THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- MAY 5, 2018
Well kidlings, it's time for another round of "You Can't Make Up This Stuff," the game based on my brother Big Rob's theory that reality is stranger than any fiction. As usual, when we play this game we begin with an item that relates to Big Rob's stomping grounds of Flint.
The hits just keep on coming for the children of Flint, who can't seem to catch a break. As reported by ABC12 TV, parents of students at Flint Southwestern Academy High School allege that the school is woefully understaffed. “Organizers, who say they know students and teachers inside the school, believe 13 classes had not had a teacher for the past 3 months, leaving students wandering the halls and sitting in the auditorium. Others say there is no structure or accountability when it comes to student attendance. Teachers (are) overworked, understaffed and the students are paying the price.” If this is even marginally correct, the affected students are fighting an uphill battle to secure a future. (http://www.abc12.com/content/news/Flint-parents-protest-conditions-at-Southwestern-Academy-other-schools-481259361.html)
Flint students already start the education process at a disadvantage by just living in the poorest city in America. According to the U.S. Census: “The Bureau estimated that 45 percent of Flint residents lived below the poverty line in 2016. Flint also ranked first in childhood poverty. An estimated 58 percent of Flint residents under age 18 live below the poverty line.” Add all this together and it's a sad state of affairs. (http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/09/flint_is_nations_poorest_city.html)
In other Michigan news, a crook in Livonia seems to have limped his way to a successful crime. The man walked out of a sporting goods store with a $500 golf club in his pants. “An employee told police she a saw man walk into the golf department and leave the store about five minutes later. When he left, she said, he was walking differently than when he had arrived.” No kidding. The club in question, a Callaway Rogue driver, is 45.5 inches long. Callaway says the club is designed to achieve more distance and calls the technology the “Jailbreak Effect,” which actually makes sense in this instance. (https://www.hometownlife.com/story/news/local/livonia/2018/04/18/stolen-golf-clubs-dick-sporting/526059002/)
Sticking with sports, That “whiff” you may have heard this spring is the sound of Major League Baseball players flailing at dead air. “Strikeouts exceeded hits during a full calendar month for the first time in the sport's history. There were 6,656 strikeouts and 6,360 hits in April. Including the first four days of the season in March, 32.8 percent of 32,324 plate appearances this season have ended without a batted ball in play: 7,335 strikeouts, 2,921 walks, 354 hit batters and eight catcher's interference calls.”
Apparently, this does not bother some major league players. Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart said: “It's what's sexy now. Strikeouts are sexy.” So, if this means striking out is desirable and players are getting paid to do this and the average MLB player makes $4.47 million – here's the deal. I will be happy to become an MLB player and promise to strike out during every at bat and I will do so for less than half the money (call it $2 million). You too?
Even though strikeouts are apparently “sexy,” attendance at MLB games this season is down ten percent. At a Chicago White Sox game the reported attendance was 10,377, but in only 974 of those tickets were actually used by people who came through the turnstiles (the rest were sold but not used). Fans can get lonely at these games.
This would not be a problem in England because Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a minister for loneliness. “More than nine million people in the country often or always feel lonely, according to a 2017 report published by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.”
One could be tempted to make a joke about this, but it's a serious problem. An expert has “warned that the problem could kill.” He noted: “It’s proven to be worse for health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/europe/uk-britain-loneliness.html)
A recent study by Cigna illustrated the seriousness of this epidemic. The results are a bit surprising. “Young people are far more likely than senior citizens to report being lonely and in poor health. The overall national loneliness score was alarmingly high at 44 on a 20-to-80 scale, but the prevalence of social isolation among those ages 18 to 22 raises even more concern. The younger people, part of Generation Z, had loneliness scores of about 48 compared with nearly 39 for those 72 and older.”
The knee-jerk reaction would be to blame social media use for the numbers, however: “Young people with the highest rates of social media use reported very similar feelings of loneliness to those who barely use it.”
The bottom line is: "Stress from loneliness is an insidious type of stress. It creates a biological response that leads to chronic inflammation, damaged tissue and blood vessels, and an increased risk of heart disease, arthritis and diabetes.”
The survey did offer some suggestions. “The survey also found that striking the right balance of sleep, exercise, socializing with friends and family and 'me time,' can help alleviate feelings of loneliness.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/05/01/loneliness-poor-health-reported-far-more-among-young-people-than-even-those-over-72/559961002/ and https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/02/cigna-study-loneliness-is-an-epidemic-gen-z-is-the-worst-off.html)
Finally, one way to combat loneliness is to have some fun. Wallet Hub has listed the “Most Fun States to Visit in America” based on entertainment, recreation and nightlife. The top five fun states for fun are California, New York, Nevada, Florida, and Illinois. The least fun states are West Virginia, Mississippi, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Arkansas. Michigan ranked 16. The complete rankings are at: https://wallethub.com/edu/most-fun-states/34665/.
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.
2018’s Most Fun States in America
(Interactive graphic. Point to a state to get the ranking.)