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VOLUME 19 No 10

EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

JUNE, 2021

 

LOSING THE ACTION

iTOONS

BARF BAGS

IN SEARCH OF COMMUNITY

WHETHER REPORT

NEW SHOW HACK!

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EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

cyberculture, commentary, cartoons, essays
 
 

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Pandemic Cook

Still Learning

New Food for Thought.

 

 

 

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LOSING THE ACTION BASEBALL

For the past few seasons, even baseball pursuits find the game boring. The commissioner has been making dumb rule changes to increase the speed of the game time and to promote more offense. But he is clueless. The reason can be summed up in this one 2021 historical stat: there have been more strike outs than base hits. That is why baseball has become boring: there are no base hits - - - action in the field.

As a youth, we were taught, no scolded, that as a batter a strike out was bad. A strike out was a selfish individual failure because the game is a team sport where the object is to get on base, a move along the basepaths to score runs. A walk was not glamorous but you got the first base. It was as valuable as a single. And once a runner was on base, the pitcher and the defense had more pressure to field their positions.

But in professional baseball, Big Data has strangled the old game principles. The stat guys no longer consider a strike out as a bad outcome. Instead, they claim the most efficient scoring means is the home run. So coaches and stat lab technicians train players to hit home runs. Player agents also like the idea because players get paid big money for big power numbers (home runs and runs-batted-in (RBI)). The chatter around the batting cage to the broadcast cast booths has been launch angles, baseball exit velocity after contact with the bat and slugging percentage. In the past a good hitter was classified as a .300 hitter, getting a hit 30 percent of the time. Today, there are very few .300 hitters. Throughout the league, there are team batting averages below .230. There are more than a handful of players on each team batting below .200. In the past, those batting averages would destine you to the minor leagues.

In May, the sportscasts were giddy about the shocking play made by Cub Javy Baez. With two outs against the Pirates, with a runner on second base, he hit a routine ground ball the third baseman. The Pirate player threw the ball poorly, making the rookie Pirate first baseball move off first base and down the line toward home and Baez. Baez stopped in his tracks, then proceeded to move back toward home plate - - biting the Pirate first basement to tag him out. All he had to do was go back three steps and tag first base to end the inning. But no, he started to slowly move down the first base line towards home. Meanwhile, willson Contreras who was on second base, sped around third base in an attempt to reach home. The Pirate tossed the ball to the Pirate catcher who could not put the tag on Contreras; he was safe at the plate. But he had not scored a run until Baez made it safely to first. Baez then ran hard to first base which had no fielder. The catcher threw wildly to the man attempting to cover it, allowing Baez to move to second base. Baez was created by many as the first player to eve steal first base. It was more of a brain cramp by the Pirate player but those things happen when you put the ball into the field of play.

Another lost art of the game is base running. Cub David Bote dislocated his shoulder doing an head first slide into second base. Modern players are not taught how to run the bases or slide feet first into the bag. Baseball stat men claim that the risk-reward of stealing bases is poor so managers are told not to run runners eventhough the best catchers throwing out runners percentage is less than one-third. A man on first can effectively steal second giving his team a better chance of scoring a run from second than first. A player attempting to steal is also an exciting play for fans in the stands. In face, one of the most exciting plays in the game is a man attempting to steal home plate. But the new guidance says a home run will score a runner from first so do no chance an out. But at the same time, the batter is overswinging trying to hit a home run so he is more likely to make an out (strike out).

A game of just strike outs and an occasional home run is boring. It is like watching strangers in the park play a gam of catch (the pitcher to the catcher). It also inflates the role (and mistakes) of the umpires, who should be the invisible arbitrators of the rules. The commissioner office's reaction to criticism of no balls in play because of so many strike outs is to use technology to call balls and strikes. But every batter's strike zone is different (it is from mid chest to the knees); a 6 foot 6 inch player has a bigger zone than a 5 foot 8 inch player. How technology can adjust to these variables is unknown. Also, a computerized strike zone will not speed up the game since the home plate umpire is relayed the information to a headset then he makes the call. Science has already proven that human eyesight and human brain processing speed is faster information processing than a computer for an application such as calling a ball or strike.

