Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccine

books and music

JFK Thanksgiving Day proclamation 1963
JFK Thanksgiving Day proclamation 1963

Without a doubt, it is Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccine.

Because of the vaccine, I could go out to eat with my friends, such as Carol, Karen, Bill, Michael, Cecily, John, and Mary, as well as my wife and daughters.

My church is meeting in person as of June 20, as well as on Facebook. The choir has restarted rehearsals in person as of October 10, with only fully vaccinated people, which is everyone.

The Wizard’s Wardrobe is a program, started by two members of my church. “Children spend time with a special tutor just for them — to read, write, and explore the wonderful world of books. My wife and I attended the Readers Theater benefit on October 4. The featured readers included William Kennedy, Brendan Kennedy, Joseph Bruchac, Elizabeth Brundage, Ashley Charleston, Ted Walker, and Ayah Osman.

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library had its Literary Legends Gala on October 16. I got to tell Bill Kennedy that I heard him and his son read from Charlie Malarkey and the Belly-Button Machine (1986), 12 days earlier. Last year’s event was online, while this one was a hybrid.

I wouldn’t have been comfortable going to my high school reunion or certainly taking the bus home without the Pfizer shots. Yes, it’s a Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccine.

In spite of

As much as I complained about ZOOM and its ilk I’m thankful for the chance to have participated in the Thursday Bible study group. I got to see my niece Rebecca Jade perform over a half dozen times, including with Dave Koz.

I streamed some movies, not the best way for me to view them. But I got to see ALL of the Oscar-nominated shorts. Usually, I get to watch only a fraction of those films because they don’t all make it to this market.

I’m still on ZOOM for the Tuesday Bible guys, the Dads group, and certain church meetings. My sisters, in two different states, and I in a third, meet at least three weeks out of four. The Olin reunions took place remotely.

Lessee, what else?

I’m fiscally solvent. This allows me to order things via mail order, such as all of those blue masks and music that I don’t REALLY need but want. I also got a bunch of baseball books from Jack’s widow and music from the collection of my late father-in-law.

I had a brief but significant moment of mutual forgiveness with an old friend.

My mother-in-law lives much closer. This makes her and her daughter mighty happy.

I’m glad that Arthur and Kelly and fillyjonk and others are still blogging. Chuck Miller is still plugging other blogs each Saturday.

I’m sure there’s more, but this will do for the nonce.

Going to church together, or not

Live! In person!

First Presbyterian Church. windowMy wife and I have usually gone to church together over the past 22+ years. But often, we didn’t sit together, as I was usually perched in the choir loft while she was sitting in the congregation. The exception was during the summer when the choir was usually off. She really liked it, but it felt somewhat foreign to me.

Then there was the pandemic. When our service returned on Facebook beginning March 22, 2020, it was us sitting together watching a screen together. And we’d do communion together, either something my wife baked that weekend or a cracker to eat, homemade grape juice, or Nine Pin Cider to drink.

But we would be on separate computers for the adult education class. We had different ZOOM styles in terms of when to be on mute. For me, it was almost always, when I wasn’t speaking. Also, I found that couples on the same ZOOM screen are harder to hear/understand and especially more difficult to see.

On June 20, 2021, we began the in-person church, and we both went through the summer live, except once when we were away.

Risk assessment

So it’s curious that now we’re doing church differently again. We both go to adult ed online. But then I go to church in person, while my wife has decided to go back online. She’s teaching kids, most too young to be fully vaccinated yet, whereas I really don’t see that many people.

I was having a discussion about COVID and risk with a friend. It reminded me of a comment to a recent Weekly Sift article. “When there’s a threat with no end in sight…, we need to also measure risk against the reward… Eating in a restaurant is risky, so I won’t eat inside just any restaurant, but I will eat inside my favorite restaurant. Not because the risk is lower, but because the reward is high (in my case). For other people, it might be that you’ll spend time in a small room for a long time with vaccinated family but not with vaccinated strangers.”

My choir met at church on October 14 for the first time in 19 months, and we sang! All full vaccinated, masked, and distanced – it was difficult to hear the tenors – but we sang. And we didn’t suck! It wasn’t for the service, yet, but maybe we’ll record something in the next month or two to be used.

Rule of thumb: when there is both a remote and face-to-face option, I’ll almost always opt fr the latter. But I never mock other people’s more cautious approach.

