Bob Schwartz

Category: Uncategorized

Marvel Comics and Allegheny Health Network Team Up to Celebrate Nurses—Real-Life Superheroes

The new Marvel comic book The Vitals: True Nurse Stories, created in collaboration with Allegheny Health Network, features real-life stories of real-life heroes.

“If 2020 has cemented anything, it’s that real heroes don’t wear capes; they wear scrubs. Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Marvel Comics agree. Marvel has collaborated with AHN to celebrate real-life healthcare heroes through a brand-new comic book, developed together with advertising agency Doner.

“Today, AHN is introducing a new Marvel comic book about real-life nurses and their heroism. Each character and story stems from the experiences of real people who provide healthcare throughout AHN’s 13 hospital facilities in Western Pennsylvania, serving as amalgams of the dozens of nurses who shared their stories.”

Pandemic Economic Relief and Magical Thinking: Holes Don’t Fill Themselves

Based on the reluctance to craft substantial economic relief during these worst days of the pandemic, it seems that magical thinking has again taken over among fantasy Senators.

Magical thinking had a lot do with how the U.S. got into this tragic and avoidable situation. Our national leader months ago used the exact words “like magic it will disappear” to avoid actually doing anything about it.

The economic relief magic is supposed to work like this: If we wait a little while longer, the free market, as always, will rescue us on its own. Why spend hundreds of billions today when the bad times are about to disappear? Like magic.

Economic recovery and growth can be confusing. It does seem a bit like magic when consumers have money, give it to producers, who pay consumers as workers, who then spend the money, spiraling up and up. Additional money gets injected into the system to juice it up and keep the momentum going, but mostly it appears to be self-sustaining.

Except when a giant hole has been dug, and many people are near or at the bottom. The hole won’t fill itself. Those, especially those in the Senate, who think that the hole is manageable without filling it in are not paying attention or are deluded. Experts have said, even factoring in a vaccine in 2021, that recovery is going to take place over a matter of years. Maybe they are too pessimistic—economics is after all called “the dismal science”—but economic recovery is not “just around the corner.” In the meantime, those in the government who hold the purse strings should plan on releasing billions and billions to fill the hole. And while they are at, figure out how to keep the pandemic from getting worse, which it is, and thereby digging the hole deeper. Because magic is not going to work.

Lincoln created Thanksgiving Day in the middle of the Civil War

Thanksgiving-Day by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, December 5, 1863.

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, creating the modern holiday we celebrate.

At that moment, the deadly American Civil War was raging. Two cultures, two nations where once there was one. And would be one again.

From Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation:

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

Not thinking

Not thinking

To think in a language
You do not know
Is not not thinking
But how can it be thinking?

© Bob Schwartz

The Saints

The Saints

Dead a hundred years
or a thousand.
Search the calendar
for a story fancied or fact
feast or famine
a speck of meaning
added to a day
more light or
more confusion.
Dead a minute or a day
they try to speak
and lift a life.


© Bob Schwartz

What 240,000 Covid Deaths Look Like

1,000 matchsticks

Right now there at least 240,000 Covid deaths and 10 million Covid cases counted in America. Without major behavioral and policy interventions, there may be 400,000 deaths and 1 million cases a week by the end of year. Yet some governors insist on staying the course, and some people think that even the current restrictions are too much.

It is of course not appropriate to show images of 240,000 dead Americans in this post. So matchsticks will stand in their stead.

Each pile below includes about 1,000 matchsticks. Shown are 10,000. Multiply by 24. Or 40. Do the math and imagine.

The expression goes: Some people, you just can’t tell them. Maybe we can show them.

You can’t vaccinate dead people

There is good news about possible Covid vaccines. With that news comes the reality that widespread deployment of a vaccine still won’t take place until some time in 2021.

Imagine this scenario in the coming months, a time when it is projected that nationally there may be 200,000 Covid cases a day—that’s 6 million a month—and there may be 400,000 total deaths by February 1:

A patient who has been infected with Covid is suffering symptoms, maybe severe enough to require hospitalization, maybe even courting death.

Someone—maybe one of our reluctant leaders—arrives to offer good wishes and this comfort:

“You will be happy to know that a vaccine for this terrible disease is right around the corner. You can stop worrying.”

What those reluctant leaders should be saying—now—is that it is inevitable that things are going to get much worse while we wait for the relief of a vaccine, so some difficult measures will have to be taken—now. This takes intelligence and vision, the courage to throw off ideology, and a willingness to be unpopular. All for the sake of saving suffering and lives.

