Monday, May 25, 2020

Day 77 of Nat'l Emergency: More Voices, Some Amusing, Mostly Reasonable

Not everyone sees the same Facebook and Twitter feeds I do, so here are some of my favorite postings from the last few days:

A former colleague, Barbara Hochberg, who just celebrated a birthday Sunday, posted on Facebook: 

Not Everything is Cancelled
sunshine is not cancelled
spring is not cancelled
love is not cancelled
relationships are not cancelled
reading is not cancelled
naps are not cancelled
devotion is not cancelled
music is not cancelled
dancing is not cancelled
imagination is not cancelled
kindness is not cancelled
conversations are not cancelled
hope is not cancelled

Speaking of birthdays, I share a birthdate down to the month, day and year with Maxine Clark, founder of Build-a-Bear Workshop. She cited Dr. Lisa Welch, Democrat running for Congress in Texas, addressing naysayers who believe the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax: “Who thinks it is a Hoax? Not Trump. He is tested every day, those around him are tested, the White House staff is required to wear masks, he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent him from getting it. All elaborate measures for someone that thinks it is all a hoax.”

Our son’s mother-in-law, Lolly Mixter, reacted to Trump’s push to re-open churches and other houses of worship: “Just to be clear, the Church has not been closed, so it doesn’t need to be re-opened. We have simply stopped worshipping in our buildings for a time to protect the health and well-being of our people & our communities. The Church does not require a building in order to be the Church. What is required is love, compassion & the presence of God.”

Marie Graham posted a sign from the Briarcliff Congregational Church: “In God we trust. Dr. Fauci runs a close second!”

My sister Lee liked a message board at Trinity Baptist Church: “Trump or God. Pick One. You can’t follow both.” 

Not all my contacts are liberal progressives. Here are two reposts from John H. O’Brien, another former colleague: “I got pulled over in the HOV lane for driving alone. I said that was due to social distancing, my passenger was in the car behind me!”

“So if the governor sees his shadow—will there be 6 more weeks of lockdown?”

My sister posts lots of interesting stuff. Here are several more I enjoyed:

Attributed to Linda Friedlander Imhof—“Would you love to see Anthony Fauci voted as Time’s Person of the Year? Trump would go insane!”

Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressional candidate: “Donald Trump votes by mail. Melania, Ivanka, and Jared Kushner all vote by mail. But when regular Americans want to vote by mail to stay safe during a pandemic, Trump calls it ‘voter fraud’ and opposes it strongly? This is what hypocrisy looks like.”

Delving further into the debate on voting by mail, Lee reposted, “If it’s safe to mail Tax Refunds, Social Security checks, Stimulus Checks, Draft Registrations, Prescription Drugs, Passports, your Driver’s License or the actual ID you’d use to vote…then it’s safe to vote by mail.”

To those who argue unemployment relief reduces the incentive of staff to return to work, Lee favored this comment from The Other 98%: “If your employees make more on unemployment you’re not a job creator you’re a poverty exploiter.”

To mask or not to mask—Lee lands firmly on the side of masking. She reposted Victoria Thomas: “I’m not asking you to drop behind enemy lines & fight your way to Paris. I’m not asking you to ration food. Or hide Jews, gays or Catholics in your basement. I’m asking you to cover your mouth & not stand so close to others. It’s embarrassing so many can’t handle that.”

She also liked Mar Toby Hartson’s comment: “Remember ‘Click it or Ticket’? Morons hated seatbelts but it saved lives! Maybe we’ll start ‘Mask it or Casket’ for same reason?”

Lee also reposted Jay McDowell: “I don’t understand some people’s problem with wearing a mask.

“I grew up with no shoes, no shirt, no service. Nobody turned that into a civil rights issue as far as I know.

“When I go to a fancy restaurant and they require a sports coat I don’t spit in their face. I wear a sport coat.

When I go golfing and they require a collar, I don’t yell and scream and turn it into something political. I wear a shirt with a collar like I was asked to do.

