I offered only an OK rating of two stars. That’s not to say that this isn’t a well-written book, for the right audience. Walter Isaacson had to have spent an incredible amount of time researching and compiling all the information within it. All those five star ratings and stellar reviews must have come from the right readers who found it great.
This is a science book. Very dense and heavy science. Misled by the many interviews on Walter Isaacson’s book tour, I didn’t realize that I was not among the members of the right audience. I thought this book would spend considerable time (it spent some, just not nearly the amount I expected) on the topics below:
The how and why mRNA and CRISPR were used to create both Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines–and, most importantly, why reluctant people had nothing to fear from them. [I came away unable to find the words with which I could readily allay those fears of others. I had already happily got my shots, taking on faith the review and approval process–not to mention the lack of reports of any serious ill effects of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.]
The ethical quandaries gene editing pose AND the benefits of them for curing diseases. [Yes, looking forward to disease cures but not to enhancements the wealthy will seek for their children].
What then did the book cover?
In excruciating detail, a chronicle of every meeting, conversation, conference and lab experiment, paper submitted/published, patent applied for by hundreds of graduate students, post-docs and more among the biochemists, x-ray crystallographers, structural biologists, engineers, etc., who worked for or under, in competition or collaboration with or supervised Jennifer Doudna enroute to her well deserved Nobel prize that she shared with Emmanuelle Charpentier.
As I said then, it would be difficult. Even more difficult than I expected. Not due to the resistance of ordinary folks, but to all those members of the Trump Cult.
My natural inclination is to simply say:
Get over it—he lost!
But they won’t buy that. They have drunk gallons of his Trump Kool-Aid and believe in him with all their hearts. The election was rigged and stolen from him.
They also believe one or all these options about COVID-19:
It’s a hoax
It’s no worse than a cold or at worst a flu and people get over it
Masks are worse than useless—they are an infringement on one’s freedom
Likewise, social distancing and closing bars, restaurants, gyms, etc.
Worse, they make death threats against even Republicans who won’t help Trump in reversing the election resultsthrough whatever means he and his associates try. Somewhat skilled attorneys withdrew after winning but one of 38 plus cases. Leaving semi to unskilled attorneys to continue frivolous lawsuits that judicially speaking ought to incur sanctions against them or referrals to the bar for misconduct.
Those are the facts. But what will I make of them?Will I deplore those who fall for the lies?Pity those who may die of COVID because of him? Many probably have already. Statistical analysis suggests surges associated with Trump rallies and in those parts of the country where votes for him were higher than for Biden.
Trump didn’t bring the virus here.He did mock those who took it seriously. They accepted his direction on this and other things. He didn’t suffer physically, so far, for his dismissal of the virus. His supporters have found his assurances persuasive—he is their political messiah. Republican elected officials, in fear or support of Trump, continue likewise to follow the same patterns of COVID oblivion—even as they or their constituents succumb to the virus.
Should I sink into the pit of hatred, vitriol and derisive attacks on those who offer death threats even to fellow Republicans who don’t support Trump in overturning Biden’s victory. NO! If I do, I can’t help heal the division. I must accept their humanity and, from my faith perspective, their inherent Buddhahood.
Yes, a difficult proposition.Whether you who read this find the principles, the concepts or tenets, of Buddhism persuasive, you still may find it difficult to accept the humanity of the Trump faithful if you are not among them.That’s the challenge if we are to get beyond the present turmoil.
We have an economy in tatters. Sickness and death confront us at the hands of an unthinking enemy we call coronavirus, COVID-19 or more formally–SARS-CoV-2. We have a would-be autocrat striving to milk the last bit of financial fortune and power from his tenure in the White House. Even he has a Buddha nature. Even he has a shred of humanity within his angry and hate-filled heart. It’s barely visible, but it’s there. As much as I have demonized, satirized and condemned him on this blog, I know that to be true. Still, he must pay for his crimes and suffer the effects of the karma he has created. He already has, at the hands of the voters. Beyond that, there are legal and financial perils ahead that he will likely face.
In the meantime, we must rescue and rehabilitate America from the harms he has inflicted. Reestablish a rule of law. An independent Justice Department. Oversight of the actions of the Executive Branch—which, according to the US Constitution is subordinate to Congress. The latter makes the laws, appropriates the money and declares war. The President and those in the administration implement and enforce those laws. He and the rest of the Executive Branch must yield to the scrutiny of how well and how lawfully are executing the laws passed by Congress that give him authority to act.
America has barely—and not yet completely, escaped becoming a dictatorship. Aided and abetted by a GOP controlling the Senate. There is lots to do. But political reforms are just treating symptoms. The underlying disease is what must be addressed. A disease of Us and Them.
