Sunday, March 29, 2020

No, Covid-19 is NOT a message from God to us!

An email is circulating on the internet making this claim:

"Surprising message from Bill Gates about the coronavirus"

The liar who wrote this letter opens with these lines:
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has released a powerful message about what we can learn from the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. Bill Gates said the virus is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten.  ...multi-billionaire Gates, 64 - who donated £85 million to combat the virus last month - believes that despite the chaos, there is 'a spiritual purpose behind everything that happens'.  In an open letter, entitled 'What is the Corona/ Covid-19 Virus Really Teaching us?', he wrote....

Bill Gates did not write this.  I guarantee he did not.  It's wrong to misuse his name by passing it along, even with a question mark.

Evidence--he would not make these mistakes that appear in the letter:
1)  " perhaps we should to."
2)  "  the power of freewill "
3)  " We can choose...  to look after only our self. "
4)  "  see it as a *great corrector* " 

This fake letter uses quotation marks on the lines "I'm a strong believer" and "As I meditate," but the quotes are never closed at the end of item 14 or anywhere else.

If there were an "open letter" from Bill Gates, it would be published in the NY Times, or at least signed and dated, not passed around on the internet without the slightest bit of authentication.

The whole idea that the Covid-19 pandemic is "sent to us" by some Higher Power for any purpose is offensive to me.  The God I serve does not send us bad things " to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten."

God can take good and bad events that happen and make some limited good come out of them, but please do not attribute earthquakes and viruses to God trying to tell us something.  That is a very outdated idea though some instances of this belief appear in the Bible, especially books of the Bible that were written 2-3,000 years ago. 

In the Gospel of John, the disciples of Jesus ask him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:1-12).

Jesus answers that neither the man born blind nor his parents sinned and caused his blindness.  Then he heals the man.

As I see the scene, Jesus looks at the man with compassion and hugs him.  Then Jesus mixes his saliva with mud and gently spreads it on the man's closed eyes, at the same time giving him a positive meaning for his long years of blindness: it was all "so that God's works might be revealed in you."  

In other words, "You are special.  God has loved you all along and planned that you would meet me and be healed."

I'm not sure that the chance to meet Jesus and go down in history was that consoling to the blind man.  Maybe he wanted to argue, "I would rather have had my sight all this time.  Couldn't you pick someone else to demonstrate your miracles on?"

You don't complain, however, to a famous rabbi who is about to heal you. 

Jesus's words to the man and to his audience still contain the idea that the blindness was deliberately planned by God.  This view of God as intending every event on the face of the earth leaves us with a God who plans accidental drownings, fatal car accidents, deaths in tornadoes, even sets in motion murders and an occasional holocaust.  No.  

God allows gravity to exist, avalanches to crash down mountainsides, DNA to make random errors in reproduction of cells.  God allows people to make foolish and even evil choices.  

But the idea that there is "a spiritual purpose behind everything that happens" (as asserted in this letter)--purpose behind every earthquake, car accident, heart attack, and epidemic--is superstition masquerading as religious faith.

It sounds pious because it acknowledges God to exist and to be all-powerful.

It provides the comfort that God is watching us closely and wants good for us.

Nevertheless, it sets up a God who is monstrous, who actively intends evil for purportedly good ends.

It's like the father who beats a child in order to "correct" him or her.  

Many of us have grown up with fathers or mothers like this or worse, but it's time to give up the heresy that the Creator of the universe or universes wants to create human or animal suffering for some sort of corrective purpose.

Please!  God is powerful, but not powerful enough to manage a kind of gravity that never causes a fatal fall.  Cell reproduction apparently cannot occur without an error in the DNA every now and then.  

Viruses evolved.  They exist in one species or another, and humans who slaughter and consume smaller animals will occasionally, unwittingly, cause a virus flourishing among bats or birds to take hold in homo sapiens.

Do not jump to the conclusion that the Maker of all planned for the novel corona virus disease of 2019 to become a pandemic.  

Do not create for yourself a vain idol, a blasphemy, for the purpose of cloaking a random event with meaning.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How screen time has quadrupled

Screen-shot life expands from politics
to work, classes, meetings, worship services
The idea that meetings and work and classes can all be conducted online is wishful thinking.

I don't buy it.  I don't want to spend hours and hours at a screen just because we are all homebound.  

I'd rather just read a book or garden or write.

Al-Anon meetings--NO, not online.

