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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Will Howard County ever get a homegrown Congressperson?

      Maryland has one of the most gerrymandered congressional maps in the United States.  Being centrally located in the state we are used to be pulled into many directions to keep elected officials from other counties elected.  We have always been represented by Baltimore-based officials.  When we moved to Howard County we were in the district with western Maryland.  Now we get divided among Baltimore districts.  Wouldn't it be nice to have Howard County with over 300,000 residents according to the latest Census figures kept whole one day and have a chance to have a locate official become our congressperson?


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Maybe saving Earth is better than the alternative

     When I saw the pictures from Mars taken by the Perseverance rover and learned that the temperature was minus 40 degrees with an atmosphere that was 1 % of Earth's it reminded me of how we should appreciate what we have on Earth.  Messing with our climate may mean that future generations won't have the environment that I saw on a recent morning in Columbia. The contrast is stark.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Stages of life in "Cicada time"?


   The return of the cicadas reminds me how fast time passes.  Has it really been 17 years since the last time this group came alive?  The last time they were here we were middle-aged parents with kids in college and the time before that we were working parents with young children.  Now we are living this experience as aged retirees.  We have to build a lot of living in before they return again as it will be the last time we will experience this invasion.  We are all living our lives in "cicada time".


    These are the holes we will start to see in the ground around our trees.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Saturday brain teaser--Who was our least experienced presidential candidate?

    I know that question might lead us to a recent president but the one I remember goes in a very different direction.  I was recently reminded of something I had forgotten.  In 1968 the Yippies nominated a pig named Pigasus for their presidential candidate. 

    This farcical effort to ridicule the two major-party nominees (Humphrey and Nixon) ended with the pig confiscated and some of the Yippies jailed.  One policeman even told one of the Yippies they would have to stay in jail because the pig had "squealed on them."  Who said the police don't have a sense of humor?

Maybe our nasty politics today could use a Yippie intervention today.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Something strange happened when I got my vaccine shot

 I got a vaccine shot and no one asked me about payment. Wouldn't that be a nice way to get all our health care? Why does it take a pandemic for that to happen in the United States?

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Why is Howard County doing so much better with the COVID-19 virus?


      If you haven't been noticing, Howard County has one of the lowest (if not the lowest) positivity rates for the virus (one of the few counties under 5%) and one of the highest vaccination rates in Maryland (3rd highest rate and the only non-rural county scoring so high).  We are used to having Howard County recognized as one of the best places to live in America for so long maybe we have just become accustomed to being good at most community aspects.   Is the high vaccination rate the reason we have a low positivity rate?  Is that we have many white-collar workers who have been working from home? Is our highly educated population more willing to socially distance and wear masks? Is our liberal political population less influenced by the distorted messaging from the right-wing political world that discredits the harm of the virus?  Is our affluent population more health conscience and more likely to have access to good health care?  The answer probably involves a little of each of these factors.  Another reason to feel fortunate to live in a Rouse-designed community.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

The back and forth of politics


     Watching the first 100 days of the Biden administration reminds one of how we seem to swing from one extreme to another in politics.  With the Biden administration, we see one of the most competent administrations following one of the most incompetent administrations--the Trump administration.  After having an administration that regularly appointed persons with no background for the jobs they were appointed to, the Biden administration has appointed very competent persons to hold those positions.  Remember Ben Carson, a surgeon, being appointed to be HUD Secretary because he grew up in public housing?  With majorities in both houses of Congress, the Trump administration had almost no legislative victories of any significance.  Biden has accomplished one of the biggest legislative victories in the COVID Relief package with the narrowest of political majorities.

     This reminds one of the swings such as the oldest president, Eisenhower, followed by the youngest elected president in Kennedy.  We saw the generational change again moving from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton.  The corrupt Nixon administration followed by the "I will never tell a lie" administration of Jimmy Carter.  The Carter administration was tagged as the "malaise administration" that was followed the "morning in America" optimistic Reagan administration.

      If the Biden administration can continue with retaining the image of a competent administration I can't wait to see what type of candidate the Republicans can come up with in a few years.  We can apparently write off Matt Gaetz from that possibility but the Republicans have a whole bunch of other strange possibilities.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Trying to "dress up" racism


      The effort today to mislabel suppressing votes from minorities, which has turned states like Georgia and Arizona into Democrat states, as "voter integrity laws" is no more valid than the argument that the Civil War was about "states rights" and not about protecting slavery as an institution. 


     New York Times article on the history of restricting voting methods.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

A sign of the times at the Columbia Mall


    The Columbia Mall (OK, I know technically it is the Mall in Columbia) has gone through a number of changes since it first opened.  More of its features are outside of the main mall building.  With a movie complex and restaurants behind the Mall, many of the people parked in the parking lot are not in the Mall.   Some of the anchor department stores are no more.  Now the Lidl grocery store will be an anchor where the Sears store once was.  It remains to be seen if this type of change will make the Mall more viable in a time of online shopping.


      The Mall will soon be a mass vaccination center. 


Friday, April 2, 2021

Digital passports: latest cultural dividing issue

      As we move to reopen our country the possibility of issuing vaccination passports is following the pattern of a cultural divide just as mask-wearing has been.  Those conservatives that have been reluctant to mandate masks are now opposing issuing of passports to persons who are fully vaccinated.  Government control is seen as too much "big government" even as it provides a means of opening up our economy.   Other countries like South Korea don't seem to have the same hesitancy to developing the passports as they once developed a national testing program that has reduced the impact of the virus in their country.

    While the Biden administration has not indicated planning a national passport program it seems as if the private business community will develop their own systems.  Our country hasn't apparently learned the lesson that uncoordinated systems have a poor chance of addressing the spread of the virus.  Our fear of "big government" in a pandemic has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States.  The role of government in placing the needs of our broader society above our individual freedoms is at the heart of our political divisions today.  Vaccine passports are only the latest example of that cultural and political division. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Texas leads the way!


      Texas Association of Funeral Directors has recently come out with strong support of Texas Gov.  Greg Abbott's action lifting of the mask mandate and opening up Texas.  Concern within the Association that there would be a drop in business with the development of the vaccines was lessened as Abbott's pro-business philosophy extended to funeral homes.  Some Texas funeral homes are running a limited-time sale (until the end of the pandemic) of 50% off for all preplanned funeral contracts. As one funeral director said, "Act now before Texas starts electing those damn pro-life Democrats!"


    Not to be outdone the Texas branch of the National Rifle Association has been urging Gov. Abbott to sign legislation requiring every Texas resident over the age of 12 to be the owner of at least one gun.  Anyone refusing to obey the gun law will be required to relocate to that liberal haven of Austin, which isn't part of the real Texas.

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