The Prince of Wei

So, Mike has started a major reading project, going through his collection of books which rest quietly in his library, waiting to discharge their wisdom when called upon to do so. Yesterday he reread Thomas Merton’s “The Way of Chuang Tzu.”  (New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, copyrighted by the Abbey of Gesthemani, 1965.) Chuang Tzu was a writer who lived about 2400 years ago, and is the primary source of information on Lao Tzu and Taoism. Merton took selected writings from translations and put his own imprint on them, making the material more accessible to the modern reader. Mike wants to share a couple of readings. The first is excerpted from “The Fasting of the Heart.”(page 50-51.) It relates a conversation between Confucius and his disciple, Yen Hui.

Yen Hui, the favorite disciple of Confucius, came to take leave of his master.

     ‘Where are you going?’ asked Confucius.

     ‘I am going to Wei.’

     ‘And what for?’

     ‘I have heard that the Prince of Wei is a lusty full-blooded fellow and is entirely self-willed. He takes no care of his people and refuses to see any fault in himself. He pays no attention to the fact that his subjects are dying right and left. Corpses lie all over the country like hay in a field. The people are desperate. But I have heard you, Master, say that one should leave the state that is well governed and go to that which is in disorder. At the door of the physician there are plenty of sick people. I want to take this opportunity to put into practice what I have learned from you and see if I can bring about some improvement in conditions there.’

     ‘Alas!’ said Confucius, ‘you do not realize what you are doing. You will bring disaster on yourself. Tao has no need of your eagerness, and you will only waste your energy in your misguided efforts………..This man is convinced that he alone is right. He may pretend outwardly to take an interest in an objective standard of justice, but do not be deceived by his expression. He is not accustomed to being opposed by anyone. His way is to reassure himself that he is right by trampling on other people. If he does this with mediocre men, he will all the more certainly do it to one who presents a threat by claiming to be a man of high qualities. He will cling stubbornly to his own way. He may pretend to be interested in your talk about what is objectively right, but interiorly he will not hear you, and there will be no change whatever. You will get nowhere with this.”  

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here is another type of person, more to be admired, “The Kingly Man.” (page 72.)

“My Master said:

That which acts on all and meddles in none–is heaven…..

The Kingly Man realizes this, hides it in his heart,

Grows boundless, wide-minded, draws all to himself.

And so his lets the gold lie hidden in the mountain,

Leaves the pearl lying in the deep.

Goods and possessions are no gain in his eyes,

He stays far from wealth and honor.

Long life is no ground for joy, nor early death for sorrow.

Success is not for him to be proud of, failure is no shame.

Had he all the world’s power he would not hold it as his own.

If he conquered everything he would not take it to himself.

His glory is in knowing that all things come together in One

And life and death are equal.”


Itypically results from being unloved in early childhood by parents who are too preoccupied by their own lives. Often they have been unloved themselves, and have no love to offer.  Such people are interminably angry, and can become a bottomless pit of need for admiration and aggrandizement. It is a hole that no one can fill. But I wonder what would happen if all of the Prince of Wei’s subjects loved him. They wouldn’t necessarily tell him, having no platform for doing so. And they wouldn’t sing his praises either. They would just quietly love him in their hearts,  because they are good people and they know he is unloved. He was unloved at first because he was in the way as a child, and subsequently because his behavior has been more reflective of the terrible twos than that of a mature man. And the Prince’s subjects will pray for him. They will pray that all the things that they pray for for themselves will be granted to the Prince as well. It is a better way. God bless the Prince of Wei.

And what is it that the Kingly Man knows? He knows that in this world of opposites, of good and evil, black and white, sun and moon, male and female, rich and poor, dog and cat, and day and night, that impermanence and eternity can co-exist, and that the greatest reality is the Oneness of all existence.

So, it’s a beautiful, sunny day in Happy Meadows. I hope all of you have sunshine in your lives, and that you find peace in the storms that blow through your neighborhoods. Until next time, stay healthy, have fun, be kind to your neighbors, and take things one day at a time. We love you all.

“You Should Get a Microwave”

So, it has been another interesting week inside and outside of Happy Meadows. On the home front, the most newsworthy item was Michelle coming for a visit and coming inside the house, with permission of Dr. K.  The two-leggeds wore masks, and sat out in the screened porch about 6-8 feet apart. We four-leggeds all came out to explore, and Jackson ate an entire spider’s web. I can’t believe he ate the whole thing! And he didn’t even get sick. What a guy!

So, Mike might have been wrong about Spoiled Donald successfully using the “Law and Order” mantra to increase his popularity. He remains adored by people who are committed to his White Privilege and Nativist political point of view, but he doesn’t seem to be attracting many middle-of-the-roaders. Things have changed rapidly since he took office. When Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reed knelt for the national anthem to protest police brutality to African-Americans before the start of a football game in 2017 many people couldn’t see past the action to understand the symbolism behind it. Trump made a big deal out of it, saying that the owners should fire players who don’t stand and salute the flag during the playing of the national anthem. If Kaepernick and Reed didn’t love their country they wouldn’t have risked their careers and financial well-being to make a statement. The mostly white, mostly billionaire team owners knuckled under to Spoiled Donald’s threats to take away their tax breaks if they didn’t blackball the players and prevent further protests of this kind. Partly it was protecting their businesses, and partly they just didn’t know that blacks are routinely subjected to brutality by some police officers. Now, less than 4 years later Drew Brees says something understandable like he can’t support disrespecting the flag and thousands of people jump all over him. Someone explained to him that kneeling for the national anthem was a way of calling attention to a problem in our society that runs counter to what our country stands for: namely freedom and equality under the law. So he apologized and said he now understands it isn’t about the flag at all. From my standpoint as a black cat, he seems to be representative of millions of decent, freedom loving American white people who just haven’t known what black people (or black cats) live with on a daily basis, but thought that they have understood. Our country is reacting to the killing of black people by police officers like they never have before. Part of this is the exposure that the acts have had through video footage. It’s hard to watch a white police officer with a bored look on his face, kneeling so long on a handcuffed black man’s neck, a man who repeatedly says he can’t breathe, with 3 other officers standing there watching, until the black man stops breathing. Really hard to watch.

