Break-up, baseball, and JEOPARDY

Lake George

break-upHere are some Ask Roger Anything questions about break-up, baseball, and JEOPARDY. They were asked by Kelly Sedinger, the fine Buffalo-area blogger at ForgottenStars.net.

When the break-up finally comes, does New York form a country with, say, NJ and New England and maybe PA, MD, and DE? Or do we all just join Canada?

First, I do accept the premise of the question. Major Garrett, formerly of FOX and now CBS, wrote a book suggesting that America is close to Civil War. But I remain puzzled by the mechanism.

As someone in upstate New York, you KNOW there are pockets of conservatives in New York, such as the Southern Tier south of you, or much of the territory north of me, which are quite conservative. Conversely, there are liberal enclaves in Iowa.

The Greater Idaho movement, with much of eastern Oregon joining the spud state, will be difficult to achieve. Redistributing assets nationally would be a nightmare.

Still, rhetorically speaking, your larger model works. And the Canadians, if they are smart, will want to have nothing to do with a land annexation. They don’t want those gun-toting folks in their jurisdiction.

Here comes the Judge

Am I crazy in detecting a rather unsavory note in all the cheering of Aaron Judge this season as he chases home run records? Because it really does occasionally take on a tone of “Thank God a white guy is posing a threat to the record held by the black guy nobody likes.”

I can say that Barry Bonds was very supportive of Judge’s pursuit of the American League record of 61 (Roger Maris, 1961) and understood the stress of getting that 61st one. Days before the regular season ended, it was pretty clear that Judge wouldn’t surpass Bonds’ 73 HRs.

But I think your question hit on the real issue. Barry Bonds is just not warm and fuzzy. And people feel that he cheated with the Performance-Enhancing Drugs. So I don’t think it’s specifically racism, although I don’t listen to sports talk on radio or TV because I find much of it repetitive and banal.

Now some people didn’t want Henry Aaron to topple Babe Ruth’s career record of 714, even sending death threats. (When I saw a guy on the field running with Hammerin’ Hank, I was genuinely worried about the slugger’s safety.) But many people think Bonds’ career record of 762 is tainted and that it should belong to Aaron, with 755.

Favorite place within 50 miles of Albany?

I’m fond of Lake George, north of here. The lake itself is quite beautiful, and it has several amenities without being TOO touristy.

Unchange

A change you would make to JEOPARDY!? (Resurrecting Trebek is not an option.)

Actually, my wish can never happen because it seems to be too popular with the fans. I’d prefer that they stayed with five-day champions, and then they’re gone until the annual Tournament of Champions. The interview segment is fine for someone staying for a week, but most of them start to wear on me.

I don’t want to see the same people in yet another tournament. They had that awful team event a few years ago. Besides seeing Ken and Brad yet AGAIN in competition, it took away time when we might see your average champion. They seem to be keying on the “super champions,” which just doesn’t feel right. At least Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen, as hosts of the show, can no longer compete on the show because they’ve hosted.

Oh, and I’m against giving a bonus to people who run a category. Former JEOPARDY champ Austin Rogers makes a case for it, but I remain unconvinced.

Oh, and here’s something that Trebek used to say that I never liked, and I recently heard Jennings repeat. When all three contestants missed the same question, Alex would say, “No harm, no foul.” It’s not correct. If Player A has $12,000, Player B has $6,000, and Player C has $3,000, and they all miss a $2,000 question, who is most disadvantaged? The person with the least amount of money.

Is the pandemic over? OVER over?

another booster?

Mark Evanier wrote a post two weeks ago, his Question of the Day. Here it is in its entirety. “Was President Biden right to say The Pandemic is over? Well, it depends.”

The link is to a FactCheck.org article describing the debate. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, though, hit the nail on the head. Once some people have had COVID, they’re thinking that COVID is over for them and everyone.

From WebMD: “Biden’s comment has split experts in medicine and public health. Some adamantly disagree that the pandemic is over, pointing out that COVID-19 remains a public health emergency in the United States, the World Health Organization still considers it a global pandemic, and most significantly, the virus is still killing over 400 people a day in the U.S.

