Pleasantly surprised to see three or four Padres fans on this Spin list of 108 musicians predicting the 2022 baseball season. Still too many Dodger followers, though. And it’s sorely lacking Geddy Lee talking about his Blue Jays.

Theologian Greg Hillis tells MLB: “Quit Trying to ‘Fix’ Baseball” (Commonweal).

Don’t run from baseball’s leisurely pace. Embrace it. Teach about it. Market it. … No matter how distracted we are, we know intuitively that there are deep patterns within us and without us, and that happiness is in some way connected to our discovery and contemplation of them.

Hillis’s essay is prompting me to give Josef Pieper’s Leisure: The Basis of Culture another spin.

Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post: “… there is nothing on the list of pandemic school ‘lessons’ that we didn’t already know before covid-19 — and for a long, long time.”

Random finding: “Rare footage discovered of Prince, 11, at 1970 Minneapolis teachers’ strike” (Guardian)

Work around the clock: Not quite as bad as it sounds, but still

Derek Thompson writes in The Atlantic:

I’ve noticed a new island of work at the end of the day. Sometime around 9 p.m., I’ll open my computer and see that I have about a dozen urgent-ish emails and Slack messages. So, while in front of the television or with a podcast playing in the background, I’ll spend a late-night hour or more replying to these messages, typing the same intro over and over: ‘Sorry for the delay …’ ‘Oops, I missed this …’ ‘Hey, just seeing that you …’

I can relate. In fact, I’ll probably be online like this tonight after F and C go to bed to catch up on work; I have an appointment this afternoon, so I’ll play catchup if needed later.

Most meetings, I believe, are useless time sucks spawned directly from Satan’s Outlook calendar. Fortunately, I am less prone to meetings than some of my colleagues, though I am stuck with my share. Others, unfortunately, aren’t so lucky:

‘People have 250 percent more meetings every day than they did before the pandemic,’ says Mary Czerwinski, the research manager of the Human Understanding and Empathy group at Microsoft. ‘That means everything else—like coding and email and writing—is being pushed later.’ Workday creep and meeting creep aren’t two separate trends; they’re the same trend.

(In other news, there’s a “Human Understanding and Empathy” group at Microsoft. Who knew?)

I’m grateful to have a job with this kind of flexibility. But I can’t help but feel somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of being “at work” around the clock.

Thank God I work late less than I used to, and only if it means I’m able to take care of important errands or spend time with family. But it requires a lot of restraint of my workaholic tendencies, which fortunately have dissipated with age and a growing sense of knowing better.

Grateful for a short work week so I can road trip to St. Louis with my kid for spring break.

Checked in to our hotel after the 4.5-hour drive. Now able to relax and watch old YouTube clips of Warren Beatty on Letterman promoting Big Ass Ham.

Wordle creator talks to game developers about his unorthodox success story

The creator of Wordle says his success story was counterintuitive, with unorthodox choices like once-a-day play, having it be web-only with a hard-to-remember URL, and no monetization. Then The New York Times came calling when he was feeling “immense pressure” about managing the game:

I made this game, but I had no interest in running a game business. Basically, I think of myself as an artist, I really enjoy creating things. Running a gaming business is not interesting to me. And I think I think that for some people, it [would have been] different. But for me, this was really clear.

(More on Josh Wardle’s recent speech to game developers here. Also, he says the earliest version of Wordle had a tougher word list back in 2013.)

Population drops in California’s urban centers: “We are in this new demographic era for California of very slow or maybe even negative growth,” a demographer tells the Los Angeles Times.

The New York Times discovers commonplace books!

Sigh.

Watched a few episodes of “The Cuphead Show” this weekend. This fun take on the old Fleischer cartoon style of the 1930s prompted me to show Frannie a couple of vintage clips that, honestly, struck me as downright odd and surreal.