I have never seen anything like that happen in Happy Meadows, and neither has anyone else who lives here. We have the privilege of living in a peaceful community where nobody bothers us. We never have to wonder if we go out to run errands if a policeman is going to pull us over because we look suspicious, a crime known as driving a nice car while black. I say this, but there are black people who live in Happy Meadows, and they do put themselves at risk simply by leaving the neighborhood. But I haven’t heard of it happening here. Mike, being a white person, hasn’t had much of this discriminatory experience to deal with. I say not much, because there have been incidents. He has been called a dirty Jew by young male cowards as they drove by in their car while he was in his yard back in the late 1960’s in Wisconsin. He married an African-American woman in 1977, still in Wisconsin, and it didn’t seem to bother anyone as far as he could tell, excepting, of course, his family. The funny thing about this was that his brother didn’t care that she was black, but was outraged that she wasn’t Jewish. Mike and his brother were estranged for several years because of this. I will share a story Mike tells about a time when he, Penny, and Michelle were in Kansas City for a family Bar Mitzvah. Michelle was four years old at the time. They were staying at a Doubletree hotel, and the morning of the Bar Mitzvah they went to eat breakfast at the cafe in the hotel. They were seated, and their order taken, but the food never arrived. Everyone else around them was served, but they were not. When Mike asked about their order the server assured them it was on its way. After an hour it was time to go to the synagogue for the service, so they got up to leave. Mike and Penny discussed whether they were going to lodge a complaint with the management, but decided not to give them the satisfaction. However, as they were leaving the table but still inside the cafe, Michelle said in a loud voice, “You should get a microwave.”

There is a discussion going on in the White House about whether Spoiled Donald should address the nation about the issue of police brutality and protests that are going on in our country. It is being reported that some of his advisors are for an address, and some are against it. Both sides argue that adopting their position would result in increased popularity for the president. Nothing is being discussed, I suspect, about what the right thing to do would be. By the way, did you see that picture of our president holding up a bible? There was no writing on the front, so you couldn’t tell if he was holding it right-side up or upside-down. I doubt if he could tell the difference, at least based on his demonstrated total lack of empathy which is a requirement for living by the Golden Rule. What got me was the look on his face. He looked like a four-year-old whose mother was making him sit still in church. A lot of people are upset about the way he had people pepper-bombed out of the way for his photo-op. His popularity is slipping, but he demonstrates great resiliency, and a lot of things could happen between now and November to get him re-elected. Besides, if he loses you can count on him challenging the vote in court, and when it gets to the Supreme Court he could prevail, just like George W. Bush did in 2000. It should be interesting. By the way, I wrote a piece 3 years ago discussing where we are as a country after being challenged by someone on Facebook to respond to a post about our country needing to live by Christian values. I just reread it, and it is germane to what is happening right now. If you are interested you can find my post from June 25, 2017 entitled “A Serious Look at Pseudo-Patriotism.”

So once again I defied Mike’s request that I stay away from political topics. I’m sure he will get over it. After all, he gets it that I am a black cat, and I like to remind him that speaking out is important. He had a great sense of dread when Trump won the election, and says he never knew until that happened how much he loves his country, and the people who live in it. So, I will say whatever I need to, and I’m sure he will understand. And the truth is, I do have a lot more to say. Stay tuned, or if you prefer, try another station. Maybe you prefer Rush Limbaugh, who in 2006 when Michael J. Fox did a TV ad for candidate for Senator Claire McCaskill, said he was faking his Parkinson’s tremor. Nice. Decency goes a long way, I’m thinking. I hope you are all decent in every way today. Be safe, be well, pray for world peace, and be nice to your neighbor. I love you all. So long from Happy Meadows.

We Need a Fool in the White House

So, you would never know it from our vantage point in Happy Meadows, but things are not well. Things here in Happy Meadows are fine. We take walks every day. People are nice; birds sing; squirrels and chipmunks scurry around; dogs go for walks with their people; cats slink through bushes, snoop around, and sun themselves. But go inside and turn on the news, and it’s a different story. Mike doesn’t like it when I express political opinions, but Mike doesn’t always get what he wants, and this is one of those times. So, too bad, Mike.

You might recall that a few years ago I wrote about people being upset about the results of a selection (“Tis the Season,” 12/26/2016.) Since then I learned than the correct term is election. Silly me. Anyway, it seems that there will be another election this year in which Donald Trump, the president and current head of the Republican Party, will run against the Democrat Party candidate, presumably Joe Biden. Feelings in the country are strong on both sides. The main thing Trump had going for him was the economy, which was strong with very low unemployment. Trump, naturally, took credit for this just as Bill Clinton took credit for the strong economy when he was president; and he got re-elected in 1996 with no trouble. But early this year along came the coronavirus, and the economy went into the crapper overnight. Trump is such a polarizing person that most people had made their minds up already. They either loved or hated him. He has been the most unpopular president in the history of modern times, ever since presidential polls were a thing. He is the only president to never achieve 50% or more popularity. But the election is not a popularity contest. It is decided by the electoral college, (an arcane institution which was set up by our constitution,) and not by popular vote. That is how he won in the first place, as his opponent, Hilary Clinton, got around 3 million more votes than he did and still lost the election. This could happen for Trump again. But, it may be that the coronavirus has done for the Democrats what they could not do for themselves.

Now it seems that the Republicans may have had a stroke of luck, in the person of Derek Chauvin, a (now fired) policeman in Minneapolis who is at this moment sitting in jail accused of murdering a black man, George Floyd, who he had on the ground, handcuffed, and it seems, choked him to death. Since then there have been riots and firebombings in Minneapolis, Atlanta, and other cities, with the calling up of the National Guard to restore order, and cries of “Law and Order” coming from Trump and the Republicans. Mike recalls a similar period in the late 1960’s when the country was angry over Civil Rights and Viet Nam, and the cities burned. The 1968 Democratic political convention in Chicago was marked by protests in the streets and brutal reprisals by the Chicago police. (An investigation chaired by former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, a Democrat, called it a “police riot.”) Hubert Humphrey was nominated and should have beaten Richard Nixon, but didn’t. Mike says there were 2 reasons that he lost. First, the voters reacted against all the violence with fear, and thought Nixon was a safer choice. “Law and Order,” and the “Silent Majority,” and all that. The other reason is that Humphrey didn’t speak out against the war, reluctant to oppose the sitting Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson. Mike liked Humphrey, and thought he would be a stabilizing influence in the country that we badly needed at that time. We have a similar situation now, where the Republicans who disagree with Trump’s actions are afraid to say anything for fear of angering him and losing their own power. So, Derek Chauvin may have done for the Republicans what they could not do for themselves. If we have another summer like 1968 the Democrats may be in trouble.

