Too Many Choices

It’s that time of year again.

You know, the one where all the major sports are going at once. Baseball is in Spring Training, hockey and basketball are into the second halves of their respective seasons with the playoffs approaching, and football is all about trades and cutting ties with players who’ve been arrested.

On top of that, the ever-popular Oscar season is over and college basketball’s March Madness is just ahead.

And, just to make it a perfect sweep, Daylight Savings Time kicks in this weekend, leaving us to sleepy to figure out what time the games we wanted to watch are on. I stand by last year’s observation that there is literally nothing President Trump could do that would raise his approval rating more than to do away with DST. Okay, yes, resigning would be a more popular move, but it wouldn’t raise his presidential approval score. Somebody tell him how many jobs it would create, reprogramming all the computers and IoT devices not to make the change. Feel free to exaggerate by a few orders of magnitude; he’ll never know the difference.

But I digress.

Of course, this year we’ve also got the popular game of guessing which member of Congress will be next to resign and which member of the administration will be next to be indicted, subpoenaed, and/or censured. I jest, naturally. As long as they remain part of the administration, they’re in a consequence-free zone. Just ask Kellyanne Conway, who’s been found to have committed multiple ethics violations again, but will undoubtedly not be disciplined this time either.

But I digress again. Sorry, I’m a bit grumpy today. I take some consolation in knowing Democrats are misbehaving too. The resignation of the mayor of Nashville, TN is currently the top trending story on Google–stepping down is a condition of her guilty plea to charges of embezzling city money to finance an affair.

Ms. Conway’s latest peccadilloes scored two ranks lower than Ms. Barry. She’d probably have done better with a new act. Unless you’re the Rolling Stones, you can’t get away with doing the same show over and over again, after all.

Number Two, by the way, is searches for tornado warnings after Illinois residents were incorrectly informed a tornado was imminent. Not as attention-grabbing as nuclear missiles, perhaps, but enough to beat out illegal acts by White House employees. No word yet regarding whether this error was also a result of poor computer interface design, or whether the person responsible will cooperate with the investigation.

Anyway, I’m glad we’ve got such a variety of entertainment choices these days. Enjoy your sport-of-choice!

It’s the End of the World…

It’s been a while since I devoted a rant to the impending Demise of Civilization.

Today’s Sign of the Apocalypse:

I still read the newspaper–yes, the actual paper one–every day. Since I’ve said that, you’re no doubt expecting me to bemoan the decline in newspaper readership as a sign of Impending Doom. Nope. I mean, yes, it is, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

Today, a friend of mine appeared in the paper. With a picture. Identified by name. And I realized that if I said that to anyone, their first reaction would be closer to “I’m sorry to hear it. What did he do?” (or maybe “Is he OK?”) than to “Hey, cool! What did he do?”*

When the heck did that happen? It’s definitely a “Damn kids! Get off my lawn!” moment to realize that I can remember when the default assumption was that newsworthy events were good news. Wait, let me qualify that statement because I’m not old enough to have a memorythat rosy. My memories include a time when a non-celebrity making the paper was more likely to be good news than bad. Celebrity news has, so far as I can remember, always been bad.

I’m willing to admit to the possibility that I’m a victim of selective memory, and that one would never have wanted to appear in the newspaper except in a “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” sense. But I know my perception of appearing in the newspaper has changed, and the memory I’ve got is the one I have to work with. So if 100% of the available data indicates things have changed, it must be correct, right?

No wonder I’m the only person reading the printed paper these days.

Moving on.

I was going to highlight the news that Nick Markakis is leaving Baltimore for Atlanta and Michael Saunders has been traded from Seattle to Toronto as a further sign of the impending collapse of civilization, but the more I think about it, the less I’m sure about that.

Both players had been with the same team for their entire professional life. I had written a rant about how players never stay with their original teams for their entire career any more. “Where are the Edgar Martinezes and Cal Ripkins?” I asked. But you know, Edgar and Cal were exceptions. Players staying with a single team has always been unusual. It became less common after the introduction of free agency, sure, but even before then, team owners swapped players like kids swapped baseball cards.

