Ethics Batting Practice, 7/21/ 2020: Baseball Zoom Hangover Edition.

Isn’t that only TWO feet??

Last night’s Smithsonian Associates presentation on baseball and American culture went well, I guess. Presenting on Zoom is like acting in a closet: no connection to the audience, no way to gauge what is working and what isn’t, or whether the invisible viewers are engaged. It did give me  a chance, during the section on baseball cheating, to read one of my favorite passages from Philip Roth’s baseball allegory/satire,”The Great American Novel.” Roth’s narrator, mad sportswriter Word Smith, tells the sad tale of the legendary “Spit” Baal, a master of the spitball, the mucous-ball and other trick pitches aided by surreptitiously applied substances. After such adulterations of the ball were banned in 1920, Baal found his career in tatters, since he could no longer use his signature pitch. (In the real world, the National league and American league allowed acknowledged spitball specialists to continue to throw the pitch legally under a grandfather clause, but Roth’s fantasy  is about a third major league, wiped from history and record books in the Fifties following the discovery that it had been infiltrated by Communists.) One day, again seeing his dry pitches clobbered and realizing that he could no longer get batters out legally, “Spit” has a psychotic break on the mound that ends his career in spectacular if unsanitary fashion:

And so before twenty thousand shocked customers  including innocent children — and his own wide-eyed teammates, the once great pitcher, who was  washed up anyway, did the unthinkable, the unpardonable, the inexpiable. He dropped the flannel  trousers of his uniform to his knees, and proceeded  to urinate on the ball, turning it slowly in his hands  so as to dampen the entire surface. Then he hitched  his trousers back up, and in the way of pitchers,  pawed at the ground around the mound with his  spikes, churning up then smoothing down the dirt  where he had inadvertently dribbled upon it. To the  batter, as frozen in his position as anyone in that  ball park, he called, “Here comes the pissball, shithead — get ready!”

For years afterward they talked about the route that ball took before it passed over the plate. Not  only did it make the hairpin turns and somersaults  expected of a Baal spitter, but legend has it that it  shifted gears four times, halving, then doubling its  velocity each fifteen feet it traveled. And in the end,  the catcher, in his squat, did not even have to move  his glove from where it too was frozen as a target .Gagging, he caught the ball with a squish, right in  the center of the strike zone…

1. So this graph would seem to indicate that the news media is scare mongering, right?

And that the US really did a decent job flattening the curve? I stumpbled upon this by accident, but it seems to be a reliable source. Why isn’t the news media talking about this? Ha, ha, I’m kidding. I know why, and so do you.

2. Oh, finePopular Science reported today  that the practice of screening for pandemic infections via temperature checks is based on good data. The screening worked with the SARS epidemic, but not with the Wuhan virus, apparently.  Arizona State University professor of biomedical diagnostics Mara Aspinall  now says temperature checks are “almost useless” with this virus. Data shows that less than half of people with COVID-19 ever get a fever and that people who do show symptoms can and often are contagious before any fever registers. Fevers are unlikely to show up at all among both the two of the groups most likely  to spread the virus because they show no symptoms:  the young, and older, high risk individuals.

Executive Vice President of Scripps Research Eric Topol adds,”There’s never been any data to show that it’s prevented any transmissions [of COVID-19]. The temperature check is of no value. It should be abandoned.”

Of course, the CDC has been telling businesses to check employees and doctors to check patients using temperature check. I’VE been using such periodic checks. Also of course, this report might be the unreliable one.

This is all the President’s fault for not following the advice of health experts!

3. What’s going on here? Conservative analyst Rod Dreher—he’s a generally reliable source on the Right—wrote that he has determined that his website is being deliberately suppressed by Google. He writes today,

Nine out of ten people on the planet who use Internet search use Google — and today, these people can’t find this blog or other conservative blogs and websites using Google. This is a foreshadowing of the cancelling to come. If you are on the Left, but take a position contrary to the kind of techno-progressivism and globalism favored by Google and others in Silicon Valley, you’re going to be next. We on the Right — especially religious people — have to prepare ourselves for life as dissidents under soft totalitarianism. That’s what Live Not By Lies is about.

I have just changed my search engine to DuckDuckGo, and I suggest that you do the same, or use Bing. And I suggest that we all support political efforts to limit Google’s power.

Except that when I just searched Google for Rod Deher and “Rod Dreher blog,” he and his site came up immediately.

What’s going on here? I have no idea.

