CSotD: They’re funny ’cause they’re true!

I got a chuckle out of John Auchter’s cartoon, though he’s being a bit of an Upper Peninsula snob, if such a thing could exist. (Be glad I didn’t run this at the end and pair it with The Second Week of Deer Camp.)

He’s right that those who live near the Canadian border, as I did in Northern New York for a quarter of a century, see the Northern Lights with some frequency. OTOH, younger son, who was with me in Plattsburgh for about a decade and is now in Minnesota, was blown away by the latest display despite having seen it several times before.

What Auchter’s cartoon also brought to mind was that my grandfather was a Yooper who worked the mines when he was 16, along with a number of Cousin Jacks, Cornishmen who came from the mining country there.

One night they were waiting to go below and one of the Cousin Jacks observed the full moon and said how big and bright it seemed, not like at home.

“That’s because we’re so much farther north,” another said, and my grandfather said, “No, you’re not. Cornwall is farther north than we are.”

They argued back and forth until the captain promised to settle it. The next night he came back and said, “The lad is right.”

A year or two later, the mine superintendent and school superintendent put their heads together and found “the lad” a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin to study mining engineering, so as not to lose another promising kid down the shaft.

This Pardon My Planet (KFS) brought to mind a time, eight years ago, when I was preparing my family for my cancer treatment.

After describing what was going to happen and adding a little Stoic philosophy, I told them that, if it all went south, I did not want my obit to contain a cliche about my “courageous fight” but, rather, to report that I had gone down whining and complaining all the way.

Damn surgeon robbed the world of what I promise would have been a highly amusing obit, given how many I had to write in my newsroom days.

Though once papers started charging for obituaries, it was out of my hands. That was a good thing, because then families could say whatever they wanted and we’d take the money and print what the funeral home sent us.

We had one that said angels had flown down and carried the fellow off to heaven. I told the funeral director that, if it happened again, I wanted him to get a photo.

But we printed it. Whining and complaining all the way.

Elsewhere on the medical beat, Barry Deutsch offers this accurate critique of what happens to large people when they go to the doctor, regardless of what brought them there.

I lost a bunch of weight eight years ago. First they took out my cancerous bladder and resected a portion of my intestines to create a substitute plumbing system. Then I came back a few weeks later and they took out my gall bladder.

It was a pretty good weight loss system, but I still needed to lose more and, having lost my appendix earlier, I was running out of optional organs.

Tonsils and spleens don’t weigh enough to be worth removing.

Matt Davies reminds us that whatever happens when you go to the doctor assumes you actually get to do so in the first place.

The same thing seems to be happening to medicine that is happening to everything else: Hospitals are being bought up by venture capitalists, who insist on timing doctors to make sure they don’t waste time finding out what’s really wrong with their patients, and — having instituted conveyor belt medicine — that hospitals don’t employ enough people to keep things rolling along.

If you disagree, I’m willing to discuss it. I’m currently booking arguments for November.

Pooch Cafe (AMS) brings up another change in the world: I’m surprised magazines still exist at all.

I have a PO box which I visit three or four times a week so I can clear out the junk mail. I used to get checks there, but now everyone pays by direct deposit, so, unless I’ve ordered something by mail, having the box is both futile and increasingly expensive.

I get a few magazines as a bonus for subscribing to their on-line editions. I take them home because they’re magazines and one should, but I’ve already seen anything in them I wanted to read.

I’m not sure “bonus” is the word I was looking for.

I’m not against print, but the last two papers I worked for were printed elsewhere, and part of the fun of editing had been watching issues cascade off the press with your words and photos in them.

Speaking of dubious bonuses, I subscribe to a number of Substacks and tip sheets, and when I saw that Ruth Marcus was launching one, I hit the button to subscribe and then came upon this:

Love ya, Ruth, but tell your marketing department I said to bring their shine box over here and I’ll personalize their experience.

Clearing junk out of my inbox is no more fun than cleaning out my PO box, and I particularly hate garbage text messages that ping just like the ones that matter.

Tank McNamara (AMS) points out how technology has ruined sports. Instant replay and other technical advances have revealed the fact that referees are not God, and that real life, even in a stadium, is subject to all sorts of glitches and mishaps.

Technology has convinced fans that refs and umps are part of some massive conspiracy, perhaps concocted in the basement of a pizza parlor built on a slab.

When instant replay challenges were first proposed, legendary NFL ref Tommy Bell said he’d go along with it if he could look at the tape and then call all the holding he found.

Good man, Tommy Bell.

