Watchin’ Marlins Baseball

just sitting in the Family Room watching the Marlins play on a little league field in Buffalo, New York. They’re playing the Toronto Blue Jays, who are banned from their home in Canada. Guess Justin doesn’t want any sickly Americans invading his country..can’t say I blame him. The Marlins are ahead 1/0 in the bottom of the 5th. Hope they keep up their winning ways.

back to talkin’ about Smiley (not done with that topic yet..What? You got an issue with the topic? Oh..ok..gonna talk about it anyway..

The movie version of Call for the Dead, retitled A Deadly Affair, Starred James Mason as George Smiley, aka Charles Dobbs. There’s a character called Elsa Fennon who’s an essential part of the plot. Simone Signoret played Elsa. Simone was considered a French national treasure in her day. Her performance as the wife of an alleged spy and survivor of the Holocaust was worth watching for her subtlety. Her dialogue pretty much came straight out of the book, which made watching her say the words even more interesting. Le Carre writes wonderful dialogue, terse and evocative. Simone handles it really well, considering that English is her second language.

I Googled Signoret, just to see if she was close to end of life when this movie was made. She had plenty of life left, almost another 20 years, working to the end. She remained married to Yves Montand, which seemed very odd for two reasons. First: Yves had an affair with Marilyn Monroe when they made a film together. Second: apparently, Yves sexually abused Simone’s daughter from her first marriage for decades. Who knows if she knew, but the first transgression with Marilyn should have been enough by itself. But maybe Simone and Yves were wed in name only..?

I started to watch The Spy Who Came in from the Cold last night prior to going to sleep. It came out in ‘65, filmed in black & white with a great sound track by a guy named Sol Kaplan. Sol had his career interrupted by the HUAC putting him on the Blacklist. The sound track for A Deadly Affair was done by Quincy Jones, and was wholly inappropriate for the film. Sidney Lumet was the director, and since it came out in ‘67, guess the suits thought a Shaft-like sound track was a good idea. It wasn’t. Also, Sidney was married to Lena Horne’s daughter, so maybe that figured into it..I’ll have to look. Yep..he was married to Lena’s daughter when he made the film.

Back to The Spy etc. Richard Burton was Alec Leamas, a man caught trying to have one last shot at redemption for an “operations man”. He participates in a setup that is supposed to sacrifice a few participants in the scheme in order to get a fellow named Mundt discredited and shot by the East Germans. Things go awry (of course) and Leamas achieves his redemption .. in a way. Burton was married to Liz Taylor at the time, so this was his atonement for her and Cleopatra. The plot of this story is far more opaque than Call for the Dead. It is also rather critical of MI5 for using and discarding people to achieve dubious ends. This notion is boldly explored in several of le Carre’s books, most notably The Little Drummer Girl and Tinker, Tailor. We can watch the author reveal more and more of his disillusion with the spy service as time progresses. He never did get over the woman in his life.

So that’s about it for that..I think I’m done with the topic..unless something else comes up.

A Smile is Just a Frown Turned..You Know the Rest

Let’s talk about the character called George Smiley. Who, you ask? John Le Carré, aka David Cornwell’s, alter ego in his spy stories. Why George? Because I say so, that’s why. I told you I’m not talking about anything that makes me mad or sad or crazy, so we’re talking let retch ur and sin eh mah…got it?

Book Cover from the Version I Read

Le Carré introduced Smiley in his debut novel, Call for the Dead. It certainly wasn’t his best effort, but then neither was it his worst. What he gave us in that first novel was a keen insight into both the character of Smiley, and about the writer himself. Let me ‘splain.

Le Carré was at Oxford for his late college years, putting forth just enough talent to get himself recruited for MI5, the Secret Service. He learned German as a teenager, and then studied Germany philosophy at Oxford. That’s how he described Smiley exactly in this first book. It was MI5 that made David adopt the pen name le Carré before he was allowed to publish A Call for the Dead.

