Blaming Covid-19?

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Going around the room and asking what has the Coronavirus impacted one’s life, the answer lists from A to Z with “Everything” probably a popular choice. But honestly, I feel that answer would be a false positive. Because blaming everything on the Covid-19 is an easy way out  but disguises the real issue.

For example, I am not sleeping well, losing my people skills, and gaining weight. All these existed before the Covid-19 was even a word. But now studies and reports attribute them to the pandemic. Maybe true in some cases. But for me, they existed 18 months ago. Possibly the Coronavirus has accentuated and shed more light on them.

Yes, my poor quality sleep may be exacerbated by me worrying about if I stood too close to someone in the store, my introvert tendency is having a field day on the account of social distancing, and of course my caloric gain without the rigor of marathon training. All Covid-19 plausible.

But no denying in that I am responsible for my problems. Blaming them on the pandemic is futile and does not solve the problems for me. Eventually, when we conquer the Coronavirus, I will be stuck with my problems post-pandemic. Except, no more  excuses.

What issues do you think are being falsely attributed to the Covid-19?

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Flattening The Curve?

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At the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, healthcare experts were worrying about our infrastructure reaching the brink of saturation, and social distancing was the way to flatten the curve and gain time for vaccine & therapeutic developments.

Now, 18 months later, the worst case scenario is happening.  News headline has that Idaho is rationing its health care statewide “because the increase in COVID-19 patients has exhausted the state’s medical resources.” And this is in spite of the available vaccines and therapeutics.  What is going on?

According to the Associated Press, Idaho is one of the least vaccinated U.S. states, with only about 40% of its residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Only Wyoming and West Virginia have lower vaccination rates. The vaccines are supposed to ease the social distancing restrictions and allow life back to normal.

Will West Virginia and Wyoming also follow the path of Idaho? Not if we can flatten the curve again.  But given the hospitals are getting crushed and people are dying (because of it), what will it take for the remaining Americans to get vaccinated? 

What options do we have to flatten the curve without resorting to a vaccine mandate or lockdown?

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Public Mandate Vs. Individual Freedom

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You see the word “mandate” a lot in the news media and their social counterparts. Particularly used in the context of Coronavirus prevention, such as mask mandate followed by the vaccination mandate when the vaccines became available are all the rave and debates.

Not a big fan of “mandate,” I believe the term is often used or abused by unscrupulous individuals to claim legitimacy in their motives. Take the Covid-19 vaccination for instance.  Clearly, there is a majority support within the US for the immunization (55% fully vaccinated and 64% received at lease one dose) [source].

However, with that level of public support, or even public mandate, it is still a far cry from being a legal requirement.  To be legal requires a due process involving potentially all three branches of the government in this case.

On the flip side, the protection of individual freedom is in the US Constitution. The reason is clear.  Our democracy has a system of checks and balances designed to prevent government overreach.

President Biden is, understandably, frustrated with the 8 million Americans still holding out on the vaccination.  Speaking about them the other night, he said, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”

Be that as it may, individual choice is still the rule of the day until a law is passed. Moreover, President Biden was careful in his speech and did not use the word “mandate.” For that I am glad, knowing our system of checks and balances still govern.

Do you believe the costs of democracy is a just burden or investment?

 

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Be Aware Of Your Filters

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By filters, I don’t mean the kind you find under the hood of a car or in your basement furnace, but the kind between your two ears.  Yes, the filters that make you look but don’t see or listen but don’t hear.  Allow me to elaborate.

Our brains are biased naturally.  With multitude inputs around us, we go crazy if we attend to them all.  That’s when our brains filter out the important from the not important, the new from the the familiar. Our muscle memory can efficiently take care of the routine & habitual tasks.

This way, we can focus our attention and energy on the important, high priority tasks.  Similar to the autopilot on an airplane which allow the pilot to focus on the more critical tasks such as take off and landing. The other stuffs we can do them with eyes closed as the saying goes.

If  that is how our brain works, filtering out the familiar, insignificant details, and allow item of interest to pass through, why the need to be aware of them filters?  Because, analogous to the spam filters, important information can be inadvertently left out.

When we don’t see the homeless on the street corners, the starving children in the soup kitchen line, or the fish choked by plastics in the ocean, they are not on our radars.  But the problems still exist, and they don’t solve themselves. Be aware of the filters.  If you don’t sense it, you don’t know it.

What do you think about the social/ media? Are they filters?

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The Peril Of Going Paperless

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Call me a dinosaur, but I am reluctant to go paperless when it comes to banking.  Despite the ease of use, environment friendly, convenience, or whatever the bank pitches me, I request paper.  Following story is the reason why I make such a request.

I had a credit card that I no longer needed.  Before its annual fees was up for renewal, I decided to cancel it.  Yup. Done. To convey my intention, I communicated and received confirmation through the bank’s secured emails.  All paperless.

