A month ago we got the news no one wants to get. My wife was diagnosed with small cell invasive carcinoma, a form of breast cancer. They were able to catch it early so the prognosis is mostly good. Since the diagnosis she has had to endure 3 painful MRI assisted biopsies.
If you know my wife, you know her physical and emotional strength. You know that she is a determined individual and has a great attitude and outlook on life. Many of you are going to ask, “What can I do?” You can go and get regular exams. You can encourage others to do the same.
We met with the medical staff at the hospital on what to expect, the surgeon, the oncologist, the radiologist, the nursing staff. We also had to meet with someone from BILLING and FINANCES. The surgeries and treatments she will have to have are understandably expensive. BUT- we WILL be able to afford this.
When we left the hospital we thought about how absolutely lucky we are. The cancer was caught early. We live in an area of the country where our local hospital (less than 10 minutes away) has a wonderful cancer unit. We are lucky because she has a great support group of friends. We are lucky that we had a trip already planned and were able to talk to our adult children about this. We are lucky because our jobs have flexibility that will allow her to go to her appointments and I can be there when she feels it necessary. We are lucky that although as small business owners we have pretty horrible insurance that we will be able to afford all the necessary procedures.
Thinking of all the luck we had it made me think about others who may not have this kind of luck. My goal is to make her day to day life as stress free as possible. There are some people who just do not have that option. I cannot imagine someone facing the same diagnosis and wondering how they will afford the treatment. How they will get the necessary time off. Do they have to make a choice between LIVING and a car payment? Do they have to pick and choose which appointments they go to based on if they can get time off work? Do they have to handle everything on their own because their husband/partner or friend can not get the time off to help them? Do they go without groceries because of the expense of the medication? Do they not have the time to recover from procedures (where you are not allowed to lift more than 5 lbs) because they have a job to do or children to lift up?
My wife has never smoked, very rarely drinks, has lived a very clean life. Cancer sucks and it doesn’t care what kind of life you lead. It makes no sense that in today in the USA a person may need to have to make a choice between life saving care and food or work.
Healthcare should be Universal. There is no but. It should be Universal. Period. Universal health care is such a complex beast that only 32 of the world’s 33 developed nations have been able to make it work. The insurance companies are getting rich on our payments while denying our claims. People say they do not want the government involved in their health decisions. I get that. But you would trust a private company instead? The government wants you in the workforce. They want you to be able to work and to be able to pay taxes. A private company, they just want your money.
Politicians don’t want to tax millionaires and billionaires because they want the money for their campaigns. They do not want that money going to an opponent’s campaign. So taxes keep going up on the middle class. The working poor are left to fend for themselves. Told to pull themselves up by their boot straps when they can’t even afford boots. I miss the “old days” where billionaires’ vanity projects was to build public libraries, music venues and hospitals. I don’t get people like Elon Musk. If I had billions of dollars, I would impulsively start fixing stuff. Homeless vets? I don’t think so. Hungry children? Not on my watch. Cancer treatments- I got this. He could be Batman. What a waste.
When we were young music would find us. It seemed like it was everywhere. You could hear it as cars drove by, you could hear it coming from house windows as you were outside playing. I remember sitting in my parents car waiting for them to come out of the grocery store. I was listening to the radio and James Taylor came on. It was the early 1970’s and I love listening to James Taylor ever since.
In middle school I saw a kid with a button on his jacket that said, The Ramones. I had no idea who they were. But that afternoon I walked down to Main Street Records and asked if I could listen to The Ramones. Still to this day, my favorite band. (Thanks Bob Cat!). I remember being at my friend Jeff’s house and his brother let us play a Rush Album. Just Amazing, everything from the lyrics and vocals to UNBELIEVABLE drumming. At Chris’ house he introduced me to BOTH AC/DC and Pink Floyd. Although I had heard some of each of those bands on the radio, it was the first time I think I may have listened to an entire album. I thank these friends for starting my lifelong love of music.
It seems now that the older you get you have to find the music. Maybe it is the speed of life. Maybe it is because of air-conditioning fewer windows are open! Sometimes music still surprises me. I was walking through town and a song was being played in a store. As the door opened, I was struck by 2 lines of lyrics:
In every movie I watch from the 50s,
There’s only one thought that swirls around my head now,
That’s that everyone there on screen they’re all dead now.
I recognized the voice of Ben Gabbard from Death Cab for Cutie. Couldn’t wait to get to my car to put that song on. I think I would discover more music if I just lived the the present a little more.
Sometimes It may be a song you’ve known for years, but actually listen to it with your ears for the first time. In High school I remember being completely exhausted physically and mentally. I cannot remember what was going on in my life at the time, but I do remember the feeling of hopelessness. I had gone into my room and closed the door. Put on the radio and laid down to take a nap.
