Muses on a Cold Winter Morning

My writing efforts resemble my pickleball game performances. Brief flashes of brilliance mixed with plenty of unforced errors and faults.

***

The experience of watching televised college and pro sports during Covid is like viewing a sitcom without a laugh track.

***

Parler: politics = Pornhub: love

***

So who stands “in the dock” for the various atrocities and abuses to our democracy and laws committed in the past four years? A number of Trump sycophants, enablers and officials, in a bid to salvage their reputations and careers, finally bailed out from the “Herrenvolk.” Nikki Haley, Bill O’Reilly, Betty DeVos, Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell, John Kelly, John Bolton, Mike Pence and many other Trump supporters are fleeing from Trump like Melania avoids child refugee camps.

***

Rush Limbaugh’s receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is as appropriate as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarding Bonzo its Lifetime Achievement Award.

***

Professional sports championships are generally decided off-season and by General Managers and less by players. College championships are generally decided in recruiting, less on the field or court. 

***

How Trumpism mimics the coronavirus: (1) Can damage or kill the host (U.S.)  if untreated or unopposed. (2) Moves quickly through the populace through spreader (campaign) events. (3) Spurs denials by naysayers as to its existence and dangers. (4) Adverse after effects continue for many months (years) after initial contagion. (4) Mutates frequently posing additional dangers.  (5) Remedied by inoculation (election results).

***

The biggest editors when many write are psychological, concerns for acceptance and approval plus the fear of speaking one’s mind and upsetting a career and reputation. How freeing to be retired and of advanced age when those editors are not as binding! While I still value the opinions of others, it’s more important that I move ideas and thoughts from my brain to screen, while I can.

***

Tell me how many books and what you you read on a topic  and I can tell you how seriously I value your opinions on that topic.

***

As I get older what has tragically declined faster than my physical and mental capabilities has been my decline in trust for most people to simply do the right things, especially when it comes to acting in the best interests of the nation, community or fellow man. 

***

Donald Trump’s Putsch

Putsch- a violent attempt to otherthrow a government

Six Short Observations about the Trump Family Putsch:

  1. What struck me was that during maybe the most critical hours in our democracy, the Dow went up over 437 points and the S&P rose over 21 points. I guess insurrection and treason are now factored in by the markets. QVC and HSN were selling their wares on TV. People were still talking sports and all this happened with our nation’s Capitol, election system and legislators under siege by thugs.
  2. How could the District of Columbia, Congress, Secret Service, FBI and National intelligence agencies not anticipate that there could be a major terrorist attack in Washington this afternoon? Especially given that Trump and his family were speaking at a rally of his fanatic supporters who pledged to disrupt the Electoral College certification?
  3. What desks and offices were Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans hiding from Trump’s base?
  4. Joe Biden this afternoon said “America’s about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been.” Certainly that was not exemplified this afternoon nor has it been the practice and behavior of the Trump administration for the past four years.
  5. First order of business for the congress men and women huddled together currently is to certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President. Second order of business immediately after certification is to impeach and convict Donald Trump and remove him from office as soon as possible. I don’t care if they have to work through this all night.
  6. Waving a Trump 2020 flag after this afternoon’s terroristic attack is like waving a swastika to many Americans. Replacing the American flag with a Trump banner in the Capitol epitomizes the treachery of the terrorists and their disdain for our country’s democracy and history.

My Predictions for 2021 (12% Chance of Being 100% Right)

Everyone makes predictions though most people don’t document or publish them. People make predictions as to if and when it will rain, when the mail will arrive, whether the driver with the right turn signal on will actually make a right turn etc. One bases their lifestyle on spending based on their prediction of how the economy will do and the security of their job.

Many of my predictions are contingent on our progress or lack of regarding the Covid pandemic. Most “experts” are predicting that things will normalize by late Spring or early Summer. They are counting on most people getting the vaccine and a herd immunity taking place. I am not that confident given how so called experts whether they are doctors, scientists, Fox News hosts, U.S. Presidents and epidemiologists have not been very accurate in their projections and timetables so far.

