By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Even more than the other months of 2022, April was one of those months when it was a continual challenge to make the distinction between reality and parody.
The month began with a “slap-free” Grammy Award ceremony.
“Slap-free” has apparently become the essential adjective for award ceremonies and public gatherings of all kinds. Previous eras gave us “gluten-free” or even “cruelty-free” descriptors, but in 2022 “slap-free” seems appropriate.
The not-so-friendly skies
Spring break also happened to coincide with weather and labor issues which led to thousands of canceled flights.
Thanks to pilot shortages, many airlines announced semi-permanent flight cut-backs.
One enterprising airline, to cope with the pilot shortage, is offering bus travel on shorter hops.
As of June 3, customers traveling to or from Allentown/Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (ABE) and Atlantic City, New Jersey (ACY), via American’s Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) hub might find ground transportation the most reliable (www.busandmotorcoachnews.com/american-airlines-to-use-landline-buses-on-regional-routes/).
Meanwhile in Ukraine
In yet another sign that the war in Ukraine is not even remotely “normal”, one Ukrainian city eagerly welcomed Russian soldiers with drinks and freshly baked rolls – a local delicacy. All poisoned. You can see details here.
Russia has assigned new leadership to the not-quite-successful assault on Ukraine.
The Russian Navy’s Moskva flagship cruise sank in the Black Sea. It was the largest ship sunk since World War II.
The IPCC speaks
According to a report released in early April by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, keeping global heating to the critical level of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will require preventing greenhouse gas emissions from increasing after 2025 at the latest.
After that point, climate experts say the world will reach a tipping point where even small additional changes could trigger dramatic shifts in ecosystems.
Talkin’ about the weather
The second week of April gave us a return to February with record low temperatures and even a few incidents of lowland snow in the Puget Sound area. This cold snap happened right after our first day with temperatures over 70.
On a national scope, snowstorms became yet another unlikely harbinger of spring. As one commenter put it, we had snow on the 73rd of February.
The Supreme Court changes
For the first time in its history, the US Supreme Court is not composed of majority white males.
Thanks to a Senate vote of 53-47, Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the newest justice on the Supreme Court.
It took 232 years for a Black woman to hold a seat on our nation’s highest court.
Among the nine justices, there is one African-American male (Justice Thomas) and one Hispanic woman (Justice Sotomayor).
Two of the justices were born to at least one immigrant parent.
Besides race and gender, faith tends to divide our highest court. Catholic judges’ decisions often align with those of Evangelical Christians, whereas some Jewish justices have been more in sync with politically progressive groups.
In more ways than one, the new Justice Jackson will revise our assumptions. And, for better or worse, our highest court is beginning to reflect the tone and texture of our nation.
Ramadan, Easter, Passover
Lent, Passover and Ramadan converged in April. This meant that we experienced a time for prayers and family gatherings for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
For the first time in decades the three monotheistic Abrahamic faiths shared a “holy season”.
A Pew Research study shows that one in five U.S. adults were raised in interfaith homes.
The sixth surge
To put it mildly, we are all sick of COVID. But cases have started to tick up in places like New York, Massachusetts and in Chicago – and, Washington, D.C.
Wastewater surveillance and even air sampling may eventually become helpful alternatives in understanding how much virus is circulating in a community.
And they all confirm that the virus is far from gone.
Perhaps we could take a lesson from the 1918 flu pandemic.
A hundred or so years ago, after cases started to go down following the first two waves of the influenza virus, public sentiment shifted and many health measures were lifted.
But in 1919, at the tail end of the pandemic, a fourth wave hit New York City, causing deaths to spike higher than they had during prior waves.
Just because we have given up on COVID, does not mean that it has given up on us.
Elon Musk & Twitter
Elon Musk bought over 9% of Twitter stock and promptly accepted/declined a place on the board of Twitter. Mr. Musk then offered/threatened to buy the entire company for $44 billion. His usual unpredictable leadership style will continue to roil the stock market – especially tech stocks.
Car thefts in Tacoma
So far in 2022, Tacoma averages a little over 900 car thefts a month. That’s a few more than 30 each day – or about one car theft every 45 minutes. These are just car theft numbers – not break-ins or stealing of catalytic converters.
Killing us not so softly…
Tacoma is also, so far in the year, averaging more than one murder a week.
I’m ready to be below average.
Tacoma usually has about 20 murders each year.
With more than one a week, we could easily pass 50 murders in 2022.
This is one record I hope we do not achieve.
A new war between the states?
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said at a press conference that if Democrat Stacey Abrams wins Georgia’s upcoming gubernatorial election, it will lead to serious tensions between the two states.
“If Stacey Abrams is elected governor of Georgia, I just want to be honest, that will be a cold war between Florida and Georgia,” DeSantis said.
And, in a culture-war counter attack, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly attacked Disney World and revoked a wide range of tax and regulation exemptions for Disney.
Disney occupies 27,000 acres, including Disney World’s four theme parks, two water parks and other hotels and retail outlets in the area.
To put it mildly, attacking one’s state’s largest employer is not the usual strategy for GOP governors.
Disney, is of course, as close as we get to holy ground in our secular/commercial society. Attacking Disney is like attacking motherhood.
COVID returns to China
China extended Shanghai’s coronavirus lockdown to cover the financial hub’s entire population of 26 million (more than 2/3 of the population of Canada) after city-wide testing found daily new cases surging to more than 13,000. This is the country’s biggest medical operation since the initial Wuhan shutdown in early 2020.
What became of Kmart?
Once something like a one-stop retail mecca, with well over 2,000 stores, Kmart, as of mid-April, was down to three stores.
Kmart earned its place in American culture with its Blue Light Specials.
Young people will never know Kmarts unless they visit the last stores in Westwood, New Jersey; Bridgehampton, on New York’s Long Island, and Miami.
Amazon’s warehouse in Staten Island, New York, made history after a majority voted to form the first Amazon union in the U.S.
Amazon is putting forth a legal appeal.
Meeting at Starbucks
More than 20 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize. And more than 200 stores nationwide have filed the paperwork to unionize.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that JUUL must pay $22.5 million (over the next four years) to resolve Ferguson’s lawsuit against the e-cigarette company. The lawsuit asserts that JUUL violated the law when it designed and marketed its products to appeal to underage consumers and deceived consumers about the addictiveness of its product.
Saving American manhood
In what might, or might not, be an April Fool’s prank, Tucker Carlson released a video proclaiming his remedy to the decline of masculinity in America. In what could only be described as a “memorable” video, masculinity is exhibited in ways that some call homo-erotic, others call blatant hucksterism. The video closes with what could only be described as a testosterone charging station. You can see it if you dare here.
Netflix & chill?
The decline of COVID has led to the increase of those doing something besides Netflix.
The sharing of passwords has also cost Netflix – with an estimated 100 million users as unpaying password sharers.
Netflix is also considering what has been anathema until now – commercials.
In short, Netflix is having its worst year ever.
The Queen turns 96
Queen Elizabeth II, the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, turned 96.
Her 70 years served on the throne makes her the longest-ruling monarch in British history. One way her reign will be commemorated is by the issuing of a Queen Elizabeth Barbie doll.
The Queen’s new Barbie doll will be dressed in an ivory gown, an adorned blue riband and a tiara inspired by one of the monarch’s most iconic outfits.
It will also be presented in a box based on Buckingham Palace, showcasing a throne and red carpet evoking the palace’s throne room, and will be printed with a crest-shaped logo and badge commemorating the anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.