A Closer Look …

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with Anthony Newcombe

Let’s take a closer look …

Topic: What skill did you learn/ are you learning during the extended “home-based” Covid-19 period?

Personal note: Like you, I noticed plenty of people getting in on the new “mask production craze.”

The new “mask makers.” What new skill have YOU acquired during the Covid shutdown?

However, I decided to do something a bit different. I took some time to learn a new digital design skill. Since I began self-learning coding in late 2014, I’ve always tinkered with Photoshop, but, only learned enough to make a mess for the most part! So, with some extra time on my hands (not having to drop off the kids at school for a while) I dug into the progam GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program).

Since its free, open source software, I knew I could simply dabble at my pace without worrying about an forthcoming “expired trial period” to deal with. Also, I knew if I got distracted by something else unforeseen, I could easily move on without worry likewise.

Anyhow, with all that is going on in the U.S.A. and around the world, I just thought it might be a good time reach and ask our social media and site followers:

What skill have you developed (or are currently in the midst of) that you most likely would never have done were it not for the Covid-19 quarantines/ shutdowns/ interruptions?

We look forward to hearing about it!

Be well all!

-A.N.

A Closer Look

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with Anthony Newcombe

Let’s take a closer look …

Topic: Reopening vs. Testing (Covid-19)

Issue: Is it better to risk an economic collapse using a more deliberate approach in reopening America (with a broader national testing program), or, try to get us ‘back to normal’ as quickly as possible and risk another spike in infections and deaths?

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/09/trump-reopening-america-coronavirus

What do YOU think?

Let us know …

A Closer Look …

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with Anthony Newcombe

Let’s take a closer look at it …

Topic: Lockdown (and its aftermath plan)

Issue: Is an “Around the World Itinerary” next?

After this lockdown ends (sometime before the end of time, I imagine), I’ve decided to book a trip around the world. Who’s with me?! Nope, just pulling your leg, but sounds pretty tasty, huh?

It’s just that, you know, being a lifelong “travelin’ man,’ I’m struggling with the “everyday backyard scene.” No, it’s not quite Groundhog Day, but pretty close.

In fact, I just posted a video of what appeared to be my full grown, ash tree uprooting and exiting my backyard. For reals…I think.

Okay, maybe it was my imagination or something. Anyhow, the point is that we are at the point of, well, seeing fleeing trees! And, no, it’s not worth the risk of contracting anything outside the home, but it’s something to take a closer look at, right?!

Get me in the back of a cab in Hong Kong again, pleeeeeeeeease!!

And, until then, I guess the only outdoor fun will be watering the plants…Woo….Hoo.

Hang in there, my friends. And I’ll try the same.

Let us know how you’re doing out there

-A.N.

Photo credit: BAN Solutions/ BAN Consulting ©2020 (presented in ‘cartoon style’)

A Closer Look

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with Anthony Newcombe

Let’s take a closer look…

Arena: Healthcare and Politics (and why they don’t mix), Vol. III

Topic: How do we manage to blame the ‘other party’ during a global pandemic?  

I understand all too well that America in 2020 is in the midst of a political tug o’ war over, well, almost everything.  We have demonstrated that we can brawl about just about anything: from guns and ammo, to impeachment, and just about every bit of minutiae worded in a congressional bill.   

But, the coronavirus, seriously?  I mean, do we really think that this little bugger even cares whether you are pro-life or not?  Or, how about whether you have open carry permissions in your state?  Or, whether you voted for Hillary or Trump in 2016?  The obvious answer is NO, it does NOT. 

It only cares about finding a way into your bloodstream (and mine, too) and causing enough harm to hopefully derail us from future family births, graduations, weddings, and the like.  The virus is the real enemy, not your next door neighbor (with the Bernie bumper sticker you may despise). 

Let’s try to bear all this mind moving forward.   Remember, the people who #StayAtHome aren’t lazy, foolish or have an aversion to sunlight.  They are, hopefully as you are too, trying to get this monster to go away.  For good.  So, let’s try to bury the egos, the bravado, and, in some cases, the reckless disregard for stay at home orders.   

