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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

March 27, 2024 - NBC's Blunder, Alternate Facts, Stacking up the Candidates, Political Poetry, and College Sports Gambling

 

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NBC Peacock's feathers in disarray


NBC Makes a Mistake

Jackspotpourri was all set to go out this morning with a seething denunciation of NBC's hiring of Trumpublican liar Ronna McDaniel, recently replaced as G.O.P. co-chairperson by Donald John Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara.  Public opinion and NBC's professional staff of journalists got there before this blog did and NBC, recognizing the error of its ways, has announced that her hiring as a political analyst has been canceled.  

As a replacement for our readers, Jackspotpourri is including a 2020 piece on alternate facts.  Fortunately, Ms. McDaniel's cancellation is not an alternate fact, but other things that you believe might be. 

JL       

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Bulletin from The Office of Alternate Facts

An apple, loosened from its attachment to its branch on an apple tree, will fall to the ground.  It won’t shoot upward toward the sky nor remain hanging there in mid-air where it was before its stem snapped.    This is because of what Isaac Newton defined as “gravity” in his laws of motion.

But, friends, hold on a second, please!  Let us assume that at the same instant that the apple falls from the tree, right here in the United States, a similar apple becomes detached from its stem on an apple tree in Argentina.  That apple will similarly fall to the ground, but clearly, it is not falling in the same direction as its North American cousin fell.  That is because by just looking at a globe, you can see that what is “pointing upwards” in the Northern hemisphere is “pointing downwards” in the Southern hemisphere, and of course, vice versa.  You can see the difference.  You can’t tell me “up” and “down” are the same thing directions in these two places.  To an extraterrestrial observer out in space with a very powerful telescope, those apples clearly would appear to be falling in different directions!  So clearly, just as some claim that “gravity” is a fact, it can be proposed that there is an alternate fact stating that, at a minimum, “up” and “down” are not the same thing as Newton claims they can be.

Well, for “believers” in what Newton suggested, there had to have been an explanation for the crazy idea of “up” equaling “down” in different places on our planet.  The three “laws of motion” that he devised serve well to explain to “believers” that something called “gravity” is the force that brings this about.  That is, of course, if they choose to believe in them.  To back up these “laws,” an impressive formula is included to prove the theory.  (This is included in the appendix.)  Simply, they supposedly claim that every object in the universe that has “mass” exerts a pull, or force, on every other object that has “mass” and that that pull or force, in the case of the apples and everything else in the universe, is what creates the illusion of “up” and “down,” and also keeps the planets revolving around the sun rather than their falling haphazardly out into space and gives order to most other things in the universe. 

Today, most people accept this explanation of what “gravity” is as factual.  Newton did not, however, deal with the possibility that there might be alternate facts, as your looking at a globe illustrates to anyone whose mind is not closed.   Someone standing precisely on the Earth’s south pole clearly is upside down from someone standing precisely on the Earth’s north pole, no matter how one claims otherwise.  And of course, an empirical, objective look at matters scientific requires such open minds.  Right?  And that is precisely why our group is dedicated to promulgating alternate facts.

When we next meet, our agenda will include a new, revealing, paper on why, really, if you sail far enough out into the ocean, you will indeed fall off the earth.  This is contrary to the fake news which has been circulating for about the past four or five hundred years claiming that our planet is a sphere rather than a flat surface, as had previously been well documented for many centuries by the revealing woodcuts made by many extremely learned monks.  (One of these woodcuts is included in the Appendix.)

Meanwhile, let me remind you that the deadline is approaching for registering for our 2020 worldwide seminar on “Climate Change – The Greatest Hoax Since Noah’s Ark.”  Originally scheduled for a lovely resort on Australia’s southeast coast, we may be relocating that event since the “Happy Koala Lodge” doesn’t seem to be answering the phone.   Wherever we end up, be sure to bring your alternate facts.  Rumors that prospective alternate locations have been subject to unexpected volcanic action, wildfires, flooding or earthquake are clearly no more than fresh fake news originating with supporters of the aforementioned Mr. Newton, whom it is rumored is currently trying to understand the alternate facts recently reported in the media that apples actually have been occasionally seen falling upward from trees in Buenos Aires!   Always, friends, please keep your mind open to new ideas.

