journalism


19
Mar 20

How are you settling in?

Everyone is getting a little more adjusted to their current realities. More people are staying indoors and at home, such as they can. And there are adjustments we’re all learning to make. It’s interesting to see and hear about. In between the many work emails and such.

Not everyone can, of course. Some people’s work requires them to be physically present. And some people just don’t get it. (But they’re liable to, if they keep that up, and they’re going to give it to others.)

And, it turns out, we don’t have the power of bulletproof young people we thought we did, either. Yes, Young People Are Falling Seriously Ill From Covid-19:

New evidence from Europe and the U.S. suggests that younger adults aren’t as impervious to the novel coronavirus that’s circulating worldwide as originally thought.

Despite initial data from China that showed elderly people and those with other health conditions were most vulnerable, young people — from twenty-somethings to those in their early forties — are falling seriously ill. Many require intensive care, according to reports from Italy and France. The risk is particularly dire for those with ailments that haven’t yet been diagnosed.

I wonder when the stigmatization of the people living their social lives really begins. You’ll have to somehow distinguish between the folks going to work to pay their bills or venturing out to take care of the vital necessities of life. But places that haven’t shut down their venues, or had their events shut down for them by executive power, the people there are going to get judged, I’m sure.

Even our cats get it; stay home.

We had to open a box late last evening and boxes, as cat owners know, may as well be C.S. Lewis’ wardrobe. So I thought I would turn it upside down. Defeat the cat! He can’t get in. No, he couldn’t. He got on. So, I thought, maybe I’ll just make you a little cat house.

He liked it immediately.

Because they don’t have enough things to climb on or in around here.

I shared that picture with a fellow cat owner, and she sent me this video and urged me to build …

I will not. Because I have another idea.

On the dual subject of pets and finding things to break up your days just now …

Don’t watch that one while walking up steps, that’s what I learned.

This one is quite interesting, for different reasons:

These sound interesting to me.

Experiments: Now is a great time to learn science by doing science. In this series, we take kids through real scientific research projects, showing them how to apply the scientific method to develop their own experiments. Check out the full collection of experiments — and give one a try!

Explainers: We have explainers on many topics, from how to read brain activity to the greenhouse effect. Each is designed to take a deeper dive into the concepts that underlie science news and research.

Technically Fiction: These stories look into the science behind fiction, from Harry Potter to bigfoot to what it would take to make an elephant fly. These can be a great place to start if your child doesn’t think they like science.

I started a musical conversation this evening. Some of the good ones that came through …

And this is aimed at marketers, but we’re all doing a bit of that these days, if you think about it. So think about it.

Be mindful. That’s terrific outreach advice. Grace and patience, friends. Grace and patience.


18
Mar 20

Hello, hello, hello

The best time, I told Instagram, for a run in the early age of social distancing? Obviously on a day when it is in the mid-40s. The preferred time would be when it isn’t raining, but the forecast was not a reality today.

Aside from the wind, and the rain, and the cold, it was a nice little three-and-a-half miles around the neighborhood. In a few weeks, if and when it warms up, I’ll have to think adding a few more miles back into the routine.

After a big meeting today, and thinking of an email and a conversation from the last few days, I pitched an idea which got the approval for further pitches. Up chains it goes. Now it needs a title, apparently. So that was a happy task for much of the afternoon, and perhaps part of the rest of the week and, if it goes well, for some time into the future. More on that then, then.

Let’s look at links.

I’ve come to really admire The Undefeated in it’s short run. It launched in late 2016, but it has covered a lot of ground and its writers manage to have a simultaneous air of authority and attitude that’s not always easy to pull off.

Maybe it is a bit easier in this brief essay, because the whole system has been a farce and the women who have been at the center of it have carried themselves with such poise, none more so than Simone Biles, who does all that while still competing at heretofore unknowable levels, having to maintain a criticism of her sport and constantly being the center of that as a spokesperson while also, you know, at the ripe old age of 23, being amazing:

She knows that it takes a village to raise a predator above reproach, to look the other way when his predations become so far out of hand as to be a well-known secret. She knows, from experience, that true, explicit acknowledgment and real structural change are required.

It’s unforgivable that Biles must use her hard work and success in this way — risking it all to advocate for herself and other gymnasts trapped under the governing body’s irresponsible purview. It’s unfortunate that the other side of her luminescent medal and legacy is dulled by that governing body’s paternalism and neglect. By pressuring an institution that performs in the face of its own inaction and injustice, Biles makes legible the ways our society tucks violence against women under the proverbial floor mat, and the ways in which women continue to materialize the strength necessary to demand the world beyond violence that we deserve and imagine.

This will be something a lot of people find useful, or will otherwise be looking for in the coming weeks. Stuck at home? Enriching activities to do with all ages from the Indiana Young Readers Center:

Looking for extra activities to keep children busy? Explore some of these activities put together for you by the Indiana Young Readers Center, located in the Indiana State Library. Remember, children of all ages can benefit from play and reading. Keep your kids engaged with some of these resources.

Sadly, my age group was not included. I’ll just have to fall back on my experience as an only child.

The apparently innumerate senator is from Wisconsin.

And the 3.4 percent he’s using here in his rhetoric works out to just over twice the population of his state. But, really, it is the rhetoric that’s a problem here. That data point isn’t being used correctly. So he’s using an incorrect data point, incorrectly.

To say nothing of the knock-on effects, and the many other medical cases that will be marginalized as hospitals become forced to triage everything:

These choices could be particularly devastating for the tens of thousands of Americans awaiting new organs, transplant experts said.

