Category Archives: History

What Has La Brea Tar Pits To Do With Herd Immunity?

My Dear Friends –                  

I have had some interesting discussions with friends and acquaintances who have refused vaccinations. Now we all know how ridiculously judgmental I can be… not all the time, but enough of the time to make these discussions, in polite terms, volatile. The reasons against Covid-19 vaccination run the gambit from “not enough time” to “prove the efficacy of the drug” to “political chicanery” from all parties, including current and former Presidents as well as everyone in the House and the Senate, ad infinitum.  

Now, I shall acknowledge the use and abuse of both parties to politicize the vaccinations.  Science has always had difficulties with the powers that be. Religion and science have made nice over the centuries. They are still suspicious of each other but my take, at least in the United States, is that slowly, very slowly, religion has begun to take its proper place in the pantheon of life as a support system for individuals… part of the four freedoms… freedom of worship.  My belief is that this freedom will allow Science and Religion to co-inhabit the world. Imagine that!!

Over the past pandemic year in isolation I have been keeping good company with myself. Herein lies a recent conversation I’ve had with me:

What is behind the rejection of vaccination?  FEAR!!

Duh!!!  So tell us something we don’t know????

OK, I’ll try.

I’m stumped.

Go to Google.

Again?

Yes, again!

Oh, this is good… it’s almost as though Google knew what I was thinking.

That’s what they are paid for.   

Listen to this quote from Bertrand Russell.

Who?

British Philosopher (1872-1970)

Right!

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity towards those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”

Yeah, soooooo….

So this Covid Pandemic has frightened all of us… some to death, some to illness, some to lockdown, some to boredom, some to anger, most to confusion and paralysis.

Wow!  Puts me in mind of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

Excuse me?

The Tar Pits outside of Hancock Park. Over many centuries, the tar pits preserved the bones of trapped animals.  

Excuse me?

Here’s the story!  Back thousands of years ago there was an approaching climate change.  Over the centuries there were many climate changes. You know like another Ice Age or heat wave or drought… there weren’t too many deniers of climate change back then because there weren’t that many humans and there were no political parties. However, most of the animals and the few humans had very sharpened animal instincts. The largest of which was survival. Survival and fear go hand in hand. So picture the dinosaurs chomping away on trees and grass (yes most of them were vegetarians) and as the weather changed, their survival/fear instinct was aroused.  Now they loved L.A. but those who followed their instincts left Hancock Park and moved north to where they found safety for many millenniums along with evolutionary changes.  

Today you can see the remnants of those who ignored their survival/fear instincts and became trapped in the ooze of the La Brea Tar Pits.  

What has that got to do with anything?

Sometimes talking to myself is so difficult. Do I have to spell everything out for you?

Please…

It’s called species adaptation. Species that adapt to changes survive. Species that don’t… don’t!

Yeah?  So what?

Don’t you see. We have two herds. We have the Vaccine Herd Immunizers or the VHI.  We have the No Vaccine Herd Immunizers or the NVHI.  Both herds fear Covid.  However, once the scientists and the FDA approved the vaccines, the VHI team lined up, pushed ahead and did whatever to get their shot. They moved. They adapted.  Yes, into the unknown but for them the known was death and illness and no hugs.

The NVHI are waiting and thinking. Not adapting. Still chomping on leaves and grass.

La Brea Tar Pits… now do you get it?

Not to worry. I am donating my brain to Science.

All, to say my dear ones, I’m not telling you what to do, God Forbid, when have I ever done that?  

If you want to survive to fear again…

Pick the right Herd!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. A lesson in LIFE for Pro and Anti vaxxers… please stream the very brilliant and moving PBS American Masters biography of Oliver Sacks.  

As Auntie Mame so eloquently said: “ Life is a banquet. And most poor suckers are starving to death.”

