Revelations 2020

Responses to the spread of the coronavirus vary considerably in different jurisdictions. In states of the U.S. that are dominated by massive cities, health constraints have tended to be severe, subjecting rural counties to the same crippling strictures as urban ghettoes. Relief from such broad-brush diktats often depends on discretionary enforcement by police, who can usually judge local needs better than governors. Here in New Hampshire, the outbreak has thus far struck a fairly light blow, perhaps because the Governor’s order fell a little more on the strict side than the situation originally seemed to warrant. He didn’t close the borders, but this time last …

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What’s the gimmick in Trump’s plan to “rescue” the public Postal Service?

One thing we’ve learned for sure this year is that no national crisis is too awful to keep Trump & Company from exploiting it for their plutocratic political purposes. COVID-19 is a God-Awful crisis, but late one night deep inside the White House, a dim bulb flickered in our present president’s head: “Eureka,” Trump exclaimed, “here’s our chance to kill the U.S. Post Office!” Of all the things a president might focus on during a devastating pandemic, hijacking your and my public mail service, bankrupting it, and then privatizing its profitable functions has become a top priority for this brooding madman. Bizarrely, Trump has ranted …

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Kitchen Table University

Somewhere in my house must still be the cartoon my mother clipped out of a popular magazine from about 1950 and tucked into my baby album. It depicts a man just coming home from work in the traditional grey business suit, wearing a fedora and carrying a briefcase. He stands in the open doorway of a kitchen that looks as though a tornado has just passed through. Cooking utensils clutter the counters and dishes fill the sink, while baby spoons and cups and rattles lie scattered about. In the middle of the room stands an empty highchair, the tray of which is smeared and dripping. …

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Don’t shut the post office, expand their services

What’s the matter with the post office? The U.S. Postal Service, I mean—the corporate hierarchy that runs this enormously popular public institution. Yes, I know that U.S.P.S. has lost revenue it traditionally got from first-class mail delivery, but I also know that letter carriers and postal workers have offered many excellent ideas for expanding the services that U.S.P.S. can deliver, thus increasing both revenue and the importance of maintaining these community treasures. Yet, the Postal Board of Governors, which includes corporate interests that would profit by killing the public service, seems intent on—guess what?—killing it. The board’s only “idea” is to cut services and shut …

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Educating Billy

Early in the spring of 1963, we eighth-graders at Conway Junior High traipsed down Main Street to Kennett High School to sign up for our freshman programs. It did not occur to me, or perhaps to many of my classmates, that this event could have a significant impact on the future course of our lives. We saw the guidance counselor, who asked us a few questions and filled out some 5×7 cards before signing us up for a program. There were three general courses of instruction at Kennett. College prep consisted mainly of academic studies. General education began with fundamental English, math, history, and science, …

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Who’s making our medicine?

[Originally published in 2009, this somehow seems relevant. – The Ed.] –=≈=– Let’s talk pills. To treat everything from allergies to heart problems, half of Americans take a prescription medicine every day, and nearly all of us reach for the pill bottle on occasion. It’s perfectly safe, though, because the Food and Drug Administration regulates the ingredients that go into those medicinal compounds, right? Yes—assuming they’re produced in the U.S.A. Uh, aren’t they? Mostly, no. Take antibiotics. The New York Times reports that ingredients for the majority of these bacteria fighters are “now made almost exclusively in China and India,” as are the components of …

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