COVID

Thanksgiving Harm

November 23, 2020

Reduction Steps for Those Who Will Travel or Gather Anyway

There is no way to eliminate risk, but anything one does to reduce it is better than nothing

by, Zeynep Tufekci, sociologist and writer

Millions of Americans are traveling for Thanksgiving. In doing so,  they’re increasing the chances of catching or spreading Covid-19—not just themselves but to others. A wedding reception in Maine ended up causing 177 cases and seven deaths—but none of the deaths were among people who attended the wedding, but rather, among their contacts.

It’s never too late to decide not to travel or choose not to meet with large groups of people not in one’s household during the holidays. There is excellent news regarding vaccines and therapeutics, and we may be very close to turning the corner on this pandemic. One can always have Thanksgiving in spring and be grateful for having survived a pandemic! As I recently wrote in The Atlantic, it’s time to hunker down!

[…]

I’d especially urge people to consider that hospitals are running out of not just space, but of qualified people. This report is a sobering read from a hospital that was otherwise very-well prepared. We can expand space within facilities and even set up field hospitals. But there is no way to mass manufacture doctors and nurses. With a nationwide surge underway, workers from one region cannot travel to bail out another, as they were able to in spring. Keeping infections down means that hospitals can do a better job taking care of the already overwhelming numbers of people who need care.

[…]

Traditionally, communal eating is the center of Thanksgiving festivities. However, it is also one of the highest risk activities, as one cannot be masked while eating, and people tend to speak loudly around a table. Eating together doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of the day, though. It’s possible to eat separately and make the highlight of the day a different group activity. A gathering outside around a fire pit would be great, for example. It’s fun and, being outdoors, it’s safer, too. Playing a board game where people  keep their masks on is another alternative. Keeping masks on is especially important for multi-generational gatherings, or for groups that include higher-risk people. The minimal set-up could be that the elderly could eat separately from the rest of the group. If they must join the dining table, they can do so while wearing the highest-grade mask they have. Risk reduction is important for everyone, but it’s most important for those at most risk. It’s much better to have a much more festive gathering in spring or summer, even if it makes this Thanksgiving a little more awkward.

Getting tested before or after a group meeting is tricky. On the one hand, of course testing is a good precaution to take, and a positive test result means you absolutely should isolate! However, one can test negative even while having Covid-19, because the disease hasn’t progressed enough—and then be infected and infectious just a day or two later. I wouldn’t consider a negative test a licence to do anything differently. In other words, even if you test negative, take all the precautions that you can: stay home and don’t travel for Thanksgiving, or, if you decide to do so, quarantine and take all the harm-reduction steps you can anyway.

The same precautions apply for the return trip: travel in the least risky way possible, keeping in mind that contact with other people poses the highest risks. When you return, quarantine. The gold-standard period for quarantine is two weeks, but don’t think in binary terms. Don’t think that if you can’t do two weeks, you may as well not quarantine. Two weeks is better than a week, a week is better than nothing. When you return, it’s best to act like you might be infected.

What if you get lucky by exposing yourself to a high-risk situation and emerging untouched by Covid-19? Don’t assume that your luck will hold for the Christmas season. Every encounter is an independent risk. There is no such thing as “a winning streak” with this disease. Getting lucky once is no guarantee of being lucky a second time.The changing winter conditions and the explosion in infections means that any meeting right now is much higher risk than before, when the weather was warmer and case numbers were lower. We now have three vaccine candidates with excellent results and vaccinations will start as early as December. We have effective therapeutics—they are in short supply but manufacturing is ramping up. We will have better weather once we get through this winter season. We are so close to the finish line. The more precautions we take, the better our chances.

[Please share.]

https://zeynep.substack.com/p/thanksgiving-harm-reduction-steps?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjo3NzQxODc2LCJwb3N0X2lkIjoxOTY0MTQ2OSwiXyI6ImYzSEdTIiwiaWF0IjoxNjA2MTgyNjA0LCJleHAiOjE2MDYxODYyMDQsImlzcyI6InB1Yi0xMTg0Iiwic3ViIjoicG9zdC1yZWFjdGlvbiJ9.Jv6DKx4TiEC6jBgWM70U-Q2YvSxkJb73Jlz_IX_iRMk


Dr. Tufekci was getting it right back in January before many epidemiologists.

