Walking through Pacific Palisades recently, I noticed that Amazon has a brick and mortar store right on the corner of Sunset Boulevard in the Palisades Village. This could just be a “one off” or maybe the tech companies are shifting their thinking a bit. I read that in the Village, Netflix is taking over the Palisades Village Bay movie theater. Now, two examples don’t necessarily make a trend—but it might. Meanwhile, the Malibu Film Society has had to show some films in a theater in Agoura Hills.
Recently, Karen was in La Jolla; the town is beautiful, with flowers, plantings and an obvious effort to make the town a nice place to live. It’s the same way we felt in Aspen, Colo. Yet, Malibu, if you take a good hard look at it, does little to make our town beautiful or livable with the possible exception of Legacy Park—but then only when they’re pushed. What amenities we have are the result, typically, of private developers with good taste. We still have a contingent of our population who have this fantasy about us as a little rural town, despite the reality that we are losing population and the schools are losing kids. We’re doing very well if you count a bunch of very expensive, unoccupied beach homes as part of our small town, rural ambience. Is it any wonder that Malibu, along with many other high-end towns just like us, has not nearly enough housing for our employees that work here? It’s become clearer and clearer why the state legislature is feeling more and more compelled to step in to fix the situation before we end up with the entire low end of the working population living in tents under freeway underpasses.
Online scams are becoming a plague that impact everyone and occasionally capture some people in their snare. I assume they catch some or they wouldn’t keep doing it. They also prey on the old and the easily frightened, who apparently are the most vulnerable. The supermarkets in particular know it, because people come in wanting to buy handfuls of those gift cards that can easily be turned into cash by scammers. Frequently, the markets try to talk the customers out of buying a bunch of cards but it isn’t easy if the customer believes something terrible is going to happen to them if they don’t comply immediately. I happened to be at a friend’s house when one of the scammers called and I took the phone and said I was the family lawyer. I would have expected the scammer to hang up but he didn’t and just went into his pitch without the slightest hesitation. I must admit the guy was good. As an old trial lawyer I’ve seen good witnesses in action and this scammer was as good as the best of them. So, beware. There is another one in particular that is really scary. Someone calls and tells you that your child or grandchild who is actually traveling in a foreign country has been kidnapped and being held for ransom. Send money immediately or they will be tortured or killed. It’s frightening. If that happens to you, call the FBI immediately. It might be a scam—but maybe not. Right now, a gang in Haiti has kidnapped 17 American and Canadian missionaries and are holding them for $17 million in ransom, so we know these things happen. Many companies now carry ransom insurance when their executives travel. Whether that insurance is good or bad is hard to say. To some extent, it encourages kidnapping but it also gets travelers back alive.
I find myself perplexed with these anti-vaccination protests going on, particularly as related to the governor’s latest decision that school children be vaccinated once the feds give their OK. Vaccinations are not something new. We’ve been vaxxing since the 1850s. Today, I believe that almost every state requires vaccination before the kids start school. The list is long. We already vaccinate against small pox, TB, diphtheria, chicken pox, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, rubella (German measles), tetanus and others. Many of these diseases killed children in years past. The development of vaccines was a major public health breakthrough, lowered infant and child mortality, and added to our growing life expectancy. In 1920, male life expectancy was 53 years of age. Today, male life expectancy is 78.18 years. That change in 100 years is due in no small measure to our significantly decreasing childhood disease and early childhood death. To those who feel it is unconstitutional, the issue of compulsory vaccination went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1905 (specifically, the small pox vaccine) and the court said overall, public health comes first and the government can require you to vaccinate to protect everyone’s health.
Hearing aids have long been a very expensive product in a market that sure looked a lot like one big monopoly. The FDA is now in the process of new rulings that will allow hearing aids for those with mild or moderate hearing loss to be sold over the counter without prescriptions. This has been a long time coming, and it never made any sense that your iPhone, which could practically control a rocket to Mars, costs $600 to $800, while a hearing aid, which is nowhere near as complex, costs $3,000, $4,000, even $5,000. Maybe now there will be some real innovation in the field and not just the usual marketing palaver.