tell it.  Knowing this forces us to understand the repercussions of our conscious capitalism and the unconscious decision we make into what we want to eat.

    I work at the bottom of the grocery buying and supply chain.  From here, I get to see the silly amounts of money that are spent, and in some cases taken, ostensibly to reduce costs for shoppers but actually to feed the investors and owners.  That drive has consequences which this book demonstrates.  Ultimately, at Mr. Lorr points out, we are to blame.

    Regarding the decision in Berkeley, California, to ban the sale of sugary products from checkout lanes, one MNB reader wrote:

    I'm so glad to hear that the local government is spending its time so wisely!  (tongue in cheek)   Of course people cannot be left to their own devices and choices when it comes to their health.   Next up on the council docket will be the placement height of sugary breakfast cereals; the amount of space devoted to chocolate bars, banning Betty Crocker, limit of one vanilla frosting container per shopper, and don't get me started on single serve ice cream or the overall weight of a popsicle.

    Berkeley isn't progressive.  Berkeley needs Al-Anon.

    You may not agree with the decision, and I may not agree with the decision.  But it seems to me that it is entirely possible that this is a decision made by legislators who are very much in synch with the majority of the local electorate.

    If that's true, aren't the lawmakers just doing their job?

    I had a FaceTime last week about a wholesale grocery delivery company called Cheetah that has been putting refrigerators on the sidewalks of communities ranging from San Jose, California, to Brooklyn, New York … refrigerators stocked with juice, eggs, bread vegetables  -  all items that were extra and that Cheetah was providing to communities in need rather than throw it out and waste it.

    In the FaceTime, I made the point that New York Times columnist Maeve Higgins wrote that about Robert Weide, who teaches a course on anarchist theory at California State University, Los Angeles, and says that "anarchy does not mean chaos. In fact, it’s a form of social order, just different from what we’re used to. It has many definitions."

    One of those definitions, Weide told Higgins, is that "in a crisis, people revert to what comes naturally to them, which is mutual aid."

    By that definition, I commented, what Cheetah is doing is an act of anarchy.  (I was surprised by this.)

    MNB reader Dave Ahrens responded:

    If that’s the definition that they’re teaching at Berkeley, it’s no wonder we’re having the issue.

    Anarchy refers to the state of a society being without authorities or a governing body, and the general confusion and chaos resulting from that condition.

    Can’t find anywhere is states that anarchist are benevolent or concerned about anything other than overthrowing a current government.

    The worse thing is that our current anarchists have hijacked a purposeful protest and not helping that cause in the least.

    I think you conflated the other Berkeley story with this one … Weide teaches at California State University, Los Angeles.

    Put that aside for a moment.  I was surprised by this definition, but less surprised by the idea that I might not know everything about anarchy theory, and that there might be definitions and implications more nuanced than I expected.

    That's what I like best about my job.  I learn stuff.  All the time.

    Another MNB reader took a shot at California, this one related to the order that all new cars sold there as of 2035 need to not be gas-fueled, as just one way of addressing climate change:

    We left California (Marin County, not a rural, impoverished area) in 2000 after the Gen 1 utility crisis – rolling blackouts and water rationing when my wife, a Cambodian refugee, observed that “When I was in grade school in Phnom Penh we had mortar attacks more and more often at night as the city was increasingly surrounded by the Khmer Rouge.  I don’t remember any blackout that lasted more than an hour and we had the electricity on and plenty of tap water for faucets and toilets up to the day the Khmer Rouge knocked on the door and marched us out of the city.”

    So are so many places I would like to live in California if they weren’t in California.  State is f#@&ed up beyond belief.

    Perhaps.  On the other hand, it seems at least possible that the fifth largest economy on the planet - trying to deal with issues that many countries have to deal with - is doing its best to create a system that is less f#@&ed up.

    Published on: September 28, 2020

    The Major League Baseball playoff picture has been settled…with eight teams in each league making the postseason and beginning play this week in three-game Wild Card series.

    In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays won the Eastern Division, the Minnesota Twins won the Central, and the Oakland Athletics winning the West.  The AL Wild Card teams:  the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and the Houston Astros.

    In the National League, the Atlanta Braves won the East, the Chicago Cubs won the Central, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won the West.  The NL Wild Card teams:  the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, and San Diego Padres.

    The AL Wild Card Series begins tomorrow with the Astros playing the Twins, the White Sox playing the Athletics, the Blue Jays playing Rays, and the Yankees playing the Indians.

    And then, remarkably enough, on Wednesday all those teams will play again in the second games of those best-of-three series, as all the National League teams play their first Wild Card games on the same day:  the Reds against the Braves, the Marlin against the Cubs, the Cardinals against the Padres and the Brewers against the Dodgers.

    In Week Three of the National Football League…

    49ers  36, Giants 9

    Washington 20, Browns 34

    Bengals  23, Eagles 23

    Raiders 20, Patriots 36

    Bears 30, Falcons 26

    Rams 32, Bills 35

    Texans 21, Steelers 28

    Titans 31, Vikings 30

    Panthers 21, Chargers 16

    Jets 7, Colts 36

    Cowboys 31, Seahawks 38

    Lions 26, Cardinals 23

    Buccaneers 28, Broncos 10

    Packers 37, Saints 30