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  • The Life and Legacy of Stephen Sondheim December 3, 2021
    Stephen Sondheim died last week at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 91.For six decades, Mr. Sondheim, a composer-lyricist whose works include “Sweeney Todd” and “Into the Woods,” transformed musical theater into an art form as rich, complex and contradictory as life itself.“For me, the loss that we see pouring out of Twitter right now and everywhere you loo […] (The New York Times)
  • The Supreme Court Considers the Future of Roe December 2, 2021
    On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard a case that was a frontal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the nearly 50-year-old decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.The case in front of the justices was about a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.For the state to win, the court, which now has a conservative majority, woul […] (The New York Times)
  • Amazon and the Labor Shortage December 1, 2021
    Amazon is constantly hiring. Data has shown that the company has had a turnover rate of about 150 percent a year.For the founder, Jeff Bezos, worker retention was not important, and the company built systems that didn’t require skilled workers or extensive training — it could hire and lose people all of the time.Amazon has been able to replenish its work for […] (The New York Times)
  • What We Know About the Omicron Variant November 30, 2021
    The story of the Omicron variant began a week ago, when researchers in southern Africa detected a version of the coronavirus that carried 50 mutations. When scientists look at coronavirus mutations, they worry about three things: Is the new variant more contagious? Is it going to cause people to get sicker? And how will the vaccines work against it? We explo […] (The New York Times)
  • A Prosecutor’s Winning Strategy in the Ahmaud Arbery Case November 29, 2021
    This episode contains strong language. Heading into deliberations in the trial of the three white men in Georgia accused of chasing down and killing Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man, it was not clear which way the jurors were leaning. In the end, the mostly white jury found all three men guilty of murder. We look at the prosecution’s decision not to make […] (The New York Times)
  • The Farmers Revolt in India November 24, 2021
    After a landslide re-election in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s control over India seemed impossible to challenge.But a yearlong farmers’ protest against agricultural overhauls has done just that, forcing the Indian prime minister to back down.How did the protesters succeed?Guest: Emily Schmall, a South Asia correspondent for The New York Times.Sign up […] (The New York Times)
  • Righting the Historical Wrong of the Claiborne Highway November 23, 2021
    In the 1950s and ’60s, the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, one of the oldest African-American neighborhoods in the United States, was a vibrant community.But the construction of the Claiborne Expressway in the 1960s gutted the area.The Biden administration has said that the trillion-dollar infrastructure package will address such historical wrongs.How mig […] (The New York Times)
  • The Acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse November 22, 2021
    This episode contains strong language.On Aug. 25, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager, shot three men, two of them fatally, during street protests in Kenosha, Wis., over the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer.Mr. Rittenhouse’s trial, which began on Nov. 1, revolved around a central question: Did his actions constitute self-defense under Wiscons […] (The New York Times)
  • The Sunday Read: ‘Did Covid Change How We Dream?’ November 21, 2021
    As the novel coronavirus spread and much of the world moved toward isolation, dream researchers began rushing to design studies and set up surveys that might allow them to access some of the most isolated places of all, the dreamscapes unfolding inside individual brains. The first thing almost everyone noticed was that for many people, their dream worlds see […] (The New York Times)
  • How Belarus Manufactured a Border Crisis November 19, 2021
    For three decades, President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus, a former Soviet nation in Eastern Europe, ruled with an iron fist. But pressure has mounted on him in the past year and a half. After a contested election in 2020, the European Union enacted sanctions and refused to recognize his leadership.In the hopes of bringing the bloc to the negotiating tabl […] (The New York Times)
  • The Economy Is Good. So Why Do We Feel Terrible About It? November 18, 2021
    The U.S. economy is doing better than many had anticipated. Some 80 percent of jobs lost during the pandemic have been regained, and people are making, and spending, more.But Americans seem to feel terrible about the financial outlook.Why the gap between reality and perception?Guest: Ben Casselman, a reporter covering economics and business for The New York […] (The New York Times)
  • The School Board Wars, Part 2 November 17, 2021
    This episode contains strong language.In Bucks County, Pa., what started out as a group of frustrated parents pushing for schools to reopen devolved over the course of a year and half into partisan disputes about America’s most divisive cultural issues.But those arguments have caused many to overlook a central role of the Central Bucks School District’s boar […] (The New York Times)
  • The School Board Wars, Part 1 November 16, 2021
    This episode contains strong language.A new battleground has emerged in American politics: school boards. In these meetings, parents increasingly engage in heated — sometimes violent — fights over hot-button issues such as mask mandates and critical race theory.Suddenly, the question of who sits on a school board has become a question about which version of […] (The New York Times)
  • How the U.S. Hid a Deadly Airstrike November 15, 2021
    This episode contains strong language.In March 2019, workers inside an Air Force combat operations center in Qatar watched as an American F-15 attack jet dropped a large bomb into a group of women and children in Syria.Assessing the damage, the workers found that there had been around 70 casualties, and a lawyer decided that it was a potential war crime.We l […] (The New York Times)
  • The Sunday Read: ‘The Untold Story of Sushi in America’ November 14, 2021
    In 1980, when few Americans knew the meaning of toro and omakase, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, spoke to dozens of his followers in the Grand Ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel.It was said Moon could see the future, visit you in dreams and speak with the spirit world, where Jesus and Buddha, Moses and Washington, caliphs and e […] (The New York Times)
  • An Interview With Dr. Anthony Fauci November 12, 2021
    Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, described the current status of the pandemic in the United States as a “mixed bag” that is leaning more toward the positive than the negative.But, he said, there is still more work to do.In our conversation, he weighs in on vaccine mandates, booster shots and the end of the pandemic.Guest: Dr. […] (The New York Times)
  • The Public Health Officials Under Siege November 11, 2021
    This episode contains strong language.When the coronavirus hit the United States, the nation’s public health officials were in the front line, monitoring cases and calibrating rules to combat the spread.From the start, however, there has been resistance. A Times investigation found that 100 new laws have since been passed that wrest power from public health […] (The New York Times)
  • ‘How Did We Let People Die This Way?’ November 10, 2021
    Over the past year, a record 2,000 migrants from Africa have drowned trying to reach Spain.Many of these migrants make the journey in rickety vessels, not much bigger than canoes, that often don’t stand up to strong currents.What happens, then, when their bodies wash ashore?This is the story of Martín Zamora, a 61-year-old father of seven, who has committed […] (The New York Times)
  • A Conversation With a Virginia Democrat November 9, 2021
    In a bipartisan win for President Biden, Democrats and Republicans have passed a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. Now comes the difficult part — trying to win approval for a $2 trillion social spending bill.For more moderate Democrats in swing districts, the vote will be among the toughest of the Biden era — and one that some fear could cost them their s […] (The New York Times)
  • A Case That Could Transform America’s Relationship With Guns November 8, 2021
    The U.S. Supreme Court is gearing up to rule on an area of the law that it has been silent on for over a decade: the Second Amendment.The case under consideration will help decide whether the right to bear arms extends beyond the home and into the streets.The implications of the decision could be enormous. A quarter of the U.S. population lives in states who […] (The New York Times)