Lola (AMS) reminded me of summer love, but also of the pretentious, sophomoric faux-eloquence I once mistook for good writing:

Fitzgerald kept notebooks of clever lines to randomly drop into his stories. Hemingway did not. End of discussion.

Besides, I remember summer romance. If it wasn’t true love, that was hardly the point.

17 thoughts on “CSotD: They’re funny ’cause they’re true!

  1. I have cabin in WI about as close as you can be without being in the UP, and have seen the Northern Lights many times.

    > Sigh <

    Didn't see them during the Week of Optimum Visibility.

    1. It is, but the zone being tested in the minor leagues isn’t. Bad calls by arbiters don’t improve the games. Maybe football should allow more holding, although football defenses are being legislated out of existence.

    2. It is not. It’s measured from the letters to the knees based on the height of the player. Its width seems to be the same, however, and is not, evidently, determined by the wingspan of the batter’s arms, which does seem to favor taller players whose strikezone should be wider–at least I think it isn’t. It’s really hard to judge the comparative sizes of each batter’s strike zone box because they are never two onscreen at the same time. I’m actually hoping I live to see balls and strikes, fouls, hit by pitches, checked swings, catcher interferences and safe/out calls at the bases all determined by computers. Even if they’re not far more correct, they’d at least be more consistent AND impartial, not giving the better hitters with higher lifetime averages the benefit of the doubt by allowing them to adjudge their own strikezone. It will be far fairer than the varying strike zones of each umpire damaging pitchers’ careers, and I daresay that Wilson Contreras would never have suffered a broken arm due to having to be far too close to the plate because he needs to “cheat” by framing pitches as strikes when they really are not (as every MLB catcher has learned to do, because umpires ARE being fooled by the maneuver). The umpire himself would still function as the announcer of the decisions, and really, who cares if his feelings are hurt by being correct ALL of the time rather than 97% of the time? Look at all those umps who get overturned on challenges–are they sulking because their judgment was questioned–and overturned? I think not, it’s now just part of the game like the pitch clock timed by a machine (we don’t ask the umps to use a pocket watch to determine the violations–or to just “eyeball it.”) The point of most rule changes is to do better in getting the calls right the first time, and there are plenty of judgment-only decisions for the live umps to determine so they won’t be phased out completely. (After all, do we really want to eliminate the ground-rule hits when umpires get hit by batted balls? Baseball just wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t there to get in the fielders’ way.)

      1. This discussion seems to confound the strike zone box shown on TV with the actual strike zone. These can’t possibly be the same — the one on TV is 2D while the actual strike zone is 3D (HxWxD).

        I think Paul’s question might have been whether the TV strike zone is wronger for some batter than for others.

        The actual strike zone is described in the rule book. I believe what Mike describes is correct w.r.t. top and bottom. Width is definitely the same for all players, as it is the width of home plate. The same is true for depth. However, the rule book is ambiguous as to whether to be “over the plate” the entire ball must be over the plate (at some point during its flight), or just some of the ball. The latter interpretation widens the strike zone by nearly 3 inches on all sides of the plate.

        Regarding better hitters getting the benefit of close calls — is there evidence showing this happens more for batters than for pitchers?

      2. Interesting observation form Carlos Correa this weekend. After a number of bad calls from the home plate umpire, Correa suggested the problem is not with the umps but with the speed and movement of pitches these days. Correa wondered if giving the home plate umpire a PitchCom so he could anticipate where the pitch should be going might help them set up better. Seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

      3. The strike zone varies, depending on whether your team’s player is pitching or batting.

  2. If it weren’t for junk mail, I’d barely get any mail at all.

    Of course, 99% of it goes right from the mailbox into the trash.

    And yes, I dearly wish I could customize ringtones so that garbage texts and pointless updates have a different sound than the stuff that matters.

      1. We apologize for the spam cluttering up our comments section.
        They have tricked our filter by posting a (nonsensical) comment first and when that gets through they go with the Google junk.
        Today’s jimok is particularly irritating by changing his url to get around us marking him as a spaminator.

  3. I enjoy blocking the junk mailers. Now I’m getting”no reply” with no e-address. So I mute and block them.

  4. At least in our area (WV) hospitals are taking on doctors previously in private practice, and then charging patients a hefty (as in hundreds of dollars) ‘facility fees’ to cover maintenance of those doctors’ free standing offices.

  5. This very day I received the latest plastic-wrapped Yellow Pages phonebook update in my letterbox. It’s a matryoshka doll of redundancy!

    1. Here the new phone books are put out in the lobby for people with PO boxes to pick up, which virtually nobody does. I suppose folks with home delivery get one. Fortunately, our town has a very active recycling program.

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