The Russian invasion of Ukraine and how far Putin is going to push it – what a tragedy!
Our upcoming trip to Europe: I just booked a cruise with an extension in eastern Europe. We start with five days in Poland, then get the cruise in Prague and sail to Berlin. I hope the War of Russian Aggression or a new variant of Covid-19 doesn’t interfere with our trip, which starts in April. I REALLY need to travel right now!
The environment/climate change. This is always on my mind. Also, getting a blurb to put in our weekly newsletter from the Environmental Concerns Committee, of which I seem to be chair.
The book I am currently reading, Braiding Sweetgrass – excellent! I’ve been taking notes!
Whether Republicans are going to retake the House and/or Senate in the upcoming midterm elections. They are projected to win because that’s the tradition in midterms, but does it have to be? The Dems need to do something to improve their messaging! More GOP control will be a disaster, especially with the kooks that run the party now!
Whether I have time to accomplish everything I want to accomplish this week.
Fandango has a weekly challenge, Who Won the Week, to invite fellow bloggers to choose someone (or something), usually from the news, but not necessarily, to feature as the person/place/thing who “won” the week.
In spite of the horrors in the news this week, most especially the war of aggression that Russia is waging on Ukraine, and scaring the world speculating about a wider war in Europe, there was one piece of good news: Pres. Biden announced his nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer (who is retiring) on the Supreme Court, a supremely capable Black woman, Ketanji Jackson Brown. I am not sure which of these three should be my pick for Who Won the Week, however. Should I choose Judge Brown, the nominee who has been honored to replace Justice Breyer on the Supreme Court? Should I choose Pres. Biden, who chose an eminently qualified Black woman who not only is qualified in her own right, but also in an effort to diversify the make-up of SCOTUS? In addition, the U.S. Senate has already confirmed Ms. Brown for federal judge, so they should have no objection to her elevation to the Supreme Court, which was also a smart move on Biden’s part. Or should I choose retiring Justice Breyer, who had the foresight to retire early enough in Biden’s presidency to make it extremely difficult for the Republicans in the Senate to delay her confirmation until the next presidential election? Indeed, there are several GOP senators who confirmed her nomination for federal judge, so it shouldn’t be a problem for them to confirm her again.
So I choose all three. Hopefully, it will be a smooth confirmation process!
What frivolous, but annoying thing that people do be considered a sin (crime)? And how should violators be made to repent (be punished) for it?
Confuse possessives with plurals by adding an apostrophe where it does not belong!!This is extremely common these days. Don’t they teach grammar in elementary school anymore or were these people asleep in class? It should be a crime, punishable by having to spend a whole day in a grammar class in which the attendees would write out many examples of both plurals and possessives, using all the rules for making plurals and possessives in the English language.
Cake’s is not a word, although the supermarket would have you think so! What belongs to the cake? Frosting? A message written on the top? No. They mean simply “more than one cake” which is a plural. The rule in this case is to add an “s” to the end of the word, NO APOSTROPHE! I have a dear friend that makes this mistake all the time and it drives me crazy!! But I don’t tell him about it because he would feel I am just lecturing him in my teacher mode! At the very least, he’d be embarrassed and since I only see his writing in emails, I’m letting it slide. There is one common exception to this rule which confuses a lot of people: its and it’s. “Its” is the possessive. (Its paws, its timing, etc.) “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.” If it doesn’t make sense to substitute “it is” where you’ve written “it’s” in a sentence, then correct it by removing the apostrophe.
Imagination IN and impracticality and logic aside, if you could pick one animal to have as an exotic pet based solely on how cute and adorable it is, what would it be?
A genet. I had never heard of this species until I went on a safari trip in Tanzania, and at one of the lodges, the owners had genets (they left food out for them so the genets would hang around) who would crawl out onto the rafters and stare at the people below. They look like cats, which is probably why I like them so much, but they are not cats. However, they are so CUTE!!
Do you have any siblings? If so, where do you rank in birth order? And do you think either of these facts contributed to the person you became?
