The wife (Cruella) and I live in a 55 and older community that has its own set of rules and regulations regarding, well, just about anything that might happen in the community.
It’s one of the truisms of life that for whatever you want to have you have to give something in return. In this case, in order to live in a community where young families are not present (not that we have anything against them, it’s just past our time of life) and to have the amenities we want (clubhouse, pool, jacuzzi, etc.) we have to give up some of the freedoms we would have living elsewhere. No, we’re not constrained in any way from socializing with any others or anything so drastic. We just have to do the garbage a little differently, have a mailbox instead of having the mail delivered to the house, maintain our yard to a certain standard, in other words, typical homeowner association stuff.
Which brings us to dogs. The rules say you are perfectly fine having a dog, though they prefer the dogs not be too big or too mean. When on the public street dogs need to be on a leash and need to be picked up after. Those are the only rules about dogs.
We don’t have a dog. Three of our neighbors on our court, each a single woman living alone, do. While I understand a woman in that situation would want a dog, these dogs are not voice trained, won’t come when you call them or heed a warning from the owner. Those three neighbors love to let their dogs play together in the center of the court, unleashed, for a good amount of time each day. Many is the time I’ve had to slam on the brakes as I turn into the court because these dogs are right in the middle preventing me from getting to my driveway. I’ve politely told the owners they need to have their dogs on leashes, as per our HOA rules, but their response has been to accuse both myself and Cruella of not liking dogs.
Let me say this right up front. We like dogs. We have owned dogs in the past. My kids grew up with a dog. My younger son currently has a dog. Here’s a picture of her:
We love dogs so much that we don’t want to see them run over by cars. When I mentioned this to the three ladies their reply was “well everyone on the court knows they are here” to which my reply was “yes, but the UPS, USPS, FedEx, and Amazon vans that come in here nearly every day DON’T”.
The HOA has sent the three amigas the slap on the wrist, don’t do it again letter reminding them that our rules say dogs have to be on a leash when on the public street. By the way, that’s the county rules as well. It has of course engendered ill feelings between them and those of us on the court who don’t have dogs because, well, it sucks to be wrong and be called out on it.
But now it’s unlikely that any of those dogs will get run over by a van. And that’s the point of making rules, so that people and property don’t get harmed. Those who don’t want to follow the rules have to be upbraided, not only because of the harm they themselves might do, but as an example to those who might think it okay to also break the rules.
Which brings me to Novak Djokovic and Elizabeth Holmes.
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Mr. Djokovic is the reigning champion of the Australian Open tennis tournament. He wished to defend his title beginning next week. He also wished to not get vaccinated against COVID, a prerequisite for not only playing in the tournament, but for entry into the country of Australia. Initially Australian officials and tournament officials gave him a waiver. When that story hit the wires, the people of Australia hit the roof.
Australian COVID response has been some of the toughest in the world. That’s not surprising, Aussies have always taken keeping the crap of the world out of their country pretty seriously. It and its neighbor New Zealand are the only places I’ve traveled to that make you go through a bio hazard screening upon arrival. When COVID hit two years ago they shut down as tight as a koala’s grip on a eucalyptus tree. Australians all “did their bit” to dampen down the pandemic. Vaccine immunizations currently stand at near 80% of the population, the highest in the world. No one is supposed to get in without being vaccinated.
So when this Serbian slacker was not only given a free pass into the country but then went on to mock the vaccine and anti-COVID prep in general you can understand how the locals wanted him on the barbie and not a shrimp. Don’t bother coming down under Djokie, we can do without you.
By the way Djokie, if you are as medically incapable of getting the jab as your waiver application claims, what the hell are you doing playing professional tennis? And if your recalcitrance is political, then wouldn’t a more effective protest be to not show up and then explain why? Oh, but then you don’t get that sweet sweet appearance money. It’s amazing how desire for filthy lucre and anti-vax sentiment seem to go together.
It’s bravo and thunderous tennis applause for those who called his foot in mouth foul. Boos and jeers to those who initially allowed this walking vaccine misinformation boob to come. You have rules, stick to them. Why? Because they protect the community from harm.
Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said it for the rest of us:
“You can’t just wander around the world thinking that because you’re really rich you’re really above the laws of other nations.”
Ms. Holmes is quite another matter.
In case you don’t know, old Liz was the poster child for Silicon Valley entrepreneurship just a few years ago. She was the perfect storm of hubris and fraud. Her father, a former VP at Enron, had an IV after his name and her brother had a V. Old money. George Schultz and Henry Kissinger were like uncles to her. She learned to dissemble, doubletalk, and defraud from the best.
Like her hero Steve Jobs she dropped out of college (Stanford in her case) to found a company that was going to “revolutionize the world”. She dubbed it Theranos. A single drop of blood run through her machines would give an instant analysis of all that ailed you. Investors rained money down on her like no one had ever seen before and that’s saying a lot when you’re talking about Silicon Valley. At one point Theranos, without a working product, was valued at $9B.
Of course it was all just a giant scheme. The machine didn’t work, in fact it could never work. Results she used to claim that it did work were actually done on currently available technology and even those were often wrong. The whole enterprise came crashing down through good reporting work by the Wall Street Journal which acted as a wake up call to the regulators that had fallen asleep at the switch when it came to the pretty blond girl in the black turtlenecks. The company shut down, the investors sued, what could be sold was sold, and a lot of big names were walking around with egg on their faces.
And then the law came for her. As well it should have.
Last week she was convicted on four counts of fraud. She could spend a couple of decades in jail, though something tells me it will be a lot less. There are editorials galore saying it’s a warning sign for overenthusiastic tech companies and their founders to tone down the rhetoric on what can be expected for their investor’s money.
No, the warning sign to those tech heads is IT’S ILLEGAL! There are rules and as much as you talk about disrupting a sector, the one sector you can not disrupt is the rule of law. You can’t go around saying your product will instantly analyze all the ailments of a patient if you know it can’t do that. If you say that, if you imply that, if you pretend that, it’s called fraud and you are no better than the Three Card Monte guys hustling dollars on 42nd Street.
By the way, it turns out the jury found it difficult to convict her because she was so positive and charming. In this case those are code words for white, pretty, and rich. I give them props for still convicting her, but I want to remind them they convicted her because SHE BROKE THE FREAKING LAW! The jury did what they were supposed to do.
Living in a civilized society means we all agree on a set of rules, from don’t let your dog run around without a leash to don’t defraud millions from investors to don’t sic an angry mob on the Capital Building because you lost an election. It’s those rules that create a working community that allows for all members of the community to live a useful and productive life. Yes, Thomas Hobbs was correct when he said we give up a small amount of freedom in order to have a peaceful and safe society. He called it the social contract. I call it following the rules.
Here’s a little ditty my leash hesitant neighbors, Elizabeth, Novak, and Donald Trump should have paid attention to in kindergarten: