Indy Digest: Oct. 18, 2021
During a business meeting this morning, I was asked about the Independent’s social-media outreach efforts.
I sort of shook my head and sighed. Yeah, the Independent has social-media accounts, and we use them (though not nearly as much as many other newspapers), because we sort of have to. What media sources out there aren’t on social media, after all?
Still … I confess that generally loathe social media. Why? While social media like Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping up with friends and relatives, they’ve been pretty terrible to the newspaper industry. They’ve been pretty terrible for democracy, too.
One of my biggest concerns about social media is that it doesn’t allow for nuance. Things tend to be oversimplified. When you, for example, only have 280 characters to say something, there’s no room for shades of gray—just black or white.
This came to mind as I perused Twitter just after that aforementioned business meeting. I came across back-to-back tweets—ironically, each from other media people I know—talking about the death of Colin Powell.
One tweet mentioned how important Powell’s accomplishments were to the Black community. The next one referred to Powell as a war criminal.
No nuance there, folks.
People are complicated—a fact that social media all too often disregards. When you have 3,000 words, as The Washington Post did for Powell’s obituary, you can get into much-needed nuance. You can talk about the man who was “charming, eloquent and skilled at managing” and discuss the fact that he was the first African American to do a large number of things, even as he “tended to play down any portrayal of him as a symbol of Black achievement.” You also have room to bring up the rather large role he had in getting the United States into an ill-advised (and that’s an understatement) war with Iraq—about which he later expressed regret.
I thought a lot about all of this as many in Palm Springs bickered on social media about Frank Bogert, the former actor-turned-Palm Springs mayor whose statue sits in front of Palm Springs City Hall. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you likely know that the city’s Human Rights Commission recommended the statue be removed from the front of City Hall because, most significantly, he was mayor in the 1960s when the city razed Section 14—downtown Agua Caliente land that then was home to many Black and Latino families.
On Sept. 29, the city voted to start the process of moving the statue. But as the city considered this recommendation, a group called Friends of Frank Bogert was formed. “We are dedicated to presenting his legendary story of leadership, true partnership with all communities, and a commitment to public service that helped everyone rise,” the Friends of Frank Bogert website states.
Is it possible that Bogert—who was mayor for two terms starting in 1958, and then again starting in 1982—was a complex person? Someone who did a lot of great things for the city, yet also was in charge during one of Palm Springs’ darkest moments, and is therefore deserving of some blame for that?
It’s not possible on Facebook, it seems. If you followed the issue on Facebook at all, you know the “discourse” stated that either Bogert was a total racist jerk, or he was the greatest, kindest leader to ever set foot in Palm Springs, and possibly California.
No nuance. No shades of gray.
From the Independent
Vine Social: Supply-Chain Issues, Wildfires and Extreme Weather Are Driving Wine Prices Up and Causing Severe Shortages
By Katie Finn
October 18, 2021
Wine distributors hurt by COVID-19. Supply-chain issues. Wildfires. Extreme weather. All of these have conspired to create a historic wine shortage.
Girlz on Wheels: The Girlz Skate Jam Features Both an All-Ages Clinic and a Showcase of Some of the Best Women-Identified Skateboarders Around
By Kay Kudukis
October 15, 2021
The Girlz Skate Jam will kick off on Nov. 6 with a skateboard clinic for “girlz” of all ages. At 5 p.m. is the big event: a who’s-who list of women-identified LGBTQ+ skaters—including 2021 Olympian Alana Smith—performing and competing.
Slasher Misfire: ‘Halloween Kills’ Looks and Sounds Great—but It’s Ruined by Bad Dialogue, Plot Choices
By Bob Grimm
October 18, 2021
If you took the murder scenes in Halloween Kills and just watched those, you would think you were dealing with one of the all-time-great slasher films. But, alas, bad dialogue and bad plot choices ruin things.
By Bob Grimm
October 18, 2021
Muppets Haunted Mansion is both a terrific homage to the classic ride and a fantastic showcase for the Muppets crew.
By Desert Oasis Healthcare
October 18, 2021
Desert Oasis Healthcare has been reaching out to provide its services further into the Coachella Valley and high desert communities with its Mobile Health Clinic. (Sponsored Content)
• For the second straight week, more SARS-CoV-2 was detected in Palm Springs wastewater last week (on Oct. 11 and 12) than during the week before. In other words … COVID-19 is no longer declining in the Coachella Valley—or in Palm Springs, at least. This is not good.
• Meanwhile, at Eisenhower Medical Center, cases and hospitalizations were both decreasing slightly, as of Oct. 14. These slight decreases came after a slight uptick following six weeks of steady declines. So … yeah. Not great. Could be worse, but not great.
• Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine should have been a two-dose regimen after all. The Hill says: “ABC’s Martha Raddatz asked Fauci on This Week if the millions of Americans who received the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine should be concerned after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted unanimously to recommend adults receive a booster shot of the vaccine. ‘No, not at all, Martha. I think that they should feel good about it because what the advisers to the FDA felt is that, given the data that they saw, very likely this should have been a two-dose vaccine to begin with,’ Fauci said. ‘So the idea of making a recommendation that people who originally received J&J should receive a second dose … with none of the restrictions about whether or not you’re at a high risk or not at a high risk is that everyone who received that first dose of J&J who are 18 and older should receive it.'”
• The New York Times talked to a series of people who recently got vaccinated, and asked why they changed their minds. The answers the Times received are rather interesting, to say the least. Here’s a snippet about the discussion with Emely Paez, a 33-year-old nonprofit executive: “Ms. Paez realized over this past summer that not getting vaccinated created difficulties. There was what she called the ‘frustrating’ weekly testing requirement established by the Hispanic Federation, an umbrella organization of nonprofit agencies where she is the director of government affairs and civic engagement. Her partner also was not vaccinated, causing him to miss out on work opportunities. On a visit to the Bronx Zoo in August, Ms. Paez realized that unvaccinated adults would soon be barred from indoor exhibits there. That would mean no more Congo Gorilla Forest. ‘We love those gorillas,’ she said.”
• Meanwhile, a number of burnt-out healthcare workers in the state have had enough. Our partners at CalMatters report: “As weary health care workers across California enter the 19th month of the pandemic, thousands are walking off the job and onto the picket line, demanding more staffing. The strikes and rallies threaten to cripple hospital operations that have been inundated by the COVID-19 Delta surge as well as patients seeking long-delayed care. More than two dozen hospitals across the state—including some Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health facilities and USC Keck Medicine—have experienced strikes by engineers, janitorial staff, respiratory therapists, nurses, midwives, physical therapists and technicians over the past four months. This week, nearly a third of all California hospitals reported ‘critical staffing shortages’ to the federal government, with more predicting shortages in the coming week. Hospitals are unable to meet the state’s required staff-to-patient ratios for nurses or schedule adequate numbers of other critical personnel.”
• The Washington Post traveled to Chico, in Northern California, to tell the story of Mike Erickson and his disabled wife, Crystal, wildfire victims who lived in a FEMA trailer for nearly a year—until the government shut down their temporary trailer park. It’s a heartbreaking piece that shows how truly messed up the state’s housing system can be. A taste: “The place came with rules, one of which said tenants had to submit proof every fifteen days that they had applied for at least one permanent housing option. Every fifteen days, Mike turned that in, along with the results: nothing. Rental vacancies had fallen to less than half of 1 percent in Chico as 20,000 fire survivors crammed into a city of 90,000. Mike wrote personal letters to landlords of wheelchair-accessible apartments but didn’t hear back. When he went to sign up for affordable housing, he learned that the waiting list was three years long and closed to new applicants.”
• An economist, writing for The Conversation, looks at the latest data regarding the longstanding debate over the minimum wage—specifically, whether a higher minimum wage results in fewer jobs: “Unlike in medicine or other sciences, economists cannot conduct rigidly controlled clinical trials, a method vacinologists used to test the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. Due to financial, ethical or practical constraints, we cannot easily split people into treatment or control groups – as is common in psychology. And we cannot randomly assign a higher minimum wage to some and not others and observe what will happen, which is how a biomedical scientist might study the impact of various treatments on human health. … This is where the pioneering work of natural experiments like the ones (David) Card and (Alan) Krueger have used over the years to study the effects of raising the minimum wage and other policy changes comes in. It began with their 1994 paper, but they’ve replicated the findings with other studies that have deepened the amount of data that shows the original theory about the minimum wage causing job losses is likely wrong.“
• Palm Springs has hired a new assistant city manager—and our friends at the Palm Springs Post report that her employment history is not without some drama: “Teresa Gallavan served as city manager in Selma (Calif.) from 2018 until 2021. Following a 3-2 vote in closed session by the Selma City Council to remove her from her position in May, she submitted her resignation. The reason for Gallavan’s removal has never been made public. Following separation, Selma paid out a portion of her contract worth over $148,000. Her salary in Palm Springs will be $215,652, a city spokesperson said.”
• And finally, from the “HELL NO!” file comes this slithery piece from The Associated Press: “Al Wolf is used to clearing one or two snakes from under houses but recently was called by a woman who said she had seen rattlesnakes scurry under her Northern California house and was surprised to find more than 90 rattlesnakes getting ready to hibernate. Wolf, director of Sonoma County Reptile Rescue, said he crawled under the mountainside home in Santa Rosa and found a rattlesnake right away, then another and another. He got out from under the house, grabbed two buckets, put on long safety gloves, and went back in. … He also found a dead cat and dead possum.”
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