We used to hang around together on the road – Stanley Cups in Montreal and the Garden, that Italian restaurant in Nagano, the shot-put in Ancient Olympia, and insane nights at Fenway and Yankee Stadium and the Kingdome.
I could be deep in thought in the press box, composing my early-edition column, when a voice would screech right behind my head: “Pop!!!” Everybody in the press box would stop what they were doing.
If we were in Boston, she would deposit a roll of Necco Wafers on my desk. She always had a stash.
My daughter Laura Vecsey was a sports columnist in Albany and Seattle and Baltimore for more than a decade. I marvelled at her big-sister insight into Junior and Alex and Pedro. One day Jim Palmer, on the air, praised her throwing arm.
Life on the road was never the same on the road after she became a political columnist in Harrisburg, Pa., keeping an eye on chicanery and obtuseness in the real world.
After she got out of the newspaper business, I realized what a good job she had been doing when I met former Gov. Ed Rendell on a live television show. His first words were, “I miss your daughter.” I bet he does.
Last month the editors at the Harrisburg Patriot-News asked her to write a personal tribute to Title IX, to go along with their impressive package on the 1972 legislation.
Laura wrote a lovely memory about being a 10-year-old who wanted to play ball, but the only way was with the local Police Athletic League boys’ hardball team.
Her entire essay can be accessed via this link:
Laura then told how competition for women got better mostly because of Title IX. My big thrill was when my daughter made the basketball varsity as a sophomore. I was playing on Monday nights in adult recreation up at the high school, and the scoreboard contained the roster of the girls’ varsity. How cool was that, to see the family name up there.
In her essay, Laura recalls her responsibility, as the point guard, to set up the star of the team, Debbie Beckford. And if the team got off message, Mr. Beckford, in his lilting Caribbean accent, would shout: “Get the ball to Debbie!” Quite right, too. Debbie became as a Big East star for St. John’s and is now a success in business.
The lives and working careers of women have been enriched by varsity sports in the age of Title IX – including my colleague who supplied me with Necco Wafers and screeched “Pop!!!”
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.