Baseball is a social sports. Fans in the stands have conversations about game strategy, the players and their personal experiences in the game. But The rule changes take away much of these social discussions. The dumb rule of having a runner placed on second base to start any extra inning as a means of ending the game quickly does not reward a team by merit. Baseball is one professional sport without a time clock. Each game has its own pace. It is a gimmick. As well as the new rule that a relief pitcher must face three batters. In the past, a manager to match up bull pen pitchers to face one specific batter in order to end a rally.

Hitters still complain that pitchers now have an unfair advantage. Pitchers have always looked to avoid throwing into areas where hitters are prone to do well (the sweet spots in the batting zone). Slow motion camera and pitching labs have been established to train pitchers how to increase the spin rates on the ball so it breaks harder and sharper over the plate. Major league hitters can hit straight 100 mph fast balls. It is the movement of the pitch at the last second that drives them batty. With recent stories that pitchers are now doctoring the ball with foreign sticky substances to make their spin rates go unnaturally higher, contact by hitters will continue to drop; less balls in play equals less action on the field.

Baseball is a game of probabilities based upon strategies. The infield shift has been the bane of many hitters because teams can accurately predict the location of a batter's hit chart. So a team places its fielders in the areas where he is mostly likely to hit the ball. The result is a glaring hole in the infield on the opposite side of the shift. Traditionalists would say a batter should be able to exploit the shift and hit to the opposite field. But in today's hitting mindset, the player is looking to pull the ball toward the shift because there is more home run power in a pull swing. Now, even a slumping batter should be able to bunt the ball for a base hit in such a situation. But again, bunting is as extinct as base stealing. Bunting is classified as a wasted out by he stat men. Coaches no longer tech it; players refuse to use it in key situations. A bunt is one of those players that makes a fielder nervous: they have to charge the ball and throw awkwardly to first base. Once the ball is on the ground, anything can happen. An bad throw puts a runner on second base. Even if the throw is good, any other runner is moving up a base closer to home (which is a positive result).

The basic elements of a ball game (base hits, stealing bases, bunting and fielding) are no longer a priority to the stewards of the game. But base hits, stealing bases, bunting and fielding are ACTION plays that require some skill in order to get a hitter or base runner out. It is the action that is the fundamental core of game play that is missing from Major League Baseball. That is why many youngsters and casual fans are losing interest in baseball because for the vast majority of time nothing significant is happening in the field of play. In basketball, players are moving up the court dribbling the ball and taking a shot every 24 seconds. In tennis, the ball is smashed over the net at more than 100 mph to be returned with hand-eye coordination. Even auto racing, which seems boring as a bunch of cars go around an oval track, has its action moments of dangerous high speed passes and spectacular crashes.

Baseball was America's Past Time. But the use of technical data points is ruining the actual game play.

 

 

 

iToons

 

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BARF BAGS

 

The Colonial Pipeline ransom ware case shows the continued fragile nature of key computer systems. But buried by that ransom attack was an attack on insurance giant CNA, which its systems were breached. It is unclear what sort of personal and financial data may have been stolen. The bottom line lesson is that no system is immune from breaches. The pipeline case gave the hackers an alleged payday of more than $4 million. Then there was an unconfirmed report from a security company that claimed that the hacker minions who pulled off the attack did not get their share of the loot. I guess there is no honor among thieves as the old saying goes.

The world is desperate to get back to normal. The pandemic has killed global travel. There are many countries that have kept their borders closed since March, 2020. Others have had their healthy systems plunged back into darkness with new Covid strains being imported into their country like Great Britain with the Indian variant. But tourism is a major economic life line for many countries. The lack of tourism spending is a loss that can not be made up. That is why many regions are pushing for vaccine passports as a means of spurring tourism. But a vaccination record does not mean that the pandemic is over and everyone is safe to travel. All the vaccines are experimental drugs. The purpose is to lessen the effects of the Covid virus, not prevent it. As this virus mutates faster than a normal cold or flue strain, no one will know for years how effective the vaccines are for the average person.

It is the most expensive pet rock craze. The idea of selling art images with encrypted non-fungible tokens (NFT) for millions of dollars is mind blowing. The purchaser is not actually buying a work of art but merely ownership of an URL or jpeg file. No copyrights or ownership rights in the work is being transferred to the winning bidder. It really is only a status symbol. Artists like the idea because for most their work is being ripped off on the internet with no compensation to them. Art dealers and auction houses like the idea because the outrageously high prices means more commissions. But it come down to the fiction of creating something valuable out of thin air. Cryptocurrencies are the same thing: a mathematical formula that other people find valuable creates its inherit value. It is really no different than a ten dollar bill. We equate it with it being worth 10 dollars merely on faith that others will agree with that assessment. The use of NFTs and digital currencies are the same, but in a more extreme and fluid environment.

