Norty
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Published Wednesday, June 10, 2020 @ 2:40 PM EDT
Jun 10 2020

I just learned today that Zay N. Smith died on May 11.

Zay (he preferred "Norty") was one of the few people I know who both had and deserved a Wikipedia entry.

I guess it's not that unusual in these Internet days, but I knew him for years and considered him a friend, but we never met in person. I wrote him a fan letter about something that appeared in his QT column in the Chicago Sun-Times that evolved into a correspondence that lasted over a decade. We sent each other holiday and birthday greetings, consoled each other on our losses, and made fun of the world in general. One of my favorites from him:

News Headline: “Scientists come a step closer to invisibility cloak.”
News Headline: “Sarah Palin to write Christmas book.”
In answer to your question:
Palin appears to be about a size 6.

As I wrote here in May 2012:

I stumbled across Zay N. Smith's "Quick Takes" column in the Chicago Sun- Times by accident.

From October 2000 through October 2005, I worked in Chicago and commuted between a mostly-unfurnished studio apartment there and my home in Pittsburgh, spending a not insignificant amount of time riding in assorted cabs, trains, and airplanes.

It was 5 am on a cold, snowy Saturday morning in December. I was on a Blue Line train heading toward O'Hare. I dreaded the inevitable weather delay that awaited me at the airport, and the endless gate reassignments that would keep me shuttling between terminals on the fluorescently illuminated underground moving walkway. (One interesting feature of this conveyance was that it had its own musical accompaniment, an endless loop of music box-like tinkling that achieved the impossible: making Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" as irritating as "It's A Small World After All." But I digress.)

I'd overslept that morning, and in my rush to catch the train had failed to stuff into my backpack the usual poundage of books and magazines that maintained my compulsive reading addiction. Desperate for material, I spotted an old Sun- Times on the seat across the aisle. It was folded and opened to an inside page. The first thing that caught my eye was a column by Zay N. Smith called "Quick Takes."

I was hooked.

The weather delay, a wi-fi connection and a wall outlet commandeered at great personal risk enabled me to fire up my laptop and read a couple years' worth of QT columns until United finally decided it was safe to venture to Pittsburgh.

Remember when you looked forward to the morning paper so you could read Gary Larson's The Far Side or Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes? Same deal with "QT."

Thanks to the Internet, my return to Pittsburgh in 2005 didn't interrupt my habit. Indeed, Smith's column attained a national and international readership, and was probably one of the Sun-Times' most read features.

Which is why the paper's decision in November, 2008 to drop the column after 13 successful years seemed so patently absurd. Throughout that year the Sun-Times had laid off or bought out dozens of its editorial staff as it tried to reduce its costs in a contracting newspaper market. Many thought Smith- like Sun-Times legend Roger Ebert- was untouchable, given his decades with the paper and QT's international popularity.

Ah, but stupidity knows no limits.

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Zay transitioned to the internet, with his own website and, of course, a Facebook presence.

I began an e-mail correspondence with Zay and spoke with him on the phone a few times. During our last conversation, we regaled each other with old newspaper stories and our current misfortunes. Zay was in a nursing home, having lost a leg to undiagnosed diabetes.

"As Dr. Seuss wisely advised us," Zay told me, "Don't cry that it's over. Smile that it happened."

Goodbye, Zay. And thanks for the smiles.

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His obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times.


Categories: Zay N. Smith - Quick Takes


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It's getting weird out there...
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Published Saturday, June 06, 2020 @ 10:44 AM EDT
Jun 06 2020

Signs of the Apocalypse, #912: I'm not a believer in conspiracy theories or biblical prophecies, but I have to admit this caught my attention:

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Oregon Police Caught On Video Collaborating With Armed White Extremists

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Washington, DC Mayor Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed a street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and had the slogan painted on the asphalt in massive yellow letters, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

So Trump now lives at 1600 Black Lives Matter Plaza (that's the White House on the far right).

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Colbert scores again. (Video)


Categories: Black Lives Matter; Dolly Parton; Muriel E. Bowser; Revelations; Signs of the Apocalypse; Stephen Colbert; Twitter; Video; Washington, DC; YouTube


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Bad Apple, Bad Metaphor
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Published Friday, June 05, 2020 @ 7:45 AM EDT
Jun 05 2020

Why does no one point out that this "bad apple" metaphor used on what seems an hourly basis is exactly the opposite of its original meaning?

Today it's wielded to defend organizations from the misdeeds of its members, suggesting that an entire organization shouldn't be condemned because of the actions of a few scoundrels. Every group has one or two "bad apples," right?

The full adage is "One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch," quite different from its current use. A century or so ago, in the age preceding refrigeration and modern food handling, the maxim wasn't a metaphor for undesirable human behavior. It was a simple statement of fact.

Apples emit the gaseous plant hormone ethylene, and an overripe apple produces a great deal of it. In a confined space-like a bushel basket- the gas accelerates the ripening of the other fruit in the container. I remember this as a science experiment at summer camp. Put three slightly underripe apples in a bag with one overripe one. A couple days later: four bad apples.

"One bad apple…" was also used metaphorically around the beginning of the twentieth century, but in a manner closer to its literal meaning: that if a group had one or two "bad apples," then the entire organization was probably suspect.

So, how was the meaning of the saying inverted?