Mason as Smiley, Doing his Best to Show his pain at Ann’s Infidelity.

Now, as to the actors, we’ll start with the first George Smiley, in the person of an actor called Rupert Davies. It was a small but critical role in the first movie made of any of the novels, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. Two years later, James Mason was Smiley, but not Smiley. Apparently another studio owned the rights to the name, so they changed Smiley to Charles Dobbs. That didn’t really work, but Mason does his best to make it so. This is when le Carré’s antipathy toward wives – or former wives – is explored in the person of Ann Smiley, neé Lady Sercumb, who’d been his boss’ secretary. Coincidentally (not really), David Cornwall was married to a woman who’s middle name was Ann for 17 years. Art imitating life? Wow – write what you know, but the former Mrs. Cornwall was probably pissed about how she was portrayed in these stories. The fictional Ann is chronically unfaithful, for reasons that are never explored from her perspective, only his. His pain. His anger. His lust for her. Too bad – her back story would have very likely included some form of sexual abuse at an early age. Betcha.

Alec Guinness as Smiley – definitely a better role than Obi Wan Kenobi?

Denholm Eliot, later Indiana Jones’ sidekick in that familiar series, played Smiley, but I don’t think anybody saw him. Everyone is familiar with the two most famous Georges: Alec Guinness on BBC television and Gary Oldman in the movies. That would be in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which I think is le Carré’s best creation. Gary said he hadn’t watched Alec’s version of George, not wanting to be influenced by it. But both men managed to catch the essence of Smiley: fastidious, clever, honorable. Or honourable. We’re talkin’ Brits here, after all.

Poor George..Naughty George..Clever George – all Things to somebody

There’s a scene in the movie version of T,T,S,S where Oldman as Smiley sees Ann, the ever philandering wife, out ‘necking’ with one of George’s co-workers outside the building wherein there’s a party in full swing. Just the way Oldman looked for her in the building, then seeing her outside that said he really ‘got’ George. Ann was George’s only Achilles heel, and it was a bad case. Oldman didn’t say anything, it was just the looks of fear when she isn’t around, then a look that said he’s close to losing his lunch when he realizes what’s going on. Of course, she’s being manipulated by said Smiley co-worker (ref: my surmising about her above), but George is always the one that pays the price. Then he goes on to solve the problem at hand, rescue the day, and Ann returns to him. Wash..rinse..repeat.

So that’s it for George Smiley. Read the books, see the movies. David Cornwall, aka John le Carré, is well worth reading, and his movies are well worth watching. So sayeth I.

Who Knows What Day It is?

Or how long ’til the election, or any of the factoids I used to rely on to keep me on an even keel. The boat is upside down; but so what? Ride the wave! Ride the wave.

The Orient Queen in Beirut – victim of the big blast
that may portent the end of Lebanon

I will only talk about useless and inane things for the duration ’til 11/3, per guidance and direction from cousin in law Ray. That is a way to keep puttin’ one foot in front of t’other, I suppose. We shall see.

First up: last episode of Perry Mason tonight, wherein we shall find out about poor Baby Charlie, the pawn in this complex game set in the 30’s and essentially serves as the prequel for the old Raymond Burr series from the 50’s. It no doubt will also set the stage for Perry Mason II and PM III – etc, where our noble but flawed hero will save innocent victims from the hangman’s noose, firing squad and ole’ sparky. Matthew Rhys, the Welshman fresh off being a Russian/American or the other way around spy in The Americans, is sooo good in this role. The wardrobe is right; the hair, the cars – even down to the shoes. It hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves from Rotten Tomatoes, but I guess ya gotta be old to appreciate the story. Besides, HBO isn’t all that popular anymore. They occasionally try to make good television. What’s up with that?

Then I watched Hitmen with Mel and Sue. They were the adoreable introducers on The British Baking Show, who left after a dispute about something or other with the management. That killed BBS, of course – think Top Gear and getting rid of obnoxious but charming Jeremy.Clarkson. BBC thought they were doing the right thing. Viewers didn’t care and now the three cuties are doing an occasional gig via Amazon. C’est la vie.

