Thursday, April 4, 2019

CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS

What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:

--"Джим - забавный парень, но он не Яков Смирнов!" (Jim's a funny guy, but he's no Yakof Smirnoff!  Nyet!")--Vladimir Putin
--"Я думаю, мы могли бы использовать такого парня, как Джим."  (I think we could use a guy like Jim!)--Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the United States.
--"He's from this country, Mexicans don't read him, so that's good enough for me."--Donald Trump
--"The one thing I didn't delete from my private server."--Hillary Clinton
--"Jimaschizzle!"--Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg)
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett

jimjustselling . . .


(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS are. And they're now offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S. 
https://henschelhausbooks.com/product/lol-i-gags/


The book is also available at:

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Baseball note I:  I wonder what Ty Cobb's walkup music was?
  • Baseball Note II: You can't believe everything you read in the comprehensive and usually reliable MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia, specifically the listing of one Lou Proctor, who allegedly made one appearance for the St. Louis Browns in 1912 and drew a walk.  
  • But Proctor was actually a press-box telegraph operator who mischievously inserted his name into the box score, historian Bert Randolph Sugar reports in "Rain Delays, An Anecdotal History of Baseball Under One Umbrella."  
  • Why are baseball teams often referred to as  "ball clubs"  but  football and basketball teams never are?  They're "teams." But they use a ball, too, last time I looked, so . . . .
  • "Baseball is a game of failure coached by negative people in an environment of misinformation."--Tom House, noted major-league pitching coach.
  • Wouldn't it be funny if two speed-readers met while speed-dating . . . and their first date was running a marathon together?  Talk about a whirlwind romance! (Godspeed to the lucky lovers.)
  • You Can't Make This Stuff Up Headline of the Week:  "Jelly Belly creator releases cannabis-infused jelly beans."
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Month:  "Say [actual party-goer's name here], did you know that people shed off particles of skin on a daily basis?   So by age 70, humans have shed out almost 100 pounds of skin."
  • It's scary to think of what percentage of the drivers on the road at any given time (a) are licensed (b) are insured (c) are not under the influence of a controlled substance or (d) aren't paying more attention to a phone or other device.   
  • I'd be surprised if as many as 20 percent of the drivers were licensed/insured, sober and attentive.  That leaves a very perilous 80 percent.  No wonder there has been an epidemic of state troopers and the like struck and killed by cars and trucks.  
  • Another sobering contemporary thought: Recycling, the EPA reports, is not an environmental panacea. For example, you would have to personally recycle 40,000 plastic bottles to offset your carbon footprint from taking one round-trip flight between New York City and London.
  • What do Ed Asner, Barbara Stanwyck, Peter Falk, Jim Backus, Gavin McLeod, Telly Savalas, Lee Marvin, Henry Silva, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman, Martin Balsam, Keenan Wynn, Rip Torn, Cloris Leachman, Nita Talbot, Vic Morrow, William Bendix, Lloyd Nolan, Elizabeth Montgomery, Ruth Roman, Fay Spain, Charles Bronson, Dan Daily, Patricia Neal, Robert Duvall, Vince Edwards, James Coburn, Dyan Cannon, Robert Vaughn, Cliff Robertson, Anne Francis, Joan Blondell, Ricardo Montalban, Bert Convy, Gloria Talbot, June Havoc, Norman Fell, Joi Lansing, Leonard Nimoy, James Caan, Harvey Korman, Ted Knight, Ryan O'Neal and Robert Redford have in common?  Answer elsewhere in Popcorn.
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should of the Month:  Yaffling.  v. Speaking loudly to foreigners, as if somehow this makes you easier to understand.--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall and Friends.
  • Attention, manufacturers of tooth-brush holders:   Most toothbrushes are larger than they were in 1940, but you're still making holders that same size!    You're apparently totally oblivious to the obvious.  Brush up on the obvious and mend your ways!
  • "History teaches that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives."--Abba Eban
  • jimjustsaying's Press Boner of the Month: "Then he fled into the woods where he often hunted and killed himself."--Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, via "Still More Press Boners," compiled by Earle Tempel.
  • Drudging Around (the Internet's infamous Drudge Report in recent weeks): "Texas Woman Dead After Trying to Get 'Cheap Nose Job' in Mexico," "The Man Who Fathered 200 Children," "Toilet Seats Detect Heart Conditions," "Priest Accused of Groping Woman During Last Rites," "Words Banned by California DMV," "Great American Sex Drought: Record Celibacy," "Brothel Offers 'Digisexual Therapy' to Cure Robot Addiction," "Virgin Mary Statue Beheaded Outside Southern CA Church," NYPD Officer Struck by Hearse, Another Injured by Falling Drone."
  • jimjustsaying's Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  Smilen (sic) Bob.  As in Robert “Smilen Bob” Allen MacDonald, Green Bay Press-Gazette, April 3, 2019.  R.I.P., Mr. MacDonald.
  • Redundancy Patrol:  "At this point in time," "enter into," "inner core," "each and every."
  • What's the difference between a dingus, a doohickey and a thingamabob?  (I don't know, but they are what they are!)
  • Quiz answer:  They all had big or bit parts in at least one (and in some cases, many) episodes of "The Untouchables," the TV series that ran from 1959 to 1963.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Salvum me gramina.  ("Get off my lawn!")

