You made it to Friday, CivMixers! Another workweek almost completed. An achievement, in my books.
PSA: Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend. Get ready to spring forward.
Sundown tonight will mark the start of the National Day of Unplugging – a 24-hour “global respite from technology” that is intended to get us to put down our handheld devices, shut off our TVs, close our laptops, power down our e-readers and spend some time connecting with each other or ourselves or our communities in REAL TIME.
Yes, a world exists outside this screen. Imagine.
There’s actually a special little branded sleeping bag they make for you to store your tech in while you digitally detox.
So, why is this important?
Well, a 2018 survey of 2,000 Americans found we spend about half our waking hours looking at screens of one type or another. And a fairly significant number of people said that checking their phone is the VERY FIRST THING they do in the morning. (Personally, I am guilty of this only about half the time. Usually, I pet the dog first).
Our digital devices are amazing, and they have certainly changed our lives for the better in so many ways. But all that screen time has a number of downsides, too. Like, it’s not terribly good for your eyes, for one thing. And, when you’re looking at your phone, or taking pictures of your food, or checking your Facebook page or what have you, you’re not actually engaging with the person who is right. there. in. front. of you.
Maybe a 24-hour detox is a little aggressive for you. I know I cannot, at this moment in my life, unplug for a full day and night cycle. But maybe a few hours without the electronic leash when you go outside and actually take an undocumented walk without music, or a podcast or, well, anything, accompanying you would be nice. Or have a meal that’s uninterrupted by beeps or dings or rings or chirps.
Just a thought. Try it out. I’m going to.
Another typical early spring day is on tap in the Capital Region, with temperatures forecast to hover just shy of 50 degrees. There will be some clouds and some sun. Sunday, by the way, is looking LOVELY, with the possibility of the mercury heading just south of 60, according to The Weather Channel. Fingers crossed.
The great Italian sculptor Michelangelo, (full name: Michelangelo Di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni), who brought us such iconic pieces as “David,” “Pieta” and the Sistine Chapel cieling, was born on this day in 1475. He’s often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and fellow Florentine, Leonardo da Vinci.
Michelangelo died in Rome in 1564, at the age of 88 (three weeks before his 89th birthday). His body, Wikipedia tells us, was taken from Rome for interment at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro’s last request to be buried in his beloved Florence.
Alan Greenspan, the economist who served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, is turning 94 today. Other birthdays of note: Businessman (and longtime companion of Oprah) Stedman Graham (69), actress Moira Kelly (52), former basketball great Shaquille O’Neal (48), actor and comedian Tom Arnold (61), and actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner (73).
Today’s coronavirus headlines…
The global march of COVID-19 triggered a vigorous appeal from the WHO for governments to pull out “all the stops” to slow the epidemic, as it drained color from India’s spring festivities, closed Bethlehem’s Nativity Church and blocked Italians from visiting elderly relatives in nursing homes.
The global rate of infection has surpassed 98,000 cases. “This is not a drill,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. But around the world, governments have displayed signs of paralysis, obfuscation and a desire to protect their own interests.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll rose to 12 as another person in Washington State succumbed to the disease — and officials announced a concessions vendor at the Seattle Seahawks stadium tested positive.
The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in New York State doubled yesterday to 22, with officials announcing eight new cases in Westchester County, one on Long Island and two patients in New York City who are critically ill.
Ten of the state’s 11 confirmed cases are centered in New Rochelle, where over 100 other households are under a self-quarantine order.
About 2,800 New York City residents are under quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus — and some could face fines or jail time if they venture outside their homes, officials said.
The Rabbi of Young Israel in New Rochelle — the synagogue at the center of a Westchester County outbreak — has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a tweet by Yeshiva University.
Capital Region school officials, particularly those overseeing urban and rural districts with high poverty rates or inconsistent internet service, say they currently lack the infrastructure necessary to homeschool students on a large scale in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.
Schalmont Central School District informed parents and staff that two households connected to the district had traveled to a country at high risk for coronavirus and are now under quarantine.
SEFCU, the region’s largest credit union, is allowing non-branch employees to work from home in some cases as it tests its preparedness plans for the COVID-19 outbreak caused by the coronavirus.
Investigators in the state Health Department’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement were informed this week they are being tasked with transporting coronavirus samples to labs for testing as the outbreak — and efforts to measure it — have expanded this week. (They want hazardous duty pay).
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is urging students and staff not to travel outside North America or on cruise ships over spring break, which begins this weekend.
Two elite Manhattan prep schools will be closed today for a “thorough cleaning” due to a family that’s being monitored for the coronavirus.
As New York continues to see a jump in positive coronavirus cases, state Attorney General Letitia James has ordered televangelist Jim Bakker to quit misleading New Yorkers by falsely advertising the product “Silver Solution” as reliable treatment.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio took the A train in a move intended to allay New Yorkers’ fears about the coronavirus. But he only rode a single stop.
The New York Blood Center is in urgent need of donors to replenish the region’s blood supplies as people are working from and staying at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
A prospective juror who was dismissed from a Manhattan federal trial earlier this week has been told to self-isolate after attending temple the same day as someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus, it was revealed in court.