Mel and Sue as Hired Killers. Right…and I’m a Nubian Princess

Oh, back to Hitmen. Terrible..awful..stinky…reaally bad. First of all, trying to imagine those two gals as killers for hire is tough. Second, it’s on the new NBC Peacock network, which is obscure at best. Third, like most Brits, they swallow their words, so you have to try to figure out how to turn on Closed Captioning to follow the plot. Good luck. Took me thirty minutes. Then I felt bad for doing it, because I really wasn’t missing anything. The show makes Mel (the blonde one) look like a dolt, and Sue doesn’t really react to her stupid ways very much. I think it must be what is referred to as “British” humor, which would be fine if it were in the vein of, say Monty Python. It isn’t. It’s in the vein of black humor that doesn’t in any way feel right. So don’t watch it – waste of time and, in fact, downright annoying.

Ernest Hard at Work in Africa?

Then there’s trolling for anything interesting on the net, and from Medium: advice from Ernest Hemingway on writing. Hmm..maybe interesting…here it is. Stop when what you write is good, and you know what happens next. Wow..how clever. That’s what gets shared these days as good essay writing..sharing that pithy tidbit.

Baseball is back, in spite of multiple teams’ having been afflicted with the Cvirus. My former boys in Oakland (ref: years ago posts – none lately) are doing extremely well, and the Miami Marlins are doing ok, given the fact that they had to miss four games because of the Cvirus. They lost last night, because of poor pitching. The Marlins have more than $10 million worth of talent out sick, with most of the victims from the bullpen. So the fact that they’ve done this well thus far is because a) the Orioles suck; and b) the team has developed some sense of esprit de’corps with this illness – underdog fever I guess you could call it. We shall see where they end up, what with having a low end payroll and all.

Sounds Like How I feel these days

OK, that’s it – I’m back. I’m tired of taking my temp, and the oxygen and stuff thing, so Bronx cheer to that. Be glad I’ve given ya this much, dammit!

102/130/8

Portland Moms – God Bless ‘EM

The Portland Moms are still there, withstanding tear gas and attacks from the federales. There was valdalism and damage at Portland, early on, in solidarity with that which was going on in Minneapolis. But once law enforcement arrived and started attacking, things went from bad to terrible. I’m sure The Idiot in Chief chose Portland because it’s Portland, for chrissake. Blue Country. Scaarry, right? Making political hay from a national tragedy is unspeakably obscene. Shame on you. You have single handedly diminished the office of the president. It will never be the same.

Dr. Fauci, A National Treasure. God Bless Him, Too

Baseball started tonight, and John has a subscription to what’s left of the season through the MLB app. It’s free if you have TMobile, which he does through work. We’ll be able to watch Marlins and Athletics games in this abbreviated season. Dr. Fauci threw out the first pitch at the game tonight between the Yankees and the Natties. It was called for rain halfway through, but the Yankees were winning, so no biggie. His pitch was wide and wild, but the announcer proclaimed that he didn’t have time to warm up because he’s been so busy. Anthony Fauci is a national treasure, and bless that announcer for saying that. There are occasional bright spots in an overwise dismal landscape.

I finished Chapter 3 of The Reconvening today, and I’m pretty happy with how the first book is coming along. I am barely using the outline, instead relying on my instincts of where the story should go. I feel free to do that because I’m really comfortable with the characters. We’ll see what happens and if that freedom continues. I hope so. It’s much more enjoyable than being a slave to a previous set of notions.