At some point I slowly came back to consciousness to The Beatles song, “The Long and Winding Road”. I had heard the song countless times. It was already 15+ years old when I was in high school. But this was the first time that I really heard it with my ears and my heart. McCartney says “It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach,” he revealed. “This is the road that you never get to the end of.”
Hearing that song at that moment let me know that although this was a tough time, I was goin g to be OK. The road is long so concentrate in the journey, not just the destination.
To this day, when I hear this song I am transported back in time to my bedroom in 1983.
Is there a song that has changed your perspective? A song you recently heard that you can’t wait to share?
A year ago I was faced with an incredibly difficult decision. Do we close the gyms because of the pandemic or do we fight to remain open. Yesterday I wrote an e-mail to my staff and posted it on the Atlantic Gymnastics Blog. Just to help them keep things in perspective. Not on what we have lost- but on how far we have come.
The 1920s Roared After a Pandemic, and the 2020s Will Try
The day was cold and windy. Standing outside the Capitol, the just-sworn-in president called for “a new unity of spirit and purpose” to bind together a nation that had been wracked by a pandemic and high unemployment. His predecessor wasn’t on stage. The inauguration of Warren G. Harding on March 4, 1921, marked the inauspicious, unofficial start of an historic decade. The somber mood gave no hint that America was about to go on a tear.
The Roaring Twenties saw widespread adoption of the assembly line, the automobile, radio, motion pictures, indoor plumbing, and labor-saving electric appliances. Consumerism and mass culture took shape. It was the decade of art deco and jazz, Coco Chanel and Walt Disney, The Great Gatsby and the Harlem Renaissance. It was “the first truly modern decade,” says retired Marquette University economic historian Gene Smiley.
As the U.S. suffers through another pandemic, it’s tempting to ask whether history will repeat itself. Once the virus passes, will the 2020s roar the way the 1920s did?
It’s not impossible. The past year demonstrates that the economy and society can change shape quickly. We’ve seen multiple Covid-19 vaccines developed in record time and an almost-overnight transition to remote work. Tesla Inc. delivered just shy of a half-million electric vehicles in 2020 despite the pandemic. A London-based unit of Alphabet Inc. solved a half-century-old scientific puzzle, using artificial intelligence to predict accurately how proteins fold, which could revolutionize drug discovery.
In all probability, though, the U.S. will continue to wrestle with “secular stagnation,” an economic plague of developed nations. Preconditions include an aging population, slow labor force growth, and weak demand for credit, which is why the disease is resistant to traditional monetary remedies. The latest evidence that investors aren’t holding out much hope the coming decade will break out of that mold: The yield on inflation-protected 10-year Treasury notes is around negative 1%, down from 4% during the ’90s tech boom.
Despite the differences, by copying what was done right in the Roaring Twenties and avoiding what went wrong, Americans can make the 2020s a success—by today’s standards, anyway.
The world of 2021 is “a muddled mix of the Twenties in a lot of ways,” says Rutgers University economist Eugene White. Stock prices are high in relation to corporate profits, as then. Today’s suspicion of international institutions such as the United Nations and World Health Organization would be familiar to a traveler from the 1920s. Race relations are once again strained, though Black Americans are in a far better position than they were a century ago. Tariffs rose under President Donald Trump, as they did in the 1920s. Americans continue to complain about overbearing government, as they did during Prohibition. The 1920s was the first decade in which the rural population was smaller than the urban one; in the 2020s, rural White America is feeling disenfranchised after having gone strong for Trump’s failed reelection.
“There is no chance of sustained decade-long growth that matches the achievement of the 1920s”
The 1920s didn’t get off to a good start. The Spanish flu pandemic, which killed about 675,000 Americans out of a population of 100 million, was over, but the U.S. was deep into an 18-month downturn marked by the sharpest one-year decline in wholesale and consumer prices in 140 years of record-keeping. The economic miracle of the Twenties didn’t really begin until July 1921, when the recession ended and boom psychology set in.
This summer, depending on how vaccinations progress, there will likely be a flicker of that mania as people emerge from their Covid-19 bubbles, ready to party. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg are predicting above-average growth in gross domestic product after a difficult first quarter, with the median forecast peaking at an annualized 4.7% in the third quarter.
Indications of pent-up demand are abundant. Carnival Corp., in a sign of confidence in the public’s desire to socialize again, plans to begin boardings in April for its biggest ship ever, the 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras. Finally free to do as they please, Americans may make like the Lost Generation, who chose to “live in the pure moment, live gaily on gin and love,” as the literary critic Malcolm Cowley wrote.
Gin and love make a powerful cocktail but won’t sustain a decade’s worth of growth. The bull case for a repeat of the 1920s is that the pandemic lockdown has accelerated the adoption of technologies such as videoconferencing and digital commerce that will keep paying dividends long after the virus is vanquished. McKinsey & Co. says a global survey of executives revealed that they were a “shocking” seven years ahead of where they planned to be in terms of the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their companies’ portfolios. And there’s still headroom. Cowen Research reports that almost half the corporate technology buyers it interviewed said they were in the early stages of a transition to cloud computing.