NYTimes:

‘Dr. Tufekci, a computer programmer who became a sociologist, sounded an early alarm on the need for protective masks. It wasn’t the first time she was right about something big.’

by Ben Smith

Credit…Felix Hörhager/Picture Alliance]

Practicing ‘Full Presence’

November 20, 2020

Navajo Nation

Learn how cultivating trust and community allowed Health Initiative to be effective partners in the region.

Dr. Sriram Shamasunder and his organization, HEAL Initiative, stood in solidarity with Navajo healthcare workers as they fought a COVID outbreak through the spring and summer.

This past summer, when the Navajo Nation was the site of one of the country’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, Dr. Sriram Shamasunder was at Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility in Arizona, caring for a Navajo elder in the respiratory care unit. When he was young, the patient had worked in the uranium mines on Navajo land, and he had spent decades drinking water contaminated with the radioactive element. He had poor baseline lung function, and now he had COVID-19. His family could not be there to comfort him. He was isolated and scared.

On harried rounds in the overwhelmed medical center, it was very difficult to be fully present. “I was moving fast. I was wearing goggles, a face shield, an N95 mask,” Shamasunder recalls. He couldn’t speak to the miner in his own language, and he wasn’t intimately familiar with the contours of the man’s life on the reservation. There was a gulf between them that Shamasunder, as his doctor, struggled to cross.

But Shamasunder had not come into the room alone. He was accompanied by Navajo nurses from the local community. “They would just lean over in his ear and speak to him in his own language,” Shamasunder says, “‘I won’t let you go.’ ‘I am from your community, and I’m here to stand with you.’ To bridge that gap is just so powerful.”

Signs encourage safety in the Navajo Nation. Photo credit: UCSF

I think there was a question all of us sat with. What does it mean to lead a purposeful, committed life? What does that look like?

What made HEAL so effective? It may have had something to do with the way HEAL responds to the problem Shamasunder has spent his entire career thinking about: How can the best care be delivered across the human boundaries of language, culture, gender, and religion that arise in our global community? After the technical training of medical school, can young health professionals be trained in the ineffable part of the practice, in leadership, advocacy, and justice?

How can they learn to show up in their full presence?

In May, a disheartening thread of stories about COVID-19 in the Navajo Nation was circulating. Per-capita infection rates soared. Congress had approved $8 billion in coronavirus relief for tribes around the country, but the money did not arrive as committed. It was a cruel echo of the disinvestment that had left the Navajo Nation — an area larger than West Virginia — with just 13 grocery stores and only some 20 ICU beds.

In the wake of this progress, UCSF is compiling a report on the efforts of HEAL and the volunteers in Navajo Nation. Shamasunder’s own reflections, unsurprisingly, have so far taken the form of notes and sketches of new poems that address the work of the health professionals in their full presence, affirming their spirit of partnership and solidarity. He wants to make sure the opportunity to explore those elements of the summer’s efforts is not overlooked — by the medical community, or by HEAL.

And the world must change.

This fall has seen COVID-19 case counts rise around the globe, and the Navajo Nation has not been exempt. In late October, with a surge in New Mexico taking hospitals in Albuquerque beyond their bed capacity, the reservation’s command-control structure re-engaged in planning for case management and potential patient transfers to hospitals all over Arizona and New Mexico. Just this week, after announcing that 34 Navajo communities have “uncontrolled spread” of the disease, the nation’s leadership instituted a three-week lockdown restricting nonessential activities. Shamasunder is trying to coordinate another team of nurses to travel down to Arizona and New Mexico to help. If he is needed, there is no question that he would return to the desert.

Full piece:

https://www.emersoncollective.com/articles/2020/11/a-promising-approach-to-community-driven-care-amid-a-pandemic/?utm_source=Instagram&utm_campaign=DialFellows&utm_medium=Organic&utm_content=HEALInitiative

Thank you for your service.

November 11, 2020

Sacrifice.

Sacrifice.

Sacrifice.

You gave everything. For what? Look at us. Humanity. We’re a mess. We can’t even don a mask because, you know, our rights not to wear one are greater than your right to live. 

Homelessness.

Suicide.

Mental health.

Struggle.

But yeah. Thank you for your service. We truly don’t know what it means, as a 

C O L L E C T I V E

to take care of our own.

We dishonor you with our actions during this global pandemic.

