Toasting Ideas, Good & Bad

  • Military on parade. President Trump fell for the pomp of France’s Bastille Day ceremonies last year and took about 10 seconds to come up with an order for a national military parade of our own. Then that sticky problem of actually arranging it came in, and before you know it, the Pentagon now says it will cost upwards of $100 million. Faced with the costs, the Pentagon thought better of the idea and postponed it, and then Trump canceled it altogether. I must say, this idea took me less than 10 seconds to decide is a lousy way to spend $100 million in a country whose boundless needs for public money seem to be our most important national product. How about bringing electricity to the rest of Puerto Rico, for example. The Washington Post noted,“The cost and the symbolism of the parade — reminiscent, critics say, of shows of force by authoritarian governments — have generated criticism from Democrats and, privately, consternation among military officials at a time when the Pentagon is trying to demonstrate its might against competitors including Russia and China.” That sounds right: Let the military use the money for veterans’ health or to ensure safety of equipment already deployed.
  • Finding EpiPens. Hearing renewed stories of EpiPen shortagesaround the country, the Food and Drug Administration surprisingly did what you would have thought a no-brainer. They okayed a generic by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, presumably at a much more affordable price than the $600 being charged by Mylan, the company that hiked the cost of the life-saving antidote to allergic shock. There have been numerous reports of problems at Mylan’s manufacture of the pens and a general shortage. So, yes, authorizing a generic alternative seems like an obvious answer. One does wonder what took so long.
  • Picking up the Trash. Next month, a 23-year-old Dutch college student drpped out of college to pursue his good idea; now, he will find out whether his thinking was brilliant or dumb. Boylan Slat is launching an ungainly, 2,000-foot-long giant sieve from San Francisco 240 miles offshore in the Pacific to corral millions of tons of garbage in what’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. He calls it the Ocean Cleanup Projectto maneuver floating plastics and trash that can be harmful to whales, dolphins, seals, fish and turtles into a U-shape formed by 4-foot pipes and netting so that ships can start to pick it up. Apparently, he was so disgusted by the plastic waste he encountered diving off Greece as a teen that he has devoted his life to cleaning up the mess. Although the idea is very expensive — Slat has raised money through the internet — scientists think the situation is growing so severe that it’s worth a shot. There are some estimates that floating plastic garbage, which never decomposes, is twice the size of Texas. If the first experiment works, Slat plans to move 700 miles westward to yet larger blobs of garbage. The idea is so crazy it deserves applause for trying.

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