Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

By John Ruberry

When one looks back the great artists–and I dislike this term–of the classic rock era of the mid-1960s thru the early 1970s, the usual big names to come to mind, the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Bob Dylan. 

One name–and he just released his 43rd studio album last week–is generally overlooked. And that artist is Van Morrison, also known as Van the Man and the Belfast Cowboy. Oh sure, he’s recorded some memorable hits, such as “Brown Eyed Girl,” along with “Moondance” and “Have I Told You Lately.” Before Morrison’s first album, Blowin’ Your Mind, was released in 1967, he was the frontman for Them. That band’s anthemic “Gloria” deservedly appears on many best-ever song lists. 

But Morrison isn’t a much of a self-promoter–he doesn’t do many interviews and he’s not the best media conversationalist–even though Van the Man’s lyrics are generally eloquent and articulate. 

Two years ago Morrison began attracting media attention for his impassioned opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns, which, during the height of them, prevented Van, who turns 77 this summer, from performing live.

Morrison just concluded a short USA tour, a British tour begins Monday. 

In 2020, Morrison released three anti-lockdown songs, “Born to Be Free” and “As I Walked Out,” as well as “No More Lockdown.” That same year Eric Clapton recorded a Morrison-penned anti-lockdown song, “Stand and Deliver.” Clapton, who celebrated his 77th birthday in March, was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week. Hey, no reasonable person believes COVID is un-catchable. 

Those anti-lockdown songs led Northern Ireland’s health minister, Robin Swann, to write a Rolling Stone op-ed attacking Morrison, where Swann declared, “Some of what is he saying is actually dangerous.”

Last year in Belfast, after four of his concerts were cancelled, Morrison led a “Robin Swann is very dangerous” chant at a banquet. Because of the chant, Swann sued Morrison.

Which brings us to “Dangerous,” the opening track of Morrison’s brand-new album, What’s It Gonna Take?

Somebody said I was dangerous
I said something bad, but it must’ve been good
Somebody said I was dangerous
I must be getting close to the truth, alright, alright

But Morrison isn’t done with lockdowns, as the first ten songs of this 15-song effort attack COVID-19 restrictions on varying levels.

On the title track, Morrison opines,

Politicians don’t represent the people
Government doesn’t represent us at all
Government takes and ruins all our business
Big tax about to take it all.

In life, I’ve learned that sometimes life is just blah blah blah. Really, because that’s another great tune here, entitled of course, “Sometimes It’s Just Blah Blah Blah.”

How do you like the new normal?
Tell me, how is that going for you?
How did you overcome the restrictions?
How do you handle the news?
Do you still think the government’s not lying to you?
Oh, has the penny dropped yet?
Seems there’s no way out of this impasse
Is it something we’ll live to regret?

What’s It Gonna Take? is absolutely an essential musical release but I suspect it will be savaged by the critics, most of whom are liberals. Morrison’s prior collection, a double album, Latest Record Project, Volume 1, also blew the whistle on lockdown restrictions, as well as social media–quite obviously so on the song “Why Are You On Facebook?” It’s a good album, albeit a bit long, but still far better than the swill that passes as 21st century music. And the critics for the most part hated that Latest Record Project, Volume 1.

As recently as 2017 Morrison described himself as apolitical. Clearly, at least in regards to COVID lockdowns and government overreach, he is now a strident libertarian. 

Rock music, with few exceptions, hasn’t been the soundtrack of rebellion for decades. It’s ironic that the most rebellious rocker today–or perhaps he’s a bluesman?–is a man in his late 70s, the Belfast Cowboy, Van Morrison.

Here’s one final brilliant lyrical excerpt from Van’s latest album, this time from “Damage and Recovery.”

Snowflakes hiding in their houses
Most of us need to get right back to work
Money doesn’t grow on trees
Jobs don’t thrive on barren ground
Narrow-minded politics
So-called social scientist tricks
Telling lies, they’re meant to be
Watching morons on TV.

There are a couple of references to “Gates,” as in Bill Gates, a COVID-alarmist. A couple of weeks ago, the Microsoft founder and self-appointed virus expert said about COVID-19, “We didn’t understand that it’s a fairly low fatality rate and that it’s a disease mainly in the elderly, kind of like flu is, although a bit different than that.”