Until there’s a cure, that’s the best we can do.  Oh, and if you think you are missing out on your fun and outdoor pleasures, tell me about it!  I haven’t spent this much time indoors ever!  And, I have as much sunshine outside my windows as any of you.  But, the pool is still crystal blue.  The ocean is likewise.  And, with a little ‘kokua’ (‘cooperation,’ in Hawaiian) we’ll be back enjoying it all before too long.  Hang in there, America!  We need YOU (and all 325 million of your U.S. neighbors) to cooperate! 

What do you think? 

– A.N. 

About our contributor: 

“A Closer Look with Anthony Newcombe” is a 2020 post series that examines “hot button issues” ranging from politics to sports to, well, nearly anything and everything both inticing and current.  Anthony is a 4-time entrepreneur, a published author, narrator, web developer and designer.   

His current book, Sorry, 50 Is NOT The New 30, which is published in English, Spanish, French (with additional languages available later this spring).  All multi-lingual editions are available for purchase via Amazon.comBarnesAndNoble.com, and directly through his proprietary website, Sorry, 50 Is NOT The New 30

Photo credit: BAN Solutions/ BAN Consulting ©2020 (presented in ‘cartoon style’) 

A Closer Look … (that virus)

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with Anthony Newcombe (Vol. II)

Let’s take a closer look

Area: Covid-19 / Health & Pandemics

Issue: What “good” has already resulted from shutting down entire city, state, and nation populations due to the Covid-19 pandemic? Let’s take ‘a closer look’ …

If you haven’t yet noticed, we are in an international health crisis – the likes of which have never been seen on this size and scale. Our global population is closing in on 8 billion – and one of its largest, China, first experienced one of the most enigmatic and deadly outbreaks of what is termed “Covid-19.” As of this post publication (3/21/2020), China has (reportedly) gained control of the outbreak of new infections. Conversely, the location I’m currently residing in, Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A. – is in its second full day of a complete lock down/ social distancing/ shelter-in-place, house arrest, or whatever you’d like to call it.

But rather than continuing to describe all of the necessary “inconveniences” that we are enduring (and will likely continue to endure for weeks or months ahead) I’m going to shift gears on the fly and discuss some of the obvious “positive repercussions” of this home confinement program.

  1. Traffic and other congestion: Almost immediately, our local neighborhood has been freed up of an unbelievable amount of “non-essential” traffic. Just to provide some perspective, the main street we live adjacent to is a thoroughfare for over 65,000 automobiles, trucks, motorcycles and ‘lambos’ per day. Yes, per day! The noise level, the noticeable lack of constant tripping of our motion sensor lights during the overnight hours and everything that comes with it (i.e. SLEEP) is nothing less than stunning!
  2. People are a lot nicer: With full disclosure, I must admit I don’t spend much time in the local supermarkets, big box retailers, etc. However, my wife does! And from what I’m hearing, people (yeah, the L.A. ones) are treating each other with a bit more respect.
  3. Trash in the streets: Since there are no car “meal-eaters,” coffee cup throwers, or whatever else, the streets are a lot cleaner and we don’t have to spend our mornings and/or evenings in the gutters picking up after strangers … again, a good thing!
  4. Cleaner air: Actually, I first noticed this from a report out of Wuhan, China last month (and more recently in Italy) that showed an infrared image before lock down (factories emitting particulates 24/7) and after (all closed and nothing emitting at all). Guess what? We see it here too. The local factories (we call them “malls”) aren’t overflowing with people and cars looking to hang out all day. More importantly, with most of the local businesses either closed or mostly empty, as bad as it is (admittedly) it does, in fact, allows the environment to “take a break” from the constant and considerable pounding it has been taking for so long.

What do you have to say about where you are? Don’t be shy, please tell us!

-A.N.

A Closer Look …

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with Anthony Newcombe

Let’s take a look under the hood…

Arena: Sports & Cheating

Topic: Why do we seem to care more today about cheating in sports?  

I know a little bit about professional sports. In fact, without getting too far into the weeds, let’s just say I practically grew up in professional locker rooms, dugouts, and on and off fields, diamonds, and courts. However, since this op-ed is about something else and not about me, let’s just dive right in and get to the bottom of the matter.  

Recently, we have been inundated (much more so than usual) with television/ radio shows, and online debates focusing on the issue of “cheating in professional sports.”  In them, pundits rave and rage about how horrible it is that the Houston Astros (allegedly) stole signs in order to win a World Series Championship in 2017. They go on to argue that these same Astros (allegedly) continued to cheat in subsequent years – and perhaps, even as recently as just last year.  