Kitty Genovese

I’ve sent Chapter 1 of Who Killed Kitty to the Lake Park Writers for their review and consideration. I re-read it through yesterday, and I was pretty happy with how it had turned out – geez, six years ago or so. The story is solid, and I just need to rework some of the dialogue and flow. But overall, it’s OK. John needs to show me how to FTP a file to my Word Press as I’m missing a couple of songs. Each Chapter title is a song, and the tune is embedded just below the heading. I listened to them while I read each chapter. There’s a couple that really got to me: Deja Vu All Over Again by John Fogarty was rather evocative, and the words to the 38 Special song Second Chance are particularly on point, bringing me to tears as I read the story I wrote all those years ago. Stories take on lives of their own, you know. Anyway, the songs that are missing are Most of the Time, which holds great significance for me, and the Last Cheater’s Waltz, a great Emmy Lou Harris tune. I’ll have to find them and with John’s help, embed them in their appropriate places in the story.

My temperature is 97.9° F. My blood oxygen is 95% and my heartbeat is 70 bpm. There are no apparent health issues at this time. Good.

103/129/7

Erik the younger had a birthday two days ago. I tried to call him and wish him a good one, but he’d gone fishing. Today I spoke with him, and he had great news. The government has deemed him 100% permanently disabled from his war wounds from Iraq and Afghanistan. This opens up a world of opportunity for him in terms of college scholarships for his children and avoidance of property taxes. I am really happy for him and Tiffany. He deserves everything the government can provide for him, given his contributions.

This is the best thing I’ve ever seen

Let’s talk about Portland Moms and their protests. I believe that is just about the coolest thing I have ever seen. Their signage is amazing. One of them has “Momma” written on the back of amotorcycle helmet she’s wearing to protect herself from the government’s goons. But when I take a step back, I say, is that what it’s come to – that the mothers of America have to wear head protection to stand between their children and representatives of the United States government? This is simply unacceptable. Years ago, I came to the conclusion that moms would be the salvation of this country. Now we’re beginning to see that prediction come true. It’s about time, eh?

Will we have an effective vaccine by December? I’m skeptical

The Cvirus continues unabated, and growing, but the death rate, measured as total deaths/total cases continues to decrease. The government has agreed to give Pfizer $2 billion for a vaccine that’s supposed to be ready by the end of the year. Color me skeptical. Anything good that gets promised between now and November 3rd is suspect. If the cases are far exceeding the numbers that should be produced by increased testing, as indicated in an article in today’s NY Times, then that means more deaths for the foreseeable future. Will the numbers increase when children go back to school? That is the question that has not been answered at all, much less to my satisfaction. Robin intends to home school Kiernan with another group of moms. Emily is going to get a GED and go after a certificate in a medical field from Palm Beach State College beginning in the spring. I support both those strategies. I suspect a whole lot of other parents and grandparents would too.

I participated in the Monday evening gathering of the Palm Beach Gardens Writers group two days ago. We read our stories and gathered feedback from the group. A member I hadn’t met before named Joan was there, and provided a great story based on the leader’s prompt. Toward the end of the meeting she talked about a YA project she was working on that was in the ‘beta reader’ process. I volunteered to be a beta reader, and she sent it to me. The story was nuanced, detailed and definitely would be of interest to a young adult. She intends for it to be the beginning of a series, and I like that. I hope we will become friends, since she seems very convivial and thoughtful.

What I have in Mind for the Tallahassee house stairs

We are still working on the improvements to the Tallahassee house, but self-distancing has made that difficult to say the least. We need to take beds, headboards, tables and chairs up with us. Once there, we need to paint the stair steps and put down a runner. I’m itching to get started, but until Cvirus issues abate, that really isn’t smart. All in good time.

My temperature is 98.1° F. My blood oxygen is 97% and my heartbeat is 73 bpm. No issues. That’s a relief.

106/126/4

It is Sunday, and we made the couch switch with Jopie. John’s old couch looks great in her apartment. The one she had looks good in our family room. Win win!

The Canadian Rockies British Columbia

One hundred six days left until the election. According to nearly every media source, things are going very badly for the incumbent. Gee, that is such a pity. I think if he were to win another term, I’d seriously contemplate moving to Canada. I did a little research on that, and other than being terribly cold most of the year, it’s a nice place, full of nice people who have always welcomed runaways from America. That includes slaves after the Fugitive Slave Act, young men avoiding the draft, and old ladies who can’t bear the thought of another 4 years with that very bad man. So we shall see. I think it is doable.

Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman

Speaking of the Fugitive Slave Act, we watched Harriet last night on HBO. The gal who played Harriet Tubman is called Cynthia Erivo, a British actress. She was great, but I knew I’d seen her somewhere else. I looked her up on IMDB.com and realized she was Holly Gibney in The Outsider on HBO. She was the best thing about that show, which frankly was quite mediocre. The critics found the plot of Harriet predictable, which it decidedly was. But she is a stellar performer, and undoubtedly will have lots more work in the future – in all kinds of roles. Why do I say that? Because Harriet made its budget back and then some – by a factor of 3. That’s what it takes to make more movies that are allegedly aimed at a demographic or an ethnic group. That’s a shame that we have to categorize films that way. Either the writing and acting are good, the sets look genuine and the editing works. Or not. Shouldn’t matter what ethnicity or age the characters are. Or even if they’re real or fictional. A good story is a good story. Nuff on that.

Mexican Beans

We went to Vero last night and had a picnic with Pat & Tom & Bob & Susan. We had a great time, the weather cooperated and it was good to see my friends again. I took Mexican Beans, a recipe I got from Milk Street and everybody – including me – liked the dish. It was a lot of work, but worth it.

Next week I’m going to start getting the materials together to do the spare room. We need it done by the end of the month as Ray & LeeAnn will likely stay with us a few days before they venture north. They sold their North Palm house, so it’s back to Atlanta for them. Hopefully they’ll sell that and do something with the North Carolina house so they can move back down here for good. Ray is my writing buddy, and he’s been great for giving me ideas. I hope I do the same for him.

Drive by Testing – will it continue if there’s no more money?

Over 60,000 cases today, and as usual, we’re number 1 in cases but not in deaths. However, I’ve noticed a trend of few deaths reported on Sundays. So if there’s a big spike tomorrow, it’ll likely be because people who report these stats took Sunday off. God bless ’em – they deserve a day off. But we shouldn’t take a day off from being careful. Kirsten and Craig’s tests both came back negative. That’s good – so far.

My temperature is 97.9° F. My blood oxygen is 94% and my heartbeat is 84 bpm. That’s a bit higher than normal. Have to keep an eye on that.

108/124/2

Did I mention that Kiernan tested negative for the Cvirus? Since my days run together I can never recall which day I found out. So I was counting all those days for nothing. Will that teach me? Nope. Every day is a new adventure.

Not Albert’s God

I finished reading Einstein’s book The World As I See It. Nothing to write home about, as it’s just a collection of his letters and various musings. But it certainly made clear I was right in my assumption about what Einstein was telling Rabbi Marcus. He affirms his belief there is no afterlife, and hints at his position that is reflected in the letter he wrote to the man. Einstein considered himself a deeply religious man, but not in the sense of an anthropomorphic deity with a long white robe and nearly equally long beard. No, he calls it a cosmic religion, where he believes in the power of the logic and order of the universe. I recall another quote that has often been misinterpreted of his: God does not place dice with the universe. This was in response to being questioned about what he thought of quantum mechanics. According to Scientific American, this is what he actually said in a letter to Max Born:

Heresy, Right? Not according to Hawking

Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.

Albert just couldn’t wrap his head around the notion of a probabilistic universe. Hawking certainly could. He said, Not only does God play dice, he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen. Imagine what Newton would have thought of quantum mechanics: his head – the same one allegedly assaulted by a falling apple – would have exploded. Ain’t it always that way? Einstein says so. In another of his essays, he talks about the strength and determination of the early scientists, and how they soldiered on, even when what they were saying went against dogma. I think that was what Einstein believed was the true religion. I have a similar sense about the power and wonder of all things universal, as I wrote a few blog posts ago in response to the writing prompt about gazing at the stars. Imagine that – Einstein and me on the same page. Speaking of the prompt, I wonder if I’ll be invited back to the Palm Beach Gardens writing group on Monday? If I were a betting woman – which I often am – I’d wager not. We shall see. It’d be OK if I wasn’t.

