Went to two graduations on Thursday – middle school and high school.
Listened to graduates called up for diplomas – familiar town names over the years, Italian, African-American, Polish.
Meantime, mischief was being made in Washington, D.C, and Great Britain.
The Supreme Court was showing its contempt for the new wave of immigrants and British voters were choosing to leave the European Union, mainly because of immigration. (That's the thanks they show for the grand gift of curry and roti; they were eating bangers and mash before they let in the new people.)
The student speaker at one graduation had a Hispanic name, spoke perfect English in a witty talk.
The next generation. The Jordans and the Jennifers. America.
I heard names being called that came from India and Pakistan. Central America. Korea and China and Japan. Several young women bowed their heads, Asian-style, to their teachers on the stage,
I eavesdropped as three mothers greeted each other, one with a thick Hispanic accent. Their familiarity spoke of parent-teacher conferences, art shows, sidelines at soccer matches on nippy afternoons.
In Washington and Britain, people were building walls, you might say.
The same week a great moral leader, an American treasure named John Lewis, reminded some of us how to demonstrate for fairness. The sourpuss speaker of the house labelled it a stunt. Guess he never studied civics in Wisconsin.
The middle school graduates lined up in alphabetical order, with four years of order ahead of them.
In the late afternoon, the high-school graduates swarmed in no order whatsoever, clusters of friends, glimpses of cutoffs and shorts under billowing robes – all energy and brashness, more than ready to move on.
Taxes are brutal in this part of the world, but the school district has done its job. We heard these graduates had earned $2.2-million in scholarships.
In this one corner of the world, the system seemed to be working.
At one family gathering, both graduates brought friends with recent roots overseas. Nice kids. Bright eyes. On their way.
In Scotland, the presumptuous Republican candidate – who, by the way, looks puffy, pasty-faced, not well, about to explode – congratulated the Scots for the Brexit vote.
He somehow missed the point that the Scots had voted to remain in the E.U. The Scots are mocking him, big-time.
Guess Wharton didn’t teach civics. Or else Trump simply cannot assimilate facts.
Late that night, money people around the world panicked. That’s the way the lemmings leap.
Happy graduation. Happy world.
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.