Category Archives: Uncategorized

As school re-openings inch ever closer, millions of parents (me included) are far from feeling safe. A Wimbledon memory after a weekend bereft of its usual glory. And a great story about the last news reporter covering a small town

We sit here in the middle of July, knowing a few things and a few things only about millions of students, grades K-12, and their likelihood of returning to in-person learning in a few weeks:

— That no one has any idea if returning to the classroom is “safe,” and no one will for months. Anyone who says they “know it’s safe” or “know that it’s NOT safe” is lying.

— That all of these “they MUST return to the classroom” people, led by our “President” and his minions in government, are only thinking about students, who are considered very low-risk for being infected with coronavirus, and thinking about the economy, which will certainly get a boost if parents are able to get back to work full-time, and not giving a hoot about TEACHERS, you know, like usual.
Teachers, school librarians, nurses, all personnel who make that school your kids goes to run smoothly, or at least passably? They’re not kids. They’re grownups just like you. And they absolutely could get infected from an asymptomatic carrier like a 7-year-old.
It is disgusting how Trump, Pence and so many others have spared not even a thought for teachers, but that’s normal, they never give a damn about teachers. Unless they run a family planning class that teaches kids that abortion is a sin, or a class in the differences in types of firearms.

— One thing we know for certain, and this been known for years, is that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is one of the biggest morons walking the face of the Earth: A person both stupid, AND evil, and yet in a position of power. Exhibit 4,323 of her “genius.”

— Another point I want to make, which I’ve seen elsewhere, is that school re-opening is an evolving situation, very fluid and not set in stone.

If most school districts believe starting out with remote schooling in August and September is the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean they won’t transition to in-person schooling as we learn more about the virus, and as it hopefully settles down. Everything can change, and just because the school year might start with kids at home doesn’t mean it will END that way. Way too many absolutist voices out there shouting it’ll be a “disaster” if kids don’t get a full school year in the classroom.

— Finally, look, I’m a parent, and I’m worried. I’m worried about my kid getting sick, I’m worried about his fabulous teachers and staff at his elementary school getting sick, and I’m worried about his social, emotional and academic development being stunted by more online-only learning.

But I think it would be a very big mistake to rush back into classrooms just because some short-sighted politicians don’t want to “give in” to the virus. Everything about the last five months has been unprecedented. We don’t know what will happen next.

Proceeding cautiously, as so many states right now are seeing huge spikes in coronavirus cases, has to be the only way to go.

It’s the sensible thing. Which is why, given our current leadership, I am certain it won’t be what’s done.

**Next up today, this is normally the day after the magnificent Wimbledon Championships have ended, and a day which I am happy and sad.

Happy because we’ve just had a wonderful fortnight of tennis, but sad because it’s over.
Myself and millions of other tennis addicts did not, of course, get Wimbledon this year, and that made me sad. I felt better Sunday night watching this magnificent Wimbledon memory, the epic fourth-set tiebreak from 2008, as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battled in the best men’s match I’ve ever seen.

Just magnificent. Yeah, I needed this. See you next year (I hope), Wimbledon.

**And finally today, I thoroughly enjoyed, even while ultimately despairing at the subject’s conclusion, this profile of a journalist named Evan Brandt, the last news reporter at a newspaper in Pottstown, Pa.

As the paper’s owner has made cut after cut, it’s fallen to Brandt to keep the town’s news afloat; he’s the only one reporting on school board meetings and local legistation; high school basketball triumphs and orchestra concerts.

He works out of his attic, he’s so beautifully dedicated to his town, and as a former ink-stained wretch who will ALWAYS be a newspaper reporter in my blood, I love this man.

“Evan is the voice of the voiceless,” said Johnny Corson, the president of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. “He speaks for the little people. If we lose him, we’re in trouble.”

Just a really wonderful job of reporting and writing by the NYT’s Dan Barry here.

Good News Friday: The Negro Leagues turn 100, and there’s a whole lot of love being shown. A woman is joining the Army Special Forces for the first time ever. And an absolutely wonderful video of a “Black Lives Matter” mural being painted

Happy Friday, y’all! It’s 8,000 degrees outside here in New York City but that’s OK, our President (hey, we might finally see those tax returns, eh Donnie Boy?) said heat will kill coronavirus, so I’m sure it’ll all go away soon.

Lots to get to on this beautiful July day (which should’ve been the men’s semifinals day at Wimbledon, always one of my favorite sports days of the year, sniff, sniff), but I want to start with a fantastic idea put in motion by sportswriter Joe Posnanski and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The year 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues, the criminally-underappreciated and too-often overlooked baseball league that existed because Major League Baseball was too racist to let African-Americans play.