So, not a sign of the Decline of Civilization. And, as Jackie pointed out in her farewell blog post to Nick, baseball players may actually move around less than the typical American, who changes jobs every four and a half years.

Maybe that’s the real sign of the impending collapse. I need to think about that one for a bit.

But if that’s not a sign that Civilization is lurching towards its inevitable end, what is?

Non-ironic citation of R.E.M. as the greatest band ever? I’m very tempted to say yes on that–we all know it’s Brave Combo–but I’ll give Jackie a pass on that, seeing as how she’s currently bereaved.

Mayonnaise on hamburgers? Probably. We’ve established that mayo is the devil’s condiment. Putting it on a burger does nothing to redeem the condiment and much to corrupt the meat.

There is, however, a single fact that proves civilization is not on the decline, but has actually collapsed completely. That fact? People think is funny. (I’m deliberately not making that a link. If you want to take a look, put in the minimal effort of copy/pasting the URL.)

Enough said. See you in the survival bunker.

* For the record, it was good news. Part of the centennial celebration of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

If You Insist

Somebody asked me why I didn’t do a “thank you” post this year.

“I didn’t do one last year, either,” I replied.

“Then it’s really overdue. And it beats writing about sauerkraut.”

I couldn’t argue with logic like that, so here’s the 2013 thank you post. Look for the 2014 post somewhere around 2018.

Let’s start with the obvious, just to get it out of the way. I’m thankful for people who suggest blog topics. I’m especially thankful for the ones who don’t suggest that I let them write a “guest post” that would be an advertisement for whatever piece of cheap junk they’re selling at an inflated price. (Oh, look: there are three of those suggestions in the comment spam today!)

I’m always thankful for Maggie. She deserves a medal for putting up with me and this career that’s chosen me. With a little luck, the career will produce enough money for me to buy her that medal. I suppose that means I need to be thankful for her patience.

I’m thankful for all of you who come by and read what I’ve written. Even those of you whose interest begins and ends with leftover sauerkraut (still the single most popular post on the blog, with more than eleven times as many page views as the next most popular*).

* For the curious, Number Two is Crimes Against Humanity, this past July’s semi-review of Weird Al’s latest album. It does make me wonder why I keep writing about baseball and cats, when you all obviously consider my strengths to lie elsewhere. But I digress.

How about baseball management that listens to my complaints? I’m thankful to them. A week after I complained that the Mariners hadn’t done anything to improve the team, they picked up arguably the best right-handed free agent bat available. (Allow me to extend apologies to Jackie and the rest of the Orioles’ fans who were hoping their team would re-sign Nelson Cruz. Jackie, since blogging clearly works, may I suggest an impassioned plea for your guys to use some of the money they offered Cruz to lock down Markakis?)

And, speaking of baseball, I’m incredibly grateful for those of you who read the baseball posts and don’t laugh hysterically when my predictions go massively wrong. Cases in point: In recent weeks, I’ve predicted that the Ms wouldn’t sign Nelson Cruz, that the Giants would re-sign the Panda, and that the As were one of the only three teams that wouldn’t be looking for a new third baseman this winter.

And finally, I’m thankful* for Caltrans and the Bay Bridge for providing me with a source of blog posts that will never run out. Even over the Thanksgiving holiday, they were busy giving me more material.

* I’m so thankful I almost sent them a check, but then I realized that the interest they earn on the funds sitting in my FasTrak account dwarfs anything I could squeeze out of my bank account (see the earlier comment about medals and delayed gratification).

Their latest offering? Why, they’re discussing the possibility of saving millions of dollars by not tearing down all of the old bridge! That’s right: the one that they determined was seismically unsound. The one that had to be removed in order to eliminate the risk it would pose to the new bridge in a major quake. The one they promised to remove in their agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

Of course, those promises were made before the bridge ran billions over budget. A chance to save a few million dollars is almost irresistible, especially if it can be done in the name of “Art” and “the betterment of the bay”. The BCDC is especially dubious about the proposal, but claims to be willing to discuss terms–including “building bridges out to walkways”. Uh, guys, do you really want to trust these folks to build more bridges?

I expect the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s negotiations with the BCDC to be a source of high comedy for months to come. Stay tuned!