What’s hard about forecasting technological progress is figuring out where we are on the adoption curve. Take robots. The word was coined in 1920 by a Czech playwright, Karel Capek, but a century later robots haven’t lived up to hopes—or fears. It took 13 years, from 2005 to 2018, for the number of installed robots in the U.S. to double, according to the International Federation of Robotics. To a pessimist, that’s almost a plateau. To an optimist, it means robots are still on the bottom of the S-shaped adoption curve and are poised for takeoff at any moment.
Bearish forecasters say labor-force expansion and gains in schooling don’t match those of the 1920s, and information technology and biotech breakthroughs, while impressive, don’t measure up to the transformative, general-purpose technologies—electrification and the internal combustion engine, to name two—that powered growth a century ago. As investor Peter Thiel famously said, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” (It’s 280 characters now, but still.)
For the average American, life changed more from 1920 to 1929 than it’s likely to change from 2020 to 2029. Electrification gave us refrigerators (instead of ice boxes), washing machines (instead of washboards and hand-cranked wringers), and radio (instead of your sister at the piano). With electrification, factories no longer had to rely on power from a single engine that was connected to machines via noisy, inefficient belts and pulleys.
The internal combustion engine came into its own in the 1920s, powering cars, trucks, farm equipment, and airplanes. The number of registered drivers almost tripled during the decade. The automobile’s rise sparked investment in roads and suburbs as well as production of rubber, steel, glass, and oil.
Two Decades Far Apart
Robert Gordon, an economist at Northwestern University, is a leading proponent of the argument that these modern times don’t live up to those modern times. At the request of Bloomberg Businessweek, he assembled figures on labor productivity for the entire economy from 1893 through 2019, clustering the data into roughly equal spans that begin and end at high points in the business cycle. The data up to 1948 come from a book he wrote, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War. For the rest he relied on government figures.
The data compiled by Gordon demonstrate that productivity growth jumped in 1920 and remained high for a half-century before slumping after 1973. “While it is likely that productivity growth will revive somewhat in the 2020s from the dismal record of the 2010s,” Gordon wrote in an email, “there is no chance of sustained decade-long growth that matches the achievement of the 1920s.”
One lesson, then, is that timing matters. The 1920s roared because technologies that had been nurtured for several decades were finally ready for mass deployment. That may not be the case today.
It’s easier to spot social similarities between the decades than economic similarities. Then as now America was divided between a fast-moving, multiethnic, urban society of immigrants and a predominantly White, conservative, rural society pining for a past that it perceived as purer and less tumultuous. Americans elected three Republican presidents in the 1920s—Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Harding vowed a “return to normalcy,” while Coolidge, a taciturn Vermonter, “appeared to be a reluctant refugee from the previous century,” wrote Nathan Miller in New World Coming: The 1920s and the Making of Modern America.
The reformist Progressive Era that began around 1900 had lost its moxie, and the big-government New Deal hadn’t yet arrived. Business was given free rein. “Never before, here or anywhere else, has a government been so completely fused with business,” the Wall Street Journal wrote in 1928. Said Coolidge: “The man who builds a factory builds a temple. The man who works there worships there.” Elon Musk slots in nicely as this century’s answer to Henry Ford, though our society is more skeptical that what’s good for business is good for the country.
Gordon calls the 1920s “a Janus-faced decade that defies simple characterization.” It was a time of liberation, in which women got the vote and dared to wear short skirts, smoke cigarettes, and drink bathtub gin, while Black poets, authors, and musicians found wide audiences. “It was the period when the Negro was in vogue,” poet Langston Hughes wrote.
The Immigration Act of 1924 barred the gates to immigrants from Asia and seriously restricted immigration from southern and eastern Europe—drawing the admiration of none other than Adolf Hitler, who wrote approvingly in Mein Kampf, “The American Union categorically refuses the immigration of physically unhealthy elements, and simply excludes the immigration of certain races.”
The 1920s was a time of rising prosperity on the whole but also rising inequality of incomes and wealth and deepening divisions in society. Prohibition, which took effect in 1920, drove a wedge between “drys” and “wets” and fueled organized crime. Factory workers, stock investors, and Big Business mostly did well, but the still-sizable agriculture economy was shocked by a 53% decline in farm product prices in the 1920-21 recession and would take years to recover.
The first three years of Trump’s term were likewise marked by a tide of strong economic growth that lifted many boats, though not all. The unemployment rate for Black Americans, for instance, reached a record low. The pandemic has wrecked much of that progress. Bringing the economy back to its potential to lift up the less fortunate is a second reason, after saving lives, for President Biden to accelerate the distribution of vaccines.
