Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Meditations at Home During the Pandemic #4

This is the fourth in a series of reflections while I am at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hello to readers from around the world.  Greetings from Toronto, Canada.  It is May 26, 2020 and I have been at home for about ten weeks  now.  Some days are better than others.  Sometimes I feel as if I am in the twilight zone.  Is this really happening or is it a nightmare?  I am trying to keep the faith that better days will come.

I and many others were unable to see our mothers on Mother's Day.  We miss live gatherings with families and friends.  At the moment we have to make do with virtual get-togethers.  We don't have a choice.  Still, there is nothing like a real life hug.  There is no substitute for it online.  A virtual hug doesn't measure up.  Nevertheless, I consider myself fortunate because I have a roof over my head, enough food to eat and I haven't tested positive for the virus.

I freely admit, however, that with every fibre of my being, I long to be free of COVID-19 restrictions.  I yearn to come and go as I please.  I wish I could discard my masks.  I wish I didn't have to see other people wearing masks.  I want to travel or go to a movie theatre.  Yet, I know that this virus is not going to magically disappear.  A reliable vaccine may be on the horizon, but we don't have it yet.  Around the globe, doctors and scientists are working tirelessly re working around If we don't sacrifice now, we will pay later.  Some restrictions have been lifted here in Ontario, but most responsible people know that we have to proceed with caution and prudence.

In the United States, the death toll from the virus is nearing 100,000.  The estimated U.S. population is 331 million people.  Here in Canada, the death toll is 6,637.  The estimated population of Canada is 37.8 million.  The numbers and the facts don't lie. It is a tragedy that the United States of America has the world's worst record on COVID-19 deaths per capita.  It's purported "leader," Donald Trump is leading his country astray and Americans are paying a steep price for Trump's folly.

Trump refuses to accept responsibility for America's poor showing in dealing with the pandemic.  He brags that everything he does is perfect.  He will never admit to a mistake and he will never apologize.  He has referred to himself as a "stable genius."  Well, that "stable genius" has led his country into a state chaos and confusion.  His reckless ramblings have only served to make the situation worse.  He has ridiculously advised people to inject themselves with bleach and to take an unproven and potentially dangerous anti-malaria drug.  Unfortunately, some of his sheep-like followers have heeded his misbegotten recommendations.

There is a great deal of false and misleading information.on the internet and social media.  Some people don't know what to believe and how to separate fact from fiction.  The best way to do that is to listen to the doctors and scientists, not debunked conspiracy theories.

According to a study conducted to the School of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, nearly half of Canadians (46 per cent) subscribe to conspiracy theories including false miracle cures, the idea of a 5G cover-up (5G stands for the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks which phone companies began employing in 2019) or that the virus was engineered in a lab in China.  They believe in at least one of four myths circulating on the internet.  The co-author of the study, Carleton professor Sarah Everts considers the high rate of belief in conspiracy theories alarming because of the "risk of overwhelming an already overwhelming health system."

I urge you all to keep your guard up and don't pay any heed to internet conspiracy theories or to Donald Trump's blather.  He doesn't know what he's talking about and he doesn't want to be seen wearing a mask.  In fact, he discourages people from protecting themselves with masks.  He has even criticized Joe Biden, his prospective opponent in the impending 2020 election, for being responsible enough to wear a mask.  Trump has stated that American will not be locked down if there is another wave of the virus, as respected doctors have predicted there will be.

Donald Trump is more concerned about his political and financial fortunes than the welfare of Americans and others around the world.  He is willing to sacrifice human lives for his personal own gain.  He doesn't treat all human life as sacred.  The man lacks empathy and he has no idea how to deal with this unprecedented crisis.  He doesn't understand that it is a health crisis, not an economic crisis.  The economic problems will not be solved until the human and health challenges are dealt with first.  He is reluctant to use government assistance to help needy citizens during this terrible time.  What is the alternative to government aid when people are sick and suffering, when they are losing their jobs?  He just doesn't know what it's like to be unemployed with a family to feed and bills to pay.  He doesn't understand how it feels to lose your job and your company health insurance.

I know it isn't easy, but the only way out of this mess is to exercise patience, vigilance and discipline.  It is the only way to deal with a second wave of the virus, which scientists say is inevitable.  Take care everyone.

