A One-Sided Stupid Conversation With A Help Website
Whether its an appliance, a car or a computer, that you have a question about, there are “expert” web sites that will answer your question – almost always for a fee it turns out.
These sites claim an expert is available to immediately have a conversation with you and will answer your question. A pop-up appears on your browser with a name and avatar and asks you to type in your question.
You may or may not realize that most of the time there is no one on the other end conversing with you.
It’s a “bot” with an automated algorithmic program, which will do nothing but in the end try and extract $ or £ out of your purse. No matter what you type and say to the “helper”, you will get a response. Any user of one of these sites will earnestly type in their questions and possibly discover they are wasting their time by having a one-sided exchange.
How mush stupider could I get? Well read below. Here’s a transcript of a “conversation” I had with a music instrument appraiser’s assistant. This is the response I received to my “questions”.
Welcome! How can I help with your appraisal question?
I have a nuclear trumpet which when played sets off fusion bombs. I have some hydrogen and extra uranium that I can load into it. My concern is that I cannot play it on Jupiter without a car. I’m 5-years-old and considered retarded by my parents, Bathory and Dagwood. I’ve told them its not PC anymore to call anyone retarded but they are 116 and 111-years-old respectively. We live in the rubbish bin and it is very dark in here. Will you adopt my trumpet or me?
Watching the game from center field – the only way an entire generation of TV director’s have decided to televise baseball
Here are just a few of the ways television has helped to ruin watching baseball. None of the corrective suggestions will be heeded, but someone has to point it out.
1 – The camera angles
Guess what? About 80% of the time you’re not watching baseball. What you are seeing is four guys – a pitcher’s back, a catcher, a batter and an umpire.
What kind of a lead is the runner taking? Where are the outfielders shaded? Is the overused shift in effect? Where was that ball hit? Is it going to be a hit?
How would we know? The audience rarely sees any other part of the field except from the center field camera.
Unless you attend games in person and sit in center field with a high power telescope, this is not the way anyone views an entire baseball game. Nor should it be the way to televise one.
It would be nice to see the return of the overhead mezzanine high camera from behind the catcher so we can see the whole field.
So here are two angles from behind the plate – one high and wide the other not as high. Both of these camera angles are more conducive and infinitely superior to the view you see on most broadcasts.
2- The busy screen
I don’t know about most people but I want to watch a baseball game, not be diverted by ads and a constant scroll of information.
While not every channel is guilty of the news scroll on the bottom of the screen, your view is still cluttered with unnecessary information.
Watching the World Series there are no other scores or news to scroll on the screen so you won’t see the scroll there. Yet that doesn’t stop clutter.
Showing “Fox World Series Game 1” in the upper right hand portion of the screen for the ENTIRE game? Does the score, runners on base, balls and strikes, number of pitches, pitch speed and all other sorts of information need to be shown every second of the game?
Go watch a game from the 1980’s or earlier. How did people enjoy the first 40 years of baseball telecasts with justhaving the game and nothing else on the screen? Quite well.
With the exception of a few local broadcast outlets, most networks televising baseball have adapted their own version of a strike zone box. And it’s getting to be de rigueur instead of a special feature.
This horrible innovation that began a few years ago is an artificial rectangular box on the TV screen surrounding home plate, that supposedly identifies the strike zone and differentiates strikes from balls. Unfortunately it is in the direct line of sight of the television viewer.
MLB About To Introduce Two Ridiculous Rule Changes To “Speed Up” The Game.
Why The Changes Are Bad And What They Should Do Instead.
These fans watching baseball in the 1940s don’t look bored at all. That may be because the average length of a 9 inning baseball game in the 1940s was about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Baseball is a slow and boring sport. The games are too long. There is not enough scoring.
These are some of the complaints that have been lodged against the National Pastime.
The only part I’ll agree with is that the games are definitely too long.