Hebrew classes--NO, not the same as hearing and speaking Hebrew in a classroom.

Pilates via video--NO, not me. 

Church services online--NO thank you.  I'll light a candle at home or take a walk with a view.

Now the UCLA Extension wants me to take my quarterly writers' workshop online.  using the Extension's version of Facetime.

I took my first-ever UCLA Extension 100% online class this winter quarter, with Liz Stephens.  I'm sure she's a great person, but I never met her or the other students.  

When you're all writing memoir, it's hard enough to become vulnerable and to give helpful but gentle comments without trying to do that through the internet. Misunderstandings occur when difficult subjects are handled by email or texts.

This online class took much more time than an in-person class--all time spent in front of a screen.  Horrible for my posture and my wrists.  More screen time, anyone?  Not to mention more time spent watching cable news, texting, using Twitter, etc.

Posting my writing, reading other people's posts, submitting comments--that part wasn't so bad.  

But reading other people's comments on the readings, and then commenting on their comments on the readings, as well as reading their comments on my comments on the reading--all that was billed as "discussion." 

Which it was not.  

I've already paid for this course (when I expected it to be in a classroom), so I'll bumble along, but I certainly will not sign up for another distance learning workshop on memoir writing.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Tough Year Ahead...

My brother Bill is a surgeon in the Seattle area.  He sent me this article from the Washington Post:

"Coronavirus will radically alter the US: Here's what may lie ahead based on math models, hospital projections, and past pandemics."

Thank you so much to the authors: Joel Achenbach, William Wan, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and Ben Guarino.  

Very helpful to see rough outline of the next year or more--a series of bumps in the curve if we social distance correctly and a year or more of social distancing.  

In a nutshell:
1) A flat curve lasts longer than that curve that shoots up and then down.  It slows the rate at which people catch the virus, so it doesn't overwhelm the hospitals, but overall it's a year to 18 months until most people have been exposed and we have vaccines for Covid-19.

2) Expect 2.2 million deaths in the US (population 328 million) if there are no changes in social and work habits; 1.1 million if there are some changes.  We're unlikely to get to the limited outbreak seen by South Korea because we lost time, the whole month of February.

3) Quote from article: "Most deaths will be driven by an overwhelmed health system."

4) In 1918 "Economic pressure on business owners and workers caused the public to resist adopting restrictions."

Flatten the curve!

READ MORE in the Washington Post:

Monday, March 16, 2020

Does Putin control your vote?

President's pitch for ATTN: in 2018

President Obama's plea to get out there and vote is more important than ever for 2020.

Watch this video:

Apathy is what Russia wants.  

"My vote doesn't matter" is what Putin wants you to think.

If every American had voted in 2016, dt would not have been elected.

If all of us vote in 2020, we will be rid of him and can get on with our lives.

ATTN: is a media company based in Los Angeles, founded by  founded in 2014 by Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno

Listen to President Obama's 4.31 minute pep talk on Facebook or Twitter.

Note: it's true that nearly 3 million more votes went to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016 than went to dt.  But we needed 4 million to prevent the election of this self-labelled "stable genius."

You may say, "I live in a blue state" or "I live in a red state" so my vote wouldn't have counted.

Yes, that may be true.  But if everyone in the blue and red states voted, then people in the purple states would take notice.  Voting would be more respected in the USA.  Not voting would stand out like a purple thumb, like an invitation to tyrants: "Come, take over my country."

Enough young, thinking people would vote to overpower the votes of the 30% who wear MAGA hats.

We need your vote in 2020.

I'm not asking you to be patriotic.  

I'm not asking for two years in the Armed Services.  

I'm asking you to protect your own interests, to do the bare minimum: think and vote.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Who knew we needed a director for global health security?

Dr. Beth Cameron
NTI vice pres. for global biological policy and programs

The stupidity of our president continues to endanger us all.

Dr. Beth Cameron published this article in the Washington Post today titled, "I ran the White House pandemic office.  Trump closed it."

Her credentials:
Beth Cameron is vice president for global biological policy and programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. She previously served as the senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council.

This office was established after the 2014 Ebola epidemic.  Your average president would have known better than to close it, but dt is not average.

"Who knew that would be important?" he explained at a press conference, posing as an everyman who could not be expected to understand that an epidemic might happen.

But he's not your average Joe, he's president.  Many lives are in his hands.

Three people lost their lives in Charlottesville in 2017--Heather Heyer and two helicopter pilots.

