By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Among the breaking news as December opened, we learned that, as the headline put it, we humans on earth are “as good as it gets” in terms of intelligent life in the universe. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9000797/Scientists-say-intelligent-life-planets-exceptionally-rare.html?
Warner Brothers announces that all of its films will be released via the big screen and home streaming at the same time. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/warner-bros-smashes-box-office-windows-will-send-2021-slate-to-hbo-max-and-theaters?
In local news, the Pierce County Council proposed a motion to dissolve the partnership that gave us the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. Public response was about what anyone would have expected during a worldwide pandemic.
The US passed 15 million cases of COVID.
The United Kingdom began distributing the world’s first COVID vaccine. December 8, 2020 was declared V-Day on response.
In pop culture news, Bob Dylan sold his entire music catalog (about 600 songs) for a reported $300 million. That’s more than the GDP of several small nations.
Break-dancing has been accepted as an Olympic competitive sport.
The sun is experiencing a particularly intense geomagnetic storm that could cause serious damage to power grids and satellite communications. It was expected to create Northern Lights visible as far south as Oregon.
President Trump joined 18 states in a lawsuit questioning Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
48 states joined a lawsuit challenging the alleged monopolistic practices of Facebook.
We in the Pacific Northwest might find it hard to comprehend, but water is a limited resource. As such, water futures are now being traded on Wall Street. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/361135?
And if the events of 2020 had you feeling a bit more Neanderthal than usual, there’s a reason for that, at least according to some recently announced research. https://www.businessinsider.com/discoveries-changed-understanding-human-history-evolution-2020-12?
Each of the 50 states met at their respective state capitols and registered their electoral vote count – which confirmed Joe Biden as the winner.
In unrelated news (I presume) President Trump announced the departure of Attorney General William Barr from his office.
The largest vaccine roll-out in US history began Monday, December 14, 2020.
On a related note, COVID deaths passed the 300,000 mark. That’s equivalent to more than 100 September 11th attacks.
CARE USA, once an international aid agency, now has a food program for the projected 20% of Americans who are food insecure.
Meanwhile, in Pierce County
On Tuesday of this week, the Pierce County held its meeting where they cast a vote on whether to dismember the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. Yes, with just a few weeks left of the council members and yes, in the middle of the worst health crisis in a century.
In true Shakesperean (and Pam Roach) style, maximum drama was extruded from a mundane local political administrative decision.
After a meeting with about four hours of citizen input, the six-hour meeting concluded with a tie, so no decision was made.
But Pam Roach, who cast the unexpected deciding vote, made a public statement after the dust settled, that she just might change her mind.
This was not what was expected by anyone, but it did follow what I see as a defining principle; sometimes politicians need to be publicly shamed into doing the right thing.
The fourth week of December began with a weekend meeting at The White House where President Trump discussed with several military leaders how they could coordinate a “re-run” of the election in the contested swing states.
In the music world, we learned of the death of Chad Stuart – the “Chad” of Chad and Jeremy, a hugely popular duo who emerged as part of the British Invasion in the mid- 1960s.
Boris S. Wort, R.I.P.: In local news, as longstanding native Puget Sounders would only appreciate, Gertrude, Ketchikan the Animal Man, Ggoorrsstt the Friendly Frpl, Boris S. Wort, Miss Smith, Dingbatman, The Swami of Pastrami, Leroy Frump, Sturdly the Bookworm and several more on-air personalities died in the person of Bob Newman, the ahem, multi-faceted sidekick of JP Patches. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/obituaries/bob-newman-who-brought-laughter-to-children-on-j-p-patches-show-dies-at-88/
In a sign of their cultural significance, in 2008, a life-size bronze statue of J.P. Patches and Gertrude was dedicated in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.
Mississippi Queen: You might not recognize his name, but if you know rock and roll, you know the riff of Leslie West. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/23/arts/music/leslie-west-dead.html. He died this week.
President Trump legally pardons many of his friends and supporters (almost 50 as of this writing). As multiple legal experts have pointed out, a pardon is a legal procedure (usually with new and compelling evidence) to correct an injustice, not create one.
The fourth week of December held Christmas, and as we will all remember, it was a Christmas like no other.
Medical experts urged Americans to stay home for the holidays to limit the spread of COVID.
Almost 85 million Americans chose to travel, which will almost certainly lead to yet another resurgence of COVID cases. https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/531583-more-than-80-million-americans-traveling-for.
Christmas Day was also the day nature writer (though he would hate the term) Barry Lopez, passed away. http://www.barrylopez.com/. A bibliography of his books and other writings can be found here – http://www.barrylopez.com/newsletter.htm.
Christmas Day also gave us a suicide bombing in Nashville, Tennessee. The perpetrator was a white male in his early 60s. The motive, as of this writing, was not specified, but almost certainly was based on conspiracy theories based on 5G technology (real or rumored) sourced at the ATT building – the presumed target of the blast.
The worst hacking of government agencies in US history was uncovered in the end of December.
The hacking has been in place since March. Because of the sophistication, it is presumed that only Russian state-supported actors could be responsible.
Considered by many intelligence experts as the “Pearl Harbor” of cyber-attacks.
Our intelligence and military response was “meh”…….
Meanwhile, across the pond
The United Kingdom, known lately as Plague Island due to the new, even more virulent strain of COVID, is also finalizing its long awaited (and dreaded) fulfillment of Brexit – its departure from the European Union.
As one might guess, there is an infinite amount of complications from this trade and diplomatic “divorce.”
In true 2020 fashion, economic, trade and travel chaos is only amplified by COVID, and in turn, the impacts of COVID are amplified by economic, trade and travel chaos.
Thousands of semi-trucks were stuck at the border for days as truckers tried to get needed supplies in, or out, of Britain.
Yes, December of 2020 held five weeks. It’s almost as if the year itself did not want to let go.
To stop/resist the spread of COVID, Japan has banned all foreigners for at least 30 days beginning just a few days after Christmas.
Thanks to the holidays, surge after surge of COVID seems to be everywhere. Nationwide deaths soon to reach 350,000.
Lab grown meat is available at public markets. Is this a vegetarian dream or the next Frankenfood nightmare? https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/lab-grown-meat-earns-approval-be-sold-first-time-ever-180976460/?
December, as always, ended with New Year’s Eve. This New Year’s Eve, like everything else in 2020, was like no other.
Some venues, like New York City’s Times Square, held full festivities – with no one (except security staff) physically present.
We all shared a virtual New Year’s Celebration.
May we all have a better, and not so virtual, new year.