How A Judgemental Know-it-all Can Change Her Mind

Dear friends and family,

I wrote this Blah, Blah Blog yesterday.  This morning I read about the  new approach the prosecution is preparing for the impeachment of our former President.  I now think the trial is going to be a constructive and instructive history lesson for all Americans and frankly, for everyone in the world who is interested in “FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”.  So here’s what I’m going to do.  I am going to share what I wrote yesterday as a look into my own thought processes which normally are hidden and unfathomable even to me.  I’d like to think it shows with continued exploration and investigation,  I can be reached and even to the point of , dare I say it, changing my point of view.  I don’t know about you, but in the climate of today’s polarizations on almost everything, that is a really big deal. 

YESTERDAY’S THINKING AND WRITING:


A dear friend recently asked me if I was going to watch the televised impeachment trial.

I said I would not.

Not because I am not curious and concerned which I most certainly am.

My personal belief, after listening many times to his speech to the gathered mob in front of the White House on January 6th,  is that our former President is guilty of inciting a mob to attack the Capitol.  Also, my personal belief is that in counting the votes, it is most unlikely he will be found guilty.  I ask myself, “Myself, why do I want to put myself through the disappointment of once again watching as the course of justice moves along “party lines”.  And listening again to the rehashing of the lies, the same ‘ole-same ‘ole of no one listening to no one, which is utterly negative and depressing.”  And so I shall await the expected verdict as I finish reading the extraordinary autobiography of Frederick Douglass.

Like I said, it’s an old childhood coping mechanism I developed against disappointment.

Allow me to elucidate.

As a child in a very large family where I always felt like an alien, my first defense was, of course, I was adopted.  These were not my real parents.  And these were not my real siblings.   But my most favorite coping mechanism was my fantasy of being rescued. 

 

Many were the nights where I would go to the living room where the radio/phonograph was (no television at that time) and put on a record of classical music (it mattered not which… although I did tend towards Chopin and Johannes Strauss waltzes) and danced until I dropped or until someone in the family complained (a frequent occurrence).  The dancing was definitely a release but the dream that attended the dance was more important.  As I danced, my fantasy was that Cecil B. De Mille was walking by my house (in Boro Park, Brooklyn), heard the music, looked in through the windows to see me giving it my all, immediately  he went to my front door, My mother would answer. Mr. De Mille would give her his card and tell my mother that he needed me desperately for his next movie. Reluctantly and sometimes not so reluctantly she agreed, packed my ballet bag with my leotard, dancing shoes, and a package of Twinkies and I was off to Hollywood where I had always known I had belonged.  

Eventually, I had to come down from fantasy to reality, my parents still owned me and being number 7 of 8 meant my siblings claimed me for errands and punishments befitting my station which meant I had to affect my own escape when I was able… it took a while, but I did.   The best part of these childhood fantasies? They have moved with me. 

At 87 years of age that child is still alive and well in me and I’ve got some doozie headline fantasies to prove it:


TODAY:

That was yesterday’s mashed potatoes and tomorrow I hope the promise of a more vital prosecution is fulfilled. And just remember, if not… there are always reruns of All In the Family.

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Randy Rainbow did this fabulous political parody from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. For me, this says it all! ENJOY!

P.P.S. Don’t let your blood pressure rise during the trial.  Here’s my remedy:

The Way Pete Souza Sees It Is the Way I See It

Criticizing and judging is no longer satisfying to me. What is satisfying is exemplifying what I as an American citizen and a human, empathetic, compassionate being have been missing. I could write reams about it, but it has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

So, why don’t I shut up and let you see what I mean…

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. You can view the full documentary on your favorite streaming service.

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA…

My Dear Friends and Family,

I challenge you to finish that pledge without going to your devices for the answer…

Why the challenge? Thank you for asking. God Forbid I should give you a
to-the-point answer.  Not my style.

Here is the circular path of my reasoning as I struggled to remember the words myself… and this after all the years of my generational elementary, junior and senior high school days of the daily rote repetition of the American pledge of allegiance. Certain phrases were embedded, but for what has been roiling around my brainball I needed to get it absolutely word perfect.

