About webnerbob

A Cleveland and Ohio State sports fan who lives in Columbus, Ohio

The Euchre Belt

The other day we were talking about potentially having a social event for our litigation group in Columbus, and someone mentioned that maybe we could hold a euchre tournament. The B.A. Jersey Girl commented, however, that we would have to actually teach the game to some of our lawyers. This astonished me, because I thought that this fun and fast-paced card game was played by pretty much everyone who has ever touched a deck of cards. To the contrary, the B.A.J.G. inexorably maintained: euchre is virtually unknown on her home turf or elsewhere along the east coast, and seemed to be played only in Ohio and perhaps other parts of the Midwest.

Sadly, in this, as in so many things, the B.A.J.G proved to be correct. In America, euchre evidently is widely known and played only in a swatch of states that may be called the “euchre belt”: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. The American version of the game apparently is derived from an Alsatian game called Juckerspiel and was brought to the U.S. by German-speaking immigrants, who handed it down to succeeding generations. That explains why the above-noted swath of the Midwest, where many German immigrants settled, is home to many euchre enthusiasts.

In Ohio, though, euchre soon expanded out of the German immigrant community. When I was a kid, all of the relatives on both sides of my family played euchre (as well as pretty much every other card game), and when I was in high school I and other classmates at Upper Arlington High School often played euchre in the “student center” during break periods between scheduled classes. (It beat studying in the “learning center.”) It was a quick, raucous game that well-suited to being completed within an open period.

The rules of euchre are weird, which is part of the fun of the game–and which makes you wonder what long-forgotten savant came up with them. Among other oddities, you begin by culling the deck itself and getting rid of all of the cards except the nines, tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces. A euchre game is four-handed, with a player teaming up with the person facing them at the table. Each player is dealt five cards (in two rounds, for no readily apparent reason), and the remaining four cards are placed in a pile face down on the table before the top card is flipped over. This is a crucial element of the game, because the three down cards in the “kitty,” which could be crucial to the hand, are instead “buried” and their identity is unknown to the players. Many euchre players have come a cropper, or lucked out on a weak hand, because of the identity of these down cards.

The players determine a suit first by going around the table so that each player decides whether to “order up” the top card that has been turned over from the kitty, in which case the dealer of the hand takes the card, puts it in his hand, and selects a discard from his hand to join the down cards in the kitty. (This is another key part of the game, where you try to signal your partner about your hand–perhaps by a long pause as if you are debating whether you’ve got enough to order up the card, only to ultimately decide not to do so.) If no one orders it up, the top card is turned down and another round occurs in which any player may name the trump suit. Whichever team names the trump then has to win three of the five tricks, and if they fail they are “euchred.” If you’ve got a very strong hand and you’ve named the trump, you’ve also got to decide whether to “got it alone” and hope you can win all five tricks by yourself–and not get euchred in the process.

The card priority rules of euchre are even stranger. When trump is named, the two most highest ranked cards are the “bowers”–the jack of the trump suit (the all-powerful “right” bower) and the jack of the other suit of the same color (the “left” bower, which can take any card but the right bower). So, if hearts is the trump, the jack of hearts is the right bower, and the jack of diamonds is the left bower. “Bowers” apparently are the Americanized version of “bauers,” which is German for farmers. Players must follow the suit that is led, but if their hand has a void (i.e., no cards of the suit led) they can try to take the trick with a trump. With every player holding only five cards, voids are common, and unexpected trump plays that take an off ace can ruin the best hands.

I can’t summarize all of the rules of this great game, in which hands are over in the blink of an eye. taunting is commonplace, and friendly arguments about card-playing decisions are inevitable, but if you’re not familiar with euchre, I encourage you to learn it. You can check out a “beginner’s guide” to the game here.

I’m hoping we go forward with that euchre tournament. It would be nice to see the “euchre belt” widened and lengthened.

Tackling The Power Problem

Power is the foundation on which a modern, civilized society is built. Technology, which is proffered as the basis of so many solutions to humanity’s problems, requires power to operate. Without electricity, lights won’t light, appliances won’t operate, computers won’t compute, heaters won’t heat and air conditioners won’t cool . . . and the list goes on and on.