The outbreak has already caused serious disruptions. Doctors in some parts of the country say an inability to quickly test potential donors for the coronavirus has led them to decline viable organs, forcing some ailing patients to wait longer. To avert the spread of the virus among vulnerable patients who must take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of their new organs, doctors have canceled most routine follow-up visits for transplant recipients. And in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus patients requiring beds in intensive care units, some hospitals are now performing transplant operations only for patients who are at the most dire risk of death.

[…]

Without a transplant, Branson said his surgeon told him last week that he might only have about 30 to 45 days to live. But he said the hospital considers the surgery needed to remove part of his uncle’s liver to be elective — and therefore nonessential.

In a statement to NBC News, Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret, the chief of transplant surgery at UCHealth, confirmed that the hospital had suspended some transplant surgeries.

Meanwhile …

Never mind that younger people are also susceptible. But if you’re talking ’bout my generation (and not the one that actually claims that song) …

So, who is taking COVID-19 seriously? Possibly Gen X, who are born between 1965 and 1980 according to Pew Research Center, and are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” because many are caring for children and older parents. On social media this weekend, the hashtag “GenX” trended, with the “latchkey generation” saying that they were the most prepared to live in isolation.

From a psychological perspective, there might be some truth to this argument.

As they tried to explain this — and I stipulate that painting sweeping generalizations over a 20-year cohort, which is nothing more than the thinnest of constructs anyway, is silly — they missed one important potential external factor: MTV.

Now, usually, when I point to MTV, it isn’t in a good way. But it works out this time. We were just ready, because of what we already knew.

Also … is any other group allowed to see itself in this light?

Our little group has always been
And always will until the end


25
Feb 20

Some videos for you

News! News! It was a night for the news! Campus news, anyway. It was a television night, as Tuesdays are all fall and winter terms. (It doesn’t seem right to call this a spring term, since we’re going to have snow tomorrow. But, by that metric a substantial portion of the fall term would also be a winter term.)

Oh good, he’s talking about the weather. Again.

Yes, it is a light day, and that is what I am allowed to complain about in late February, the weather. Plus, in four or five more weeks I won’t have that.

We all agree, that can’t happen soon enough around here.

You’ve no idea, gentle reader.

Anyway, to the studio! (Because the other seven-plus hours of my day were in a featureless office!)

They brought in a campus improv group for their second show. That episode should be out tomorrow. But here’s the gist of it. The woman in white left the room and the performers solicited a person, place and activity from the crew. When she came back in, the other member of the troupe had to guess all of that. She was a therapist, you see, and all of Sarah’s inner-characters were trying to give her clues. It was amusing.

Also, the studio audio will be better than my phone’s microphone from 12 feet away. That’s because they were wearing microphones.

Also, this is interesting:


6
Feb 20

There’s a lot to watch, only a little to read

I think these two items work together nicely.

That tweet is framed politely, the report spreads the condemnation a fair bit. Which is easy to do, there are many fingers to point in many directions. But, ultimately, everything seems to follow the rule of gravity, and point downward. Lowest common denominators being what they are.

Full day in the office, followed by several hours in the studio. So there’s not a lot here. (Initially I wrote lout, which was more typographical error than subliminal message, but I fortunately caught it just in time.) I do have some video from the studio, however. Tuesday night we watched the news:

And they made white chocolate strawberries, which may be the way to go there, it turns out:

Tonight was sports:

So many sports:

I hope that’ll keep you for now. We’ll try to do better next Thursday, and at least a few of the days in between. See you tomorrow, then, right?


31
Jan 20

Winter snow on Friday

Just three short-long months ago I stood outside and shivered while pumping gas and watching the snow. It was notable because it was Halloween and three long-short months ago. And now, today …

To be fair and just, which we always are on the Internet, it has been a mild winter so far. You shouldn’t say things like that, because even with the qualifier “so far” you imply that it is over. It is not over. If you used the “… so far” formulation that’d look ominous, like you were going for drama or fright night. Which might be appropriate, or overwrought. It’s weather, so it is difficult to tell. And if there’s one thing that we know is not allowed on the Internet, it is the inappropriate jumping to conclusions or an overwrought and emotional reaction.

We’re going to have sunny skies (for a change) and the low 60s on Sunday. Winter will, no doubt, return in short order.

Anyway, cold, slow day today. I suppose the two might be correlated. Probably not, but it’s an easy connection to make, and that’s really what the Internet is for.

The following things aren’t related, but they are two signs of these times. Not all of the times, but, indeed some of them.

Somehow, I thought there’d be more of a ceremony, or at least done after hours. Anything to keep it from looking this pitiful.

Locally, the newspaper, which has been a part of two corporate transactions under recent moons, is losing it’s local printing operation.

This is how it continues. We’re well past how it begins. The printing will take place up in Indianapolis. It isn’t far, but it’ll mean a few professionals will lose their jobs locally. And this local paper will be put in a queue with the bigger Indianapolis Star, whatever other papers and contract jobs must be done. Then the design of the actual papers will be moved out. You’ll see, or perhaps you are already seeing where you are, formulaic layouts done by specialists who are trying to crank out two more front pages before their lunch break. It consolidates jobs, and the technology helps, but it compresses the work. We see papers that fall into formulas and a lot, a lot, gets lost along the way. A bit of institutional knowledge here, local history and importance there.

Perhaps it matters less these days. Newspapers, sad to say, have a reduced importance because they have a reduced readership. This isn’t pure nostalgia. Part of it is, sure, but there’s a lot to be said about the function that a truly healthy newspaper can provide to its community. I believe in that more fervently than I do in a newspaper. I’ve always been married more to the ideal of the service, the function, the role, than the medium. It just so happens that well-attended newspapers are, or were, the best medium we had for that. This isn’t chicken-or-the-egg stuff, but it feels like it. The economics of the industry are such that closing presses is the next step in trying to keep something solvent, for a time, before the inevitable selloffs take place. When Warren Buffett is getting out

This is how it continues.