Some continue to try.

operationdignity.org

Yes! Magazine:

“I am just grief stricken by how many Americans are OK with racist dog whistling and white supremacy and cutesy nods to white nationalism. Even if 45 is gone, that all stays. This is who we are.”

A friend, the White mother of a Black child, posted this on Facebook on election night. That last line floored me: This is who we are.”

It is exactly who we are. Since before the birth of this nation.

yesmagazine.org

AXIOS

The pandemic’s toll on veterans

by, Ashley Gold

“A number of recent studies highlight the problems facing veterans as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

  • According to one recent survey of 30,000 veterans wounded after 9/11, 52% said their mental health has gotten worse and 49% said their physical health has become worse since they started social distancing during the pandemic.
  • Sixty-one percent said they felt more disconnected from friends, family and community, according to the survey by the Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Veterans are delaying doctors’ appointments too, with 70% reporting having in-person appointments canceled or postponed. And 40% noted employment difficulties.
  • The Associated Press reported in September that military suicides have gone up as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019.A study by the
  • Bob Woodruff Foundation this spring said emergent trauma, loneliness due to social isolation, and unplanned job losses creates a “perfect storm” threatening the mental health of veterans.

By the numbers: Beyond the stress caused by the pandemic, coronavirus cases are up among veterans, too. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there have been 83,383 cases among VA hospitals with 4,223 known deaths.”

https://www.axios.com/veterans-covid-toll-isolation-2545c385-0dbb-4e35-bf0d-4f9f39842478.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&stream=top


Exhausted. On edge. 

Now, as the world heaves a collective sigh of relief (or grief), whatever you’re feeling, wherever this finds you…

Let’s take a moment to remember that the great task of our lifetimes is not to change the world.

Our task is ONLY to transform ourselves …

The world is naturally transformed by our Light.

-Allysha Lavino


 

Courtney Martin.

‘Since the “map show” of last week—all those blues and reds signifying, well, everything and nothing—we’ve been hearing calls for unity. I get it. I really do. I crave more steady common ground rather than the shifting tectonic plates we’ve all been surfing unsteadily these last four years. I want a news network called Truth that everyone, regardless of political party, actually trusts. Let’s spend some time disagreeing about our values and how to get things done, not the facts, for a change. Let’s log off of social media where our most base emotional wiring is being profoundly manipulated. At this point, I’d rather our commander-in-chief communicated via interpretive dance than twitter.

But as much as I honor our collective desire for kindness, this is not the time for congeniality. This is the time for a fiercer form of moral leadership. Our foundational values need to show up in public—calm, sure, if that feels authentic, but more importantly, uncompromising on questions of basic humanity. We have developed some powerful new muscles the year for tolerating uncertainty, for unvarnished truthtelling, for outraged solidarity; now is not the time to get back to compartmentalization and quiet desperation, violent death and violent denial.

It’s not unity we need. It’s a basic agreement that racism, sexism, ableism, etc. will not be tolerated. There are not two sides on this. There are a million shades of gray on how we live and lead, but there are not and should never be two sides on dehumanization.

And, yes, that means that my work is not to dehumanize those who didn’t vote as I did. My work is to get ever more curious about them, about our current ecosystem of information and the way it has distorted all of our perceptions of truth and trust. My work is to disagree with them out loud, on the page, wherever I need to, whenever I need to—boldly and respectfully.

I am especially invested in doing this with White women right now, having seen that half of those with a similar racial and economic status as my own supported Trump; I am baffled and profoundly sad about this. My job now is to transform that bafflement, that disappointment, into fuel. I am tired of looking at the demographic data the day after an election and being ashamed of the way “my people” voted. But I won’t reject those people. I will pick my chin up and get after organizing with them—figuring out what my gifts are and how I can bring them to bear on this conundrum (the conundrum being that even the dehumanized vote for the dehumanizer).

I see that as work of those who have had the privilege of not watching their humanity be debated. I am not going to ask my Black or immigrant or disabled friends to spend their precious energy empathizing with someone who doesn’t believe they are as worthy as I am. If that’s someone’s spiritual practice, so be it, but to publicly call for all Americans to unify is to ask those who have been systematically and interpersonally dehumanized by racists and xenophobes to invest in them. That’s not just insensitive, it’s emotionally violent—particularly within the context of 400 years of this shit. That’s not their sacred duty. It’s ours.’

