What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening

The Conversation asks, “How do you vaccinate a honeybee?”

Little tiny needles, I guess. The hardest part is afterward, trying to make them stay still for 15 minutes in the waiting room.

I took this picture in a university’s student union the other day and posted it on Facebook, “Kids, next semester, sign up for Uncle Jay’s three-credit course and he’ll teach you how to use these mysterious objects.”

The poor campus phone seems so lonely by itself.

I can remember not that long ago, when there was a pay phone practically everywhere. I even had a calling-card, issued by Westinghouse Communications, which allowed me to call anywhere in the country and charge it to my home phone. Then, I can remember the desperate search to find a pay phone (especially while I worked for a place that issued us company-owned beepers but not cell phones), and then the current state of affairs, where pay phone booths or poles still occasionally exist, but the phones are long gone.

I could see a need for payphones on a university campus, especially for international students who may need to call overseas to a country where the infrastructure doesn’t support Skype or Zoom calls. But I do wonder how often they get used for anything other than someone looking to get out of the hallway and use their cell phone.

Trivia question: Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876. The first telephone networks and exchanges — allowing users to call other users — debuted one year later. How long before the first coin-operated payphone appeared? Answer at the end.

Over on Medium, Cory Doctorow had an interesting take on social media, and our love-hate relationship with it. He compared it to the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” where the villagers of Anatevka know that life under the czar is dangerous, and that they need to leave for someplace safer and more prosperous, but the idea of giving up their friends is even more painful.

Doctorow says Facebook, Twitter and other platforms have done a good job of locking us into their services — even as those services get worse and worse — because, just like the villagers, we’re all in need of the human connections they provide:

Online, a lot of us have been unhappy with our social media platforms for a long time, but we hang in there, year after year, scandal after scandal, because as much as we hate the platform, we love the people who use the platform.

We don’t leave because we don’t want to lose them. They don’t leave because they don’t want to lose us. It’s a hostage situation, and we’re all holding each other hostage.

When I check in on Twitter these days, the number-one topic of discussion still seems to be: People bitching about Twitter.

It reminds me of the joke about the two society matrons complaining to one another at the fancy luncheon. “The food here is terrible,” says the first. The second responds, “Yes, and such small portions.”

The only thing I miss about Twitter are the random interactions and opportunities to tell jokes. I am still enjoying Mastodon quite a bit, even though it’s a little quiet over there. There needs to be some more users and it needs to be easier to find other like-minded people.

(One thing that’s worked for me is looking at the lists of people who follow me, and then following their followers. I’ve connected to an interesting mix of people that way, so far.)

The other thing Mastodon needs is more shit-posting and jokes, and I’m doing my best to help there, as you can see:

If you wish to shit-post along with Jay, I’m open for business at the new stand, https://union.place/@jaythurbershow.

It should go without saying, but the problem with George Santos possibly having been a drag queen isn’t that he was a drag queen, because — and I’ll make this loud for the bigots in the back — there’s nothing wrong with being a drag queen, or transgender. (Not all drag queens are transgender. Not all transgender people do drag.)

The problem is, as always, the hypocrisy of people like Santos — and the Republican Party which is still, more or less, lining up behind him — persecuting the LGBTQ community when they, themselves, have closeted LGBTQ people in their ranks.

The latest nuttiness comes from By-God West Virginia, where four Republican state senators have introduced legislation that would classify anyone who is transgender and going within 2,500-feet of a K-12 school as doing something “obscene.”

That’s a half-mile, friends and neighbors. Presumably anyone transgender who’s driving through Wheeling on Interstate 70 and stops at a Sheetz near an elementary school is being “obscene.”

It has nothing to do with defending or protecting children. It has to do with being cruel.

In Utah, Republicans are considering legislation to prevent transgender girls from receiving breast implants because of the supposed negative “health effects.” Someone asked if they were going to ban any other girls from getting breast implants, too. No, they said, why would they?

It’s about being cruel.

In Iowa, Republicans are banning people who use SNAP benefits — aka “food stamps” — from purchasing fresh meat and fish. Only canned fish would be permitted, even though fresh fish is obviously healthier (and usually cheaper) than canned varieties.

Sliced cheese also couldn’t be purchased with SNAP benefits in Iowa. Neither could flour, cooking oil or salt and pepper. Why? Cruelty.

The local TV station in Cedar Rapids says legislators were “excited” to begin this session. I guess bullies get excited when they get the chance to beat up kids on the playground, too, and sadists get excited about pulling the wings off of flies.

Finally, here’s a real ad I got on Facebook recently:

Tired: “My girlfriend is in Canada, you wouldn’t know her.”

Wired: “My girlfriend is an A.I., you wouldn’t be able to access her.”

I guess we might as well have artificial intelligence. There’s damn little of the real kind available these days.

Trivia answer: The coin-operated telephone was invented in 1889 by William Gray, an employee of Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut, supposedly after he needed to call a doctor for his wife, but no one would let him use their phone. Gray eventually obtained more than 20 patents on coin-operated phones. In 1891, he launched the Gray Telephone Pay Station Co. You can see one of his phones in the collection of The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit.

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