I’ve polished my crystal ball and here are my 2021 predictions: 

photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas
  1. The vaccination rollout will be slower than projected and many (maybe most) adults will not get the vaccination. In addition, I think we are in for more unpleasant surprises and strains with the virus. I think that the rate of infections and deaths will drastically decrease by the beginning of summer 2021 but that another 600,000-700,000 American lives will be lost by the end of 2021 bringing the Covid death total in the United States to over 1 million.
  2. Next huge medical challenge is addressing patients experiencing long term effects from Covid infection affecting their quality of life. 
  3. People will still be reluctant to travel. Cruise line industries will resume voyages in fits and starts beginning mid summer 2021. Hotels and tourist destinations may regain 50-60% of anticipated traffic in summer 2021.
  4. Republicans will win Senate seats in Georgia even if they have to contest it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Another two years of legislative gridlock guaranteed!
  5. The stock market has factored in a full or almost full recovery from Covid. Expect some bumps along the way! What if the vaccine does not deliver the expected immunity or the number of adults getting the vaccination falls below 50%? Will people who got the vaccine go into stores, restaurants or other public places with those who refuse to get vaccinated? Hoping for a 5-7% increase in the S&P by year’s end but will not be surprised if it dives by those percentages.
  6. Expect some unusual drama or disturbances around January 20, Joe Biden’s inauguration.
  7. Contingent if Joe Biden is sworn in, expect that his three main priorities are organizing the fight against Covid relying heavily on Dr. Fauci and scientists; rebuilding alliances with our friends in Canada, France, Mexico and Germany; and providing additional aid and stimulus to small businesses and individuals suffering from the pandemic.
  8. No tax increases for anyone this year.
  9. A plethora of books, documentaries, articles and speeches will begin about the Trump presidency. Many Trump appointees, spokespeople and supporters will try to distance themselves from Trump to save their own reputations, careers and credibility. Their efforts at redemption will largely fail.
  10. Kansas City Chiefs will win Super Bowl again.
  11. Gonzaga is the best NCAA Men’s basketball team as I write. However they won’t win the NCAA title. Expect an “underdog” with 7-8 losses to come in and surprise.
  12. Expect limited seatings (30-50% capacity) for sporting and other entertainment events starting in Spring 2021.
  13. Eagles won’t trade Carson Wentz. Wentz will start for the Eagles in the 2021-22 season.
  14. Expect a fourth or fifth place seed for the 76ers in the NBA Eastern Division playoffs. If Kevin Durant stays healthy, it will be the Nets vs. The Lakers in the Finals.
  15. Crystal ball looks to a good playoff run by the Flyers; a dismal season for the Phillies.
  16. There will be more credible sightings and documentation of UFOs.
  17. Pickleball will continue to rise in popularity as more 30-40 year olds play. The drop serve rule will be permanent as it creates more drama (and aces) around the serve and return. 
  18. Pickleball singles will increase in popularity and singles matches will be showcased on telecasts and streaming services. Tyson McGuffin vs. Ben Johns is to pickleball singles what Borg-McEnroe was to tennis. South Jersey player Frank Anthony Davis is very competitive.
  19. The effects of quarantining schools and students due to Covid will be felt for decades. How many careers for scientists, entrepreneurs and researchers were lost due to the interruptions in education?

Last Thoughts for 2020

2020 has been extended for another six month at least! More Covid deaths, more lost jobs, more families unable to pay their rent, more people hungry etc. If only life could be handled by TV remote, we would be pushing fast forward to arrive at better and safer times.

Sending $600 to Americans for covid relief has about the same benefits as throwing under inflated life preservers to drowning people thrown overboard in raging seas.

If we distributed needed supplies, weapons and armaments to our military in World War II as expeditiously as we currently are distributing the Covid 19 vaccines to our citizens, we all would be speaking German and purchasing groceries in yen.

What if Joe Biden expressed “buyer’s remorse” about entering the White House? He could complain that he was unable to do the proper due diligence and inspection as Trump officials refused to provide him necessary information and background.

