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Powerful in ’17

The FiveThirtyEight website provided a post-election power players selection reminiscent of a fantasy football league draft, including some witty banter and healthy ridicule.

New York’s power players—excluding the Trump family and team—fared poorly in the six-round, four-team selection detailed in “The ‘Most Powerful Political Players Of 2017’ Draft Extravaganza!”

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is the only one of that group to get selected. No Hill, no Bills, no Gill and no Andy. And the pick of Chuck, at No. 17 out of 24, elicited a tepid response.

Each of the four teams was selected by a FiveThirtyEight staffer: Nate Silver, founder and editor in chief; Harry Enten, senior political writer and analyst; Clare Malone, senior political writer; and Micah Cohen, politics editor.

Clare tapped Chuck in the fifth round, just after Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader, was taken.

She explained: “Do I have to explain that? He’s the Senate minority leader. That still counts for something.”

Micah added: “He’s basically the power of all Senate Democrats in one pick. That’s not a ton of power, but it’s something.”

President-elect Donald Trump went first, followed by Vice President-elect Mike Pence and President Barack Obama at No. 3.

Clackers and jarts

The holiday season brings to mind gifts popular back when we were youths. A recent blog entry by John Swann, an FDA historian, brought one to mind: clacker balls. They were loved by kids, hated by adults, and derailed by regulators and safety advocates.

Swann explains that at one time the FDA might have been the Food, Drug and Toy Administration.

“During FDA’s brief stint as toy regulator, the agency dealt with flammable dolls; infant and toddler playthings that posed serious puncture, laceration, and crushing risks; and the infamous lawn darts,” he says. “To appreciate FDA’s role at the time, consider what happened with clacker balls. Their origin was unclear, but clacker balls were a veritable craze by January 1971, to the consternation of parents and school districts everywhere.”

The balls were attached at each end of a two-foot cord that had a ring or knot in the middle. By holding the cord in the middle and moving your hand up and down, you could cause the balls to strike each other at the top and bottom of an arc with great force and abundant noise.

Some users sustained serious eye and other injuries due to the design and action of the toy. The balls could rupture and spew fragments, or become wayward missiles. The FDA finalized its plan in November 1971, and all clacker balls marketed thereafter had to abide by the new safety standards or be subject to the ban.

12/30/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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