Perhaps the most important lesson the 2020s can learn from the 1920s is the peril of isolationism. The U.S. emerged from the Great War of 1914-18 as the world’s most powerful economy as well as its biggest creditor, having lent heavily to the Entente Powers to finance the war effort.
Yet the U.S. resisted taking on the responsibilities of global leadership. Fed up with Europe and its bloody quarrels, isolationists in Congress prevented the U.S. from joining the League of Nations. With stringent fiscal and monetary policy, the U.S. forced its deflation onto other countries. Washington also insisted that the U.K. and France repay their war debts to the penny. In a vise, those countries raised the money to pay the Americans by exacting reparations from Germany. That fed the resentment among Germans that contributed to the rise of Hitler.
Much has changed since then. The U.S. is now a debtor nation, consuming more than it makes. Trump was correct that this is a problem: The U.S. is accumulating debts, while its productive capacity is being hollowed out.
What’s similar is that today, as in the 1920s, the U.S. can’t escape the special obligations that go along with being the world’s biggest economy. Americans learned that lesson after the twin disasters of the Great Depression and World War II. The U.S. was instrumental in the founding of the UN, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank and led the push to lower tariff barriers, which enabled poor countries and those ravaged by war to prosper through trade. Nations such as Germany and France set aside imperialist dreams and focused on quality of life. “If you ask an average European man what he cares about, it’s very often soccer,” says Columbia historian Adam Tooze, author of the 2014 book, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931.
In four years in office, Trump revived isolationism, even resurrecting the “America First” motto that Harding campaigned on in 1920—and that was embraced by the anti-Semitic, fascist-sympathizing America First Committee that fought to keep the U.S. out of World War II.
In the absence of U.S. leadership, nations such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Vietnam are at risk of falling into the orbit of China, says Tooze. “As in the Twenties, we are our own worst enemy,” he says. Biden must attempt to demonstrate that the U.S. is once again a reliable partner.
Meanwhile, the notion that the Covid-19 pandemic is some kind of trampoline that will bounce the U.S. toward a bright future is not only off-putting, but wrong. Pandemics enduringly damage societies in ways that go beyond the death toll. In October the IMF released a working paper by senior economist Tahsin Saadi Sedik and economist Rui Xu that uncovered a vicious cycle: Pandemics reduce output and increase inequality, stoking social unrest, which further lowers output and worsens inequality. The study was based on disease outbreaks in 133 countries from 2001 to 2018. “Our results suggest that without policy measures, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely increase inequality, trigger social unrest, and lower future output in the years to come,” the authors wrote.
A final lesson of studying the 1920s is simply that history does have something to teach us—a point that the movers and shakers of that frenetic decade sometimes had trouble grasping. “History is more or less the bunk,” Ford said in 1916. “It is tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.”
Introspection wasn’t the forte of the Roaring Twenties. “Torn nerves craved the anodynes of speed, excitement, and passion,” Frederick Lewis Allen, looking back from the near remove of 1931, wrote in Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s.
Our nerves, too, are torn. But learning from the past can help the healing begin.
We are PROBABLY on the other side of the curve. There are encouraging signs all over the country, and no early indications of a reopening debacle.
The coronavirus has taken a heartbreaking toll in America, which has had more than 100,000 fatalities, but the course of the virus is not the same as it was a few months ago. We are on the other side of the curve. There are encouraging signs all over the country, and no early indications of a reopening debacle.
The question now is whether the media and political system can absorb good news on the virus, which is often ignored or buried under misleading storylines.
The press has a natural affinity for catastrophes, which make compelling viewing and good copy. The pandemic is indeed a once-in-a-generation story. So the media is naturally loath to shift gears and acknowledge that the coronavirus has begun to loosen its grip.
Meanwhile, progressives and many journalists have developed a near-theological commitment to the lockdowns, such that any information that undermines them is considered unwelcome, even threatening. This accounts for the widespread sense that no one should say things have gotten better … or people are going to die.
Usually when it is thought the public can’t handle the truth, it is a truth about some threat that could spark panic. In this case, the truth is information that might make people think it’s safe to go outside again.
Almost all the discussion about reopening is framed by worries that we will reopen too soon, not that we might reopen too late—that is literally unthinkable.
None of this is to minimize the seriousness of this pandemic. New York and its surrounding suburbs have been through hell. What’s happened in the country’s nursing homes is a tragedy. We want to be cautious about reopening—as even the most forward-leaning governors have been—and vigilant about new outbreaks.
But we have entered a new phase. As Nate Silver pointed out on Tuesday, the seven-day rolling average for deaths is 1,362, down from 1,761 the week prior and a peak of 2,070 on April 21. That’s still much too high, but the trend is favorable.
Testing capacity, such a concern for so long, has really begun to expand after hitting a plateau for weeks. Testing nationally on some days has been in the high 300,000s or (on May 17) over 400,000. The issue in some states now is not capacity but actually finding enough people to test.
Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute notes that the positivity rate, or percentage of people testing positive, has continued to fall throughout May. In New York City, the country’s epicenter, the positivity rate was below 5 percent as of the middle of the week.
The reopenings could certainly still go awry, but so far there is no clear indication of it. Cases are still falling in Austria, Denmark and Norway, despite those countries being relatively far along on reopening. Denmark has been mystified why it is almost five weeks into reopening and hasn’t yet seen increases in infections.
On Tuesday, Georgia, so widely criticized for its reopening, had its lowest number of Covid-19 patients in the hospital since April 8, when such data began being reported. The number has dropped 12 percent since the week before, and 34 percent since May 1.
The press has often, out of sloppiness or willfulness, tried to create negative news around the reopenings. CNN tweeted last weekend, “Texas is seeing the highest number of new coronavirus cases and deaths just two weeks after it officially re-opened.” As Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics pointed out, the seven-day rolling average of new cases had indeed been trending up, but the seven-day rolling average of the number of tests had gone up, too—which would naturally turn up more cases.
The key indicator is the positivity rate, and it was down in Texas.
A North Carolina TV station tweeted, “Breaking News: NC sees largest spike in coronavirus cases since pandemic began.” That referred to 800 new cases over the past 24 hours on May 16. But tests had been going sharply up and the positivity rate trending down. Hospitalizations were basically flat.
The other day, headlines noted that Florida recorded 500 new cases on one day. It generated fewer headlines, and perhaps none, when Gov. Ron DeSantis pointed out that the state had received a dump of 75,000 test results, yielding the 500 new cases, for a minuscule positivity rate of 0.64 percent.
It’s not as though we haven’t had a cataract of unassailably legitimate bad news over the past few months. We’ve been experiencing a wrenching public health crisis and a steep recession on top of it. There shouldn’t be a need to obscure favorable trends. We can handle the truth.
The days are getting longer. Each minute brings us closer to summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.
2019 has taken a toll. A toll on our patience. A toll on un individually and collectively. We need to remember that we are of one race. The human race. When one of us succeeds- we each succeed. It breaks my heart and my spirt to see people walk by a struggling individual. To see a mighty nation turn it’s back on it’s neighbor. I still hold out hope for us. We are truly better than what we have recently shown.
Time does not have a rearview mirror or reverse. It can only move in one direction. We have HOPE for better days.
And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings
And designer love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again
I need someplace simple where we could live
And something only you can give
And thats faith and trust and peace while we’re alive
And the one poor child who saved this world
And there’s 10 million more who probably could
If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them
So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again
I wish everyone was loved tonight
And somehow stop this endless fight
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again
Some great artists have been taken from us this year.
One of my favorite groups in the late 70’s and 80’’s was The Cars. Singer/songwriter Ric Ocasek died of cardiovascular disease at the age of 75.
This time of year we really need to put aside our differences.
When we say “PEACE ON EARTH” remember that peace doesn’t see race, color, or religion. I truly believe that 99.9% of all people on earth want the same thing.
A roof over our head
A better life for our children
A world of peace and prosperity.
To Love and be Loved.
Lets focus on our similarities not our differences.
100 years ago- PEACE BROKE OUT.
During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.
On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire, but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce.
On Christmas Eve, many German soldiers put up Christmas trees, decorated with candles, on the parapets of their trenches. Hundreds of Christmas trees lighted the German trenches and although British soldiers could see the lights, it took them a few minutes to figure out what they were from. Could this be a trick? British soldiers were ordered not to fire but to watch them closely. Instead of trickery, the British soldiers heard many of the Germans celebrating.
Time and again during the course of that day, the Eve of Christmas, there were wafted towards us from the trenches opposite the sounds of singing and merry-making, and occasionally the guttural tones of a German were to be heard shouting out lustily, ‘A happy Christmas to you Englishmen!’ Only too glad to show that the sentiments were reciprocated, back would go the response from a thick-set Clydesider, ‘Same to you, Fritz, but dinna o’er eat yourself wi’ they sausages!’
In other areas, the two sides exchanged Christmas carols.
They finished their carol and we thought that we ought to retaliate in some way, so we sang ‘The first Noël’, and when we finished that they all began clapping; and then they struck up another favourite of theirs, ‘ O Tannenbaum’. And so it went on. First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words ‘ Adeste Fidéles’. And I thought, well, this was really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.
British and German troops meet in no man’s land. Boxing Day, 1914. Photographed by 2nd Lt Cyril Drummand, RFA.
British and German troops meet in no man’s land. Boxing Day, 1914. Photographed by 2nd Lt Cyril Drummand, RFA.
At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.
Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s land between the lines.
The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.
During World War I, the soldiers on the Western Front did not expect to celebrate on the battlefield, but even a world war could not destory the Christmas spirit.
Right now I feel many times we find a reason to have a fight and to fight a war. I think it is time we have a reason to wage peace.
Peace to All of you. Pass it on.