Everyone should have a dream of making someone else’s dreams come true.

Masks have become fashion, medical, cultural and political statements. While they hide the nose and mouth of those who wear them they also expose the character and judgement of those who refuse to wear them. 

Definition of Misnomer- a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. e.g. United States of America????

Why is it that content (podcasts, movies, music, websites, news shows, social media) is sandwiched between and among so much marketing and advertising? 

Menckenians

Listed below are my “Menckenians,” my observations and aphorisms about politics, sports and life in general… It is a homage to H.L. Mencken who was a renowned columnist, writer and critic of politics, religion, culture and business from 1920 to 1950. His observations from almost a century ago can be applied today. He was that era’s Hunter Thompson, irreverent, caustic and cynical.

—–

If John Paul II can be canonized  a saint and Rush Limbaugh can be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, then Pete Rose can be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

***

If a huge asteroid was hours away from devastating earth, Amazon would still be delivering orders, conspiracy theorists would be posting anti-science Facebook and social media posts, the S&P would rise 5% and Congress would be deadlocked in funding a military operation that would destroy the asteroid.

***

If all our problems and issues could be tidied up and resolved just like all those at the end of a Hallmark movie.

***

To document the decline in American “exceptionalism”, compare the behavior, sacrifice, leadership and patriotism of American citizens in 1942, after Pearl Harbor with our national leadership and citizenry today during covid.

***

Are all Facebook friends, “friends?”

***

I would not tell a religious person that there is no god with the same consideration that I would not tell a young child there is no Santa Claus.

***

Alex Trebek worked almost to the moment of his death as host of Jeopardy because he valued education. Donald Trump has played golf, thrown Christmas parties and wasted money on ridiculous court challenges as thousand of Americans die from covid daily. Two men, only one worth the praise and support he is receiving.

***

Does one become an author when one drafts and publishes a book or essay or until someone reads it? (If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound if no one is around?)

***

Sin? Does it exist anymore?

***

For Eagle fans excited about Jalen Hurts replacing Carson Wentz, I have the following words for you, A.J. Feely, Bobby Hoying, Mike Boryla, Koy Detmer..

***

2020: Winners and Losers

2020 has and continues to be a tumultous year politically, economically, financially and culturally. Here is a list of some winners and losers so far…

WinnersLosers

Karma

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

Wall Street

Netflix

Zoom

Fake News

NBA, NHL

Peloton

Mitch McConnell

Health Care and Essential Workers Covid Response

Dr. Jill Biden

Conspiracy theories

Philadelphia Union

Rudy Giuliani, Jerry Fallwell Jr.

Amazon warehouse workers

Main Street

AMC, Regal movie theaters

Commercial Real Estate

Science

NFL, MLB, NCAA

Planet Fitness, gyms

Donald Trump

U.S. Congress and Executive Branch Covid Response

Melania Trump

Reality

Philadelphia Eagles
2020 Winners and Losers

Sage

While perusing through today’s headlines, I may be reminded of some ancient or recent adage that reflects an appropriate understanding or analysis to the news as shown below:

News HeadlinesWisdom and Analysis
Health officials make their final pleas for holiday caution as coronavirus cases spike. 
Washington Post

Weekend air travel hits pandemic-era record, despite health officials’ pleas to stay home
CNN
“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
George Carlin
Man leaves $3K tip for a beer as restaurant closes for virus 
AP
Wishing good, merely, is a lukewarm charity; but doing good is divine. 
James Lendall Basford 
Fresno bishop warns Catholics against stem cell-based COVID vaccines, including Pfizer’s
Fresno Bee
All religions promise a reward for excellence is of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding.
Schopenhauer

Day after Election Day (10:15 a.m.)

I don’t know yet who won the Presidential election but I know who lost, the American people. The country is even more divided 50-50 than projected before. There is no mandate to move one way or the other.

No political landslide this cycle, more like a political mud-slide.