- Joanne

Monday, May 18, 2020

Should you name your child Junior?

Names have always fascinated me.  They are one my favourite topics of conversation. To me, one's moniker is profoundly important.  It defines you to a certain extent.  It is part of your identity.  That's why I enjoy hearing stories of how and why people were given their names.

Back in 2017, there were rumours that BeyoncĂ© and Jay-Z were planning to name their twins Bea and Shawn Jr., after themselves (Jay-Z's real name is Shawn Corey Carter.).  This did not meet with very much approval on the Internet.  Why?  To some it was a sign of narcissism.  To others, it showed a lack of imagination.or creativity.

As it turned out, BeyoncĂ© and Jay-Z named their daughter Rumi and their son Sir.  Sir?  Well, I have to admit those aren't names I would have chosen.  By the way, the couple called their first child,. a daughter, Blue Ivy., who was born in New York City in 2012.

I am not a fan of naming a child "Junior,"  although it means a great deal to some people.  To them, naming after a parent (usually a first son) is a symbol of family pride, family fealty and continuity.  I understand that, but I still maintain a personal dislike of the tradition.

Here's why I wouldn't name a child " "Junior."

1.  A child needs to develop his or her own identity.  Calling a child "Junior," invites comparisons to a parent, which must be very difficult for children of celebrities, politicians and great achievers.  Think of Frank Sinatra Jr. (1944-2016) and John F. Kennedy Jr. (1960-1999).

Frank Sinatra Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr.

2.  Having two people in the same household with the same name can cause confusion.  Sometimes, in order to distinguish between father and son, the son is given a nickname.  For example, JFK Jr. was called John-John.

3.  It does show a lack of imagination and it doesn't require a great deal of thought.

4.  In many cases, it is egotistical and narcissistic.  That's why it's no surprise that Donald Trump's first born son is Donald Jr.

 This practice of naming after a parent, in most cases a father or paternal ancestor, has always been popular among the upper classes.  Having a name such as John W.. Williams IV is often regarded as a status symbol, a sign of wealth and privilege.

In some cultures, the firstborn son is traditionally named after his paternal grandfather and the first daughter after the paternal grandmother.  (I am the firstborn female in my family and I was named after my paternal grandmother).  When that happens, the family is stuck with the same name for generations and many cousins find themselves sharing the same name.  Fewer fresh names are introduced into the family.

Choosing a baby's name is, of course, a highly personal matter.  It is very subjective and it's definitely a matter of taste.  What appeals to some, may not appeal to others.  Some people prefer classic names.  To others, such names are boring and stodgy.  Some do not want their child to have a really popular name.  They prefer names that are less conventional, which they consider more colourful and exciting.

In the end, I think naming should  be left to the parents.  It's not a good idea for grandparents, other relatives or friends to interfere with the selection of a baby's name.  It can cause a family rift.  That's why It should be strongly avoided unless it is plainly evident that the name that the parents have chosen will subject the child to extreme ridicule and bullying.  In that case, grandparents or other worried relatives and friends should diplomatically express their concern to the parents.  This should be done for the welfare of the child.

Here  are my suggestions for naming a child.

* Make sure you pick a name that goes well with the child's last name.

*  Call the child by the name that appears first on his or her birth certificate.  Don't call the child by a middle name or some other name.  The name that appears on the birth certificate is the one that will appear on the child's passport, driver's licence and other government information.  That's a consequence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that we have to live with.

* Don't pick a name that is trendy.  It will date the child when he or she becomes older.

*  If you strongly dislike the shortened version of a name, avoid choosing that name.  Although it's common courtesy to ask someone permission before shortening their name, not everyone does so.


I'd like to know what you think.  If you are a "Junior," how has it affected you?  Send me an email and will post your responses.

- Joanne

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Meditations at Home During the Pandemic #3

This is the third in a series of reflections while I am at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's early May and we're still in lockup here in Toronto. I am getting antsy and I would really like my life to return to normal.  Unfortunately, we're not out of the woods yet here in Canada and specifically in Ontario, where I live.  As much as I would like to eat at a restaurant or get together with friends, it can't be done yet.  I definitely would not enjoy dining out if the servers were all wearing masks.  There has to be some measure of confidence that the virus has truly subsided before restrictions are lifted, and they have to be lifted in careful phases.  As has been pointed out, you can reopen a business, but you can't make people dine or shop there if they are fearful of contracting COVID-19.