You would have thought that, by 2023, the world would have solved the power problem. Instead, the problem seems to have gotten worse. Many of the 54 countries in Africa, for example, are experiencing terrible and chronic power problems that leave millions of people without power at all and others struggling with rolling blackouts, power grid collapses, and the need to conform their schedules to power availability. The problem is traced to limited and aging infrastructure that isn’t capable of reliably supplying power that meets the needs of people in the modern world.

Of course, power problems aren’t limited to Africa. Two of the most populous states in the U.S.–California and Texas–have experienced widely publicized power issues in recent years. Last year, California’s power grid was so taxed by a heat wave that residents were told to reduce their electrical use or face rolling blackouts–a situation that awkwardly arrived only days after California’s announcement that residents must transition to electric cars that are estimated to require the state to triple its existing power generation capabilities. The California power situation is so dicey that the state reversed its position on closure of its only remaining nuclear plant, which supplies 9 percent of the state’s power. In Texas, where many residents were left without power during a crippling winter storm in 2021, legislators are currently debating proposals to make the power grid more reliable.

These examples reveal an easily overlooked truth: power generation is one of those basic points that should always be on the agenda for modern governments. Before edicts are issued requiring people to buy and drive electric vehicles, or purchase smart technology, let’s make sure that we have sufficient power to reliably supply all of these devices–and let’s also look ahead at how the demands on our power generation capabilities and power grids will be equipped to handle the expected demand five, ten, or twenty years into the future. Nuclear power plants, hydroelectric dams, and offshore wind farms don’t get built and linked into power delivery systems overnight.

Live Fast, Die Young

A Chicago writer, Willard Motley, coined the phrase “live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse” in his debut novel. Unfortunately, American mortality statistics are echoing that sentiment–except for the good-looking part, The U.S. is doing worse than other wealthy countries, and last year, American life expectancy dropped for the second year in a row even as the statistics in other countries rebounded from the COVID pandemic.

NPR has an interesting article on this phenomenon that is worth reading in full. Among other things it discusses the “why” question–namely, how can it be that a rich, scientifically advanced country that spends buckets of money on health care fares so poorly in comparative mortality data? The NPR article cites a study done 10 years ago by the National Academy of Sciences called Shorter Lives, Poorer Health. The study tried to identify systemic factors that contribute to the bad statistics.

A few things stand out: first, Americans are more likely to die before age 50, thanks to factors like the opioid epidemic, suicides, other drug use, criminal gun violence, teen pregnancies, and highway deaths. Second, Americans are far more likely to be obese, to smoke, to have bad diets, and to have sedentary lifestyles that contribute to poorer health. These societal elements, which together mean that Americans are far more likely to die young, account for a big chunk of the difference in average life expectancy with countries like, say, Japan.

On the bright side, the U.S. has a better record than other countries in keeping people who make it to 75 alive–but that is cold comfort to those who don’t make it to 50. And when you look at the causes identified by the NAS study, you can’t help but think that a big part of the problem is socioeconomic. Americans who are fortunate to live in comfortable suburban neighborhoods, for example, don’t face the same mortality risks as those who have been born into the south side of Chicago.

The mortality statistics are embarrassing, but in the 10 years since its release the NAS study hasn’t made much of a dent in public consciousness. Regrettably, in America “live fast, die young” isn’t just a good line from a ’40s novel, it’s a summary of reality.

That Second Shingles Shot

Our family doctor has been after me to complete the two-part shingles vaccination process. I got the first one several months ago, and it apparently doesn’t become fully effective until you get round two. Our doctor also told me that many people who receive the second shot have a reaction to it, which means you probably want to get it on the weekend, so you can have some recuperation time before the new work week starts. Some of my friends and colleagues are among those who have had reactions to the second shot; others haven’t.

Because of the warning, I’ve put off getting the second shot, so as to avoid weekends where we’ve got plans that could be wrecked by a reaction to the shot. At the same time, I wanted to get it, because getting shingles at my age sounds so horrific–I heard one ugly tale about somebody who got shingles in their eyes–that I’m willing to endure a few crappy weekend days to avoid the possibility. So I made a reservation at a local CVS and went yesterday morning to get the jab. I’ve gone to the CVS for COVID shots, and know from personal experience that the pharmacists do a solid, professional job of administering vaccines.