And speaking of people in power, Mike just ran through another reading of King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies. Don’t ask me why. I’m sure most of you have read it, but maybe not since high school; so I will summarize it in part, preparatory to making a point. Lear was an absolute monarch who at the age of 80 decided to abdicate his throne and give power to his 3 daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. This would have appeared to be a very dumb idea to almost anyone, but there you go. He held a big to-do where he invited each of them to flatter him and tell him how much they loved him. Goneril and Regan stepped up to the plate and laid it on thick in speeches disgusting in their obvious insincerity. Cordelia on the other hand wouldn’t play. She just said she loved him, and that was that. Nothing to make you want to puke. Lear got mad, banished her from the country, and she left with her boyfriend, the King of France, I think. The next thing you know, Lear is out on his butt, broke and undomiciled, having driven off the only friend he still had, the Earl of Kent. Now his only companion is the Fool, a character he calls “boy,” and who remains loyal. The Fool is a character who is like a court jester, and who is allowed by Lear to tell him the truth that he won’t listen to from anyone else. Not that it profits him. Lear descends into total madness, and after this happens the Fool disappears from the play. There are subplots and lots of people are murdered or commit suicide, but here is why I bring it up. Every hero of a tragedy has a “tragic flaw” which brings about their downfall. Usually it is hubris, false pride, a sense of infallibility. Lear has this in spades. Most people who have an inflated opinion of themselves really have a hidden sense of inadequacy lying underneath. Such people are what is called in AA an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. In the case of Lear, he wouldn’t listen to anyone until it was too late. He did listen to the Fool, but as I said, not until it was too late. But at least he listened, and acknowledged his mistakes as he was becoming totally insane. People like to watch tragedies because they see the thing unfold like a slow-moving train wreck. They imagine at some level that it could happen to them, but instead it is happening to the poor slob on stage.

Why do I bring this up? Why, of course, because we have a Lear-type character in the White House right now. We have a president who really believes that he knows more about everything than anyone else. He won’t listen to anyone, and frequently banishes people he becomes angry with from his Kingdom (so to speak.) I think we all would be better off if he had a Fool, someone who would play with him, joke around, be silly, but at the same time speak profound truths to him……truths that he would listen to, and take seriously. I’m not being critical specifically about his policies, although I could be. But people can have different points of view about things. I am more concerned about his belief that he can’t be wrong, and about the actions that he might take based solely on his own judgment. This is potentially a dangerous situation given the power of his office.

Here is an example. Just a couple of days ago he announced that he was withdrawing our country’s financial support for the World Health Organization (WHO). He is angry about the pandemic ruining our economy, and has to blame someone and act out. Mike thinks this action will have 4 direct effects: 1) it will severely handicap the WHO; 2) it will turn the agency over fully to the influence of China; 3) it will further undermine our country’s influence and position as leader of the free world; and 4) it will be a severe set-back to the world’s fight against the pandemic. Patrice Harris, President of the American Medical Association ( see “Progress and More Progress,” 6/14/2019) , had this to say about his action. “This senseless action will have a significant harmful repercussions now and far beyond this perilous moment, particularly as the WHO is leading the worldwide vaccine development and drug trials to combat the pandemic.” Truly, we need a Fool in the White House. I could say a lot more but don’t think I will. If I have offended anyone I could say I am sorry, but I am not. Certainly, you don’t have to agree with me. It’s nothing personal. We can, I hope, still love each other and be friends. God bless the United States of America.

In other news, I saw Mike at the side of the house with his pole saw trimming a branch away from the eave on the garage (no ladders involved.) So he must have been cleared by his doctor to start doing yard work. He will be off dietary restrictions in July. Maybe we can order sushi again. Wouldn’t that be the bomb! We have started zoom visiting with our far-flung family, a total delight. I hope you have been able to make the best of your restrictions. Something good can always come out of a tough situation. Nothing more to report from Happy Meadows today. Please be safe, wash your hands, be nice to your neighbors, pray for world peace, and pet your cats and dogs. They love you. Bye bye until next time!

A Perversion of Psychiatry

So, Mike and I are back to the awful topic of genocide, relating specifically to the participation of psychiatrists in this heinous crime. We are particularly offended by the grotesque misapplication of psychiatric theory and practice to the political field, justifying murder of the “other.”

Two psychiatrists, Jovan Raskovic and Radovan Karadzic, were responsible for utilizing psychiatric theory as a justification for Serbian domination of the Yugoslavian federation of governments. Composed of 6 states and even more ethnic groups, as well as diverse religious groups including Roman Catholics, Orthodox churches, and Muslims, and with the recent history of the Nazi occupation and complicity of some Croats with the Nazis, the challenge of peaceful coexistence in Yugoslavia was overwhelming. And it broke down after the death of Marshall Josep Broz Tito in 1980. The Serbs believed that they were  naturally disposed to rule, and a psychological construct was developed, based on a bizarre misapplication of Freudian theory, to support their position. Raskovic’s view was that the Serbs bore an Oedipal complex which compelled them to kill the “Father”, the government of Yugoslavia. Their reward would be the “Mother”, symbolized by the land of Yugoslavia. He said the Croats had a “fear of castration” which rendered them incompetent to exercise authority and hold power. He published a manifesto, Luda Zemlja, had great success in promulgating his theories and, whipping up the Serbs to a frenzy of aggression, established the Serbian Democratic Party.  As his health was failing, he put his protege, Karadzic, another psychiatrist, as head of the party.

Karadzic used his knowledge of psychiatry to inflict terror on the groups that he persecuted, particularly the Bosnian Muslims. Now known as the “Butcher of Bosnia,” he used rape as a tool of intimidation and social disruption. As his troops killed, maimed, and raped, he terrified the victim population not only to flee, but to not want to return to the scene of their horrific experience as an element of his “ethnic cleansing” program. The raped Muslim women were socially disgraced, not accepted by their communities, and many committed suicide. This anticipated result was designed to among other things, reduce the reproductive capability of the Bosnian Muslims. Karadzic was convicted of war crimes for his role in the Srebenica Massacre and other massacres of Bosnians.

