What I saw

My friend Joe challenged me to post a series of black-and-white photos on my Facebook page for seven days, starting today.

I thought this would be fairly easy.

This was the first shot I got.

Mary was crying, she didn’t want to nap. The struggle is real every day. I liked it because of the detail on the fingers of her left hand. But I decided not to go with the crying photo.

I started to post this, then I noticed the challenge said people couldn’t be in it.

I love this shot, so I posted it anyway. I took several of her making faces, including this one.

I really like this one.

But I went around the house looking for non people things to shoot.

I ended up in our baseball-themed guest room.

Here are some of the shots.

I like how the four pitchers are in each part of the throwing motion, from the tuck through the follow-through. Nolan Ryan is in the tuck, Pedro Martinez is striding, Sever has landed and is pushing his weight forward, then Rollie Fingers is following through.

I also like the Robinson shot, with his ghosts of baseball past out of focus behind him.

I ended up with this. I liked the detail on the figurine’s cleats.

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What I saw

When Aaron Judges teaches us about Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn’s career was incredibly freakish.

At least once a month, I come across a Tony Gwynn fact that boggles the mind.

Now this one is strange because it’s a weird comparison. Tony Gwynn and Aaron Judge are vastly different players. One is a beast of a creature who launches frequent home runs into far off lands. The other was a lithe, graceful slap-hitter who played efficient defense and stole lots of bases before becoming a plump man who still marveled with his bat.

However what I’m about to tell you is crazy. So crazy that when I read it, I couldn’t believe it was true.

Aaron Judge has struck out 19 times in 8 post season games. That’s believable. It’s easy to see any big leaguer pull that off.

Tony Gwynn, however, struck out 19 or fewer times in 11 of his 20 seasons.

When Aaron Judges teaches us about Tony Gwynn

On Bias in the Media

The New York Times is updating its social media guidelines. Part of the reason the Old Grey Lady is doing this is out of concerns her reporters have betrayed their personal biases, instead of hiding them behind a 16-foot cinderblock wall of objectivity. This is absurdly foolish. The New York Times is focusing on the wrong problem. But so has most of the professional press corps for decades. The problem isn’t a partisan press. There are avowedly liberal and conservative outlets that do wonderful work. There are outlets with other non-politic biases that put out a similarly valuable project. When most of the professional press corps, and the journalism schools that produce them, talk about the problem of bias in the media, the obvious focal point is Fox News Channel. But they’re misidentifying the problem. A news outlet that looks at things through a conservative lens can still provide quality and valuable news stories.The problem with Fox is that it doesn’t provide accurate, fair and thorough coverage. As Jon Stewart described it quite thoroughly, accurately and fairly, it is “Bullshit Mountain.”

The difference between bullshit and partisan press

Let’s look briefly at an example of what makes Fox bad. Admittedly, this is low-hanging fruit. Annually, several of its reporters and anchors bang the drums for “The War on Christmas.”Check out this segment for just one example. First of all, host Bill O’Reilly laments that there are Americans who are offended by any reference to Jesus Christ. Second, he claims this is where the dreaded Happy Holiday Syndrome comes from. Both of these assertions are laughably and provably false. First of all, people have been saying “Happy Holidays” for years. Hell, Bing Crosby and Andy Williams were singing about “Happy Holiday” back when Papa O’Reilly was a young lonely buck in Levittown dreaming of being a decorated general at the Battle of The Post Holiday Bulge. He also knows that saying Happy Holidays isn’t anymore of a denigration of Christmas than is singing about St. Stephen’s Day in “Good King Wenceslas.”Second of all, let us go back to his first point, about people being offended by mentions of Jesus.He knows this isn’t true. Welcome to “Bullshit Mountain.”But he knows there is an actual issue, one that’s worth reporting and could be reported well through a partisan lens. An actual issue is whether or not the First Amendment and the separation of church and state are at odds with our practice of the holiday. This could be done well, even if through a conservative lens. But it would mean talking to experts on the issue and presenting their expertise accurately and fairly. It would also mean talking to some people who don’t practice Christmas and getting their perspectives. But you don’t see that in O’Reilly’s segment.Now, someone could say O’Reilly’s show is an opinion show and that’s true. But opinions should be based on information and facts. The other problem is you won’t find any other honest and accurate reporting on the issue from the channel’s straight reporters. So yes, it’s possible to be a hours journalist and have a bias.Some of this country’s best reporting came when the press was highly partisan. Ida Tarbell, S.S. McClure, William Lloyd Garrison and others were driven by agendas. But their work was not lazy, incomplete and inaccurate. There’s a terrifying byproduct of this errant search for an unbiased press: It keeps the press from telling us some of the truths we need to hear.