I am the youngest of 5. I have three older sisters and one older brother. I’m sure it contributed to the person I became, because I tended to get away with stuff more often than the others. And I was the rebel, or “black sheep” of the family, so I think I made my mother rethink all of her child-rearing methods that she had developed raising four other children before me. Letting me excuse myself from dinner because “we eat so late” and I wanted to watch a TV show during that time. (Not sitting with the family during dinner was always verboten!) And letting the cat stay with me in bed instead of making him sleep in the garage. Things like that, I was able to get away with. Still, I fought a lot with my mother, but not my dad – he was always calm and hated conflict. Then my siblings, one by one, went away to school, and I ended up with only my brother, or alone, living at home with my parents. I think that had an effect also. I loved one of my sisters the most, and always wanted to stay up until she got home from school so I could see her right away. It was hard when she went away, because she served as a buffer between my brother and me. My brother teased me mercilessly, and I wanted that sister at home to comfort me, to distract me with songs or games.
We all have things that make us happy, but what makes you deliriously, giddily, tail wagging-ly happy?
I wish it were my grandchildren, but I don’t have any. It is my cat that makes me the most happy, although I wouldn’t say “giddy” – I love to watch her antics, to play with her, to hear her purr when I stroke her. Speaking of wagging, did you know that cats wag their tails? People associate wagging with dogs, but my cat does wag her tail by flipping it back and forth when she is content. It’s almost an unconscious gesture, because if I pet her when she is almost asleep, her tail starts flipping.
If you had an alter ego, who or what would it be? Describe some fun or interesting things about them!
I don’t know if my alter ego would be male or female. I guess I would want her/him to have the skills and personality characteristics that are the opposite of mine. My alter ego would be confident, organized, and a risk-taker. (S)he would do things I would never do, such as ziplining, hang gliding, going on archaeological digs, and white water rafting. (S)he would be athletic and agile (unlike me) and be an excellent photographer. (S)he’d have a blog, far more exciting than mine, about traveling all over the world. At home, (s)he would have an awesome job: graphic designing, travel consultant, linguist or anthropologist, famous novelist or painter, architect designing eco-friendly buildings. (S)he would get involved in environmental projects that would really make a difference in preserving species from extinction or mitigating the effects of climate change.
I guess my “alter ego” would be damn near perfect!! 🙂 😀
What are some hopes or accomplishments you’d like to see happen in 2022? My number one priority is for the federal government to really get serious about mitigating climate change, and that the population in general become more aware so they can pollute less and love our planet more! I have many other hopes, but I’m afraid they are just pipe dreams: Trump and his cronies get convicted for corruption, lying under oath, and deception of the public. Everyone gets vaccinated against Covid-19 so no new variants have a chance to take hold and wreak havoc. And a personal accomplishment would be for me to waste less time, so that I have time for all the things I “don’t have time” to do! And that the exciting trips I have booked for this year don’t get cancelled!!
What is your opinion of the state of health care in your country? Adequate or inadequate? What could be done to improve it? Hoo boy! This is one that has been highly and hotly debated in the last several years! How to get all Americans good health care while at the same time letting insurance companies run the show? It ain’t gonna happen! We need what Europe has: “free” health care for everyone – I know it isn’t really free, but it is run by the government and taxes pay for it, with the wealthy paying much more than the average worker. There are people who combine travel with medical needs, going to Spain, for example, to have hip replacement surgery which, even for Americans who don’t pay into their system, is many thousands of dollars cheaper than having it done here.
The United States has an excellent medical system; by that, I mean that it has the most advanced technology and research, and perhaps the most highly trained medical personnel, but, as we have seen in this pandemic, the “excellence” is spotty – concentrated in some areas, very inadequate in others. It is not evenly distributed and even with sophisticated equipment, many hospitals lacked basic PPE for all medical personnel when their hospitals were flooded with Covid patients. Many more people died than would have if hospital staff had everything it needed to treat them.