The Nazis had their own whacked out theories of their ethnic superiority, and convinced themselves that they were more suited to rule (and exist) than others. They carried the characterization of the “other” groups to subhuman extremes as a justification for genocide against the Jews, Romani, and the slaughter of homosexuals, intellectually disabled persons, schizophrenics, epileptics, and others whom they considered undesirables. They found little difficulty in gaining the cooperation of psychiatrists in their madness. Six months after Hitler became chancellor of Germany, a compulsory sterilization law was passed requiring the sterilization of individuals with various neurologic and psychiatric diseases. Among these was “hereditary alcoholism.”

The background of support for this kind of idea was the eugenics movement which had gained great popularity in the United States during the early 20th century. This is not to say that the characterization of Jews as racially defective began at that time, because it did not. Jews had been characterized by the composer Richard Wagner, among others,  as “parasites” and “vermin” decades earlier, and was a direct influence on Hitler, who used the same terms in his manifesto, Mein Kampf. The term eugenics was originated in 1883 by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. The aim of this philosophy was to “breed out” human disease and suffering by promoting the reproduction of people with desirable characteristics, and sterilizing those who had undesirable attributes. It should be noted that this idea was first proposed by Plato in his classic work, The Republic. In the US, the American Breeders Association was formed in 1903 to further the cause of eugenics. In 1911 J. H. Kellogg, the corn flakes guy, founded the Race Betterment Foundation which established a pedigree registry. Laws were passed in several states forbidding marriage of different classes of “defectives” and mandating sterilizations of mentally ill persons. The US Supreme Court upheld the practice in a 1927 decision in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that “three generations of imbeciles is enough.” It took 15 years for this decision to be overturned, but not before tens of thousands of men and women were sterilized.  And while not official policy, an extraordinary number of Native American women were sterilized, many without their consent (such as during an appendectomy.) In Hitler’s  Mein Kampf, dictated while he was imprisoned, he mentions the eugenics movement in America, and he strenuously advocated for the purity of the Aryan gene pool, using whatever means necessary, including genocide.

During the 1930s Germany’s mental hospitals were overcrowded, with most of the patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. In a paper published in Germany in 1925 entitled Permission for the Destruction of Unworthy Life, written by attorney Karl Binding and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche, it was suggested that some persons are “on an intellectual level which we only encounter way down in the animal kingdom.” The economic burden of caring for such persons was a major aspect of their argument. Another psychiatrist, Berthold Kihn, wrote in 1932 that mentally ill individuals were costing Germany 150 million Reichsmarks per year. His paper was entitled The Eradication of the Less Valuable from Society.

Although the killing of mental patients was under discussion in Germany throughout the 1930s, it was not until 1939 that action was undertaken. On September 1, 1939, the same day that Germany invaded Poland, Hitler issued an authorization for the killing of mental patients. After carefully accounting for all the hospitalized mental patients, along with their diagnoses, plans were made to carry out the exterminations. Early in 1940 the first 20 such patients were made to undress and led into a “shower room” at the Bradenburg Asylum where they were killed with carbon monoxide gas. Their gold fillings were removed and the bodies cremated. Over the next 1 and 1/2 years over 70,000 patients had been killed in this manner in the program known as Aktion T-4. A total of 6 killing centers had been constructed, and they competed with each other. One center had a special celebration to mark the killing of the ten-thousandth patient. All employees received a bottle of beer. Nor was gas the only means of killing. Many were dispatched by shooting, drug overdose, or starvation. In fact, it is thought that of the approximately 250,000 mentally ill patients killed, at least 100,000 were starved to death. As many as 10,000 of the murdered were children. And once the gassing of mental patients was found to be so effective and efficient, as we all know, they instituted the program at the concentration camps to implement “The Final Solution” to the elimination of the Jewish population. Another doctor, Josef Mengele, ” was a notorious sadist who carried out gruesome experiments on inmates at Auschwitz. It is so disturbing how entire societies can degenerate into madness, and how complicit in the madness doctors can be, especially psychiatrists.  Don’t doctors take an oath to do no harm?

And on a happier note, I can report that Mike had a good report from one of his oncologists this week. He will have a telehealth visit with his other oncologist next week. I expect good news there as well. In fact, I expect good news for an extended period of time. Let’s have prayers, please for Mike’s friend Ellis, who starts radiation next week for prostate cancer. At his stage of life now many of Mike’s friends have been treated for cancer, and right now things are going well for all of them. Good medical care, a cooperative patient, and prayer energy make for a powerful combination. I hope all of you are well, and that you continue to take the coronavirus seriously. If you don’t it might just take you seriously. Don’t forget to love your neighbor, be positive and hopeful, and pray for world peace. Until next time, so long from Happy Meadows.

Good Golly, Miss Molly

So, just a few days ago “Little Richard” Penniman died at the age of 87. He burst onto the popular music scene in the 1950’s, and successfully crossed the race line that had divided popular music up to that time. His brand of music was innovative, bawdy, and had a pounding rhythm. Mike was an instant fan. Mike and Judy saw him perform not that many years ago in Mableton, Georgia, and enjoyed themselves immensely. Mike recalls he did a little preaching as well as performing his music. As with many people who are thrust into stardom from a simple life, Little Richard had more than his fill of drugs, sex, and wild and weird experiences.  He was one of the greats.

So, a few days ago a story came on line about a Chinese study investigating whether the COVID-19 virus could be recovered from semen. While possibly not the most pressing COVID-19 issue, it still could be of some interest or importance. The investigators identified 50 male patients aged 15 or older who were or had been hospitalized with the COVID-19 infection during a 3 week period early in 2020. They were able to obtain semen samples from 38 patients. The other 12 were reported to be either comatose, dead, or otherwise unable to have an erection. They did identify the virus in the semen of a few hospitalized patients, and in 2 convalescent patients. So, this could be a new STD. However, just because they found viral particles in the semen it does not mean that the particles were necessarily infectious. Further studies are warranted.

So, after a cold, wet spring  we went almost 2 weeks with no rain. But now we are back to cool and wet again. The flowers are beautiful this year. Here are a couple of our iris, and our neighbor’s magnolia.




The iris are just about done, but there is always a nice sequence of blooms of one sort or another to enjoy.

Mike, Judy and I are walking every morning. Mike and I go out again in the afternoon. We are averaging over 3 miles per day, and Sunday we did 5. I might let Mike go out by himself on the afternoon walks as it gets hotter. He just signed up for Sirius streaming, so he won’t be much company any more if he gets into his talk radio shows. He hasn’t listened to Sirius since he has been confined in March because he only had it on the car radio.

Mike sees his doctors later this week. I’ll let you know how it goes, but we are not expecting anything particularly newsworthy.

