Counter to the Narrative

One of these things is not like the others:

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Missouri adds 1,500+ cases; Arkansas up 800+ cases!!!!

Hospitalizations rising in Missouri, prompting worries!!!!!

Springfield-Greene County Health Department reports 4 additional COVID-19 deaths!!!!!!!

Nixa, Mo. Mask Order: Mixed thoughts on new masking ordinance!!! and City of Ozark, Mo. enacts masking ordinance after cases spike, wherein two nearby towns went through the whole legislative process, where the city councils met, had citizens make their voices known, and ultimately decided to not have a masking ban, but the news and the executives at the hospitals are now SHOUTING EXCLAMATION POINTS, so the mayors, modern day Cincinnatuses (Cincinnati?) have unilaterally taken EMERGENCY ACTION.

But: Mo. State COVID-case downturn leads to ending lease with Q Hotel:

Confirmed cases of coronavirus have dropped off substantially at Missouri State University so that the school no longer needs to use a local hotel to house students who’ve tested positive.

The “Q” in The Q Hotel & Suites stood for “quarantine” when Missouri State announced in August that it was leasing the then-closed 120-room building next to Hammons Field as a place to house students who contracted COVID-19.

* * * *

At its peak on August 31 the university was housing 122 students in either quarantine or isolation.

Now that number is 10.

Where are the exclamation points for this data?

Does anyone else here draw parallels between counting deaths and casualties in the Iraq War, with Grim Milestones based on context-free metrics, every day up until a different party took the White House and today? Will Karens become the Cindy Sheehans of 2020 and disappear should Biden win?

Ask me in a couple of months!

Where, Exactly, Does She Live?

It’s supposed to be a heartwarming story of people getting out there and voting [the right way], I guess: Michigan woman travels 300 miles to vote:

A 94-year-old Michigan woman went more than the extra mile to vote in this year’s election.

In fact, [redacted] traveled over 300 miles to make sure her vote was counted.

She’s apparently been an activist in Detroit for most of her life, but:

[Redacted] is staying with family in a suburb of Chicago and when she did not receive her absentee ballot, she asked her son to drive her to Detroit so that she could vote.

Questions abound outside the text of the “news” story, such as:

  • Does she live with relatives in Chicago?
  • Did she not get issued an absentee ballot because she had no residence address in Detroit, and Michigan would not mail it to Chicago?
  • If so, why was it so important to vote in what might be a swing state this year and not in Chicago, which is in a pretty solid Democrat state?

Those questions come to my mind, but cynicism is my life, not just my vocation. And I am not a professional journalist who is trying to drum up voting on one side of the political equation (see: cynicism is my life above).

News I Could Have Used Yesterday

Here’s why canned corn might be tough to find at supermarkets:

Add canned corn to the list of supermarket staples that have become elusive amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The pandemic has roiled the supply chain for canned sweet corn in several ways, meaning it might be tough to track down at your local grocery store, a new report says.

The New York Post links to a Wall Street Journal slideshow that has all the normal things: limited sweet corn production, limited and expensive transportation, brisk sales in the past. Basically, a lot of people bought canned goods this year, which depleted existing stocks, and not enough will be coming through the pipeline to replace all that was already sold.

I say I could have used this yesterday as I went to the grocery and bought six cans of whole kernel corn on sale, and I should have bought twelve. As it stands, I culled our cabinet collection for the quarter and took a couple hundred pounds of cans, mostly vegetables, to the local food bank. The vegetables at our local grocery tend to have a “best buy” date that doesn’t move but every couple of years; when the canned goods in 2018 say Dec 2020, they will say Dec 2020 until sometime in mid 2020, which means everything I buy for a year and a half will become food pantry fodder at the same time. So I have far fewer just-in-case food on hand than I did earlier this week, and in an election year, too.

Good thing I have news like this so that me and several million of my closest friends can make a run on the grocery stores to clear them of all canned corn to help solve the problem.

Meanwhile, I need to get to the grocery more often. The whole pick up something extra every trip, which goes along with the pick up something for the food bank every trip, kind of fails when every trip is once every fortnight instead of a couple times a week.

Carbondale Police Update Their Rules of Emu Engagement

Emu runs loose: Big bird named Kermit escapes Haverhill yard, stretches its long legs:

The emu named Kermit was being handled by a Haverhill woman who temporarily cares for animals in need of homes. On Wednesday morning, the woman was in the process of transporting Kermit to a farm in Maine when the bird tried to make a quick getaway. According to a resident who saw the incident, a gust of wind blew open a gate to the property where the bird was being held, and Kermit ran.

The bird calmed down after being given a pear from a nearby pear tree and was carried to safety.

