HOT SHEET: #OldManStudent update, NFL notes, Iowa celebrates small COVID-19 gain, absentee ballot confusion and police success stories

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Precinct Station.

ITEM ONE: Update on #OldManStudent. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker takes all his classes online via Zoom meetings at Drake University. This format works better than anticipated, but there are pitfalls. Example: Your typist’s bathroom is about 12 feet from his computer. Always remember to mute your microphone when you answer nature’s call because mics will pick up certain sounds one would just as soon remain private.

ITEM TWO: Other Zoom meeting notes: No one looks good eating a sub sandwich on camera. If you happen to have the NFL season opener on in the background, mute the TV and make sure the TV is not in direct line of the camera.

ITEM THREE: The NFL season began Thursday. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs beat the Houston Texans. It still feels odd to say “defending champion Kansas City Chiefs,” perhaps the only good thing to occur in 2020. Then again, I’m old enough that it feels weird not to say Houston Oilers. The Bears also did well Thursday evening. The team owes this mostly to not having played.

ITEM FOUR: The typist turns almost all his sporting attention to pro football. His beloved New York Yankees cling to the eighth seed in the American League playoffs. This spot only exists because baseball executives expanded the playoffs to make up for the coronavirus-shortened 60-game regular season. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker questions the wisdom of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman’s “protect all prospects” approach. The typist grimly notes the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals have won more World Series in the last decade than the Yankees. The Yankee batters may be “savages in the box,” but they’re sad sacks in the standings.

ITEM FIVE: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference to celebrate Iowa dropping from No. 1 in coronavirus spread to No. 3. Wow. What an accomplishment. What did Reynolds do, bus some people to Missouri?

ITEM SIX: Just a day after Hot Sheet warned of absentee ballot confusion from well-meaning non-profits, two Iowa judges ruled absentee request forms that were pre-filled with the voter’s name and address were improper, per the Associated Press. The county auditors in Woodbury and Johnson counties sent the request forms to make it easier for people to seek absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the typist supports efforts to increase voter turnout. However, at some point people must take responsibility for themselves — especially in challenging circumstances. To quote retired Drake University professor Herb Strentz, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.”

ITEM SEVEN: Recommended viewing for the weekend:

  • Louisiana at Iowa State, noon, Saturday, ESPN. The Cyclones are playing without fans in the stands and the Hawkeyes aren’t playing until spring. Regardless of your allegiance in the Cy-Hawk rivalry, you might as well give ISU your eyeballs.
  • Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington Football Team, noon, Sunday, regional coverage. Hot Sheet knows no teams of regional interest play in this game, but we want to see how many times the announcers accidentally say “Redskins” and then fall all over themselves to apologize.
  • The Boys, Season 2, streaming on Amazon Prime: Superheroes with sex, blood and breast milk reheated with heat vision. I’m not making this up.

ITEM LAST: Lest we be cajoled into thinking the local constabulary only makes news in officer-involved shootings or amid racial tensions, Hot Sheet turns your attention to three items of note in the most recent Des Moines city news letter.

  • Chief Dana Wingert promoted Lillie Miller to captain, naming her the first Black female captain in the department’s history. Miller, an officer since 1999, was also the department’s first Black female lieutenant under former chief Judy Bradshaw.
  • Jeff Edwards, a former public information officer and DMPD Medal of Valor recipient also attained his captaincy.
  • Wingert recognized Senior Police Officer Scott Newman, a 21-year veteran and a member of the department’s tactical unit, with the DMPD Lifesaving Award. Newman rescued five people from a burning car wreck on his way home from work early July 5.

The typist takes a lot of heat from liberal extremists for his support of police. That’s fine. Honorable people disagree. And who gives a damn what dishonorable people think? The ol’ Paragraph Stacker recognizes every police department has problems. No one lives in a utopia. But the typist notes that no matter how bad things get, no matter how many people hate them — when the shit breaks bad and the citizenry cries out for help, the police come running.

OK. That’s it. Listen to our podcast. Be careful out there and, as always, donations welcome and appreciated.

Behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney hopes Rick will finally return him to Earth C-137.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

25,000 maniacs: Cyclones go all in with COVID-19 for the glory of football

Iowa State plans to allow 25,000 people at its home football games this season.

This is great for Cyclone football fans.

This is terrible public health policy.

I want it to work.

I don’t think it will.

Coronavirus cases are spiking in populated counties with big universities — including Story County, home to ISU.

Iowa has the highest per-capita instances of positive tests for COVID-19 in the country, per the New York Times.

Only three other countries in the world have a higher per capita rate than Iowa. Story County has the highest spike in new cases.

Football always makes money. COVID-19 is only fatal sometimes.

I picture ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard grinning ear-to-ear with his palms up like Alfred E. Neuman: What, me worry?

Iowa used to be No. 1 in education, or at least that’s what the told people in the 1970s.

Now we’re No. 1 in coronavirus. It’s not a national championship, but it’s something.

Gov. Kim Reynolds shut down bars and nightclubs. No booze. No music. No strippers.

But the restaurants are still open.

So you can sit at the bar in a restaurant and drink. You just can’t drink at a bar.

ISU struggles with COVID-19 on campus. But at Jack Trice Stadium, some 25,000 are going to practice social distancing.

If that sounds silly to you, I think you might be right.

I’m sure this makes sense to somebody. I’m not that person.

But so what?

America, the richest country in the world, has the most COVID-19 deaths.