I will have to continue to be patient because if we relax restrictions too soon, we will inevitably pay the price.  I truly understand that people have been laid off and they are facing unemployment.  That's where government comes in.  The lesson we can learn from this awful pandemic is that government can sometimes be the solution, especially in dire circumstances like these.  If not government, who is going to help people devastated by COVID-19?

Health care workers, especially Personal Support Workers (PSWs), have always been overworked and underpaid.  Why has it taken a pandemic for them to receive some of the appreciation and respect they so richly deserve.  They are truly putting their lives on the line for us.  Sadly, one of the reasons the virus has spread so quickly in nursing homes is that many PSWs have had to work in more than one place in order to make ends meet.  If health workers had been paid more, there would not have been such suffering and death in those homes.

As I sit here and reflect on the nightmare that has befallen the world, I am saddened by how the pandemic has been handled in the United States of America.  I can honestly say I am glad that I am in Canada.  I don't mean to be smug and condescending, but the facts and figures bear me out.  The United States' response to this crisis has been worse than anywhere in the world, as far as the number of deaths per capita.  That would not be the case if it were not for Donald Trump and some prominent Republicans.

Here are the facts  Per capita, the United States is currently seeing about twice as many confirmed cases of COVID-19 as Canada and about 30 per cent more deaths.  If you look at the per capita cases and deaths throughout the course of this pandemic outbreak, the United States has over two times as many confirmed coronavirus cases as Canada and roughly twice as many deaths.  It is also interesting to note that in mid-March, the Canadian testing rate was an estimated five times higher than its southern neighbour.

I have never hidden my disdain for Donald Trump's policies.  I really don't want to dwell on him, but there is no avoiding it.  He is the worst possible leader for America at the worst possible time.  He has completely taken over the Republican Party and he and his toadies (Hello Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham!) are totally inept at dealing with this crisis.  They only spread confusion and misinformation.

Why wouldn't any reasonable person believe the word of Dr. Anthony Fauci, a respected American physician and immunologist over the word of Donald Trump and his sycophants?  Fauci has served as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases since 1984.  Wouldn't you say the good doctor knows a thing or too about viruses?
Trump thinks the American people should trust him more than medical experts and scientists.  The president is horribly inconsistent.  He constantly contradicts himself and lies outright.  He has more confidence in his so-called gut instinct than in the facts.  He is more concerned with the performance of the economy than with alleviating the suffering of the American people.  His reelection is his foremost consideration and he can't wait to speak to his herd of cult-like followers at his rallies again.  Has there ever been a president of the United States so lacking in empathy?

The tragedy for America is that the nation so strongly divided along partisan lines.  All fifty states seem to be on different pages and many of the governors cannot work with the Trump administration.  Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate, led by McConnell, are reluctant to give the states the resources they need to combat the pandemic.  McConnell is content to let the states go bankrupt.  Republican governors are eager to open business, the consequences be damned.  Someday historians will review America's response to this unprecedented crisis.  There will be a stunning indictment of the Trump administration's actions and its failures.  History will not look kindly on the 45th president of the United States.

Yesterday world leaders launched an international fundraising campaign for a COVID-19 vaccine.  The organizing countries of the Coronavirus Global Response fundraising efforts include Canada, the European Union, Britain, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Japan.  Sadly, Donald Trump's America, with all its wealth and technological know-how, was missing in action.  The United States did not participate in the conference because Trump has stopped funding for the World Health Organization (WHO).  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledge $850 million to the fund.

Here in Canada, our response to the pandemic has not been perfect.  However, the provinces and territories are trying to work together with the federal government.  Even the most right-wing conservative premiers, such as Ontario's Doug Ford and Alberta's Jason Kenney, have made an effort.  Prime Minister Trudeau has been warning over and over again that we can't let down our guard.  There is too much at stake and we don't want to squander the progress we've made.

Time passes and I wait this out, dreaming and hoping for a better day.

- Joanne