Quick observations:

  • Dreher’s no fool. There had to be some reason why he wrote what he did.
  • I’d still fix that post, though, Rod.
  • I think changing to Duck Duck Go is like taking your temperature (See above). I’m pretty tired of people suggesting that. Google is a monster, and a relative handful of the alert and critical won’t put a dent in it’s influence. Let’s see: on Ethics Alarms today, 311 out of 364 referrals from search engines came from Google. DuckDuckGo? 16.
  • After my experience with Facebook deliberately sabotaging Ethics Alarms, I’m afraid to see what Google is doing. I don’t been more discouraging, I’m discouraged enough.

13 thoughts on “Ethics Batting Practice, 7/21/ 2020: Baseball Zoom Hangover Edition.

  1. #3

    Google suppressing results does not mean not showing something if you are explicitly looking for it. It’s more like you’re searching for “totalitarian laws covid” and finding only left and left-leaning results in the first pages. If you have control of the algorithm it is relatively easy to do. Nick a couple of “relevance” points for a few sites that regularly don’t support the narrative and that’s it. That’s what search engine suppression looks like.

    As for using DuckDuckGo, there are a host of reasons for that, with political suppression being one of the least important. For the past couple of years that’s been my go-to search engine and the results have been quite satisfactory.

  2. Spitballs: Frank Shellenback was a 20-year old spitballer who was sent to the minors during the 1919 season. The spitball ban came down, and under the rules he was barred from using it in the majors, but not in the top minors. So he pitched 19 years in the top minors, and won 296 more games after being demoted.

  3. 1. “So this graph would seem to indicate that the news media is scare mongering, right?”

    I think one thing the graph shows is that treatment for Covid has improved greatly since April. A few months ago, the go to treatment for anyone in trouble was to put them on a ventilator. Apparently that’s the kiss of death for Covid. Instead, there are now several meds that, while not curing the disease, at least show great promise in moderating the effects and reducing the number of deaths.

    Another point: I don’t think death count is the only metric that matters. I’ve seen various reports that some people who have recovered from Covid, even some asymptomatic people, have what appears to be permanent damage to various organs. Not great.

    2. I agree that taking tempuratures, by itself, is probably not hugely effective, for the reasons stated. But like you’ve said about wearing masks, “It’s better than nothing.” The thing is, “better than nothing” might be enough if we string several of things that are “better than nothing” together. Masks, social distancing, hand washing, taking temperatures, limiting large gatherings, etc. The cumulative effect of all these might be enough to bring the R0 down below 1, so the virus dies off on it’s own.

    To give a simplistic example with invented numbers, if each of the things I listed reduced transmissions by 25%, then overall transmission would drop to 23.73% of what it would have been otherwise. (.75 x .75 x .75 x .75 x .75 = .2373)

    3. 16 out of 364 came through Duck Duck Go? I’m shocked it’s that high. That’s great! A movement has to start somewhere.

  4. #3: I tried the relevant Google search myself too, and yes, it appears that Google has fixed/reversed the issue.
    Rod has also updated his page to indicate that it’s back to . . . normal? . . . and when it changed.

    And, FWIW, I never log in to a Google account except when I have to and I avoid Chrome like the plague.

    –Dwayne

  5. Regarding #3, Dreher shows several examples of the website itself being filter:

    Just noticed Google has removed several conservative websites from search results (at least on my end, in the UK). RedState, Breitbart, Daily Caller, Human Events, and more – all like this for pages of results pic.twitter.com/v2PHFgZ3zY— Charlie Nash (@CharlieNash) July 21, 2020

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Google, in addition to manipulating search results for the masses, also manipulates (or “customizes”) search results for each user that it can track. Two different people will get different results based on prior searches and other information that Google gleams. Thus, conservatives might rightly flag search results being censored – and then others can mock them, because the results are not filters in their results.

  6. I was in your audience last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve never been a fan of baseball but you are a wealth of interesting information and the time just flew by. Thank you!

  7. I did the google search right after Rod Dreher made his post, and he was correct. Several major right-learning website — his own, Steve Sailer’s, Tucker Carlson’s, and I forget the others, had all been disappeared from Google searches. Whether this was a hack of Google by outsiders or a sabotage by insiders, I don’t know. Apparently, Google corrected the situation fairly quickly. But the incident certainly suggests that Google has too much damned power over the ability of dissenting voices to be heard.

  8. 1. Aside from the catastrophic New York City mass death zone (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut), the United States has had a much better Wuhan virus experience than almost every Western European country. The death rates in the Sun Belt have been minuscule.

  9. Executive Vice President of Scripps Research Eric Topol adds,”There’s never been any data to show that it’s prevented any transmissions [of COVID-19]. The temperature check is of no value. It should be abandoned.”

    Of course, the CDC has been telling businesses to check employees and doctors to check patients using temperature check. I’VE been using such periodic checks. Also of course, this report might be the unreliable one.

    This is all the President’s fault for not following the advice of health experts!

    It is like you distrust the public health establishment.

    I wonder why.

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