August 2021

Dissatisfaction And Anger

What is satisfaction? According to my friend Stephen Levine it is “the absence of desire.” Then is desire the opposite of satisfaction? Yes, but so is anger. Anger is the feeling you get when things are not as you think they ought to be. You have wants. They are not being met. You’re angry. Given these definitions, you would have to be crazy to not be dissatisfied and angry at the state of the world right now.

No Service

I understand that there is a real shortage of help in the service industries across the country. We see it here in Hawaii where coffee shops have limited hours presumably because of lack of available help and restaurants are offering $20 an hour for all positions. What I do not understand is why this is the case when so many are still out of work. How can there be so many job openings and yet we still have unacceptably high unemployment? Is it because pay in the service sector is not competitive? Not competitive with what? Unemployment benefits? If the latter, that can be fixed easily.

I don’t understand any of this, but I do agree that there is a distinct absence of anything resembling service anywhere.

Cuomo Vs. Trump: Which One Quit?

Andrew Cuomo resigned finally after having been accused of creating a hostile work environment and harassing eleven women. As far as I know he did pay his taxes and extorted no one although he is known to be quite a bully, so who knows?

Donald Trump served out his entire four years in the White House having been accused of about the same things as Mr. Cuomo along with a whole lot more including not releasing his taxes, not being as successful financially as he let on, violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, extorting the leader of a foreign country (Ukraine), and inciting a riot on Capitol Hill. He was impeached for the last two but not convicted. How did Cuomo give up the ghost so quickly and Trump remain largely untouched?

There is one clear difference in the manner in which Cuomo was dealt with and in the manner in which Trump was dealt with. In a word, parties.

Freedom From Blame

Zoe Ruhl is a third-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. Before that, she was a world class skier who won a World Cup race at the age of 16. During her undergraduate years she was to compete in the national competition, but to do so required her missing more school. She quit competitive skiing.

One-Term Joe

I am old enough to remember exactly where I was on the evening of March 31, 1968. I was in the commons room of the ZBT fraternity section of the Duke University dorms when President Lyndon Johnson during a broadcast address to the nation said that he would not seek another term in office. It was a surprise at the time and indicative of the ever-widening rift between the White House and the American people over the war in Vietnam. Despite his having steered major legislation through the Congress after the death of John Kennedy and his triumphs in civil rights, voting rights, and Medicare and Medicaid, Lyndon Johnson could not overcome the stigma of having been the first American president to oversee a loss on the battlefield. As Bill Murray said in Stripes, “we are 10 and one.”

Olympic Performances-Great; TV Coverage-Awful

I had been debating how to write this blog for almost a week when I read John Anderson’s piece in The Wall Street Journal that said it all.

The performances by the athletes thus far (it’s August 4 as I write) have been spectacular. The United States has done well in gymnastics and track and field and certainly in swimming. The woman’s soccer team will not win gold this time, but Xander Shauffele won the men’s golf and Nelly Korda the women’s golf. As of a few days ago, the American woman were outdoing the men. All of this is good and entertaining—if you didn’t have to battle so hard to see it.

Senator Enzi

He was simply the Boss in the office of the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) in 2009 when I worked there. The first time we met was at a Monday staff meeting. The entire HELP staff was there along with video feeds from Wyoming, Senator Enzi’s home state. Promptly at 1 PM a man of average height and a little overweight wearing a plain black suit, white shirt, black tie and highly polished slip-on loafers walked into the room and stood right in front of me.

I rose from my seat, stuck out my hand and introduced myself. In a sea of faces, Senator Enzi recognized the new one right away.

Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg was a world-renown Nobel Laureate in particle physics. No, I had never heard of him either, but that was a deficiency on my part because he was a giant. The details of what he accomplished are described in the obituary from The New York Times on July 26, but the point of this blog is not to recapitulate what he alone can adequately describe about his seminal work.

Jackie Mason

The fondest memory I have of my late mother-in-law Seretta Miller Kleinerman is the date we had in New York in the late 1980s. I had given a talk at NYU, I believe, and she was still living in Englewood, New Jersey as my father-in-law was the chief of Pathology at Mt. Sinai at the time. My mother-in-law loved Broadway, especially musicals. When she asked me what I wanted to see when I came in, I did not hesitate. I wanted the hottest ticket on Broadway at the time—The World According To Me, the one-man show starring Jackie Mason.