To those calling for unity, here is my ask: Stop requesting self-annihilation from anyone. Yes, we need to combat the reductive thinking that is only further entrenched by the “map show.” No, we don’t need to capitulate, compromise, or God forbid, normalize the hatred that has always been part of this country, but was surfaced so painfully this year.

And while we’re at it, stop painting fierce moral leadership as wokeism (looking at you, David Brooks). It’s patronizing and inaccurate. Sure, there is a faction of the progressive movement that is more performance than substance. That’s true of any movement at any time. But there are a huge number of people who put a tremendous amount of effort into taking a stand for basic humanity this year; we even risked our own health, the health of our families, to show up at protests and work the polls. We donated money at a time when money was already tight. We talked to our children, however clumsily, about the brokenness of the world. We didn’t do it for woke brownie points. We did it because something intrinsic to our very souls resists the dehumanization of others.

We must not parody that, or call for its politeness. We must nurture and grow and honor that. We must push progressive White America to look at the places where hypocrisy and neglect live in our own lives, not just point the finger at Trump voters. We’re coming to the close of a year of painful unearthing; don’t dishonor that with pavement of politeness.

If you are a White person on this journey to figure out how to organize with other White people, check out my bud Garrett Bucks’ new Barnraisers Project, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and/or Integrated Schools.

@courtwrites

courtney.substack.com

This one feels different.

October 18, 2020

Ian Allen for The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/17/opinion/covid-19-winter.html

In My Mountain Town, We’re Preparing for Dark Times

As the contagion spreads, we look ahead to winter and wonder whom we can safely pull close.

Masque of Death

October 6, 2020

“A wealthy prince throws a huge party in his gaudy mansion during an epidemic for his asymptomatic friends while the peasants die. Then the virus shows up and tears through his fancy guests.”  

-Edgar Allan Poe’s 1842 classic, “Masque of the Red Death”

Last night at his hotel in DC.

Wear your masks.

Wash your hands.

Watch your space.


 

Climate and Covid and Lies

September 9, 2020

“Days like today are when revolutions are born. A better world is possible.”

-Eric Holthaus, author and climate correspondent

[Photo taken in Ketchum, Idaho.]

Josh Ritter.

September 4, 2020

My heart goes out to all those who are hurting right now. The actions, the rhetoric, the inhumanities, the indignities large and small, the fear. Sometimes it feels as if we are being torn apart. Remember that they want it to feel that way. That’s what they need. We know better.

C O V I D

August 30, 2020

Masks work. It’s a pandemic. P A N D E M I C. 

U.S. tops 6 million Coronavirus Cases

Deaths: 183,000 +

Daily COVID U.S. deaths: 1,200 +

Visual: Picture the 1,500 people attending the White House Lawn/GOP political event this past week. That’s how many American’s die every. single. day.

Global cases: 25,079,330

Global deaths: 843,842

 

Please. Do it.

July 2, 2020

 

Happening in real time, right in front of us.

June 2, 2020

My mind continues to circle back to how many lives have been sacrificed, modern day lynching, before the advent of video and smart phones. 

There are 18,000 law enforcement agencies in this country, racism, systemic. How will this be changed?

Our country is rudderless, void of moral leadership. We are a mess.

-dayle

Words from modern history, the voice of Senator Margaret Chase Smith, (R) Maine.

As Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine boarded the Senate subway, she encountered the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy. “Margaret, you look very serious,” he said. “Are you going to make a speech?” Without hesitation, Smith replied: “Yes, and you will not like it.” -Senate Historian Office

The Bulwark:

‘This speech, delivered almost a year and a half after she came to the Senate, was Smith’s first speech on the Senate floor. She was no neophyte as a legislator; she had served in the House for nearly a decade before her election to the Senate in 1948—which made her, incidentally, the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. But by tradition, new senators did not speak on the floor until, after many months of waiting, they gave theirmaiden speeches.”

McCarthy, of course, is today remembered as a Senate bully who abused his power in his efforts to investigate Communists—real and alleged—and drag them before the world’s greatest deliberative body to answer for their sins. He was still just getting started by this point in 1950; he gave his first famous speech, the one in which he waved a list of 205 supposed Communists in the State Department, earlier that year. Over the next four years, he would be one of the dominant figures in the Red Scare before his eventual disgrace.’