Let me begin with a metaphor of my experience since Election Day, November 3rd, 2020.

On that day, I went to my imaginary theatre to see my new play, The Mystery of The Pandemical-Electional Follies of 2020.

The first act was brilliant. Hero and Heroine unmercifully pursued by a psychotically narcisistic villain defeat that very villain. 

Hallelujah!!! I wondered why we need a second act. But, since the first act was soooo very satisfying I had to stay for the second.  

In the intermission I stood at my seat and along with my fellow audience members turned on my phone to check for messages and calls. We were all so in sync checking our devices, we looked like robots from a dystopian planet.

Suddenly,  stepping from behind the curtain is our hero and heroine announcing that a very technically complicated piece of machinery necessary to the continuation of the play has locked tight in place and will not move.  If we, the audience, will just have a little patience, the technical folk are working like crazy and as soon as they get it moving, we shall continue and all will be well.

With a sigh of relief from our protagonists’ assurances, we robots go back to our devices.

It is now November 22nd, 2020. I am tired. I am hungry. The charge is gone (and not just from my cell phone).  I believe that the hero and heroine will be reunited in my play and I can once more breathe free from the constant tension of waiting. And then I can go home, wake myself from my metaphor and plan for a better day.

But before I do, I want every elected official – Republican, Democrat, Independent – to start their day with the Pledge of Allegiance as a reminder of who they work for. And it ain’t a political party! It is… WE THE PEOPLE… who find these truths to be self evident… You don’t just work for a blue state or a red state in the Congress. YOU WORK FOR THESE UNITED STATES.

We know this country needs a great deal of work, but in the world of countries we are young and able and we have the tools if only politicians will use them for the good of all peoples. I do not care if you are an elected official or plain people like myself, if you find your vision is myopic and narrow for goodness sake get a pair of glasses. I’m going to organize a fund for a wider vision to include all humanity.  Please join me!

❤️ Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S. This is so powerfully joyous. Such a reminder of how art is a powerful agent for  bringing us together. 

P.P.S. At a time of devastation (specifically, the catastrophic fire at Jacobs Pillow that destroyed their Doris Duke Theatre), art is the healer in hope as well as a reminder of the creative spirit that is the constant in human connection… Enjoy!

Virtual Pillow Views:Piano Music

Virtual Pillow Views:Piano Music
Virtual Pillow Views: Piano Music

It Worked!

My Dear Friends and Family,

No matter which political party, our citizens voted!

Hallelujah!

The largest number of voters EVER participated in the democratic process.  Whether you agreed or disagreed with their choice is irrelevant. The naysayers (and I confess at times I vacillated as one of them) proclaimed  the downfall of Democracy.

NOT YET!

Of course the division in the country exists to make life complicated and difficult. Just stop for one moment and think about it. Together we exercised our rights as citizens. No matter our differences, we stood on line together, we waited for hours together and in certain states and locations we kept our distances and were masked. In other locations not so much… but it didn’t matter. Either way we voted. There was not a single instance of violence or disruption throughout the country during this largest of voting turnouts.

For Miss Pollyanna here, I see a light.  If we can be together in one action, maybe in time together we can learn to hear what the “other side” is saying and find our way towards if not reconciliation, then perhaps agreeing to accept our disagreements.

As a wannabe 87 year old Talmudic Scholar said:

On the one hand a leopard cannot change its spots.

On the other hand a good spot remover can do wonders.

Right??? Of course, right!!!

♥️ Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. There is a gracious way to concede defeat:

I don’t want to hold public office if I need to scheme my way into the post.

Stacey Abrams, November 17, 2018

P.P.S. Have a good time watching this:

Antsy Voters Can’t Get Enough Of Biden Bashing Trump In Avengers Election Remake

Humanity v. Human Nature

OK, I give up! (almost)

Too many of my friends and relatives watched the debate last night!

WHY?

Was there any intelligent HUMAN who didn’t know which way the evening was going to go?

