News of the Week: Rules for Tipping, Goodbye AM Radio, and the Many Faces of Betty Crocker

In the news for the week ending May 19, 2023, are tip creep, popular baby names, lost-and-found murals, some online fun (and education), and more.


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Does a Machine Deserve 20 percent?

How much do you tip? The standard used to be 15 percent, and now I think it’s 20 percent. I always tip at least 20 percent, usually more, unless the person waiting on me has been exceptionally rude or had their fingers in my soup when it was placed in front of me.

But I’m not going to tip a non-human.

It’s called tip creep (a phrase we have to add to our language to join tip fatigue and tipflation). That’s a trend we’re seeing more of: places expecting tips and machines that ask for a tip. Maybe it’s at the self-checkout at the supermarket, maybe it’s the checkout at a coffee shop, or maybe it’s at the airport, but companies are asking for tips in scenarios where no humans are actually interacting with you (or interacting in such a small, quick way that a tip isn’t really warranted).

Tips used to be for exceptional work or for extra work, and to add on to what a waiter or waitress gets because they didn’t earn a minimum wage (some in the industry want to pay waitstaff a minimum wage and get rid of tips altogether). But now everyone is asking for tips. I’ve even seen tip jars in fast food establishments where there are no tables or waitstaff, and I often wonder who the tips are going to. And even if they are going to the staff that works there, I wonder why. How much are they being paid?

Some day will I have to tip the soda machine too? Or is that already a thing? Thanks for the can of Diet Pepsi, inanimate soda machine! Here, buy yourself a little something.

They’re Removing AM Radio from Cars

I haven’t listened to AM radio in 25 years and I’m sorry (I don’t listen to FM either — when I do listen to the radio it’s SiriusXM). But that doesn’t mean I don’t care if it goes away.

Several car companies will no longer include AM radio in their new cars. Some of the cars are electric and the technology can sometimes interfere with AM radio frequencies, but it’s happening in gas cars too, and the real reason is because times are a-changin’ and satellite radio and apps are the future (even though there are still 4,000 AM radio stations across the country).

People aren’t happy, and they have a point. Many local communities, especially rural ones, rely on AM radio, and it’s sad to see yet another thing from the past start to vanish. Yes, that’s romantic and nostalgic, and technological progress doesn’t care about those things, but I think they’re important anyway.

Breaking news! Congress to the rescue! A bipartisan bill, the AM for Every Vehicle Act, has been introduced to force car makers to keep AM radio in cars.

What about Bob?

What happened to names like John and Mary and Steven? Now every baby seems to be called Liam and Olivia, at least according to the Social Security Administration’s list of the 20 most popular baby names for 2022. The list is pretty much the same as the 2021 list and includes names like Elijah and Luna (some traditional standbys did make the cut, including William and Henry).

That SSA site has a great tool where you can type in any year and find out what the most popular names were for that year. The year I was born, 1965, Robert was the fifth most popular, trailing only Michael, John, David, and James. Now no one calls their kid Robert.

It’s amazing how long John and Mary held the top spots.

Lost and Found

Two murals painted in 1938 by Winold Reiss for the Longchamps restaurant in the Empire State Building, lost for decades, were rediscovered and put on display this week.

Website of the Week

If you’ve been online as long as I have, it’s not easy to still be amazed by a website. But you will be when you take a look at, a truly fun place created by Neal Argawal where you can not only be entertained but you can learn a lot too. You can ride the space elevator (one of the coolest things you’ll find on the web); discover what happens when you fold a piece of paper; create a soundscape to work or relax in; even find out what would happen if an asteroid hit where you live.

Okay, that last one might not be fun, but it’s interesting!

RIP Hodding Carter III, Jacklyn Zeman, Doyle Brunson, Owen Davidson, Paul Playdon, and Don Denkinger

Hodding Carter III was the State Department spokesman during the Iran hostage crisis. Before that he was a newspaper publisher and editor in Mississippi. He died last week at the age of 88.

Jacklyn Zeman played Bobbie Spencer on General Hospital for 45 years. She died last week at the age of 70.

Doyle Brunson was known as the “Godfather of Poker.” He won ten World Series of Poker bracelets, among other awards. He died Sunday at the age of 89.

Owen Davidson won 13 Grand Slam doubles titles, 8 with Billie Jean King. He died last week at the age of 79.

Doug Tibbles was not only the drummer for The Stone Coyotes, he wrote for such shows as My Three Sons, Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Munsters. He died in April at the age of 83.