“When I walk into a place of worship if they ask me to wear a head covering, I am polite and wear a head covering. I don’t rant about my god given right not to wear a head covering.

“Right now we are being asked to wear a mask to make everyone feel more comfortable about restarting society. I don’t understand all of the anger about that. I will wear a mask for the benefit of everyone. It’s what I am being asked to do. And just like in the other instances, I will do it because I don’t consider it an infringement of any of my basic human rights. It is simply the polite thing to do for the common good.”

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Day 76 Nat'l Emergency: Remembering My Last Aunt

If this had turned out to be a normal Memorial Day weekend Gilda and I would be in Colorado at the Allenspark Lodge outside Denver attending a First Cousins weekend to celebrate the life of Lily Weinrich who passed away in April 2019. She was 93.

Lily was the youngest of four Gerson sisters and an elder brother. The only one born in the United States, she was, in my estimation, the prettiest of the Gerson sisters. 

Like my mother, Sylvia, she had three children. Like her, a boy followed by a girl followed by a boy. Vicki delivered two boys. Pola, the oldest sister, never married.

I don’t know where Lily’s family lived at first. My earliest recollection is a house at 8 East Drive, Garden City, Long Island, that they moved into in the early to mid 1950s. From the front yard you could see the newly erected Roosevelt Field shopping center built on the airstrip where Charles Lindbergh took off on his historic non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic to France on May 20, 1927. 

The house was a split level ranch with a large side and back yard on which Lily’s husband, Ben, built a patio with pastel colored cinder block tiles. The basement had two levels. In the lower level Ben erected an HO-gauge model train set for his children that I envied. 

My family always seemed to be spending part of most weekends with Aunt Lily and her family, at our house or theirs. The ride from Brooklyn to Garden City on the Belt Parkway and then the Southern State Parkway took about an hour. When we would arrive in the afternoon my father would invariably shuffle off to an unoccupied bedroom for an hour’s nap. 

Often my brother, sister and I would sleep over in Garden City. If the sleepover came after a visit by Lily’s family to Brooklyn, all six children would be packed into the back seat. Actually, five sat on the bench seat. The sixth and youngest, Steve, would lay across the shelf in front of the rear window. 

Lily reveled in relating the time a toll taker counted the children in the car and asked if they were all hers. She coquettishly smiled and said she loved her husband. 

When we stayed over at Aunt Lil’s we usually took a bath after a hard day of playing. My cousin Mike, a year younger than me, and his sister Linda, three years further down the line, bathed with me until their mother observed her daughter displaying an unsettling interest in Mike’s and my anatomies. 

Invariably we never packed toothbrushes before our sleepovers. Lily’s pragmatic solution was to squeeze toothpaste onto our forefingers and instruct us to brush.

The Gerson sisters were unique. Not in the way they stayed connected for more than eight decades. Not in the sibling rivalries and disagreements, some of them petty (e.g., who made the better Thanksgiving turkey), that pitted one or more against another. Nor in the conflict with their older brother, the foursome unified against Sol, for decades.  

What distinguished each of them was their dedication to work outside the home. They were no Rosie the Riveter filling in for assembly line workers drafted into the military during the Second World War who went back to the homemaking front at the war’s conclusion. They became accomplished members of the labor force, the married trio working as partners with their husbands in their respective family enterprises.

Lily’s husband operated a men’s clothing store, the Loyal Men’s Shop, a few doors down from the Apollo Theater on 125 Street in Harlem. Ben moved his family to Garden City in the 1950s, but the tiresome commute to Manhattan prompted him a decade later to jump on an opportunity to move his store to the suburbs—the far suburbs. He planted his renamed young men’s store, Ben’s, along the main drag of Bayshore, in Suffolk County, Long Island. The family moved into a white colonial home in nearby Brightwaters. 

A few years later, in early 1967, Ben didn’t wake up one morning. Widowed in her early 40s, Lily became the sole proprietor of Ben’s. My brother Bernie, by now licensed to drive, and I used to travel out to Bayshore several times a year to update our wardrobes with more modish clothing, apparel our father invariably found incompatible with his taste. Arguments would ensue, he’d swear he wouldn’t pay Lily, we would keep the clothing and the next time we saw her during a holiday or family get-together, she would admonish Dad for being a fashion Luddite. 

