A couple decades ago, Vilma Kari left her home in the Philippines to come to the United States. She found herself in Manhattan on a recent Monday morning, on her way to attend a church service, when a man coming toward her on the sidewalk kicked her without warning. He proceeded to stomp on her head several times while saying, “You don’t belong here.” Then he continued on his way until two days later police arrested him for felony assault as a hate crime.
For the past two years, I have lived in a town that became known as the “home of the Square Deal” a century ago. Endicott, New York was built on the idea that anyone who came to work in the town’s shoe factory for 40 hours a week could raise their family in a reasonably sized home, often provided by the shoe company through a reasonable mortgage. That idea attracted many immigrants and the population boomed during the first half of the last century.
Nostalgia can often be the medicine we need when afflicted with plagues such as the year 2020. So I invite you to go back with me a couple decades to a simpler time: the summer of 1989.
At that time, I was busy collecting Topps baseball cards that I hoped would be worth a lot more than they are today. Popular music was about to be changed by an unknown band called Nirvana that had just released their first album. And popular television was about to be changed by the pilot episode of a TV show called “Seinfeld.”
Etched deep into my memory is a poster from a religious magazine that adorned the walls of church buildings and the home of my youth:
The image of tar-stained hands coupled with bold text was intended to discourage scuttlebutt whisperings from spreading through small congregations, and causing spiritual harm to gossipers and gossipees alike.
Today, this poster could easily be repurposed as a meme for the virtual masses who congregate on social media, where unholy gossip takes on new forms that we know as “misinformation” and “fake news.” …
On July 8, 2020, the U.S. Coronavirus Task Force held a press conference to push for reopening public schools amidst the pandemic. This followed a tweet earlier in the day in which the President threatened to cut off federal funding for education to any recalcitrant state that does not return children to classrooms this Fall.
The legality of a President withholding money for states that was previously allocated by Congress, is shoddy at best. …
Although the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new to the world, coronaviruses as a group have been evolving and afflicting birds and mammals for millions of years.
In the words of Ralph Baric, epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, “If it’s a mammal or a bird, it’s probably got a coronavirus in it.” Dozens of coronaviruses have been identified and classified by International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, and these are probably only a fraction of the ones that are out there. We know of seven coronaviruses so far that infect humans, including SARS-CoV-2.
For the past several weeks, we have been seeing a lot of epidemiological maps, plots and curves showing the quick rise in COVID-19 cases all over the world. By now, most of us have felt the impact of this, and it sucks.
As we collectively strive to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, it might be helpful to reflect on a different kind of curve, one that illustrates stages of grief we might experiencing as result. It looks something like this:
This pattern of grief has its origins in the 1969 book On Death and Dying by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
Charisma. Electability. Character. These are some of the measures we use to select a candidate during a primary election. Important? Yes. But, quantifiable? Not so much.
As an alternative, consider job performance data. More specifically, the ability of those in the Senate to make laws and get them passed, which shouldn’t be too much to ask for a lawmaker. One could argue that if a Senator is not able to promote their agenda within Congress, they may struggle to do so as President as well.
This measure is limited to those who have served in Congress, so I’ll have to…
When people are elected to Congress, we expect them to create legislation that is eventually signed into law by the President. As one might expect, some lawmakers are more prolific at this than others. I was curious to know who the most prolific lawmakers are, and whether one party is more active than the other in this regard.
For each of the 100 congressmen and congresswomen in the Senate, I pulled data from www.congress.gov on the number of bills they have sponsored and the number of years they have served in the senate. I didn’t include bills they sponsored during…
September of 2012 was a tense month for the World Health Organization. At the beginning of that month, a Qatari man with a severe respiratory illness checked in to a medical clinic. By the month’s end, doctors determined that the man’s illness was caused by a new human virus in the same family as the SARS coronavirus that had terrorized populations in Asia no less than a decade prior.
The new virus was named for its region of origin and the illness it causes: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS.
And a terrible illness it is.
On average, 36% of…