We Need Time to Absorb All This

Everyone is thinking through the reality of the coronavirus pandemic and how to rise to the occasion.

By Peggy Noonan
March 19, 2020 7:41 pm ET

https://images.wsj.net/im-166903?width=1260&size=1.5

 

Times Square in New York, March 19.

Photo: lucas jackson/Reuters

 

This is a quick piece that touches on where we are, where we may be going, and an attitude for the journey.

The screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan once said the films of Akira Kurosawa were distinguished by this dynamic: The villain has arrived while the hero is evolving. That’s what made his films great, the sense of an implacable bad guy encountering a good guy who is alive, capable of changing, who is in fact changing because of and in order to beat back the bad guy and make things safe again.

The villain is here in the form of an illness. A lot of the heroes of this story are evolving every day into something we’ll look back on months and years hence and say, “Wow, LOOK what she did.” “What guts that guy showed.” People are going to pull from themselves things they didn’t know were there.

But now, at this stage in the drama, most of the heroes are also busy absorbing. We are all of us every day trying to absorb the new reality, give it time to settle into us.

It’s all so big. We are discovering the illness as we experience it. We don’t know its secrets, how long it lasts, how long its incubation, whether you can be reinfected.

As for the economics: As the month began we had functional full employment. By the time it ends we will not, not at all. In the past week layoffs and let-gos have left state unemployment claim websites crashing. This is not “normal job disruption”; it is a cascade. The Treasury secretary reportedly said unemployment could hit 20%.

The market gains of the Trump era have been all but wiped out. Investors are selling gold. From this paper’s editorial Thursday: “American commerce is shutting down right before our eyes with no end in sight.” Flights are empty, hotel occupancy plummeting.

Where we are is a hard, bad place, stupid to deny it. Where we’re going looks to be difficult.

It’s a cliché to say we haven’t ever had a moment like this (a plague, a crash), but it’s true. As for New York, twice in 20 years we’ve been ground zero, epicenter of a national tragedy. Will we get through it? Of course. But it will change things, and change us, as 9/11 did.

The governmental instinct is right: stabilize things while everyone’s absorbing. Whatever is done will probably be an unholy mess. Do it anyway and see where we are. In the long term the best plan—the only plan—is one that attempts to keep people in their jobs. Meaning look to European models on how to help businesses hold on to their people.

There are a million warnings out there on a million serious things. We add one: Everything works—and will continue to work—as long as we have electricity. It’s what keeps the lights on, the oxygen flowing, the information going. Everything is the grid, the grid, the grid.

A general attitude for difficult times? Trust in God first and always. Talk to him.

Every time America’s in trouble I remember Adam Smith’s words. He wrote there’s “a great deal of ruin in a nation.” Especially a very great and prosperous one with a brilliant system and a creative citizenry.

And see this: We are surrounded by nobility.

Mike Luckovich

had a cartoon this week of the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. Only it wasn’t Marines—it was a doctor, a scientist, a nurse and a first responder anchoring Old Glory in this rocky soil.

https://www.ajc.com/rf/image_large/Pub/p11/AJC/2020/03/18/Images/mike0319_20200318182719.jpg

It was hokey and beautiful and true. In the next few weeks and months they’ll get us through and we should thank them every way possible. That includes everyone who can’t work at home, the cops and firefighters, the garbagemen and truckers, the people who stock the shelves and man the counters. A nurse told me Thursday that hospital workers all see themselves as sitting ducks for infection, but no one’s calling in sick. A journalist friend said maybe this will reorder things and we’ll start to pay people according to their real importance to society.

A personal note. As this is written I have been sick for two weeks. It started when I was finishing a column on Rep. Jim Clyburn—I got a chill and noticed the notepad on my knee was warm. The next night more chills, took my temperature: 101.

It may be a poorly timed ordinary virus, one of the dozen floating out there in America on any given day, or it may be the more interesting one.

But everything you’ve heard about the difficulty of getting a test is true. “There are none,” said my doctor. If he sent me to the emergency room, I wouldn’t meet their criteria. You can have every symptom, but if you answer no to two questions, you won’t be tested. The questions are: Have you traveled internationally? Have you recently been in contact with someone who tested positive?

My doctor instructed me to go home, self-quarantine, rest, report back. A week in, the fever spiked up, the headaches were joined by a cough and sore throat, and I called the local government number, where they couldn’t connect me to anyone who could help.

Everyone I dealt with was compassionate and overwhelmed. On day 12 my doctor got word of testing available at an urgent-care storefront on First Avenue. When I called I was connected to a woman in Long Island. She asked for my symptoms. Then: Have you traveled internationally? Have you had recent contact with anyone who’s infected? No and no. She said, “It’s OK, I’m sure they’ll accept you.” I could hear her click “send.” She paused and said, “I’m so sorry, you don’t meet the criteria.” By now we had made friends, and she was disappointed for me.