Keep trying y’all – we’ll get there

Another booming day in the Cvirus business: over 74,000 cases. Fauci predicted we’d get to a hundred thousand in the near future, and we appear to want to help him keep his credibility by reaching that benchmark. No end in sight, but what I find most interesting are the patterns that form. I think it must be just the nature of pandemics. The US is number one in the world with 377,000 plus cases. The number two country, Brazil, has about half as many cases as the US. If you look at Florida, the number one county is Miami-Dade, with nearly 78,000 cases. Broward is number two, with about half as many cases as Miami Dade. I suspect if you break it down even further – say by city or even further down to zip code, you’d see the same pattern between #1 and #2. The only grouping that breaks that pattern is the list of states where New York is still #1, but California, Florida and Texas are catching up fast. I think that’s because New York is through with their first round of cases, having shut down long enough to weather the storm. I don’t think the next three states have been nearly as effective with the mask wearing, distancing and shutting down gathering places. According to the modeling, by November 1, New York will have a bit over 35,000 deaths, which is just a few thousand more than they have now. California will have a little over 21,000 and Florida will have a little over 19,000. That means the number of deaths will triple in those two states by November. So again the pattern shows itself, with New York nearly twice either California or Florida. But what happens if the virus returns in the fall? Will we learn anything from the first round? That is the million dollar question – actually, more like the trillion dollar question. It remains to be seen.

Bill Lumberg, Milton’s nemesis. I have that red stapler! Probably already told you that..damn coronabrain!

I think the problem yesterday with my temperature and heartbeat was the start of a urinary tract infection. A couple of days on antibiotics, and things are getting back to normal. My temperature is 98.2° F., my blood oxygen level is 96% and my heartbeat is 74 bpm. All good. Now, if I could just get a decent night’s sleep, that would be greeaaatt, as Lumberg would say. We shall see if it works out that way tonight.

109/123/1

Took food over to the girls yesterday, so that count must begin again. I wore my mask when I went in, but of course Kiernan must provide hugs – it’s in her nature. She swears she’s virus-free, so I must take her at her word. The important thing is they have food to eat, as she’s hit a growth spurt and is getting more and more looking like her Nana Revak (tall and skinny).

Robin is in Charge

Robin says she’s in charge of all billing at her place of employment now, and she is thrilled about that. Now the question is: will they vaue her work enough to give her the pay level they promised beginning in August? If she’s it for their billing, it seems like they would be smart and follow through on their commitment. But I’m not entirely sure smart has anything to do with it. It’s more likely the decrease in patient level may preclude their keeping their promise. We’ll see. I hope they’re smart.

I just finished listening to a webinar with the financial folks at the NY Times and Maggie Haberman about the virus and the Trump White House. I have to say I didn’t really learn anything new. If I were to summarize, there is an expectation that the downward slide for Trump will continue unless there is a major change in our prospects for dealing with the virus. There you have it. Anyone surprised? No, I didn’t think so.

No Afterlife, Sayeth Dr. E

I finished Einstein and the Rabbi, and Naomi Levy did find the original letter from Rabbi Marcus to Einstein. It confirmed my supposition: Marcus was angry with Einstein about the book he wrote The World As I See It. As I mentioned in the last post, Marcus had just lost his son to polio and was overcome with grief. He reads Einstein’s book, and in it, Einstein says the notion of an afterlife is nonsense. We’re just dust. That made Rabbi Marcus angry, and he asks Einstein to reconsider his position on the afterlife. You saw his answer. No change in position at all. In fact, I’d say he affirmed what he’d previously written, and by way of solace, told Marcus that there’s no such thing as ‘reality’ anyway, so why worry? Talk about insensitivity? Einstein was undoubtedly on the autism spectrum, so lack of empathy comes along with that.

