The decision to be unvaccinated is not just an exercise of personal autonomy or religious beliefs, but one that affects general society by unnecessarily increasing the spread of COVID. We should have vaccine mandates. How, then, should I react when I read something like this, as I did last week? “State Senator Doug Ericksen, a Republican who led efforts to oppose Washington State’s Covid-19 emergency orders and vaccine mandates, has died after his own battle with the illness. He was 52.”

Conservatives point out that Biden’s disapproval numbers are higher than his approval ones. These statistics are cited gleefully with the suggestions that Biden is not truly accepted as president, that he could not be elected again, or that somehow he is not the legitimate president. However, Trump’s approval-disapproval poll numbers were almost always worse than Biden’s are now. And yet the majority of Republicans think that somehow Trump was elected in 2020 and should be elected again.

After watching The Power of the Dog,I have been wondering what friends call Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict seems mighty formal for pals, but he is British so maybe that is it. Ben seems possible. I don’t want it to be Bennie. That seems too disrespectful. Perhaps BC, but I really hope it is Batch. “How you doin’, Batch?” Nice ring.

“It’s a hard winter, when one wolf eats another.” Old Russian Proverb. Ben Mezrich, Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs—A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder.

How are the food serving sizes determined that appear on package labels? The recently purchased, but quickly discarded, snack imported from Korea contains only Korean writing except for the “Nutrition Facts,” where I learned that it contained 1.7 servings. What are you supposed to do with a point seven serving? (The product was quickly discarded because it had a pasted-on label warning me that eating the contents could expose me “to chemicals including Acrylamide, which is are [sic] known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” This, too, mystified me because the ingredients section of the nutrition label said it contained only corn, sugar, and baking soda. But better safe than sorry—and the handful I ate was not very good.)

Henry has been coming around to clean up the debris around the front of our urban house for maybe twenty years. He does other odd jobs around the neighborhood and at his church which is nearby. Henry is old now and has difficulty walking, but he stops by every now and again to say hello and maybe to get a little money for old time’s sake. I thought he might be stopping by around Christmastime so I saved for him the Christmas card that we received from the White House. Now. I have no idea why we received a Christmas card from the White House. We gave some money to the Democratic Party, but certainly not enough to warrant a White House missive. Nevertheless, there it was–a beautiful rendering of the White House on the front and signed inside by Joe and Jill with the signatures looking realer than real. Henry showed up the Sunday after Christmas, driven over from his church by one of his friends. I showed him the card, and while I ducked inside to retrieve a few dollars, he looked it over. When I returned to the door, he handed me the card, and I said, No, it was for him to keep. He looked as though I had just handed him a check for a thousand dollars. It was as if I had anointed him with greatness. I said that I didn’t know why we’d gotten the card, we must have received it because we gave some money to the Democratic Party. Henry said solemnly, “And he was grateful for that.” It was clear that the card was worth a great deal more than the money I gave him. After Henry got back into the car, he and the driver sat for maybe five minutes as, I’m sure, Henry showed his friend the touch of wonder that he held in his hands. I wish Joe had sent him a Christmas card. It would have meant the world to him. (Guest snippet from the spouse.)

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