Covid 19 pandemic, Pandemic diary

A pandemic diary: A break in the weather

November 22, 2021

It’s 52 degrees and mostly cloudy. There’s a two percent chance of rain through the next hour, with a high of 56 this afternoon and a low of 33 tonight. The Thanksgiving outlook is, “Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 63F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.” Sounds like a good day to walk off a big meal and enjoy the fall colors.

While these particular numbers are innocuous, the accuracy of a weather report can mean the difference between life and death. When my wife and I owned a beach house, we religiously watched the local news and the National Hurricane Center for signs of a storm.

The credibility of the forecaster is vital. That’s why it was so outrageous when Trump doctored a hurricane map. So why would the Weather Channel share its online real estate with a fake-news purveyor that’s blasting out anti-vaccine hysteria?

News Break is among the sponsored content (clickbait) floating around on the channel app. Founded by a Chinese media exec in Beijing, it aims to crack the U.S. market by billing itself as, “your #1 local news app for current events, free live news, business news, and more.” Here’s a sample.

Not surprisingly, the comment section is full of hatred and vitriol. Some reviews: “The trolling is out of control along with the racists.” “The News Break App is nothing short of a racist’s paradise.” “Never in my life have I seen such [a] hate-filled, threatening, racist, cruel, vile, & disgusting ‘news’ site.'”

I know the Weather Channel is not directly responsible. And yes, clickbait makes money, which is why it’s everywhere. But there’s a difference between, “Kourtney Kardashian Shows Off Toned Abs,” and “Pfizer’s Whistleblower Reveals Vaccine Data Integrity Issues.” A weather operation that’s built around science puts its own integrity at risk by propagating this junk.

Needless to say, the app is gone from my phone, like a couple of anti-vax musicians are absent from my playlists. (I also deep-sixed NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” from my radio for its unfunny ageism.) Even if you can’t fix stupid, you can keep it out of your space and send a message to whoever put it there. Take care, have a great Thanksgiving, and be safe.

history, Internet, life, men and women, retirement

Stuporcize me

I’m full. No, make that stuffed. Satiated. Saturated. Gorged. Bursting. My body is aching and my mind is foggier than Beijing on a bad air day. I can almost feel the grease pushing out through my pores. My entire system is sneering and snarking at me: “Are you kidding me? Have you no sense of decency, sir? You’re WAY too old for this!”

Does it sound like I inhaled an early Thanksgiving feast? Not quite. What’s got me at the moment is the mental equivalent of junk food: the Internet.

I know this isn’t exactly news. But since I retired and have been on my own time and my own PC all day instead of being on the clock and an employer’s machine, I’ve realized just how amazingly distracting the virtual world has become. Not just Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., but the so-called clickbait that inhabits the bottom, the sides, every spare inch of every frickin’ page.

This stuff didn’t even exist in the medieval, primeval days of the Internet (2000 or so, if anybody can recall that far back). Here are a few examples, harvested in the course of about ten minutes, with a bit of analysis:

Emergency Botox! Kim Zolciak Calls Kim Kardashian’s Doctor for the Botox She “Desperately Needed” – Boy, this one should’ve knocked the Pope off the front pages.

30 Signs Your Relationship Is Over – 30? If you need more than two or three, you’re really a couple wontons short of a combo platter.

15 Dumbest U.S. Presidents Ranked by IQ – Uh, we didn’t even know the IQ existed when several of these guys – Buchanan, Harrison, Jackson etc – were in office.

If This Squid Spots You, Swim For Your Life – OK, but unless said squid can find his way up the DeKalb County, GA water system and into my shower, I won’t lose too much sleep.

These Celebrities Have Scars In The Most Unusual Places – So do I, namely on the darkest, most twisted and tragic corners of my poetic soul. Reminds me of the classic Mothers of Invention tune, “What’s The Ugliest Part of Your Body?” (Answer: Your mind!)

We Were Shocked That The Cameraman Was Still Rolling – How many wardrobe malfunctions does one person, even your average dopey male with the reflexes of Pavlov’s pooch where nekkid female types are concerned, need to see in a lifetime?

I fear that when I die and am trying to reach the next life, I’ll be presented with a giant, cosmic pie chart that shows how much time I spent doing various things on Earth, and “Helping others” will be a smaller slice than “Reading about Sharon Stone.” So from now on, enough! The only “clickbait” I’ll take will be this advice from John Prine:

“Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try and find Jesus, on your own”
– “Spanish Pipedream”