The former Cuomosexuals

Ch-ch-ch-changes

cuomosexualsMy daughter pointed out that after Andrew Cuomo agreed to resign as governor of New York, Trevor Noah was trending on Twitter. Otherwise, I never know what’s trending on Twitter.

The talk show host was being mocked for declaring himself one of the Cuomosexuals in 2020.

“’Never let Trevor Noah forget this,’” the rightwing pundits proclaim when including “a 2020 video of Noah praising the governor for ‘crushing it the most right now’ when it came to his pandemic response…

“While Noah changed his tune since news of the sexual assault allegations and nursing home scandal broke, even posting a celebratory tweet following Cuomo’s resignation, conservatives want to ensure Twitter does not forget the late-night hosts’ initial take.”

Fascinating, he said, in his best Mr. Spock voice

My takeaway here is that, according to these folks, one is not allowed to have an opinion about someone, then to change one’s mind when new circumstances arise or when additional information becomes available.

OK, got it. That is plain stupid. We’re supposed to feel about, say, Bill Cosby in 2018 as we did in 1988?

Many people were comforted by Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings. They felt that he was attempting to tell them the truth about the coronavirus infection rates, and the latest science, even when it was not particularly good news. This was in drastic contrast with the daily briefings in DC when whatever things Drs. Birx and Fauci et al. said were often countermanded and undermined by their boss.

There were LOTS of Cuomosexuals all over the country, notably the parodist Randy Rainbow. This is explained well in this New Yorker article.

I was recently reading an issue of the magazine The Week from June 2021. The experts suggested that the decline of COVID-19 was on track. No, they did not predict the level of vaccine resistance nor the speed of the delta variant – those two factors being related – so that now mask-wearing indoors is recommended, even among the vaccinated like me.

Changing their minds

It’s also OK to change one’s mind. Back in 2007, Kathy Hochul – pronounced HO-kul – “while serving as the Erie County clerk… threatened to arrest undocumented immigrants who applied for driver’s licenses.” But in recent years, the future New York State governor has supported “the state’s so-called Green Light law.”

Even as President, Barack Obama evolved on the issue of marriage equality. Initially, he opposed same-gender marriage, but his position evolved.

As a person growing up in the church, I’ve seen the changing roles of women, laypersons, and others. The church I attend now only had male ushers, dressed in a certain way, when I was born.

Frankly, people who believe that God, whoever They may be, never changes, so that we need to be doing the same thing, regardless of the needs of the people, make me damn angry.

 

America is losing its religion

the unchurched

LOSING-OUR-RELIGIONAmanda Marcotte at Salon explains why America’s losing its religion. “Church membership is in a freefall, and the Christian right has only themselves to blame.” And “fewer than half of Americans now belong to a church, and the trend of pew abandonment isn’t slowing down.”

What’s fascinating to me is the acceleration in the unchurched. “In 1937, 73% of Americans belong to a church. And in 1975, it was 71%. In 1999, it was 70%. But since then, the church membership rate has fallen by a whopping 23 percentage points.” Why is that?

Marcotte notes, “The drop in religious affiliation starts right around the time George W. Bush was elected president, publicly and dramatically associating himself with the white evangelical movement. The early Aughts saw the rise of megachurches with flashily dressed ministers who appeared more interested in money and sermonizing about people’s sex lives than modeling values of charity and humility.”

“Not only were these religious figures and the institutions they led hyper-political, but the outward mission also seemed to be almost exclusively in service of oppressing others. The religious right isn’t nearly as interested in feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless as much as using religion as an all-purpose excuse to abuse women and LGBTQ people.” And that was before 45.

Begets power

The conclusion: “Christian leaders, driven by their hunger for power and cultural dominance, become so grasping and hypocritical that it backfires and they lose their cultural relevance.”

The Atlantic had noted an increase in the religious non-affiliated earlier. “By the early 2000s, the share of Americans who said they didn’t associate with any established religion (also known as ‘nones’) had doubled. By the 2010s, this grab bag of atheists, agnostics, and spiritual dabblers had tripled in size.”

But the atheists are only about 5% of the total population by most measures, suggesting many people consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.”

The Black Church

The recent PBS series The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song, the four-hour series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., touches on this. Henry Louis Gates Jr. notes “The [black] church is the oldest, the most continuous and most important institution ever created by the African American people. In the final hour, in particular, the push-and-pull between social justice and the Gospels was examined.

Jeffrey Brown, interviewing Gates, notes that “as many young people move away from organized religion and protesters again demand justice, the church faces a new challenge of relevance and vitality.