Then 176 more people lost their lives on the Boeing 737 in Tehran that was shot down in a panic over possible war between the US and Iran.

Now 80 people have died in the US from Covid-19 because our government didn't respond fast enough--partly because there was no pandemic office in the White House to corral the president and make him take needed steps in January and early February.  

And many more died in synagogue and mosque and church mass shootings by extremists empowered by the president's rhetoric against Jews, Muslims, immigrants, and others.

The 45th president is causing Americans to lose their lives at an alarming rate.

Fortunately, there are only 235 days for him to endanger our lives before the November 3 election, when he will become a lame duck with clipped wings: March, 18 days; April-30 days; May, 31 days; June, 30 days; July, 31 days; August, 31 days; September, 30 days; October 31 days; November 3 days.

Then President Biden and Vice President Klobuchar will begin the transition and clean-up work.

Here's what Dr. Cameron writes, in part:

When President Trump took office in 2017, the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense survived the transition intact. Its mission was the same as when I was asked to lead the office, established after the Ebola epidemic of 2014: to do everything possible within the vast powers and resources of the U.S. government to prepare for the next disease outbreak and prevent it from becoming an epidemic or pandemic.
One year later, I was mystified when the White House dissolved the office, leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like covid-19.
The U.S. government’s slow and inadequate response to the new coronavirus underscores the need for organized, accountable leadership to prepare for and respond to pandemic threats.
In a health security crisis, speed is essential. When this new coronavirus emerged, there was no clear White House-led structure to oversee our response, and we lost valuable time. Yes, we have capable and committed global and national disease-prevention and management organizations, as well as state and local health departments, all working overtime now. But even in prepared cities like Seattle, health systems are struggling to test patients and keep pace with growing caseloads. The specter of rapid community transmission and exponential growth is real and daunting. The job of a White House pandemics office would have been to get ahead: to accelerate the response, empower experts, anticipate failures, and act quickly and transparently to solve problems.
She holds a Ph.D. in biology and is a member of the Council for Foreign Relations.  Read more about her.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Low-paid caregivers and Covid-19 Transmission

Serenity at a skilled nursing facility near Kirkland, Washington
Here's one way that transmission works.  

1) An underpaid caregiver works at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, but she needs two jobs to make ends meet, so she also works at another skilled nursing facility ten miles away.  

2) When the outbreak occurs at Kirkland, the CDC refuses to test the severely ill patients because none of them has traveled or been on a cruise.  Several are hospitalized, but no quarantine is implemented by the CDC.  The hospital takes quarantine measures just in case.

3) Three days after the death of one of the patients, he is tested for Covid-19 and found positive.  News goes out around the world on Feb. 29, a Saturday.

4) Caregivers are reluctant to return to Kirkland, but it's their job.  Some continue working there and at the other jobs they have.  No workers are quarantined.  No other nursing homes ask their employees if they have a second job at Kirkland.  

By Saturday, March 7, 70 workers were out sick from the Life Care Center with corona-like symptoms.  A federal team of nurses and doctors arrived to take over some of the work.

A few days earlier my cousin's daughter, whose mother lives at a nearby nursing home, was told that a caregiver from Life Care Center in Kirkland had also been working at her mom's place.

"Criminal!" she said.  

Yes, criminal on the part of the CDC and the nursing home management for not foreseeing and forestalling contamination by employees of more than one facility.

But the caregiver with two jobs probably just saw continuing to work at two places as a necessity, not a crime.  She probably has only a few sick days per year.

Do these caregivers even have health care insurance themselves?  Maybe Medicare for all is not such a bad idea.  Maybe it would help everyone to be healthier.

By Saturday, 13 residents and one visitor to the Life Care Center had died.  

Three other senior residences had reported cases by Saturday: Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Aegis Living Marymoor in Redland, and Ida Culver House Ravenna in Seattle.

Actually, the first case of Covid-19 in Washington was reported on January 20

The first individual in the United States to be confirmed as positive for the new coronavirus by the Centers for Disease Control was indeed a resident of Snohomish County, Wash. That was on Jan. 20.

This guy recovered. 

My cousin's widow and I in February
The first death, reported Feb. 29 by the US president, was a man in his 50s in Kings County, which includes Seattle.  Of course, dt said the death was a woman in her 50s, not a man.  Of course, he said this death was not related to the outbreak in a nursing home. To him, facts are elusive and unimportant.  