Two Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office staffers have been told to stay home because of possible exposure to the virus.
It is the option that nobody in the Olympic movement wants to talk about, but it is the one staring everyone in the face: a Tokyo Games this summer with no fans, just 10,000 athletes competing in front of seas of empty seats.
Here’s some advice about how to stop touching your face, which will reduce your chances of getting the virus.
Albany Public Library is changing its cleaning practices in a proactive measure to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus. Staff have worn gloves since the beginning of flu season, but now they’re also wiping down books to maintain public health as community spreading is linked to a jump in cases in New York.
Hong Kong authorities this week updated reports on the lone dog that appears to have a low-grade infection from coronavirus, saying it’s likely a case of a human transmitting it to the dog. But you should not be worried about the welfare of your pets, or other people’s pets, according to authorities.
With the coronavirus outbreak continuing to spread around the globe, the aviation industry is being jolted.
The social media team at Tito’s Vodka has been hard at work spreading one message: Don’t use its vodka to make hand sanitizer. (The CDC says it needs to be 60 percent alcohol to work; Tito’s is 40 percent alcohol).
In non-virus news…
Embattled Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is treating Michigan’s March 10 primary as a firewall — and possible last stand — to stem the momentum of suddenly surging rival Joe Biden.
Sanders said at Arizona rally last night that he would back Biden if the former vice president becomes the party’s nominee.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who entered the 2020 race with expansive plans to use the federal government to remake American society, pressing to strip power and wealth from a moneyed class that she saw as fundamentally corrupting the country’s economic and political order, has ended her campaign.
Billionaire Mike Bloomberg confirmed he’s turning his defunct campaign into an “independent” Super PAC to aid the Democratic nominee and defeat Trump in November — particularly deploying what could be hundreds of millions of dollars in resources in six battleground states.
The April 28 Democratic presidential primary in New York will likely be an epic clash — but not just between far-left Sanders and mainstream Biden, but also the state and city’s constantly warring mayor and governor.
Former President Bill Clinton waves off his affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky in a new documentary — by saying it was something he did “to manage my anxiety.”
A federal judge sharply criticized U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the report by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, saying that Barr put forward a “distorted” and “misleading” account of its findings and lacked credibility on the topic.
Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck. Schumer declined to apologize for his remarks this week at an abortion rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court, although his incendiary comments drew a rare rebuke from the chief justice and immediate outcry from Republicans. (He did, however, say he used the “wrong words”).
Legislation announced on Capitol Hill aimed at curbing the spread of online child sexual abuse imagery would take the extraordinary step of removing legal protections for tech companies that fail to police the illegal content.
As members of the Cuomo administration start to educate the public about the proposed $3 billion environmental bond act, lawmakers are calling for an even bigger spending package — while others are saying they need more specificity on what the money would go for.
A TV ad campaign this week was launched to push for mobile sports betting legalization in New York.
Advocates for local governments are pushing back against a Cuomo administration plan to speed up the siting process for renewable-energy generating plants.
The NYPD blamed the state’s bail reform overhaul for this year’s crime spike — saying that 482 people arrested in 2020 were cut loose only to re-offend.
Federal investigators found a loaded gun that had been smuggled into the Manhattan jail where the financier Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself last summer while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, officials said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is again trying to require nonprofits and political advocacy organizations to publicly disclose their donors, after a similar law he spearheaded was struck down in court in October. But nonprofits fear that the proposal would quash charitable giving and violate free speech protections.
A group of protesters caused the dismissal of a jury pool for a sexual assault trial in Watervliet yesterday morning.
The Schenectady School District sent a letter home this week, announcing a new principal at Zoller Elementary School. The change caught many parents by surprise.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Albany City Schools Superintendent Kaweeda Adams pushed the message that the city will try to make sure it reaches populations that are typically undercounted in the U.S. Census.
The Albany pizza shop owner who is near the end of a 15-year federal prison term on terrorism charges wants to be released early so he can get urgent medical care for chronic kidney disease.
The Troy Police Department has lacked a captain to conduct internal affairs investigations for nearly two months – and has had no civilian review for five years even though it’s mandated by city law.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will award New York $1.96 million to test for lead in the water supply of school systems and child care facilities.
Jamie Dimon, 63, the longtime chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, had an emergency medical procedure on his heart yesterday, according to a memo sent to bank employees.
Harvey Weinstein underwent a heart procedure at a New York City hospital on Wednesday evening and the next day was transferred to a jail on Rikers Island for inmates needing special protection, his spokesman said.
You would think that Staten Island has plenty of room to share space with wildlife. Yet the way locals describe it, the borough is ground zero for unwanted visitors – deer and wild turkeys – who are proliferating so abundantly that they turning into urban pests.
RIP Amory Houghton Jr., who stepped down as head of his family’s venerable glass works corporation to serve for two decades as a wealthy congressman from upstate New York, becoming a leading moderate Republican voice who defied his party’s hard-right turn. He died on Wednesday at his home in Corning, at the age of 93.
Bad news: Tick season is already underway.
Good news: A number of local ice cream stands and shops are opening for the season this weekend.
Photo credit: George Fazio.