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Newes From America on Twitter

  • RT @kaitlancollins: NEWS — the CDC has identified first case of Omicron in the US in California, per a source. 2 days ago
  • RT @JonLemire: WASHINGTON (AP) — White House: US to release 50 million barrels of oil from strategic reserve to bring down energy costs. 1 week ago
  • RT @AP: BREAKING: Pfizer and Moderna say the FDA has opened up COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, letting them choose another dose of ei… 2 weeks ago
  • RT @NoahShachtman: COVID has killed 750,000 Americans. Another 1250+ are dying every day.… 1 month ago
  • RT @kylegriffin1: Breaking: WASHINGTON (AP) -- FDA advisers endorse Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. 1 month ago
  • RT @CREWcrew: We call for Louis DeJoy to be fired every day and this is one reason why:… 2 months ago
  • RT @AP: Thousand of demonstrators filled the streets surrounding the Supreme Court, shouting “My body, my choice" and cheering loudly to th… 2 months ago
  • RT @DrTomFrieden: We’ve reached yet another tragic milestone: 700,000 reported deaths from Covid in the US. At least 1 in 475 Americans hav… 2 months ago
  • RT @JonLemire: WASHINGTON (AP) — Merck says its experimental COVID-19 pill cuts hospitalization and deaths by half, will soon seek authoriz… 2 months ago
  • RT @DJJudd: INBOX: President Joe Biden has signed H.R. 5305, the "Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act," wh… 2 months ago
  • RT @mkraju: Cassidy and Kennedy vote against bill to keep government open and raise debt ceiling. Bill includes disaster aid for their home… 2 months ago
  • RT @AP: BREAKING: An Amtrak train that runs between Seattle and Chicago has derailed in central Montana, the KXLY TV station reported. Emer… 2 months ago
  • RT @JoeBiden: We’ve made so much progress during the past eight months of this pandemic, and now we face a critical moment. We have the too… 2 months ago
  • RT @mkraju: New - Jan. 6 select committee subpoenas depositions and records from: Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, Steve Bannon, Kash Patel. Here… 2 months ago
  • RT @StevenTDennis: USA now closing in on 2,100 COVID deaths a day, for those who aren't keeping up on current events. 2 months ago
  • RT @washingtonpost: More people have now died during of covid-19 in the United States than those estimated to have died of influenza during… 2 months ago
  • RT @JoeBiden: Twenty years ago, nearly 3,000 lives were cut short by an unspeakable act of cowardice and hatred on 9/11. As a nation, we mu… 2 months ago
  • RT @JonLemire: “Larger U.S. businesses now won’t have to decide whether to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Doin… 2 months ago
  • RT @ArletteSaenz: Covid-era federal unemployment benefits have expired with nearly 11 million people affected, via @Luhby… 2 months ago
  • RT @scotusreporter: BREAKING: By 5-4 vote, Supreme Court refuses to block Texas six-week abortion ban, 3 months ago

I Won!