At first, I was fine, although my shoulder that received the shot ached. But by nightfall, I was definitely feeling a reaction. I woke up overnight with shaky chills, followed by feeling hot and feverish and a general sense of malaise and and overall soreness. But, all things considered, it’s not that bad–and definitely preferable to getting shingles in your eyes.

Life is about making these kinds of little judgment calls. I think getting the second part of the shingles vaccine was a good one.

Tulip Time

We had some friends over for drinks last night, and Kish brought home these pink tulips to provide a pretty welcome for them. It’s always nice to have flowers in the house, and tulips are a special treat this time of year. On dreary March days, their beautiful colors and fresh scent remind us that, technically, the March equinox has passed and spring is here, and the real, blooming Midwestern spring is just around the corner.

Tulips also remind me of Grandma Neal, who had a taste for poetry and an astonishing ability to recall and recite poetry from memory. One of her favorites to recite when spring arrived was The Garden Year, by Sara Coleridge, which mentions tulips:

January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.

March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
To stir the dancing daffodil.

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.

May brings flocks of pretty lambs
Skipping by their fleecy dams.

June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children’s hands with posies.

Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots, and gillyflowers.

August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.

Warm September brings the fruit;
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

Dull November brings the blast;
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.

Ludwig’s Locks

Ludwig van Beethoven was a musical genius who was almost as well known during his lifetime for his health problems as for his titanic, soaring symphonies and his beautiful piano works. Beethoven famously suffered from progressive hearing problems that eventually produced functional deafness–requiring him to produce his later compositions in his head, without actually hearing the music he was creating–but his health problems went beyond hearing loss. Beethoven experienced chronic gastric issues for years, and when he died in 1827, after having been bed-ridden for months, he was afflicted by jaundice, liver disease, swollen limbs, and breathing problems. His health problems were so great that Beethoven wrote out a testament asking that his conditions be studied and shared after his death.

Two hundred years later, scientists have heeded those wishes and tried to figure out what was wrong with Beethoven. They took an interesting approach–identifying locks of the composer’s hair that had been cut from his head in the seven years before his death and preserved ever since, and then using DNA analysis. The team started with eight samples that purported to be Beethoven’s hair, and found that two of the hair clippings weren’t his and another was too damaged to use. One of the five remaining samples had been initially provided by Beethoven himself to a pianist friend, and analysis showed that all of the hair in the samples came from the same European male of Germanic ancestry.

The DNA analysis did not reveal the causes of Beethoven’s deafness or his gut issues, but did indicate that he was suffering from hepatitis B and had genetic risk factors for liver disease that may have been exacerbated by the composer’s alcohol consumption habits–which a close friend wrote included drinking at least a liter of wine with lunch every day. The genetic analysis also determined that one of Beethoven’s ancestors was the product of an extramarital affair.

I’ve ceased to be amazed by the wonders of modern DNA analysis and what it is capable of achieving. To me, the most surprising aspect of this story is that five legitimate clippings of hair from Beethoven’s head survived for two centuries. It make you wonder how many people were given locks of Beethoven’s hair in the first place. Ludwig van’s barber must have been a very popular guy.

The Modified “Wing It” Approach

The Wall Street Journal carried an interesting article about travel recently. It reiterated the ultimate travelers’ dispute, between a free form trip (“winging it”) or a far more structured travel itinerary (“planning it”). If you’re a subscriber you can read the article, which is behind the WSJ paywall, here.

The Journal isn’t the first publication to pose the “wing it” versus “plan it” question; it’s been debated in travel circles for years, if not centuries. (It’s also the subject, incidentally, of vigorous debate in other areas, like setting career paths and writing a novel.) The tug of war is between making sure that you see what you want to see and can go where you want to go (planning) or letting the karma and the creativity flow and hoping that you’ll find that magical travel moment that isn’t addressed in any guidebook (winging it).

In my view, the key point is “know thyself.” I’m called the “Uptight Traveler” in our household because I like to get to airports and train terminals early. I’d feel unsettled totally winging it and going somewhere without an understanding about where I am staying and when I am moving from point A to point B, and how I’m doing that. The angst I would experience would interfere with enjoyment of the trip, obviously. I also think it’s important to consider what you really want to see at a place and doing enough research to identify those places, and then checking to see whether you need to reserve a spot to do so. I would kick myself if I went to a faraway place and missed out on seeing a crucial site because I hadn’t paid attention to that kind of detail. Doing some research and planning in advance and understanding the requirements also is a way of showing respect for the local culture and local rules.

