BAD MOMENTS IN BLACK ROCK

Hate to pile on. Hate all the hate. But, let’s see — beyond hate, there were some seeming facts to be sorted out in this pandemic crisis after it came ashore in the U.S.

To wit:

The CDC messed  up  its initial testing kit, then the FDA likely put obstacles in the way of a deployment regimen. The President, sensitive to the slightest criticism, failed to own the problem. The “news” networks, salivating over this morsel of Trumpian non-acknowledgement ( the phrase “I don’t take responsiblity” will echo down the long re-election corridor to November) eat it up. Perhaps no politician would totally own it and would try to defer blame, but less obviously than DT. He will never let himself be on the defensive, and that’s probably somewhere in the celestial book of political rules of engagement — or disengagement. He should clean up the mess by seeing who messed up. That will look, as usual, like he’s deferring blame or executing the surfs, but, truly, somebody messed up and I doubt it was him. God knows, he has no problem with firing people. I gather that’s what he did every week on The Apprentice.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s former staffer Tara Reade is claiming Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. Her first complaint came a year ago, described only as “inappropriate touching.” Well, will the media that ran Judge Kavanaugh and his family to ground react similarly to this allegation?  What do you think? Reade’s isn’t the first such suggestion that Biden has had wandering hands and words back when this hollow, chuckling fool had strands of real hair and maybe felt he deserved a little more female attention than he was getting. Pity this poor Galahad, finally in striking distance of his Grail and some woman comes along to remind him he’s just a rank groper.

THE GLORIES OF ISOLATION

Fr. George Rutler is an author and a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, pastor of St. Michael’s Church in the neighborhood still known to many as Hell’s Kitchen, though I’m told it has undergone significant gentrification from its bad old days. I’ve copied and pasted here his weekly message for Sunday, April 26, 2002 setting out the potential blessings — and, yes, glories and glorious spiritual opportunities — afforded us by our current isolation, which at time might seem more a bane than a blessing.

Read and enjoy and, perhaps, benefit.

Among logical fallacies, the argument from authority, “argumentum ad verecundiam,” means accepting a proposition because its source is authoritative, even though the matter is outside that source’s competence. Such a fallacy, for instance, might approve Einstein’s view on politics or religion because he was such an important physicist. However, precisely because of his inventiveness, it is not fallacious to accept as valid his assertion: “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulate the creative mind.”
   Einstein was a remote disciple of the quirkily brilliant early nineteenth-century philosopher Schopenhauer: “A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.”
   There is some consolation in that at present, when “cabin fever” is an ancillary affliction of the coronavirus. One does not have to be a physicist or philosopher to know that while “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18), there is a difference between cursed loneliness and benevolent solitude. The integrity of one’s spiritual life can be measured by understanding the difference. Thus Pascal, who was a Christian mystic and a mathematical scientist, famously said: “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a room alone.”
   The Nazis locked the Dominican nun, Blessed Julia Rodzinska, in a cement closet for a year, and witnesses remarked on the radiance of her face. The Venerable Cardinal Nguyen van Thuan spent thirteen years in a Vietnamese prison, nine of them in isolation. I can attest to the serenity of three men I met who never were lonely in solitude. One was Bishop Dominic Tang of Canton, who spent seven of his twenty-two years in prison in solitary confinement. Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei of Shanghai was thirty years in prison, much of that time in solitary confinement. Father Walter Ciszek died in New York after five years in isolation in Moscow’s notorious Lubyanka prison and fifteen years in the Gulag.
   These names came to mind when I read of a CNN commentator, who has shown condescension for the Church and promoted an article calling for the abolition of the Catholic priesthood. He tweeted that, after some weeks in lockdown, during which he kept his lucrative job, he “crawled in bed and cried.”
   Saints in solitude often did not have a bed to crawl into, but they were with God, and would have been embarrassed for the Governor of New York, who said of the pandemic: “The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that.”
   Another governor, the fifth of the Roman province of Judaea, was told: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11). We know who said that.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Father George W. Rutler

 

SORRY….

Pitiful stall to my entries and updates here. Dealing with assorted obstacles, nothing serious. Laziness may be one of them. A sea of distractions might be another. But I’ll be writing here every day — beginning tomorrow…April 25. Promise. Feel free, if it interests you, to search through former entries. Have a good night.

BAD NEWS FOR THE NEWS FOLKS

Bad news for all my former colleagues in the news media. A recent Gallup Poll asked Americans whether they approve of how the U.S. leaders and institutions are handling the coronavirus pandemic. Donald Trump, who the press corp has roughed up regularly during the crisis, had a 60 per cent approval rating. I am drawing from secondary sources here, so, at this writing, I don’t know how Vice President Mike Pence, the CDC and Congress rated — but, according to what sources I do have accessed, they all scored higher than — the news media. More people disapproved than approved of its coverage, 55 per cent to 44 percent.

Now — I don’t like the way Trump interacts with reporters who ask questions he doesn’t like or his blanket denunciation of reporters. However, some of those questions — and he sniffs them out easily — are subtly or overtly of the “gotcha” variety.  And Trump’s base and, apparently, many others, feel he should be getting far more credit for his efforts, and far less criticism. But, this is a Democracy, thank God. I know Trump’s current dust-up with governors is being perceived as the case of a man who doesn’t understand the Constitution. I know and very much like Harvard professor Larry Tribe. But I recall, going all the way back to Reagan, that Larry will be reliably on the liberal side of Constitutional interpretation. Not sure where I fall down on the issues of the governors. I haven’t heard Larry on the matter. The folks at MSNBC like to go to him. I’m sure he’s out there, likely fulminating. God bless America!