People (especially children, it seems) come to the United States to have some advanced procedures done that aren’t available in their countries, and they get special visas to stay in the U.S. for as long as their treatment lasts. Doctors Without Borders sends well-trained American doctors to poor countries to help people who have little or no health care. We hear about both of these efforts, but until Covid-19 hit us hard, the deficiencies of our health care system were largely unknown by the general public, (except, of course, people who already had had horrific experiences dealing with the cost and availability of health care). We did hear about people dying because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t pay specialists who could help them. This is a travesty, revealed especially once “Obamacare” (Affordable Care Act, or ACA) was being debated. President Obama clearly wanted to make health care more affordable and more equitable, but because of the influence of big pharma and corporate insurance lobbyists, the middlemen – the insurance companies – were allowed to administer the program. When I retired, I had the option of a COBRA policy from my school district, which I would have to pay for. I compared the cost of that policy with what I could get of equal value from the ACA. Registering for the ACA was initially less expensive, so I dropped the COBRA, meaning I could not later get it back. My medical insurance from my employer ran out in August of the year I retired, so I got a Blue Cross Blue Shield “silver” policy – a deductible that wasn’t prohibitive and a “reasonable” monthly premium of about $550. It was difficult to be responsible for this entire cost, (even though the premiums are calculated on a sliding scale according to your income) since I was no longer working, but I figured that I only had to have it for a year and 9 months and then I could get Medicare. In January of the following year, only four months after my employee insurance benefits ran out, the monthly premium of my BCBS silver policy went up by more than $200 a month. Now it was higher than the COBRA would have been, but I was stuck with it. The following year, it went up again – this time to over $1,000 per month! Fortunately, I turned 65 in the middle of that year and was then eligible for Medicare, but even so, the cost was nearly prohibitive for those first six months. I imagined what it was like for people in low-wage and no-insurance jobs; although they had subsidies from the ACA, their costs must have gone up too. I heard horror stories of dilemmas far worse than what I experienced. So, while the ACA did make medical insurance affordable for millions more people than before, there were millions of people that still couldn’t afford it. The ACA was and is far from perfect.
I believe health care is a right, that should be available to all. That is why I am in favor of a single-payer system. However, with the innate distrust of the government that is embedded in American culture, I don’t know when or if it will ever become a reality. Perhaps another entity could administer it, so it wouldn’t be associated with a government “welfare state.”
What are two words that describe you best? scatterbrained intelligent
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what it’s like? Yes, we get up around 8 am, and go to the kitchen, where Dale gets his coffee and I warm up water for tea. We each get a banana, and sometimes a small piece of cheese. Then we sit in our living room in front of our fireplace (in cold weather seasons) or on our screened porch (in warm weather) and read. Unfortunately, this is so pleasurable that we let it go on too long before we really start getting ready for our day, which, 5 days a week, starts with an exercise class between 10 and 11 am. Then we have a proper breakfast, take our morning meds, get dressed and go.
What’s something that really makes your blood race? Wishing I lived in a country that values its children more than guns.
Do you enjoy singing festive songs during *insert festive celebration that you observe to replace “Christmas” if it’s not relevant to you * Christmas carols or songs? Yes, of course – because it’s only one season a year. I also like to listen to the radio station that plays all Christmas music during the month of December. By New Year’s Day, I am sick of all these songs and want to go back to “normal!”
Feel free to share something that brings peace to you. Knowing that my son is OK, taking care of himself and no longer using drugs & alcohol. Until 6 months ago, worrying about my son was a constant stressor, but he has managed to finally get out of his rut and do the things he needs to make progress in his life. He calls often, sometimes with problems that frustrate him, but we always talk it out and he realizes his problem isn’t unsolvable. He is surrounded by people who care about and support him. He is a joy to be with now!! I look forward to spending Christmas with both him and our daughter and son-in-law.
Every week Fandango’s hosts a challenge, for those who choose to accept it, called Who Won The Week? It is the opportunity that fellow bloggers have to highlight someone in the news (good or bad) that takes the ‘prize’ for that week.
Meanwhile, many conservative states have passed or are considering legislation to restrict voting turnout and have either fired or threatened state election officials, who have been besieged by threatening phone calls and messages (some have received death threats, including local election officials who are Republicans and Trump supporters) and many of these officials are being primaried by more loyal Trump supporters who would go along with falsifying results of future elections if Republicans lose in their districts.