At the same time, I don’t want to be on a regimented schedule that is accounting for every minute of my time. I want to see sites and visit museums and churches, but I also like to build in free time, to allow for some random exploring, meandering about, and down time at a cafe or coffee shop or tea house. You obviously can’t get a complete understanding of a different culture in a short trip, but you’re going to get a much better sense of a place and its people if you’re not constantly on the top deck of a tourist bus listening to a tour guide. A crammed itinerary can also be exhausting, and building in some down time where everyone in your travel party can spend that time as they see fit is essential.

One of my favorite personal travel moments came during such down time, on a beastly hot day in Assisi on June 12, 2003. We had just hiked up to the fortress at the top of the town and come back down, and I decided to duck down a small street and visit a church that had caught my eye. I went in, sat down in a pew in the dark coolness of the church, caught my breath, and listened to a recording of Gregorian chants as I watched a monk get the beautiful little church ready for an upcoming service. It was a quiet, lovely, calming moment that I will always remember. I believe in building in a sufficient amount of “winging it” time to allow those special moments to occur.


We’ve been working our way through Outlander, a six-season Netflix series about a woman who is somehow able to travel 200 years into the past through the magic of the stones in an ancient, mystical, Stonehenge-like circle in Scotland. In her visits to the past she has many adventures, and a seventh season, with more adventure, is on the way. The show is part historical fiction that gives you a glimpse of life in Scotland and the world of the 1700s, part Scottish travelogue, and part torrid bodice-ripper about the ever-passionate love and marriage between the time-traveling Claire and Jamie, her devoted Scottish stud.

I won’t spoil the plot for those of you who haven’t watched Outlander. The show definitely makes us want to visit the Scottish highlands, which are presented to beautiful effect. But more specifically, the show makes me appreciate the richness of the Scottish language–so much so that I want to talk like a Scotsman, sporting a thick brogue and having a chance to toss around some Gaelic and Scottish words. The writers for the show clearly understand this element of its appeal: I swear that they just look for opportunities to have one of the characters refer to a “bairn” and pronounce the word as if it has three syllables.

I, too, want to say “dinna fash” and “dinna ken.” I want to refer to young people as “bonny lasses” and “lads” and tell a pub server I’d like a “wee dram.” I’d like for someone to say that I look “braw”–and actually mean it. But most of all, I’d like to have someone ask me a question so that I can pause for a heartbeat, and then say “aye” in a dramatic way.

I can’t travel to the past through picturesque, monumental stones, but I do hope to travel to Scotland one of these days and have the opportunity to participate in some Outlanderspeak.

Around The World (Again And Again)

Some people really like cruises. I’ve been on two, and they were nice experiences.

But if you really like cruises, consider this option: a cruise line is offering people the chance to live at sea, in a cruise ship converted into a floating residence that will constantly circumnavigate the globe. One trip around the world will take about 27 months, with about 540 days spent in more than 200 ports that the ship will visit. Travelers/residents can rent a cabin for a minimum of six months–although many apparently have signed up for longer stints, with greater rent discounts–and the cheapest berth will cost $8,000 a month for two people, along with a $30,000 deposit. The priciest room is $35,000 a month for two people, with an $80,000 deposit. (That suite is already booked, in case you’re interested.)

You can see photos of the ship that will be carrying the passengers on their endless around-the-world trip, and some of the amenities it will offer, here. The cruise will be an adults-only affair. It is clearly catering to an older audience; a sales manager for the cruise line describes the ship as akin to “a retirement home on the water.” Of course, pretty much every cruise could be described in that way.

What would it be like to be on an endless cruise around the world? I’m not sure, but I do know this: I would definitely hope that I liked my fellow passengers, because after six months with them anyone who was annoying would really be getting on my nerves.

Aged Adjectives

The other day I ran across a story about a senior citizen. In one of the first few paragraphs, I ran across the inevitable, dreaded “aged adjective.” In this case, it was a double dose: “spry and sprightly.”