Even the SADDEST Christmas song can give you hope. Here is one of my personal favorites.
It is a song I tried to sing to my kids when they were little.
The world is filled with beautiful and amazing things. You need to slow down to see slowdown and notice. It may be a flower growing in a trash filled vacant lot. It may be the white helmet volunteers in Syria. It may be a young girl with autism in Northern Ireland with the voice of an angel.
Girl With Autism Sings A Stunning Rendition Of ‘Hallelujah’
It’s not just good because she’s dealing with autism … It’s good because it’s good — really good.
This 10-year-old’s rendition of “Hallelujah” would have given Leonard Cohen himself chills. Turn the volume up and give it a listen.
Kaylee Rodgers, a student who has autism and ADHD, sang the solo part for the famous tune during her school choir concert at Killard House School in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, and the performance went viral.
Rodgers’ voice is stunningly beautiful ― and she exudes confidence while she sings with her classmates. Tracy Rodgers, Kaylee’s mother, told the BBC that Kaylee’s music teacher, Lloyd Scates, played a huge part in nurturing her special talent.
“She always loved singing, but it wasn’t until she started at Killard House School that she really came into her own,” she told BBC. “[Mr. Scates is] like her safety blanket ― he’s amazing.”
Killard House principal Colin Millar told ITV that Kaylee was very shy when she started at the school. She “wouldn’t really read out in class,” he said. So “to stand and perform in front of an audience is amazing … It takes a lot of effort on Kaylee’s part.”
In an old city bar That is never too far From the places that gather The dreams that have been
In the safety of night With its old neon light It beckons to strangers And they always come in
And the snow it was falling The neon was calling The music was low And the night Christmas Eve
And here was the danger That even with strangers Inside of this night It’s easier to believe
Then the door opened wide And a child came inside That no one in the bar Had seen there before
And he asked did we know That outside in the snow That someone was lost Standing outside our door
Then the bartender gazed Through the smoke and the haze Through the window and ice To a corner streetlight
Where standing alone By a broken pay phone Was a girl the child said Could no longer get home
And the snow it was falling The neon was calling The bartender turned And said, not that I care But how would you know this? The child said I’ve noticed If one could be home They’d be all ready there
Then the bartender came out from behind the bar And in all of his life he was never that far And he did something else that he thought no one saw When he took all the cash from the register draw
Then he followed the child to the girl cross the street And we watched from the bar as they started to speak Then he called for a cab and he said J.F.K. Put the girl in the cab and the cab drove away And we saw in his hand That the cash was all gone From the light that she had wished upon
If you want to arrange it This world you can change it If we could somehow make this Christmas thing last
By helping a neighbor Or even a stranger And to know who needs help You need only just ask
Then he looked for the child But the child wasn’t there Just the wind and the snow Waltzing dreams through the air
So he walked back inside Somehow different I think For the rest of the night No one paid for a drink
And the cynics will say That some neighborhood kid Wandered in on some bums In the world where they hid
But they weren’t there So they couldn’t see By an old neon star On that night, Christmas Eve
When the snow it was falling The neon was calling And in case you should wonder In case you should care
Why we’re on our own Never went home On that night of all nights We were already there
THEN ALL AT ONCE INSIDE THAT NIGHT HE SAW IT ALL SO CLEAR THE ANSWER THAT HE SOUGHT SO LONG HAD ALWAYS BEEN SO NEAR
IT’S EVERY GIFT THAT SOMEONE GIVES EXPECTING NOTHING BACK IT’S EVERY KINDNESS THAT WE DO EACH SIMPLE LITTLE ACT
The point is – it is never too late to make a difference. Not just on Christmas Eve, any day. WHY NOT TODAY?
Last night the US House of Representatives voted to Impeach President Trump. 9PLEASE KEEP READING- THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL RANT) Listening to the Republicans and Democrats state their case it was as if they were each operating on their on set of facts. I grew up in a time BEFORE “alternative facts”. The news was respected, even if you didn’t agree with it. In high school and college I had liberal friends, conservative friends, apathetic friends, cynical friends. We joked, we debated, we laughed and cried. What we never did was put each other down.
Have you ever heard the story behind this highest selling Christmas carol? Robert May was an advertising executive that first wrote the poem “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”in 1939 as an ad gimmick for a local department store. 10 years later, May’s brother wrote the music. The song was turned down by Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, but Gene Autry recorded it. Today “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the highest-selling Christmas carol, at more than 25 million units.
Do you know why the carol is so loved? You might say that it’s the courage and fortitude of Rudolph, the apparent hero of the story. I think the real charm of the carol is found at the heart of what the carol is really about—grace! Despite that Rudolph was clearly an outsider and an apparent reject due to the glowing flaw of his shiny red nose, Santa chose him. When the fog rolled in and the moment became critical, Santa called on Rudolph, the reject reindeer with the big, weird, red nose to lead the pack. What everyone else saw as weakness, Santa saw as the vital component of strength to accomplish his purposes.