Wow. Two years ago, if someone posted that sentence on Facebook or Twitter, they’d probably have their accounts suspended.

Morrison was right in 2020 about lockdowns and Gates was wrong.

There’s a little bit of Van Morrison in all of us. There’s a lot of Van Morrison in all thinking people.

What’s It Gonna Take? is available for download on iTunes and for purchase in the CD format on Amazon, where, as of this writing, the reviews are fairly good. And you can buy it or stream it from the Van Morrison official website.

UPDATE May 31, 2022:

Yesterday multiple United Kingdom news outlets reported that Morrison has turned the tables on Robin Swann. He’s suing the Northern Ireland health minister.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit, he’s married to Mrs. Marathon Pundit. Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” plays on their wedding video.

The COVID coup

Posted: May 18, 2021 by chrisharper in politics
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By Christopher Harper

Two crucial statistics jump out at me about the pandemic.

The nation is recording about 50,000 COVID cases a day, roughly the same as before the election. 

The daily average of deaths stood last week at 610, which compares with 817 in the week before the November election.

Despite all the mask-wearing, lockdowns, and vaccinations, the numbers are roughly the same after Joe Biden took over.

Sure, the numbers are better than January and February. Still, the country is roughly at the same place after the Democrats repeatedly attacked Donald Trump for his incompetence in handling the pandemic.

That then leads me to the rather obvious question: Wasn’t the pandemic more about politics than science?

The COVID coup was successful in getting rid of Donald Trump. Now it’s time to return to the mask-less, feckless, and reckless job of ruining the country. 

I’m more than happy to rid myself of the rather useless mask and return to the restaurants and shops without a face covering.

But isn’t it somewhat disingenuous of the Democrats to declare victory? 

The Democrats, combined with their friends in the media, used the pandemic to get Trump out of office. Although the talking points convinced many to vote for Biden, the reality is that Trump did a pretty good job of dealing with a crisis no one had faced for a century.

The Democrats and the media scared people almost to death or at least to vote against Trump. Without the pandemic, Trump would have been easily elected based on the country’s economy alone.

I won’t get into the idiocy of wearing masks because of the “science.” We’ve gone from the scientists telling us that masks were ineffective to the need to maybe wear two masks to the CDC announcement that masks weren’t needed anymore for many people. 

The most damaging part of the coup was to lock down almost everyone across the nation. Not only did the lockdowns, which were mainly the decisions of state officials, tank the economy, but the actions also exacerbated the disease for many people. 

For example, the CDC has determined a reason for a higher percentage of Blacks and Hispanics dying during the pandemic. “[P]ersons from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups might be more likely to live in multigenerational and multifamily households.” Therefore, more Blacks and Hispanics died BECAUSE of the lockdowns. See https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6942e1.htm

That findings are even worse for those 65 and older. From May 1 to August 31, 2020, 78.2 percent of those who died were 65 and older. That’s three out of every fourth death was a senior when they represent only 16.5 percent of the population. 

Simply put, the lockdowns made life deadlier for many seniors who died during the pandemic.

Although it’s unlikely, I hope some people realize that they got played by the “scientists,” the media, and the Democrats. The numbers don’t back up the “science.”

Changing how we work

Posted: March 2, 2021 by chrisharper in Uncategorized
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By Christopher Harper

Like more and more Americans, I decided to leave the big city and move to the hinterlands, where I can work via computer and save on taxes and housing costs.

Three years ago, I had proposed to my employer, Temple University, that I teach only online. I have taught online classes since 2005 and was good at it.

Unfortunately, my supervisor fought the plan. I challenged the decision throughout the bureaucracy, including a decision to join the teachers’ union. I finally got to teach one class a semester online after I filed a disability claim because of a bad back.

Fast forward to the pandemic. I was advising my colleagues and my college on how to teach online effectively.

Since I only have a few years left before I retire, my wife and I decided to move from Philadelphia to Muncy, Pennsylvania, a town of about 2,400 people in the north-central part of the state.

That move saves us about $1,000 a month on city taxes. Housing is half the cost for twice the space.

Moreover, research has demonstrated that students learn just as effectively online as they do in person. I’ve found that the discussion is far better online than in person because students don’t feel anxious about talking when they’re outside the classroom setting.