So, I have a couple of more serious topics to go into, but I don’t want to spoil the mood now; so, it can wait. I hope that wherever you are the sky is blue, the birds are singing, and the flowers are beautiful and fragrant. Don’t forget to pray for world peace, love your neighbor, and be safe, safe, safe. So long from Happy Meadows!



Baseball and Bernoulli

So, to follow up on my blurb last time about baseball and spitting, Mike and I watched a couple of innings of Korean baseball on TV, and indeed, nobody was seen spitting. The game was pretty good, but not up to major league standards. On one play the batter hit a long fly ball to center field. The center fielder misjudged the play completely, turned the wrong way to go catch the ball and wasn’t even close to it when it fell in the outfield. The bases had been loaded, and everyone scored, the batter stopping at third base with a triple. The pitching was pretty good. Mike thinks that the hardest thing to accomplish in sports must be to hit major league pitching. It’s not like golf, an easy game where the ball just sits there on the ground, motionless, waiting to be struck a blow. No, in baseball the pitch is moving, and fast. The batter has less than a second to decide whether to swing or not, depending partly on whether he thinks it will be a ball or a strike, and whether it will curve or not. He has to aim his bat for where he thinks the ball will be in a few one-hundredths of a second.

Mike says things have changed some in pitching since he was a kid. The pitchers throw harder, and don’t throw as many innings in games so they don’t ruin their arms. It used to be a badge of honor to pitch a complete 9 inning game. Back in the olden days pitchers threw mostly fastballs, curve balls, and change-ups. There were a few who threw knuckle balls, and a variation of that was the opposite, a palm ball. These latter two pitches came out of the pitcher’s hand with no spin, supposedly causing an irregular and unpredictable flight. Sliders were introduced as well, and are still popular. Almost everyone throws a slider, a sort of half-curve ball. A few other trick pitches, like a screwball, were tried by a few pitchers. Another trick pitch appeared in the 1970’s, the split-fingered fastball. It was first mastered by Bruce Sutter who used to be a relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. The pitch seemed to drop like a rock just as the batter was taking a swing. He was so effective that twice that we know of he came in to pitch in the 9th inning and struck out three batters while throwing a total of 9 pitches. Mike saw him do it against Cincinnati, and his friend Jack saw him do it against Montreal, I think. Youngsters who want to become famous and wealthy pitchers are throwing harder and harder at a younger age, many of them injuring themselves in the process. I don’t know if it is true or not, but Mike says he read somewhere that one-third of all pitchers wind up having Tommy John surgery because of ligament strain or rupture. And yes, that is the same Tommy John who put his name on men’s underwear.

But, there is controversy. Mike recalls listening to a baseball broadcast with his father when the announcer  said the pitcher had thrown a sharp-breaking curve ball. Grandpa Moe derisively commented that it was impossible for the thrown ball to curve sharply. He said it had to be an optical illusion. The reason that it was impossible for the ball to curve sharply was Bernoulli’s Principle. He would tell Mike’s friends that there was no such thing as a sharp-breaking curve ball, and Mike’s friends would graciously refrain from contradicting him. I personally couldn’t say whether a ball can curve or not, but it sure looks as though it does on television.

So, what did Grandpa Moe think Bernoulli had to do with it? It is worth noting that Grandpa Moe had a PhD in Chemical Engineering, and used to take advanced math courses for fun when he was in graduate school. He failed to pass along the talent for math to Mike, who nevertheless managed to earn B’s in his college chemistry classes through a combination of luck and hard work. Daniel Bernoulli was a Swiss mathematician who lived in the 1700’s. His Principle, or Theorem, states that in fluid dynamics the total mechanical energy of a flowing fluid remains constant. The mechanical energy is comprised of the kinetic energy of the flowing fluid, the gravitational potential of elevation, and the energy associated with fluid pressure. So, he said, at points along a horizontal streamline, higher pressure regions have lower fluid speed, and conversely, lower pressure regions have higher speed. I have absolutely no idea what this means, and, I can assure you, neither does Mike. Apparently, though, it has many engineering applications including in aerodynamics. According to what Mike has read, no airplane would ever get off the ground if not for Professor Bernoulli and his Principle. So, maybe Grandpa Moe, for reasons unclear to us, was right. But I do know this: good amateur baseball players will never be successful professionals unless they learn to hit a curve ball, sharp-breaking or not.

You may or may not have seen the new “Solutions” section in yesterday’s newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They are featuring articles by guest writers who have a solution to offer about something possibly of use or interest to their readers. One of the 2 writers in this inaugural venture was none other than my pal, Dr. Michael C. Gordon. He wrote about the challenge of staying sober for addicts and alcoholics under pandemic conditions, and offered suggestions. You might enjoy reading it. I will try to figure out how to add a link, but in the meantime, it is in the Monday, May 11 edition if you want to look for it. The best thing about this was that they put in a plug for my blog, and for my grandfather’s autobiography as well.

So, there is always more to say, but it will have to wait for another day. We are eating, sleeping, and feeling well here in Happy Meadows, and I hope you all are too, wherever you may be. Take good care of your cats and dogs, love your neighbor, and every day pray for world peace. Mike read this morning in his thought for the day email that peace arrives when you get rid of fear and anger. Sounds right. Until next time, don’t let life throw you a curve ball, and if it does, hit it out of the park! So long from Happy Meadows.

This Has (Almost) Nothing to Do with Mother’s Day

So, I have learned that Mike can wonder about something for a long time before he looks into it, if he ever does. There is a tree in front of our house that bears the mark of a prior surgery to prevent a trunk from toppling over. Here are pictures.


This picture shows what looks like a tree with two trunks, but could be 2 trees originating from 2 seeds that germinated in close proximity to one another. You can see the surgical result better in the next picture, taken from the opposite side.



Mike has always wondered what kind of tree it is, but has never bothered to find out. I suppose being confined to quarters, so to speak, he has looked at the house and yard more closely, and has had way more time to do so. Another thing Mike has wondered about is the tree by the deck behind the house, specifically, what kind of tree it is. Not very long ago he made the startling observation that they are both the same kind of tree. You might wonder how a person could live in a house for over 35 years without noticing something like that. But, the discovery stimulated Mike to action, and within no time it was determined that they are both red maple trees. What is strange about this, among many other things, is that Mike always thought the tree in front was some kind of maple, and he never once considered the possibility that the tree in the back might be a maple. I don’t know about you, Mike!