Didn’t you know you were tuning into a new version of The Apprentice?

I want to be clear, I never intended to watch, I do not watch reality TV shows. They have never appealed to me. I don’t enjoy watching my fellow  humans humiliated and belittled and shamed in front of millions of other humans. In my own life, I have experienced all of the above (thank goodness, not in front of millions). Why would I ever want to watch anyone go through such a negative, dehumanizing, and belittling experience? It never made sense to me. No, I don’t want a medal. This was my choice.  

What I do not understand is why was I one of the few who knew it was going to be a bloodbath for Democracy. If you had the slightest knowledge of either candidate, how could you think this debate could go anywhere else? And please, let me not give the debacle last night the title of “Debate”.  It was no debate…shouting match! personality clash!  forget issues and points of law!

Where in the aftermath is the compassion for both gladiators? The lion being starved and prodded within and without by forces who were determined to have a bloody spectacle. And the lamb, prodded by forces within and without who insisted the lion’s natural instincts for devouring his prey were tamable. Nero would have been proud. 

I for one hope there is not another one.

But if there is going to be another one… do yourself a favor so you can be prepared to understand the two candidates clearly. Watch PBS Frontline program Election 2020: Biden vs.Trump. It is an in-depth look into each of their lives. It may appear to be biased. Personally, I do not think it is. There is not a single human being, including the Pope, without yin and yang or as I prefer zits and warts. The program illustrates the zits and warts of each candidate. For me, it’s a personal choice of which zits and warts are acceptable.

In my world, I will hopefully choose humanity over human nature. In reality (God, I’m getting to hate that word!) I realize until I have been truly tested, I will never know what my choice would be. 

However, I do have brilliant role models who help me find my way. On my 80th birthday I asked a friend to find photo portraits of these role models to hang from the ceiling at the party. Here is just a partial list:

William Shakespeare, Sigmund Freud, George Gershwin, Ulysses S. Grant, Sandra Day O’Connor, Billie Holiday, Abraham Lincoln, Marlon Brando, Doris Lessing, Virginia Wolfe, Mary Wollstonecraft, Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton, FDR, Leonard Bernstein, Martha Graham, Charlie Chaplin, Maria Callas, Eleanor Roosevelt, Buster Keaton, Marilyn Heit Leibovitz, Georgia O’Keefe, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Albert Einstein, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Dianne, Lori, Pamela, Rainer Maria Rilke, Frederick Douglass Gustaf Mahler…

Not one of these beautiful people are without his or her zits and warts. However, everyone of them, when confronted in life – as we all are – chose their humanity over their human/animal nature. 

Who are your role models?

Love ~ Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. VOTE!

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

Had enough?

My Dear Friend and Family –

I don’t need to say anything or to do anything.  I just ask you to open your heart, your soul, your mind and listen to Senator Amy Klobuchar. 

Love,  Sally -Jane

RBG… A Light Has Dimmed

My Dear Friends and Family, 

On Friday night, September 18th,  after returning home from a life affirming and joyous outdoor Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) celebration with seven others, a lovely mix of family and friends, a friend texted me about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  I went into a tailspin (aka depression). 

What was my problem?  Her imminent death had been a foregone conclusion for years. Her heroic mission kept her alive beyond the miraculous. Her staying power was Herculean. Knowing what her demise would mean to Affordable Care, Roe v. Wade and so many other issues of humanity,  she left a request to the American people:   

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Mitch McConnell used the same rationale while Obama was President. But that was 15 minutes ago and he changed his mind… again.

All right!  All right!  From the moment I heard of her demise, I found myself wallowing in dark and dangerous thoughts.  

Always at these times, I go into a dialogue with myself. Here it is.

Me: (in fear of the future) OMG what am I going to do?  What’s going to happen now?  Is there going to be a Revolution…Civil War…do I have to join a gang of vigilantes.   Is America going the way of Job?  First the Pandemic, then the Election, now RBG!

I have to leave this country.  Where?  Where can I go?  Any country I want to go to doesn’t want Americans.