Some of the so-called “experts” have gone on to encourage the Astros’ owner and company to forfeit their trophy.  Some have even encouraged the same trophy to be stripped away and awarded to the team(s) the Astros defeated on their way to the ultimate prize in our national pastime. I’m not so sure that would ever happen nor solve anything. 

Like you, I’ve noticed that many of the Astros players have been showered in spring training with “boos” (and probably some “booze” too) and have been beaned by opposing pitchers of other teams in the major leagues.  I suppose the surrounding world is not amused. 

Rather than lending my opinion as to the guilt and/ or innocence of this team and its players, I’ll look instead at the bigger picture of cheating in sports itself to ask the following: “What took so long for the general public to rebel against professional cheaters in sports?” 

Did we forget the MLB steroid scandal? How about “spy-gate” in the NFL? Or, “deflate-gate“? How about Pete Rose‘s lifetime exile for betting on baseball games? Cycling’s Lance Armstrong and the doping scandal that circled throughout the French Alps? Each of the above scandals must have played at least some part in obtaining more than a few world championships, right? Or, a few home run titles? Or, at the very least, yielded someone a few endorsement bucks and press in the end? After all, if there were nothing to gain by doing it, they wouldn’t have done it in the first place, right?  

I recall as a kid hanging out one day in one of the aforementioned ballparks and overhearing a few old timers whining over a deck of playing cards about the old N.Y. Giants (allegedly) using spies in the center field scoreboard of the Polo Grounds to steal signs and forward them to the Giants team in the home team’s dugout. These guys claimed this is what ultimately led to Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” to send the Giants to the World Series in 1951. Who really knows, right? I tell ya’ though, it was one heck of a story for which to be a fly on the wall!  I know. 

Question: Did we really care that any of the above even happened when it happened? The answer is: YES, of course we did! The only difference is that we are now in a totally different sports (and pundit) environment than we were in the past. I suppose the rise of the internet and the constant 24/7/365 sports news cycle has made quite a difference. Also, perhaps many of the shows mentioned above likewise encourages us to speak up and share all of our collective opinions. We already know nothing will change. Still, we insist on knowing more and more about every little detail! 

Nevertheless, the fact remains it is nothing new. Cheating (and alleged cheating, of course) go together like apple pie and Chevrolet. I can hardly count the times when a favorite team of mine lost a big championship and the first thought that entered my mind was, “If it wasn’t for that bad call by the ref in the 2nd quarter, we would’ve won, damn it!” Again, it’s as American as the 4th of July and fireworks. It’s a part of the game, folks! Losing always sucks and always will continue to suck … whether there is cheating or otherwise. 

Regrettably, though, something has really changed now. We have lost our ability to lose a game (or a series of games) and simply tip our cap to the other team and the opposing crowd and retire to our locker room to brood or reflect. We all feel like our opinion needs to be heard. Worse yet, we feel that everything should be stopped, rolled back and the results should be reversed – in our favor, of course! It’s as if the game never ends. There’s always a chance to change the outcome. But, is there? 

Maybe it also has something to do with the seemingly endless video replays and second-guessing that goes on in nearly every major sport now. There is so much tape “under review” that it no longer is a chore to find time to take a leak during a game!  We’ve definitely lost the spontaneity of professional major sports. Even the words I’m writing at this moment is probably in some way a reflection of the same sentiment. I guess what I’m saying is, yes, we still retain the ability to vent and to be heard by an army of unlimited others. Yes, we also have the ability to get attention (or clicks) from others. But, that is all we have. We have no added power or influence to change anything. And, by screaming louder across the table at each other or texting in ALL CAPS isn’t going to change anything … ever! 

In fact, to think that we have any chance to “stop the presses, go back and reverse the results….” is the classic inclination of the short-sighted fanatic – believing that he or she has the ability to compete in the professional sports world.  This has proven by the numbers through the years to be extremely unlikely to ever happen.  That said, if there are ever changes made (and I doubt there will), we’ll all be left to argue and fight it out among ourselves – gaining neither resolution nor contentment in the process. 

What do you think? 