MLB executives and the players union are trying out two changes this year in the minor leagues to speed up the game. After trial periods, it is likely these changes will be permanently adapted in the major leagues. They may indeed speed up games by a few seconds. For the vast majority of games these changes will have little effect and do more damage than good to the overall structure of baseball.
There are other changes that would be more practical and easy to implement to dramatically shorten all games without changing baseball itself. I’ll discuss that after we review the two proposed MLB rule changes.
The first proposed rule change is that a team will be able to declare an intentional walk without the pitcher throwing any pitches. The pitcher’s manager will just signal for an intentional walk and the batter will go to first.
The second rule change is even sillier. In extra inning games, starting in the tenth inning each team when they come to bat will start the inning with a man already on second base.
So why are these changes beyond foolish?
Let’s look at the first proposal, the announced intentional walk. Although it sounds like an easy strategy to walk a batter intentionally, it is sometimes not so simple to throw four balls that are nowhere near home plate.
There are pitchers, such as the Yankees Dellin Betances, who when called upon to execute an intentional walk, every ball they throw can be an adventure. A wild pitch is always a possibility. Lobbing the ball to the catcher is hard for some pitchers. There are also quite a number of pitchers who throw the ball too close to the plate, so the batter can swing at the ball. Every now and then you’ll see something that you rarely see. Here are just two recent examples.
Miguel Cabrera drives in a run on an intended intentional walk.
Gary Sanchez of the Yankees nearly hits a home run on a pitch that was meant to be a ball.
As I pointed out many pitchers really have a hard time throwing a ball intentionally outside of the strike zone when the situation is called for. This is far more common than you might imagine. Wild pitches can change the outcome of a ballgame, especially with runners on base as seen here in multiple cases:
Then there is the opposite effect, where the defense pulls a tricky play.
In the early 1970s I recall seeing Reds superstar Johnny Bench get fooled at the plate. It happened on the biggest stage possible; game three of the 1972 World Series.
Bench had a 3 and 2 count when A’s manager Dick Williams paid a visit to the mound. Williams talked with pitcher Rollie Fingers and catcher Gene Tenace and made it seem like Williams told Fingers to intentionally walk the dangerous slugger. Because as Tenace returned to the plate to await the next pitch from Fingers, Tenace, stood up, put his hand out calling for an intentional ball four.
And guess what? Tenace jumped right back behind the plate and Fingers threw a slider for strike three, stunning Bench and everyone watching. It was a deft move you don’t see very often.
I couldn’t believe that I found the moment on YouTube.
In 1996 Dennis Martinez and Tony Pena of the Indians, successfully pulled the same move on Blue Jays star John Olerud.
It’s true, these flubs are extremely rare, but they do occur. The automatic intentional walk is a shortsighted rule change and ends up removing strategy from the game.
One other thing: how does the new rule go down in the record books? Will the pitcher be credited with four pitches thrown? What happens when you are at three balls and one strike, do you just declare the walk when you want to intentionally pass a batter or does the pitcher still have to throw a pitch?
The second rule change of starting the inning of an extra inning game with a man placed on second base to begin the inning is simply ludicrous.
No nail-biters anymore, no strategy – it’s just get this game over with. This is what MLB is saying.
Joe Torre, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer, is in favor of bringing the rule to the major leagues if the minor league experiment works.
Torre said, “Let’s see what it looks like. It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”
Really Joe? How many games went to 18 innings or more in the past ten years? How many times did a manager use their whole pitching staff?
In the entire history of Major League Baseball there have only been 46 games that have gone more than 19 innings. On average less than 10 games per year last 15 innings or more. If a manager goes through his entire pitching staff, well he’s not a good manager. Believe it or not many fans enjoy marathon games. It’s the time of those exciting games that gets people sleepy, not the number of innings.
If you want to ruin baseball then this rule change is perfect.
By the way: how would the scoring work for putting a runner on second? Idiotically.
The pitcher didn’t allow the runner on, so why penalize him and the team when a ground ball to second for an out advancing the runner to third and then a fly ball can result in a run. The pitcher and the team was essentially defensively effective, but could lose the game.