“Others point out that most of the country is protected by vaccination, infection, or a combination, at least for now. They say the time is right to declare the pandemic’s end and recognize what much of society has already decided.” Mass transit has dropped mask mandates in New York State and elsewhere.

Local spike?

Non-medical places that still require mask wearing are making people grumpy, I’ve noticed. Albany County and adjacent Rensselaer County have remained stubbornly in the yellow (medium) zone for the past six months, even as nearby counties fluctuate.

Then this past week, they bumped up to the red zone, even though the hospitalizations have remained steady.  A statistician friend of mine wondered if the CDC got the numbers wrong.

Instead, “in recent months, New York health officials and those in other states have started using cases per 100,000 residents, and not the more traditional percentage of positive results of those who have been tested, as a more accurate way of measuring infection rates.”

This may explain how nine of the 55 counties north of New York City are in red, but only 109 of more than 3000 counties in the country. 

A fifth shot?

The CDC recommends that “getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19.” However, I saw my primary care physician for my annual checkup in late September. They believe that I won’t need an Omicron-specific booster because having had the disease, probably BA.4 or BA.5, has given me sufficient immunity. I’m feeling conflicted, but I’m not even eligible until December, so I’ll ponder it further.

Meanwhile, my baby sister got COVID in the latter part of September, even though she was fully vaxxed and boosted. She’s a thousand miles away, so she didn’t get it from me.

There are people, particularly those with long COVID, for which the disease is clearly NOT over. Some desperate patients are turning to unproven alternative therapies.

The Census Bureau notes that 2.9% of adults ages 55-70 employed in January 2020 said they retired early or planned to retire early due to the pandemic, while 2.3% said they either delayed or planned to delay retirement for the same reason.

Not incidentally, my doctor’s office DID give me a flu shot. All indications from the Southern Hemisphere are that it will be a nasty season. I’ve been getting this shot annually for about a decade and a half after having influenza, which kept me out of work for a week.

Imgur as a source of information

Martha’s Vineyard immigrants

imgurIn late September, I was perusing a friend’s Facebook page who had posted, “I stand with the Iranian protests.” One of their friends indicated that they had gotten their information about it from TikTok and Imgur because they didn’t trust news outlets.

Oh, I’ll own it. I had no freaking idea what Imgur was. It “is an image hosting and sharing site, favoured by users of social media and social news sites including Reddit, Twitter, and Digg because of its ease of use and flexibility.” At first glance, it looks so… random. Pets, ads, dance videos, and various tweets.

I searched Iran and #Iran, but found nothing pertinent. But Iranian gave me 118 hits, only some of which were relevant.

Still, this fascinated me. I had seen several pieces in the New York Times, such as this one. Women Take Center Stage in Antigovernment Protests Shaking Iran. “Women have been casting off their legally required head scarves, forming the primary image of the protests. But grievances against a repressive regime go far beyond the hijab.”

This is not to say that one can’t find important stories almost anywhere. I just don’t see myself using Imgur as my go-to for the latest news.

DeSantis

On the other hand, Imgur is the answer to the question, “How did an image of a fake Massachusetts flag end up in a brochure for Martha’s Vineyard migrants?”

From the Boston Globe. Two summers ago, Will Bodine of Pittsfield, MA whipped up a flag redesign in “‘upwards of 10 minutes’ on his computer. The concept was simple: a blue shield emblazoned with the official state flower — the mayflower — encircled by six blue stars, all splashed against a white backdrop.

“Bodine… shared it on Facebook. He also uploaded it to Imgur, an image-hosting website, where, until recently, it had only been viewed a few times.

“Before nearly 50 migrants arrived from Texas on planes chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, lawyers said they were handed brochures containing erroneous information about cash assistance and other benefits they would receive in Massachusetts.

“While it remains unclear who created the pamphlets, they included a rudimentary map of the state, a picture of a lighthouse, a photo of a sign reading ‘Massachusetts Welcomes You’ — and Bodine’s obscure reimagining of the state flag, rather than the real one.”

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver noted this event in the first five minutes of his 9/25/22 program.

