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9/11 At 20: My Take

I specifically avoided any commentary about the twentieth anniversary of the attacks on this country before 9/11/21 because I had not really thought I had anything useful to say. But after having seen how the nation paid tribute, I wanted to integrate the coverage of that day by the major media outlets into my comments about how America is dealing with these events twenty years on.

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Stubborn

Brett Stephens makes a good case in The New York Times on September 8, that Joe Biden is on the verge of giving America another failed presidency after the same could be said of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush. What’s Biden’s problem? He was supposed to be the solution to the chaos of Donald Trump yet has proven to be anything but. As Stephens says of Biden, he’s “headstrong, but shaky, ambitious, but inept. He’s proud, inflexible, and thinks he’s much smarter than he really is.”

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Not Enough Beds And Unwanted Babies

There are those who are predicting a near-term end to the covid crisis as everyone who might get infected gets infected with schools back in session and herd immunity is reached. This is wishful thinking at best. What is more likely is that our weak societal response to the threat of this new virus and its delta variant in the face of good vaccines will result in covid being with us forever in ever-more virulent novel forms. It is likely that we will have a new seasonal flu and that those who are fully vaccinated will, in the main, be protected from serious illness while the unvaccinated sicken, get hospitalized, and some die while spreading the disease to those unable to be vaccinated (under 12).

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The Idiocy Of Democracy

Ivermectin is not a benign drug and it is not for use in humans with viral diseases. For the most part it is a deworming agent for use in cattle. Its discovery did win a Nobel Prize in 2015, but again, that was for its treatment of parasitic diseases only. I remember having to spend six hours on the phone trying to get the FDA to approve its emergency use in a bone marrow transplant patient who had contracted strongyloides. It took all that time just to track someone in Washington down on a Saturday to gain the approval which a faculty member rightly sought help to acquire before he employed the drug in his patient.

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Boosters

In this very important article buried on page A18 of The New York Times on August 30, David Leonhardt gives a brief overview of our current status with regard to the advisability of booster shots against the covid-19 viral disease. It was surprising.

The real push to get booster shots comes from data emerging from Israel that suggest that early recipients of the two dose mRNA vaccine are beginning to contract covid at an accelerated rate. But the real story is as Leonhardt notes, “more complex.”

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Unsafe

The last time Americans felt this unsafe and filled with disquiet was 9/11. We had been there before. Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and various stock market crashes come to mind, but this is decidedly different.

The novel coronavirus is a worldwide threat to every human on the planet. It emanated from somewhere but no one will own up to releasing it into the world. The Chinese explanation is that it either came from bats to another species to us or was actually released by the United States. Both of these explanations are hard to swallow given where the plague began (Wuhan) and with the presence of the Wuhan Institute for Virology there and the general sentiment that gain-of-function research with coronaviruses was going on there.

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Perspective

As the time to the end grows shorter and the time from the beginning longer, my view of the journey has been altered mightily. Two recent deaths have brought this home as death often does.

I started collecting 45 rpm single records when I was about ten. I have the original Purple People Eater record and a bunch of stuff by Jimmie Rogers, the Everly Brothers, and the Coasters. I fell in love with rock and roll long before there were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Nonetheless, I was a huge Stones fan in their heyday. Thus, the passing of Charlie Watts marks yet another irreplaceable loss.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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If You Want To Defeat The US In War, Be Patient

For a few of us, 9/11 was never an act of war. It was not perpetrated by a national army. No one who committed the murders was in uniform. The guilty were treated as enemy combatants, not as soldiers. 9/11 was not an act of war. It was a crime.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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