This rule is MLB being lazy and coming up with a dumb solution just to shorten games and appeal to younger fans with limited attention spans. It’s like MLB took a page out of the NHL rule book with hockey’s overtime shootout to decide tie games. That adjustment has been horrible for hockey and its fans.
Now what are the ways to speed up baseball games significantly?
Change # 1 – Enforce rule 5.07 (c) of the Major League Baseball rule book which states: “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.”
The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball. The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.
Did you realize rule 6.02a (8) says:
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when: The pitcher unnecessarily delays the game;
Have you ever seen that enforced? I haven’t. But I’ve seen pitchers call the catcher to the mound six separate times for one batter or take over 30 seconds between each and every pitch.
I’ve noticed and counted the time between pitches in many games. Most pitchers take between 22 -27 seconds to throw a pitch after receiving the ball back from the catcher. Some pitchers are agonizingly slow, like the Dodgers Pedro Baez (over 30 seconds between pitches) and Kenley Jansen (27 seconds between pitches). There are many hurlers who can transform their own fielders into a trance-like state with all that inactivity.
There’s no excuse for this. Watch R.A. Dickey or Mark Buehrle pitch and the game moves at a brisk pace. Unfortunately they are the exceptions. Most pitchers take wayyyyy too long between pitches. Put up a pitch clock and give the pitchers a little leeway- 15 seconds and have them throw the pitch or call it a ball. Figure saving at least 5 seconds per pitch with 260 total pitches being thrown. total time shortened per game: minimum 26 minutes Continue reading →
What Exactly Was In That Love Potion 100 Years Ago?
The secret “love potion” ingredient? It’s at the end of our story.
It’s the 21st century. You’d think the number of people who believe in magic spells and potions would be declining. Unfortunately it is not. For proof look at how China is helping to wipe out the rhinoceros by buying rhino horns through poaching. These uneducated fools believe that the rhino’s horn contains “medicinal” value to make a man virile.
Should we expect with more information and better education humanity has become more enlightened about patent medicine? Probably not. The internet has spread just as much misinformation as fact. And there’s one more factor to consider: people have has always been rather gullible when it comes to falling for quackery.
No, things have remained the same and unscrupulous people have pushed secret and magic love potions upon ignorant hopefuls from time immemorial.
Here in New York City almost 100 years ago, is proof that the city has always been a central repository for all sorts of hucksterism.
This article is from September 20, 1919 and appeared in the New York Sun. By the way, what a great term for fortune teller – “seeress.” Continue reading →
Distracting Devices, Double Parked Trucks And Too Much Perfume
There are hundreds of things that are daily annoyances in New York. But to live in New York you have to be impervious to many of them. Bad behavior is avoidable, but many New Yorker’s think they are above everyone else and the rules of civility or the law do not apply to them.
Obviously the sort of behaviors described below are not confined to New York City, but seem to flourish here. Here are my top 10 stupid/rude/self-centered actions that get my blood pressure rising.
Tell me you haven’t seen this on the streets of New York?
1 – People Who Walk Around With Those Giant Golf Umbrellas (a.k.a the inconsiderate bastard umbrella)
Okay its raining, you don’t have to cover an area the size of Missouri with your ginormous umbrella which is more appropriate for the beach rather than city streets.
They are called golf umbrellas and unless you are playing a round at Augusta, they are too big for the city. EVERY time you pass a person with one of these monstrosities they always bump into your umbrella or nearly take out an eye. The people carrying them are unapologetic dunderheads.
2 – Women Who Douse Themselves In Perfume
Perfume is worse than farting
Let’s get one thing straight: 99 out of 100 people do not need perfume.
This is not 1789 Louis XVI France where people never bathe or modern France where they bathe twice per year.
Of course some women aspire to smell like strippers, but unless you are going for the pole-dancer scent you don’t need perfume or cologne to make you smell decent. Regular showering and soap use is quite enough.
