An article I read this weekend about how chain restaurants have ramped up their cleanliness (in an effort to prove to the public it’s safe to eat there) said that each Applebee’s outlet now has a designated “sanitation specialist.” That’s the kind of euphemistic title given to employees without changing their salaries or responsibilities. You’re not a “used car saleswoman,” you’re a “pre-owned vehicle specialist.” You’re not an “exterminator,” you’re a “pest control technician.” I guarantee you that each of those “sanitation specialists” used to called a “busboy” and is still paid minimum wage. Meanwhile, on the consumer side, I can only imagine the joy of being in one of those restaurants when the party at the next table leaves, and the “sanitation specialist” comes by and sprays some cleaning product all over the place, filling your nostrils with the smell of so much ammonia it completely overwhelms the aroma of your platter of super nachos.

We are very disappointed we won’t be able to take our planned vacation to Spain and Portugal in September. I had held out hope that COVID-19 would be under control by then, but with less than three months to go and no end in sight, we sadly cancelled our flights and hotel reservations this weekend and began the process of trying to get refunds, with mixed results. Simultaneously, American Airlines announced it will begin filling its planes to full capacity, no longer keeping the middle seats open. That made us feel even better about not getting on board.

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you’ll know that I was a full-throated supporter of the James Randi Educational Foundation, a group that promoted critical thinking and skepticism of those who professed paranormal abilities. For a long time, the JREF had a standing offer of $1 million for anyone who could prove such a claim. Despite running for more than fifty years in one form or another, no one ever won the prize. Many tried, but no one you’ve ever heard of. Con artists like Sylvia Browne, John Edward, and James Van Praagh never bothered to apply, because they knew they wouldn’t look good when they were proven to have been spewing pure nonsense while taking advantage of people in pain. The JREF challenge was terminated in 2015, but the Center For Inquiry Investigations Group picked up the ball and has run with it, offering a similar challenge with a prize of $250,000. It includes a $5,000 bounty for the person who refers someone who wins the prize. Of course, CFIIG isn’t expecting to hear from modern-day frauds like The Long Island Medium, but I’m happy to promote the challenge nonetheless.

I worked in Connecticut for four years. My wife grew up there. But neither of us knew that the official name of a neighboring state was “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” until its governor, Gina Raimondo, announced last week it will only be known as “Rhode Island” from now on. On a similar subject, I still don’t understand why Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania are still legally described as “commonwealths.”

And finally…If the Washington Post put Donald Trump on its payroll the way Vladimir Putin has, I bet he’d have nothing but nice things to say about it.