Mask Hysteria

For more  than a year, people have been at loggerheads over whether masks can prevent the spread of Covid-19.  It is rare that we see civil discussion on this topic. People have dropped anchor on their position and many are quick to jump into a fracas over this topic.

Do you want to  know why mask mandates are so controversial?

Pile of Cloth Facemasks

Pile of Face Masks 

It’s because almost nobody sees real evidence suggesting that masking is, or isn’t, effective in preventing virus spread.   

What we  do see on news sites, Twitter,  etc. are claims to offer proof of the effectiveness, or futility,  of wearing masks in defense against Covid.

Yet, this ‘proof’ is almost always  a graph (or several)  showing: 

  • Covid-19 cases rising, or falling, and 
  • A date marker indicating when  mask mandate went into a effect, or were lifted

There’s  couple of things wrong with this.  First, these graphs rarely cite the source of their data. As far as I can tell, nobody is peer-reviewing these screen grabs, either. 

I hate to break to all of you, but these graphs only “prove”  that the creator of the graph missed the 7th-grade unit on correlation vs. causation, or  the creator assumes their audience did.

And if your “proof” includes mask-compliance rates, then I guess it’s time we had THE talk about that, too.

Those figures are not reliable. They depend on people being honest (some won’t be) and accurate (many more won’t be). There is no way to gauge how often people are actually wearing mask, or whether they are engaging in other behaviors that might affect virus spread. 

Furthermore, merely showing case patterns juxtaposed against the  start, or end of a mask mandate does, not take into account the variables that we can measure, such as weather-related factors: precipitation, wind and temperature. 

The former two affect the physical distribution of a virus, the latter can determine if people are spending time indoors, or closing windows. 

There is honest-to-God laboratory research with experimental analysis,  on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of masks in the prevention of viral spread. Though these type of analyses aren’t likely to show up on cable news. 

They  sure as hell won’t make it to social media. 

 

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Guardians

For over 105 years, the Major League Baseball franchise in Cleveland has been known as the Indians, a name that has repeatedly been subjected to harsh (in my opinion warranted) criticism because of its perpetuation of racial stereotypes.

Last week the team announced that it would be changing its name to The Guardians   following the completion of the 2021 baseball season. As the linked article describes, the new name came from The Guardians of Traffic: giant statues that are sculpted in The Hope Memorial Bridge.

Personally, I’m glad to see the century-old name for the franchise get scrapped. Though, if I lived in the area, I don’t know if I would have wanted a team name to remind me of being stuck in traffic.

I would have preferred that they had reverted to the team’s earlier name the Spiders.

That seems like a good name for a baseball team since spiders are good at catching flies. Though the downside is that spiders are often eaten by bats.

I also  have to admit that  Cleveland Rocks would have been a cool name.

“Cleveland Rocks” From Opening Credits of The Drew Carey Show

 

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Target Does WHAT?

(Warning double entendres ahead. If you are easily offended then avert thine eyes).

A week ago, my family  returned to Grand Rapids after a brief  vacation. When my wife said that she was heading out shopping, I immediately thought  of my city’s national  treasure: a sign at the front of a retail plaza showcasing its merchants.

There is nothing unusual about this assembly of stores, but the arrangement of their signs is particularly humorous. At least it is  to 12-year-old me (and current me):

It is  one of the things that makes Grand Rapids grand:

Retail signs arranged so that stores are shown in this order: Target, Staples, Aldi Dicks

Target Staples Aldi Dick’s

Target. Staples. Aldi. Dick’s.

The earliest incarnation of the sign arrangement in this retail plaza was:

  • Target 
  • Staples
  • Dick’s

Later, there was a grocery store chain that made a brief appearance (circa 2009) that couldn’t get a foothold in this market during the global financial crisis and closed.

But for a short time the sign said:

  • Target 
  • Staples
  • Fresh Market
  • Dick’s

After Fresh Market vacated the space, Aldi moved in and took third position on the sign.

The only explanation I can think of for the persistent double-entendres in the sign arrangement is that the property manager is unapologetic smart-ass (and therefore will forever be my hero). 

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“You Can Call Me Ray…”

Bill Saluga is not a name you’re likely to recognize. I just learned his name moments ago.

Though many of you might remember “Raymond J. Johnson, Jr.” a character Saluga portrayed in his standup act, beer commercials, and on variety shows.

His schtick was saying his full name and clarifying how you  could refer to him.

“You can call me Ray. Or you can Jay. Or You can call me…”

He took great offense when people called him Johnson:

(“Raymond J. Johnson, Jr.” in Busch Natural Light ad with Norm Crosby)

Ray ( or Jay, Johnny, etc.) recorded a novelty single called “Dancin’ Johnson.”

I never heard it on radio though saw him perform it, with backing vocalists, on The Tonight Show.

I’m pretty sure that is the precise moment that the Disco Era ended.

We owe him a debt of gratitude.

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