And Why That’s Not Good Enough for Some of Us. . .
I won’t go into the particulars of writing about a pandemic. You try to get things right, or close to right. Most of what you instinctively feel about a world-wide deadly epidemic is objective. At least in 2005. You know there’s terrible, maiming, blood-gushing disease in limited quantities, and most of it resides in other countries, not your own. You tell yourself you can dig into the truth with the aid of science and a bit of wisdom from the experts. You ally yourself with National Geographic and…
I drink my two cups of coffee on Monday mornings and while watching the news begin a mental crossword puzzle wondering how many ways we will discuss vaccines this morning. Pfzier, Moderna, and now Johnson and Johnson. . . . . all vaccine puzzles begin with those names and will for the rest of Covid-19. But who will keep showing up at the table of pandemic vaccines and why?
Don’t get me started on television ads and their propensity toward convincing the American public that new drugs must solve old medical problems. Opdivo, Jardiance, Linzess and my favorite, Skyrizi, are…
Here’s the Short Answer Why. . .
In re-reading an article from National Geographic (“The Next Killer Flu”/October 2005), I was reminded of some stand-out numbers.
1918 flu — -Between 50 and 100 million deaths
Asian flu (1957) — -1,000,000 deaths
Hong Kong flu (1968) — -750,000 deaths
The last two were caused by bird and human viruses mixing. There was no vaccine.
The 1918 flu is believed to have originated in birds sometime before 1918. “Except for a few Pacific Islanders, everyone on Earth was exposed to the disease, and half got sick.” There was no vaccine.
And Why We Better Wake Up to This One. . .
Mink are small, feisty, territorial animals that can live very close by to humanity. They are somewhat aquatic, living naturally along riverbanks and waterways and are hunted by us and many other forms of predators from great horned owls to wolves. Because of this, they are becoming endangered. But there’s another, more important endangerment going on and that’s the immense business of fur farms. Mink farms have thrived alongside trapping for many years and in more recent times have become the focus of animal welfare groups. I can see…
And What That Means Right Now. . .
In 1960s America, there was a connection between a Democratic president and remnants of World War II. Even yet. John F. Kennedy is really the first president I remember clearly — and there are many reasons why. But three stand out beyond any other president since — his youth, his religion, and his death. At 43, he was the youngest man elected to the presidency, the first Roman Catholic, and in my lifetime the first and only president assassinated while in office. …
But Then, Most Everything Is. . .
November 1, 2020, brings many concerns, most of them of the “feeling type.” My parents used to caution me about this. “Feelings can’t be blended with facts,” my mother used to say.
“Oh, yes, they can.”
Take, for example, Medium.
I learned Medium’s powerful basic platform in one afternoon. I also gave up in one afternoon.
In 24 hours I went back.
The defeat wasn’t about instant publishing, publishing too soon with too few facts. It was about feeling.
“I can’t do this. Too many steps, too much room for confusion, error, embarrassment.”
When I think of Frankenstein, I think of a key element of gothic writing: The hypnotic, visceral mix of horror and pity. The hypnotic is often how grotesque human ambition can become, and the visceral contains emotional devastation — disbelief, revulsion, pity, and the crucial revelation that the reader, on some level, understands the blind ambition of the evil doer. Nothing about the novel Frankenstein is outdated. The story is here among us, even now. I think Mary Shelley designed it that way.
It’s taken me a long time to get around to discovering the “why” of Mary’s creation. In…
One Woman’s Journey to Ruth Bader Ginsburg
My first Ruth arrived in childhood
In the small garden where I used to pray with my mother.
Mornings, far from the nearest church, she would tell me
The biblical story of Ruth — her kindness in the face of adversity.
“She loved her other mother, the one we forget,” my mother would say.
For so long I didn’t understand this Ruth of a foreign, desperate place.
Moving alone without a husband, she loved the one who was left — his mother.
And drew a faint new line between herself and a broken…
How a Pacific Northwest Writer Predicted the Future of Wildfires in the Ghostly Details of an Early One
“Although young men died like squirrels in Mann Gulch, the Mann Gulch fire (August 1949) should not end there. . . Probably most catastrophes end this way without an ending, the dead not even knowing how they died but ‘still alertly erect in fear and wonder,’ those who loved them forever questioning ‘this unnecessary death,’ and the rest of us tiring of this inconsolable catastrophe and turning to the next one.”
Now, in the autumn of 2020, in the midst of another…
There is an old English proverb, “Diseases come on horseback, but steal away on foot.”
The idea that illness of a global kind can overwhelm us isn’t new. The idea that some among us will continue to thrive also isn’t unusual. What is most unusual, however, is predicting the assortment of those who will survive, many of them quietly picking up their lives and living in a new normal as the disease “steals away,” this time probably with the aid of a vaccine. People we consider famous at this point in history, those who survive, will have tremendous influence over…