Weekend Reads: 9/4/2020

Over the past week I have spent a lot of time watching sports – it’s a very weird feeling, because we’re in the middle of a pandemic but at the same time it’s a comfort. I’ve watched my favorite tennis player win on Monday and then lose, two days later (as he is prone to do) and have watched most of the first week of the 2020 Tour de France (I missed the first stage on August 30th).

Sports during a pandemic, as we all know, are strange. In particular because the Tour is in August/September instead of July, there are far fewer fans than normal (and those that are watching the race are almost all masked), and the riders are almost universally masked when not actively riding their bikes on the stage. It is strange because at the US Open there are no fans (aside from fellow tennis players, coaches, and the occasional family member and journalist), they are pumping in crowd sounds when there’s no action on the court, and displaying video screens with videos of fans cheering. It is unnerving, but it is also the world we live in.

I know it’s important to find comfort in familiar things when the world is burning around us, but we must not forget the fact that the world is on fire.

I wrote some original fiction for July’s Camp Nano (an offshoot of NanoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month) and, because I am always drawn to write post-apocalyptic stories, that’s what I wrote. It’s set about 30 after this pandemic, ten years after flooding (due to climate change) destroys much of the planet. My main character was born this year and she looks back at the pandemic and is appalled at the 200,000 deaths.

When I wrote that story, it was in July and it seemed we were doing better and maybe we wouldn’t reach that dreaded number of 200,000 people needlessly dying from COVID-19. It turns out that should I ever edit that novel and turn it into something that will see the light of day, I’ll have to adjust that section.

Why? Because it is highly likely that we have already passed that 200,000 death mark:

I am luckily, so far I have lost no immediately family members to the virus, but I know people who have. I am not alone, of course, but we need to remember that every one of those 200,000 deaths were deaths of human beings. Individual people. They are both statistics and more than just numbers.

Never forget that responsibility for each and every single one of those people’s deaths from COVID-19 lies squarely on the shoulders of the current administration in the White House. They could have saved lives, they chose to end them instead.

Last weekend, Detroit held a beautiful memorial/funeral for the thousands of Detroit residents who died from COVID-19:

What do 900+ people look like? They look beautiful. They are a reminder of everything we, and this country, have had stolen from us. Artist Eric Millikin created the mural below to represent all that we have lost:

So, as you’re enjoying your three day weekend, watching sports, and enjoying the nice weather – don’t forget what’s going on in the world. Don’t forget that 200,000 people in the United States have died. Don’t forget that you can help stop this virus.

Now, for the rest of your weekend reads:

When the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shows up at a peaceful protest in battle fatigues, it’s time to pay attention. (The Atlantic – $$)

At the Republican National Convention, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow said the pandemic “was awful.” On this week’s On the Media, why some politicians and educators are using the past tense to describe an active threat. Plus, how COVID could prompt long-term changes to American higher ed.

The acclaimed novelist lost her beloved husband—the father of her children—as COVID-19 swept across the country. She writes through their story, and her grief.

And, on the occasion of the loss of Chadwick Boseman to cancer:

Rahawa Haile considers how, by sliding between the real and unreal, Black Panther frees us to imagine the possibilities — and the limitations — of an Africa that does not yet exist.

And, lastly, enjoy this superbly choreographed dance by The Kinjaz.

The Wednesday Four

Hey, it’s been 27 Weeks, over half a year and … it feels like it’s been twice that long. Week 27 was out of control. I told a few people that it used to be thing a day, but now it feels like 500. A few minutes later I joked about remembering what it was like when there was only one thing a week that was destroying our democracy. My, how things have changed and not for the better.

The links!

Resist. Tax Day March 2017. Detroit, MI.

Resist. Tax Day March 2017. Detroit, MI. (c) Kathy Drasky

Thursday Links

A collection of interesting links I’ve read throughout the week (or, really, since the last time I made a links post).

  • The Ghost Files: US historians have long complained about gaps in the National Archives. Can big-data analysis show what kinds of information the government is keeping classified? (Columbia)
  • China Gives Hong Kong Its Worst: If China wants Hong Kong residents to stop taking to the streets in protest, it should start picking better leaders. Of course, that’s exactly why an estimated 300,000 demonstrated yesterday and almost 800,000 voted in a recent unofficial referendum: to gain the right to choose the city’s chief executive officer. (Bloomberg View)
  • Hobby Lobby Is Only the Beginning: A country that cannot even agree on the idea of religious accommodation, let alone on what terms, is unlikely to agree on what to do next. A country in which many states cannot manage to pass basic anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation is one whose culture wars may be beyond the point of compromise. And a nation whose marketplace itself is viewed, for better or worse, as a place to fight both those battles rather than to escape from them is still less likely to find surcease from struggle. (New York Times)
  • The Urgent Need to Shield Journalism in the Age of Surveillance: The media landscape has been transformed by NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s decision to leak a vast cache of documents to select journalists, notably at the Guardian and the Washington Post, which made global headlines a year ago this month. And “the new challenge this year is how to maintain the Internet as somewhere for free expression and innovation,” as Michael Maness, VP of journalism and innovation at the Knight Foundation, said. (PBS)

Monday Links

Happy Monday, everyone.