-Jim Swift is a senior editor at The Bulwark.

Margaret Chase Smith became the first woman ever to serve in both the House of Representatives and the Senate—and the first senator to stand up against Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare. (Library of Congress)

Sen. Smith’s speech, June 1st, 1950.

Declaration of Conscience

Mr. President, I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear. It is a condition that comes from the lack of effective leadership either in the legislative branch or the executive branch of our government.

Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism.

The right to criticize.

The right to hold unpopular beliefs.

The right to protest.

The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs.

Today our country is being psychologically divided by the confusion and the suspicions that are bred in the United States Senate to spread like cancerous tentacles of “know nothing, suspect everything” attitudes.

1. We are Republicans. But we are Americans first. It is as Americans that we express our concern with the growing confusion that threatens the security and stability of our country. Democrats and Republicans alike have contributed to that confusion.

2. The Democratic administration has initially created the confusion by its lack of effective leadership, by its contradictory grave warnings and optimistic assurances, by its complacency to the threat of communism here at home, by its oversensitiveness to rightful criticism, by its petty bitterness against its critics.

3. Certain elements of the Republican party have materially added to this confusion in the hopes of riding the Republican party to victory through the selfish political exploitation of fear, bigotry, ignorance, and intolerance. There are enough mistakes of the Democrats for Republicans to criticize constructively without resorting to political smears.

4. To this extent, Democrats and Republicans alike have unwittingly, but undeniably, played directly into the Communist design of “confuse, divide, and conquer.”

5. It is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans about national security based on individual freedom. It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques—techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.

Full speech:

https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/SmithDeclaration.pdf

Juxtapose Sen. Smith’s words with Anne Applebaum’s The Atlantic piece.

Early release from The July/August issue of The Atlantic.

ANNE APPLEBAUM is a staff writer at The Atlantic and a senior fellow of the Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine and Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.

History Will Judge the Complicit

Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?

Both men could see the gap between propaganda and reality. Yet one remained an enthusiastic collaborator while the other could not bear the betrayal of his ideals. Why?

in english, the word collaborator has a double meaning. A colleague can be described as a collaborator in a neutral or positive sense. But the other definition of collaborator, relevant here, is different: someone who works with the enemy, with the occupying power, with the dictatorial regime. In this negative sense, collaborator is closely related to another set of words: collusion, complicity, connivance. This negative meaning gained currency during the Second World War, when it was widely used to describe Europeans who cooperated with Nazi occupiers. At base, the ugly meaning of collaborator carries an implication of treason: betrayal of one’s nation, of one’s ideology, of one’s morality, of one’s values.

Since the Second World War, historians and political scientists have tried to explain why some people in extreme circumstances become collaborators and others do not. The late Harvard scholar Stanley Hoffmann had firsthand knowledge of the subject—as a child, he and his mother hid from the Nazis in Lamalou-les-Bains, a village in the south of France. But he was modest about his own conclusions, noting that “a careful historian would have—almost—to write a huge series of case histories; for there seem to have been almost as many collaborationisms as there were proponents or practitioners of collaboration.” Still, Hoffmann made a stab at classification, beginning with a division of collaborators into “voluntary” and “involuntary.” Many people in the latter group had no choice. Forced into a “reluctant recognition of necessity,” they could not avoid dealing with the Nazi occupiers who were running their country.

[…]

We all feel the urge to conform; it is the most normal of human desires. I was reminded of this recently when I visited Marianne Birthler in her light-filled apartment in Berlin. During the 1980s, Birthler was one of a very small number of active dissidents in East Germany; later, in reunified Germany, she spent more than a decade running the Stasi archive, the collection of former East German secret-police files. I asked her whether she could identify among her cohort a set of circumstances that had inclined some people to collaborate with the Stasi.

She was put off by the question. Collaboration wasn’t interesting, Birthler told me. Almost everyone was a collaborator; 99 percent of East Germans collaborated. If they weren’t working with the Stasi, then they were working with the party, or with the system more generally. Much more interesting—and far harder to explain—was the genuinely mysterious question of “why people went against the regime.” The puzzle is not why Markus Wolf remained in East Germany, in other words, but why Wolfgang Leonhard did not.

here is another pair of stories, one that will be more familiar to American readers. Let’s begin this one in the 1980s, when a young Lindsey Graham first served with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps—the military legal service—in the U.S. Air Force…

Full article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/07/trumps-collaborators/612250/

It takes time to persuade people to abandon their existing value systems. The process usually begins slowly, with small changes.

