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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

There’s supposed to be a witty introduction here. It’s supposed to be a short paragraph and elicit a bit of a smile or chuckle from you, dear readers, depending on how expressive you’re feeling today. But it’s that last stretch of the semester, so chances are the best we’re going to get out of you is a slight nod, maybe a twitch of the mouth in the upward direction. We’re just going to leave it at this and invite you to read the week’s…

Darts & Laurels

Some marketing team at Pepsi sat down and tried to figure out what was cool and appealing to all those millennials out there. Millennials like protesting, they thought. Millennials also like the Kardashian-Jenner family. Why not combine these things? What resulted was a very forced and obviously pandering advertisement, in which Kendall Jenner grows restless during a glamorous photoshoot and joins a protest. What are the people protesting? No one really knows, but probably nothing with any gravity, because all the protesters are smiling, hugging and high-fiving. Our blessed saint, Kendall Jenner, hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer, who cracks a smile and everything is hunky-dory. What blows our minds is how many levels of production this commercial had to go through before it finally aired. In all that time, no one paused for a moment and thought about what they were really trying to say. Protesting is “in”— let’s capitalize on it. Let’s tell the world that all problems can be solved by a celebrity handing a police officer a can of Pepsi cola. A dart to Pepsi for trivializing the serious nature of protests and just completely missing the point.

Barry Manilow came out as gay earlier this week. This might not have come as a surprise to some. Manilow has been with his partner for almost 40 years, and the pair tied the knot in 2014. Manilow says the reason he had not come out sooner was because he was afraid of disappointing fans. It’s important to remember that while some people are ready to come out the moment they realize their sexuality, others choose not to for many different reasons — they are not ready, they do not want their families to find out, among other reasons. But no matter what the journey is, we are happy to see that Manilow and his husband, Garry Kief, can be open about their relationship and who they are. So a laurel to Barry Manilow and Garry Kief — here’s to your long-lasting relationship and the music you’ve given us.

Steve Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council. He’s been a polarizing presence in the Trump administration, with a sort of “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to policymaking that a lot of more experienced politicians are wary of. Economics adviser Gary Cohn has privately said he believes Bannon “plays to the president’s worst impulses.” Although Trump admired that same fiery, persistent quality that he shared with Bannon in the early days of the administration, it appears he’s realized that politics — or at least the National Security Council — takes a little more ... finesse. So a tentative laurel to this decision — there’s still a lot of things that could go wrong, but, hey, at least there are more qualified and level-headed people on the NSC.

Let’s close the week with some positive nature news — the West Indian manatee has been bumped from the endangered species list! The staple of Florida rivers, coasts and license plates has been on the Endangered Species list since the 1970s, when its numbers were in the low hundreds. Not everyone is thrilled about this, though. Many environmental agents are arguing that removing the species from the list as the new government administration rolls in will significantly cut back on regulations designated to protect manatees. So perhaps this laurel isn’t entirely positive, but we’re still taking a small joy in the fact that manatee numbers are at their highest — about 6,600. You go, sea cows. Still, we all need to make an effort to protect our beautiful state, even without the looming threat of an endangered species list.

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