Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Mooses on Beaches & Tuesday Morning Twist

Lord knows, the ease of blogging, lack of editors, and press of time can lead to errors in posts. Lord knows I've made a few. But Gregg Easterbrook, over at Yet-to-Be-Named has a couple of glaring ones this week. First, his assault on Chief Moose, late of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department. Apparently, Moose settled with Marriott on a claim that he was racially harassed at a Marriott resort on Oahu, when a hotel security guard asked him for his room key as proof that he had a right to be there, solely on account of his race. Easterbrook thinks that this was "blackmail," noting that the resort's claim to fame is its "spectacular private beach," and that the hotel routinely checks ID to make sure that the uninvited aren't hanging out there.

Plausible explanation, no? Here's the problem, though -- all beaches in Hawai'i are public, from the high water mark on out, and developers purchasing or leasing state land above the high water mark have to provide public access. (see Haw. Rev. St. sec. 171-42.) Of course, that's only half the problem with Easterbrook's analysis. Here's the other half. Assume, for the sake of argument, that Moose was on a part of the resort (a stretch of beach above the high water mark, with cabanas, for example) that is private, and where Marriott would be within its rights to exclude the non-paying. There's still a legitimate question of whether the hotel checks all people's id's, or just the black folk. If the latter, than Moose's claim isn't blackmail at all. Since Easterbrook isn't privy to the facts, he's jumping a little to quickly to the accusation. And as anyone who's ever known an actual black person knows, such racially discriminatory enforcement practices are not altogether uncommon. Was Moose out to make a quick a buck, or is Marriott trying to keep its beach rassenrein? Who knows? I don't. Neither does Easterbrook. So maybe he should be a little slower pulling the trigger on blackmail accusations.

Now let's talk ice cream. Seems that the Tuesday Morning Quarterback (and that's really a misnomer, since ESPN rarely has the column published in the morning EST, which is, as we know, God's time zone) doesn't understand the difference between a flavor of ice cream and a sundae. Apparently, up in Vermont, for a single day, in celebration of Governor Dean's announcement of his candidacy, Ben & Jerry's headquarters outside Burlington offered a sundae called "Maple Powered Howard." If Easterbrook had read the very story he linked to he'd have discovered that the MPH, like all sundaes, was a dish comprised of ice cream and one or more toppings -- in this case, vanilla ice cream topped with maple syrup, maple-flavored whipped cream, and walnuts. MMM, mmmm, good (except for the nuts. Love nuts, love sweets, hate nuts in sweets. But I digress). Cute story, right? Not for TMQ (and, for the record, TMQ is the best sports column written today, in any medium, on any sport. Read it.) He uses the story as a jumping off point to knock Dean and Unilever. He notes that you won't find Maple Powered Howard in B & J's on-line flavor inventory. But that's because it's not an ice cream flavor. It's a sundae. The only ice cream in the sundae is vanilla. Now to be fair to TMQ, many common B & J flavors have sundae-like elements (nuts, heath bars, caramel swirls and the like), but without a hot, gooey topping and whipped cream, they're not sundaes -- they're just really complex ice cream flavors. So Easterbrook's conclusion that the limited availability of MPH equals limited appeal for Governor Dean isn't really very sound. Indeed, it's absurd. He does get in a fair dig at B & J itself however. The stoners who founded it sold their eponymous brand to one of the world's largest conglomerates, so its vaunted social responsibility is now just an advertising slogan for one of the world's largest conglomerates. Then he offers an uninspired list of B & J flavors for the rest of the field (although I do like Hilary's Endless Fudge). All in all, not an auspicious bloggining.