 At the store one day a stray black dog, perhaps a cross between a German shepherd and a hound, ambled in and promptly adopted Lily. She named him Zeke. He was her constant companion for about a decade. One day he went out and never returned. Lily accepted his departure as gracefully as his entrance into her life. 

She closed Ben’s in the early 1980s, relocated to Manhattan, to an apartment on East 80 Street between First and York Avenues, and worked as a bookkeeper, mostly for a jeweler. 

She became a family conciliator. When Gilda and I balked at my parents’ plan to swap one of our cars for a larger car my father no longer wanted, Lily smoothed over our differences. After decades of the four sisters excluding contact with not just their brother Sol but his three sons and their families as well, Lily bridged the divide after Sol passed away. Many a weekend she would ride a bus to Middletown, NY, to assist Paul, Sol’s youngest, in his jewelry business. The reconciliation became official with the sons’ attendance at Gilda’s and my wedding. 

Perhaps as a byproduct of running a store that catered to a young clientele, Lily retained an ability to relate to younger generations. When she heard of her great-aunt’s death a year ago, our daughter Ellie wrote, “I have the fondest of memories of spending time with Lily, especially with (cousin) Ari that one day we went to museums with her. I also remember having some lovely conversations with her when I first graduated from college and moved to NYC.”

On the day of the New York City blackout August 14, 2003, I walked from Park Avenue and 55th Street to Aunt Lily’s apartment. She was a cool and collected 78-year-old. I stayed a while until Gilda connected with me for the trip back to White Plains.  

Her son, Steve, eventually with his wife Grace, lived with Lily in Manhattan. They all moved to Kansas and then to New Mexico. 

The last years of her life, as the last of the Gerson siblings whose parents emigrated from Lodz, Poland, in 1920 and 1921, were spent in declining mental acuity. She passed away in her sleep April 1, 2019. 

Her children Michael, Linda and Steve had planned the cousins weekend as a celebration of her life. As a young adult Lily had hoped to become a nurse. She took courses at Mount Sinai Hospital. Her cancelled memorial weekend is another casualty of COVID-19.  

Monday, May 18, 2020

Day 67 of Nat'l Emergency: Joe Misspeaks, Trump Stumbles Toward a New China Relationship

What should we make of Uncle Joe’s latest humdinger (latest being very transient and perhaps overtaken by a new faux pas by the time this gets posted).

Sure, the 77-year-old presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee last week mixed up statistics about the devastation of the coronavirus. Joe Biden said 85,000 people were out of work and millions had died. 

Poor Joe, his mouth and mind do not always work in sync. But who among us has not conflated statistics when making public, even personal, observations. 

Of course, we hold our politicians, especially those who seek the presidency, to a higher standard, at least if those pols are Democrats. 

Republicans, on the other hand, have long abandoned any fealty to facts if the spigot of wisdom is Donald Trump. They only care for truth if a Democrat speaks, much the same way they railed against budget deficits by Democrats with nary a word of dissent when Republican presidents catapulted the national debt to the stratosphere.

Though Biden’s misspeaks provide fodder for ridicule from the insulter-in-chief, they have also generated an undercurrent of belief that Democrats should dump him in favor of a younger, more verbally adept candidate who would be able to stand up to Trump during debates. 

My response is Democrats should not panic. While not a perfect candidate, Biden, by all thoughtful accounts, is the lesser of what many call evils. Would the public rather have a candidate who misaligns statistics about the number who are dead with the number who have lost jobs, or would it prefer an incumbent who tells people to swig some Clorox, or who disdains the advice of scientists not only on COVID-19 but on climate change and relaxes EPA rules that further endanger our citizens and planet? 

The election is more than five months away. Only political junkies are tuned in to every word Biden utters. As for Trump, we are forced to hear or read about his latest delusional ravings because the media focuses on them as he is president. Several studies have shown that the more he rants and raves, the more votes from Independents and Never Trump Republicans he is sending Biden’s way.