Me: (in the moment): Calm down. We have a lot of grieving to do.  Your fears are diminishing her story.  Who she was? What she accomplished.  Her strength and tenacity as a woman, a wife, a mother, a lawyer, a jurist and ultimately a role model for men and women. If you stay in this minute,  I promise, ultimately it will show you  how best to live in a world that throws the best curve balls ever.

I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall —
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice
Excuse me, I have work to do.

Mary Oliver

You know what?  This staying in the moment thing is really hard. If I stayed in the moment, felt the grief, felt the power of this petite woman’s life to change what had previously been thought impossible to change , yeah, right!!!  What is it about staying in the moment which I know is really the only way to live but, oh, my friends,  it is soooo difficult. 

I have spent a lifetime believing that to believe in God is to believe that all things are fair and there will be wonderful surprises.

The best surprises come out of not knowing!  I think there is a lesson in this.  

I have no idea what the fallout will be from this cataclysmic event. It doesn’t make any difference. Whatever happens we will always have RBG’s strength, tenacity and perseverance to keep up us in the light.

Love, Sally-Jane

There’s a Place For Us

My Dear Friends ~

We are in a desperate search for stories about positive human connections. Here is my nomination for one the best stories…

I just viewed a PBS documentary film:

Harbor From the Holocaust

Upwards of 20 thousand Jews that were saved from Hitlers holocaust by their ability to get a visa to Shanghai. 

All others countries had closed their doors to Jews. A quirk of timing allowed a Chinese diplomat in Vienna to issue thousands of Jews visas to Shanghai just before the Japanese invaded China. 

The story is beyond moving and oh, so relevant today considering our own  difficulties with immigration and assimilation.

Please don’t miss this documentary. We all need the hope and the caring and love of one another.

I promise it’ll make you feel good.

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S. My friends, here is further reading on the history of the Jewish diaspora to Shanghai – GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN JEWISH REFUGEES IN SHANGHAI from the Holocaust Encyclopedia.

How NOT to Choose a President

My Dear Friends and Family,

I had a recent unsettling experience… let me set the scene:

Two acquaintances on my porch for morning coffee and croissants. As we settle down and begin discussing the topic du jour… our various adventures in and around the pandemic and the election, eventually, in my own inimitable voice of authority, I bring up the wearing of masks.

“If only we had some Federal leadership that would create a national program for the wearing of masks and other safety issues that are necessary for our protection,” says I.


An Aside: 

Let’s face it, my friends, I am old enough – barely – to remember the Federal programs during World War II that were necessary to help us survive and help the war effort… ration books for food and gas, meatless days, paper and metal drives.

Oh, sure there were always people that didn’t join in that effort… and there were many Black Market organizations. But for the most part, most everyone came together as part of the civilian war effort.

People died in the war. People died in the pandemic.

End of the aside.


Expecting to have both guests nod heads in agreement, I was heartily disappointed. The female of the duo nodded. The male said, 

“I don’t think it’s fair to blame him. We are a country founded on States’ Rights and each state should have their own laws about how they want to handle the pandemic. I think, considering what he has to deal with, he is doing a very good job.”

Shock!  Dismay! Disbelief! 

I know a few people (and relatives, too) who think he is doing a good job.  However, I am not in close proximity with them. You might say we really have perfected long distance social distancing. This was the first time I was sitting near enough where I could see the whites of his eyes. I was struggling to be polite. But when he started quoting Fake News items I realized there could be no discussion.

I quickly looked at my watch, which I forgot to put on, and told them that I had forgotten I had an online class in a few minutes. You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that time had just run out… the party was over.

They left. I was angry. But worse than that I was shocked. This man is a cultured, educated, sophisticated upper middle class white human male. How did this happen? I racked my brain.