Music for Election 2020: Feeling Good by Nina Simone

“I hear America singing.”
Walt Whitman

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze drifting by you know how I feel
Fish in the sea, you know how I feel

River running free, you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel
Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean
Butterflies all havin’ fun, you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done, that’s what I mean

And this old world, is a new world
And a bold world for me

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me
And I’m feeling good

Songwriters: Leslie Bricusse / Anthony Newley

I Ching on Election 2020, Part 2 – Wu Wang • Without Falsehood

“Wu Wang means truthful, honest, and sincere, without any fabrication. It was considered to be the natural state of the individual.”

“This gua tells us that after King Wu overthrew the Tyrant of Shang, there was decay among the people. It was corrected before it had gone too far. The social norm returned in a short period of time. King Wen said that the principle of the new administration should be truthfulness.”

At this moment, the outcome of the election remains undetermined. So as many thoughts as there may be, there is nothing to say. The I Ching, asked again about the election, has plenty of valuable insight, as it has had for thousands of years. People are, after all, people, then and now.

From The Complete I Ching by Taoist Master Alfred Huang (emphasis added)


Hexagram 25
Wu Wang • Without Falsehood

NAME AND STRUCTURE

Wu Wang literally means not untruthful. Wilhelm translates Wu Wang as Innocence (the Unexpected) and Blofeld as Integrity, the Unexpected. In this book I adopt the term Without Falsehood. In Chinese, Wu means not, and Wang is untruthful, dishonest, or insincere. Thus, Wu Wang means truthful, honest, and sincere, without any fabrication. It was considered to be the natural state of the individual.

DECISION

Without Falsehood.
Sublimely prosperous and smooth.
Favorable to be steadfast and upright.
If one’s intention is not truthful,
There is trouble.

Unfavorable to have somewhere to go.

COMMENTARY ON THE DECISION

Without Falsehood.
The firm comes from the outer
And becomes the host of the inner.
Movement with strength;
The firm is at the central place and has a correspondent.
Great prosperity and smoothness through its correctness.
This is the will of Heaven.
If one’s intention is not truthful,
One will fall into errors.
It is unfavorable for one
To have somewhere to go.
When truthfulness is gone,
Where can one go?
When the will of Heaven will not protect,
How can anything be done?

COMMENTARY ON THE SYMBOL

Under Heaven, Thunder rolls.
An image of all things accompanied by truthfulness.
In correspondence with this,
The ancient king enriches his virtue in harmony with the time
And nurtures myriad beings.

SIGNIFICANCE

This gua displays the wisdom of holding to the truth—that is, no matter how situations change, truthfulness never changes. The ancient Chinese did not have a personal God; they submitted to the will of Heaven and resigned themselves to their fate. They believed that to live and act in harmony with the will of Heaven was the nature and the duty of humanity. To act in accordance with the virtue of Heaven would eventually bring everlasting fortune and success. If one had this faith, then one was able to not count on the harvest while plowing. This attitude does not neglect the law of cause and effect. What is important is whether one’s attitude and motivation are aligned with the virtue of Heaven. What is considered first is not the reward one will attain, but whether the work is really good for humanity. Fostering and nurturing the myriad beings is the virtue of Heaven.

The solid line at the bottom and the solid line at the fifth place are qualified to be the hosts of the gua. However, the bottom line is the starting point of a gua. In this gua, one starts with truthfulness. Truthfulness is the nature of humanity. When one approaches a task, one should start with truthfulness. For this reason, the bottom line is more suitable to be host of this gua.

This gua tells us that after King Wu overthrew the Tyrant of Shang, there was decay among the people. It was corrected before it had gone too far. The social norm returned in a short period of time. King Wen said that the principle of the new administration should be truthfulness. He accepted the lessons learned from decay and pointed out that if one’s intention, especially that of a leader, was not truthful he would fall into error. It would not be favorable for him to move in any direction. The Duke of Zhou recalls that advancement with truthfulness brought good fortune. For a just cause one should count on neither the harvest nor the result while recultivating old land. Even if truthfulness encounters misfortune, one should still remain steadfast and upright. But in taking action, if the direction is lost, there would be no advantage.

I Ching on Election 2020 – Tai (Advance)

“Tai is one of the most auspicious words in the Chinese language.”

“It is the law of Nature: when things have proceeded to an extreme, they return to their opposite. It is wise for one to know one’s predestined fate. One should not try to alter natural law by using force. Recognize the situation. In ancient times when there were serious calamities an emperor often issued a “self-blame decree,” a mea culpa, to calm people’s indignation. Through self-examination and by being central and steadfast, wait for another cycle from Hindrance to Advance. Out of the depths of misfortune comes bliss. Be patient; there is always hope.”