I view political poll results as credible as readings from a crystal ball or investments ideas from a broker. Pollsters have had 72 years since they screwed up the 1948 Dewey-Truman race to improve their collection and screening of data and conduct accurately a snapshot of people’s opinions. Big fails in both national and state polls this election!

Another waste of time are political debates. They rarely move the partisan needle. Trump’s first debate with Biden was a disaster as his conduct was embarrassing. But obviously it did not hurt him in the election. Political debates are like pro wrestling matches – – ballyhooed, choreographed and the results don’t matter.

Democrats ran two very qualified Senate candidates against weakened Republican incumbents and lost decisively, despite polls showing tight races. Theresa Greenfield lost to Joni Ernst in Iowa and Jaime Harrison lost to Lindsay Graham in South Carolina. (Coincidentally to my point above, Ernst and Graham had very poor debate performances.) Republican Susan Collins, who appeared to be in an underdog in her Senate race in Maine, may hold her seat.

Not that half this country’s voters care but there were 1,130 new deaths due to coronavirus yesterday with 92,660 new infection cases.

Facebook Posts 2020

I write a variety of posts on Facebook including my observations on politics, current events, sports, business and life. Shown below are some recent posts. Many of my Facebook posts are written from emotion rather than reason. My comments are in italics.

Responding to  my friend Mike’s claim about the qualifications of Amy Comey Barrett for the Supreme Court…

Oh she is qualified, if you want to get rid of Obamacare. Oh she is qualified, if you want to get rid of Roe v. Wade. Oh she is qualified, If you want a judge who will protect corporations against the interest of consumers and smaller businesses. Mike, I’m not sure what papers you read or what your sources of information are. Trump about a week ago wanted to table any aid for consumers or businesses related to coronavirus until after the election. What changed his mind? The stock market!! By the way, Mike, can you tell me what Trump’s plan is to replace Obamacare? If you can, you are the only person in the United States who can. (10-13-20)

My comments about Mrs. Barrett’s nomination in general…

I guess the kindest thing that I can say about this hearing is to agree with Senator Klobuchar that it is a “sham.” We are conducting this hearing in the middle of an election that Trump will probably lose and in the middle of an epidemic where over 200,000 people have died and maybe another hundred thousand more will die before the end of 2020. When our priorities should be about helping businesses and individuals cope with the effects of this pandemic, we are witnessing the jamming of an unqualified nominee for purely political and ideological purposes. I laugh when I hear that this is an effort for pro life. Republicans don’t give a damn about the incredible mess that they have made of this country. Just watched Senator McConnell yesterday laughing in derision when his opponent in a debate cited all the deaths involved in the coronavirus. I am deeply ashamed of this country….(10-13-20)

My observations about Harris-Pence VP Debate

I think Kamala did a great job  but regrettably it will not change any votes.  Four years ago, I saw another woman basically clean the floor with her male opponent at three debates. (10-7-20

My observations about the over the top Trump-Biden debate:

I can’t watch this debate anymore! This is a joke. Biden should walk off the stage and let Trump talk to himself. (9-29-20)

An observation about the utility of meetings from my corporate life.

I’ve been retired for a few years from corporate life but I do not miss meetings. 95% of them were a waste of my time and unproductive. (8-21-20)

Ruminations as I walked during the first few weeks of the pandemic.

In lieu of pickleball, I now take long walks from my home into Merchantville. It is a very quiet journey. I pass very few cars and very few people. Playgrounds are empty. No kids playing in the streets. Sporadically, I will pass another walker or a jogger. Except for the pharmacies, there is no commerce in Merchantville. Streets in the business district are empty. Parking meters stand lonely. I wonder and worry how many of the small businesses like those in Merchantville will survive if they are unable to open within the next few months. (3-24-20)

Entertainment advice at the beginning of quarantine…

For all of us who may soon be quarantined, I recommend watching the original and reprise versions of The Thomas Crown Affair. Both movie versions are excellent.  I prefer the Steve McQueen – Faye Dunaway version based on this one scene. (Steve and Faye’s characters playing “seductive” chess)  Never realized that playing chess could be so seductive… (3-8-20)