I suppose this gets to my point about checking reliable sources of information. As Bodine noted, “’No one had seen this flag until some idiot staffer for DeSantis or whoever’ stumbled across it… ‘I cannot fathom why they would use the wrong one.'”

October 2022 book reviews

Jon Rice on Ocrtober 25

In another hyper-local post, here’s the list of October 2022 book reviews, offered by the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library.

October 4 | Book Review | Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong. Reviewer: Carl Strock, author & prize-winning journalist.

October 11 |Book Review | Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant. Reviewer: Gene Damm, former president, Friends of APL.

October 18 | Book Review | Probable Impossibilities: Musings on Beginnings and OEndings by Alan Lightman. Reviewer: David Guistina, WAMC.

October 25 | Book Review | No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. Reviewer: Jon S. Rice, MSW, LCSW-R, Albany Health Management Associates, Inc.

Book reviews or author talks are offered every Tuesday at noon at the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY.

I post this to inform you that you are welcome to attend these events. Recently, in this not-quite-post-COVID period, coffee and snacks are being offered again.

The pitch

But my ulterior motive is to offer YOU the opportunity to participate in a more substantial level. If you’re going to be in the area and would like to provide a book review, please let me know and we can work on that. I’ve conned, I mean persuaded my friend Jon Rice to give a talk on October 25.

Or, if you are a writer of books, you could give an author talk. Holly Planells McKenna was the President of the Albany Public Library Foundation from 2012 until 2020 and was the first president of the combined Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library. In September 2022, she gave an author talk about her book Across the River Jordan: The Journey to Bring My Son Home.

We are generally scheduling these events for three months out so that they make it onto the Albany Public Library calendar. If you’re interested in doing a book review or author talk, contact me via email or Messenger on Facebook.

Sunday Stealing Fall Meme (autumn)

Halloween 1978

autumn memeThe Sunday Stealing is a fall meme, appropriate because it’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.

1. Fave fall Holiday: Thanksgiving. Although there are complications about the origin story in the US (see this blog in eight days), it’s the event that was most tolerable when the family wasn’t around
2. The best thing about fall walks: walking on crunchy leaves
3. Favorite fall chore: Taking out the air conditioner, which is much easier than installing it

4. Least favorite fall chore: Raking leaves, which, BTW, my wife seems to enjoy. The thing about raking is that it is the perfect example of the law of diminishing returns, which I learned about in my freshman economics class in college. That first raking is quite satisfying, as one gathers up a good number of leaves, But subsequent raking in that area is less and less productive and, therefore, much less enjoyable
5. Best change in the home: Usually, the coins I find in the cushions of the sofa

6. Best tree in the fall: oak, maple, almost any deciduous tree
7. Fall ritual: watching (American) football on Thanksgiving and thereafter; I don’t really really pay attention until then
8. Most frustrating thing about fall: Getting darker earlier and getting lighter later

9. Favorite fall decorations: Some neighbors have creative Halloween displays. (And others are hideous, but we won’t talk about those…)
10. Favorite clothing: Any creative costume
11. Traditional fall candy: Junior Mints

Say it! Say it!

12. Favorite sound: Parents trying to coax their young Halloweeners to say “trick or treat.” Come on, my four-year-old, comply with the norms!
13. When does fall begin for you? October 1. There’s an argument between those who are in the meteorological calendar camp and the astronomical calendar camp. The former picks September 1, while the latter prefers September 22 or 23. But with global warming, I’m opting for the full month that everyone agrees is autumnal.

14. What is your favorite aspect of fall? I’m losing the feeling quite a bit, actually. It was the new television season and the arrival of serious Oscar-worthy films. But there are no seasons for TV anymore, plus I watch far less of it. And I haven’t gotten back into my pre-pandemic movie attending, plus so many are only streaming.

15. What are your favorite fall memories? Halloween parties I attended as an adult, especially in 1978 
16. What do you like to drink in the fall? Mulled cider. I lived in a coffeehouse when I attended college, and we often had it
17. What’s your favorite fall food? Turkey. I can always eat turkey, not just in November

18. What color is the fall? Burnt orange, not that bright candy corn orange
19. What does fall smell like? Wood stoves
20. If you could go anywhere in the fall, where would you go? Vermont has great colors

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