Jack Lippman, Acting Alternate Factotum

Appendix:

A:   Newton’s three laws of motion may be stated as follows:

  1. Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it.
  2. Force equals mass times acceleration [f (t) = m a (t)].
  3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

B:   Woodcut illustrating that the earth is flat.  



(Translation of inscription: ‘A missionary from the Middle Ages, or possibly a middle-aged missionary, announces that he had found the point where the heavens and the Earth touch one another.’) This graphically confirms the flatness of the earth.  Our modern-day Alternate Fact Research Team out in the field tends to place that point about three miles north of the city of Manaus on the Amazon River in Brazil.

JL       

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The Race for the Presidency

The major issues that the 47th president of the United State will face can be summarized as follows:

Domestic – Immigration at our Southern Border, Inflation, the Economic Outlook, Abortion Rights, Gun Violence, the Role of Government, Interpretation of the Constitution.

Foreign – Russian aggression in Ukraine, Israel reaction to Hamas, China as a competitor.

Both President Biden and his challenger, Donald John Trump, should have positions on these nine major issues.  The President’s positions are easy to pin down because he, as president, is involved in them daily.  Trump’s position can be ascertained from his prior presidency and what he is saying in his campaigning, bearing in mind that words are far less definitive than actions which, as the old saying goes 'speak louder than words.'  

Let’s take a quick look at where they stand.

Both stand for limiting illegal immigration at our Southern border.  Biden wants to do it within our system of laws, as a Federal matter, bearing in mind the problem it poses for cities and States impacted by it.  Trump just wants to shut it down, building physical as well as legal walls, nationally or in individual States.  Trump shuns bi-partisan agree-upon solutions that might take away a campaign argument from him.

Biden counts on economic growth, less unemployment, infrastructure improvements, more spendable income, and Federal Reserve control of interest rates and the money supply to combat inflation. Slow to take effect, these steps enable Trump to claim they are not working and that the problem is rampant, highly visible in food and fuel prices.

Biden claims his administration is creating economic growth and the statistics, led by a healthy stock market, prove it.  Trump claims things were better when he was President, and he deserves credit for economic growth started when he was in charge.

Biden stands for abortion rights. Trump is mostly silent on this issue, but his Supreme Court appointees have turned this into a national debate, with most Republicans seeking to restrict such women’s rights.

Biden is for Federal laws controlling gun violence. Trump wants it left to the States and cherishes the support he gets at that level in the courts and from gun owners, some of whom are hostile to government involvement.

Biden’s administration favors government regulation that benefits the working person, the environment, health, safety, and the economy.  Trump feels regulations stifle the economy, which left alone, will better benefit the people, the old 'trickle down' con game.

While Trump believes in a literal, ‘originalist’ reading of the Constitution and its Amendments, Biden feels it should be interpreted in terms of its consequences for the present and the future. (The SCOTUS decision keeping Trump on the Colorado ballot was a flip-flop of these positions!)

Trump is not interested in supporting Ukraine’s battle against Russia, taking an ‘America First’ approach. He continues not being a fan of NATO, even telling Russia to 'do what the hell you want' against those NATO states behind in their dues.  Biden feels Russian aggression must be stopped there with aid to Ukraine before it involves Europe and the United States.  Trump wholly supports anything Israel does to defend itself while Biden, while still supporting Israel, still hopes for a two-state solution there, recognizing Palestinian concerns. Trump supports a one-state solution, favoring Israel’s extremists and Bibi Netanyahu.  Both see China as a growing economic adversary but Biden seeks a way of working with them, setting firm rules, while Trump manifests hostility as the best course for us.

There it is.  Take your choice!  

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Recommendation:  It is bothersome that Donald Trump admires autocratic heads of state like Hungary’s Viktor Orban and of course, Vladimir Putin, whose views of democracy differ from what has always prevailed in the United States. He is a potential ‘strong man,’ if not a dictator, and that is reason enough NOT to vote for Trump.  While Trump may claim that Biden has ‘weaponized’ the government against him, that is not so.  Biden’s administration has merely executed the laws passed by Congress, which is what these two branches of our government are constitutionally designed to do.  It is from such carrying out of our laws that the defeated former president's legal troubles come.  But remember, no one is above the law, even a former president.

