When your pain becomes our pain

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Empathy-Sympathy-Compassion

Odds are…you personally will not suffer any ill effects from the coronavirus. But over 600,000 U.S. families have watched loved ones die, often without the hugs of family who had to say goodbye via FaceTime. Odds are…you personally will not be killed in a grocery store by a domestic terrorist wielding an AR-style high-lethality weapon. But over 40,000 families lost… Read more »

Biden, the bishops, and a failure to communicate

Cool Hand Luke

American Catholic bishops have apparently backed off plans to deny the Holy Communion from practicing Catholic Democratic politicians like President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Comments from the Jesuit Pope Francis and public sentiment appear to have convinced the bishops that this stance would be politically unwise at this time. California Republican and gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner, who in a… Read more »

The best Beatles album you never heard turns 57

A Hard Days Night U.K. album cover

I grew up listening to the Beatles in real time as they hit the United States, and I learned to play Paul McCartney-style left-handed guitar and bass from their records and chord books. But I have to admit that I did not hear the best Beatles album until I moved to England in 2000 and bought the remastered compact disc… Read more »

Mass delusions do not end well

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Reverend Jim Jones

I will admit right off that my pre-election scenario for post-Trump Republican politics has turned out to be very wrong. In my script, the “sharp knives” traditional Republicans, typified by former Vice President Dick Cheney and represented by his daughter, Wyoming representative Liz Cheney, would stick one of those conceptual knives into Donald Trump and wrest control of the party… Read more »

Diversions: The end of the road in Michigan

Hancock Street Sign

I currently live a short distance from a permanently busy Florida street called Tamiami Trail, so named because it is the old pre-freeway route connecting Tampa to Miami, following the Gulf Coast south through Sarasota and Naples, where it then heads east across the Everglades on “Alligator Alley” to its southern terminus. That road is also designated as Route US-41…. Read more »

Diversions: When Jimmy Stewart played a Yooper lawyer

Jimmy Stewart

I’m on my first post-Covid trip back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I spent some formative years, and I realized that it was fifty years ago this year that I was the projectionist for an annual cinema tradition in Marquette, a small university town on Lake Superior. That featured film was itself another step backward in time. The on-location shoot… Read more »

The probability of alien UFOs has not really changed

Interest in alien visitation has spiked following the recent release of an Pentagon report on their experiences with what they call unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), or what are commonly called unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Despite the new report, the basic probability math of alien visitation has not changed by any significant amount after the release of new grainy videos. Here… Read more »

When public health gets political

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Iron lung

Note: This post was published earlier at the Iowa blog BleedingHeartland.com Despite a strong start at vaccinating its populace against Covid-19, my former home state of Iowa has begun to slip in the national rankings in its percentage of vaccinated residents. In Texas, some hospital workers have taken their management to court to fight suspensions for refusing the vaccine, despite… Read more »

Talking in three languages about Covid vaccines

religion-science-politics

I had long thought that the phrase “to babble” had its origins in the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel. Instead, you can find linguists arguing for Western European or Latin roots with the meaning of “to prattle” or to imitate baby talk (“ba-ba-ba”). By any definition, there is a lot of mutually-incomprehensible babbling going around that is as… Read more »

America – the missing years: 1619–1775

Slave Auction

Violence was commonplace in Nevis, as in all of the slave-ridden sugar islands. The eight thousand captive blacks easily dwarfed in number the one thousand whites, “a disproportion,” remarked one visitor, “which necessarily converts all such white men as are not exempted by age and decrepitude into a well-regulated militia.” (Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 19) I am an avid… Read more »