Republican leaders don’t seem to know that similar waves of fear have helped transform other democracies into dictatorships.


 

Get after that light.

May 21, 2020

@courtwrites

 

‘I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.’ -Rilke

 

May 19, 2020

 Perhaps all of the above can help the final line breathe true. -dayle

 

The zone is flooded.

May 17, 2020

The medieval English anchoress Julian of Norwich bequeathed us a radically optimistic theology. She had no problem admitting that human beings have a tendency to go astray. We rupture relationships, dishonor the Divine, make unfortunate choices, and try to hide our faults. And yet, Julian insists, “All will be well and all will be well and every kind of thing shall be well.”

She squarely faces the inevitability that we will miss the mark [what Julian calls “sin”] and that there is wickedness in this world. Even so, she is convinced that the nature of the Divine is loving-kindness, and she wants us to absorb this into every fiber of our being. -Fr. Richard Rohr

‘I urge you to avoid those who cause dissension and offenses contrary to what you have learned. Avoid them.’

[Romans 16:17]

Thomas Merton:

I am certainly no judge of television, since I have never watch it. All I know is that there is a sufficiently general agreement, among men who judgment I respect, that commercial television is degraded, meretricious, and absurd. Certainly, it would seem that TV could become a kind of unnatural surrogate for contemplation: a completely inter subjection to vulgar images, a descent to a sub natural passivity rather than an ascent to a supremely active passivity in understanding and love. It would seem that television should be used with extreme care and discrimination by anyone who might hope to take interior life seriously.

-New Seeds of Contemplation, 1949

His thoughts on the Internet, we can only imagine, would be the same. -dayle

VOX/By

This is a new form of propaganda tailored to the digital age and it works not by creating a consensus around any particular narrative but by muddying the waters so that consensus isn’t possible. And it’s all the more difficult because even the most scrupulous, well-intentioned coverage can easily fall into the trap of flooding the zone.

Zone-flooders.

The press, admittedly, has a difficult job to do, especially in this information landscape. But that’s the thing: The landscape has changed. The digital media ecosystem overwhelms people with information. Some of that information is true, some of it is false, and much of it is deliberately diversionary. Trying to cover every crazy story, every batshit claim, is a fool’s errand. The end result of so much noise is what I’ve called “manufactured nihilism,” a situation in which people are so skeptical about the possibility of truth that they give up the search.

The role of “gatekeeping” institutions has also changed significantly. Before the internet and social media, most people got their news from a handful of newspapers and TV networks. These institutions functioned like referees, calling out lies, fact-checking claims, and so on. And they had the ability to control the flow of information and set the terms of the conversation.

Today, gatekeepers still matter in terms of setting a baseline for political knowledge, but there’s much more competition for clicks and audiences, and that alters the incentives for what’s declared newsworthy in the first place. At the same time, traditional media outlets remain committed to a set of norms that are ill adapted to the modern environment.

So now we find ourselves engaged in an endless game of whack-a-mole, debunking and explaining one false claim after another. And false claims, if they’re repeated enough, become more plausible the more often they’re shared, something psychologists have called the “illusory truth” effect.

The prevailing norms of journalism and the political economy of media are driving these dynamics.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/5/16/21258788/obamagate-trump-flynn-bannon-flood-the-zone

 

Radio Conglomerates…hand outs?

Rolling Stone

Restaurant Chains Took Loans Meant for Small Businesses. Will Radio Conglomerates Do the Same?

Watchdog groups fear that language in a new stimulus bill could allow individual stations owned by large companies to “masquerade” as small businesses — and take all the money

The National Association of Broadcasters, a lobbying group that represents modest radio groups as well as the massive chains — including iHeartMedia (around 850 stations), Townsquare Media (around 320 stations), and Entercom (more than 235 stations) — cheered the Heroes Act. “Hometown broadcasters and community newspapers are providing vital news and information during these unprecedented times to keep families and communities safe, while struggling with record advertising revenue losses,” the NAB wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “Broadcasters look forward to working with all Members of Congress to ensure that such legislative language is swiftly enacted.”