I would be remiss if I didn’t report the beginnings of a faint tremor I sense suggesting that Donald John Trump might not be the Republican nominee in November, after all.  His increasing moments of irrationality, ignited by legal and money problems that would torment and unnerve the most stable of people, may result in a total mental collapse driving him over the precipice deeper into the false reality that has long captured his mind.  Just look at his face lately!  Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, and Chris Christie (now suddenly back in the fray) stand ready to replace him, if Republicans decide to dump him before it is too late.

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Locally, it is important to donate to Democratic candidates who are in close races where your support is crucial.  In Florida, that means voting for Debbie Muscarsel-Powell for the United States Senate.  She has a great chance of putting Rick Scott (who seems to be against everything good about America) out to pasture.  Learn about her, and donate, at https://www.debbieforflorida.com/ or just CLICK RIGHT HERE.

Florida's next Senator, with your help,
Debbie Muscarsel-Powell

And wherever you are, please make sure that you are registered to vote, and you have taken the necessary steps to 'vote by mail.'  Who knows?  We might have a late season hurricane on November 5.  In Palm Beach County, call the Supervisor of Elections at (561) 656-6208.

JL                                    

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Poetry Corner Goes Political

A woman’s choice,

Put to the vote,

Defeats the lies 

Shoved down our throat.

    Should we allow

    A gun or two,    

    Defense against

    What some might do?

Make up your mind,

Don’t let it slide,

These are the things

You must decide.

     It’s up to you,

     It’s up to me,

     It’s part of our

     Democracy.

JL                                        

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College Sports Gambling - and Transfers

I continue to be dismayed by the number of online gambling sites advertised on television and of course on the internet.  They all say that their customers must be age 18, but that is pretty difficult for them to accurately confirm.  The net result is that betting on college sports events comes off as being a normal, legitimate, thing to do.  It isn’t.  And this misconception is being established in the minds of young people.

Back in the day (an expression I dislike because your day may differ from mine), a guy who dropped by the corner candy store each afternoon would take bets along with letting you pick the ‘numbers’ for that day.  We knew it was illegal, but the individual amounts wagered were piddling and nobody usually got hurt.  If someone did, they deserved it for not paying what they owed if the local bookie had been dumb enough to extend betting credit to them.  This kind of wagering is not to be confused in the well-regulated betting systems at racetracks or in State-sanctioned ‘off track betting’ facilities.

There are many aspects of sports that can be bet on, ranging from scores, total points scored, margins of victory, parlays of several events, race results, to individual performances.  This leads to fans screaming at a basketball game for a coach to leave his starters in for the last minute of a game in which his team is leading by twenty points, because the ‘spread’ was that they were favored to win by at least nineteen and a half points, or a particular player was just short of the number of points the oddsmakers had predicted he would score.

Combine this acceptance of sports gambling as legitimate with the ‘transfer portal’ whereby talented college athletes find it easy to switch schools, usually for a better chance of making it to the NBA or NFL or making more money from a better deal using their name, image, and location (NIL) from marketers.  Some of the low-seeded teams in the current NCAA basketball tournament are performing very well because of players who, were it not for the ‘transfer portal,’ would be playing at schools where basketball is played at a higher level, although perhaps sitting on the bench there.  We consider them to be ‘student-athletes,’ but ‘athlete-students’ might be a better way of referring to them.

If *Podunk College managed to recruit, via the ‘transfer portal,’ half a dozen Big Ten, Big East, SEC, or ACC players who might be only the ‘sixth or seventh’ players at their present schools, Podunk’s team would possibly rise to the top of Podunk’s lower ranked conference, getting them a bid to the NCAA ‘March Madness,’ and a rise in the national polls as well, especially if the players they acquired through the transfer portal all were at least six foot nine in height.

As for that ‘transfer portal,’ I continue to be puzzled by ‘student-athletes’ like Jack Gohlke who led Oakland College, a school no one really ever heard of before (it is a renamed version of Michigan State’s satellite campus in Oakland, MI, founded in 1957) to an upset victory over Kentucky in this year’s NCAA March Madness.  He played for five years at Hillsdale College (yes, that bastion of conservative ideas) at a lower competitive level and is now doing ‘graduate’ work at Oakland, playing his sixth year of college hoops. C’mon, this kind of ‘gaming the system’ creates what I would call a class of ‘professional college athletes.’  Also in this category, and there are many, is another wandering ‘professional college athlete,’ the University of Connecticut’s Cam Spencer, whose basketball journey has taken him through Loyola of Baltimore, Rutgers, and now a fifth year at Connecticut, a team favored to win the NCAA championship next weekend.

