Boycott? Twitter, World Cup


boycottAs someone who appreciates a good boycott, I feel rather meh about Twitter. The truth is that, after all of this time, I’m not sure I GET Twitter. I used to retweet work-related items but have rarely gone there since I retired almost two and a half years ago.

Actually, I’ve been rather irritable about Twitter’s societal impact for a long time. I stopped watching ABC World News Tonight back when Diane Sawyer was the anchor when they added a daily report about what was trending on Twitter. If I wanted to know that, I’d go to the site. So I learn about what’s on Twitter from the mainstream media – “Joe Blow tweeted…” – without actually having to interact with the site.

Frankly, I think Twitter will implode. This article suggests that #RIPTwitter will take place sooner or later. Now, if Twitter’s demise is freaking you out, you may be somewhat relieved to know how to save all of your tweets.

I know that several of my friends and acquaintances have moved to Mastodon such as Chuck and Kelly, and I totally respect that. Its site indicates that its Monthly Active Users are now 2.3M, up 545%. But I haven’t moved there yet because, in an extremely cursory look, I don’t quite grok it. Maybe next year.

I’m more taken by this piece in Vanity Fair. Specifically, the subtitle spoke to me. “As Twitter spirals out of favor—and closer to some inevitable end—maybe, instead of Discord or Mastodon, it’s time to consider a digital DNR.”

World Cup

Truth to tell, I’m much more concerned about the World Cup in Qatar. While I’m not heavily invested in it – and think the beer ban and the reaction to it is hysterically funny – this year’s event still unsettles me.

As PBS notes, “The first World Cup to take place in a Middle Eastern and Muslim country remains dogged by more than a decade’s worth of questions and controversies. Among them: a global corruption scandal, the astronomical price tag of building the necessary facilities, serious human rights concerns about the country’s treatment of migrant workers, and outrage over Qatar’s treatment of women and LGBTQI+ people.” I read some 6,500 died building the venues.

But as Bloomberg suggests, the World Cup is “Too Big for Brands to Boycott.” What does me not watching Games do, really? Probably nothing. I’ll pass on them anyway.

The Lydster: Her career choices

barbara-jordan_congressI saved this Ask Roger Anything question, from Chris, until now:

Do you feel like you’re pushing your daughter towards certain career choices or letting her choose, or both? Do you think you’d be supportive of a career where it would be difficult for her to make a living, e.g. actress or musician?

Oh goodness, no. That’s a function of her needing to figure out what she wants to do. And honestly, I don’t have a strong sense of something I want her to do. I suppose I don’t want her to do something that involves a lot of danger.

Thinking about some of the things she has tried out:

Ballet – did it for two or three years, decided it wasn’t for her. But the lessons she learned have been useful, and she still likes to choreograph her own moves.

Soccer – she did youth soccer for three or four seasons, decided it wasn’t for her. So I was a bit surprised that she signed up for modified youth soccer this fall. What she learned before has come in handy.

Playing clarinet – her mother played, and she seemed to enjoy it. Moreover, I thought she got to be rather good at it, but she suddenly dropped it a couple of years ago. I was surprised when she pulled it out once this past summer. Maybe she’ll go back to it, maybe she won’t.

Things she’s interested in currently:

Art – she’s quite good at it, and she received some local awards for it. She DOES agonize over her work, though.

Clothing design – She’s been taking old clothes, cutting them up, stitching them together. Well not so much in the school year, but it was a business she wanted to look into this past summer.

Law – right now, she says she wants to be a lawyer. She sees injustice on the news on TV and wants to fix it. I wanted to be a lawyer for a time, so that would be fine.

One of the things that seems constant in this narrative is that everything learned has value. Maybe it won’t be applied directly, but it won’t go to waste.

Would I discourage her from a career path that might be difficult? No, and frankly, it would not have occurred to me. Now that I think of it, neither of my late parents EVER said, “you ought to do” X for a living. My father had a varied career, and I doubt it would have occurred to HIM. My mom was easygoing about those things, as long as we were happy and not involved in some criminal activity.


Soccer, a.k.a. football; and lies on the Internet

I’ve seen any number of people who refused to believe that an event happened because they read it on Facebook, and “Facebook can’t be trusted.”

The first time I ever even had a passing interest in soccer was watching some eight-year-olds play in the early 1980s. Now my daughter has participated the last three years, so I’ve become vaguely informed about the nuances. The Daughter wants one of those new soccer balls, called a brazuca, but I hear it costs $160; not happening.

Not that I would dis anyone who didn’t like the sport because they thought it was boring; I used to think so myself. But I figuratively rolled my eyes at certain Americans with their observations. Ann Coulter and her “Any growing interest in soccer a sign of moral decay” is self-evidently idiotic, but I note the source.

I was more annoyed, actually, with sportscaster Keith Olbermann, who suggested that the US shouldn’t have advanced to the knockout round because Portugal was the better team, based on “momentum.” If we were seeding the March Madness men’s basketball playoffs, one can factor in “momentum.” But it seemed to me to be the height of arrogance to suggest such a change at FIFA, who’s been doing this World Cup thing, in a sport most Americans still do not understand, since 1930. Keith should butt out.

Now satirical analysis, such as the piece Ken Levine provided, is welcome.

A female friend of mine noted, not just that the players collectively are quite buff, but that even her most macho-sounding male friends were making the same observations. And I noticed that the refs in these games have to move nearly as much as the players.

I saw bits and pieces of the earlier matches. But I managed to see the last 77 minutes of the epic 120-minute match between the US and Belgium, which the Americans lost 2-1, despite epic goal play by Tim Howard, the most saves in at least 50 years. After the US scored its goal at 107 minutes, I was on my feet the rest of the match, a clear sign I was really into that game.