I said, “Let’s think together. Twelve days sick, almost all the symptoms, part of an endangered demographic.” Silence. Then a brainstorm. At this point I have known a person who’s tested positive; I saw him a while back; no one has defined “recently” because no one knows the incubation period.

I said: Can we do the interview again? She said, “Let’s go.”

She went down the list of questions, and when she said, “Have you recently had contact . . .,” I said, “I believe I can say yes.”

She said, “All right.” Silence as I listened to her tap the keys. “You meet the criteria,” she said, with the sweetest excitement.

And so Tuesday night I made my way (mask, gloves) to the urgent-care storefront, where I was tested by a garrulous physician’s assistant who said his office, or New York health authorities, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will get back to me with results in three to seven days. (Yikes.)

At this point I suppose it’s academic. If it’s positive, they’ll tell me to continue what I’m doing. But if hospitalized it would save time—presumably I wouldn’t have to be tested again. Also it would be nice to think I wasn’t just home sick, I was home developing fighting Irish antibodies spoiling for a fight.

I just want to get out and help in some way. Isn’t that what you feel? We all just want to pitch in.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/we-need-time-to-absorb-all-this-11584661302

 

Rudy
Supertramp
Produced by Supertramp & Ken Scott
Album Crime of the Century

[Verse 1: Rick Davies]
Rudy’s on a train to nowhere;
Halfway down the line
He don’t wanna get there
But he needs time

He ain’t sophisticated
Or well-educated
After all the hours he wasted-
Still he needs time

He needs time
He needs time for livin’
He needs time-
For someone just to see him

He ain’t had no lovin’
For no reason or rhyme
And the whole world’s above him

Well, it’s not as though he’s fat
Nah, there’s more to it than that
See he tried to play it cool;
Wouldn’t be nobody’s fool

Rudy thought
That all good things
Comes to those that wait
But recently
He could see
That it may come but too late

[Verse 2: Rick Davies & Roger Hodgson]
All through your life
All through the years
Nobody loved
Nobody cared
So dim the light
Dark are your fears
Try as I might
I can’t hold back the tears
How can you live?
Without love, it’s not fair
Someone said give
But I just didn’t dare
What good advice
Are you waiting to hear?
Hearing’s alright
For them that’s all there
Hearing’s alright

[Verse 3: Rick Davies & Roger Hodgson]
You’d better-
You’d better gain control now
You’d better show’em all now
You’d better make or break now
You’d better give and take now
You’ll have to push and shove now
You’ll have to find some love now
You’d better gain control now

[Outro: Roger Hodgson]

Now he’s just come out the movie-
Numb of all the pain
Sad, but in a while he’ll soon be
Back on his train
https://genius.com/Supertramp-rudy-lyrics

 

The Logic Puzzle You Can Only Solve with Your Brightest Friend

The Logic Puzzle You Can Only Solve with Your Brightest Friend

Posted By Brian Gallagher on Jul 16, 2018

You’ve been caught snooping around a spooky graveyard with your best friend. The caretaker, a bored old man fond of riddles (and not so fond of trespassers), imprisons each of you in a different room inside the storage shed, and, taking your phones, says, “Only your mind can set you free.” To you, he gestures toward a barred window. Through it, you can see 12 statues. Out of your friend’s window, which overlooks the opposite side of the graveyard, she can see eight. Neither of you know the other’s count.

The caretaker tells you each, individually, that together you can see either 18 or 20 statues. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell your friend how many you can spot. The only way for you both to escape is for one of you to give the total number of visible statues. Get it wrong, and neither of you ever leave. The caretaker asks you each one at a time, once a day, and you can choose to answer or to pass. Both of you know that you’re always asked first.* If you both pass on a given day, the question—are there 18 or 20?—is posed to each of you again the next day, and the next, and so on, until you get it right or wrong. The caretaker cackles, “If you need me, I’ll be out preparing your graves.”

How do you escape?

http://nautil.us/blog/-the-logic-puzzle-you-can-only-solve-with-your-brightest-friend

The Logical Song

Supertramp

Produced by Supertramp & Peter Henderson

Album: Breakfast in America

[Verse 1]
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh, it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees, well, they’d be singing so happily
Oh, joyfully, oh, playfully watching me
But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh, responsible, practical
And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable
Oh, clinical, oh, intellectual, cynical

[Chorus 1]
There are times when all the world’s asleep
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned?
I know it sounds absurd
But please, tell me who I am

[Verse 2]
I said, now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical
A liberal, oh, fanatical, criminal
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re acceptable
Respectable, oh, presentable, a vegetable
Oh, take, take, take it, yeah

[Instrumental bridge]

[Chorus 2]
But at night, when all the world’s asleep
The questions run so deep
For such a simple man
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned?
I know it sounds absurd
But please, tell me who I am
Who I am
Who I am
Who I am
Who I am

[Outro]
‘Cause I was feeling so logical
D-d-d-d-d-d-digital
Yeah, one, two, three, five
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Ooh, it’s getting unbelievable
Yeah
B-b-bloody marvelous

https://genius.com/Supertramp-the-logical-song-lyrics