Maybe you’ve heard of some of the Negro Leagues legends, like Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, and Josh Gibson, but there were so many more.

To honor the Negro Leagues, Posnanski and the Museum came up with a simple idea: Get as many people, famous and not, to tip their cap to the Negro Leagues. A very easy gesture, and one that’s now been done by four Presidents, a ton of celebrities, and even an astronaut in space.

CBS News, among many others, did a story on “Tipping Your Cap,” and it’s worth watching.

Makes me smile to see so many of these legends getting their due, from so many.

Next up today, oh man do I love this small piece of video, for reasons big and small.
Thursday in New York City, a Black Lives Matter mural was painted in front of Trump Tower. Which is wonderful and symbolic enough.

But then … organizers got members of the Central Park 5 to help paint it. The Central Park 5, of course, were the five African-American kids wrongly accused, convicted and imprisoned on charges of raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989.

The men were eventually exonerated, there have been fantastic documentary films made about them, and Donald Trump for decades has claimed they should’ve been executed, and still believes they’re guilty.

So for these guys to help paint a BLM mural in front of Trump Tower… I mean, it makes my heart so happy to see.

**And finally today, a wonderful piece of American military history happened

An Army National Guard soldier graduated Thursday from Special Forces training in North Carolina and became the service’s first female Green Beret.

The woman received the Special Forces Tab and donned her green beret alongside fellow graduates of the 53-week Special Forces Qualification Course, U.S. Army Special Operations Command said in a statement.

“Thankfully, after today, our Green Beret Men and Women will forever stand in the hearts of free people everywhere,” Army special operations commander Lt. Gen. Fran Beaudette, who presided over the graduation ceremony, said in the statement.

The woman’s name wasn’t released, which sadly given our toxic culture these days, is probably for the best.

But what an awesome accomplishment. Girls, man, they rule the world. Or at least they should.

 

Basketball star Maya Moore helps an innocent man walk free, finally. Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah with a great talk on “The Daily Show.” And a great video of what it’s like caring for triplet babies.

There are athletes who talk the talk about social justice, and using their position to help others, but stand silent when it comes time to actually DO something.

Maya Moore? Yeah, she’s 180 degrees from that.
For those not familiar with her, Maya Moore is one of the best women’s basketball players of all time, and until 2019 a longtime star in the WNBA.

But she took the 2019 season off for a very unusual reason: She wanted to help a Missouri man named Jonathan Irons get his conviction and 50-year prison sentence overturned.

And it worked: Irons walked out of a correctional facility a free man on July 1.

After serving 22 years for a crime he did not commit, the now-40-year-old Irons was freed thanks to legal work from great attorneys, and the help of Moore, who worked tirelessly on the case and brought a ton of media attention to it.

In 1998 police said Irons was the perpetrator in a burglary and shooting at the home of Stanley Stotler, then 38, a white homeowner who lived alone in O’Fallon, a roughly 45-minute drive from downtown St. Louis. Both Stotler and his assailant were armed, and Stotler was shot twice.

Irons has insisted that he was not there and had been misidentified.

For years Moore, who met Irons in 2007 on a prison ministry visit while she was a star at UConn,and they formed a strong bond over the years.

In early 2019, Moore stunned the sports world by announcing she would take a timeout from basketball, in part so she could devote more time and energy to helping Irons mount what they thought would be his final appeal. She used her fame to help raise money for Irons to hire a top attorney, named Kent Gipson.

And it worked. Irons is a free man today, in part because a famous athlete took the time to help.

I feel like I can live life now,” Irons said. “I’m free, I’m blessed, I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence.” He added: “I thank everybody who supported me — Maya and her family.”

As always with these stories, I had mixed feelings at first: Yes, it’s amazing and wonderful that Moore worked so hard to help an innocent man who was treated so badly by our justice system.

But it’s also distressing every time one of these cases comes to light, because it reminds that our criminal justice system is so flawed, and that thousands of innocent people, a majority of them people of color, are in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Still, it’s a great day when an athlete uses their fame for such good. Maya Moore is my new favorite women’s basketball player. Below, a great video of Moore greeting Irons when he was released from prison.

 

**Next up today, I love Jon Stewart and appreciate it every time he makes TV appearances, like this one he did on his old show, “The Daily Show.” The current host, Trevor Noah, is doing a phenomenal job, which Stewart acknowledges, and the two comedians have a very nice, short chat about the current awful state of the nation.