That’s enough for now. We will be making updates as often as we can. Not so much on what politicians and ostensible national leaders are doing. No, on what’s happening among the populace. Who, myself included, are reaching out and making connections with the other side.
As Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, we need a
“new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Had Trump won, those famous words might very well have been for naught—due to Trump’s intentions and those he put into his second administration.
Karma’s a bitch. Hoist by his own petard. Reap what you sow.
Yes, all those sayings apply to Biff’s (AKA Trump) COVID case. The Lincoln Project or some other group could take on a new spoof inspired, like me, by the Lowell George/Little Feat song, “Fat Man in the Bathtub. (Could replace Juanita with Covida or Covita).
But it’s the family and friends of those 212,000 dead of the coronavirus who will find nothing funny here. Nor those who had the preexisting condition of believing Biff’s lies.
He gasps for air on the Truman Balcony after climbing the stairs. Did Fox show that clip? Or maybe just the one he recorded after shedding virus cells amongst the White House staff. The one where he said of the virus, “Don’t let it dominate you. You can beat it.”
“He hosted a super-spreader event to honor a justice who would have the government control your body but refuse the duty to care for it, and when the virus he helped go around came around, he availed of the healthcare he would deny others, financed by the taxes he refuses to pay.”
Biff is obese, has high cholesterol, is 74 and is being treated by a primary care physician, with certification in emergency medicine. BUT Commander Sean Conley is not a pulmonologist, not an epidemiologist, not apparently well-versed in COVID-19 treatment either. He is, however, well versed in HIPAA–which enables him to withhold LOTS of information about Trump’s health that the public wants AND NEEDS to know.
So now, with Trump desperate to be reelected and suffering from COVID-19, we have a non-specialist pumping Biff full of experimental drugs and a high-dose of dexamethasone. A powerful NSAID with the potential side effects of mania, depression and more.
Assuming the Madman Trump makes it through the election (that he should lose badly), he could still be around in the White House until January 20th, 2021. Who KNOWS what he might do during all his free time away from Fox News, tweeting and golf. Be afraid, very afraid. Offer prayers in whatever faith you believe.
BTW: In addition to legislation making it mandatory that a future presidential candidate’s taxes must be disclosed, perhaps a HIPAA waiver should also be required.
Don’t forget to vote!
Addendum: If America is lucky–or the derelict spreading of the coronavirus among the macho maniacs among GOP Senators continues a few more won’t be present to vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. With a big loss by Biff, the GOP will be afraid to do it in the lame duck session.
The US leads the planet in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Yes, with only four percent of the world population, it’s America First. That’s probably not what Biff (AKA, Donald Trump) meant when he adopted that international perspective. But he earned it.
Currently, twenty percent of new cases are generated in America. Five percent of those who contract it die–here and around the world. Over 125,000 dead so far–more than all military engagements since WWII.
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus Task Force held its first briefing–in two months! Here’s what VP Mike Pence, leading the briefing spoke of Americans “seeing encouraging news,” and said.
“all 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly”
If America leading the world in COVID-19 Cases AND Deaths, is encouraging–what the hell would he find discouraging?
GOP means: Gaslighting Offenders Party.
More than half the states have surging cases of COVID-19. Few, if any, reopened safely and responsibly. Most of the cases in those states weren’t declining AT ALL . Like Biff, Pence, Trump TV (AKA Fox News), all were pandemic deniers and/or gaslighters. Those red state governors had to dutifully, lemming-like, let people go wherever they wanted without any restrictions on social distancing or wearing masks. Continue reading America First–The MOST COVID-19 Cases and Deaths!→
“Your name will be remembered for centuries. You had already assured your place in American history. Then came COVID-19.”
“Yes, I have done a tremendous job, haven’t I?” Trump beams.
“Oh, you have. You have made it so much worse. So much suffering. So many dying–unnecessarily due to your delay in responding. Ruining America’s economy. Best of all, making such fools out of His evangelicals. Those megachurch millionaires with the plush homes and private jets.”
“Wha . . . Me? It’s WHO. It’s Obama. It’s the governors, the fake media. The Dems! They’re responsible. I’ve been doing great!“
“Right! You put children in cages. You inspired White Nationalists to attack people. You’ve been rolling back environmental protections and promoting climate change.”
“LIES! Climate change is a Chinese hoax–pushed by the Dems and the Fake Media.”
“YES,lies! You lie continually. Although you are the world’s worst liar, your base believes you. You are America’s worst president! No one will ever equal your misdeeds, your incompetence, your malevolence, your greed and depravity. Congratulations—YOU have created a HELL on EARTH!Win another term and you’ll set the US back to the 1860s!“
“Oh, great!Another four years!” Trump is a little confused.