Pandemic politics is the worst form of politics. The printing of trillions of dollars in spending by US presidents and Congress has caused a massive jump in real inflation (prices for gasoline, food and basic goods are up more than 40 percent in a year eventhough the government only claims 4 percent increase). Inflation is the real danger in any economic recovery. People are betting their savings in an overheated stock market because savings rates have languished below one percent for years. Savings accounts at low interest rates rot away their value due to higher inflation costs. In today's environment, it is difficult for someone to start their own business to recoup their old lost salaries. And the idea that your business is at the whim of a politician being able to lock down your doors if their is another wave of pandemic spread is daunting risk.

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IN SEARCH OF COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

The pandemic has caused many people to live sheltered lives. No more office socialization. No more school socialization. No more religious association. We have spent so much time in front of our computer screens are collective eyesight has to be damaged beyond correction.

It is interesting to note that despite the home confinement of couples, global birth rates are still down. Sociologists believe a couple of factor are involved in this counter-intuitive result. First, couples under the same roof for longer periods of time get to see their partners flaws more and more which is a turn-off. Second, couples may fear the cost a raising a child in uncertain social and economic times. They may have less interest in sex because they are working longer hours at home tele-communting than in prior years. Just as disruptions in the supply change hinders manufacturing, disruptions in normal social cycles (including personal activities and alone time) lead to more rocky relationships.

Human beings are born instinctively curious. We want to find a community of shared ideas and experiences. The inability to join or continue outside friendships and interests can be very depressing to some people. A recent UK study found that more than 57 percent of respondents felt serious bouts of depression and anxiety during the past pandemic year.

Then there are those people whose work life was put on hold. Their job was not deemed essential so that had to emotionally sting. And if you had a family member or friend get sick, that would add to the dread to fixate on one's own health. But living under house arrest when your only outlet is buying groceries and watching steaming television leads to unhealthy lifestyle choices. If you desired to communicate, twitter and facebook were not the best forums as they have been overrun by political hate speech and untruths.

It seems that more people slowly gravitated back to the basics: reading, writing and cooking. You can find just about anything on YouTube. People have found some comfort in learning to cook basic recipes. Others have reconnected to reading books. Still, others have found new activities such as writing a diary, to creating art or other crafts such as sewing or knitting. Still others have tried self-home improvements. An objective observer may classify these things as time fillers, but people fail to realize how many empty hours each day they have to fill. Eight hours of sleep still leads to 16 hours to fill with some mental or physical activity. Even if you work from home, you still have about 8 hours a day to fill with some personal activity unrelated to work. Blanking out in front of another screen, such as the TV, is probably the choice for most people but that gets boring after a while (especially since the lock downs shrunk new entertainment productions down by more than half).

What may be rewarding is joining or lurking around internet communities that share your personal interests. One of the benefactors of the lock down has been the increased expansion of the Korean Wave, South Korean music and drama programs have become very popular in the West. Fan sites and YouTube channels discuss new shows, critique new music and talk gossip among members. This is a prime example of how the Internet can link mutual interests to form a community where people can interact, communicate and share their thoughts and opinions. Many celebrities have started vlogging on YouTube and Twitch as part fan service, part brand building and part monetization of content. But fans love to comment on their favorite stars, and they become drooling zombies when celebrities share their personal stories or a glimpse of their personal lives with them. (It is also a dangerous dance; obsessive fans can turn like rabid dogs to destroy the reputation of a person).

Fan groups, hobby craft sites and the like are good places to wander about to see if it is something that may interest you. Also, there is some level of nostalgia in the air. Many people have thought about what they used to do as kids such as camping and are trying it as adults.

How one copes with the isolation from friends and normal activities is the key to maintaining one's sanity in troubled times. What have you done to cope with your personal situation? Have you tried to find a new community in which to weather the pandemic storm?

 

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THE WHETHER REPORT

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STATUS

Question: Whether breakthrough Covid infections set off another round of lock down and travel restrictions?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether vaccine passports open up global tourism in 2021?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether a majority of office workers return by the end of he year to their 2019 office space?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

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