This pandemic has made visible many of the fault lines and divisions within our nation. 

This is how I like to think of it: When you prepare a microscope slide, you often stain the sample with a dye to make it easier to see details that might otherwise be invisible. You probably remember this from high school biology. The pandemic is a stain applied across America. The divisions between us are laid bare and it’s scary as Hell.88-881484_microscope-png-transparent-png

Unlike after 9/11, I do not see the nation coming together to grieve, heal and cope with a disaster. I see widely scattered, transient moments of good people doing good things. But, as a whole, I see a dangerously fractured society that can’t stop arguing long enough to actually listen to what people are saying or see what they are doing. 

There is a huge segment of our nation that is being manipulated into outrage. They are so wrapped up in their indignation are blinded to, what most rational adults would see as, a transparent attempt to stir the pot, muddy the waters and cast blame. 

It is apparent to me that our education system has failed us as a nation. 

How can we have so many stupid people in this country?

If ever there was a time to listen to the scientists, the medical professionals and the public health experts it is now. These are the people best prepared to evaluate what his happening and advise how to mitigate the damage. 

But, in many places, that’s not happening. 

If our education system had done its job over the past fifty years, we would not have people eating fish food, or view wearing a protective mask as an sufferable affront to O7TIOYE7QVBCHCCUNK2V4P6M6Ytheir rights. These are the folks carrying rocket launchers into Subway and screaming that 93,000+ deaths is all a hoax. 

If our people as a whole could think critically, and not just react to every ridiculous email they read, post they see, or ratings-driven talking head they watch, we wouldn’t be so fractured. But, there are millions of good people who have stopped thinking, or maybe never learned to think for themselves. These people do not critically evaluate new information, they do not research what they are seeing, reading and watching, they blindly accept nonsense as gospel and act accordingly. They don’t know any better.

How do we get people to think, actually think, for themselves?

I don’t have any answers, but I’ve got a Hell of a lot of questions. 


Last week I posted, what I thought was, a startling statistic about the coronavirus pandemic: “We have lost more people since February 28th, than we did in the fourteen year-long Vietnam War.”

This was a statistic that really stopped me in my tracks, and now, of course, we’ve blown past that number and as of yesterday, May 6th, the Covid-19 death toll has surpassed the combined US fatalities from Vietnam, The Gulf War, The War in Afghanistan, and The Iraq War. And the numbers mount each passing day. 

What surprised me about my Facebook post, and shame on me for having any expectations of normal behavior on that platform, was the reaction of two acquaintances of mine. Without intending too, I uncovered a couple of pandemic deniers. 

Yeah, that’s a thing. 

There are people who claim the current pandemic is a hoax, that it’s a plot to discredit President Trump, that its all over-blown hype by the liberal media, the Democrats, or some other nefarious libtard group.  There’s a movement afoot to “expose” the hoax pandemic by posting photographs of empty emergency room parking lots.  And, sure enough, pictures of the empty parking lot at Holy Family Hospital were included in that stream.

Virus_Outbreak_Massachusetts_29969$largeAfter watching the news coverage of the Massachusetts statehouse protest to open the state, after watching a host of videos being shared on social media, and after visiting several related websites I have drawn some conclusions.

Oh my God, what a scary population of bobbleheads these people represent. 

First, there are the hardest-core, rightest-wing political folks. Second, there are those who do not believe in science or modern medicine. Finally, there are the conspiracy theorists. Of course, there is a lot of overlap within these broad groups and they are s3___bgmp-arc_arc-feeds_generic-photos_to-arc_ryanopenrally1met$largesupplemented by the anti-vaxxers, the libertarians and the nationalists.

Throw a big tent over these folks and you’ve got yourself a circus.

The Always Trumpers maintain this is all overblown hype by the liberal media to discredit the president. It’s a plot by the Democratic party to scare the bejesus out of everyone and blame the president. These are the same folks that seem to turn every…single…thing into a political statement. I don’t think they can order a cup of coffee without considering the political ramifications of buying from Starbucks vs. Dunks.

There has always been a segment of the US population that views education with distain. These are the folks who don’t trust a PhD with 35 years in his field but buy into anything a Hollywood actress says. These people see themselves as working class heroes and wear their ignorance like a crown. They distrust science because they don’t understand it, and really, they don’t want to understand it, they are very comfortable with their distorted belief systems, thank you very much.