We each have things that make us unique. Instead of trying to hide those things and viewing them as a weakness, lets view them as a strength. Not just in ourselves but in others.
I was the weird kids growing up. I was the gymnast in a town full of football players. Look at me now! If I had listened to those who wanted me to blend in and conform I would not have be contributing to the lives of thousands of children.
As an employer, I am looking for people who are individuals but share our same passion. It is those differences that add spice to life and makeAtlantic Gymnastics an exciting place.
Cherish the differences in those around you. Appreciate each indivual.
There’s been good news this year. No, really. Mixed in amid the political chaos, climate crisis, and other human-made horrors, there have been shining moments in health, space and even politics that suggest progress hasn’t entirely halted. Here are our run-down of the most uplifting and inspiring news from 2019.
Scientists released the first photo of a black hole
A black hole is invisible, swallowing up light and emitting no detectable radiation. Yet, scientists working on the Event Horizon Telescope have shown us the unseeable — and it looks rather like a glowing bagel. The image is of the black hole at the centre of galaxy M87 and shows glowing plasma surrounding the black hole itself, with the darkness at the centre revealing the shape and size of the event horizon, as well as key information about how rapidly it’s rotating. With one black hole in the picture books, EHT is now looking at others — including Sagittarius A* at the centre of our own Milky Way. Read more at WIRED.
The first all-women spacewalk repairs the ISS
The first all-female spacewalk finally happened, but the pair had to wait for a new suit before they could step outside the International Space Station’s airlock. The historic spacewalk by Christina Koch and Jessica Meir was set back by several months for a second medium-sized spacesuit to be sent up to the space station, highlighting the assumptions that hold back women in the workplace, even when it’s not on Earth. Koch and Meir spent five and a half hours outside the ISS to fix a power control unit. Read more at The Guardian.
Jodrell Bank awarded Unesco World Heritage status
After a decade-long bid, the Jodrell Bank Observatory was added to Unesco’s list of World Heritage sites. Home to the Lovell telescope – once the world’s largest, but now ranked third – the University of Manchester site has been used to watch the skies since 1945, and is where the science of radio astronomy was born. It joins the Palace of Westminster, Stonehenge, and the Lake District for British sites on the Unesco list. Read more at the BBC.
Eliud Kipchoge runs a 1:59 marathon
Running a marathon in less than two hours wasn’t supposed to be possible, but science and sporting talent combined in Eliud Kipchoge to break one of distance running’s biggest hurdles. The epic run was achieved through perfect food prep, which included drinking special energy drinks throughout the race, picking the perfect day for weather, custom-made shoes, and using pacers to block the wind. But even with that help, it was no small feat: to hit that time, Kipchoge ran the equivalent of a 100 metre sprint in 17 seconds, but 422 times in a row. Read more at WIRED.
Simone Biles becomes most decorated gymnast ever
The 22-year-old American didn’t only win five gold medals at this year’s world championships, but did it with the largest points margin of her career while performing her own stunt, the Biles II — which involves a double backflip and three full twists — and in doing so, became the most successful gymnast ever. The achievement came a year after Biles confirmed that she too had been sexually assaulted by USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, leading the athlete to speak out against the organisational cover-up but also to celebrate her own accomplishments, encouraging confidence for female athletes everywhere — even those that can’t do quite so many backflips. Read more at The Guardian.
Quantum supremacy is here
Google leaked a paper, and the world changed — suddenly, quantum supremacy was here. That milestone, when a quantum computer can solve a problem that a standard computer couldn’t in our lifetimes, has been on the horizon for years, with Google predicting it would reach it by 2017, and rivals hoping to do the same. But this year, for the first time, researchers at Google used a quantum processor called “Sycamore” to solve a random sampling problem. Sycamore took three minutes and 20 seconds to spit out an answer; the best of our current supercomputers would take 10,000 years. Quantum supremacy is only the first milestone, but it’s now been reached. Read more at WIRED.
Tesla builds a battery to go one million miles
One of the challenges of electric cars is declining capacity in batteries, which could require them to be replaced at high financial and environmental cost. But that could be solved with battery tech developed by Tesla’s head of battery research. Jeff Danh, who is also an academic at the University of Dalhousie, published a paper detailing a battery design based around a series of pouches that could last a million miles without losing capacity, even with constant recharging. With Danh’s design, capacity fell only four per cent after being recharged 3,400 times. Read more at WIRED.
DeepMind plays fair at StarCraft — and still beats us
Google-owned DeepMind’s AI royally thrashed professional StarCraft players — but it wasn’t playing fair. But in a second round, DeepMind’s AI had human-level restrictions to better mimic real gameplay, such as having to look through the in-game camera to see the map just like anyone else. It not only beat its human opponents, but played at an elite level — highlighting the success of the neural network at learning new skills in a real-world environment. Read more at WIRED.
