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, fine. Popular 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.
- 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.