But other organizations said the bill’s language undercuts its original intent: to help small businesses. On Tuesday, Craig Aaron, Co-CEO of the media advocacy group Free Press Action, expressed fear that, “as written, this legislation would benefit the biggest chains at the expense of their smaller competitors and other struggling businesses.”

The American Association of Independent Music, which counts more than 700 independent labels as members, also came out against the bill’s current language on Thursday. “It would be a travesty if these large radio conglomerates were able to get money out of the next tranche of PPP forgivable loans,” says Richard James Burgess, the head of A2IM. The big radio companies “are masquerading as small businesses, but they’re gigantic conglomerates.”

Radio conglomerates claim they need these loans to maintain a local presence. But others argue that these conglomerates have never been less interested in being local than they are now. “These are companies that have gone and gutted their payrolls, dumped local talent, and replaced them with robot DJs,” Aaron says. “We’ve gotten so far from local owners that radio is almost unrecognizable now,” Karen Slade, vice president and general manager of the independently owned KJLH in Los Angeles, told Rolling Stone last year. 

To recap: The NAB is asking Congress to give radio conglomerates money, supposedly to support their local programming. At the same time, it’s pushing the FCC to jettison ownership rules, which, many worry, will cement radio’s decades-long turn away from local programming.

That’s why small radio chains should absolutely benefit from the latest edition of the PPP. But they — and other mom-and-pop businesses — may be unable to benefit at all if conglomerates end up with all the money.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/radio-conglomerates-stimulus-bill-999462/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Banksy.

May 6, 2020

‘A British nurse is the chosen superhero in new Banksy artwork.’

-Reuters

 

Alone with the unfamiliar…

April 11, 2020

Anything that removes what grows between our hearts and the day is spiritual. The aim of all spiritual paths, no matter their origin or the rigors of their practice, is to help us live more fully in the lives we are given. [Parker Palmer] The life of spirit is everywhere: in in dust waiting for light, in music waiting to be heard, in the sensations of the day waiting to be felt.  Beings spiritual is much more useful and immediate than the books about books would have us think.

-Mark Nepo

 

Pure logic is the ruin of the spirit.

-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Creativity requires serendipity and a playful, receptive spirit. Let yourself go when you are trying to invent something new.

-Alexander Stoddard

 

Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us, because we feel momentarily abandoned by what we’ve believe and grown accustomed to; because we can’t keep standing as the ground shifts under our feet. That is why the sadness passes over like a wave. The new presence inside us, that which has come to us, has entered our heart, has found its way to its innermost chamber, and is no longer even there…it is already in our blood.

And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be persuaded that nothing happened, and yet something has changed inside us, as a house changes when a guest comes into it. We cannot say who has entered, we may never know, but there are many indications that the future enter us in just this way, to transform itself within us long before it happens. 

That is why it is so important to be alone and attentive when you are sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than any loud and accidental point of time which occurs, as it were, from the outside.

-Rilke

 

 

Largest Single Day Increase

April 7, 2020

We remember those who are affected by Covid-19

Beloved of compassion,

be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.

In their loneliness, be their consolation;

in their anxiety, be their hope;

in their darkness, be their light.”

~Henrietta Grant

 

“We cannot restart life as we knew it without testing.

Testing is the essential component.”

 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said

731

more people died on Monday due to the coronavirus, marking the largest single-day increase in fatalities in the state since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The latest surge brings the total number of deaths in New York to

5,489

— nearly half of all deaths caused by the virus in the U.S. — and comes even as the three-day average of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions are dropping, Cuomo said.

 

“Behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family, is a mother, is a father, is a brother, is a sister. So, a lot of pain again today.”

 

Brooklyn, NY: Construction workers build shelves for a refridgerated morgue truck in a parking lot of Wykoff Heighs Medical Center in Bushwick.

 Photograph by Benjamin Norman for TIME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Ellsberg

April 5, 2020

‘We were not prepared for this pandemic. We lacked masks and ventilators. But when we emerge from this season we will face the ongoing challenge of building a just, sustainable, and peaceful world. Now we must stockpile the moral, social, and spiritual resources for that task.’

-Robert Ellsberg, publisher Orbis Books

 

(His dad, Daniel, took volumes of the Top Secret history of the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers, from his safe at the RAND Corporation to photocopy on a friend’s xerox machine.)

 

 

From the Newseum in Washington D.C., captured November 2019:

 

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