The police did not have to shoot it eight times. Although that was a different time; in the intervening decade and a half, the Carbondale police force undoubtedly has gotten some armored vehicle remainders from the United States Government and can now simply run down the bird with an MRAP if they don’t have a pear handy.

(You can see all of my mockery of the incident here. This link via Neatorama.)

It Could Be As Effective As Sex Panther, Maybe

Springfield has extended mandatory virtual signaling, and they have followed the Science!TM:

“We know that whether or not masking is 20% effective, or 50% effective, or 90% effective, they are effective, and they will save lives,” said CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards.

One wonders if 0% effective would still be effective, since it is the noun that the percentage modifies regardless of what the percentage is. According to this accounting, sneezing on a chain link fence is effective if but one tiny virus clings to it instead of floating free.

Sixty percent of the time it works every time.

The Wall Street Journal Explains

Okay, I am a little behind in my Wall Street Journal reading, again. Which is basically my normal condition when taking the paper. So I have only now come across an article from September 24, 2020, that explains a little more about why it’s often hard to find movies you want to see on streaming services–Why Some Classic Films Still Aren’t Streaming, From ‘Jungle Fever’ to ‘Silkwood’.

Again, note that the “classics” here date back to the 1980s or the 1990s, which means the dark ages where the films were available on videocassette and/or DVD.

Back in 2016, a little before I was making predictions about how fast I would read the remainder of my books in The Executioner series, I lamented I could not find several movies I wanted to see on the streaming services of the day:

After reading a listicle about John Hughes’ Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I wanted to watch She’s Having A Baby because it’s the most adult of his coming-of-age comedies (and I plan to come of age sometime soon). But it’s not on Netflix nor Amazon Prime.

Then I got to thinking about funny Christmas movies my children might like to watch with me since White Christmas, Holiday Inn, The Bells of St. Mary’s, or The Bishop’s Wife are a little black-and-white for them, and they’re not old enough for Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or Gremlins. So I checked Netflix and Amazon Prime, and again I was disappointed.

And that I joined a video store in 2017 because it had the DVD of a film I needed for a writing assignment:

Now, gentle reader, you might remember my December rant on the limited catalogs of streaming services (What I Want To Watch, When I Want To Watch It). I still feel that way, but I’m pretending to be frugal now. I had to watch Johnny Mnemonic for a writing assignment (which I read back in 2006), and of course, Amazon Prime and Netflix don’t offer it. My beautiful and sultry wife has a membership at the local video store, Family Video, so we went there to get a film for the boys and to see if the shop had Johnny Mnemonic. They did.

That was years ago. I said about streaming:

Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming are good when you want to watch something as they give you a lot to chose from. But I often do not want to sit down and watch something; I want to sit down and watch a particular film. So physical media still have a vital role in that. Much like the old independent video stores offered something other than the newest releases at Blockbuster.

That was back when you really had two streaming platforms to choose from. Now, every media company has its own twelve-buck-a-month service and is slowly reclaiming its library by letting licensing to Amazon and Netflix lapse. Which means everything that was available is still available streaming, but it’s spread over a rapidly widening set of subscription services.

Although a flack at Fandango says it’s only onesies and twosies that are not available, my experience has proven that the onesies and twosies and foursies and twelvesies coincide with what I want to watch. The newspaper explains why so many things are not available on any streaming source:

The causes of unstreamableness vary. For films made before digital distribution existed, it can be unclear who owns streaming privileges. Restrictions on digital use of the music in a film can hold it back. Some “unstreamables” are movies that have been shunned across all platforms, for one reason or another, like Disney’s “Song of the South,” with its racist stereotypes, and the last Woody Allen and Louis CK films, made by tarnished directors.

A film can also simply become buried in a company’s holdings. For those who want to release older films in new formats, hunting down rights holders can become a Watergate-like investigation. After decades of mergers and acquisitions, the corporate owner of a film may not even know it’s the owner.

So, as you might expect, I still look to buy DVDs and VHS cassettes at garage sales and whatnot and, when I get the idea that I want to watch a particular film, I order the physical medium on Amazon.

Also, I am a curmudgeon.

Thank you, that is all.

Also, follow me for more breaking news from the Wall Street Journal from weeks or months ago.

A Landmark That I Will Miss

Pokin Around: Story of Robert Rosendahl’s boat has a new chapter: Destination Tahiti:

Stories hold a force that can transcend life.

Few have the power of the tale of Robert Rosendahl, World War II vet who survived the Bataan Death March, and his boat.

Rosendahl died at age 98 on Feb. 2. The love of his life, Bettie, had died 40 days prior on Christmas Day 2019.