If Trump’s supporters follow his directive – and there is little reason to think they won’t – it may not be difficult for Democrats to maintain and even increase their Congressional majority. That would be good for the Biden administration, who currently must curry favor with two conservative Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kristin Sinema, who seem to currently have the power to shape Biden’s “Build Back Better” comprehensive reconciliation infrastructure bill.
I don’t have high hopes that all Trump supporters will not vote in the midterm elections, but Trump has only one concern: himself. His fans still don’t get that he has no interest in improving their lives or helping the country; he only cares about himself, as a true narcissist. Even so, I like to think right now that maybe electing Democrats isn’t a lost cause after all, and for that reason, Trump gets my vote for the person who “won” the week.
Fandango has an interesting and relevant question for us this week; in fact, the issue has been on my mind the last several days. Fandango prefaces the question as follows:
It seems to me that there are a lot of things to worry about these days. Whether we’re talking about the climate, politics, the seemingly never ending pandemic, natural disasters, social injustice, mass shootings, cultural clashes, or wars, the news is rarely good. I have almost gotten to the point that I’m considering stopping reading or watching the news because I find it both disheartening and depressing.
So with this in mind, my provocative question this week is this…
What worries you the most about the future? Why is that your biggest concern? Or are you not that concerned about the future?
Last week, I was on the verge of tears, watching a news piece about voting restriction laws that are being passed in various states around the country. If these laws are allowed to take effect, the Republicans in Texas, Georgia, and elsewhere will be able to overturn election results that they don’t like, by removing election officials and installing others of their choosing. This has come about as the “Big Lie” has not been allowed to die – there are still Trumpian politicians who have convinced a large minority of people that the Democrats corrupted the election and that Trump, in fact, had won, not Joe Biden. I believe these politicians are fully aware that there was no fraud and that Biden is the legitimate president, but they continue to fuel this lie for their own interests. It occurred to me, as I watched Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, that if they get away with it, they will destroy what is left of our democracy. The Republicans, under these laws, will have the advantage over the majority, and will control the election results, in their favor. They know they cannot win elections unless they cheat – the victory of the Democrats in the 2020 election and the special Senate election in Georgia, in which two Democrats ran close races against Republican challengers, and won, flipping Georgia – always a Republican stronghold – to “blue.” The Georgia GOP has its greedy eyes on Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, and has already removed its top election official. It is really scary.
Then this week, climate scientists put out a report on the status of climate change: it is no longer a threat, it is a reality now. A 4,000 page report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes work by 234 authors who are experts in climate science, and roughly 14,000 citations to existing scientific studies, is the most comprehensive look at climate change and unequivocal in its pronouncements. The Washington Post, on August 10, published a review of this report. The Post cited five major quotes from the report:
‘It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.‘
‘The last decade was more likely than not warmer than any multi-centennial period after the Last Interglacial, roughly 125,000 years ago.‘
‘Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.’
‘With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers.’
‘Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.’
Although the Biden administration has pledged to finally do something to mitigate climate change, and the Democrats’ large infrastructure bill includes attention to climate change especially in the manufacture of electric cars, it will unlikely be enough. Other countries have also pledged to make drastic modifications to their energy infrastructures, but so far, there has been way too little change. I understand – industries are reluctant to make the kind of changes that they fear will impact their bottom line, especially since the investment in making the changes will have to be done long before measurable results (as well as their profits) will equal these efforts. And U.S. politics have always focused on short-term (about the length of politicians’ time in office) fixes for short-term results. To really make the kind of changes that will lead to meaningful benefits to society at large, politicians need to become far more altruistic in their vision for the future.
It’s time to stop finger-pointing at other countries (such as China and Russia) who are big polluters but have not committed to major changes. We need to get to work on this “yesterday, if not sooner” (as a former boss of mine liked to say) and encourage others to follow us.
What more real-life proof do we need that the situation is dire than massive out-of-control fires burning in so many areas of the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere? Half of one of the largest islands of Greece, Evia, a major tourist destination, is being decimated by wildfires. Even the Big Island of Hawaii is combatting fires. What about the “heat domes” that have settled for weeks over places that have never dealt with such hot temperatures? Portland, Oregon, reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit, and even Death Valley is hotter than ever, with reported temperatures of 134 F! Two years ago, people died from the heat in Paris, France, which saw unprecedented temperatures of 109 deg. F, in a country where few residents have ever felt the need to invest in air conditioning their homes.
