The protesters outside our building were particularly rambunctious this week.
We’re above a Planned Parenthood. You wouldn’t know it if you didn’t know it. There’s no signage. All the windows are opaque.
But the protesters know. They congregate, right under my second-floor office, every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. There are usually just a few, the same older lady, a priest (or at least a dude wearing a priest collar), and some randoms.
The only thing more hideous than the pictures of bloody fetuses on their placards are the salvos they yell at people walking in and out of the lobby. “Murderer!” Or, “You’re going to hell.” Or, whatever. All very Christian, he says sardonically.
I don’t know how you feel about abortion and it’s none of my business. I’ll keep my opinion to myself.
I also have no idea what circumstances bring these women to our building. I’m sure none of them are checking in on social media or snapping selfies in the waiting room. It would seem if we want to mitigate abortion, we should focus on the circumstances that lead women to it. Vilifying them when it’s their last resort seems pointless at best. Or evil.
I once provoked a fascinating debate on Facebook by asking whether abortion policy should be decided only by female members of Congress. The pro-lifers argued, accurately, that the outcome would be fait accompli because nearly every woman on Capitol Hill is a Democrat – and a fairly liberal one at that. The next question, of course, is “Why is that?”
Liberals are the worst thing that ever happened to liberalism. Same, Conservatives to conservatism. The zealots at either end of the spectrum push everyone else further and further away, until a massive blob in the middle disengages altogether – explaining why a president can get elected by a paltry 26% of Americans.
I’m a big believer in the dangers of climate change because I trust the same scientists who told us cigarettes were bad for us. But I also cringe every time I see the far-left wield their pro-environment pitchforks. They aren’t swaying anyone. On the contrary, they alienate everyone who doesn’t want to join their band of crazy.
Only moderate voices can swing Moderates.
Sadly, we’re the quietest ones.
Moderates, alas, are the worst thing that ever happened to moderation.
Here’s what we’re seeing this week:
Consumer confidence stopped hemorrhaging for a minute. After a streak of unprecedented decline (at least in the seven years we’ve tracked it), our Economic Sentiment Index had a respite over the past two weeks. Optimism around personal finances and the housing market kept falling, but it was buoyed by a slightly-less-shitty outlook for the U.S. economy and major purchases (see: interest rates). Anyway, it’s a mixed bag, so no reason to start betting the farm on a pre-holiday surge just yet. Stay tuned.
Netflix crushed it with their Seinfeld deal. I would’ve bet my measly salary (my boss is a jerk) that Seinfeld could never fill the void left by Netflix’s loss of Friends and The Office. Why? Basically, because my 15-year-old watched the latter two series at least three times from end-to-end while showing zero interest in Seinfeld. I guess my N-size-of-1 study had a 1-million-percent margin of error. Maybe it’s because Netflix isn’t a young-person, early-adopter game anymore. It’s mainstream. And so is Seinfeld. See the research for yourself, but it’s definitive.
I’m totally a statistic when it comes to the Discovery Channel. We geek out about Shark Week in our house, every summer like clockwork. We got sucked into that Serengeti thing, too, until football season started, which makes you think they could’ve timed that better. Nonetheless, 50% of people watch Discovery at least sometimes and that’s pretty solid. A super-short list – the Food Network, the History Channel, and Discovery – have built real brands in modern television. Now, Discovery has made the strongest move into the streaming game and it looks like a smart move. Gen X and Gen Z are loving it. That’s right. The cool kids.
I’m most certainly not a statistic on this one but the exercise culture in America has reached a crescendo. For the first time since we began tracking it, the percentage of people who exercise at least “several times a week” has surpassed the percentage who don’t exercise at all. The number of frequent exercisers has climbed from 33% of Americans aged 13+ in late 2017 to over 40% in the past two quarters. Would you believe me if I told you it might be a lagging indicator of the economy? Think about it.
Gap and J. Crew are stuck in neutral and that’s a big problem. Old Navy is going through a renaissance, bucking the retail trend with an announcement they’ll be opening as many as 800 new stores, even as same-store-sales have slowed of late. But other mainstays like Gap and J. Crew are mired in stasis. Interestingly, negative sentiment toward both brands has been remarkably flat. The problem is more and more respondents in our database are telling us they have no strong opinion about them. In today’s world of tribal consumers, the worst possible condition is when nobody cares about you at all anymore.
We also wrote about the big opportunity Sling has with male cord-cutters, how Walmart can bolster its Millennial and Gen Z fan base by selling more booze, and the perennial juggernaut of pumpkin spice. Check it out.
And here were our most popular survey questions this week:
- Favorite ‘Seinfeld’ character?
- Do you typically tell your spouse / partner what you want for your birthday?
- How do you cut / slice pizza that isn’t already cut?
- How often do you take naps?
- Do you like your name?
A resounding ‘yes’ to the last one.
Hoping you’re well.