Friday Q&A: Robots, foodstuff, quaran-time

Less talk, more rock. Via email, Steven writes:

Now that the Rakuten Monkeys of the Taiwanese Baseball League have bought hundreds of robots to dress as fans when they begin the 2020 season, will this be the setting of the first robot rebellion, with them storming the field and killing the players?

OK, so I’ve seen a bunch of clips of Rakuten games, and for the most part it seems like the robots in the stands are more mannequins than anything else. I don’t understand how the droids improve the baseball experience for anyone playing or watching unless it so happens they’re into extraordinarily creepy things — and more power to ’em — but these robots also don’t seem at all like the type of robots we need to worry about moving on humanity.

Although:

In any case, I feel that a baseball game is actually the safest place to allow robots to congregate. They will be lured in by its angles and its numbers and its logic, then tortured by its general senselessness, and either their circuit-boards will fry the first time they see the Taiwanese Joe McEwing go deep off the Taiwanese Randy Johnson, or they’ll be so entertained that their batteries run out before they get around to enacting the Singularity. All the smartest people I know chose to watch a lot of baseball instead of trying to take over the world.

On that topic:

I think, if it happens, it’ll be awfully weird. I’ve only seen highlights from the CPBL games, but I suspect they’re very weird. I remember watching when the Orioles played in front of an empty stadium during the Freddie Gray protests and thinking that it seemed extremely weird.

This is why I’ve suggested surrounding the playing fields with green-screens and staging the games against bizarre and hilarious backdrops, like, top of my head, outer space, underwater, an Old West desert scene, or the Himalayas. Heck, it wouldn’t even have to be so literal. Look, the Dodgers are playing the Padres inside Monet’s Water Lilies. Stare at the magic-eye backdrop of this Marlins game long enough and a real baseball team pops out. If it’s going to be weird, you might as well go full weird.

All that said, I’d happily tune into games in empty stadiums every night if and when that proves a safe way to bring baseball to 2020. The presence of baseball means I don’t have to figure out what to watch on TV, and right now I’m struggling with that. I know there’s plenty of great stuff I could be binge-watching, but it’s like I’ve gotten so bored that I no longer know how to handle boredom. Usually boredom is the exception, now it’s the baseline.

Pretzels. But you’re asking the wrong guy. I think I have about a lifetime .200 batting average at getting yeast to work.

I did play football! I loved it. I coached football, too, and loved that too. And I loved watching football for a very long time, until a couple of things happened:

1) I started spending the entirety of my Octobers on the road covering baseball, meaning that I’d come home after having spent some 30-40 consecutive days working and watching sports, the Jets would already be out of contention, and I just didn’t find myself in the mood to figure out what was happening in the NFL and start watching more sports.

And, mainly, 2) We learned that professional football somewhat regularly scrambles players’ brains, and that the NFL either actively covered up that information or at the very least put on some incredibly large blinders to avoid acknowledging it.

I try not to be too holier-than-thou about not watching football anymore because I understand that it’s exciting and because I recognize that millions and millions of people still very much enjoy it in spite of having seen and read all the same things I’ve seen and read about CTE. But I’ll say that having Sundays free turns out to be pretty amazing, and it turns out I can find other excuses to eat Buffalo wings.

Also, I find the NFL Draft especially frustrating for a variety of reasons, and don’t think it’s compelling television. Down with sports drafts!

I am vaguely interested in seeing what the inside of Mel Kiper Jr.’s house looks like, which presumably viewers of this year’s NFL Draft will get to do. But I’m forgoing that opportunity because the same night of this year’s NFL Draft — Thursday, April 23, or a week from yesterday — I’m hosting the online version of the bar baseball trivia I was doing monthly until all bars closed.

It was probably not the best idea to schedule it against the only sporting event in months, but the NFL Draft is not actually a sporting event.

quadaquiz.sketchpad (3)

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At times when I am not quarantined, I am actually terrible at this. I generally have pasta, butter and parmesan cheese on hand, and that’s kind of a meal, but it’s not a very good one. We almost always have yogurt and granola, and that’s a solid breakfast. Living across the street from a supermarket allows me to be pretty irresponsible about keeping food stocked.