I miss Jon Stewart. He’s got a new movie out called “Irreversible,” and it looks pretty funny.

**And finally today, I thought this was pretty funny, about how hard it is to handle multiple babies at once.
Years ago, when my hilarious and strange cousin Rob had twins, we went to Rob’s parents house to hang out by their pool for the day.

The twins were maybe 2 at the time, and there was a moment where both of them were trying to crawl into the water and Rob was pushing them back onto the deck, while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with us. It was a remarkable job of multi-tasking, and it’s where I first learned that 80 percent of parenting multiple toddlers is playing defense.

Check out this father doing my cousin one better, trying to keep all three of his rugrats away from the fridge. Just a fantastic job.

I saw two documentaries on TV last week, one old, one new. I loved one, really disliked the other. And an adorable video shows the Amazon driver of the year

Hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend, that you wore a mask in public, and that you’ve got your “Kanye West in 2020” bumper stickers on order, I’ve got three coming to my house! (First Lady Kim Kardashian. If those four words don’t send a shiver down your spine…)

Wanted to start the week with a couple of film reviews. I watched two wildly different documentaries last week, one I enjoyed immensely, the other, well, not so much.

As I always feel it’s better to get bad news before good news, I’m going to give you the negative review first.

I was very much looking forward to the new film on Roy Cohn that premiered on HBO last week, called “Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn,” for many reasons. One, Cohn is one of the most truly evil humans of the 20th century: He helped put Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to death for allegedly helping the Nazis in World War II, was a big assistant to Joe McCarthy during the Communist witch hunt in America in the 1950s, and helped make Donald Trump legit in the 1980s.

The other big reason I was excited about it was the movie was directed by Ivy Meeropol, who happens to the granddaughter of the Rosenbergs.

So we had a great subject in Cohn, a director with an intensely personal stake in the film, and a very timely project given that Cohn’s protege Trump is President.

And so I watched the film… and it was bad. Just so unfocused and all over the place. There’s so much to talk about with Cohn, that I feel like Meeropol just didn’t know where to start and how to tie it together.

Of course we spend a good deal of time on the Rosenberg case, and learn that both were completely railroaded and unjustly put to death. And that part of the movie is fascinating. But then we jump to Cohn as a mover and a shaker in New York City in the 1960s and ’70s, and we jump to Cohn’s closeted gay life which was hardly closeted, given that he was a regular summer host in Provincetown, Mass.

And we jump to Cohn and Trump, how Cohn groomed him a bit and helped him become the New York media star he became, and we spend a little time with Cohn being in a feud with a man named Richard DuPont, and a little time with Cohn being a cheapskate who never paid his bills… and it’s all very interesting and then as soon as we get invested in one part of the Cohn legacy we jump to another part.

I was so frustrated watching it because Cohn truly is an evil human being, and amazingly he gets humanized by the Rosenbergs’ granddaughter a little bit, with ex-New York gossip columnist Cindy Adams painting a fairly flattering word portrait of him.

Cohn was famously, and brilliantly, played by Al Pacino in the movie version of Tony Kushner’s amazing “Angels in America” play, and there have been other movies about him.

I just expected a lot more from this one, I really did. Because Cohn really was freaking evil.

OK, now on to the good stuff. I’d heard from years how fascinating and terrific the 2007 documentary “The King of Kong” is, and everything I’d heard turned out to be 100 percent correct.

The film is about video game players and their obsession, specifically with classic arcade games like Donkey Kong. The movie follows two men in particular, arcade legend Billy Mitchell, who owns a bunch of world record high scores, including on Donkey Kong, and Steve Wiebe, an unassuming guy from Washington State who just gets it in his head one day that he wants to own the Donkey Kong record.

So many great documentaries go inside a weird subculture that most people know nothing about, and “The King of Kong”  does that. We see Mitchell, a creepy, cocky guy who acts like he’s the greatest human to ever walk the Earth, consistently refuse to play “Donkey Kong” against Wiebe in public. We see the competitiveness of other players, and of a video game referee named Walter Day, and so many odd, passionate people.

I don’t want to give away too much of the film, but it’s got human emotion and drama like you wouldn’t believe, considering it’s a movie about people using joysticks to score points.

Best of all “The King of Kong” is available for free on Youtube; I embedded it above.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a look into a part of life you’ve probably never seen before.

**Finally today, this story made me smile. A few months ago, bored during quarantine, a 13-year-old kid in Delaware named Jacob Staffieri decided to have some fun with the Amazon.com instructions page.

Under the section on Amazon that asks for any special instructions upon delivery, Jacob wrote “knock on the door 3 times and scream abracadabra as loud as you can and run super fast away.”