Baseball is back, in Korea, sans fans, with a major rule change. Because of the coronavirus epidemic, spitting is no longer allowed. Talk about unintended consequences! In yesterday’s paper Steve Hummer had an informative and entertaining article about baseball and spitting. One day, and maybe soon, people will wonder with horror about how such disgusting behavior could be considered tolerable. Indeed, some people have been aghast about this forever. But spitting is so common as to be part of the game. Of course, it has its origins in the use of chewing tobacco by baseball players. Mike has several recollections of spitting or other tobacco related events in his life. He went to a baseball game in Milwaukee in 1983, the year before he moved to Georgia. At that time Harvey Kuehn was the Milwaukee manager. Mike used to bring binoculars to games, and he recalls scanning the Milwaukee dugout just at the time that Kuehn was letting go of a thick brown rope of saliva that reached from his mouth almost all the way to the ground before it dropped. Watch your step, y’all! I should mention that tobacco is not a particularly  health-forward substance. Among other things, it causes cancer, heart disease, and arterial disease, even if it isn’t smoked. Poor Harvey Kuehn had serious health problems including diabetes and heart disease. He had to have a leg amputated because of an arterial blockage, and died several years later at age 57. I’m not saying that the chewing tobacco habit caused all of his health problems, but it certainly didn’t help. Mike recalls a 25 year old patient that he treated for alcoholism who had cancer of the tongue. He was a baseball player, and had chewed tobacco since age 14. Not good. Mike knew a priest back in Wisconsin who used to bring communion to shut-ins at their homes. Back in those days the communicants would open their mouths and stick out their tongues, rather than accept the communion wafer in their hands. Father Tom told Mike it was commonplace for the men to have a mouthful of snuff, which at least for him diminished the spirituality of the occasion. Mike also recalls one day many years ago playing golf with a man who was in the Georgia legislature. At the beginning of the round, the fellow put a big cigar in his mouth. Although he never lit it, nevertheless it got shorter and shorter as time went on. Mike says he ate the whole damn cigar, and on the back nine started in on a new one! Mike admits that he used to smoke, but quit for good in 1974.

And, speaking of things that Mike didn’t know, he found out recently that from about 1907 to 1913 Galveston, Texas was a significant port of entry to the United States for Jewish immigrants. The Jewish Benevolent Societies, particularly in London, were trying to steer Jews away from New York where there were diminishing opportunities and very crowded conditions. It is estimated that about 10,000 Jews came in at Galveston during those years. They mostly settled in the American West or Midwest. Mike’s grandparents on his father’s side came in through Ellis Island. On his mother’s side, her mother was born in America. Her father told Mike he came in with his mother and siblings through Quebec. From there they took a train to Duluth, Minnesota, where his father and his older brother and sister had already established residence. Mike isn’t sure where they entered the country. Maybe Detroit. He says he never thought to ask. His grandfather’s family was stuck in Quebec for a week because of a problem with their tickets, and slept in the train station. When Mike and Judy got married they honeymooned in Quebec, and passed through the station, I imagine the same one his grandfather had been stuck in 90 years previously. Carl Cowl used to tell a story about a man with a fruit cart who gave him a banana there. He had never seen a banana in Lithuania. Carl suffered terribly from hunger as a child. Every time he told this story Carl would tear up, thinking of the kindness of the man, and how hungry he had been. Mike also recalls that his grandfather was a speed eater. by the time everyone else at the table had just about picked up their forks, his grandfather had cleaned his plate.

So, it has been downright cold the past few days, although mostly sunny. Mike and I seem to be taking longer walks recently. I think he is getting stronger as he recovers from that bone marrow transplant. We hiked over 4 miles yesterday, a record for us. We go see his doctors the week after next, and I hope they have good news. I believe they will. I suppose there is more going on in Happy Meadows, but I can’t think of anything else right now. So, let me say adios to you all, and wish you all good health, peace of mind, and a very Happy Mother’s Day. Don’t forget to be kind to your neighbors and loved ones, and to pray for world peace. Bye, bye!


Sock It to Me

So, the other day Mike ordered some socks on line. He was running low on athletic socks which are all he wears any more. He ordered 4 pairs of socks, or at least thought he did. When they arrived he found 4 bundles containing 6 pairs of socks each. I think Mike doesn’t always read things carefully. He now has a lifetime supply, unless he gives 2 or 3 bundles away, which I think he should. Pay attention, Mike!

While on our walk this morning, Mike got to wondering, as he has on and off for the past 60 or more years, about why the Bill of Rights was not a part of the original Constitution. He never took a college course in history, and his high school education was abysmal, partly through poor courses and teachers, and partly because of his lack of effort. This is off-topic, but there is a reason that his teachers were sub-par. Mike grew up in Chicago and went to South Shore High School, which was in the next neighborhood south of Hyde Park. Some years prior to Mike’s attending South Shore, the Hyde Park neighborhood was transitioning from a white to a black population.  South Shore High opened in 1940. By the time Mike got there in 1956 the (all white) teaching staff was comprised of a great many older teachers from Hyde Park High School who got the positions based on seniority, not merit. He says some of his teachers were average, some were below average and a very few were outstanding. Over the past many years South Shore has undergone several changes, and is now a college prep magnet school. Less than 1% of the students are Caucasian. During Mike’s tenure at South Shore High there was not one black student, based entirely on the boundary lines for the schools. At that time, and possibly still today, Chicago was one of the most racially segregated cities in the country. Another factoid: James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA with Francis Crick, attended South Shore High School.

So, back to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Mike says that the reverence for the Constitution that one often hears expressed is somewhat undeserved, given that it legalizes slavery and denies women the right to vote, among other things eventually corrected through a combination of war and the amendment process. It turns out that unsurprisingly, the original 13 colonies were not uniform in their political preferences, and many individuals in the colonies had their own agendas. So, like everything else, a resolution was accomplished through negotiation and compromise. The agreement was that the constitution would go forth as originally written, and that a bill of rights would be added. In 1789 James Madison introduced a bill of rights in Congress that consisted of 12 items, 10 of which were included in the final Bill of Rights which were ratified in 1791. One item never made it, and the 12th, which regulates the compensation of members of Congress, wasn’t ratified until 1992 (!!) as the 27th Amendment. Mike gets irritated by politicians who hold themselves out as strict defenders of the constitution, because the constitution didn’t do much to protect the rights of women and it legalized slavery. It is true that it included a process for amendment which did fix some of the more grievous omissions, but not others. It took a bloody civil war to be won by the North in order to pass an amendment to delegitimize and ban slavery.  Much of the Constitution is constructed to prevent the abuse of power, such as had been experienced by the colonies courtesy of the King of England. Abuse of power is nothing new (vide infra).