Right now, in the headlines, read about how baseball star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter is in deep doo-doo for swiping big bucks from his employers to pay off gambling debts to the tune of about half a million dollars.  While Ohtani wasn’t involved, it is very difficult to separate the worlds of gambling and sports.  I find it hard to believe that this guy’s bookie (an illegal one, not the online version) let him run his tab that high without knowing that his boss, multi-millionaire Ohtani, would eventually be good for it.  This story is still a work in progress, but the aroma has already arrived.

We are no longer in the na├»ve age where the Cincinnati Red’s Pete Rose was banned from baseball’s Hall of Fame for betting on his own team to win, not lose, baseball games, which was what he was being paid a salary to do, anyway.

Who wants to take bets on when the inevitable major scandal in college football or basketball takes place? The lure of getting more now-acceptable money from more lucrative ‘Name, Image, and Location’ (NIL) compensation deals at other schools, and hope for a six or seven figure professional contract, fuel the transfer portal in an environment that encourages gambling.  And these kids, most of whom will never ‘make it big,’ have an opportunity to cash in by playing not quite up to their abilities while still in college.  It is only a matter of time. 

The first step to a solution would be a four-year contract (or maybe five), locking them into any school giving them an athletic scholarship, but the agents of the ‘student-athletes’ have great lawyers who have fought that successfully in court.  I wonder how many of these agents’ and lawyers’ phone numbers are included among the contacts on prominent gamblers’ smart phones.

Elsewhere, a while back on Jackspotpourri, I explained that colleges and universities were in the ‘education’ business and not the ‘sports’ business, and that all athletic activity above the intramural level should be dropped by them.  The University of Chicago and MIT are good examples.  If an alumni group, or another group of local supporters wanted to hire coaches and athletes with no connection to the school whatsoever to don uniforms and represent the school on the gridiron or basketball court, that would be fine.  They would purchase or lease the school’s stadium and other sports facilities and even provide a professional marching band and cheerleaders, all dressed up with the school’s colors, and that would be fine too.  They could even continue to use the school’s traditional ‘fight on’ songs. The NBA and the NFL might even want to subsidize such teams, from which they would recruit players, and the colleges and universities would get a cut of whatever money such teams would make, and then get back into the business of providing what they were established for, providing higher education. If you are offered a bet on this happening, take my advice, and bet against it, however tempting the odds might be.

*There is a community in central Massachusetts, not too far from Worcester, named Podunk, but to my knowledge, there is no college there, and little else.

JL                                        

 

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Housekeeping on Jackspotpourri

Strange “Hits’The large number of those accessing Jackspotpouri from Singapore has suddenly ceased. In their place, however, there have appeared large numbers of ‘hits’ on each posting in the hundreds, as was the case with those from Singapore, but this time from Hong Kong!  I suspect that the Chinese are playing around with internet transmissions, possibly to try to identify who is reading them.  

Email Alerts:  If you are NOT receiving emails from me alerting you each time there is a new posting on Jackspotpourri, just send me your email address and we’ll see that you do.  And if you are forwarding a posting to someone, you might suggest that they do the same, so they will be similarly alerted. You can pass those email addresses to me by email at jacklippman18@gmail.com. 

Forwarding Postings: Please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it. Friends, relatives, enemies, etc.

If you want to send someone the blog, you can just tell them to check it out by visiting https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com or you can provide a link to that address in your email to them. 

There’s another, perhaps easier, method of forwarding it though!   Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, makes that possible.  If you click on the tiny envelope with the arrow at the bottom of every posting, you will have the opportunity to list up to ten email addresses to which that blog posting will be forwarded, along with a brief comment from you.  Each will receive a link to click on that will directly connect them to the blog. 

Either way will work, sending them the link to https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com, or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting. 

Again, I urge you to forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it, particularly if they are a registered voter.  This is an election year.  Spread the word.

 JL

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