Meanwhile, my cousin's widow continues her quiet life in her beautiful facility.  She's about my age, 71.  She watches the squirrels outside her sunny window.  She takes herself down the hall and around the corner for her meals.  

She reads magazines but doesn't watch much news.

Probably no one has worried her with news of the new corona virus.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Is the idea of "biblical womanhood" worth fighting?

Rachel's first memoir

A year ago, before dying of an obscure virus appeared in the nightly news, Rachel Held Evans was hospitalized for a UTI and a flu-like illness. 

Things spiraled down; she had seizures, perhaps encephalitis, and was put in a coma to control them, but she never recovered.  She died May 4, 2019 at age 37.

Everyone was shocked and saddened, especially feeling for her two toddlers.

I decided to read one of her books: the first one about growing up in Dayton, Tennessee, where the Scopes monkey trial was held in July, 1925.

Earlier I had decided not to read her work because engaging in debate with advocates of "biblical womanhood" seemed so pointless.  I'm so far beyond that.

But Rachel took it seriously and gained fame for her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

She reached a lot of women with the message that the Bible supports equality for women.

She argued with many right-wing men.

My reflections about the experience of meeting her through her first book are published on the website for Christian Feminism Today:  "Respecting Rachel--At Last."

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Elizabeth Warren: Losing a dream

Elizabeth Warrem

We are grieving.  I'm in tears as I watch and rewatch Elizabeth Warren standing in front of her home in a purple quilted jacket discussing the decision to end her campaign.  

The only thing more courageous than running for president is announcing the end of that campaign.

Her voice breaks on the word "gratitude" though she continues to speak loudly and clearly, forcefully.  Her husband stands behind her.

We lost Amy Klobuchar two days ago.  Months earlier we lost Kamala Harris and Kirstin Gillibrand.

"I wonder what your message would be to the women and girls who feel like we're left with two white men to decide between, " asks a  young female reporter.

"One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises and all those little girls who are gonna have to wait four more years," she replies, her voice breaking again.  "That's gonna be hard." 

"I say this with a deep sense of gratitude for every single person who got in this fight," she continues, listing people, ending with "every single person who just moved a little in their notion of what a president of the United States should look like."

She promised that she would be taking on the issue of gender in politics in a more direct way, as Mother Jones reports but NBC didn't.

"I will stay in the fight for the hard-working folks across this country who've gotten the short end of the stick over and over.  That's been the fight of my life."

"I have no regrets at all... We have ideas now that we talk about now, that we just weren't talking about even a year ago," she continues, listing a few of them.

  • a 2% wealth tax
  • universal child care
  • cancelling student loan debt for 43 million Americans
  • raising Social Security payments

The two big causes of her defeat are "what a president should look like"--a male--and how to get the current male threat to our nation out of the White House.  

These were the two impediments to her becoming president.  If people weren't so terribly afraid of four more years of dt, she might have been the nominee.

Meanwhile, the ogre continues to flail about.  His tweet on her dropping out was so mean, once again using that ridiculous insult to her and to a beloved historical figure, Pocahontas.  His every move underlines the urgency of getting him out of the White House and off the stage.

All those months of watching her and Amy do well in the debates.  Then and in 2016 it seemed possible to have a woman president.  But now the most we can hope for is Amy to become the running mate of Joe Biden.  

The voters have given up on everything except getting dt out of the White House.  Republicans blocked the only legal means of removing him, and he immediately tried to start a war with Iran.  

244 days left of enduring his presidency--after I get through today.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Covid-45, the crowned virus

Corona virus

We have a crowned virus in the White House.

Corona means "crown" in Latin.

The president has virtually been crowned.

Impeachment and trial don't remove him from office.  He defies the Constitution.

He calls anything he doesn't like "a hoax."

His son claimed that Democrats "want millions" to die of the Corona virus--all because many are informing the public and trying to confine the outbreak.
Kim Jong-un

He nearly started a war with Iran.  He obeys Putin.  

He ignored Saudi the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

He admires Kim Jong-un.

His words support white supremacists, who shoot up Jewish worshippers, Muslims in mosques, and black people in churches.

He has infected us all with despair.  


We must get rid of him.

There are 27 days left in March.  30 in April.  31 in May.  30 in June.  31 in July.  31 in August.  30 in September.  31 in October.  And then three days in November until we have a verdict in the election.  

A total of 241 days left until his defeat--not counting today.  

Go for it.  Stop the virus.

Read Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century.