Baseball's Back Special

           Top Ten Oddities from the 2018 Season

Feb. 7 – Catcher Raudy Read, who won Washington’s 2017 Bob Boone Award for “professionalism, leadership and consistency” is suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug.

May 1 – Slotted into the leadoff role for the initial time this season, slumping sluggers Bryce Harper and Anthony Rizzo hit home runs.

May 2 – Yoenis Cespedes’ diamond necklace snaps as he slides into second base, scattering thousands of dollars’ worth of gems in the dirt.

May 28 – Making his initial major league plate appearance, Dustin Peterson loses track of the count and trots to first base on ball three — then strikes out.

May 30 – A goose, chased from the Comerica Park outfield, falls two levels after crashing into an LED board, where it is wrapped in a blanket by a veterinarian and released after a check-up at the pet hospital.

July 2 – Pirates pitcher Nick Kingham misfires on a throw to first base after a comebacker, balks the runner to third and allows him to score when he misses a throwback from his catcher.

July 24 – Utilityman Enrique Hernandez gives up a three-run homer in the bottom of the 16th inning, likely making him the first player ever to go 0-for-7 and suffer a pitching loss in the same game.

Aug. 29 – Andrew Benintendi makes all three outs (sacrifice, grounded into double play) of Boston’s 11-run seventh inning.

Sept. 27 – Two innings short of a $500,000 bonus, CC Sabathia is ejected from his final start of the year.

Dec. 14 – The Indians trade players with the first names Yan, Yandy and Yonder in a 15-day period.

Thanks to the folks at Athlon Sports and the Elias Sports Bureau for these fascinating factoids.


THE QUOTE RACK

It's not the Internet we imagined
You can’t celebrate the web’s birthday without acknowledging its shortcomings.  There were critics of the Internet even in 1995.  They shared prescient concerns before the rise of Facebook, Amazon  and Google  and sounded alarms about the weakening of nation-states and strengthening of transnational corporations.  Some, like author Ellen Ullman, even predicted that the on-demand economy would produce antisocial behavior, since we would no longer have to involve anyone else in the satisfaction of our needs.  These points are worth remembering, and they inoculate against nostalgia.  If we want a better Internet, we can’t just look back at what we loved about the early days.
--Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic

Getting past the password
Help may be on the horizon for those suffering from "password hell."  After all, nobody likes passwords—except hackers.  Fortunately, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and others are working on password-free ways to confirm your identity and keep you logged in for weeks or months. Just the way you type or move your mouse can be a useful signal. The World Wide Web Consortium recently ratified WebAuthN, which allows websites to authenticate users with biometric information.  This would allow you to simply log in to Facebook or Gmail with facial recognition or a fingerprint scan.  The problem is, it could take a while for every app, device and website to integrate these new standards.
--David Pierce, Wall Street Journal

The real Boeing reality
After the Lion Air crash [in Jakarta last October, killing 189],  everyone—pilots, Boeing, the FAA—knew the 737 Max’s software was buggy.  Yet the FAA let the jets keep flying as Boeing worked on a fix.   This is a sign of how deeply Trump-era corruption has infected our government.   If this administration was willing to risk planes falling from the sky,  what quieter threats to our food, medicine, and other areas has it allowed to go forward?
--Jeff Hauser and Eleanor Eagan, TheHill.com

A generic name for the same rip-off
Drugmaker Eli Lilly bought flattering headlines by announcing that it would sell a generic version of its top-selling insulin brand, Humalog, at the discounted price of $137.35, said Elisabeth Rosenthal. Perhaps it is a “sign of how desperate Americans are for something—anything—to counteract the escalating price of drugs” that Lilly’s “seemingly beneficent gesture” was greeted with praise. It should have been a collective “Huh?” In Germany, a vial of Humalog sells for $55. 