And it finally came to me…

After a self-organized reading program of black non-fiction writers like Isabel Wilkerson and Carol Anderson, I realized they were right all along!  The white majority is disappearing. I had just been witness to an example of this fact. This white upper middle class man in fear of losing his white majority is going to vote for the man who will guarantee that majority against all odds. As time goes on the white majority will be no more. I am not rabble-rousing. Check the statistics (I can’t believe someone who hates statistics as much as I do is saying this).  

And before I let go of this bone, in 1970 you could substitute the silent majority of the Nixon era with the white majority of this era. And never forget it was this silent majority that allowed the wannabe tyrant Joseph McCarthy to flourish.

So alright already… What is this white majority that is being written about and exemplified in books, movies, television, podcasts, editorials, and just plain life? Obviously, I am going to have difficulty explaining it because I am so apparently part of it. I am of the white/caucasian persuasion. Black, white, brown, orange, purple… we are all part of this human condition… with differences. As part of the human condition/nature, consciously or unconsciously, we each strive to be better than someone else. A human animal popularity contest, if you will.

I know as the seventh of eight children I do not remember a day when I didn’t strive to be better than anyone of my brothers or sisters. My parents actually promoted that competition, thinking the competition would push us to excel in our various gifts, which personally I am happy to say it did, but they used it also as a control of a sometimes uncontrollable large family.  And because of my race, I could move more easily in the world.  And here is the big word that explains how I could do it:  

ASSIMILATE – that’s what I could do. 

I was acceptable… up to a point… being a Jew kept me back many times in my life and I can still recognize a slur when it happens… even in jokes… but basically, if I chose to I didn’t have to say I was Jewish and then I would always be acceptable because I could assimilate into this amorphous white majority.  See how easily it works???

If you are black, this is not possible. A black person is always black. Except of course, black people who look white and then they have to decide whether to pass which is another word for assimilation. So how did the white majority control the black population? During the centuries of black slavery this was easy. Blacks were property, not people. There was no white majority because in fact whites controlled everything and therefore, obviously it did not need to be stated.

It was after the Civil War with emancipation, voting rights, human rights, and civil rights, when whites, most obviously in the South and more subtly in the North, felt the thunder and fear of change.  

A brief dream time of Reconstruction was systematically squashed by the new Jim Crow laws of the south, created and enacted by the vanquished losers of the Civil War and legislators of the treasonable former Confederacy.

Ghettos, incarceration, proliferation of drugs, low service jobs, sharecropping (another version of slavery), limited and segregated housing and education, unequal voting and civil rights… all the negative control factors used by the white majority to control black lives.

Whites fear that black lives not only matter but that they will race ahead, leaving white lives in their dust. They certainly have done it in the world of sports and popular music.

Obama’s two-time win (accomplished without the white majority) put the white majority into a tailspin and is the most probable cause for the continued bitter (and what I personally consider un-American) politics of Republic Congressman, Senators and Judges – A black president in the White House? Never again!

The white majority is and will disappear. That’s a fact! The mix of nationalities which, to me has always been the backbone of America’s strength will now add a new strength in the form of mixed colors… HOORAY!

And let us not forget, the President’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders known as the Kerner Commission, headed by Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in July 1967 to uncover the causes of urban riots and to recommend solutions. The report, which declared that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal,” and warned that unless drastic and costly remedies were undertaken at once, there would be a “continuing polarization of the American community and, ultimately, the destruction of basic democratic values.”

There is a slate up for election on November 3rd that exemplifies a necessary and overdue recognition of this reality.

My reckoning is that this person who came to my porch for coffee and an abrupt departure doesn’t even realize he is part of that fearful white majority. I am sorry for him. But I am happy that his partner will cancel out his vote. I worry about others who don’t have anyone to cancel out their vote. So I ask us all to do what we can to give us back a country with some basic civility and caring to help us heal.

I leave you with a 1998 quote by writer Octavia Butler (1947 – 2006) that I discovered in a recent article in BrainPickings, Octavia Butler on How (Not) to Choose Our Leaders

“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.

To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.

To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.

To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.

To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.

To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”

Love, Sally-Jane