“It was just the first thing that came to mind, and I thought it would be funny to hear someone say that,” Jacob Staffieri told CNN.

And wouldn’t you know it, one of the Amazon delivery drivers who visited the Staffieri home followed the instructions to a T, and the above video is the result.

Way to go, Amazon driver. A sense of humor is so important these days.

 

Good News Friday: A brother and sister create some amazing driveway chalk art. The “Hamilton” cast does “Helpless” on Fallon. And the Atlanta Hawks with a major positive push on voting rights.

Happy Friday and happy July, my fellow humans. Normally around this time every year I’m devouring every minute of Wimbledon, getting ready to celebrate with friends and family on Independence Day, and enjoying my kids’ tales from summer camp.

But of course, this isn’t a regular year. I hope wherever you’re reading this, you’re healthy and free from this scourge of Covid-19 that just seems to be getting worse and worse.

As usual though, this space on Fridays is a respite from all that, as only good news is allowed.

Wanted to start this week with a pretty remarkable young brother and sister and their art.

A 14-year-old Illinois girl names Macaire Everett and her 11-year-old brother Camden have used their quarantine time to create some amazing chalk art.

Every day the put up new pictures they have drawn, on Macaire’s Instagram feed and on Facebook.

They make these fantastic creations like the one above on their driveway, Macaire explained in this story.

“A lot of it comes from things we want to do and places we want to go after this is all over so surfing is something Cam has always wanted to try when we go on spring break,” Macaire said.

As Macaire creates, curious neighbors watch — some even supply more chalk.

“We were running out of chalk one time and we hadn’t gotten a new order of it and they were like here have some of ours it’s really cool everybody is helping out it’s what this time is about,” Macaire said.

What a super-talented pair of kids. Bringing joy to the world one small drawing at a time (My boys love to draw on the driveway with chalk, too, but let’s just say I’m not raising any future Picassos 🙂

**Next up today, you may have heard a thing or two about a huge “Hamilton” event coming up on TV this weekend, the filmed version of the amazing Broadway show being aired on Disney Plus.

Well, to get you in the mood for all that, as you try to find a relative who has Disney Plus and steal their password, the cast of “Hamilton” did a pretty amazing version of the show song “Helpless” on Jimmy Fallon the  other night.

Again, the editing on these Zoom songs blows me away.

Hawks approve turning arena into massive Atlanta elections polling place

**And finally today, you may remember the completely-predictable disaster that was the state of Georgia’s primary election a few weeks ago. Thanks to the wildly wrong closing of hundreds of polling places by Republican governor Brian Kemp and his administration (“Remember folks, when fewer people that vote, Republicans win!”), Peach State voters waited in incredibly long lines to cast their vote.

Voter suppression in Georgia has been going on for decades, and with health concerns from coronavirus very justifiably making it even more difficult for voters to cast their ballots in person, Election Day is shaping up to be an even bigger disaster in Ga.

But this week we got some rare good voting news from the state: The Atlanta Hawks have agreed to allow their 19,000-seat home arena, State Farm Arena, be used as a voting site for the Aug. 3 Senate runoff and for early voting for the Nov. 3 general election.

From this ESPN story: “The idea was hatched during the weekend after the killing of George Floyd, when the focal point of protests in Atlanta was just outside the Hawks’ home arena. Conversations among Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, CEO Steve Koonin and majority owner Antony Ressler quickly coalesced around the idea of turning the playing floor into a voting location.

“We were casually brainstorming since our whole world turned about what we can do internally as an organization,” Pierce said. “We were trying to figure out how we can take care of home first, and [Koonin] pitched the idea.”

Excellent idea, and one every NBA or NHL team with a large arena should be undertaking given the awful circumstances we currently find ourselves in.

Good job, Atlanta Hawks.

My Top 10 favorite athletes of my lifetime. Coach K does a fantastic “Black Lives Matter” video. And R.I.P Carl Reiner, a damn funny guy