In case you’re not familiar with them, “aged adjectives” are words that are frequently used in human interest stories about old people. The idea is to describe the particular golden ager in a way that is contrary to what people would expect to see in a senior citizen. And, frankly, the general preconceptions about the lifestyles of the elderly are pretty grim. Most people seem to think that retirees are boring, completely sedentary, and hoping for nothing more than a nap and an “early bird” meal at the nearest Golden Corral. The roster of aged adjectives play against that sad stereotype.

Think about it: when have you ever seen the words “spry” or “sprightly” that weren’t immediately followed by “octogenarian” or “90-year-old”? These are words that are never used to describe a teenager or a thirty-something. But after the years have added up, a reporter assigned to write a feature story about a gray hair who is capable of walking unaided from point A to point B might think that surprising fact was worth communicating to the reader, and “spry” and “sprightly” predictably get hauled out again.

Of course, “spry” and “sprightly” aren’t the only aged adjectives out there. Here are some others that come to mind:








Steady on his feet

If they are used to describe you you can be assured that you are viewed as a member of the Geriatric Brigade–which, incidentally, meets at the Golden Corral for dinner every Tuesday at 4:30, sharp.

Dinner At The Bar

Last night, on a whim, we decided to duck into Speck, the new downtown restaurant only a short walk from our apartment, to see if we could grab a meal at the bar. Getting a table can be a challenge at this hot new Columbus dining option, but Speck has a bar area and we decided to take our chances that two seats might be open. Luck was with us, and we grabbed two stools at the end of the bar.

I like eating at a bar every now and then. The vibe is distinctly different, and a nice change of pace. At a table, you see your server periodically, you’re a few feet from other diners, and there is a sense of some privacy. At the bar, on the other hand, there’s a lot more interaction with the servers and a lot more hustle and bustle; you’re only a foot or so away from people making drinks, slicing fruit, and washing dishes. There’s no sense of privacy, really, but it’s easy to strike up a conversation with the back of the bar staff.

Another key difference is that you are facing the array of different bottles of alcohol behind the bar, and seeing a lot of interesting drinks being made. The temptation to try something new is irresistible. As befits an Italian eatery, Speck has an extensive collection of European liquors. That’s why I deviated from my normal wine-only beverage approach and started the evening with a bright and refreshing Aperol spritzer, shown above. At the barkeep’s suggestion, I followed that up with a Fernet-Branca, an Italian digestif and apertif that was interesting from a flavor standpoint, but a bit on the bitter side for my tastes, so I switched to a glass of wine for my meal.

Speaking of the meal, we started with some excellent mussels, with a broth that demanded to be sopped up by some delicious bread. It was succulent. I followed that with an enormous and awesomely tender short rib, shown above, that looked like it should have been precariously balanced on the side of Fred Flintstone’s car. I ate it all, without remorse, and some of Kish’s cacio e pepe pasta, besides.

I had the feeling that the dinner wasn’t quite done yet, so I sought the bartender’s advice on one last drink to cap off an excellent meal in a fun setting. He suggested a pistachiocello, shown below, which was absolutely delicious. I could have guzzled a gallon of it, but somehow resisted the temptation. We headed out into the cold Columbus night, fully satisfied and happy that we took a chance on a few seats at the bar.

Our evening at the bar at Speck was a memorable one that we’ll want to repeat in the future. If you haven’t eaten at the bar lately, you might want to give it a try.

The Skin On The Pudding

Yesterday our firm had a nifty little St. Patrick’s Day food event called “Irish nachos,” consisting of waffle fries, a queso sauce, and bacon crumbles. They were very tasty! I got to the buffet late, however, so when I dipped the ladle into the queso sauce there was a thin skin on top that crinkled up in response to the downward pressure of the ladle before breaking–and thanks to that sight a pleasant childhood memory came flooding back.

My mother always tried to have a dessert to serve during our family dinners. Usually it was something like a lime Jello mold with grapes in it–not a favorite for me, frankly–or some canned peaches or pears, perhaps served on cottage cheese. On some lucky days, however, it was little glass bowls of chocolate or butterscotch pudding.