Consider Trump’s latest barrage against what he calls Obamagate. He wants the former president investigated and charged for what he says was a conspiracy to topple his presidency. A heinous crime, if true. But Justin A. Horwitz, in a Facebook post, posed an interesting question: “If the president has absolute immunity like Trump says, how can Obama be guilty of ‘crimes’ committed as president?”

As the Shakespearean saying goes, “Hoisted by one’s own petard!” (D’ya think Trump ever read “Hamlet?”)

Deuces Wild: There are two wild cards when it comes to the election. First, the status of COVID-19 infections and its impact on the economy. Second, our relationship with China.

Trump realizes he will be held responsible if business does not return to a semblance of normalcy with lots of people returning safely to work. He’s pushing for a quick return so five months from now voters will not hold him accountable for the loss of at least 100,000 lives because of his inaction in February and March to prepare the country for the pandemic.

China is a more vexing issue. The Donald thought he could sweet talk Xi Jinping into economic concessions. But the novel coronavirus outbreak shattered their bonhomie. Trump now is playing a blame, and race, game against the Chinese. 

A winning strategy might be to base his reelection on changing our relationship with China. China, not North Korea or Iran, is more of an existential threat to our way of life than any other country, even Russia, given our reliance on China for much of our consumer and healthcare products and even strategic technical and military equipment. 

But to change that relationship Trump must educate the American public and convince it that it is in their best interests to pay a little more for all the products that China produces cheaply for us. In addition,  U.S. companies must abandon their manufacturing plants in China and build them either in America or in countries that are not as competitive with us for world domination. They might also have to forego the Chinese consumer market which would sharply slow their growth rates. That wouldn’t sit well with too many farmers who export soy beans, hogs and other foodstuffs to China. 

If Trump had developed a rapport with more than just the hotheads who follow him blindly this strategy might work, but I doubt he could pull it off. Besides, he’d first have to convince Ivanka to give up her China trade.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Day 66 of Nat'l Emergency: Voices from Facebook

Almost every day it seems national and local TV newscasts illuminate instances of gratitude toward essential workers. Very heartwarming, albeit repetitive.

Don’t get me wrong. Nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, teachers, policemen, firemen, EMTs, transit workers, supermarket staff, meat and chicken processing plant employees deserve our thanks and respect for putting their lives on the line so that the quarantined can enjoy fresh food, protection and treatment should coronavirus invade our shelter.

I wonder, though, how long-lasting that appreciation will be. When the pandemic subsides and we return to what will pass as normalcy, will we again be stingy when it comes to paying these civil servants and critical industry workers a wage representative of what they mean to our “civilized” existence? 

I sincerely hope not. Yes, it would cost more in taxes to fund salary increases. But haven’t we learned during these last three months the importance and selflessness of these “heroes”? 

There will be many changes to the former status quo once the pandemic runs its course, though some experts are predicting it remain with us for months, if not years. A more equitable salary structure should be at the top of our To Do list.

Naturally, not everyone will agree with me. I thought I’d share with you some point-counterpoint thoughts I found on Facebook today regarding COVID-19 and the concept of quarantining for the greater good. You choose which best fits your psyche:

From Kevin Bain: “No more masks. Any business that tells me to put on a mask (Whole Foods or Lomo Alto) in Dallas will get told to kiss my Corona ass and will lose my business forever. It’s time to stop this BULLSHIT. Do I have to show the lame security guard outside of a ghetto store my CV19 test results? I will show him my Glock 21 shooting range results. With Hornady hollow points. Pricey ammo, but worth it in this situation. They have reached the limit. I have more power than they do…..they just don’t know it yet.”

Derek Utley put a picture of George Washington with his pithy comment: “It’s not illegal to open your business. It’s illegal that it is forced to be closed.”