It looks comfortable – but is it?

Jopie came over yesterday to try out John’s sofa. It has the reclining feature on both sides, and she found it much more comfortable for her than the one she’d purchased from Ashley Furniture. All have agreed that we should swap with her to preserve her health and physical well being. Depending on the weather this weekend, we’ll try for Sunday afternoon to do the trade, bringing hers over here first and then returning with John’s.

My sleep patterns have gotten messed up again. I woke up at 5:15 this morning, and then went back to sleep about 8 for a couple of hours. That will mess me up tonight for sure. Scullcap will be the answer? One can only hope.

My temperature is 99.0° F. (!) My blood oxygen is 97% and my heartbeat is 87 bpm (!!) No bueno. What is happening here? What it is ain’t exactly clear.

111/122/3

Today was an exciting day: I paid my income tax bill (with a day to spare) and returned my books and CDs to the library. I know, I know – such excitement, how can I contain my enthusiasm? Yeah…

Goodbye, Sitting Bull (or whoever you are)

I did manage to polish up Chapter 1 and write a bit on Chapter 2 of The Reconvening. While doing some research on routes from Oraibi to Colorado Springs, I internetedly stumbled on Navajo Times. There was local politics, local gossip, and coverage of the name change for the Washington Redskins. What I found most poignant were the obituaries. They account for them weekly, and the latest ones were dated July 9th. Included in the obituaries was a father and son death notice, the Dahozys, Wilson Jr. and Jason. Wilson was 70; Jason was 42. Jason died first, because his obituary lists one of his survivors as Wilson. I assume they both died from Covid.

The population of the Navajo Nation is 173,667 – or at least it was before the Cvirus. With 401 deaths thus far, that makes the death rate double the world average. It is apt to think about this in the context of the story I’m writing, of people having to move away from this native area because it can no longer sustain them. The same could be said now of the Navajo Nation. Life was tough before; in the age of the virus it’s likely unsustainable. What will become of these people? God only knows.

Not a Guy I’d Ask for Comfortable Words

Speaking of what will become of people, I’ve begun to read Rabbi Naomi Levy’s book Einstein and the Rabbi. The Rabbi in question was Rabbi Robert Marcus, who volunteered as a chaplain in World War II and saved hundreds of children who managed to survive in Buchenwald Concentration camp. He was doing good work for the Jewish people when his own son died after contracting polio when swimming in a lake in the Catskills. Rabbi Marcus was bereft, and wrote to Einstein, looking for some kind of guidance. This is what Einstein gave him.

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us, ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it, but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”

Now Rabbi Levy is overjoyed at this message to a bereft colleague; I’m not so sure she is grasping what he’s saying. Her interpretation is that all humans are “intimately connected and that we are blind to this truth.” I don’t think that’s what Einstein was saying at all. Here’s my take on it, one sentence or so at a time.

The curvature of the bowl distorts the fish’s perception of reality – poor thing

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space.” OK..each person is a small part of what makes up the whole of their world, discrete in size and given a certain length of time on earth. Then “He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.” An optical delusion of his consciousness. Does this sound familiar? Think Stephen Hawking, the goldfish in the bowl and how it perceives itself with respect to the rest of the world? Check that out if it’s unfamiliar. Then “The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion.” Okay, if I free myself from this delusion – that I am something separate from the rest – then what am I? Finally, “Not to nourish it, but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.” Rabbi Levy sees connectedness. I see the opposite – if you don’t feed your perception that you are unique – if you recognize that you are – whatever it is you are – then you have peace of mind. No more responsibility. You’re a goldfish in a bowl. Your insignificance renders you guilt free.

