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We hear a lot about immunity these days. Or not immunity. My subject here is our tendency to act as though we are immune to history. We happily cling to historical events, documents, and persons, I guess because they are the building blocks of our personal mythology, answering, for us alone, the big question “how did we get here?” It’s important that we do this because by extending a line from that point in the past through today, we hazard guesses about the future, an endless fascination. In this, we are no different than a thousand generations before us.

In my daily flagellations over COVID-19, Trump, a government that doesn’t work anymore, and getting old, I am beset with frustration that my fellow people seem to have a poor sense of history.

Start with the pandemic. My reading tells me we knew everything we needed to know about how to deal with a pandemic the likes of COVID-19 (I mean there’s already been 18 of ’em, right?) when we got the word that number 19 was on its way. It couldn’t matter less where it started. It’s actually a good thing if it started in China because as we saw, the Chinese uni-culture was prepared to do what needed to be done to lock the epidemic down and bring society back. And it wasn’t like we couldn’t see what was happening. By February, we could have drawn a line from what had already happened in China through our own situation at that time and on into March, April…October. That’s what Korea and Japan did, right?

And then there’s the fact that what happened in the USA in the pandemic of 1918 is so well documented and has taught several generations of epidemiologists and lawmakers and presidents exactly what to expect. We have plenty of experts to tell us what to do when COVID-n is headed our way. Many tried.

Learned during the COVID-19 crisis: We should have known better.

Over many years, I have gradually become aware of the utter avoidability of some of the great worldwide disasters: the World Wars, oil spills and other environmental catastrophes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Veep stakes

Guy Cicero —  08/07/2020 — Leave a comment

It would seem to be down to Kamala Harris or Susan Rice. After all these months of speculation, Harris and Rice are said to be the front-runners and most likely prospects for the Democratic vice-presidential choice.

I’m good with either option. I hope that whoever is not chosen, along with the many other not-chosens, will line up alongside Biden to create the landslide victory I want to see. (Btw, what form is Mike Bloomberg‘s declared support for Joe Biden taking?)

As I recall, a landslide by definition is 55% of the vote or more, a 10-point differential. I’m hoping that more like 65% of the popular vote goes for Biden, but I know that’s unlikely.

I believe that Biden will win. The question is by how much. The choice for Veep will probably not decide the election. The most important influence on the margin will probably be the number of past Trump supporters who decide they’ve had enough and stay home or vote Biden or vote write-in.

Still, who might our next Veep be?

Axios

Guy Cicero —  08/05/2020 — Leave a comment

If I’d ever even heard of Axios before the Trump-Jonathan Swan interview, I’ve forgotten about it. But prompted by Swan’s smart, incisive one-on-one, I’ve checked out axios.com and find it refreshing, serious, and worth a deeper dive as a quality news source.

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My preference for a long time has been to work from home…

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I think it was 1955 when I obediently lined up my seven-year-old self to get my polio medicine, delivered, I think, as a few drops of the good stuff soaked into a sugar cube. Clever folks, those public health pros.

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Number 65

Guy Cicero —  02/02/2020 — Leave a comment

in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers.

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Counting people

Guy Cicero —  02/01/2020 — Leave a comment

Our local kindergartner asked about my new job. “Grandpa has a job counting people,” he was told. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the best.

I am a temporary member of 2020 Census team, helping to see that all US residents are counted so we can have more fair and equitable elections, among other objectives.

A good friend called yesterday and said he is vying to become a member of the independent redistricting commission in his state. Redistricting is the outcome end of the process that begins with the federal census.

What about after this process is completed? How should I remain involved in helping to insure we have valid redistricting and elections open and available to everyone qualified to vote? Important stuff.

Here’s some good background:

The Congressional Budget Office projected increases in the national debt and sustained federal budget deficits. The U.S. government will spend $1 trillion more than it collects in 2020 and deficits will reach or exceed that threshold every year for the foreseeable future.

The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, January 28, 2020

What will it be? Which news item on what day will be the straw that breaks the back of the stock market camel? That news always comes when you least expect it and pops the current bubble and destroys your gain.

It seems to me that a one trillion dollar annual deficit should satisfy whatever conditions need to be met to crash the market. I’m told that the market mainly rides on a wave of investor confidence that carries us along week after week, year after year, until it doesn’t any more. I can tell you that my confidence gets pretty shaky at the prospect of adding a trillion to the national debt every year. Then there’s the impeachment and election year uncertainty. The likelihood of higher taxes. The specter of Russian hacking. And of course, the Middle East. Getting nervous.

“I don’t quite understand about understanding poetry. I experience poems with pleasure….” — John Ashbery

Me either. I don’t understand most of the poems I read. But they make me happy or sad, or thoughtful, or inspired, or excited, or depressed. I’m excited at a word used in a new way or a phrase that you just can’t forget—like “April is the cruelest month” or “darkness at the break of noon shadows even the silver spoon.” Wait. What?

But since my freshman rhetoric professor explained that poetry is a most efficient language form, accomplishing what prose might take hours and pages to do, I began to not care any more about whether I understood. I just let it happen in me.

I’ve always thought that his poetry in this sense is what distinguishes Dylan from being just another 60’s rock star—and one reason why he deserves his Nobel—not that poets need us to understand their poetry.