Satan laughs so loudly that Trump trembles. “Uh, no. Not happening. You really screwed the pooch–lots of pooches, actually. You do love dogs don’t you, hahahaha? I’d love to have you in the White House four more years! I’d have the biggest bunch of sinners heading to Hell for decades.
“No! No! Those loyal members of my base–the GOP leaders that will vote for me? I will bring the economy back. The COVID-19 will disappear like a miracle,” Trump waves his hand in the air before himself.
“Seriously! They are such fools. The base that you’ve screwed–left, right and sideways. The base that paid more in taxes, didn’t get the promotions or jobs you promised and now the layoffs.And they still support you!” Satan’s belly laugh shakes the ground.
“But . . . but, I’ve done so much for them! They’re going back to work soon–the economy will be the greatest America has ever seen!”
“Oh, sure. You really do believe your own lies, don’t you!You are such a fool–and such a tool. MY tool–a tool for my demons and minions in Congress, most of them Republicans, of course. And those crazy GOP governors that will soon put people back to work–people that will get COVID-19. They all suck up to you just like they’re supposed to. It’s all part of my plan.”
“No! NO! I alone can fix everything! I WILL make America GREAT AGAIN.”
“Nah, you’re toast–burned toast, as in touched by the flames of Hell!Hahahaha–just a little Devilish humor there.So guess what happens when the next coronavirus SURGE comes? Some in your base will get sick and die. Some of their friends and loved ones, may decide to skip voting–or even vote for Biden! SomeRepublicans (or former ones) are already endorsing Biden.Of course, many in your base are so stupid they’ll continue supporting you even as the ventilator puffs away.”
“Well, at least I’ll have my golf courses, hotels and all the rest. I can retire in luxury–once the economy comes back up. My health is great–my doctors tell me so. I have years to enjoy life!” Trump chuckled, briefly, before looking up expectantly at Satan towering over him.
“Well, about that, Donald.When the investigations and the prosecutions end, you won’t have much left. Nothing for Junior, Eric, Ivanka or Jared either. You should expect Mar-a-Lago, among other properties, to be foreclosed on. You, of course, will be in jail. You may hope that you go to a White Collar prison––where you can die safely. Maybe a heart attack, a stroke or some kind of cancer.”
“But, you said I’m your Chosen One? Don’t I get some kind of reward for that? “ A tear forms in Trump’s left eye, then his right–running down his cheeks, leaving white lines in the orange spray-on tan.
“Why yes–and you have!You became President of the United States. You enriched yourself through massive corruption. You doubled the prices at Mar-a-Lago. Made friends with the world’s autocrats,. Received praise and accolades from sycophants galore. But these rewards don’t last. You became rich through your father’s wealth and support, ignorant and without any business acumen!
“NO . . . no more KFC? No more cheeseburgers? No more Fox & Friends, Hannity and the rest? No gold plumbing?
“OH, you are SO delusional Donald!You still aren’t taking this seriously are you? What of your wife? Your youngest son?
“Ah, I’ve had other wives–other women. Who cares! The kid? Had them before too. He’s too young to take over the business anyway.
“For somebody who doesn’t drink or do drugs, you are really tripping, Donald!Let me spell it out for you. The guy upstairs has no use for you. You’re mine when you die. Then you’ll join me and many of your ‘friends’ downstairs.” Satan laughs, sneering. “HELL! That’s your retirement home.”
“Hell?! I am Donald Trump—the man that made America Great Again!“
“Well, yeah–in your mind. In the real world, you are the best recruiter for Hell I’ve had since the leaders of the Third Reich!”
“NO! NO! Surely Jared’s rabbi, Jerry Falwell, Jr.–somebody with a line to God, can get me out of this Hell thing?”
“Really! You’re going to play the network with God card?You really think He cares about YOU?He’s had you on the down elevator list for the last 20 years—three years in the White House put you in the express car, soon as you die!” Satan shrugs.
“Uhhhhhh,”Trump, turning a sickly green is at a loss for words.
“Here’s a sneak preview of your next few millennia:
Upon your arrival, you’ll be serving Mexicans–the ones who really were rapists, murderers and drug dealers. You know, MS-13 types. Ones who had children and family members you put in cages or sent back across the border.
You’ll be cleaning toilets and otherwise pleasing the African Americans who had nothing to lose–except what you did for them as President. That’s just for your time in the White House.
Then there’s all those renters, contractors, women you molested and . . . well, the list goes on.
You should expect pain, humiliation–like you never experienced yourself but didn’t mind letting others feel it.
I know your reading skills are limited (you did have people who took your exams and wrote your papers in college–so I heard), so I suggest you get the audio version of Dante’s Inferno. You will spend a very long time in the lower levels.”
Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions
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