So I did a fun exercise on Facebook the other day, one of these things where a friend “tags” me and challenges me to do one of those cool lists they had just done.
And I had a lot of fun with it, so I thought I’d share it here. My Top 10 favorite athletes of my lifetime. Would love to hear your input as well, dear readers:
1. Roger Federer: Huge surprise, I’m sure, to find him on my list 😊 Simply the most beautiful tennis player I’ve ever seen, and the greatest. Watching him compete in his prime is the most pleasure I’ve ever had watching a single athlete. He may not end up as the greatest Grand Slam champion of all time (pretty sure Novak Djokovic will pass him), but that’s OK, he’s still the greatest to millions of fans.
2. Mark Messier: Another shocker on my list, I’m sure. My all-time favorite team has only one championship in my lifetime, and he delivered it in 1994. When he arrived in New York in 1991, he completely transformed the franchise. An incredible captain and leader, Mr. Clutch had the best game by a Ranger I’ve ever seen, Game 6 against the Devils in 1994, when the Blueshirts absolutely had to win.
The picture of Messier when he first takes the Stanley Cup from Gary Bettman is one of ultimate joy; I’ve never seen a human being happier than he was at that moment.
3. Don Mattingly: My first sports hero. Younger people forget just how awful the Yankees were for much of the 1980s, but Donnie Baseball was always someone we could look up to. The lefty swing, the Gold Glove at first base, the incredible 1985 season when he almost won the Triple Crown … he was sensational.
4. LeBron James: Just an absolutely incredible athlete, and an even better humanitarian. On the court he is, in my opinion, the greatest basketball player of all time. Has had a dominating career, scoring, rebounding, passing and lifting his teams to three championships, including an improbable one for the starving Cleveland fans in 2016.
But his impact off the court has been even bigger. He built schools, he’s giving every kid in Akron who goes to his academy free college, and he’s taken on social issues and causes way, way more than other athletes of his generation have.
5. Billie Jean King: I’m cheating a little here because her career ended before I learned my ABC’s, but she’s always been a hero and idol of mine for so many reasons. A trailblazer and pioneer in women’s sports, she championed so many causes that were unpopular, and took on the sexist male hierarchy for decades. I’ve been lucky enough to meet her in real life a few times, and she has absolutely lived up to her reputation.
6. Shane Battier: My all-time favorite Blue Devil. Just a fantastic leader, all-around player and the most entertaining interview subject I ever had the pleasure of meeting. His defensive plays in the 2001 title game against Arizona were all-timers. When I covered him in the late 1990s at Duke he always sent us scrambling for our dictionary after post-game chats.
7. Usain Bolt: The most exciting athlete I’ve ever seen. I can’t describe the feelings of watching him in the Olympics: It was like seeing a person who was 2-3 levels more evolved than anyone else. His incredible 100-meter and 200-meter performances in Beijing were mind-blowing; he slowed up in one of the races at the end and STILL set a world record.
8. Curtis Martin: There is so much misery and sadness associated with my favorite NFL team, but for a few years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we got to see an all-time great. One of the very few Jets who never let me down, No. 28 was always so dependable, so elusive, and such a good teammate.
9. Henrik Lundqvist: The King. One of the best goalies in the history of the NHL, he singlehandedly kept the Rangers in so many playoff series, winning a bunch of them they had no business winning. He’ll never get a Cup, but man did he get close in 2014.
10. Martina Navratilova: On the Mount Rushmore of women’s tennis, she revolutionized the sport by being stronger and fitter than everyone else. I loved watching her play, and her courage in defecting from Czechoslovakia, and in coming out as a gay athlete long before it was accepted, will always make her a hero of mine.
**Next up today, I meant to share this powerful video on Monday but I forgot. I’m always proud to be a Duke fan and call Mike Krzyzewski a coach I greatly admire, but maybe never more so than after watching this video.
Three minutes of pure brilliance, in support of the Black Lives Matter Moment.
Just sensational.
**And finally today, a few words about Carl Reiner, whose magnificent life sadly came to an end Tuesday at age 98.
Reiner is maybe one of the funniest people who ever lived; the creator of so much great comedy. He created “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” did sensational stuff with Mel Brooks, directed “All of Me,” a truly underrated classic film, and much, much more.
By all accounts, Reiner was a decent man as well: Humble, gracious and kind to the end.
Michael Schur, a comedy writer and creator of “Parks and Recreation,” wrote this lovely tribute to Reiner, and if you need a good laugh today, I posted the famous “2,000 Year Old Man” sketch above.
The world is slightly poorer without Carl Reiner in it.

This Russian spy bounty story is outrageous. Sarah Cooper’s latest Trump lip-sync video is fantastic. And WiFi is coming to the ocean and dolphins are excited

I’ve said this before in this space, but I totally get it if you have Trump fatigue.

It’s so damn difficult to keep track of just how many ways he and his administration have failed this country. Just this weekend, we learned about his re-election campaign, unfathomably, removing social distancing warning stickers from the arena where he had his Tulsa speech last week, and saw Trump re-Tweeting a video, approvingly, of supporters of his yelling “White Power” to protesters.