Britain went two weeks without coal
The road to fully renewable energy sources hit a milestone when the UK went two weeks without using coal to generate power — no small feat given coal provided 40 per cent of British electricity just six years ago. (The figures don’t include Northern Ireland, which shares a grid with Ireland.) While some of the power for those two weeks came from natural gas — not a carbon-free source — as well as nuclear, there have been gains in true renewables, with new records for solar and wind power. Read more at WIRED.
Norway says no to oil project
This year, millions of children skipped school to protest inaction over climate change, while Greta Thunberg shamed political leaders at the UN for their slowness to take up the fight. But Norway apparently heard, with its parliament refusing to sign off on a drilling project in the Lofoten archipelago. It’s one step towards keeping oil in the ground — in this case, three billion barrels of it. Read more at Bloomberg.
First electric aircraft takes flight for 15 minutes
A short, 15-minute flight from Vancouver could be the future of air travel. Harbour Air, which flies turbo-prop planes between the Canadian city and local island communities, worked with Australian engineering firm magniX to retrofit a 62-year-old six-seater seaplane with an electric motor and battery with 160km range. After the successful trial, Harbour Air hopes to electrify its entire fleet, but regulatory tests mean that will have to wait two years. Read more at The Guardian.
Britain’s carnivores are bouncing back
A study of Britain’s carnivorous mammals revealed their numbers have improved despite lost habitat, the threat of busy roads, and government-approved culls. The Exeter University study showed that animals such as badgers, stoats, and weasels have improved since the 1960s, with otters, polecats and pine martens recovering from near extinction largely without human help. The only such animal still at risk is the Scottish wildcat. Read more at The Guardian.
Humpback whales recover from near extinction
A study in Royal Society Open Science reveals that the number of Western South Atlantic humpback whales has almost entirely recovered from mass hunting. By the mid 1950s, just 440 were believed to be left, but after a moratorium on hunting, they now number 24,900, close to the original population before the slaughter began three hundred years ago. Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.
UK porn block ditched
Conservative politicians have spent the last five years pushing through plans to require age verification for porn websites in order to keep children from viewing adult material. After years of delays and plenty of criticism of the security and sanity of the various proposals, culture secretary Nicky Morgan admitted the plans had been shelved, hopefully for good. Read more at WIRED.
Abortion legalised in Northern Ireland
Four decades after the rest of the UK started to legalise abortions, Northern Ireland has finally followed suit, allowing women in the country the right to access the medical procedure. As abortion services are not yet provided, the UK government will pay for women to travel to England for the procedure — something women and girls have done for decades; last year, more than a thousand are recorded to have made the journey. As of next year, local services will mean such a trip is no longer required. Read more at New Scientist.
Humans placed in suspended animation
When trauma victims arrive in A&E, doctors have minutes to save their lives. Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine are buying medics more time by placing patients in suspended animation. Called emergency preservation and resuscitation, the procedure is used on patients with acute trauma whose heart has stopped beating and have lost at least half their blood, leaving them with a five per cent survival rate. To give surgeons time to operate, this procedure cools the patient by replacing their blood with cold saline, stopping brain activity. After two hours, the patient is rewarmed and their heart – hopefully – restarted. The work is still in trial phase, with results expected in 2020. Read more at New Scientist.
Antiretrovirals prevent HIV transmission
A Lancet study of 1,000 couples over eight years revealed that the use of antiretroviral drugs prevents transmission of HIV. Not only does that mean those with HIV need not worry about infecting their partners, but suggests that if everyone with HIV had access to treatment, there need not be any more infections.
That good news comes as researchers have revealed a second man has been cleared of the HIV virus using a bone marrow transplant. The treatment was given for the unnamed patient’s cancer, and the procedure is largely unused for HIV infections because bone-marrow transplants can be risky and other treatments are preferred. However, researchers hope it could lead to new treatment techniques and say it proves that HIV is curable. Read more at The Guardian.
Google stops short of censoring Chinese search
Google is still capable of listening to criticism, in at least one case. Project Dragonfly was the codename for controversial plans to launch a censored search engine for China, ten years after it departed over disagreement with the government over the issue. Dragonfly would have blocked results for sensitive searches, such as “Tiananmen Square”, as well as sources such as the BBC and Wikipedia. But, after the plans leaked, Google quietly killed the project.
Greggs’ vegan sausage roll sparks meat-free fast food frenzy
Greggs makes sausage rolls, so it made one for vegans. It pissed off Piers Morgan, caused queues and sellouts, and helped bump profits for the baked goods chain by 58 per cent. Now, Tesco and M&S both offer vegan sausage rolls, KFC is set to start selling a vegan chicken burger and McDonalds is considering vegan options, making it easier to eat fast food without the impact on the environment or animals. It’s a good time to be vegan, even if just for a meal. Read more at The Independent.