– A.N. 

About our contributor: 

“A Closer Look with Anthony Newcombe” is a 2020 post series that examines “hot button issues” ranging from politics to sports to, well, nearly anything and everything both inticing and current.  Anthony is a 4-time entrepreneur, a published author, narrator, web developer and designer.   

His current book, Sorry, 50 Is NOT The New 30, which is published in English, Spanish, French (with additional languages available later this spring).  All multi-lingual editions are available for purchase via Amazon.comBarnesAndNoble.com, and directly through his proprietary website, Sorry, 50 Is NOT The New 30

Photo property: BAN Solutions/ BAN Consulting ©2020 (presented in ‘cartoon style’) 

All rights reserved

10th year anniversary re-release of book review

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of Last Words, by the masterful, late comic genius, George Carlin

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Last Words – by George Carlin (with Tony Hendra), 297 pps., 2009 

What I liked about this book 

Okay, full disclosure first.  I am a life-long fan of this man.  Although I never had the opportunity to see him LIVE, I did see many of the HBO specials and listened to many albums from childhood into adulthood.  It is no wonder that he and comedians like Richard Pryor were “joined at the hip” during their first days of comedy. 

Carlin mastered the English language and had a unique (and overpowering) delivery.  He makes mention of his natural “ability” (understatement) to grab an audience and compound the humor on them.  He had an amazing ability to engage with his audience. 

What I disliked about this book 

It sort of got a little slow in the middle of the book.  Though I’m not against slowing the pace to build on the plot, it almost seemed like there was repetition of the same portions earlier in the book.  Perhaps it was either intentional (as reinforcement) or because this book is derived from his compilation of notes.  Nevertheless, my mind wandered a bit – only to be “rescued” by a strong finish. 

To whom would I recommend this book 

I would definitely limit my readership to 18 and  older.  Repeated discussions on the “7 words you cannot say on television,” along with George’s general delivery of all information would be the reasons.  Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable ride for a mature/ adult audience.  It’s easy to miss this guy. 

Any thoughts? 

A.N. 

The Blue Zones

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by Dan Buettner (Full book review coming in September)

We Were Eight Years in Power

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narrated (audio book) by Ta-Nehisi Coates

publisher: Penguin Random House (audiobook version, 2018)

Anthony’s FB Master Reads

Anthony’s FB Master Reading List (WritePlus)

What I learned from this book

Coates offers to us a deep understanding of what it is like to be living as an American through the eyes of a much different viewpoint than many are accustomed to hearing – that of the African-American male .  It is an eye-opening discourse on the “flip” side of the American dream and its historical remembrances – as well as many other accounts of the events that took place in this country over the past 400+ years. It really offers a brand new angle for the American public in how we might finally want to address both the answers (and new questions going forward) concerning our legacy.

What I liked about this book

It is a sharply-witted, wake-up call containing more than a few ‘shots across the bow’ that many Americans will find stunning and difficult to digest.  That said, it also offers answers to so many questions that have been chalked up to much shallower explanations and inaccurate guesses as to some of our “social conditions.”  One shining example is: for those of us who thought America should be considered ‘post-racial’ after eight years of hosting one African-American president (Barack Obama) in the White House, Coates presents a convincing case of the polar-opposite viewpoint; drawing from his knowledge of James Baldwin and others. Coates suggests how we can choose to sincerely address our relationships with race (and each other) going forward – or not.  It is a testament to how distant issues can become when virtually ignored for so many centuries. He is calling us out when we label the simple passage of time erroneously as “progress.” He informs us that we indeed have a long way to go.

What I disliked about this book

There is very little for me to dislike about this book.  It is equal parts thoughtful, unique, expressive – and also uncomfortable.  Coates’ forthrightness is one good reason to explain why this book has been touted with such an array of awards and other literary recognition.  In my opinion, for many educational reasons, it is arguably “one for the ages!”

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I understand how important it is to a large swath of America to feel pride and nostalgia concerning America’s history. However, what Coates does is he tries to share with us that it is much more important is to check ourselves to ensure that the history we are told (and that ultimately we pass on to the next generation) is factually accurate and balanced.  Without it, he tells us we are essentially just living in a 330 million-person fantasy world of, well, ‘fake news …’

Your thoughts?

-A.N.