In its conclusion the, WP article says, Even if current emissions pledges are realized, they would amount to just a 1 percent reduction in global emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Scientists say the number needs to be closer to a 50 percent reduction.
What can we do RIGHT NOW?
We already have the technology to hook residences and businesses up to energy created by wind farms. I have received phone calls offering a great deal on putting solar panels on the roof of my home and switching my residence to 100% solar & wind power. If this kinds of things are being done already on a small scale, why not expand it to include entire cities, states, and yes, even whole countries?
2. Many businesses are realizing that the switch to green power is in the near future, and are getting on board. They have understood that they will not lose all their profit from fossil fuels, because there is plenty of money to be made embracing the new energy technologies. And LOTS OF JOBS will be created! Committing to green energy can vitalize the entire economy! That’s what the much-criticized “Green New Deal” is about.
3. Yesterday, on BBC World News on the radio, there was a discussion regarding methane, the second largest cause of global warming. The first thing that comes to mind when I heard the word ‘methane’ is cows. Cows and pigs. Their farts and manure are culprits, made worse by feeding the cows a diet mostly comprised of corn, which is not in the bovine’s natural diet and which its gut has a hard time processing. Waste in landfills also emits a great deal of methane. The BBC report indicated that methane is a more short-term problem that can be dealt with. While CO2 emissions are, of course, vital to deal with, the ways to lower methane can show more short-term results which would benefit not only the planet as a whole, but also humans in every sector. (It sure would smell a lot nicer too!)
I looked up the BBC report online and found it, referencing more findings in the IPCC report. “An aggressive campaign to cut methane emissions can buy the world extra time to tackle climate change, experts say.” The BBC online article goes on to make the following points.
“One of the key findings in the newly released IPCC report is that emissions of methane have made a huge contribution to current warming.
The study suggested that 30-50% of the current rise in temperatures is down to this powerful, but short-lived gas.
Major sources of methane include agriculture, and leaks from oil and gas production and landfills.”
One of President Biden’s goals is to totally convert our automobile industry to electric power by 2035. But we don’t have that long to wait for many major changes to be made. Like Greta Thunberg, I am depressed that there may not be the human will to think long-term. Yet this planet is the only home that humans and other organisms have!
Now that the holidays and last year are over, are you filled with a renewed sense of hope at the coming year, or something else? Please explain.
As I write this, I have the TV on next to my computer desk, following the nail-biting election returns from Georgia. One of the Democrats is ahead and the other is very closely behind his Republican rival. If both Democrats win, the Democrats will have control of the Senate, with an exact 50/50 split – and future VP Kamala Harris will break the tie vote along party lines. That will given Biden a better chance at being able to move ahead with his agenda.
That said, both houses of Congress are barely in the hands of one party or the other. This says a lot about the state of our country these days, with two halves of the population who are completely polarized. It is unknown how much hold Trump will continue to have on the Republican Party after he leaves office, but there is bound to be a lot of political and social strife in the next few years and our democracy may continue to erode – but it’s not too late to save it.
So, I am cautiously optimistic about 2021. I feel that at least there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a ways to go to get to the end of that tunnel. The pandemic is still with it and probably will be for several more months. BUT we will have sanity in the White House, a president with a lot of experience and respected here and abroad, AND the vaccines are coming – they are not being distributed as efficiently as they should be and hospitals have not gotten the number of vaccination doses they were promised, but even so, there are reasons to be hopeful. I am not optimistic about the American political scene, whether both Georgian Democrats get to the Senate or not, but at least we can relax a little knowing that President Biden won’t continue to destroy the environment and gut government agencies such as the EPA.
I don’t expect to be able to travel much this year, although we are hoping to take a road trip in the autumn, perhaps to the Northeast to admire the fall colors.
