Statistics and Tears

    “In fact, the more who die, sometimes the less we care,” [Paul] Slovic said in an interview. In greater numbers, death becomes impersonal, and people feel increasingly hopeless that their actions can have any effect.

    “Statistics are human beings with tears dried off,” Slovic said. “And that’s dangerous because we need tears to motivate us.”

    William Wan and Brittany Shammas (Washington Post)

    Leadership and Trust

    Trust is fundamental, reciprocal and, ideally, pervasive. If it is present, anything is possible. If it is absent, nothing is possible. The best leaders trust their followers with the truth, and you know what happens as a result? Their followers trust them back. With that bond, they can do big, hard things together…

    George P. Schultz (Washington Post)

    Children Watching

    “The Children Were Watching,” dir. Robert Drew and Richard Leacock, USA 1961, 25 min. – This documentary doesn’t feel as old to me as I wish it did. In part that’s because I watched it in Trump’s America during an especially difficult year, but something deeper is at play. The film’s ongoing relevance represents an ambiguous answer to its directors' main question: What were the children of a New Orleans neighborhood learning as they watched their parents during the conflicts surrounding school integration in November 1960?

    Depression in Two Senses of the Word

    Men on a bench, two talking, three with their face covered, trying to sleep. They look unemployed and depressed in this Great Depression–era photo

    Shot in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, in 1934. Source: Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2013647257.

    'Absurdist Tropes'

    Looking forward to a more productive week in quarantine now that martial law and the end of our democracy appear to be off the table for the time being.


    The disturbing emergency alert sound from my phone (for DC’s 4th curfew night) makes me think of an air raid siren. The blaring is an apt metaphor for this presidency.


    Minnesota Governor Walz’s assertion that ongoing riots are no longer about George Floyd ring true in a way. But were they ever about one man? Floyd’s death was certainly no one-off. The protests—and the participation of so many young people—should give pause to those leaders who would gloss over this society’s brutal injustices and disparities.

    'Mr Smith Goes to Washington'

    I watched "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) last night. Despite the many differences to today's world and the oversimplification of the state political machine, the politics in the film strike me as relevant to our own time. Thing is, though, it would probably resonate with Americans regardless of ideological or party orientation. Anti-Trump people could take its anti-corruption and pro-democracy message to heart. Pro-Trump people could embrace how the Washington outsider triumphs, and credulous pro-Trumpers could go for the anti-corruption, pro-democracy stuff too. Finally, the rough-and-tumble quality of the political game would resonate across the political spectrum.

    Alpharetta, Georgia

    [A] great American experiment got underway in a place promising “the luxury of the modern South” with none of the death.

    Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post)

    Quarantine Life

    Cold-brewing some tea, two hibiscus and one lemon balm

    three glass beer mugs, each one liter, on the window sill

    Photo by author

    'The Public Health' (1840)

    Via JSTOR Daily, which describes an 1840 pamphlet advocating "a four-pronged approach to public healthcare that sounds remarkably like our own."

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