Musings from the Bunker 1/26/21
The pandemic has focused us more and more on “logistics.” How do we get our electricity, gas, electric, and toilet paper?
Seriously, when the potential of a toilet paper shortage emerged last March, we were forced to consider how exactly we get things. For many of us, the term “supply chain” was a strange new addition to our language.
Today, I look back at the “old me” and chuckle. Our home has become a miracle of modern logistics. We have a regular flow of packages that are dropped at the front walk by Amazon, Door Dash, Walmart and others. The next step is wiping off everything and dropping the items near the front door (perishables, of course, moves more quickly). The next day it’s moved into the entryway, which serves as a “staging area” for distribution to the appropriate room in the house.
As complex as our tiny lives are, it remains staggering to ponder the extent of the job to deliver of food, materials, water, gas, and electricity throughout the country, particularly in a pandemic—things we never used to think much about in the “before times.”
I now appreciate better the job of a quartermaster in the army…
ENTER AT OWN RISK
I try to do a little research before delving into a book, movie or TV series, as I hate to invest the time and be disappointed. That said, sometimes that doesn’t work out. The following, the first a book and the rest offerings on TV, did not live up to expectations for various reasons:
Rodham. This novel by Curtis Stiffenfeld, is very well written. The conceit of imagining the life of Hillary Rodham meeting and romancing Bill Clinton without marrying him is executed well. Alternative histories afford the author to explore amusing “what ifs,” which Stiffenfeld does well. My problem with this book is that it tries so hard to “get inside her thinking” that it also spends too much time “getting inside her pants.” I really don’t want to read of imagined lascivious encounters between Bill and Hillary. Call me a prude, but I really think it unnecessary to reduce Hillary to a lusty, homely law student so swept off her feet by this gorgeous hunk of a man.
Space Force. I really wanted this to be good. I love Greg Daniels’s humor and his prior efforts with The Office and Parks and Recreation. I enjoy science fiction. Watching two episodes of this disaster film and I felt brain cells dying off. Not sure how this got made.
The Midnight Sky. I love space adventures, science fiction, stories that flip back and forth in time, and anything with George Clooney. Yet at the end of this sorry mash-up of incomplete ideas and plot holes you could drive a truck through, I realized that I had two hours of my life stolen and I cannot get them back. If you love George Clooney (and who doesn’t), watch O Brother, Where Art Thou, Three Kings or Ocean’s Eleven. He nails his roles in each.
This film offers minimal character depth, essentially no conflict (everyone on the ship loves one another), and little emotional connection. I came to love the Netflix tool that allows the viewer to fast forward ten seconds. You can hit it four or five times in a row and miss nothing, as the camera lovingly pans across the endless Arctic in which Clooney finds himself (we get to feel his boredom and loneliness seemingly in real time) and the endless expanse of space (which has a space walk played out in painfully slow pacing. I found myself simply trying to figure out how the writers would dispose of the characters to leave a lone couple to enjoy eternal Jovian bliss and confused over how mankind could continue with one couple and one as-yet-unborn child. Let’s hope their genetics are good and they can survive the surreal family dynamics. For space, try Firefly, The Expanse, Gravity, Interstellar, or Away.
The Flight Attendant. An alcoholic stereotypically cute and perky flight attendant with a boy in every port. She drinks and canoodles her way around the world. Her co-stars are the always fun Rosie Perez as her supervisor and an apparent international spy and a one-night-stand whom is murdered early in the show. He appears (in scenes taking place inside her mind) often with blood dripping out of his neck from the night of his murder. Funny at times, absurd at times, and once in a while actually interesting. But renewed for another season? Oy…
Radioactive. My feelings about this film are similar to my reaction to Rodham. It is a great story with beautiful set pieces. One feels fin de siècle Paris in this telling of the story of Marie and Pierre Curie. Marie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize (and twice, at that!), for her groundbreaking work in understanding radioactivity and discovering the elements Radium and Polonium. There is much to enjoy but the images of uses to which radiation is put for good and ill in the 20th century (radiation treatment of cancers, nuclear weapons) seem ham-handed and jarring to the story’s primary thrust. The movie, in setting out to do a bit too much, ended up delivering a tad too little.
WHO NEEDS A CONSPIRACY WHEN SCIENCE IS SO EXTRAORDINARY?
As you know, I consider the willingness to buy into conspiracies to be one of the great dilemmas of our time. Whereas conspiracy used to be based on people connecting the dots between accepted events incorrectly or with logical leaps, now the dots are fictional and the leaps between them are even more ridiculous.
One thing conspiracies thrive upon is mankind’s desire to identify miraculous, often unbelievable, occurences. When watching Radioactive, I was struck with the idea that the truly most magical and unbelievable phenomena are actually right before us—and scientifically provable! If conspiracy theorists spent half their time trying to understand the miracle of the atom, or electromagnetism, or how vaccines are engineered and produced, or any number of other extraordinary things, they would know twice as much and they wouldn’t need to find conspiracies to satisfy their thirst for wonder.
DC AS A STATE—PERHAPS GOOD FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
The commonly held wisdom holds that adding the District of Columbia (or the Douglass Commonwealth, as is proposed) as a state would benefit the Democrats because the population is disproportionately people of color. And while that is a short-term worry for the Republicans, perhaps in the long run it could actually benefit them. If there are more electoral votes safely on the left, it would force the Republican candidates, in order to be competitive, to move toward the middle, perhaps capturing even larger swathes of the vast “purple middle” of swing states. But because there aren’t enough “safely blue” states, the Republican party has until now concluded there is no need moderating from the far right and toward the middle.
Many people sent in stories about the inability of the elderly to obtain vaccines easily, with minimal direction, difficult (and multiple) websites, unavailable appointment times and long lines. This is inexcusable, particularly with deliveries still exceeding inoculations, although that may end soon. And it is unforgivable that all health care professionals, regardless of age or whether they actually interact with the public, should be vaccinated first (at the risk of not reaching the elderly), rather than only those that are on the front line.Still further examples of government’s nearly total failure in messaging, prioritizing, and distribution to the elderly before younger people. And while I endorse people trying to get the leftovers at the end of the day, my preference still would be for no leftovers at the end of the day…