What makes good journalism?

First, it has to be accurate. It has to present the facts clearly and concisely. It cannot hide the truth, no matter how uncomfortable It must seek out, with all of its ability, the the facts behind an issue.

Second, it must be thorough. Good journalism seeks out all the stakeholders on an issue. It digs in and finds how an issue affects different people and the different ways it affects them. It is active and not passive.

Third, it must be fair. This is where we get into trouble. Journalists have an obligation to be fair to the facts and to their audience. That’s it. If a journalist discovers a fact, it should be used in the reporting. And a journalist has to treat its audience with respect and honesty. But a journalist is not required to be fair to a source. For example, in a crime story, if a man is arrested for beating his child to death, you report the facts of the case. But no journalist would make the case that it’s OK to beat that child to death. This is an easy distinction in crime stories. But it’s not so easy in a lot of cultural and political stories. I think we often see the press fail here.

Our current president is a fine example. It took far to long for the press to start telling news consumers when the president was objectively lying.

This is where journalism is tricky. Journalists have to make touch decisions on a daily basis.

One thing they can do is stop spending time on the navel gazing about bias and spending more time on these important decisions.

Look, the New York Times and its readers know that the journalists have their own biases. Some are conservative. Some are liberal. Some are cat people. Some hate video games. Don’t hide these facts.

Really. Please stop.

The people who don’t trust you aren’t going to start trusting you because you’ve put up a stricter social media policy.

But if your readers start to know your reporters on a more personal basis – seeing their foibles and, gasp, some of their political beliefs – they’re going to feel like they know them more. That develops trust.

And the best way to be fair to your audience and to build up that trust is to be honest with them.

So if Glenn Thrush points out why he thinks a politician might be lying, he’ll have built up the credibility with your audience.

On Bias in the Media

Down for the count

The youngest is sick and it made me realize something. It’s probably far from an original thought.

Based on her behavior, her throat is sore. She’s fine drinking her milk, but doesn’t want to eat anything, not even her favorite treats. She pushed away the cinnamon toast. She sent the Veggie Straws straight to the floor.

I know I hate having a soar throat. It’s one of my least favorite things on the planet and makes me want to find a hole to crawl in. I’ll pour hot tea down my throats in hopes I burn that sucker out. Yes, I know that doesn’t work. But the point is soar throats suck.

And I think this is her first.

So this might be the worst day of her young life. And she has no idea what is going on.

She’s napped all day. When she wakes up, she immediately starts whimpering. She grabs at her ears and throat. So she wants to be held. I’ve barely put her down all day.

I don’t mind.

But the thought keeps coming back. She doesn’t know what this is. It’s the worst feeling she’s ever had.

Down for the count

Axe murderer, aisle 8

I’ve had this obsession with Lowe’s ever since we bought our first home.

Particularly with what my fellow customers looked like.

We all know about the People of Walmart. That you can find a menagerie of bizarre and obscene at your local box retailer. People walking around with rats on their shoulders. People wearing only a bathing suit while covered in coconut chips.

Nowhere near enough attention is paid to the People of Lowe’s.

It’s possible this is because it’s possibly dangerous to pay attention to them.