Moreover, I started figuring out the notations online for the yellow card (penalty), substitution, and how much extra time would be allowed per period. I enjoyed it more because I understood it more than I ever have before. Still think the stoppage time is weird to me and seemingly arbitrary, but maybe it’ll make sense, eventually.

Amy Biancolli writes about the thrill of a good loss. And mostly unrelated, here’s a comic about the Existential World Cup.

Early on, I picked Argentina to win the World Cup. I figured it was a strong team that didn’t have so far to travel, and that the host Brazilians would wilt under the pressure. If the US HAD won its Belgium game, it would have been up against Argentina, and I would have had a quandary. OK, I wouldn’t really; it’d just be a classic head/heart bifurcation.

Oh, here’s something I don’t get: about a week into the World Cup, I saw an article that indicated that the Argentina team had been banned from play because of some infraction. When I click on the article, it was one of those GOTCHA phony stories, and I was 123,456th person (or whatever) to fall for it. As someone who values real information, the site made me irritable. (But not the temporary change in the Wikipedia entry for U.S. Secretary of Defense to ‘Tim Howard’, which was an obvious prank.)

It was the second time in less than a month I saw the more annoying version of this; some guy from Walking Dead, a show I never had watched, supposedly died. But it was another “GOTCHA to click through to this lie, dummy” thing.

I understand that one has to verify things, say, that one sees on Facebook. Designing Women actor Meshach Taylor died late on June 28 – at age 67, sad (yes, I watched the show) – and his family had announced that he had begun his “grand transition” on June 27. So some people began posting news of his death soon afterward. I waited until I had seen sources I trusted (both the LA Times and the Hollywood Reporter, which is generally good with deaths of celebrities) before I would post it.

But I’ve seen any number of people who refused to believe that an event happened because they read it on Facebook, and “Facebook can’t be trusted.” I’m not talking about anything mildly controversial, such as climate change; I’m talking PAST weather reports from NOAA.

OK, one more pet peeve often posted on Facebook: it’s this calendar showing, e.g., August 2014, which has five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays. And the graphic says, “This won’t happen again for another 823 years.” But the calendar for 2014 is EXACTLY the same as the calendar for 2003, 1997, 1986, and will be repeated in 2025, 2031, and 2042. Moreover, any month with 31 days in which the 1st falls on Friday, is in this category. Examples from recent past and near future: January 1988*, 2010, 2016* and 2021; March 1996*, 2013, 2019 and 2024*; May 1992*, 2009, 2015 and 2020*; July 1988*, 2011, 2016* and 2022; August 2008* and 2036*; October 2004*, 2010, 2021 and 2032*; December 2000*, 2006, 2017 and 2028*. *leap years.

This meme is so OBVIOUSLY wrong (to me), that the fact that SO many people have sent it shows a certain math phobia or unawareness. Ah, an interesting observation that I can add to a book review I’m doing…

The Lydster, Part 116: Calendaring

Lydia is in the church musical of The Lion King. Not only is she participating, she’s going to play the pivotal role of the young Nala.

Most of the time, I try to come up with a narrative about the Daughter. This time, just the calendar.

This fall, she was playing soccer. Unfortunately, in the very first game, fairly early on, she got kicked in the foot, left the game in pain, and never returned. But she was back in action by the following week. She likes playing defense, and is more interested in protecting her team’s goal rather than making a goal. However, for her homework, she has to write sentences, and she has allowed that someday, she WOULD indeed like to score a goal. That phase ended on November 2.

Both last year and this, there were two weekends where she had soccer, PLUS two rehearsals of the Albany Berkshire Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, in which she will again be an angel. The performance is Saturday, December 21 at 1 pm in Albany.

Much to my surprise, she wanted to try out for the church musical of The Lion King. Not only is she participating, she’s going to play the pivotal role of the young Nala, young Simba’s best friend. She gets to sing some lines by herself, and make a few dance moves. She has played the soundtrack – this is NO exaggeration – over a hundred times since rehearsals began in September. One day she played it FIVE TIMES, and she always goes to sleep listening to it. The production is on March 2, 2014 at our church.

Then there is the aforementioned homework. I have railed about it in my Times Union blog HERE and HERE and HERE In brief, the new Core Curriculum is making my daughter sad and anxious, and she’s not the only one. It’s not that I oppose standards. I do object though to inane questions (see third link just above) put together by non-educators, which what the EngageNY syllabus adopted by the NYS Department of Education has deemed appropriate. Homework takes too long, and chews up both her and my time. Makes me cranky.

The Lydster, Part 103: In as a clown, out as an angel

She’ll be performing on Saturday, December 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Egg.

What a strange weekend we had in the middle of last month.

On Saturday, I took the Daughter to play her first soccer match. She had gone to the practice on the previous Monday night and been assigned to a team in the U8 (under eight) division. But when we got there for her 11:10 a.m. match, we found that she had been moved to the U10 division, and thus on another team. Worse, because the opposing team in their 12:20 p.m. match was initially shorthanded, she was temporarily traded to the other side. She was more disappointed than unhappy by all of this, but she particularly enjoyed being back on her U10 team when more kids arrived. She was a little bored on defense; her teammates kept the ball at the other end of the field most of the time. But she liked being on offense. And we got to see a bald eagle flying overhead.

On Sunday, the Daughter tried out for the Albany Berkshire Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. Based on her age, she was supposed to be trying out to be a clown. But based on her height, she was asked to wait around so she could try out as an angel, which tended to be a role that slightly older girls get. At the end of it all, she got the role of an angel. She’ll be performing on Saturday, December 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Egg, a local performing arts venue.

The commonality of these two events was that it took a bit longer than we had anticipated, but ended up with a good outcome.

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