The pudding always had the skin on top, and that turned out to be a big part of why pudding was a favorite dessert. Using your spoon to play with the pudding skin was irresistible and kind of fun–could you peel off the skin in one piece, could you use your spoon to wrinkle the skin and loosen it from its moorings on the sides of the bowl, and how much pressure would it take to puncture the skin, once and for all?–and the skin, once consumed, always seemed even richer and tastier than the rest of the pudding.

I see on the internet that some food websites offer tips on how a cook can prevent the formation of skin on top of pudding or custard. What? That whole concept is fundamentally misguided, like trying to make pizza without attention to the crust, or attempting to develop plant-based burger patties. In my book, the skin is a crucial part of the pudding. Why would you want to make a pudding without it? A pudding without skin is a pudding without soul.

Celebrating St. Pat’s In Style

Our lobby had an interesting combination of St. Patrick’s Day celebratory items out for consumption this afternoon. It wasn’t clear whether you were supposed to start with the Lucky Charms, then toss back some of the Bailey’s Irish Cream (or Kahlua), and then top things off with a cupcake, or were expected to proceed in a different order. Either way, you’d probably end up feeling a bit green around the gills.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

ZZZs, If You Please

I’m a big believer in the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Humans obviously have a physical and mental need for sleep–as anyone who has pulled a college or job all-nighter can attest–and studies show that sleep increases mental sharpness, aids the functioning of the hormone system, and reduces stress, among many other values. A good night’s sleep also can provide helpful perspective on issues or problems. There’s a reason why people who are trying to make an important decision say that they “want to sleep on it.”

A recent study also shows that there is an association between sleeping well and avoiding depression. The annual Sleep in America poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (who knew there was such an organization?) found that more than 90 percent of adults who report that they sleep well also were free of depressive symptoms, whereas two thirds of adults who aren’t happy with their sleeping had significant levels of depressive symptoms.

There’s an obvious chicken-and-egg issue at play here: does a good night’s sleep help to ward off significant depression, or do people who are troubled by depression or anxiety have trouble sleeping as an essential part of the condition? Nevertheless, the correlation is worth noting. The proven, positive impact of sleep on mental acuity and stress reduction, and the fresh perspective sleep can bring, may also affect depressive thoughts.

Adults are supposed to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a day. If you’re feeling blue, you might want to examine your sleep habits and see whether a few extra hours in the Land of Nod helps you to feel better.


As the fallout continues from the abrupt collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank and the closure of Signature Bank, the federal government’s response to those developments raises some serious questions.

Over the weekend, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced that all of the depositors in SVB and Signature Bank will be repaid in full, even if they kept more than the $250,000 federal deposit insurance limit in their bank accounts. In addition, the Fed announced that it would offer banks loans against the face value of their Treasury bills and notes and other holdings, even if inflation has eroded the actual worth of those investments.

The government contends that these actions don’t represent a “bailout,” technically, because the banks have been closed and those who owned stock in the banks will lose the value of those investments–but the actions sure smell like a bailout to many people. Some will praise the government for acting swiftly to avoid a potential panic and runs on other banks, but others will wonder about where we now draw the line on the full faith and credit of the U.S. government being employed in the wake of a bank collapse and whether the government’s action was motivated, even in part, by the fact that powerful people in California and elsewhere apparently had relationships with the banks.

President Biden, quoted in the Times article linked above, made an important point when he said that investors in the two banks “knowingly took a risk, and when the risk didn’t pay off, investors lose their money. That’s how capitalism works.” That is unquestionably true, but those who kept more than $250,000 in the banks also took a risk, because $250,000 is the limit for federal deposit insurance. Why should those people and entities be protected against what was a known, avoidable risk? And if the U.S. government is making every depositor whole, what is the point of having an announced limit for federal deposit insurance? Does this mean that, from now on, every depositor will be protected in full, irrespective of how much they have in their accounts? If not, what’s the distinction? And doesn’t this decision encourage risky practices by depositors and banks?

Left unsaid at this point is how the federal government is going to pay for acting as a backstop–again–for troubled banks. Banks have to be permitted to fail, and depositors have to understand that there is risk in going over announced deposit insurance limits. Otherwise, there is no point to having announced limits, and we are left in the untenable position of the federal government insuring every dollar deposited in a bank.