But in the U.S., which doesn’t set drug prices, Lilly raised Humalog’s cost from $35 in 2001 to $275. The new lower-cost option is what’s known as an “authorized generic.” It’s exactly the same as the other version, only the name and packaging are different. Pharmaceutical companies do this to discourage knockoffs by other companies once the original patent has expired, and to avoid ceding more profits to middlemen who negotiate discounts to buy the brand-name drugs for insurers and hospitals. But “imagine if Apple sold a $500 phone for $250 if it was called, say, a yPhone” and didn’t come wrapped in fancy packaging. If the cost of electricity or gas went up 600 percent in 15 years, we would regard it as price gouging. Yet somehow, according to the “bizarre logic of the pharmaceutical industry,” it’s business as usual.
--Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times

Ending surprise hospital bills
A bipartisan effort in Congress is aimed at protecting Americans who get "surprise" medical bills, The legislation is the culmination of two efforts last fall to ban insurers from charging patients higher costs for seeing out-of-network providers for emergency care. It would also establish a billing standard for insurers and doctors. 

While the bill won’t protect patients who electively choose to visit an out-of-network hospital or clinic, it  reflects a growing recognition regarding unexpected and sizable charges that often seem out of the patient’s control.  A Yale study found that even in emergency-department visits at in-network facilities, 22 percent involved out-of-network doctors.  Recently, a man in Texas was billed $108,951 for a four-day stay at an out-of-network hospital following a heart attack.
--Paige Winfield Cunningham, Washington Post

Horse racing’s epidemic of death
The animal-rights activists could be right about horse racing.  Maybe the entire sport needs to be shut down.  After more than two dozen horses died in just three months at the historic Santa Anita track in Southern California, the track announced it was suspending operations while officials try to figure out what’s gone wrong. Throughout the nation, a staggering 817 horses are known to have died while training or racing in 2018; activists say the real death toll is probably 2,000. 

Why? Today, the 1,200-pound "equine athletes" that are driven to run at top speed for the entertainment of bettors are often heavily drugged to mask injuries and fatigue.  Sadly, owners and trainers are more concerned about making a quick buck than protecting animals.  Horses driven too hard can develop microfractures in their brittle legs that lead to a sudden, catastrophic leg break during training or a race, forcing trainers to put them down.  Public revulsion over the mistreatment of elephants shuttered Ringling Bros.’ circuses, and Sea World is in decline because orca captivity is inhumane.  If horse racing cannot halt the epidemic of death on its tracks, it, too, will disappear.
--Paul Newberry, Associated Press

The downside of breaking up Big Tech
***"Break up Big Tech” is a catchy campaign slogan,  but it would probably make most Americans’ lives somewhat worse.  Forcing technology companies to downsize would choke off funding for free services that people rely on, like Gmail and Google Maps, without actually increasing competition.  Nor would it substantially reduce these companies’ power over our day-to-day lives. 
--Megan McArdle, Washington Post

***[Elizabeth] Warren’s plan may be imperfect, but it has started an important conversation among presidential contenders about Silicon Valley’s growing power. That’s something that we, “the humble data-mined,” deserve to hear.
--Sam Biddle in TheIntercept.com

About that trade deficit . . .
*** The president may never celebrate a trade deficit, , but maybe he’ll learn not to hate it.  The deficit is a sign of American strength, not weakness.  The economy is the best it has been in a generation, and businesses are increasing their investment in plants and equipment. U.S. trading partners, however, are struggling.  Most of the major economies in Europe are on the edge of recession.   China’s economy is slowing as well.  This means foreign consumers and businesses are spending less on U.S. products. 
--Karl Smith, Bloomberg.com

*** The primary cause of the deficit,  is the strength of the dollar.  It’s strong because the entire world uses it as a global currency.  That feeds the demand for dollars and makes imports cheaper for us.  The only times the U.S. has run a trade surplus have been during recessions, when the world economy slowed and U.S. imports fell . If you’re really intent on achieving a trade surplus, the easiest way would be to cause a worldwide economic collapse.
--Robert Samuelson, Washington Post

This isn’t what a boom looks like
The U.S. economy keeps performing worse than the experts have predicted.  I saw this laid out clearly at an economics conference in Washington.  When economists projected economic growth two years out, they were too optimistic in nine years out of 10.  The Federal Reserve has repeatedly overestimated how quickly the economy would grow, only to revise the forecasts downward.  If the original forecasts had been correct, the U.S. economy would be about 6 percent larger than it is today--that’s $1.3 trillion more in goods and services. 

