Hey Charlie Brown, come kick this football
Short newsletter today so I can be sure things aren't still messed up. But also, as always, 7 other things worth knowing today.
I’ll keep today’s newsletter short (at least by Bill Murphy Jr. standards), mainly because Job #1 for me right now is to verify that we don’t have a big technical problem still going on. Just to recap:
Last week, I sent 5 daily editions of the newsletter (Monday through Friday). For some glitchy reason that I don’t pretend to understand, the system that this newsletter runs on (Substack) started randomly resending old newsletters to the entire list of readers.
It amounted to hundreds of thousands of accidental emails, and I heard from many of you each time it happened. Most people were cool and understanding. A few … eh, not so much.
Anyway, I hit the red alert button (figuratively) to ask for help from Substack. They worked on it—fixed the flux capacitor, or whatever—and they told me, basically: Sorry for the problem, we’ve corrected it. It won’t happen again.
OK, great. I didn’t want to wait nearly three days before explaining this to readers, so I wrote a short Saturday bonus email apologizing for the error.
But then, the system also started sending that one to everybody on the list at least, twice.
Again, with the replies from readers. Again, probably 95 percent were polite and understanding and even funny, but the remainder were just not cool. You can imagine.
Plus, I lost at least a few hundred, maybe 1,000 total subscribers. Bummer, but I can’t say I blame them.
On Saturday and Sunday, Substack looked into it again. They now say there was a second, unrelated error, which they believe they’ve fixed. Here’s their statement:
We have found and fixed two separate technical issues, one on April 8 and another on April 9, that resulted in some posts being sent twice to subscribers.
We truly apologize for any frustration this situation has caused. We will be conducting an extensive investigation over the coming week to make sure that this does not happen again. Thanks for understanding and again, we are sorry.
I REALLY want to believe them and that this is all behind us, but like President Reagan used to say: Trust, but verify.
Also, for some reason I keep thinking of Charlie Brown in that old Peanuts cartoon, where Lucy convinces him repeatedly to come running up and kick a football, only to pull it away at the last minute.
So, we’ll see what happens. I invite you to let me know whether you get this email once today, or multiple times. (You can also let me know if you don’t get it at all, but that seems like it would be impossible.)
By the way: This is about the 625th daily edition of Understandably going back to late 2019. I’ve used this one provider the whole time. We’ve had a couple of small glitches, but this “random resends” issue has been the biggest problem by far.
If it’s all truly fixed, then great; we’ll take our 99.5% “working fine” rate and move on, at least for now. If there’s another problem, maybe I’ll have to reassess.
Anyway, thanks for your patience—and as always, your thoughts and suggestions are welcome. Hopefully this tech issue is resolved and we can just go back to being Understandably.
7 other things worth knowing today
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Ukraine's capital and met President Volodymyr Zelensky. They walked through Kyiv's streets together and met a passer-by. The visit was unannounced; the first sign Johnson was there came via a tweet by the Ukrainian embassy. (BBC)
Zelenskyy was on 60 Minutes last night. By the way, if anyone doubted what happened in Bucha, and now some of the reports of Russian atrocities in other parts of Ukraine—well, I originally approached it all with the same “trust but verify” attitude I mentioned above, but the area is now swarming with Western reporters, leaving virtually no doubt that the story is exactly what it appeared to be. (CBS News)
One of the principles that I try to follow with this newsletter is to write about things when they matter, but not before. Having a limited number of slots in “7 other things” reinforces that, but sometimes I judge it wrong. That’s part of why I waited until Friday even to mention that Elon Musk had bought 9 percent of Twitter and was going to join the board; now it turns out he’s not joining the board at all. I think there’s a real possibility that he decided he wants to try to buy a controlling stake, which he couldn’t do if he were on the board. (The Verge, Twitter)
The College of the Holy Cross is renaming the science buildings on its campus in Worcester, Mass., in honor of one of its most famous graduates, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. (NYT)
A Texas woman who went to the hospital after a miscarriage and allegedly told hospital workers she’d tried to end her own pregnancy was arrested, charged with murder, and released on $500,000 bond Thursday. Yesterday, the local prosecutor filed a motion to drop the charges. The sheriff’s department “did their duty” in investigating, the prosecutor wrote, but said Texas law doesn’t support the charge. (USA Today)
Chipotle tests new tortilla chip-making robots to combat labor shortage. (Fox 5 NY)
This isn’t exactly late-breaking news, because people who predict this sort of thing have known about it for decades if not centuries. But, if you liked the 2017 solar eclipse (the one that allowed for this photograph), there’s a bigger, longer, and even more impressive one that will be visible from North America on April 8, 2024. I’m thinking about a road trip to Texas to maximize odds of seeing it without cloud cover. Anyone else in? (AccuWeather)
Thanks for reading. Photo montage: fair use screenshots from “A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969),” video below. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.