“There was a very moving moment in there to me when Reverend Traci Blackmon is telling [Gates] about going into the streets in Ferguson during the protests, and she talks about holding a prayer vigil. And she says that, halfway through, some of the young people said, ‘That’s enough praying.'”

Of course, Black People in America are not a demographic monolith. The Pew Forum has scads of information about the intersection of race, religion, and justice. Some of a higher economic class may gravitate towards a megachurch, such as the one T.D. Jakes runs in Houston. Others may cheer on William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign. I relate more to the latter.

Per this link, Black Americans “tend to think [black] churches have declined in influence over the years,” but feel they “should have a greater role today than they do.”

As they say, “God” – or how you experience a higher power if at all – “is in the details.”

January rambling: dn ǝpᴉs ʇɥƃᴉɹ

Ameristan

The UN Security Council’s Counterterrorism Committee says there’s been a 320 percent increase in right-wing terrorism globally in the five years prior to 2020.

Confronting Two Crises: The COVID-19 Pandemic, the Opioid Epidemic, and the IH by Jonathan Rosen and Peter Harnett.

Martin Luther King Jr. Defended Democracy Against Racism and So Must We.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali’s Surprising Secret Friendship.

The Quest to Unearth One of America’s Oldest Black Churches. First Baptist Church was founded in secret in 1776. It’s been hidden under a parking lot in Colonial Williamsburg for decades—a metaphor for the failures of archaeology and American history.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom draws a direct line from the Bible to the blues.

Why Do People Keep Going to Church? — Even during a pandemic, it’s important to realize why worship is essential.

Lost touch: how a year without hugs affects our mental health

The Sycamore Tree – John Green.

There’s a right and wrong way to be bored.

The Happiness Project: Finding Joy in Tough Times.

NOVA  – Secrets in our DNA.

parts-of-the-skeleton-in-the-closet
From https://wronghands1.com/2021/01/08/parts-of-the-skeleton-in-the-closet/

Wikipedia at 20: last gasp of an internet vision, or a beacon to a better future?

The Orwellian Misuse of Orwellian.

JEOPARDY!: Ken Jennings Get Trolled by a Recent Contestant and the Guest Hosts Scheduled in 2021 So Far.

The Hollywood Con Queen Who Scammed Aspiring Stars Out of Hundreds of Thousands.

The best Gibson guitars were made by the ‘Kalamazoo Gals’.

Now I Know: The Imagination Library and The Blessing of Overpriced  Orange Juice and A Bridge With Some Firepower and The Bridge That’ll Flip You and Why Harriet and Duncan Weren’t Allowed in Iceland and The Internet Scammer Who Won.

What makes for a good flag!

dn ǝpᴉs ʇɥƃᴉɹ, created by the upsidedown text site.

ON THE WAY OUT

One Last Trump Dump, all of the folks he insulted on Twitter; why it’s clear Biden won; his campaign promise tally; the full list of the last-minute pardons; and more

Chomsky: Coup Attempt Hit Closer to Centers of Power Than Hitler’s 1923 Putsch.

Ameristan: Did He Bring the War Home?

Republican House members who voted for impeachment: Liz Cheney (WY), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Peter Meijer (MI), Dan Newhouse (WA), Tom Rice (SC), Fred Upton (MI), David Valadao (CA)

US Reaches Grim Milestone of 400K COVID Deaths.

Never Happens Here – Lincoln Project.

Jaquandor: Dear 45.

Cartoon: The end of an error.

Yes, He Can Be Convicted by the Senate After January 20.

Music

Seasons of Trump – Randy Rainbow.

With a Song in Her Heart – Laura Benanti as Melania.

One Day More  – James Corden.

Bye Bye Bloatus – Rufus Wainwright.

K-Chuck Radio: Some 45s  for 45

Right side up!

Transcript of Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem

Joe Biden: “We Must End This Uncivil War”

Executive Order on Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census

Executive Order: 1776 commission rescinded.

I watched this year for Nigel.  

Enjoy the world’s greatest palindrome: 1 20 2021

MORE MUSIC

I Need You – Jon Batiste.

Fanfare on Amazing Grace composed by Adolphus Hailstork.

A Musical  from Something’s Rotten.

I Say A Little Prayer – H.E.R.

Coverville 1342: The Madness Cover Story II and 1343: The Motels and Sam Cooke Cover Stories.

Close To You – MonaLisa Twins.

Seasons of Love – Broadway stars.