But that is not the end of this story.

Six men in their 60s, including Rosendahl’s son Eirik, plan to fulfill Rosendahl’s dream of finishing the boat — that he first started to build in the early 1980s — and sail it to Tahiti in the South Pacific.

For decades, the boat has sat unfinished on the lawn of the Rosendahl home near Golden Avenue and Republic Road.

After Pokin’s first story on the boat ran in 2015, I looked for the boat when I was driving through that area. It was a bit hidden amongst trees, but I spotted it from time to time. When I didn’t think it was on Scenic Avenue just to the east and look for it there.

Golden has become one of our preferred bike riding routes, so I passed that boat a bunch this year. It’s easier to spot as some of the woods around it have been pared back. And I knew that one day soon, something that I’d seen in my few years in Springfield, something whose history I knew (thanks to Steve Pokin), would be gone. The house would be sold, perhaps razed for a business or multifamily housing, and a bit of Springfield lore lost forever.

If it’s going to go, though, I am glad it will be used as the former owner intended.

Breaking News From 2016

For some reason, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has this story on its front page, albeit at the bottom, today:

Oh, come now, we can all know the reason: It wants to hurt a Republican.

It looks like the Journal-Sentinel has a rotating series of stories in the same area, and they might have that one thing in common.

In Generations Past, We Had A Different Worry

Editorial: West on fire, Great Lakes on the rise, and other climate perils:

The Midwest doesn’t generally have to cope with wildfires, but here, too, climate change is altering our environment in ways that are powerful and dangerous to people as well as property. The most obvious effect is the rising waters in the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan, Erie and Huron set all-time records for high levels this year, and Superior broke its February record. Recent years have been the wettest for the Great Lakes in more than 120 years.

I am so old that I remember a couple years ago when the very opposite worry was true:

Lake Michigan has officially sunk to an all-time low.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported Tuesday that in January the lake plunged below its previous record low level, set in March 1964.

The water is now more than 6 feet below the record high, set in October 1986. The water level is tracked by gauges placed around Lakes Michigan and Huron, which are actually one body of water connected by the Straits of Mackinac. Daily measurements are then averaged at the end of each month for record-keeping purposes.

Remember, gentle reader, when anyone talks about climate measurements being the mostest and the worstest in history, they do not mean like since Ur and the flood that appears in many historical mythologies (the current amount of fresh water, a scarce commodity in many parts of the world, is a CIVILIZATION ENDING EVENT!). History in this case means a hundred years or so when measurement began, and where the measurement in the early part of “history” was not standardized or as precise as it is now.

But the countdown is on to the next set of stories talking about how low lake levels are not going to provide enough water for the cities and the fish. I think it’s got about six years of sand in that particular glass.

National Coin Shortage, Explained

  1. Bank branches/lobbies are closed.
  2. Depositors cannot deposit coins through the drive-thru.

The end.

I don’t know if that’s completely the case, but I don’t see businesses who would normally deposit coins putting their money in the Coinstar machines.

The people with piles of coins at home or charities that generally accumulate a bunch of quarters, dimes, and nickels, though, also don’t have a way to deposit those coins.

Could it be as simple as that?

Is Our Headline Writers Liking Dope And Wishing They Could Get It Easier?

The headline is Missouri burns through $1.3 million in veterans’ money in effort to limit marijuana businesses.

But the story is:

Seven months after state officials finished awarding medical marijuana business licenses, regulators have spent $1.3 million in court to defend themselves against a wave of lawsuits filed by businesses whose applications the state denied.

* * * *

The money spent on legal fees to private law firms — $1.29 million so far — comes from fees medical marijuana cardholders and business applicants have paid the department. Those fees, after covering the cost of running the program, are supposed to be deposited into a new Veterans’ Health and Care Fund.

It is not clear what programs the “journalist” would prefer to cut to pay for the increased costs that the appeals and lawsuits cause. Education? Tax abatements for developers or film producers? Health care for the poor?

Missouri doesn’t have the magic beans that can grow the unlimited red ink trees that the federal government has. Maybe that’s the key: more money with puppetmaster strings from Washington!

It’s almost like some people have never learned basic balance sheets or budgeting.

As I Have Been Saying

We’ve had occasion to drive through the area south of downtown a couple of times recently; once, with the boys, we had a little extra time before church, so we went for a ride. The second was after a dinner with my wife downtown. Both times, as we went through the area near the university, I reviewed all the new construction–for years, developers have been in the news seeking blight designations for older but still viable properties so they could get tax abatements to construct dazzling new apartment buildings for students. “You know who’s hurting? These guys who have just taken huge mortgages for what are now empty buildings.”