They might be serial killers in the process of dissolving their latest victim.

Seriously.

Tell me you have never noticed someone walking through Lowe’s covered in blood, sweat and mud. You assume that blood is theirs. That they cut a finger while using a razor blade and that the mud is from their yard.

It’s possible they worked up that sweat while digging a grave just beyond the nearest interstate.

I remember one of the first times I noticed this type of situation.

I was at the Lowe’s in York. We were painting my newborn’s room. So I was of course covered in green paint. But I’d also cut myself that day. You know how you can get a paper cut? Well, I’d done that with card board. It bleed like a stuck pig. No one said anything. I wasn’t even self conscious of it until I was in the checkout line.

Then, as I left, I noticed a man walking into the store. His face was caked in mud. And he had a lot of blood on him. We’re talking the guy looked like he’d performed emergency surgery on more than one person in a combat zone. In his left hand, he carried an axe with a broken handle.

And no one batted an eye.

This guy walked straight out of a slasher film and into the parking lot. He walked past about six people, even nodding at a Lowe’s worker who was talking to a customer.

A man, covered in blood, carried a broken axe into the store and it was treated as an every day occurrence.

I have to go to Lowe’s tomorrow for a few small items. I wonder what I’ll see.

Axe murderer, aisle 8

Aaron Judge is a monster – in pictures

Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve are the front-runners for the American League MVP award.

They are two vastly different physical specimens. Take a look, thanks to this picture from MLB.com.

Yeah, they’re different.

Judge is a giant home run-mashing machine for the Yankees.

Altuve is an All-Star second baseman for the Astros who can do anything on the ballfield, but isn’t going to dunk a basketball soon.

My son won’t dunk on a basketball rim any time soon, either.

Aaron Judge is a monster – in pictures

Inside the Den of Rabid Vipers that is Brietbart

Buzzfeed is a lot more than listcicles and fan quizzes. Those kitschy clickholes bring in money that fund a pretty intrepid journalistic outfit. 

Don’t believe me? Check this story out on criminal justice abuses after Katrina.

Well, now they have their sites set on Brietbart, Milo and Bannon. They have a fascinating story on the way the crew at that website tried to whitewash Neonazis and White Supremacists. 

Well it’s full of bonkers nuggets. But we should probably expect that. Brietbart is a den of rabid, entitled vipers. 

First of all, Milo “The Greek God of Dim Bulbs” Yiannopoulos has a ghost writer. As someone who spent more than a decade in several newsrooms, it would be outrageous to have someone do the reporting on the story, hand if off to someone else to write it and then not have that product given a double byline.  

Second of all, Steve Bannon, who was hired to be a chief policy mind for the current occupant of the Oval Office, writes texts and emails like a drunk frosh in the middle of pledge week. 

“Dude!!! LMAO! … Epic.”

This isn’t a joke. That was one of his texts. Here’s another. 

“U don’t need that,” Bannon responded. “Just get in the fight—ur Social Media and they have made it a powerful weapon of war. … There is no war correspondent in the west yet dude and u can own it and be remember for 3 generations–or sit around wasting your God-given talents jerking off to your fan base.”

He must need to save a lot of time if he has to drop the Y and the O from “you.” 

Another thing that shocked me is that Milo would allow his sources to see his stories before publication, seemingly to get their approval. That these sources were white nationalists and Neonazis doesn’t matter. You don’t do that for anyone when you’re a legitimate news outlet. 

I guess that’s the point. Breitbart isn’t a legit news outlet. Anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex knows that.  It’s a group of goobers with an awful agenda. 

Of course, the big thing you should take away from the story isn’t the cretinous journalistic malfeasance. It’s that these guys were actively trying to make regular Americans buy into neo-Nazi and white nationalist rhetoric and beliefs.

And judging by the results since 11/9, they succeeded marvelously.  

Inside the Den of Rabid Vipers that is Brietbart