The I Ching is asked about Election 2020. For comment, not for prediction. For what it’s worth.

From The Complete I Ching by Taoist Master Alfred Huang (emphasis added)


Hexagram 11
Tai • Advance

NAME AND STRUCTURE

Tai is one of the most auspicious words in the Chinese language. Originally it meant “more than” or “most.” It generally indicates a condition of being more than great. Tai also means peace, safety, security, good health; or it suggests progression, proceeding, advancing. Both Wilhelm and Blofeld translate Tai as Peace. In this book, the word Advance is adopted.

The ideograph of Tai consists of two parts. The upper portion represents greatness. The ancient Chinese believed that Heaven and Earth were great, and that human beings were also great. Thus, the ideograph looks like a person standing with arms and legs wide open. Underneath the two legs, there is the ideograph of water, sui. It looks exactly like the primary gua Kan  , or Water, standing upright. This ideograph presents the picture of running water proceeding forward smoothly with great ease. This is the primary meaning of Tai in the I Ching.

Sequence of the Gua: After fulfilling one’s duty with composure, one feels peaceful and safe.Thus, after Fulfillment, Advance follows.

Heaven is above and earth below—that is the natural phenomenon we find in our daily life. However, in this gua, Qian (Heaven) descends to the lower gua, and Kun (Earth) ascends to the upper gua. The situation seems inappropriate. Naturally, Heaven stands above and moves downward, and Earth stands below and moves upward. Yet in Tai, Heaven and Earth are moving together in communion. In this way they fulfill their duality.

There is a mountain named Tai that stands on the eastern coast of China. Mount Tai was regarded as a sacred mountain that connected Heaven and Earth. Each spring, the emperor would climb the mountain peak, making offerings there with great reverence. The purpose was to ask for harmony between human beings and their natural surroundings. The Chinese believed that when harmony between people and their surroundings was established then, in peace, safety, security, and good health, they would progress, proceed, and advance with great ease. Thus the meaning of Tai embraces all these auspicious meanings. Through thousands of years, the Chinese have sought guo tai ming an—a prosperous country and people at peace.

Traditionally, this gua represents the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It carries the message that spring is coming round to Earth once again. Heaven and Earth bring peace and blessing to all living beings. Myriad beings will renew their lives and move forward again. This concept represents the actual meaning of Tai. It is an auspicious time of prosperity and peace. There is an ancient Chinese saying that out of the depth of misfortune comes bliss. This bliss is Tai.

DECISION

Advance.
The little is departing,
The great is arriving.
Good fortune.
Prosperous and smooth.

COMMENTARY ON THE DECISION

Advance.
The little is departing;
The great is arriving.
Good fortune.
Prosperous and smooth.
Heaven and Earth unite;
All beings come into union.
The upper and the lower link;
Their wills are the same.
The inner is the yang; the outer is the yin.
The inner is the strong; the outer is the gentle.
The inner is the superior; the outer is the inferior.
Thus,
The way of the superior is expanding;
The way of the inferior is shrinking.

SIGNIFICANCE

In this gua, the significance of the union of Heaven and Earth is employed to display the importance of union among people. When people communicate sincerely and truthfully, harmony is created, and things will be achieved easily and smoothly. In Chinese, this situation is called Tai, Advance. The Yao Text of this gua is extremely difficult to understand. Different scholars have varying ideas. To the Chinese, the opposite of Tai is Pi. To go from Tai (Advance) to Pi (Hindrance) or vice versa is a natural law, as is the waxing and waning of the moon. The wise prefer to live in harmony with the laws of Nature. Be content with one’s fate, and never blame Heaven or others.

This gua also displays the wisdom of keeping a state of prosperity and preserving a period of bliss. In human society, starting any undertaking is difficult, but maintaining the achievement is even harder. One should not sleep on the accomplishment and feel complacent, but instead be aware that when the achievement reaches a climax, it begins to decline. The interconnection between Heaven and Earth sets the example for mutual communication between human beings. People with the same faith and goals should maintain their mutual love and care and support each other; then the blissful situation can last longer.

The yielding line at the top reaches the final stage of Advance. A turning point from Advance to Hindrance is waiting ahead. The Yao text gives warning: the castle wall returned into the moat. It is the law of Nature: when things have proceeded to an extreme, they return to their opposite. It is wise for one to know one’s predestined fate. One should not try to alter natural law by using force. Recognize the situation. In ancient times when there were serious calamities an emperor often issued a “self-blame decree,” a mea culpa, to calm people’s indignation. Through self-examination and by being central and steadfast, wait for another cycle from Hindrance to Advance. Out of the depths of misfortune comes bliss. Be patient; there is always hope.