If you are putting on more than the tiniest amount of perfume we can smell you and let me tell you – you STINK! No one else is going to tell you, so I will. You could kill an army with the amount of perfume you’re wearing and you don’t even realize it.
In a subway, bus, elevator, restaurant or other enclosed place you, Ms. Valentine Valentina Assoluto wearer, are more offensive than the stinkiest gas emission from your arse.
So let me reiterate- perfume is not sexy and no one likes your god-awful perfume except you. So stop wearing so much of it. By the way, this goes for men too.
3 – Those Who Text While Crossing the Street
New York City recently started a campaign where they have painted the word “L O O K” in big bold white letters on the ground at major intersections. Continue reading →
Why Go To The Museum of Contemporary Art or The Getty?
If you live around Los Angeles and are too busy to go to a museum to see paintings you can always get your fill of art while driving to work.
On the constantly congested 110 Freeway, one can take in up close the utter decay of the city every 6 to 30 feet. That is the range of distance between the supporting pillars of the freeway on the median which are marred by the ugly scrawls of grade school drop-outs. Continue reading →
Open For Business ** Shop 2nd Ave ** It’s Worth It!
A cryptic poster on a city bus that says absolutely nothing. Typical of the MTA.
The punishment for the person who wrote this slogan should be to live in an apartment adjacent to the constant construction.
Below is the text of this MTA sign pictured above that “encourages” shoppers.
The many interesting shops, restaurants and services on Second Avenue are open while MTA Capital Construction builds the Second Avenue Subway. Shop Second Avenue. It’s Worth It!
Visit mta.info and click on the Capital Construction link for more about your local shops, restaurants and services.
The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is a partner with MTA Capital Construction in support of local establishments as construction continues on the Second Avenue Subway.
This is going to convince anyone to shop in the construction zone?
Lame signs do not get people to shop in an area that is having many of its businesses being decimated by the constant construction for the Second Avenue Subway project. The poor business owners and residents along the construction route have suffered since 2007 and many stores have gone under in the intervening four-plus years.
Solutions, Not Signs
More people might patronize the establishments on Second Avenue if the MTA didn’t in a prima facie way, block access to the stores along the construction path. One side of certain streets appear to be inaccessible. Maybe the MTA could cut down on the hours that allowed filth and noise to be generated. Or just make a conscious effort to make the streets more inviting by not chopping the sidewalks to half their normal width and blocking re-routing crosswalks, making it difficult for pedestrians to stroll.
Plus the area is just plain ugly. It seems little or no thought was given into making the avenue look more appealing. The fences, walls and temporary banners give Second Avenue a very shabby appearance. In many places Second Avenue looks more like a post-war zone, not a construction zone.
Originally the MTA projected the first phase from 105th Street to 72nd Street of the Second Avenue subway would be completed in 2014. It is of course delayed and over budget. If they don’t run out of funds it might be completed by June 2018.
Some of New York’s Strongest, as the sanitation department has dubbed their workers, leave me scratching my head sometimes.
That is why I am going to call out this group of “New York’s Laziest” as there is a subset of sanitation workers who demonstrate their slothful ways with a complete disregard for traffic laws and public safety on a daily basis. I’m not talking about just backing up traffic on narrow streets by not fully pulling over and instead parking their trucks diagonally when they load garbage. I’m talking about something that is egregious.
Now when you can do something the easy way or the hard way, almost always you should choose the easy way, right?
On a busy crosstown block in Manhattan where there is two-way traffic; a school crossing zone; ( the school is one block away!) a major bus route and lots of vehicles trying to navigate the streets in rush hour, these workers have consistently demonstrated their disdain Continue reading →
This story of a woman attacking the Paul Gauguin painting “Two Tahitian Women” on April 1, 2011 got skipped over in a lot of newspapers or was a blurb in others. The 1899 painting is worth an estimated $80 million dollars.
What was even less covered, and I thought was worth commenting on, was what the suspect in the attack, Susan Burns said in her statement to the police. “I feel that Gauguin is evil. Continue reading →