From Nathan H. Rubin: “In retrospect, we probably should have been prepared for the callousness of the ‘re-open people. They didn’t care about kids thrown in cages, students shot in schools, families going bankrupt from medical bills…Whey did we expect them to care about COVID19 victims?”

Matt Haig wrote: “Yes lockdown poses its own mental health challenges. But can we please stop pretending our former world of long working hours, stressful commutes, hectic crowds, shopping centres, infinite choice, mass consumerism, air pollution and 24/7 everything was a mental health utopia.”

Cyrus McQueen posted: “I’m not risking my life around a buncha people in the park…I’m not risking it at a beach, restaurant or the movies…But best believe I will risk it all on November 3rd to vote this motherfucker out…I’ll wear a damn hazmat suit if I have to…”

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Day 62 of Nat'l Emergency: What Dr. Fauci Might Have Said To Rand Paul

In my freecycling mind I imagine responses Dr. Anthony Fauci might have proffered to Senator Rand Paul during Tuesday’s hearing on the government’s actions to contain the coronavirus pandemic that already has claimed more than 83,000 lives. Paul advocated for lifting restrictions so commerce could be invigorated and children could go back to school. Fauci expressed caution lest the virus surge again. 

(For context, here’s their actual exchange, as reported by The Washington Post: 

Senator Paul: “So I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy. And as much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy and the facts will bear this out.”

Dr. Fauci: I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official…You use the word we should be humble about what we don’t know. And I think that falls under the fact that we don’t know everything about this virus. And we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe — for example, right now children presenting with covid-19 who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome, very similar to Kawasaki syndrome. I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”)

I imagined Dr. Fauci could have responded thusly: 

“Senator Paul, I know you have a medical degree obtained in 1993. You are a doctor of ophthalmology. And I would defer my judgment on matters affecting vision to your expertise. My degree came in 1966. Since 1968, more than 50 years ago, I have worked at the NIH studying infectious diseases. I trust the Senate and other branches of our government would defer their “expertise” on infectious diseases to mine.”   

Perhaps a more delicate response might have included a suggestion to read or reread Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People.” Or, if reading is too challenging, maybe go back and watch “Jaws.” Both stories reveal how economic considerations undermine scientific concerns to the detriment of society.

Fauci could have looked Paul in the eye and said, “Of course, senator, your record of putting profits over your constituents’ health is obvious from your support of the coal and tobacco industries. Crucial though they be to Kentucky’s economy they are deadly not only to its citizens but to the rest of America and indeed the world.”  

To be sure, Fauci couldn’t have looked Paul directly in the eye as he was self-quarantining at home because of possible exposure to a member of the White House staff who tested positive, while Paul, recovered from a bout of the virus, flaunted his presumed newly obtained immunity by not wearing a mask as he sat in the Senate hearing room.

Alas, Dr. Fauci is a gentleman, well skilled in the art of Washington diplomacy-speak. You’d never guess he grew up in New York City. Brooklyn, no less! Fuhgeddaboudit!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Day 59 of Nat'l Emergency: Other Voices

Time for some voices other than mine, so here are a handful of quotes from news stories of the last 10 days.

Essential Business?: “I’m willing to go to jail for this,” Harrington said on reopening. “If they (police) come into my club, they’ll have to drag me out in handcuffs.”

That’s Shane Harrington, owner of Club Omaha (Omaha, Neb.), talking about his decision to reopen his adult entertainment venue on Thursday, May 14. Harrington is okay with COVID-19 precautions—his nude dancers will wear face masks and gloves (

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3: Apparently, and to no one’s real surprise, Donald Trump cannot keep a secret. He spilled the beans on which aide to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the coronavirus. Here’s how The New York Times reported his loose-lips-sink-ships moment:

“White House officials initially asked reporters not to identify Ms. Miller as the aide who tested positive, but Mr. Trump blew the secret when he identified her publicly during his meeting with the congressional Republicans as ‘Katie’ and ‘the press person’ for Mr. Pence.

