Does this look ridiculous on me?
Who do you ask? And what if you didn't have anyone? Also, 7 other things worth your time (plus trivia winner).
Here’s a picture of me on vacation last year, looking a little bit ridiculous.
The thing is, I knew I looked ridiculous. It’s authentic ridiculousness.
That’s why I encouraged my wife to take my picture, and why I think it’s funny now to send it to thousands of people like this. It’s a look that says:
I’m a dad, first and foremost. (Also, I work hard, but I don’t get to go to the gym enough.)
My name is Murphy. I have Irish skin. I wear SPF-50 and hats. (Also: water bottle, everywhere.)
Finally, you’d better believe it; I’m a Dad Joke Champion. (Exhibit A: “I was wondering why that frisbee kept getting bigger and bigger. Then it hit me!”)
But also, I have a secret weapon: my wife. If I were to misjudge my “authenticity to ridiculousness ratio,” she would tell me. She’s got my back.
She’d tell me: The T-shirt is OK, but maybe don’t wear the Crocs with socks.1
With that out of the way, let’s talk about Jeff Bezos.
It’s been almost a week since he took his brother and two other passengers on an 11-minute joyride to the edge of space.
This was a first!
No, not the first billionaire to build a ship and take off like this. (Richard Branson beat him by 9 days, although maybe with an asterisk.)
Instead, Bezos managed to become the first person to go to space…and immediately see his overall reputation diminished as a result, rather than improved.
It pains me to say this because I think rockets are cool. I want us to explore the universe. I even think it’s potentially a good thing, ultimately, for billionaires to compete in this new private space race.
But I am left to wonder: Does the now-former CEO of Amazon, the world’s richest person, have anyone he can trust to give him the straight, personal dope?
Is there anyone he can turn to and ask: Tell me, honestly. Does this look ridiculous?
How does this cowboy hat look with my flight suit?
Does our ship look more like male anatomy than any rocket since Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me?
Finally, I think maybe I’ll say this during my speech afterward. It won’t go over badly, will it?
"I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer. Because you guys paid for all of this.”
Would he have counted on MacKenzie Scott to keep him in check back in the day? Because as space speeches go, that wasn’t exactly, “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Maybe if you’re worth as much as Bezos is, you simply don’t care what people think. Or else, maybe the not-caring has always been there, and it’s an antecedent to the money.
But I don’t believe it.
I don’t believe, as Hamilton Nolan wrote (nice find, Kate), that Bezos is, “the most reptilian of billionaires, [whose] heart has never shown evidence of a drop of warm blood.”
Because deep down, we all care—at least to some degree.
Unless you’re an actual, clinical sociopath, everyone, on some level or another, cares what everyone else thinks. And Bezos does care. He wouldn’t be trying to prove something by flying away in a rocket if he didn’t.
Space or not, orbit or not, we all need someone to tell us: Don’t wear the Crocs with socks. Don’t give out fake astronaut wings after it turns out you don’t qualify for real ones.2
Otherwise, no matter how high you fly, you just wind up looking ridiculous.
Call for comments: Thoughts on Bezos and space? And who in your life can you trust to tell you (gently) if you look ridiculous? Finally, there’s no way I’d let this pass without asking: Best dad jokes? Ready, go!
7 other things worth your time
More Bezos mockery… trying to make his name a thing, but it’s kind of funny: “Are you a Bezos?” (NYT, $)
Terrified passengers trapped in flooded subway cars in Zhengzhou, China. Water cascading down stairways into the London Underground. A woman wading through murky, waist-deep water to reach a New York City subway platform. Subway systems around the world are struggling to adapt to an era of extreme weather brought on by climate change. (NYT, $)
A group of state attorneys general announced last week that they’ve reached a massive $26 billion settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three of the largest US drug distributors over their role in the opioid crisis. (CNBC)
Low pay, no benefits, rude customers: Restaurant workers are quitting at record rates. (NPR)
“I was sick, tired, and had lost myself—until I began lifting weights at 71.” (The Guardian)
Some American children have begun speaking with British accents and using words like “telly” after binge-watching the English cartoon Peppa Pig during the Covid-19 pandemic. (I blame the parents; the kids should have been watching Bluey and picking up Australian accents.) (Daily Mail)
101 dad jokes that will make your kids cringe. (Actually, 202 of them; I don’t know why it only says 101). Something tells me this might be the most-clicked link today. (The Dad)
There are some good Olympics stories—but honestly, I’m just a lot less into the games this year. (Viewership is way down.) How do you all feel? Also, if this doesn’t freak you out, I don’t know what will. (The Hill, Deadline, Twitter/Dystopian future)
Trivia contest winner
Congratulations to Understandably reader Leela Vox, who knew that: (a) Black Rifle Coffee Company’s HQ is in Salt Lake City; (b) Mississippi is the lowest cost-of-living state; and (c) J.R. Moehringer is reportedly going to be Prince Harry’s ghostwriter.
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: K.G. Murphy. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.
I do not own Crocs, nor would I wear them with socks. This is a hyperbolic example…but the rhyme might make a good children’s book, don’t you think?
The FAA changed the criteria for awarding astronaut wings on July 20, the same day Bezos flew. Passengers now have to have "demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety." Short rides as passengers don’t count.