Despite frequent predictions, the economy has not reached 3 percent annual growth since the financial crisis ended in 2010.  Why the stagnation?  Americans are saving more and spending less, thanks to tax cuts favoring the wealthiest, who spend a smaller share of their income than the poor and middle-class.  And there’s an investment slump as a lack of competition drives down incentives to invest in new projects.  To address this, the U.S. needs infrastructure projects, stronger safety-net programs, more aggressive antitrust policies and a more restrained Federal Reserve that stops overestimating growth and inflation.  President Trump likes to take credit for the "booming economy."  But here’s the truth that so many experts seem to keep missing:  There is no boom.
--David Leonhardt, New York Times

What is biohacking?
Silicon Valley is built on the idea that technology can optimize, or "hack," any aspect of our lives—so why not the human life span?  Until recently, anyone hawking pills or treatments that promised to restore youthfulness was considered a quack, yet a growing number of "transhumanists" are convinced that in time, human beings can be transformed through bioengineering, and that aging will be curable just like any other malady.  In light of rapid gains in gene editing, nanotechnology and robotics, some futurists expect this generation’s biohackers to double their life spans. 

Aubrey de Grey, a regenerative medicine researcher backed by tech mogul Peter Thiel, insists that someone alive today will live to be 1,000.   "It’s extraordinary to me that it’s such an incendiary claim,"  de Grey says.  Korean physician and financier Joon Yun has offered two $500,000 prizes to anyone who can restore a test animal’s youthful heart rate and who can extend its lifespan by 50 percent.  For humans, the mortality rate at age 20 is 0.001 percent, Yun figures,  "so if you could maintain the homeostatic capacity of that age throughout your life, your average life span would be 1,000."

How could that be achieved?  That’s the million-dollar question, but Harvard Medical School researchers believe they might know where to start.  Humans grow fewer blood vessels in their muscles with age, which is believed to result in the gradual breakdown of vital organs. The same pattern exists in mice.  In 2018, Harvard researchers fed mice a chemical to manipulate the gene associated with blood vessel growth and found that old mice subsequently were able to run on a treadmill 56 percent longer.

While that work continues, biohackers are transfixed by nootropics—"smart drugs,"  amino acids and other supplements that purportedly boost cognitive abilities and prevent brain aging.  The market for these self-described cognition boosters is expected to top $11 billion by 2024.
--The Week

Millennials’ misplaced grievances
By most measures, “the American Millennial is a member of the wealthiest and most comfortable generation of human beings to have ever lived on this planet,” said Noah Rothman. You wouldn’t know it from that self-pitying generation’s disdain for capitalism and eagerness to replace it with “democratic socialism.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, insists that her entire generation “never saw American prosperity.” Yet she grew up in the 1990s—a decade of “unparalleled American security” and economic growth. It’s true that the 2008 recession was a major blow for her generation, and every other.

But there were a dozen previous recessions in the 20th century, and the U.S. recovered from this one rapidly, if not without scars. Our current unemployment rate, at 3.8 percent, is the lowest in a half century. Wages are rising, and “American living standards are comparable to those of the wealthiest nations in Western Europe.” Millennials are slower to marry than previous generations and have less job security, which hurts their accumulation of income and wealth. But the overall economy is very healthy—not the “Dickensian nightmare” Ocasio-Cortez depicts. She is “the face of a generation that doesn’t know how good they have it.”
--Noah Rothman, CommentaryMagazine.com

THE LINK TANK

Both sides are wrong about the border crisis
We do have a crisis--it’s just not the one Trump keeps ranting about
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/04/border-crisis-trump-democrats-wrong-immigration/

Bernie Sanders has emerged as the Donald Trump of the left
As a candidate, he makes no sense, yet, he’s surging to the top of the field
https://s2.washingtonpost.com/128961b/5ca48b3cfe1ff677b1fd87d7/anNqYXp6QGxpdmUuY29t/17/85/e034c632441cd1939b205c30aad51ebb 

'Medicare for All’: The Impossible Dream
There’s no plausible route from here to there
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/opinion/medicare-for-all.html

Hipsters mostly look alike
'Nonconformists' usually . . . aren't
https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2019/03/11/hipsters-mostly-look-alike-there-math-prove/qjISEcE3G5hCUNB159hPtI/story.html