Paul Playdon started out as a child actor in the ’50s on such shows as The Adventures of Jim Bowie, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Loretta Young Show, and then went on to write for Mission: Impossible, Daniel Boone, Cannon, Hawaii Five-0, and The Wild Wild West. He also co-created CHiPs. He died last week at the age of 80.

Don Denkinger was an MLB umpire for 30 years and made one of the most controversial calls in baseball history, in the 1985 World Series. He died last week at the age of 85.

This Week in History

Skylab Launches (May 14, 1973)

It was big news when it disintegrated over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia in 1979. The sub shop around the corner from me even had a special Skylab sub. I think it had ham and cheese in it.

Frank Sinatra Dies, Seinfeld Ends (May 14, 1998)

I told someone on the night of May 14, 1998, that with Frank Sinatra passing away and Seinfeld coming to end, the 20th century was over.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Betty Crocker ad (May 17, 1958)

Take a look at what Betty has looked like over the years. She has always sort of had the look of the wife of someone running for president.


It seems like just a few years ago that cupcakes were all the rage. Everyone was making cupcakes and selling cupcakes, and there were approximately 427 cooking shows about cupcakes. Now no one seems to talk about cupcakes anymore. But like the name Robert, just because something has gone out of style doesn’t mean it isn’t still good.

Here’s a recipe for Oreo Cupcakes from the book Cupcakes, Cupcakes, and More Cupcakes, and here’s one for The Perfect Vanilla Cupcake from Natasha’s Kitchen. And since we talked about Betty Crocker this week, here are recipes from the official site for Brownie Cupcakes, Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes, Apple Pie Stuffed Cupcakes, and Basketball Cupcakes, which you can eat while watching the conference finals.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Armed Forces Day (May 20)

It was created by President Harry S. Truman and first celebrated in 1950.

National Waitstaff Day (May 21)

Don’t forget to tip them!

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  1. I had not heard Doug Tibbles had died! In the 70s he and his wife Barbara wrote every episode of “Magic Mongo,” a silly and funny kids show my friends in High School used to watch. Made those rough days a lot more fun!

  2. One other comment….AM Radios benefit more rural people that electric vehicles ever will. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever purchase or own an EV or any kind.

  3. Being a resident of rural areas for my entire life with few radio stations we came to rely on and support our little AM radio station when it went on the air. What I have learned over the years is AM radio serves a niche of America that should not be overlooked or forgotten. I often listen to AM radio because I can hear things broadcast there the satellite radios choose to ignore or have altogether forgotten. Farm Reports are an example. It is very much needed and should not be forced into extinction.

  4. Bob: You’re right, I don’t think I’ve seen the Betty Crocker logo that much in years. I’m not even sure I’ve seen many commercials.

  5. The whole tipping thing has gotten way out of control. Of course this is ‘par for the course’ in a nation where EVERYTHING’s messed up anyway. Why would this be any different?! Still, we can (and should) exercise control on tipping, and what little else in life we still can.

    I’ve got a bigger problem with vending machines and that ‘tap’ feature on the newer debit cards. I have a 2nd job accompanying a conservator’s client (usually to the V.A.) for various appointments. It can take many hours with transportation pick-ups and drop-offs coming and going. The vending machines can be tempting. The new ones make it appear they’ll take cash, but they don’t. Not even crisp, new dollar bills. They won’t tell you what the price is for a 12 oz. Coke until you’ve tapped the card. $1.80. Same for a small bag of Famous Amos cookies (1/2 air).

    The price is too high yes, but you want the treat. Allowing myself to be ripped off initially is on me. What I won’t tolerate is being charged TWICE for the items, per the ‘tap’. I check my U.S. Bank account online everyday. There it was: $7.20, or $1.80 4 times. I called the bank, and had the $3.60 put back into my account. So “tipping” a vending machine is no joke. ‘Tipping a vending machine’ once meant pushing it when an item got stuck!

    What ABOUT Bob? A name that flourished when the U.S. was flourishing. Of course no one would call their son Robert now. In ’57 it was also the 5th most popular name too, right? My mom’s list was Steven, Paul, Jerry, David, Richard and Craig. Jerry was out because my dad didn’t like Jerry Lewis, Richard because he didn’t like Nixon or the nickname, but mostly because it wasn’t HIS name. I do like having the suffix at the end of my name. 🙂

    VERY cool murals rediscovered this week. Love art deco. Priceless. looks like it would be fun to explore. Still shocked Jacklyn Zeman passed away. I got to meet her in 2017. A very gracious, warm, sweet, classy lady. The evolution of Betty Crocker is very interesting. Is it just me that doesn’t see her image being used much anymore? It’s just the spoon with the Betty Crocker name. I checked out all of the different versions per the link, and like the 1965 and 1986 ones best.


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