There have been several videos floating around the internet claiming the pandemic is no more risky than the common cold or seasonal flu. They urge us to let nature take its course until we develop herd immunity without any understanding of what that term implies.

What can I say about the conspiracy crowd? These are the folks who insist the Apollo moon landings were faked, who tried to convince us that 9/11 was an inside job, who insisted President Obama was born in Kenya (Even President Trump eventually came around and acknowledge that Obama was really born in Hawaii), and now they’re saying the virus is a weaponized “bug” intentionally or accidentally released by the Chinese in concert with or independent of Bill Gates, the TriLateral Commission, and probably the National Football League.

It’s all just crazy. 

But, I hope these folks keep meeting in large, unmasked groups. I hope they bring more crazies into their circus tent and hold rallies. With the president just itching to hit the campaign trail again, I’m sure we’ll be seeing rallies around the country in the next few weeks. 

And as the death toll mounts, nearing an equivalent to the 9/11 attacks each and every day, remember this: Nature marches on. Nature finds a way. Nature always wins.

3xhg5sThese protesters are self-identifying themselves, making it easier for nature to take its course, for the virus to spread. Are these people not considering they may well bring home this deadly virus to their asthmatic child, cancer-surviving wife, diabetic brother or elderly parent?

Scientists have a name for the process of weeding out populations less fit for survival, they call it natural selection. 

Good luck with that, nature always finds a way.


I’m a day late and a dollar short. 

Yesterday, as I stepped into the shower, I said “Alexa, play Mark Selby.” As I went about my business I was thinking about how I can find positive in this difficult time. It’s easy for me to get down in the dumps in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

I realized that I am really missing music. I blast music in my classroom in the early morning as I prep for the day. For me, hearing music helps me cope with the stress of having way too much to do with way too little time and hard deadlines looming. I mean at 7:35am the kids are showing up at my door whether I’m ready or not. 

One of the artists who’s a regular in my playlists is Mark Selby. I love his strong, blues-based songs, his growling voice and catchy hooks. As always I love me some screaming guitar.

I feel like I “discovered” Mark Selby, and I did after a fashion. For me, finding new artists has traditionally come from radio play or seeing them in concert as an opening act. My relationship with Mark started with a bin of discarded CD’s in the break room at one of my jobs. 41XzRNdGnYL

I worked at Entercom Boston – a group of four radio stations in Boston. I was an advertising sales rep for the talk station – WRKO. The other stations in the building were WEEI (Sports talk), WAAF (Rock) and another station called Starz or something like that. Radio stations have a constant stream of CD’s rolling in and, at Entercom, the discards were left in the break room free for the taking. 

That’s where I found More Storms Comin’ Mark’s 2000 release. I popped it into the CD player in the car and was transfixed. “Who is this guy?” I wondered as I rocked out on my 75-minute ride home. 

As time went on, I acquired his following releases and loved each and every one of them. I started checking in on his website a couple of times a year to see if he would ever tour in my area, but he was Nashville-based and stayed close to home, except for Germany. (Yes, he had rabid following in Germany)

In 2017 I went to Nashville for the total eclipse so I checked again, and he wasn’t performing at all. What a missed opportunity <sigh>.

What I didn’t know at the end of August 2017 and what I learned yesterday, was that Mark Selby was near the end of a battle with cancer. He passed away in September, 2017.

My epiphany in the shower was that I should reach out to people who have had a positive impact on me and thank them. And, since Mark Selby was playing at the time, he was the first on that list. 

So, I’m for sure, a day late and a dollar short but, thank you Mark for all the fantastic music you made. You may have left us, but your music remains. 

Godspeed.

 

Note: You may not know Mark, but you know his work. He wrote or co-wrote:

Blue on Black  performed by Kenny Wayne Shepard and other artists (It spent 42 weeks on the US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart .)

There’s Your Trouble” performed by the Dixie Chicks (In 1999, the Dixie Chicks were awarded a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for their performance of “There’s Your Trouble.)

Mark is survived by his wife Tia Sillers who wrote “I Hope You Dance,” for Lee Ann Womack.


Most presidents rise to the occasion when the dark shadow of crisis spreads across our nation. They become the nation’s focal point – the place We, The People, look too for strength, leadership and comfort in our darkest hours.