It is generally best to avoid reading the comments on any given news site or social media venue. But this piece about the surprising online joy of 1980s postpunk and new wave fans – my generation – makes me want to poke through the ruminations under Joy Division and Modern English clips on YouTube.

Was listening to a podcast about how it’s okay not to be passionate about your job while I was working on server maintenance for work today. On a Saturday. After roughly 3.5 hours of sleep. After pulling more or less an all-nighter working on it.

I’m not really passionate about my work. I like my job, and I’m a hard worker – but for the sake of my health and sanity, I’ve tamped down my workaholic tendencies somewhat in the past year or two. Still, this is stuff that needs to be done, and I was scheduled to work today for a few hours on this server work. It’s just more time-consuming than I had anticipated.

And now I’m listening to another podcast on how to deal with burnout.

Moya Lothian-McLean in the Guardian:

On social media, to be silent is to be found wanting. Despite the different registers of specific platforms (Instagram, for example, is all earnest “awareness”, whereas TikTok is laced with a frenetic, theatre-kid energy), all of them depend on compelling users to actively produce and engage with content. In times of crisis, this demand – baked into code in order to ensure profit for tech bosses – has found itself expressed as a moral obligation. In the case of Ukraine, to visibly engage and express solidarity is viewed as akin to enacting it through practical, tangible action. We are not looking away. We are analysing, boosting and amplifying. We are posting through it.

As my birthday approaches, I don’t need another thing to make me feel old this week.

This photo on the front of The New York Times website (accompanying a link to Maureen Dowd’s latest column) is the pictorial equivalent of the acronym “WTF.”

That "agitated, aimless buzzing" on social media has a name

Perhaps it’s just as well that I’m stepping away from social media for a spell. From Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic ($), the war in Ukraine has unleashed a phenomenon that predates the Internet, but has found a new venue there:

…the behavior on display is, if nothing else, a product of a lack of sense. It’s the agitated, aimless buzzing of the type of crowd that gathers in the aftermath of some bewildering catastrophe. Social scientists have a name for this mode of chaos: They call it ‘milling.’…

The word comes from the mid-20th-century American sociologist Herbert Blumer, who was interested in the process by which crowds converge, during moments of uncertainty and restlessness, on common attitudes and actions. As people mill about the public square, those nearby will be drawn into their behavior, Blumer wrote in 1939. ‘The primary effect of milling is to make the individuals more sensitive and responsive to one another, so that they become increasingly preoccupied with one another and decreasingly responsive to ordinary objects of stimulation.’ …

We’re emoting, lecturing, correcting, praising, and debunking. We’re offering up dumb stuff that immediately gets swatted down. (We’re getting ‘ratioed,’ as it’s called on Twitter.) We’re being aimless and embarrassing and loud and responding to each other’s weird behavior. ‘People are kind of struggling to figure out appropriate ways of responding to this really uncertain situation,’ Timothy Recuber, an assistant sociology professor at Smith College, told me. …

After a crowd gets done with milling, Blumer theorized, it moves on to doing things—things that can be ‘strange, forbidding, and sometimes atrocious.’ Later scholars pointed out that milling crowds can also end up engaging in not-so-terrifying behaviors, and that individuals do not usually lose all control of their faculties in the face of a disaster. But the idea that milling is a first response to horrifying or confusing situations has indeed held up.

Tom McTague in The Atlantic ($):

There can be something a little distasteful about Western onlookers (myself included) cheering on Ukrainians for a cause that our countries are not willing to join, a stance that risks raising the price of a peace that will be paid only with Ukrainian blood. Nevertheless, it is possible to recognize this, to be inspired by what Zelensky represents, and then to be shamed by his example.

(Going forward, a ($) will designate sources as subscription sites. I have four main go-to sites that are subscription-based: The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and the Los Angeles Times.)

Say what you will about Twitter; it can be invaluable for breaking news, if it’s curated well.

My Ukraine list on Twitter is now open to public followers after keeping it (like I keep all my curated Twitter lists) private.