So instead of an actual answer, I’ll share my go-to quick meal when I need to make a fairly fast, delicious, inexpensive dinner (and then some — it always feeds my family at least twice). You will need:

  • One box of pasta, preferably something like rigatoni or fusilli
  • One pound spicy Italian sausage with the casings removed
  • A large head of broccoli
  • Four cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Steps:

  1. In one pot, boil some salted water for pasta. When it’s boiling, add pasta.
  2. Set another, larger pot over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom, garlic and sausage meat, stirring occasionally to brown all the meat.
  3. After the pasta’s been cooking for a few minutes, throw in the broccoli. You can use a separate pot for the broccoli if you want, but then you have an extra dirty dish to deal with. Screw that. Just use the pasta pot.
  4. When the pasta and broccoli are cooked, drain them, then dump them into the pot with the sausage and lower the heat.
  5. Stir so the olive oil and delicious orange sausage grease coat the pasta. If the pasta looks dry, add a little more olive oil.
  6. Mix in about 2 ounces of Parmesan cheese. Two ounces is an estimate based on looking up the standard size container of Parmesan cheese, which turns out to be 5 ounces. I use a little less than half of that.
  7. Give it a healthy hit of black pepper.

Sprinkle some extra parmesan cheese on top to serve. It’s very good, and you can feed six people for like nine bucks.

Via Twitter, Kevin (who has a private account) asks:

What is the ideal age and living situation for this whole shitshow shut down?

I got at this a little bit a couple weeks ago, but I think it’s something that a lot of people are thinking about it. And I think a lot of people are thinking about it because everyone’s certain their own shutdown situation is something far less than ideal.

And I suspect, to a lot of people, my own situation for the shutdown might seem somewhat optimal: I don’t have a job so I don’t have to worry about working from home, and I was already out of the job long before this started, so I’m not stressing about the loss of income. My wife’s job is pandemic-proof, my apartment has a backyard, I’ve only got one kid and he’s too young for proper school so I don’t have to worry about home-schooling him in calculus or whatever. But still I keep finding myself like, “ugh this sucks, this would be so much easier if…”

Obviously the ideal circumstance for any situation is “eccentric billionaire,” but assuming that’s not an option, my first instinct was to say: Middle school. Remember how much middle school sucked? God, it’d be great to get out of middle school. But wait! You’re not just getting out of middle school to play sports with your friends and flirt with classmates you run into at the movie theater. You’re getting out of middle school to do nothing at all besides stare at various screens, and that sounds largely unsatisfying.

High-schoolers tend to think anything bad that happens to them is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone, so high school is out. College kids have had their minds warped by people telling them “these are the best four years of your life,” which isn’t at all true but puts them under all sorts of pressure to make the most of those four years, so that’s out too.

I’d say, of all the living situations I’ve ever seen up close, the best for riding out a quarantine would be one that belonged to a friend of mine in Brooklyn when we were in our mid-20s. He lived in a huge apartment with four other dudes and all of them were musically or creatively inclined, so I imagine they could’ve rode out a hypothetical quarantine just jamming and making music and broing down, and there were enough other people around that you wouldn’t get sick of each other. But then, in retrospect, I can’t remember what any of those guys did for work, or whether they’d still be able to cover the rent in circumstances like this one.

I think this pretty much sucks for everyone except profiteering politicians. It obviously sucks way, way more for some people than for others, but I don’t know that anyone reasonable is satisfied with the terms under which they have to stay inside all the time.

1 thought on “Friday Q&A: Robots, foodstuff, quaran-time

  1. I follow Bill Maher on Twitter as I no longer have HBO. He does his show from his back yard, and it works because they cut is audience shots from the 50’s, with the laughs timed right. Baseball in empty stadiums needs piped in crowd noises

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