Sure enough, the Bank informed me the account had been closed, and I should cut up my card.  All good.  That was until I received another notification of statement two months later. In it included an amount equaling my annual fees that was due.

This was when my worst nightmare started.  You see, I had forgotten my online access password.  And to request a password reset, I had to enter a bunch of information.  Among them was my card or account numbers.  Cold sweats began to form on my skull.

How many people remember their credit card or account numbers? I certainly didn’t. Mind you I had already cut up my card.  And I had no paper statement to fall back on. So I picked up the phone and called the bank.  On first greeting, the machine asked for my account number.

Are you a paperless subscriber?

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Week In Review – 12 Sep 2021

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Two decades ago, the  09.11.2001 event changed America forever and started our long war on terror.  Have we achieved justice for the near three thousand lives lost on that day?  Will we ever?

Let’s see: Osama Bin Laden was killed  in 2011.  The five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are on trial in Guantanamo Bay. This has been twenty years for the victims’ families to wait.  And we withdrew our troops from Afghanistan last week.  So what does justice mean?

And don’t forget that we are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Our Covid-19 immunization rate seems to have hit a plateau due to people’s vaccine hesitancy. Many folks have dug in their heels. And vaccination has been politicized, similar to other topics, as weapons against opposing views

It is a trying time for the US.  Who knows which way we are headed?

Stay safe & have a nice week.

 

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9/11 – Twenty Years Since

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Twenty years is a long time.  But the scenes from the 9/11 attacks on the US homeland remain as vivid as yesterday.  My children were toddlers at the time. Sad to say that terrorism has morphed into a fact of life from their perspective. 

Then again, perhaps it might be inevitable.

The siege on the US Capital earlier this year clearly indicated that terrorism is not limited to “them” foreigners. But also us. President Bush who was in the White House during the 9/11 attacks reminded us today that “violent extremists” are abroad and at home.

In the past twenty years, our War on Terror has kept another 9/11 attacks from happening at home. But, are we really safer than before?  And at what costs?  Have we in the process turned ourselves into some kind of violent extremists as well?

Are we going forward or backward on terrorism in twenty years?

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Where Is Political Polarization Headed?

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What happens when political polarization is taking to the extremes?  That’s a question I have been contemplating lately.  Will the result be chaos? Apocalypse? Or something else? I don’t know, and frankly, I rather not find out.

But if our social dialogues and political discourses gravitate farther to the extremes, either left, right or both, people would buy-in to the rhetoric or be turned off by it. Either way, the political system as we know it would be dysfunctional.

In a sense, the American Democracy is already in jeopardy.  People storming the Capitals, losing faith in public elections by calling them fake, and giving up on voting are no longer hypothetical.  What will further division bring?

We are barely hanging on only because the good grace of our founders and their work in the Constitution.  How long can this last?  Should the politics be used as a force for good or evil, for public good or individual (party) gain, or for unity or division?

What do you think will take to bring us back together?

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Justice Everywhere?

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Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Lofty words & ideals, but the problem is that justice is a moral value that depends on the larger context of law and politics. Both of which are social constructs and very much cultural dependent.

Take the example of women’s rights in the United States and in the Saudi Arabia. The very same subject incurs a wide latitude of interpretations between the two places. While the Equal Rights Amendment was ratified by the state of Virginia in 2020, the 38th state needed to amend the US Constitution, it remains a goal for the American women.

In Saudi Arabia where the Islamic Sharia law governs, the women’s rights there as compared to the ones in American are night and day different.  At least in the US, the ERA advocates have been able to work the politics, win its US Congressional approval (1972), and, this is important, continue on their effort for the 98th year.  There is still hope.

For a variety of justice in the US, click here.

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Trying Time, Part 2

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Although the outlook for the Coronavirus is still uncertain, its impacts on our lives are readily apparent. Lives lost, stores closed, and social behaviors modified are cases in point.  But there are underlying fissures more than meets the eye. 

Particularly, the Covid-19  added a drag on the supply side which is driving product cost up and material availability down. Take housing, gasoline, and car prices for example. All have peaked as compared to pre-pandemic levels.   For many Americans these are essential needs. 

In this unusual time, we need compassion and support toward each another.  But in reality, we see the opposite.  When the pandemic unemployment checks ended on Monday for millions of Americans, Senator Ted Cruise (R-Tx) responded  “Um, get a job?”  And over the weekend, a brawl broke out in Disney World, supposedly the “happiest place on earth.”

No question, it’s a trying time.  And the pandemic is putting us through a wringer.  Are we coming apart or together? Do we choose to be supportive or hostile under the circumstances? The choice is up to us.  We’re the United States.

Part 1, here.

What will it take for people to be more tolerant or compassionate?

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