“‘She tested very good for a long period of time. And then all of a sudden today, she tested positive,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘She hasn’t come into contact with me. She spends some time with the vice president.’” (

Are You Hungry?: Lots of people are because with no jobs bringing in a paycheck they lack sufficient cash to buy food, even as farms and dairies are killing off livestock, plowing under fields of grain and produce and poring milk down the drain because restaurants, hotels and schools are COVID-19 closed and not purchasing their production. 

“If the government were really interested in making sure that hungry people got fed and farmers were supported, they would figure out a way to do it,” Marion Nestle told The Times. Nestle is aptly named. She is a food studies professor at New York University. 

Did He Do It?: Tara Reade’s allegation that then senator Joe Biden sexually assaulted her some 30 years ago has left many wondering. Did he? Is she believable? Even if true, does it disqualify him from running for president given Donald Trump’s history of behavior toward women? 

Here’s one opinion expressed by Susan S. Sigalow in a letter to the editor of The Times: “As a female clinical psychologist with 40 years of experience, I can tell you that while it’s true that women who accuse men of sexual harassment should be given the benefit of the doubt, these women don’t always tell the truth. I never knew of a man who committed a sexual assault only once. It would be a pattern of behavior, repeated over time. 

“Joe Biden has a long history of public service. If he had been committing these kinds of behaviors there would be a trail of complaints, as there is around President Trump. There really are some men who tell the truth and do not commit crimes against women, and they also deserve the benefit of the doubt.”

What Price for a Human Life?: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says it is “priceless.”
“There’s a conversation that is going on about reopening that we are not necessarily explicit about, but which is very important,” he said. “There’s a question that is being debated right under the surface and the decisions we make on reopening are really profound decisions.
“The fundamental question which were not articulating is how much is a human life worth? How much do we think a human life is worth?”
Cuomo said that “the faster we reopen, the lower the economic cost; but the higher the human cost because the more lives lost. That, my friends, is the decision we are really making. What is that balance? What is that trade-off? Because it is very real.”

Friday, May 8, 2020

Day 57 of Nat'l Emergency: V-E Day and the Virus

Today is V-E Day. Victory in Europe 75 years ago, May 8, 1945. 

No doubt, like many of you sheltering in place, to pass the time I am making my way through televised series, some new, some old. Maybe I will finally see “The Wire” (highly recommended by our son Dan). And “Game of Thrones.” I just finished “Band of Brothers,” the 2001 HBO 10-part series relating the factual experiences of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101 Airborne Division, U.S. Army, during World War II.

At the end of the fifth episode Easy Company was marching into Bastogne during the pivotal Battle of the Bulge at the end of December 1944. Confronting a last ditch effort by the Germans, Easy Company was under-equipped. The soldiers lacked sufficient ammunition and warm clothing.

From my previous extensive viewing of war movies I knew how the fight to control the strategic crossroads town ended. I knew how the Battle of the Bulge ended. I knew how the war ended. 

Yet the story of the Band of Brothers soldiers of Easy Company, compiled in the acclaimed book of the same name by historian and author Stephen Ambrose through interviews with survivors as well as journals and letters from the soldiers, is gripping and emotional.

I’ve seen lots of war movies depicting practically every conflict joined by American servicemen on land, sea and air, from colonial times till the present. Even into the future, if we are to believe sci-fi imaginations.

Having avoided service during the Vietnam War, I have no first hand experience by which to gauge the special bonding of a platoon unit and the trauma of combat. Viewing choreographed battle scenes in France and Belgium, I feared for the safety, the lives, of individual soldiers on my TV screen. But my anxiety, palpable as it was, could not match the reality of what those young men, the real soldiers of Easy Company, actually underwent.

At the end of episode eight of “Band of Brothers,” as the surviving members of Easy Company are being transported away from the front lines for some well deserved rest and relaxation, a voice-over narrator contrasted their experience with an American home front emerging from shortages and restrictions. Life in the States was returning to normal.

Few civilians, the narrator said, could identify with “the price paid by soldiers in terror, agony and bloodshed” during the Battle of the Bulge and the siege of Bastogne. 