Meanwhile, we keep on keeping on, wearing our masks and not going to crowded places. We are blessed to have a nice place to live on a beautiful campus, our meals are delivered to us every day, and we do have a chance to get together with some of our friends here at least occasionally. I am relieved the holidays are over so we can get back to our new normal, having Zoom meetings regularly with family and friends, pursuing our interests and having plenty of things to keep us occupied. It is disheartening knowing we will have to stay in this enforced semi-isolation for many more months, but at least now we are used to it, and health care professionals know a lot better how to deal with the virus.
I look forward to reading 40+ books this year, painting a watercolor masterpiece, finishing a couple of photo books, and working on my several writing projects.
Pick three words to describe this past year. (please keep them PG. Thanks). frustrating, appalling, anger-inducing
What were the best books you read this year? Or the best movie you saw? The best books I’ve read this year are not new: I don’t normally read Stephen King, but I loved the novel 11/22/63 which I read for a book group. Other than that, I have read a lot of novels written in the 1990s set in ancient Egypt. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and right now I’m kind of obsessed with ancient Egypt. All the books written by Pauline Gedge are excellent. I also read some political books, including Mary Trump’s book about her uncle: Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Once I’d read that I could predict how Trump would react to losing reelection – he wouldn’t and doesn’t accept it! But the best political/social non-fiction book I read this year was Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. I highly recommend it.
One of the best movies I saw was on Netflix, Social Dilemma – it’s fairly new, and I encourage everyone to see it. You’ll never look at Facebook the same way again! I don’t see too many movies, unfortunately. I saw some old ones that either I never saw before or wanted to see again such as Out of Africa (somewhat of a disappointment) and Dr. Zhivago (because I just finished the novel The Secrets We Kept about smuggling the manuscript of the novel by Boris Pasternak out of the Soviet Union). I enjoyed seeing Dr. Zhivago again, although the copy we got from the library had a lot of scratches. A lot of what I watch are news shows and videos we watch on our community broadcasting channels. Also PBS series such as Nova and Masterpiece.
Because there was lots of time for looking inward, what is one big personal lesson you learned this past year? Perseverance – the pandemic has lasted longer than perhaps it should have due to mismanagement and lack of leadership. What galls me is how people just drag it on longer by refusing to wear masks (see answer to the next question). I have persevered by accepting what is. I don’t like wearing a mask any more than anyone else; I don’t like not being able to go out with my friends; I especially don’t like not being able to travel – but it’s what we have to do to stay healthy! I’ve read a lot of books and worked on my artwork, and have tried to take a walk every day that has weather I can tolerate.
Another lesson is gratitude: being grateful for the blessings I have, appreciative of people who put their lives on the line to save others, and not taking anything for granted. I see happiness in small things: reading a good book, watching flowers bloom, and baby chicks grow. Nature continues on as usual.
Do you think Covid has strengthened or weakened societal bonds? I would love to say strengthened, and I think on an individual level, that may be true: developing or solidifying relationships, appreciating the different jobs people do that may put their lives in danger during a pandemic, and working together to solve problems. But societally, our country is even more divided. I am somewhat surprised at this. I am surprised that in spite of the federal government’s terrible handling of the pandemic, over 70 million people in this country voted to reelect Trump! Fortunately they did not prevail, but I am appalled at how people have protested the dumbest things, such as wearing masks as an infringement on their freedom. Sorry, but their freedom ends where the next person’s begins so they need to take some responsibility for their behavior and not infect other people when they leave their home! And the denial of science – there are still people who are sick with Covid, go to the hospital and when told the diagnosis, deny it and say it’s a hoax! Why don’t some people believe doctors and nurses who put their lives on the line to save others? It’s all become politicized and it didn’t have to be. Trump and his Republican lackeys politicized it, instead of helping to unify the people of this country in combatting it.
It’s really shaken my confidence in the citizenry of this nation as supporting democracy and our values, such as stewardship, responsibility, and compassion. It’s also made me fear we can no longer have a dialogue – there are alternate messages of what is truth. How can one dialogue with a person that doesn’t share the same reality?
What is a New Year’s Wish You’d Like To Share With the World?
May 2021 give us 2020 hindsight and may the new year bring us the light at the end of the tunnel!