Sadly, but predictably, this ability is lacking in our current leader. He’s a petty, narcissistic, little man who can’t see the larger picture without himself squarely in focus. He’s so self-focused he recently butt-fumbled a softball question into certain evidence of his pettiness.

When NBC News reporter Peter Alexander asked what would the president’s message be to the American people who are “scared right now?” The president fired back: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter.” The president then went on to ream him and his network on national TV.

What a missed opportunity to express comfort, warmth and strength. Another president would have hammered that hanging curveball of a question deep into the night and out of the ballpark. Think about Bush at ground zero, Obama after the Boston Marathon bombings, Regan after the Challenger disaster and so many more examples.

He can’t do it. 

He doesn’t feel for Us. He sees and feels only for himself.

He is living in a Norma Desmond version of the world in which none of us matter.

FDR vs DJT


I loved The Walking Dead. For years, it was appointment watching for my wife and I. Yes, it did become a lot of the same old thing after a while, but there were truly awesome moments.

My favorite episode is the first – the pilot. That sounds like a knock on the rest of the episodes, but it’s really not. But that first show set the tone and left us with so many unanswered questions. It was a huge hook for the whole series. 

As an aside, I watched that episode on my phone while flying to Florida. I was in the middle seat and sitting next to me, was a nun.  She was doing a christian crossword and I saw her sneaking glances at my phone. I really wondered what was going through her head; “Sure, first trip I take in years, and they sit me next to the antichrist.”_rickgrime

What’s happening now, feels a little like what was happening after Rick was shot and before he woke up – minus the zombies, of course.

Think about how much has changed in just the last week. schools, restaurants and bars, sports shut down, social distancing, businesses closed, people out of work stockpiling supplies – let’s face it there is a lot of actual hoarding going on too. It feels like I would have expected to see on TWD if they had shown those weeks of societal collapse.

This is a part of the story that has never been adequately explored. I would love to see a series or mini-series based on that two or three-week window while Rick slept. Fear the Walking Dead touched on it, but quickly moved on to regular man vs. zombie and man vs man story lines. 

Actually, maybe, I really don’t need a mini-series to see how society collapses. I can just turn on the news.


Just in Case…

07Mar20

The idea that I could be asked to “self-quarantine” seemed farfetched a month ago, got a little bit more real last week. There were reports that Lowell General was evaluating someone who might have Covid-19.

This person DID NOT have Covid-19 but, It occurred to me, that if he/she did, and they had kids in our school, the entire school would have probably been shut down for one to two weeks. Suddenly, the possibility that I could be stuck in my home for two weeks, seemed a lot more real than it had a month ago. maxresdefault

So, I stocked up on groceries. I’m not a crazy hoarder, but I filled our freezer with meat and our cupboard with the essentials for a two-week confinement. 

I did not buy 50 rolls of toilet paper (We usually have a couple weeks supply on hand anyway (It’s really, really inconvenient to run out of TP)), I did not buy out all the OTC remedies for cough and cold (But I did make sure we have tissues, especially the super-soft ones you need on days 3-4 of a cold), I made sure we have enough coffee, coffee-creamer and sweetener (Coffee et al, is one thing we NEVER allow ourselves to run out of in my house), and some snack foods too. 

This will probably not happen, but I do feel better knowing if I was asked to distance myself from others, I could do so with relative ease.


Its been a long time since I have been this excited about voting in a primary – maybe this is the most excited I’ve ever been.

Today, I will cast my ballot for Bill Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts, in the Republican presidential primary.

It’s not that I’m that jacked about Bill Weld, it’s that he’s NOT Donald Trump.

Donald John Trump is completely unacceptable to me. He is fundamentally dangerous to our constitution. I fear for our nation if he is reelected.  He’s a fascist.

As a long-time Republican, since 1977, I am horrified by what my party has become. The vast majority of my party is so pro-trump they seem to have lost all sense of integrity and morals. My party has been taken over by sycophants.

I think Republicans who do not support Donald Trump often feel alone and isolated. I know I do. I often feel that I’m the last of the moderate Republicans. I feel I needed to say something, do something so others might realize that they are not alone either. 

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I will also be voting for Republican state committee seats. I have carefully researched the candidates and made my selection based completely on their support of President Trump. If they support Trump, they will not get my vote.

I have vowed to never support a candidate who supports President Trump – ever. If it’s today or twenty years in the future, assuming our republic is still standing, I will never vote for a candidate who supports or supported Donald Trump.

Never.




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