This week’s Torah portion contains the core of the ethical behavior expected of the Hebrews. Found in the physical center of the Torah, Leviticus chapter 19 contains such pearls as giving to the poor, protecting the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, not mocking or abusing the physically disadvantaged (don’t curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind), avoiding gossip, telling lies, holding grudges, judging a case in a biased fashion (abuse of power), and failing to render assistance to someone in need. It is also where the Hebrews are admonished to love their neighbors as themselves. None of this would have been necessary if people behaved properly in the first place.  The fact that this section occupies the physical center of the Torah suggests that it is central to Jewish belief and obligation, an interesting point made by Rabbi Holtz in Mike’s Torah study yesterday. It is extremely difficult for people to not advocate for their own self-interest, even when it diminishes that rights or opportunities of others. Our country is engaged in a great struggle of this type right now. May God Bless America, and may we arrive at a just and equitable structure where everyone has equal voice and opportunity. Every week I ask people to pray for world peace, but really peace needs to start at home, and it has to start with loving each other and doing the right thing including using power fairly. A good example of the unfair use of power was when Senator Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority leader failed to act on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, an effective but shameful move supported by all 11 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary committee.

Out walking this morning, we had time to muse upon and discuss local matters as well. For one thing, I let Mike know that the cat he called Ruff, one of Big Fluff’s posse, prefers to be called Amaryllis. So, Amaryllis it is. We said hello to a lady walking 2 medium sized dogs, one of which has a heavy coat thanks to its Saint Bernard mother. She said Bernie doesn’t tolerate the hot weather well, and Mike suggested a shave. I think a lion cut would be perfect. Well, I am for now running out of momentous proclamations and opinions. Stay tuned, as there will be more, I am certain. Until next time be well, be safe, count your blessings, love your neighbor, and pray for world peace. We love you all! So long from Happy Meadows.

A Little Problem of Genocide

So, last week was so full of special events that I still have two to mention. First, Ramadan began the evening of April 23. The 9th month of the Islamic calendar, it marks the month in which the Prophet Muhammad received the Koran from Allah. It is marked by fasting and communal prayer, and ends with a great feast and rejoicing. The other day to be noted is Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, which this year was April 21. It is a day set aside to recall the murder of 6,000,000 Jews by the Nazi regime during the Second World War. There are many things about this that are incomprehensible and horrifying. One wonders what kind of a person could find it acceptable to execute an entire class of people, and how they could be in a position to bring this disaster about? How could they organize such a mass murder? And of course, how could God let it happen? Mike says that his grandfather, Carl Cowl, who left Lithuania in 1905 with his mother and siblings (his father was already in America), completely lost his belief in God when he learned of the Holocaust. Yom Hashoah serves the important purposes of not only of remembering the dead, but also of reminding society of the potential for genocide to be carried out, and not only against Jews.

The term “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin, an attorney, a Jew from Poland who fled the Nazis and came to America in 1941. He was horrified as a boy when he learned of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Turks during and after World War I. He introduced the term in 1944, and it was adopted by the International Military Tribunal  set up to try war criminals in Nuremberg. In 1946 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution making genocide a crime punishable under international law.

Interestingly, the term has been somewhat difficult to define, or to get various groups to agree on a definition. In 1948 the United Nations defined genocide as any one or more acts “committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Acts included in the definition, in addition to murder, are measures intended to prevent births (forced sterilization) or forcibly removing the group’s children. Genocide is differentiated from another crime against humanity, “ethnic  cleansing,” which forcibly removes a group from a geographic area. Often both crimes are committed simultaneously. The international law went into effect in 1951, but was not ratified by the United States Senate until 1988, when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law. A quick check on the internet, with Mike’s assistance, revealed a list of 53 instances of genocide over the last 1000 years, 35 of them occurring in the 20th century. I’m sure some people will quibble about whether this or that incident was really genocide, but two things are obvious: 1) genocide is a common occurrence; and 2) the 20th century was brutal. Of the 53 incidents of genocide found the low estimate for the number of people murdered is 23,300,000. The high estimate is 58,300,000. It is impossible to wrap one’s head around numbers like this. Nor is our world free of genocide as we write. It is going on right now in Mynamar against the Rohingyas, and Darfur is another example. Of course, some (the murderers and their allies) will deny that it is happening at all, and others would argue that what is occurring in Darfur is not genocide, but rather, “just” ethnic cleansing.

So, again, how can this happen? In 1996 Gregory Stanton, the president of Genocide Watch, presented a paper suggesting that genocide develops in 8 stages. The presentation was made to the United States Department of State not long after the Rwandan Genocide.

Stage 1 – Classification – “People are divided into ‘us and them’.”

Stage 2 – Symbolization – “When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups.” An example would be the Nazis forcing Jews to wear yellow Stars of David on their clothing.

Stage 3 – Dehumanization – “One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects, or diseases.” Such language referring to Jews can be found in Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” and earlier in the writing of composer Richard Wagner and others.

Stage 4 – Organization – “Genocide is always organized…Special army units or militias are often trained and armed.”

Stage 5 – Polarization – “Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda.”

Stage 6 – Preparation – “Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity.”

Stage 7 – Extermination – “It is ‘extermination’ to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human.”

Stage 8 – Denial – “The perpetrators deny that they committed any crimes.” Holocaust denial is a real phenomenon, and is illegal in many countries.

Stanton also listed preventive measures that could be taken at each stage to try to prevent the process from moving forward. Regrettably, all too often the measures are either not taken, not taken in time, or prove ineffective.

M. Hassan Kakar has written: “For genocide to happen, there must be certain preconditions.  Foremost among them is a national culture that does not place a high value on human life. A totalitarian society, with its assumed superior ideology, is also a precondition for genocidal acts. In addition, members of the dominant society must perceive their potential victims as less than fully human: as ‘pagans,’ ‘savages,’ ‘uncouth barbarians,’ ‘unbelievers,’ ‘effete degenerates,’ ‘ritual outlaws,’ ‘racial inferiors,’ ‘class antagonists,’ ‘counterrevolutionaries,’ and so on. In themselves, these conditions are not enough for the perpetrators to commit genocide. To do that – that is, to commit genocide – the perpetrators need a strong, centralized authority and bureaucratic organization as well as pathological individuals and criminals. Also required is a campaign of vilification and dehumanization of the victims by the perpetrators, who are usually new states or new regimes attempting to impose conformity to a new ideology and its model of society.”