My pick for Fandango’s Who Won the Week is Rachel Maddow, a prime-time news anchor on MSNBC. She has been in quarantine because her partner, Susan, had a serious case of Covid-19. She had a substitute for several nights, who told us that she was quarantined because “someone close to her” had tested positive for Covid-19. On Thursday of last week, she was back! Only she wasn’t in the studio, she was in her home office so not only the background was different, but she looked different – this is because she didn’t have on make-up (which she doesn’t wear outside the studio) and doesn’t even know how to put it on herself! At one point, she had trouble with the mikes and had to clumsily figure it out. She told us her story with great poignancy as well as good humor.
She started out her quarantine story this way: “I’m in love.” Rachel and Susan have been together for 21 years and have a very solid relationship. She then went on to explain the anxiety she felt when Susan got sick, especially as she showed some serious symptoms, saying she wished it had been herself instead of Susan. Her story was a lot like the stories of many people around the country – around the world, actually: she unabashedly revealed her emotions and described how worried and fearful she became because Susan was really sick. I guess she never had to go to the hospital, but as an MSNBC news reporter, Rachel knows what can easily happen with this virus and she was prepared for whatever would happen. She nursed Susan, she comforted and entertained her, and I suppose gave her whatever pharmaceuticals she could to help her partner out. She injected a little humor into the story, as she does on TV.
For people reading this who don’t know who Rachel Maddow is, she is an excellent news reporter – she is inquisitive, serious when the issue is serious, and humorous whenever she can. She usually presents the news in a way that captures one’s interest: she begins a human-interest story, focusing on a person, a situation, or a place, and you never know at first how it’s connected to anything but also know that she will make the connection as she launches into the major news story. Her show is on at 8:00 pm Central Time Monday through Friday and her reputation is such that she is allowed to hold off commercial breaks for around 25 minutes while she develops the story she’s reporting on, so you get the facts of the issue as well as her own twist on it. She helps the viewer see the issue in a wider context – like a camera that focuses on a small detail and then zooms out to include the entire scene.
Rachel is no dummy – she was a Rhodes scholar and earned her PhD in politics at Oxford University. She has also won a number of awards as her popularity soared. She connects well with her audience and while we see some of her personality on her show, the story of her partner’s illness and how she felt about it revealed a much more personal and intimate look into her world outside work. She did this not only to explain to her viewers why she was in quarantine but also to hopefully touch someone out there who may not take Covid-19 as seriously as it is, and the anxiety that loved ones go through not knowing how the virus will affect the person close to them. She wanted people to understand why foregoing a family at Thanksgiving this year is the smart and loving thing to do:
Maddow expressed some understanding for those who take risks with their own welfare in order to snatch a tiny slice of normal life back. But she also explained that, unfortunately, that’s not how coronavirus works. “I’m guessing that you might be willing to risk yourself. Especially after all these months and all this time. It’s so frustrating, right?” she said. “You don’t get to just say, ‘I’m willing to get this thing and play the odds.’ You don’t get that choice. It won’t necessarily be you. It’ll be the person you most care about in the world. How can you bear that?” (Quoted from KQED Nov. 20, 2020)
She concluded by saying, “All you can do is move heaven and Earth to not get it and not transmit it. “This thing is scary as hell. Whatever you have been doing to risk getting it, don’t.”
I am betting this story will be one of the most watched of all her shows and who knows? She may get another award for it.
I learned a new word today: psephology, which means the study of elections, specifically “the quantitative analysis of elections and balloting.” It is a branch of political science. It is pronounced see-FAW-loh-gee. Used in a sentence, we might say Brian was a political science major with a specialization in psephology.
The etymology of this word is interesting: psephology comes from the Greek word psēphos, which means “pebble.” Pebbles were used by ancient Greeks in voting, so “psephologist” describes a person who does the work of analyzing elections. The word first came into known usage in 1952.
Similarly, the word for “ballot” derives from the Italian word balla, meaning “ball” because the Italians at one time placed balls in a container to cast votes.
Wise words from the late great John Lewis:
Compatriots of the USA, if you haven’t done so already, please VOTE!!