I’ll bet you don’t know who Jackie Gareau is, but some might know she was the real women’s winner of the 1980 Boston Marathon and she’s still running strong today, but I’ll bet you definitely know who Rosie Ruiz is. I should say was, because unfortunately she died in 2019 of cancer at the age of 66 and if anything, Ms. Ruiz was a true fighter. She went to the grave still claiming that she actually won that ’80 Boston Marathon and who can argue with that now? Of course, to ‘pull a Rosie Ruiz’ is shorthand for being a fraud and a cheater but Rosie made bald-faced lying seem almost funny. Bill Rodgers, the greatest American men’s marathoner and the men’s winner back in ‘80 is also still running strong today at 74 years old, but when he took one look at the women’s ‘winner’ Ruiz and her meaty legs and fake sweat, he immediately smelled a rat before anyone else had a clue that Rosie was a phony. Her time would have been the fastest female time in Boston Marathon history and after he asked Rosie what her splits were, she didn’t even know what the hell ‘splits’ even meant. He told the director of the Boston Athletic Association of his suspicions just before the awards ceremony, but no one believed him and shortly after that, Massachusetts Governor Ed King crowned Rosie Ruiz the women’s champion. Bill Rodgers was chagrined.

We all dream of being a champion in some endeavor, but only those who put in the work and actually beat everyone else in the world can truly be called the best of the best. Donald Trump has something to say about this but increasingly, nobody cares anymore about what this phony loser has to say about anything and interestingly, Rosie Ruiz would go on after Boston to a spate of crime; in 1982, Rosie was arrested for embezzling $60,000 from the real estate company where she worked and was sentenced to one week in jail, then she was arrested the next year for her involvement in a cocaine deal gone bad and was given three years’ probation. That’s all beside the point because she really was a winner after all. She beat cancer after she emigrated to Florida from Cuba in 1972 and by the time she cheated to qualify in the ‘79 New York City Marathon, getting away with it until her exploits in Boston became front page news, her only failure was that she actually won Boston, but since she didn’t finish in the top ten as she had planned, two Harvard students (and amateur runners themselves) recalled seeing Rosie jump out of the crowd of spectators on Commonwealth Avenue, a half-mile from the finish line and the gig was up. This is not dissimilar to the way our former president* cheated to win, because Trump expected to come in a close second against the real winner Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election and simply winning the race changed everything for both of these liars — Trump and Ruiz — and the rest, as they say, is history.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit US shores last year, I felt I was ready to take it on and be a winner. I read detailed and troubling reports from Italy that this disease was something more than a flu, a novel (new) virus that was more closely associated with a bad cold than a bad flu. By late February, 2020, I was convinced to take this threat seriously, listening to the experts, I determined that this was a big deal and I predicted that it would take at least a year to get through the oncoming pandemic, however I had no idea what that actually meant. I suppose that my biggest goal in life — not be sick — animated my enthusiasm to avoid this weird new virus and at the age in life (54) when you start to brag to your friends about how early you get up in the morning every day, after quitting most of the vices that either kill you or make you miserable, I was a relatively healthy specimen of the human race but today, my good health, both mental and physical, is about the only thing I’ve still got going for me a year and four months after COVID-19 spread like wildfire across the globe. But everything is now changed forever. First and foremost during the pandemic, my financial health suffered a near death experience and now it’s as if my credit is on a ventilator because on July 1st, 2020, I decided to quit my job. Now when you quit your job, you don’t get unemployment insurance but that was fine with me because my mental health was suffering something fierce while serving clients who, frankly, went crazy on me as well, all looking for ways to keep busy, so for the first few months of 2020 all I did was talk about this damned pandemic with clients, family and friends.

Working without Zoom (with or without a bad internet connection) back then in my profession of television production, after setting up all the technical stuff, my primary job function could best be described as amateur psychologist. The thing with appearing on TV, beyond the jitters and butterflies in the stomach, is what the ‘talent’ should actually say and do in front of the camera in the first place and it’s 90% of the job. Most people tend to get very nervous when in front of a camera and even seasoned pros will admit that it’s not easy to record every move made, face expressed and word spoken for time immemorial, so amateur psychology has been a side hustle of mine since being the guy behind the camera over 20 years ago, but when the pandemic hit, (and with the advent of the hideous video and audio of the ubiquitous Zoom app that we all still rely on to ‘meet’ each other every day) everyone became a TV personality overnight and in 2020, I was robbed of my raison d’être.

