The New, Improved Five O’Clock Follies

Noted epidemiologist, Vietnam War draft dodger, and President, Donald J. Trump now conducts televised daily briefings on the Federal Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic—and whatever other random thought-substitutes may then be fluttering around, bat-like, in his belfry. We hope that scientists in the future—if there is one, and there are any—will study this phenomenon and confirm or deny the following theory, which is ours: when he gets in front of the cameras and talks, the nation’s collective IQ plummets. Collective intelligence is not exactly a commodity which we have in surplus. He should be grateful to the President’s handlers, though, for inducing him to …

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The Big X-Ray

Last weekend Covid-19 was killing a thousand Americans a day. If the death rate doubles every six days or so, this weekend we’ll say goodbye to 4,000 more. This is, of course, quite terrible. It certainly seems so right now. All things being relative, though, and the laws of mathematics being as they are [the exponential function has a power that Bill Barr can only envy] a month or two from now we may look back and see these as the good old days. Remember the bumper sticker, “Giant Meteor 2016—Just End It Already”? The comet never came, but we got the next-worst thing: umpteen …

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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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Captain Crozier Deserves a Medal

Let me get this straight: Captain Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt has been relieved of his command for “poor judgment,” “unprofessional conduct,” and damage to his “national security mission” because he wrote a letter asking the U.S. Navy for resources to help his crew of nearly 5,000 sailors deal with a coronavirus outbreak on his ship. Meanwhile, his and our Commander-in-Chief got elected at least in part through the help and intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man for whom our president often expresses affection and admiration.  Our Commander-in-Chief has gone through Secretaries of Defense and National Security Advisors as …

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America as Alcatraz

Meningitis broke out at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in the early weeks of 1969, where thousands of young men undergoing basic and advanced infantry training were packed into wooden WWII-era barracks. I knew only that meningitis could kill, and I felt a little uneasy as we formed ranks to hear the protocols we must follow. All the windows would remain open six inches, top and bottom, and trainees would make their bunks with the heads and feet alternating. In the chow line and at sick call, we had to stand two paces apart. That was it, I think. In all other aspects we were thrown together …

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A Genuine Mash Note

To the Editor: Thank you for continuing to publish during this time made even crazier by the coronavirus. Thank you, too, for your generous offer to extend my subscription until you go back to print, but please keep my renewal date the same (November.) Yes, I love the feel of freshly printed cellulose between my fingers, but if I’ve gotten it, even in digital form, you don’t owe me. Please take the small amount that my subscription represents and use it to keep the commentary rolling. Stay well, Nan Graves Cape Neddick, Maine Nan: Aww…. The Editor