So yeah, I get it, at some point you just get exhausted by Trump news.

But this shit right here, I’m sorry, I can’t ignore, and I hope you don’t, either.

According to the New York Times, then confirmed by many other major outlets, Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

What’s more, the White House is claiming Trump and VP Mike Pence weren’t told about it, and that this news has been known for months.

And the U.S. has done nothing to retaliate, or sanction, Russia for doing so.

Let’s just take this in for a second: Russia, a country that four years ago absolutely, positively meddled in the Presidential election to try to help Trump win, which has done many, many provocative acts in the past four years with very little repercussions, has now had a secret military intelligence unit offering MONEY to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

And we have DONE NOTHING about it. Nothing.

Because our President believes Vlad Putin walks on water, is the greatest guy in the world, yada yada yada, he has sat by and refused to condemn, or lift a finger, in opposition to another nation intentionally targeting our soldiers.

Soldiers, you know, those people this President talks about all the time, how we’re the greatest, toughest fighting force in the land. Soldiers who, like everyone else in the world, he doesn’t give a damn about.

Just absolutely deplorable.

**Next up today, by now I assume most of you have heard of Sarah Cooper, the incredibly-talented comedian who’s been doing these fantastic lip-sync videos of Donald Trump interviews or press conferences.

The woman is brilliant, and I have to say, this one is my favorite so far. It’s Sarah, doing a Trump answer from a Sean Hannity question. And it truly is art.

**Finally today, the modern world is an amazing place, Part 4,323:

A team of researchers from Saudi Arabia has developed an underwater WiFi system, called Aqua-Fi, that supports internet services.

From this story that kind of blew my mind:

“For a while now, industries and researchers have been monitoring and exploring underwater environments. And these divers use wireless internet underwater to communicate and send live data to the surface.

The conventional underwater communication relies on radio, acoustic, andvisible light signals. Unfortunately, they’re still far from perfect.

For example, the radio can only carry data over short distances. Meanwhile, acoustic signals support long distances, its data rate is relatively limited.

Visible light doesn’t have any of these two issues — it can travel a long distance and carry lots of data. But, it also uses a narrow light beam that requires a direct line of sight between transmitters and receivers.

To address these shortcomings, a team of researchers created an underwater WiFi system called Aqua-Fi. It uses LEDs and lasers to send multimedia messages from an underwater environment.

The Aqua-Fi prototype sends multimedia from a small computer to alight detector connected to another system using green LEDs or a 520-nanometer laser.

The first computer converts the multimedia data such as photos and videos into a series of 1s and 0s. These are, in turn, translated into beams that turn on and off at a very high speed.

Upon sensing this variation, the light detector converts the beam back into 1s and 0s. Then, the receiving computer turns the binary figures back into the original footage.”

Kind of incredible. Do you think the dolphins will start watching Netflix now, or just share a Hulu subscription?

Good News Friday: A Baltimore kid with cancer gets a parade from the Ravens and Orioles. A national anthem singer gets a wonderful surprise co-star. And a man creates a mailbox for people to write letters to their departed Dads

Happy first Friday of summer, y’all! We are living in a bizarro world here in New York these days, as for most of the pandemic we were Ground Zero and the worst place possible, and now just about every place in America is seeing Covid-19 cases rising like wildfire and New York is one of the few places where cases are declining.

On the one hand, I’m very happy all of the hard work and sacrifices my fellow New Yorkers have made to get the virus under control here. But of course, on the other hand, I see cases rising all over America, especially in states where the governor and other leaders mocked mask-wearing and opened up their areas way too fast, and I’m terrified.

We are far, far from past this. Anyway, it’s Good News Friday, so let’s get to the great trio of stories I’ve got for you this week.

First, I love, love love this story. The Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens teamed up to give an amazing local kid a parade in honor of his 8th grade graduation.

From the fantastic Jamison Hensley story on ESPN.com:

About 20 steps from Mo Gaba’s garden apartment in Glen Burnie, Maryland, hundreds of people drove their cars down the street Tuesday, honking and screaming his name to celebrate the Baltimore sports superfan’s eighth-grade graduation.

A few minutes after the parade, Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman presented a game ball to Gaba. It looked exactly like the ones given to players after starring in a game. This one, however, featured a touching inscription: “#MOSTRONG.”

“Actually, this doesn’t go to me,” Gaba said, lifting the ball over his head. “This goes to my mom.”

Gaba, 14, is in the midst of his fourth battle with cancer. He has impressed local sports fans and figures for years with his positive attitude and selflessness. When he received news recently that his cancer has spread, Gaba’s first question was about who was going to help his mother.