And as C keeps reminding me, I used to have a page listing news sources and other publications many blogs ago, as a reference point during my Holy Weblog days. He still misses it. I’ll be creating a new one and posting it here sometime this week.

(Update: Here’s a new iteration of my old page of go-to news sites and blogs, which you’ll also find in the site navigation above.)

Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post:

If we have been looking for something that might unify polarized, divided democracies, defending Ukraine (and by extension, freedom) from Russian shock troops might fit the bill. …

If Ukrainians are willing to assemble molotov cocktails and die for their country, maybe Americans can bestir themselves to vote — and insist that every legal voter gets access to the polls and every ballot gets counted. American voters might even rethink their priorities, putting defense of democracy at the top.

Not even Ivy Leaguers are immune to the anxiety plaguing today’s college students. Yale’s “happiness professor” has a front-row seat to it all:

“There’s an enormous culture around us of capitalism that’s telling us to buy things and a hustle-achievement culture that destroys my students in terms of anxiety. We’re also fighting cultural forces that are telling us, ‘You’re not happy enough; happiness could just be around the corner.’ Part of it’s all the information out there about happiness, which can be hard to sift through, but a lot of it is a deeper thing in our culture that seems to be leading us astray.”

“A blog is just a journal: a web log of what you’re thinking and doing. You can keep a log about anything you like; it doesn’t have to be professional or money-making. In fact, in my opinion, the best blogs are personal. There’s no such thing as writing too much: your voice is important, your perspective is different, and you should put it out there.” (Ben Werdmuller, “Everyone Should Blog")

The road to hell is paved with spangles, stuffed toys, and PEDs

It’s been years since I viewed a women’s Olympic figure skating final as closely as I did last night’s train wreck. And I still wasn’t quite sure I knew what I had seen well after it was all over.

Chris said afterward that it’d be like the JFK assassination, with the NBC Sports coverage examined for years like Zapruder footage.

This Slate piece, “I Hope to Never See a Figure Skating Event Like That Again,” gave me the explanation I needed to parse what exactly happened, and why I felt like I needed a shower after watching all that drama. Chris Schleicher provides words for why I pray for those Russian kids — and that’s what they are: mere kids — that their shattered lives will heal from the despair of this whole dismal experience. And why I hope for justice for the adults who exploit them, who chew them up and spit them out like so much tendered meat in satin and spangles.

A work of mercy, spoiled

Always go to the funeral.

As I searched in Google for a recent piece I liked that said as much, I found multiple articles to that effect.

This bit of wisdom aligns with the corporal work of mercy of burying the dead. Being at the funeral, regardless of whether you have perfect words of consolation (which you probably won’t), is simply the right thing to do. Sometimes, presence is the best gift you can offer.

Took most of the day off today so I could head to Libertyville for a funeral, with hopes for a detour to Marytown on the way home. It would have been my second funeral this year. But my paralyzing, perhaps irrational fear of ice-slicked roads on this blustery Midwestern winter day got the best of me. I already regret this.

I am grateful for my friend’s pre-emptive dispensation yesterday to pivot to the Zoom feed of the services for her dad. She is one of my dearest friends and one of the most gracious people I know, and I really wanted to be there for her.

Instead, I’m in my home office, viewing services 20 miles away and offering prayers for God’s mercy. For once, the Internet does not suck, and even with my regrets, I can only give thanks.

P.J. O’Rourke wrote about death in 2008, after he was diagnosed with a different kind of cancer than the one that apparently killed him this morning. The piece is at once surprisingly reverent and typically irreverent.

Death is so important that God visited death upon his own son, thereby helping us learn right from wrong well enough that we may escape death forever and live eternally in God’s grace. (Although this option is not usually open to reporters.) …

Thus, the next time I glimpse death … well, I’m not going over and introducing myself. I’m not giving the grim reaper fist daps. But I’ll remind myself to try, at least, to thank God for death. And then I’ll thank God, with all my heart, for whiskey.