Apart from grieving for our nation, I feel a personal sadness for our President-elect. He is by so many accounts one of the most decent, compassionate, honorable individuals in politics today. His experience makes him uniquely qualified to address the nearly overwhelming problems our nation faces. He has wisely chosen extraordinary individuals to help him in his formidable task. He has reached the pinnacle of an ambition he's held for his entire adult life. Similarly, our Vice President-elect. This should be an unvarnished time of personal pride for Kamala Harris. The first woman, African-American, individual of Indian descent to ascend to this high office, she has demonstrated her brilliance, strength, accomplishments, and yes--compassion. Yet when Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr is sworn in as our 46th President tomorrow outside our nation's Capitol, and Kamala Harris becomes that multiple glass ceiling-breaker Vice President, the area will look like a war zone because of insurrection by extremists goaded by Biden's predecessor.
Last night, I finished reading Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. The author, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., is a Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. ... Though Glaude speaks of Baldwin’s rage, and his own rage, the rage that came to mind when I started this piece is mine.
It all seemed so simple. For our weekly Zoom get-together with friends, one woman suggested a discussion of a rather quirky event: an organ recital of a work by American composer John Cage. But is it 2 hours with an intermission? No. Perhaps, since John Cage was known for his innovations, it would take place over a day or two? Nope.
I realize that lots of people avoid talking about politics in these dreadfully polarized times. But political junkie that I am, I failed to realize that some of you don't even want to read about politics--not even on this blog. (Oh, my!) Please bear with me as I tell you why I am now far more hopeful about our country than I was before the Democratic National Convention last week.
Last night, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, one of my personal heroes, died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.
It was four years ago that I attended a political rally in a church in a neighboring community. Congressman Lewis had come to town to try to help a younger candidate win a seat to join him in the House of Representatives.
The church was packed with a heartwarmingly diverse crowd: all variations on the color spectrum, differing faiths or no faith, young and old, men and women.
Nobody would ever accuse me of being a math whiz, though I do feel I have skills some of my younger acquaintances lack: I eschew a calculator on occasion to make sure the various cortices of my brain responsible for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division get a little workout.
You just never know when your battery may run down while you’re stranded on a desert island and have an immediate need to balance your checkbook.
Oh, and there’s another mathematical task that I’ve mastered. An older friend told me not long ago that physicians who are concerned that a patient may be in the early stages of dementia will test mental agility by asking said patient to subtract backwards from 100—by 8s. I’ve gotten quite facile at that effort—and have moved on to 7s with similar success.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m inviting you to join me in exploring a story that involves number theory—a deep dive that I have no business whatsoever attempting. But my friend Allan, who excels in math, knows I like quirky stories and thoughtfully sent me this one, which appeared in Popular Mechanics.
She is an international icon, yet she talks with strangers as if they are her very best friends. She revels in her status, yet openly discusses her vulnerabilities. She moves deftly from riotous humor to wrenching soul-searching with an apparent spontaneity that's surely grounded in practice. She’s a marvel.
If you’re fortunate enough to have Netflix access, you can watch the new documentary, Becoming, now. If you don’t have Netflix, I’m sure it will be more widely distributed in the near future.
I don’t think my description of the film will detract from your experience: Michelle Obama’s magnetism—and the poignancy of the recent trajectory of her life and that of President Obama—must be witnessed to be fully appreciated. (The amazing orator, President Charisma, plays a relatively small part in this documentary.)
I guess I'm making a large leap in assuming that a) you haven't seen this photo before; and b) you've had the Zoom experience that so many of us have been introduced to in this time of social distancing.