Wednesday Night #2020

Written by  //  December 2, 2020  //  Special Wednesdays, Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2020

How many years ago did someone ask the question when would the Wednesday Night session # be the same as the year in which we celebrated it? Ron Meisels, of course, did the calculations and it all seemed improbably far away. But tonight is the night. Without the pandemic, we would have thought of some clever way of marking the occasion, however “it is what it is” and sometime in the future we will find a way of celebrating. Meantime, we should each simply pat ourselves on the back for having achieved yet another milestone.

So happy that Linda Leith has been awarded the Order of Canada. Cannot think of anyone more deserving!

Congratulations to Marc Nicholson and the 1880 which reached its third birthday this week and has just welcomed the 1880th member to the 1880 family!
UPDATE: Singapore Approves a Lab-Grown Meat Product, a Global First
“The approval for a U.S. start-up’s “cultured chicken” product is a small victory for the nascent laboratory meat industry. Less clear is whether other countries will follow. … Mr. Tetrick said an unnamed Singapore restaurant would begin selling the product “soon enough to begin making a reservation,” but he declined to provide any further details.” Guess what restaurant is the launch partner!

In An Ottawa valedictory: time to leave Andrew Caddell writes “As I take my leave from a city that has been home off and on for almost 50 years, I look back with affection and ambivalence, rather than love or hate.” In any event, he is happy to be coming back to Montreal and we are happy to have him!

As Zoom increasingly becomes the accepted form of communication for Wednesday Night and everyone else, consider What our Zoom backgrounds really say about us. Not all of us have bookshelves conveniently located as backdrops to the niche from which we speak to friends and colleagues, but you may want to have a look at the ones behind Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas whose weekly commentary focuses on the Biden administration’s future relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has died of Covid-19 complications – a complex man with a complex legacy.

What’s the top word of 2020? Pandemic, Merriam-Webster declares.
Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events.

The UK has become the first western country to license a vaccine against Covid, opening the way for mass immunisation with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to begin next week for those most at risk. Following that news, Canada’s review of the Pfizer vaccine will be completed ‘soon,’ health minister says and if regulatory approvals happen in December, we will likely see a limited rollout of a vaccine in January next year. While the vaccine news is good, we wish we could say as much for Quebec’s handling of the pandemic. Ground rules for the holiday season are shifting daily if not hourly, as cases reach June levels.
Thanks to Germain Bourgeois for pointing us to A closer look at U.S. deaths due to COVID-19 whose conclusions are counter to just about everything we have been reading and hearing, e.g.”the effect of COVID-19 on deaths in the U.S. is considered problematic only when it increases the total number of deaths or the true death burden by a significant amount in addition to the expected deaths by other causes. Since the crude number of total deaths by all causes before and after COVID-19 has stayed the same, one can hardly say…that COVID-19 deaths are concerning.”

President-elect Biden is moving forward with nominations including ‘radioactive’ nominee Neera Tanden and inevitably, the naysayers emerge. Recently, Erin Brockovich has taken issue (Dear Joe Biden: are you kidding me?) with the naming of Michael McCabe, a former DuPont consultant on communication strategy for DuPont during a time when the chemical company was looking to fight regulations, to join his Environmental Protection Agency transition board. Sandy W. is predictably outraged. But wait! Was Mr. McCabe a fifth column at Dupont? If so who better to advise EPA on how to plug the loopholes. Maybe we have watched too many movies, but we find the strategy of setting a thief to catch a thief very appealing.

Trump continues to allege election fraud even though his faithful AG has said there is no evidence; Rudy Giuliani, while more unhinged every day is sufficiently ‘hinged’ to be exploring possibilities of a presidential pardon; and, as Trump steps up his attacks on the (Republican) Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger and the voting process, the situation in Georgia has become increasingly violent. Whatever else you read or watch, do not miss the statement by Gabriel Sterling, the voting systems implementation manager, in which he condemned threats of physical violence and intimidation against election workers and officials, pleading with President Donald Trump to denounce the threats and urging both of the state’s Republican senators to intervene.
Highly recommended long read: Pulling Our Politics Back from the BrinkA bitterly contested election embodies a deep American conflict between persuasion and force by the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos.

Beware going ‘back to normal’ thoughts – normal gave us Trump
Robert B Reich
Fatigued by the coronavirus and Trump, the idea of going back to normal is seductive – we must guard against it
Normal led to Trump. Normal led to the coronavirus.
Normal is four decades of stagnant wages and widening inequality when almost all economic gains went to the top. Normal is 40 years of shredded safety nets, and the most expensive but least adequate healthcare system in the modern world.
Normal is also growing corruption of politics by big money – an economic system rigged by and for the wealthy.
Normal is worsening police brutality.
Normal is climate change now verging on catastrophe.
Normal is a GOP that for years has been actively suppressing minority votes and embracing white supremacists. Normal is a Democratic party that for years has been abandoning the working class.

Acedia: the lost name for the emotion we’re all feeling right now
The news seems worse every day, yet we compulsively scroll through it.
We get distracted by social media, yet have a pile of books unread. We keep meaning to go outside but somehow never find the time. We’re bored, listless, afraid and uncertain.
What is this feeling?
Our Brains Explain the Season’s Sadness
Studies by health-care professionals show that our emotional challenges, from anxiety and depression to anger and fear, have been deepened by the pandemic. In June, just three months into a historic health crisis, a survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that forty per cent of Americans were already struggling with at least one mental-health issue.

Respite from political and Covid news comes in the guise of the Sprawling 8-mile-long ‘canvas’ of ice age beasts discovered hidden in Amazon rainforest Although the findings were published in April, the University of Exeter released a statement on Monday to coincide with a new TV documentary called “Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon,” which will air in the U.K. in December. I wonder how long we will have to wait to see it?

December 15, 2020 — December 16, 2020
The Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center invites you to its fourth annual conference, titled A Global Renewal? What to Expect in 2021. The conference will consist of six virtual discussions that will provide a look ahead to 2021, focusing on what Carnegie scholars and other experts believe will be the most significant and challenging issues facing the Middle East and North Africa in their interaction with international actors. The panels will include scholars from Carnegie’s offices in Beirut, Beijing, Brussels, Moscow, and Washington, who will examine the region from diverse viewpoints. The event will be held in English, live on YouTube @CarnegieMENA.

Is there anyone who has not viewed The Queen’s Gambit? For all who have, this look at the thought that went into creating the sets is a delight: Inspecting 11 Rooms From The Queen’s Gambit Designer Uli Hanisch on painting wallpaper, leaving taste behind, and building a “temple to chess.”

Law Firm Hires Stray Kitten After Visitors Complain Of His Presence … “they really missed out on the chance to call him a purralegal “

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