With the advent of an earlier world-changing technology, namely cell phone video, I was already facing the prospect that almost anyone could do what I do with their iPhones in their guest bedroom and today, folks can now create better high quality videos than I ever could in the studio back in the days of analog, but thank the good Lord, people are always moving their phones all over the place when shooting video, creating sickening experiences for viewers (and of course the audio always sucks), unless these newly-minted directors of photography have a rudimentary understanding of 3200k and a wireless lav, (pro stuff I know about) paired with an Osmo stabilizer that anyone who wants to make good video should have, but I’d simply suggest a cheap tripod to anyone to looking to improve their phone video work, which they can buy for $5 on Amazon. Before the pandemic however, most folks couldn’t create their own high quality video productions without the help of someone like me, but that all changed when the only video tool I had available to me was the one that everyone else had access to and it’s still freaking free! Zoom changed our world in profound ways and for that accomplishment, Eric Yuan, the brilliant fellow who wrote the software for Zoom, should get a Nobel Prize, an Emmy, an Oscar and a Pulitzer for what he created and shared with the world, just in the nick of time to put me out of business — and now my finances are on life support.

In April, 2020, the implanted tooth in the very middle of my choppers fell out while eating a forbidden fruit, for which I paid many thousands of dollars to have installed, but to put a positive spin on it, after it popped out I figured, well, at least I’ll have my mask on in public and no one beyond my front door will be the wiser until dentists were back in the business of removing money from wallets. However on Zoom, bad connections or not, I would appear as a seasoned NHL hockey player, complete with a year-round playoff beard. The mask, it turned out, also irritated my eyes terribly and left reddened bags under them as an extra bonus, especially when I (proudly) wore my favored N95 mask because that’s how I roll. If you’re going to do something, do it right and today, I have a tattered and worn-out collection of old N95s that I will lovingly preserve for the rest of my life to remind me of this awful past year, but truth be told, I really hated wearing the damn things, however being on a ventilator or the prospect of a dead elderly friend (of which I had many, but fewer today) kept me masked-up until I was fully vaccinated. That mask became part of me, but now I say ‘was’ because I rarely wear one outside the house anymore unless a majority of those around me are wearing one and I’ll slip one of the old relics on to put folks at ease, Delta variant be damned — because we all need to get back to work.

My first mask-less job interview was few weeks ago, complete with hockey player grin (which I’m convinced is the reason I didn’t get the job) so last week I finally went to the dentist to cement that expensive sucker back in, then I emptied my wallet and can now flash my winning smile again for the first time in over a year, but I’m already missing all of those delicious nuts and forbidden apples that I ate with reckless abandon during the pandemic. Without income of any kind, looking back I was overly optimistic and naive when I quit my cushy television job a year ago, thinking I could pick up a few gigs until I found a hot new job, ideally, last Fall. In September, 2020, I had a white Apple Card ($0 balance) with perfect credit and a wide and wonderful network of family and friends. Now, after leaving my adopted home (where people and prices nearly doubled), I have $7,000+ charged up on my cards and now my Apple Card looks like a bright kaleidoscope of beautiful colors representing food, utility bills and a few annual charges for stuff I don’t subscribe to any more — but I would do it again because I survived this damned pandemic and my health is as good as it’s ever been.

Weirdly, I’m happier and healthier than ever because I know that I’ll eventually recover financially, but we are all still far from being back to ‘normal’ in my hard-won opinion. Those who chose to stay on and weather the storm while working a full-time job, I respect the hell out of what you went through and appreciate that this past year has been it’s own, intimately personal kind of hell for you and you’re all champions in my book. I also understand some of your resentment for us poor, healthy ‘freeloaders’ but I recommend you don’t quit your job while looking for a new start just yet (interestingly, over four million Americans left their jobs in April alone) because the pandemic isn’t ‘finally’ over. It just isn’t. The national emergency may be over, but the new reality of the economic backlash of the pandemic is just now settling in and we’re not across the finish line yet, after all, this experience has always been a marathon and not a sprint. Rosie Ruiz may have ‘won’ the Boston Marathon, but in reality she skipped out of the crowd, ‘outrunning’ the competition to win the coveted title, only to be caught in the act and humiliated for her entire life. I, too ‘pulled a Rosie Ruiz,’ but I happily join her on the dais of our lives, laurels in our hair to the cheers of well-wishers, but of course, Rosie and I don’t deserve the accolades, but for a brief and shining moment, we were champions of the world.

Carl Holt
June 26, 2021

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