“If we all had a little more Mo in us,” Bozeman said, “the world would be a lot better place.”

It has been estimated that Gaba has spent 75% of his life at hospitals. His mother, Sonsy, first discovered Gaba’s health issues at 9 months old, when she noticed his eyes appeared white in a photo taken at a family gathering. He was diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the retina and soon lost his sight.

Gaba has since had operations, aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant to treat tumors on his neck, legs and lungs.

Recent scans showed cancer has spread more into his lungs and now his brain.

“Things are bad,” Sonsy said. “Just keep praying. Mo hasn’t given up, so we can’t either.”

When the Ravens learned of the news, coach John Harbaugh put out a statement: “We’re asking everyone to pray for our No. 1 fan.”

The whole story is a moving testament to the power of hope, the power of one 14-year-old boy, and a community’s sports teams rallying around him.

Here’s footage of the parade.

Way to go, Orioles and Ravens. And Mo: Keep fighting.

 

**Next up, this kind of knocked my socks off. A Portland State University graduate named Madisen Hallberg was recently practicing in public for her upcoming performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the school’s commencement, and was being videotaped by the school.

A stranger named Emmanual Heinreid walked by and heard her beautiful voice, and asked if he could join in on the next take. And so he did.

Sometimes, the unexpected duets make the best duets.

**And finally today, it’s been awhile since I’ve featured the great Steve Hartman of CBS News, but this story really moved me so I wanted to share.

A man named Barry Lampke in Hinesberg, Vt., has installed a mailbox in the middle of a park, with just one purpose: It’s for people to leave letters they’ve written to fathers who’ve passed away. Barry always bonded with his Dad over letter writing, so this is a way to keep the tradition alive.

The letters are sometimes funny, sometimes serious, but always from the heart, and Lampke just felt that there should be a place for children to still be able to write to the parents they miss so much.

There are hundreds of messages written in the blank journals left inside, with people pouring out their deepest emotions.

Barry’s most recent letter to his own Dad included this, about the mailbox: “So many people have found this to be a place of love, appreciation and healing. As we struggle to survive this pandemic and heal the wounds that we have created as a country, your gift will be a place where we can all come together to connect with our Dads, and share their stories. Love, forever and a day, Barry.”

A really beautiful, wonderful idea.

Major League Baseball is coming back, and it looks like a disastrous plan. “Almost Famous” is having a 20-year reunion podcast and I’m so there for it. And Novak Djokovic has COVID-19, a completely unsurprising development

BOSTON, MA – MAY 25: The American flag is dropped over the Green Monster on Memorial Day as the Major League Baseball season is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic on May 25, 2020 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Well, it looks like we’ll have a Major League Baseball season after all.

After more stops and starts than a faulty old lawnmower, word came down Tuesday that truly, really, we mean it this time, the MLB owners and the players union finally have an agreement to play 60 games, starting July 24.

I know it’s easy for me to say this is a bad idea since I’m not really a baseball fan anymore, but this is a REALLY bad idea, the way they’re going about this.

Forget about the fact that the owners and players have looked like petty, insensitive fools squabbling over money for the past three months while a global pandemic raged. That has been said enough.

But the details of this current plan seem crazy. For one, they’re going to play 60 games in 66 days, an absurd pace considering the difficulty of baseball and the wear and tear it’ll take on the bodies of players who haven’t played in three months.

Then, it appears that instead of isolating all players and team staff in a bubble setting like the NBA and NHL plan to do, baseball appears set to have its players and coaches fly around to each city to play the games. The Yankees will be going to, among other places, Washington, D.C., Boston, Toronto, and Philadelphia, bringing whatever they’ve picked up from one city to another.

Absolutely, positively nuts. The likelihood of multiple players on multiple players testing positive for Covid-19 is higher than Shaquille O’Neal’s reach. But this is what baseball is doing.

I’ll be stunned if they actually complete a full 60-game season. From the start, baseball’s return has been a mess, an absolute mess.

But hey, baseball fans, maybe you’ll get a few weeks of games, at least.

**Next up today, I was thrilled to learn the other day that one of my all-time favorite movies, “Almost Famous” is turning 20 this year, and that a lot of the cast are reuniting to talk about the iconic flick.

On James Miller’s “Origins” pod, starting July 8, Cameron Crowe and the team will be discussing the greatness of Stillwater’s music, who really is incendiary, and if Frances McDormand’s mom performance was based on anyone’s “real” mom (I  have no idea if they’ll be discussing any of this, but it’s stuff I wonder).