Around 1970, the Jackson 5 recorded their hit "ABC", passing on a tune that songwriter George Jackson had written for them. Instead, Jackson gave it to The Osmonds. In 2011, NPR contributor Geoff Nunberg posited the popularity of the song- it was #1 for five weeks and was the group's first #1 hit- somehow got stuck in the national consciousness, where it's been ever since. Whether Jackson had misheard the aphorism, or was deliberately distorting it, is unknown. Jackson died in 2013 without ever explaining his reasoning for the song "One Bad Apple (Don't Spoil The Whole Bunch)."


Categories: Bad apples; Ethylene; George Jackson; One Bad Apple (Don't Spoil the Whole Bunch); The Jackson Five; The Osmonds


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A brief pause...
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Published Thursday, May 28, 2020 @ 2:16 PM EDT
May 28 2020

We need to suspend publication for a few days. See you next week.


Categories:


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Trump, dementia, asteroids, Twitter, laboring from home under duress.
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Published Wednesday, May 27, 2020 @ 12:00 AM EDT
May 27 2020

Today is Wednesday, May 27, the 148th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. 218 days remain until the end of the year.

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Among other things, today is Cellophane Tape Day, National Grape Popsicle Day, National Gray Day, National Senior Health & Fitness Day®, Nothing to Fear Day, Old-Time Player Piano Day, Sunscreen Protection Day, and World Product Day.

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On this day:

in 1837, American folk hero Wild Bill Hickock (d. August 2, 1876) was born.
in 1907, Silent Spring author Rachel Carson (d. April 14, 1964) was born. Quotes by Rachel Carson.
in 1911, Vincent Price (d. October 25, 1993) was born.
in 1911, Hubert H. Humphrey (d. January 13, 1978) was born. Quotes by Hubert H. Humphrey
in 1922, Christopher Lee (d. June 7, 2015) was born.
in 1923, Henry Kissinger was born. Quotes by Henry Kissinger
in 1933, Walt Disney's cartoon 3 Little Pigs was released. It won the Academy Award Best Animated film in 1934;
in 1934, Harlan Ellison (d. June 28, 2018) was born. Quotes by Harlan Ellison
in 1935, Lee Meriwether was born.
in 1936, Louis Gossett Jr. was born.
in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to pedestrian traffic.
in 1941, the German battleship Bismarck was sunk in the North Atlantic.
in 1962, the Centralia mine fire was ignited in the town's landfill above a coal mine. It could burn for another 250 years.
in 1995, actor Christopher Reeve (September 25, 1952 – October 10, 2004) was paralyzed from the neck down after falling from his horse in a riding competition in Culpeper, Virginia. Quotes by Christopher Reeve

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PSP Frontotemporal Dementia

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Where U.S. coronavirus cases are on the rise... Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases of COVID-19 for the week ended May 24, up from 13 states in the prior week, as the death toll from the novel coronavirus approaches 100,000, according to a Reuters analysis.

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The coronavirus is deadliest where Democrats live. Democrats are far more likely to live in counties where the virus has ravaged the community, while Republicans are more likely to live in counties that have been relatively unscathed by the illness, though they are paying an economic price. Counties won by President Trump in 2016 have reported just 27 percent of the virus infections and 21 percent of the deaths — even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities, a New York Times analysis has found.

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Remembering Sara Little Turnbull, whose bra cup design became the N95 mask.

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New hormone that stimulates sexual functions in fish could lead to novel infertility treatments in humans.

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Asteroid that doomed the dinosaurs struck earth at “deadliest possible” angle. Related: Meteor that blasted millions of trees in Siberia only 'grazed' Earth, new research says.

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Twitter refuses to remove Trump's false tweets, but in some cases has begun fact-checking them.

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America's unemployment numbers are stabilizing. That's not a good thing.

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Kate Mulgrew might 'move to Ireland' if Trump wins second term.

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McConnell: Talking about fifth coronavirus bill 'in the next month or so'.

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NOAA's outlook for US summer weather—and hurricane season... wet, dry, and windy.

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'Something isn't right': U.S. probes soaring beef prices. One hundred years ago, U.S. antitrust prosecutors broke down monopolies in meatpacking. But can they do it again?

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Thoughts of the day:

In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.
-Charles Caleb Coulton

I was thinking that we all learn by experience, but some of us have to go to summer school.
-Peter De Vries

If you cast your bread upon the water and you have faith, you'll get back cash. If you don't have faith, you'll get soggy bread.
-Don King

Population density is a term that has two meanings.
-William W. Webb

Does history repeat itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce? No, that's too grand, too considered a process. History just burps, and we taste again that raw-onion sandwich it swallowed centuries ago.
-Julian Barnes

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You are not working from home. You are laboring in confinement, under duress.

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Things are really rough out there.
Please consider donating to Feeding America
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Categories: Astronomy; Bismarck; Centralia Mine Fire; Christopher Lee; Christopher Reeve; Climate change; Covid-19; Democrats; Donald Trump; Frontotemporal Dementia; Golden Gate Bridge; Harlan Ellison; Henry Kissinger; Hubert H. Humphrey; Kate Mulgrew; Lee Meriwether; Louis Gossett Jr.; Mitch McConnell; NOAA; Rachel Carson; Republicans; Three Little Pigs; Twitter; Unemployment; Vincent Price; Weather; Wild Bill Hickock


The web edition of KGB Report is published at least once a day, except on holidays. Follow KGB Report and my personal account on Facebook for frequent daily updates. Unless I get placed in Facebook jail because their stupid AI post scanner doesn't grasp the concept of satire.


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