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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 3/30/20

Happy Monday Everyone!



It seems pretty obvious. Sometimes the scientists and physicians know what they’re talking about. It seems nuts that some people continue to take issue with what epidemiologists around the world are telling them, professionals who have dedicated their lives to research on viruses, their transmission, therapies and eradication. Some of the claims bandied about include:

  • This is being “overhyped” for political purposes.

  • This is an overreaction to something “a lot like the flu.”

  • Even if a major problem, it is worth allowing the disease to run through the population, killing hundreds of thousands (or more), and burdening our health care system beyond capacity, on some theory that it will “burn itself out.”

On the first theory, if it’s all political, it’s being utilized by politicians the world over, of different parties, political philosophies and economic systems. What a wonderful diverse coalition of conspirators! The second statement is just false. It’s like a flu in the same way a Humvee is like a tricycle. The third is inhumane and deadly wrong (plus, what would Kant say?).

Why can’t we listen to the experts? When did experts become suspect? And why is it that people are so willing to conjure up a conspiracy theory when a simple answer exists? I’m sorry, but I believe Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole gunman (and if you’re not sure, read Case Closed, by Gerald Posner), men landed on the moon, and vaccines actually save lives. People conjure conspiracies to justify their beliefs or ease their anxieties. These theories often run counter to logic, the observed world and expert advice. Sometimes the facts are just the facts. Perhaps there isn’t a conspiracy around every corner. Perhaps the experts actually know what they’re talking about.

Just as is the case with anti-vaxxers, those who argue against “shelter in place” are downright irresponsible and are propounding deadly theories.



On a lighter note, my friend Dr. Afshine Emrani, a cardiologist in town, is an avid reporter of all things medical and spiritual on Facebook. While he and I disagree on many things (including politics and the deliciousness of shellfish), I listen to his medical advice. He is adamant that we must restrict people’s interactions. He also believes that humor can help minimize the stress. In that vein, here are some of the questions Afshine reports he has been asked by his patients, together with his commentary:

Ok. Here are the questions I get. I'm not sure to cry, laugh, or punch myself in the face.

  • I've been having an affair with a friend's husband. Should I stop? (If it takes coronavirus for you to find your moral compass... Blocked.)

  • My daughter has been dating this guy. They are planning on getting married. I don't like him. I told her he can give you coronavirus and his good for nothing mother too...

  • Do you think it's a good time to buy stocks?

  • Can I still use tinder or dating apps? (Uhm.. Only for flirting... What part of social distancing don't you understand.. No.)

  • It's my birthday/ graduation on Sunday and it's so important to me. Can I just have a party of 25 girls at my house? I promise we will keep our distance. (Oy. First, no. Second, no. Third, I'm not your daddy. Fourth. You are the reason we need martial law. Fifth. Who's your daddy?)

  • My dog... Cat.. Goat... Has been sneezing and coughing.... (WHO said dogs don't get this. Who let the dogs out! I would only worry if you have a pet bat at home.)

  • My husband & I are newlyweds. Should I wait before I get pregnant? (Uhm. Ask your husband. What's your rush? Wait 6 months. Practice makes perfect. You're welcome.)

  • I miss my parents. Can I go visit them with my kids for 15 minutes? (NO. NO. NO. Stop negotiating.)



Now that your adult kids are home, are you (and they) having trouble coping with this “new normal”? Here’s a great opportunity to gain insights from a professional!

Many of you are familiar with the center for student health and wellness we established at the USC Hillel, in memory of our son, Brad. Together with the Jewish Community Foundation, we are funding this initiative to provide support services, programs, and one-on-one therapy to USC students, irrespective of religion.

For those coping the challenges of college students now living and working from home (and it doesn’t matter where your child is attending school—or even if your child is at school at all!), please join a free Zoom workshop this Wednesday, April 1st, at 5:00 p.m. Here’s the link to join:

Here’s the description of the program:



Just because the Getty is in lockdown along with the rest of us doesn’t mean you still can’t engage with art. If you are finding yourself with some “downtime,” here’s a project. The Getty has challenged people to recreate great works of art. The rules are pretty straightforward:

  • Choose your favorite artwork

  • Find three things lying around your house

  • Recreate the artwork with those items

Here is an article from CNN that shows some of the “better” examples of great art recreated from home:

Have a great day,


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