I wonder now about the state of our nation’s backbone. For sure we are in the midst of an extraordinary trauma. More than 76,000 lives lost, with no reliably accurate forecast for how high the toll of death may rise.

Jobs have been lost at a level not seen since the Great Depression when few of our current fellow countrymen and women were alive.

Family wealth, if one can employ that word for the millions who live paycheck to paycheck, has been wiped out for many.

To help stem the spread of the new coronavirus we have been asked to shelter in place and social distance.

But, after less than two months, significant portions of society are rebelling against quarantine. I cannot imagine how they would have fared if they lived in occupied Europe during the war. If they had been Jewish and had to hide in cramped quarters for years to stay alive, with little food or freedom to walk outdoors or entertain oneself with no radio or other media.

I get it. People want to work. They want to eat in restaurants. Shop in stores. Go to the gym. Get their hair cut, their nails trimmed. They don’t want to wear masks. They want to hug their friends, their extended family.

Do they not realize they are placing personal desires over the welfare of the community? My immediate reaction was to think of them as extremely selfish and self-centered. 

Then again, I am fortunate not to have to worry about a mortgage or retirement income. I don’t have young children to feed or school at home. 

What to me are inconveniences of social distancing are traumatic life changes for those younger than my three score and eleven years. 

And yet, I find deep resonance in what New York governor Andrew Cuomo says about the need to balance re-opening the economy against the value of a life. I am not ready, as some politicians have advanced, to jettison older, frailer people so that the next generation can go to the mall, movie theater or restaurant. In this argument, I am a right-to-lifer, which makes me wonder why I have not heard all religious leaders and anti-abortionists loudly proclaim allegiance to shelter at home and social distancing directives. 

Even while we were fighting Nazi tyranny pacifists spoke out against war. They weren’t unpatriotic. They just had a different understanding of what support for our country’s principles meant. 

We are engaged in an all-out war against COVID-19. It is a stealth enemy that has shown it can strike even inside a well-shielded (we would hope) White House. Nearly 77,000 have already died in America from the coronavirus. We are on a trajectory to soon match the number of servicemen the Department of Defense says were killed in action in Europe from D-Day through May 8—104,812. 

Perhaps most troubling is that so many needn’t have died. A new study, led by Princeton Medical Center, asserts that if orders to stay-at-home and wear face masks when outside had been issued four days earlier the number of deaths could have been halved (

In actual combat, no matter how hard commanders try to limit casualties, they know deaths will happen. COVID-19 is a killer. We couldn’t change that. But competent leadership based on science and accepted medical practice could have reduced the terror, agony and loss of life so many families have experienced these last few months. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Day 55 Nat'l Emergency: Film Fare for Kids

Our oldest grandchild, 10-year-old Finley, asked in a letter (yes, one benefit of the shelter in place regimen is increased letter, not email, writing between generations. Sort of a comfort food-type communications form gaining traction, at least in our family) if I had any movie suggestions for him and seven-year-old Dagny to help pass the time during the extended coronavirus break from school.

Here’s what I mailed back (this posting might supersede postal service delivery so don’t spoil his joy by asking him about it before Sunday).

I’m old fashioned in most of my selections. I generally don’t like computer generated graphics so I stayed away from most sci-fi movies. Violent films also didn’t make my list. I did include some films that had a modicum of love interest and possibly even some sexual interactions (e.g., the scene in Big when Tom Hanks as Josh touches  the breast of Elizabeth Perkins’ character). 

I’ve eschewed animated films, except one. Nothing wrong with them. I like many of them. I simply preferred providing a list of movies with real life actors.

My list is far from exhaustive. (By comparison, check out the Top 100 kids’ flicks suggested by Rotten Tomatoes—

Let me know what movies you would add, or delete, from my list:

Harry and the Hendersons


Stand by Me

Freaky Friday

Back to the Future

13 Going on 30



The Absent Minded Professor

Herbie the Love Bug


Mrs. Doubtfire

Night at the Museum


The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Seahawk

Captain Blood


Trains Planes and Automobiles

Home Alone


The Princess Bride

The Parent Trap


Chicken Run