Sober reflection and consideration reveals that some of these stages and conditions exist in our American society right now. Our defenses include a free press, unbiased judiciary, organizations that are devoted to exposing and speaking out against hate groups, laws that forbid hate speech and the display of hate symbols, speaking out against hate by the clergy of all denominations, and legal protection from violence for those speaking out against hate mongering. It is vital also that as individuals we speak out against bigotry and disrespect for people of differing backgrounds and beliefs.The threat is real, and thankfully, thus far our legal and social institutions are working.

And on a lighter note (literally), I suppose, unless you really think about it, is the sudden rash of people presenting to emergency rooms after ingesting bleach following a statement during one of the president’s briefings in which he speculated on the possibility of ingesting a sanitizing substance in order to prevent or cure COVID-19 infection. It is shocking that any public official could say something so stupid, that anyone would agree that it is a good idea, that anyone would act on the suggestion, and that he would express no regret or culpability for the outcome of his remark. Mike says that his followers are so blindly loyal that the ones that live through their bleach adventure will probably vote for him again. I think that an over-arching principle involved in what I have talked about today is that people believe what they want to believe. Another principle is that complacency is our great enemy, the whole point of having a Yom Hashoah.

So, it is beautiful again today here in Happy Meadows, another day of breezes, sunshine, people walking their dogs, and kids riding their bikes in the streets. I hope it is beautiful where you are as well. Let’s all keep praying for better things for our society in general, and for all of us individuals in particular, whether of the 2-legged or 4-legged variety. Until next time, stay safe, be well, and love your neighbor. Au revoir!

The New Normal

So, yesterday marked our attempt here in Georgia, in some small way, to return to normal. This is not to say that normal behavior for Mike would be to get a tattoo or go bowling, because he is unlikely ever to do either. But now he could, that is, if he could push past the hordes from Tennessee and Alabama that must be rushing our Georgia bowling alleys and tattoo parlors as I write this.  (Thanks for the gag, Judy.) I think it has yet to settle into the general awareness of people here that what used to be normal may never be seen again. Steve Hummer in today’s AJC wrote that “normal(ly) left town over a month ago.” I don’t think we will ever see everything go back to “normal,” some things in ways we cannot yet imagine. But here are some examples: Many businesses that closed will never reopen. Many people are learning that they can get along nicely with a lot less. Businesses of all types are discovering that operating on line has its advantages, and will continue to do so in some significant ways after the danger has passed. Many people that were or are still alive are or will be dead. No disrespect intended, but once we have succeeded in controlling this epidemic the death toll will be the equivalent of a whole lot of planes falling from the sky. And don’t expect control any time soon. The coronavirus is highly contagious, so much so that probably 90% of people exposed will get infected. As long as the virus is out there, and as long as there are substantial numbers of susceptible people out there, we will continue to see plenty of infections. Universal vaccination is the only realistic answer to this problem, and this won’t happen for a couple of years in all likelihood. So, the new normal is new, and here, for sure. What we need to learn from this disastrous circumstance is that we need to be much better prepared for epidemics of novel respiratory viruses, because this isn’t the last one we will see.

I may have mentioned this before, but in some ways Mike is rather strange. You know what an earworm is…..a song or phrase that won’t get out of your head. Mike woke up a few days ago with “Megawati Sukarnoputri” running through his head. He thinks it started in a dream. Why this happened is, like all the Great Questions, unanswerable.  Thankfully, the storm has passed, and there is room in Mike’s head for other things again. Megawati Sukarnoputri, in case you don’t know (or, for that matter, even if you do know) is the oldest daughter of Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia. She became active in politics herself, and served as the 5th president of Indonesia from 2001-2004. Her full name is Diah Permata Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri. Now that would have been as earworm! More like an ear anaconda. The name Sukarnoputri is a patronymic meaning daughter of Sukarno. Indonesians don’t have surnames, per se. Mike told Judy that he had an earworm but didn’t tell her what it was for fear that it would be contagious, as they often are.

And speaking of contagious, to continue with our theme, let’s talk about leprosy. The  Torah portion read in synagogues this week is the section in Leviticus that deals with leprosy. There is extensive discussion of what to look for, and what priestly rituals need to be executed in order to deal with it. Clearly they realized that it is a contagious disease. Fortunately, we now know more about the cause and treatment of leprosy than was known at the time of the writing of Leviticus. Also known as Hansen’s Disease, leprosy is caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. This is an extremely slowly growing and poorly transmissible infection, sort of the opposite of COVID-19. It involves the skin and peripheral nerves. Typically patients develop either flat hypopigmented patches, or nodules. There can be extensive destruction of the nose. Involvement of the peripheral nerves leads to loss of sensation of the fingers and toes. In advanced disease the digits can become deformed and even disappear. In Biblical times leprosy was suggested to be the result of a moral failure on the part of the afflicted individual. There are two Biblical instances in which someone was stricken with leprosy through a moral failure. The first was when God spoke to Moses at the burning bush. Moses told God that he couldn’t do what God asked because the Hebrews wouldn’t listen to him. His response indicated his lack of belief in God’s power. God struck his hand with leprosy, and then relieved him of it immediately, as a sign of His power, just to show Moses that He wasn’t  messing around. The other instance was when Moses’ sister, Miriam, was critical of Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. Cush according to the Book of Genesis was a son of Ham, and grandson of Noah. He was also the father of Nimrod. The people of Cush are thought to have lived in Ethiopia and the Sudan, and were dark-skinned. (Moses was not the only man in the Bible to dig black chicks. King Solomon had quite an affair with the Queen of Sheba. Mike carried on this noble tradition when he married Penny, Michelle’s mother. He says it is the most biblical thing he has done in his lifetime.) So, God struck Miriam with leprosy, and then relented after Moses asked him to. One proof that leprosy is not due to a moral failure is the fact that armadillos are susceptible to it, especially in the southern United States. You don’t have to believe me. You can look it up.

I could go on and on, as you know, but I think I will leave it there for now. Other than the reality of our new normal, things are well in Happy Meadows. I hope the same is true for you, wherever you are. Don’t get careless, be well, always love your neighbor, and don’t forget to give your cat a big kiss. Bye, bye!