I said it last week; the Wall Street Journal gets there this week: Covid-19 Outbreaks Spell Trouble for Student-Housing Owners.

One might think that you might be able to pick up those new apartment buildings relatively inexpensively in a year or so. I’m not sure if you’d want to, though, as the whole university thing is going to change in the next couple of years as well and might not have the large resident populations that they have in the past.

You Can’t Spell Chutzpah Without “Huh.”

Editorial: The protests didn’t kill David Dorn. A criminal did — with easy access to a gun.

Yeah, um. But:

It’s practically meaningless to ask where he got the gun, since anyone in Missouri can privately purchase a gun from anyone else with no questions asked. Missouri’s Republican leaders, like their congressional counterparts, have made sure of that by opposing universal background checks for all gun purchases.

Because the Post-Dispatch already has its point to make–the protests are peaceful, guns are bad–it doesn’t matter if the convicted felon and continuing criminal got his gun through the means–private sales–that the Post-Dispatch wants to flog or whether he got it through other means which are illegal and would not be stopped by more laws restricting the law abiding but not convicted felons and continuing criminals. The editorial writer does not need know whether he stole the gun, got the gun from someone who illegally purchased the gun for him, received the gun as a gift from a fellow criminal, or bought the gun from another convicted felon who should not have had the gun, either, and would not have run a background check if the law required it. Knowing it might have made the editorial impossible.

So, yeah, it’s not important to the canned editorial the newspaper opened.

In the real world, though, even if this law were in place, hobbling law-abiding citizens, this guy would probably still have gotten a gun.

I Would Be Outraged, But….

Young people don’t trust anyone who uses this punctuation mark:

Periods may be coming to a full stop.

While older texters may consider the period an innocent symbol that a sentence has ended, digital natives consider it a triggering form of aggression. The punctuation problem ignited over social media recently, with Gen Z and millennials agreeing that ending a sentence with a period is overly hostile and, worse yet, extremely uncool.

“Only old people or troubled souls put periods at the end of every sentence,” wrote digital culture journalist Victoria Turk in her book on digital etiquette, “Kill Reply All.”

Instead… I will aggress… the subset of young people… who are triggered… by digital dots… and I vow… to use ellipses… BECAUSE I AM MEAN.

If you cannot trust a digital cultural journalist peddling her own book, whom can you trust?

KY 3 Journalist Again Expands The Boundaries of Battlefield

Dozens of Battlefield neighbors gather to sign petition against proposed zoning:

A large plot of land that once was supposed to be a school is now drawing quite a bit of concern from neighbors who fear it could soon be the home of a large apartment complex.

Back in 2019, Springfield Public Schools sold a 34-acre property south of Harrison Elementary School. The property was sold to SPI of Springfield, LLC. While the property is currently zoned for singly family homes (R-1), the developer initially requested it be rezoned for multi-family homes.

Residents in the area are upset by the proposal, which would lead to single-family homes and an apartment complex being built on the land.

People living nearby said the proposal comes with an assortment of issues.

As someone who has passed through the area on a bicycle this weekend, I can assure you that this is not in the city of Battlefield.

That’s unincorporated Greene County. It’s not even within the 65619 area code, which is the Brookline post office located way up north of Republic but curls around the eastern boundary of Republic and includes Battlefield to the east and Clever and Billings to the south (man, they have to go a long way to pick up their packages–it’s almost a half hour at freeway speeds for us). So I have no idea where KY 3 got the idea to call this neighborhood “Battlefield”. It’s more likely to be annexed by Springfield than Battlefield.

Previously, KY 3 extended the boundaries of Battlefield to the north.

I have to be a Battlefield partisan early, as the boundary of the city is the big empty field across the farm road from me, and someday, they might decide to annex Nogglestead.

You know, they used to say, “Good enough for government work.” I think we have a new low standard, “Good enough for young journalist work.”

The Apocryphoral Prediction Comes True

1986-87 Fleer Basketball Cards case containing Michael Jordan rookie sells for more than $1.7M:

An unopened case of 1986-87 Fleer Basketball Cards sold for more than $1.78 million in an auction conducted by Collect Auctions on Thursday night.

The auction house described the box as “the Holy Grail of all modern items” and possibly the last one left in the sports-card collecting hobby. The case includes 12 wax boxes with 36 packs to a box.

You know, I have many of my childhood collections, and I have always maintained that one cannot get rich from the things from one’s childhood.

In spite of this incident, I’m going to hold to it. Because an unopened box likely came from a speculator or the remnants of an out-of-business collector shop somewhere. Not from someone’s childhood.

(Link via the Springfield Business Journal.)