And, speaking of that — that’s the problem, you might say, with a Democracy in which many people don’t trust what should be their reliable source of unbiased information — the Fourth Estate. Especially in a crisis such as this. The media is preoccupied, it seems, with partisan, divisive squabbles.  Trump hates them and they often waste their time hating him back.

But I’ll say this. Whenever Mike Pence steps to the microphone, I’m finally hearing that Consoler-in-Chief I welcomed during the Obama, Bush or Clinton-era crises. Trump is not good at that. Mike is. He reminds us, we’re all in this together.

VIRUS VIGORISH

A Las Vegas firm has compiled some unusual proposition wagers during this time of pandemic-related stress and tedium when bookmakers and gamblers, like the rest of us,  are in need of deep and consistent diversion and maybe a way to keep making money.  A proposition wager pertains to the occurrence or non-occurrence of certain events in a sporting event, irrespective of who wins or how many points are scored. For instance, the number of strikeouts a pitcher will throw or how many touchdowns will be scored by a non-offensive player.

In this case, the odds-makers are calling for bets on how often President Donald Trump speaks certain words and phrases during his nightly coronavirus briefing.  (I mean no criticism of the President’s pandemic policies –not here, not now, anyway — when, as a college English major and former high school orator, I point out that our Commander-in- chief employs a fourth-grade vocabulary when speaking in public. Of course, I’m not the only one to notice this. Frankly, I don’t know how this Yale graduate ever passed the verbal SATs. But one might say, he’s a man of few words — endlessly repeated.

According, that Vegas firm has determined that “we’re doing a great job” has an over/under of 2.5; “best” is 5.5; “more tests than any other country” is 9.5 and the omnibus “fantastic, incredible, amazing, tremendous” gets a whopping 24.5.

Okay, they’re plainly having a little sport, quite literally, with the Chief Executive and, as we know, ridicule hardly musses the golden coif of DT, who gives ridicule in equal measure as he receives it. And,  heck, as he insistently brags, the ratings for those  afternoon virus briefings has spiked. For most people, it’s for whatever new information can be gleaned from them — in between all those repeated words and phrases. But now we know that gamblers may be hanging on every word — or phrase.

 

CONFINED AND BRIEFLY CONFOUNDED

Hello, all. If you’re visiting here, welcome. But for the next 24 hours (it’s March 30 at 10:33 p.m.) I need to work in some new material here, especially about these anxious, seemingly endless days of self-quarantine and confinement. A pandemic demands daily engagement. I’ve been stalled. Not alone, I suspect. But the point of a blog, at least in part, is to banish our aloneness, right? I’ll be back.

COVID 19 ADDENDUM

My former colleague Chris Luke, who is Chinese-American, has taken me to task for that part of a Facebook post in which I seem to link China and, by extension, all Asian peoples to  the Covid-19 pandemic, presumably finding most offensive the reference to  ” a filthy street market in Wuhan” and bats being  butchered for food. She says Asian people, including apparently her relatives, are being “racially profiled” as a consequence of  the pervasive linking of the outbreak specifically to China, either to a marketplace, or a lab, or wherever in that country. Continue reading “COVID 19 ADDENDUM”

THE INFECTED MOMENT

No one writing anywhere on the web can fail to say a dozen or so words about where we find ourselves, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. This is to note it — and note that, when I can get my small head around it, I’ll want to say more, if only to myself — and to whatever lonely soul chances upon this lonely blog. Continue reading “THE INFECTED MOMENT”

ANCIENT GUM, ANCIENT FACE

I have recently read in the Health & Science section of the journal This Week that scientists have recreated the face of an ancient hunter-gatherer using DNA extracted from a piece of “chewing gum” that was spat out some 5600 years  ago. The lump of chewed birch tar was found at a site in southern Denmark, alongside pieces of wood and wild animal bones.

Before I convey what  further information was relayed regarding this bizarre but fascinating bit of anthropological news, I must, at long last, let myself be instructed (again) how to includes images and photographs in this site — probably not hard, but I can be a stubbornly slow learner. You have to see the lump of “gum” — and the reconstructed face of the beautiful hunter-gatherer to appreciate this.

Later…. ( like there’s anybody reading this blog. It’s becoming disheartening talking to myself on the web.)

NO JOY ON JERSEY STREET

That — Jersey Street – is what became of Yawkey Way after the posthumous mugging of the late, once-beloved Tom Yawkey over questions of his racial attitudes. I won’t open that big can of snakes again — but, yes, as winter grips Beantown and that short, shadowy byway astride Fenway Park awaits the crowds of opening  day and the Sox begin their ritual preps in Fort Myers – I’d have to say, as a Boston native and unalterable fan of all Boston teams, that the loss of Mookie Betts is, well, too, too bad. Who can deny it? But that’s pro sports now. We root for laundry, as Jerry Seinfeld so aptly said. Continue reading “NO JOY ON JERSEY STREET”