So many ways to hit rock bottom

This week: Uber loses; confidence loses; Tacoma loses; and cages lose.


On the other hand, they deliver kittens sometimes

Sure, getting a ride without having to raise your arm or talk on the phone is a revolution and all, but Uber has built up quite a record of seriously icky corporate behavior towards competitorsjournalists, and others who executives might describe as potential conquests. FFS, they even used their app's GPS tracking to identify drivers who attended a protest in China and terminate them.

Given the company’s $40 billion valuation, that pattern of ruthless misbehavior may seem unbreakable — but a California ruling this week that an Uber driver was an employee rather than a contractor has at the very least put a ding in their business model. And given the company’s history on gender and the law, it’s especially appropriate that they were defeated on an important regulatory matter by a plaintiff who previously ran a phone sex business which morphed into an unregistered money management company. Is that so different from Uber’s own backstory, really?

In __________ we trust

Two-thirds of Americans told Gallup they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in small business, coming in just below the military in the ranks of the institutions Americans have the most confidence in. (Apparently they haven’t heard about all these predictions yet.) A much smaller 21% have confidence in big business — which is probably why everyone besides Boeing usually lets smaller players front for their corporate lobbying efforts.

Organized labor no longer scrapes the bottom of the list — though they did come in last in 1991, 1987, 1985, and 1983. This year unions even edged out big business! But it’s not as much of a change as you might think. Labor hasn’t actually built up more public confidence than it did when it finished last a couple decades ago — other institutions have just lost even more credibility, even more quickly.

Rocky XV

Struggling with post-industrial poverty, Tacoma could very well respond by raising wages to $15 or some other number by ballot or by task force… or they could install a bunch of pointy boulders where people sleep. The former is under debate. The latter happened overnight the other day. 

Here’s how the city’s homeless services manager explained the “site hardening” tactic of using boulders as pigeon spikes for humans: “Innovation can look a lot of different ways.” Actually, poking something you don’t like with a rock hasn’t been an innovation since the stone age.

Tree at last, tree at last

hippopotamus escaped the zoo after flooding in Tblisi, Georgia. It was subdued with a tranquilizer gun.

British housecat was imprisoned by a neighbor who launched a poster campaign involving photos of the cat behind bars. The RSPCA was alerted, a counter-poster released, and the animal was freed.

And a squirrel in Lacey somehow imprisoned itself in a chain link fence. It was freed by rescue workers after some “wiggling and fighting and biting,” and immediately ran up a tree.