The “masks are tyranny” crowd don’t help. But neither do the people yelling at other people to wear a mask.

Everybody is an extremist these days. It’s like living in a country full of suicide bombers.

Americans are not good at patience. We want what we want and we want it now.

We want a COVID-19 vaccine. We want it now.

Alas, science and the law does not work on consumer demand. You have to do the work and meet the standards.

So we take risks we shouldn’t. We play football. That’s a terrible idea in the pandemic.

But, damnit, it’s been a tough year and we need this, football lovers say.

We don’t actually need football. We want it and we want it now.

Thus, we shall have it and the masses may attend their cathedrals.

I’m not going. This doesn’t measure much. I lost my taste for crowds years ago.

But even if I had the desire, I wouldn’t go. I have my parents, both 71, and my grandma, 93, to think of.

At this point, I’m willing to treat football and public events like smoking.

Everyone knows smoking is bad for you.

With all the information available to the public on how to contain COVID-19, if you decide to go to a football game with 25,000 people, well, that’s on you.

If you get sick, you knew the risk.

Except … that’s the bitch of this hideous virus. It isn’t just about you. It’s about everyone around you.

Setting aside second-hand smoke, the person playing Russian roulette with their lungs is the smoker.

The football fan takes a power dive into the deep end of the COVID-19 pool.

If they get sick and get others sick, the pandemic drags on and gets worse.

The economy is already choking. A massive shut down like we saw earlier this year could crush a lot of businesses, wipe out scores of jobs and lead to foreclosures and evictions at rates never seen before.

That doesn’t factory in the potential body count.

But, again, I defer to individual choice.

If you wanna risk your health and the health of everyone around you to watch a game that is better on TV, be my guest.

You just can’t be a guest in my home.

Daniel P. Finney covers ear and nose hair for ParagraphStacker.com.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

2020: Apocalypse Slow or the derecho and the damage done

I thought the apocalypse would be faster.
The Death Star shows up in orbit and “BOOM.”
The deity returns. The faithful rapture. The sinners burn.
Thanos collects the infinity stones. Snap. Half the universe turns to dust.

But 2020 indicates an apocalypse is merely a steadily increasing series of indignities ultimately ending in madness.

The latest example of this ill-fated year came earlier this week when something called a derecho decimated the Midwest with a trail of death and destruction across a 770-mile, 14-hour trek from South Dakota to Ohio.

Wind gusts measured at 122 mph, the equivalent of a Category 2 Hurricane.

The storm snapped power poles, uprooted trees, rended corrugated metal buildings and stripped roofs and generally smashed around like the Incredible Hulk in a particularly foul mood.

Many Iowans are well into their fourth day without power. Some utility companies say it may be up to three weeks in especially decimated areas such as Cedar Rapids and Linn County.

This is another below-the-belt punch in a year that has battered our collective groins like the men in “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

We Iowans can take harsh weather.

Blizzards? Meh.

Century floods? Been there, done that.

Tornados? Scary, but we cope.

But a derecho?

It’s rare for Iowans to have to learn a new word for weather. Most of us think “thunder snow” is made up.

2020 was already the year of COVID-19, the global pandemic that cancelled everything.

Adults worked from home which, after six months, feels like living at work.

The pandemic put more than 30 million people out of work, including your friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker.

This led Congress and the president to engage in fruitful talks to come up with a stimulus plan that benefited struggling America.

Nah, I’m totally kidding.

They did what they always do: Lock down in partisan bickering that accomplished nothing except give politicians a chance for demagogic bloviation in front of the flaccid press corps.

Racial unrest spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody forced our nation to take a long, hard look at itself and a lot of people found our guiding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be empty platitudes.

We can’t visit our elders, who are the most vulnerable to catch and die from the virus.

Our go-to distractions from national misery are cancelled or jumbled up.

Some college football conferences are playing in the spring. Some are playing in the fall. Some aren’t playing at all.

The NFL is busy trying to figure out how to make more money off of all it.

They cancelled the Iowa State Fair.

I’ll type that again for clarity: They cancelled the Iowa State Fair.

There is no greater sign of the apocalypse.

My fellow East High School alumni were so discombobulated by the disruption in their annual gathering at the Bud Tent that they scheduled a series of alternative East Side Nights just to make sure they kept their Busch Light-to-blood ratio at proper levels.

Nobody wants to detox in a pandemic.

I don’t really believe the world is ending.

But this is a one thing after another after another after another.

A week or so ago, I went to make a deposit in an ATM. The first one I hit was out of order. The second ATM didn’t take deposits. The third one, the one closest to my home, had been hit by a truck and would be out of service all summer.

That feels very 2020.

At this point, if it started to rain fire and locusts devoured the fields, I would shrug and say, “Well, that’s 2020.”

The year shows no signs of improvement. The virus marches on and deaths are on the rise. Congress remains impotent.

And, oh yeah, the presidential election is in November.

The current president has suggested he might not leave office if he is defeated.

Maybe that’s more empty banter.

Or maybe that’s for real.

If nothing else, we’ve learned that our government basically runs on the honor system and we, as citizens, have foolishly entrusted its function to dishonorable people.

Regardless, the lead up to the election is sure to be filled with bile, lies, fear and loathing. And those are just the campaign ads.

A friend suggests Nov. 4 through Dec. 31 could be the most frightening period of the year.

I don’t think he was kidding.

In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s right.

And that really does scare me.

Daniel P. Finney, area bald man

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.