This is such a wonderful, wonderful movie. And writing about the five-part reunion podcast is a good way for me to watch and share the above airplane scene, which I can watch over and over again it’s so amazing.

Enjoy.

**And finally, Novak Djokovic hasn’t played an official match since March, but man has the world’s No.1 men’s tennis player has been on a hell of a losing streak.

Since coranavirus started, He’s come out as a bit of an anti-vaxxer (leading to the fabulous nickname “No Vax Djokovic”), he’s touted an insane quack doctor on the Internet who believes positive emotional energy can affect the molecules of drinking water, and then organized the Adria Tour, a collection of top men’s pros who toured Serbia in the past few weeks and acted like there was no pandemic at all.

The players hugged each other and fans, stood super-close to each other, sweated all over each other, and had a grand old time. And shock of shocks, guess what? A whole bunch of them came down with coronavirus.

First we learned Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric, two Top 50 players, tested positive, and then Tuesday it came out that Djokovic himself also tested positive.

So, so, so incredibly stupid, to taunt the virus like he and the Adria Tour players did, and thanks to them the rest of the 2020 schedule in pro tennis might be in jeopardy.

Djokovic released a statement    in which he accepted little responsibility for all the positive tests, which considering he organized the tour and allowed the players and fans to act normally, he certainly bears some.

I hope he and the other players get better soon. But wow, what an absolutely moronic thing to do in the middle of a global pandemic.

Hey Democrats: Way too soon to be burying Trump and being overconfident about November. A fantastic brain-teaser about great works of literature. And my favorite-ever video about awful Dad jokes

Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow Daddies out there. Hope your day was as enjoyable as mine was, when we had the family over for a socially distant afternoon of Wiffle Ball, food, and my mom kicking all our butts in cornhole, a sentence I never thought I’d write.

So you may have heard the current President of the United States had a rally on Saturday night.

It was billed as a huge, sellout “return to greatness” kind of rally for Mr. Donald Trump, but it was, to paraphrase Marcellus Wallace in “Pulp Fiction,” pretty f’ing far from great.

The arena was barely half-full, a whole bunch of teenagers seemed to have punked the campaign by registering for hundreds of thousands of tickets, and Trump was his usual blustery, nonsensical self up there.

And so, as was the theme in media leading up to the rally, a lot of what I read Sunday was basically this: Trump is cooked. Done. Finished. Biden leads in all the polls, he’s leading nationally, he’s leading in just about every swing state, and Trump is well aware the end is near. Get ready for President Biden, it’s just a matter of riding out these last few months.

To which I emphatically say: STOP. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.

It is June 22. This race is far, far from over. After the debacle of 2016 election predictions, when every “prognosticator” had Hillary Clinton winning easily as late as two weeks before the election, you would think people would’ve learned.

There is still a TON of time between now and the election. Trump looks finished now, but don’t you dare underestimate how much worse it can get. He will play dirty tricks in this campaign that would make Lee Atwater or Roger Ailes blush. He will do everything possible, just like an authoritarian strongman, to hold onto power.

And remember, this is Joe Biden we’re all pinning our hopes on. Biden could still screw this up in any number of ways: He could pick a terrible VP candidate (unlikely, but possible). He could say something monumentally stupid, which is what he does sometimes.

The economy could start to get better. Voter turnout might not be as strong as hoped. The vote-by-mail crusade to allow more Americans to cast their ballots that way could turn out to be impossibly difficult.

I’m just saying, there’s WAY too much premature dancing on Trump’s political grave right now. Way too much.

The man is like a mythical creature for a storybook: No matter how many times you think they’re dead, they still come back to life.

It’s June 22. There’s a lot of time left. There’ll be plenty of time for celebration on the night of November 3, if we’re lucky.

**Next up, my smart friend Kelly posted this on Facebook the other night and I’ve been showing it to everyone I know since (we had a great time with it on Father’s Day).

It’s one of these brain teaser games with 25 famous works of literature listed, but using synonyms for their titles. Your job is to figure out what each description refers to.
For example, I’ll give you No.1: “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Some of these were really hard and stumped me, and most of them are crazy-clever (No. 11 is my favorite).

Enjoy this brain workout.

**Finally today, I looked Sunday night for some new Father’s Day videos to share with you today, but nothing I saw was as good as this one I shared two years ago in this space. It’s a PSA from Australia in 2015, called “Dad Joke Survivors.”

It made me laugh really hard, again. I am a huge fan of Dad jokes, because of course I am. And these were so bad they were great (the constipation one is a particular favorite.)