I teach asynchronously, which means there aren’t any silly Zoom meetings. I post prepackaged videos and study materials to a website. Students can work on the material at their own pace and refer back to materials they find challenging.

So far, Temple and other universities have not lowered the price for online classes—a reduction that should happen because virtual learning requires fewer buildings, less maintenance, and only a slightly higher increase in technological assistance.

I’m not alone in my desire to continue working from home. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly a quarter of all Americans worked from home during the pandemic. A new Bucknell University Freeman College of Management survey also found that workers over 40 preferred telework. In contrast, younger workers are more likely to return to in-person work when possible. For more information, see https://www.bucknell.edu/sites/default/files/college_of_management/covid-19_telework_study_report.pdf

The survey of 400 people reported other interesting results:

–67% of those surveyed said telework helped improve the quality of their work. 
 –61% noted a productivity improvement.
 –60% said they performed their jobs better.

Coupled with the savings I and others made, I am more than happy to stay at home and continue teaching online. 

Obviously, some industries cannot be restructured for online-only work. But rethinking how we work has been at least one good effect of the pandemic.

Most Americans are going to get a small influx of money in the next 60 days, due to two separate events. First, the 1.9 trillion dollar COVID-19 bill that is 90% about bailing out Democrat-supporting regions of the country will include some sort of stimulus checks, likely the $1400 per individual. Also, most people are filing their taxes between now and April, and most Americans will get some sort of refund on their taxes.

The thing is, most of this money gets spent without thinking about future consequences. The local used car dealerships always run “sales” this time of year that mention tax returns, and I’m seeing “stimulus check” sales advertisements popping up now. Yet we’re not going into happy times anytime soon. If you watch the stock market and references by the Fed that indicate inflation is going to come roaring back should give us pause.

If you’re not one to care about the Fed, then look more locally. Wood prices at Lowes and Home Depot are well double what they were a year ago, between the boom in home building due to low interest rates and COVID-19 shutting down the lumber mills for a time. Gas is more expensive now. I’ve had more Amazon packages getting delivered late than ever before. Stores are still running out of basic items, and while this is infrequent now, remember that is essentially never happened in the past.

All this indicates we’re in for a bumpy ride for at least two years, if not four. I’m not going to get caught unprepared for this, and you shouldn’t either. I suggest you prioritize spending this way:

  1. Debt. Get rid of any debt you can. Car almost paid off? Pay it off now. Credit card debts? Pay them off or work a forgiveness plan, an especially good idea now since card companies are also taking advantage of low interest rates.
    I would also refinance your house if you haven’t done so. Most people can’t simply pay off their mortgage, but you can make a principle payment to pay it off earlier, and shifting to bi-weekly payments (if your company allows you to) will cut years off the back end.
  2. Build up supplies. COVID-19 taught us that everything from toilet paper to sweet potatoes will be in short supply. It’s going to happen again. Rather than fight lines at a store, build up a 1-3 month supply of basics that don’t really ever go bad: bottled water, paper products, disposable eating utensils, soap and cleaning supplies. You should also keep about 2 weeks of meals in reserve. I have things like spaghetti and frozen foods that can keep for a long time just hanging out. They occasionally save me when dinner decides to catch on fire, and when the stores were swamped in the initial stages of pandemic, this food let me stretch our groceries further.
  3. Fix what you can. Americans are pretty handy people, but we also can be lazy. Plenty of homes and vehicles have little things that need repair. Get those done now. Don’t wait forever on car maintenance. The pandemic backed our local dealership up by a month for appointments. Same goes for home maintenance, even if you do it yourself, you may not get the supplies when people buy out the stores.
  4. Set your investing on automatic. Unless you’re smart on the stock market, you’re best off making long term investments on mutual funds. Whatever your investing strategy, put it on automatic through automatic funds transfers and investments. Too many people get scared when the market comes down and sell, which is the worst time to do that. Putting it on cruise control helps you take advantage of the down market over time.
  5. Build up your local network. This may not cost much money, but its critical. Do you know your neighbors? Do you know a local electrician, plumber, car mechanic and veterinarian? Remember how even routine house calls for minor issues became a major problem in the pandemic? You avoid this by knowing local people. Now is the time to get to know them and be on good terms, so when you need their help in a pinch, you can get it.

Don’t throw your stimulus to the wind! Set yourself up now to get through the trying times ahead.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.