Mileva and the Two Einstein Boys

I don’t find anything spiritual in any of what he said. I think he’s saying there is no picture- or theory-independent concept of reality. Everything depends on your perspective. That borders on nihilism, which got Hawking in a lot of trouble with religiosos. Yet, Einstein says once you get the concept, it is the ‘true religion’. Does that mean you’re free of earthly concerns – like the pain of losing a child? Recall, Einstein abandoned his two children when he left his first wife Mileva for his cousin Elsa. Albert and Mileva also had a child before they were married; the girl either was given away or died of scarlet fever. As such, I think Einstein was probably the last guy I’d ask for solace if I were grieving the loss of a child. His track record wasn’t so good.

Enough about all that – I’ll leave Rabbi Levy to her illusions and go back to research for the trip to Colorado Springs by my intrepid little tribe.

My temperature is 97.9° F. My blood oxygen is 96%. My heartbeat is 67 bpm. I’m good.

112/121/2

Had to start the count over again, as the kids were here on Saturday. Nobody had a fever, but it means renewed risk, nonetheless. It’s just a number, anyway, right?

I was reading a piece in The Atlantic about herd immunity by James Hamblin. In it, he talks about numbers – lots of numbers. Is the level at which we achieve the appropriate R0 reached at 20 percent? Could be. How about 70 percent? Some believe so. What? As usual, the answer is, “It depends.” Naturally!

Small changes one place translate to big movement elsewhere

Obvious next question: what does it depend on? Well, there was lots of talk about differential equations and weather forecasting – how about the butterfly effect from chaos theory? Yeah, OK. But answer the question: what does it depend on? Answer: it DEPENDS ON OUR BEHAVIOUR. Yeah, I know – spelt like the Brits. Guess I’m in a Britty kind of mood tonight.

Note wide open mouth – not good

Yes, Virginia, if you wear your mask and wash your hands and stay out of rowdy bars, you significantly decrease the likelihood that you’ll get the virus. Conversely, brats braying and behaving badly in bars will significantly increase the likelihood that more of ALL OF US will get the virus. Huh? But if I’m good and stay home, won’t that protect me? Sure it will. Do you go to the grocery store? Uh, yeah, but only once a week. Do you send your husband to the restaurant for takeout meals? Uh, yeah, but he doesn’t stay very long and he wears his mask. OK, wonderful. But back to the brats : if they give it to the person checking out my groceries or to the person at Duffy’s handing the bag to Erik, then our chances of getting it go up.

Certainly Can..sometimes an A is not a good thing

There’s another point that the folks talkin’ to Hamblin emphasize: heterogeneity. That means the degree to which we get sick varies, depending on those factors you’ve likely read about. What are the factors? OK, you force me to talk about it. First and foremost: age. Over 80, and you’re toast. 70 to 80, the risk factor drops by 50%. 60 to 70 it drops again. But if I’m 70, do I get to the lower number or the higher number? Well, what about those other factors. Do I have Type A blood? Indeed I do. Well, sorry – that just increased your risk factor. Why blood type? Who the hell knows – something genetic, maybe. But the numbers are there so be aware. By the way: Erik has Type A blood too, and he’s 74. So we’re in the same soup, sadly.

African Americans and Hispanics have higher risk levels, but that may be an environmental/social/economic factor. Nobody knows for sure. But this I do know for sure. When you look at the graph that shows the potential number of deaths from coronavirus between now and November 1, everyone behaving, wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing makes an enormous difference. See for yourself.

Green is universal masks. Red is mandates easing (which they currently are – like Disney opening). The difference is 2.5 times the deaths (around 10k versus 25k). The purple line is the project, expected to be 17,472. We’re currently at 4300, third behind New York and California. According to the California graphic, they’ll end up between 12 and 17,000. If we stay on the current path, we will pass California in our number of deaths. That is sorry news.

So there you have it. Thursday there’s another Scripps webinar about vaccines for influenza and covid. I hope we’re making some progress there. People can only take so much before they do foolish things.

My temperature is 98.1° F. My blood oxygen is 97% and my heartbeat is a sluggish 65 bpm. Must be the Britty thing.