By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
The first week of February gave us the highest silver prices in eight years, the departure of Jeff Bezos as CEO of Amazon, and news that seemed stranger by the day.
February might be the shortest month of the year, but in 2021 certainly seemed to be trying harder.
Here are just a few examples of the major, and maybe not-so-major, news stories that made February of 2021 memorable;
China banned the use of smartphones by children at school. 74% of those under 18 across China currently have phones. Think that would work here? (https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55902778?)
File this under “How Tacoma will be a different place after 2020”
The second half of February gave us news of several big changes in Tacoma. One was the loss of “Sonics Guy,” otherwise known as Kristopher Brannon, the other was the announcement of the name change of Woodrow Wilson High School. The new name (Dr. Dolores Silas High School) will be effective July 1.
Unlike Woodrow Wilson, Dolores Silas has a direct local connection with Tacoma. She was the first Black woman to serve as an administrator for Tacoma Public Schools after being principal of DeLong Elementary. She also became the first Black woman to serve on the Tacoma City Council in 1991.
Silas served as the president of the Tacoma NAACP back in the 1970s, and was recognized by the city of Tacoma with a Lifetime Service Award in 2019.
Wilson High School is not alone in leaving its name and heritage behind. Jason Lee, one of the first junior high schools west of the Mississippi, is also seriously considering a name change.
Jason Lee opened in the 1920s and was formerly known as West Intermediate School. The school was the former campus of the College of Puget Sound – currently known as University of Puget Sound.
The year of the OX
On the first day of the Lunar New Year – the Year of the OX, the second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump finished its Senate testimony and we in Western Washington (and much of the country) got our most snowfall in decades.
Donald Trump is the first president to be impeached twice (by the House) and acquitted twice (by the Senate).
Donald Trump’s first Casino, opened in 1984, became the most successful casino in Atlantic City for a time. On February 17th, it took 20 seconds to demolish what had become an “eye-sore”. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-17/trump-plaza-casino-demolished-in-atlantic-city-marking-end-of-era and https://nypost.com/2021/02/17/trumps-dilapidated-former-atlantic-city-casino-demolished/.
February closed with CPAC and the Golden Globes – each one had their own view into the heart and soul of America.
Rush Limbaugh passed away at age 70. Mr. Limbaugh, like many conservatives of his era, had multiple wives, alternated between loving and hating Donald Trump, avoided military service and made a fortune (about $600 million: https://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/rush-limbaugh-net-worth/) by ranting, race-baiting and never under-estimating the intelligence of his audience.
He increased the American vocabulary with his coinage or popularizing of such words and terms as “feminazi”and “libtard”. An admitted drug addict, he leaves behind millions of grieving ”ditto-heads”.
Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it
An arctic blast reached all the way across the USA, from the Dakotas to the Mexican border.
Texas in particular was unprepared for far below freezing temperatures which led to major power outages impacting over 4 million residents. Because of frozen pipes and broken water systems, 14 million Texans were told to boil their water – even though most had no electricity.
Price gouging became yet another hit for most Texans – even from their utility companies: https://americanindependent.com/texas-power-companies-bills-price-gouging-electricity-outages-winter-storms/ or https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/539693-texas-households-face-massive-electricity-bills-some-as-high-as-17k?.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz responded by taking a vacation in Cancun, Mexico. He was living up to his own interpretation of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.
COVID just won’t go away
In related health news, COVID deaths nationwide passed 500,000 in February – that’s about the size of a major city; more than the population of Kansas City and nearly as many as Atlanta or Sacramento.
And, just a reminder, no single death is “just a number” (https://www.npr.org/2021/02/22/968754578/to-me-hes-not-a-number-families-reflect-as-u-s-nears-500-000-covid-19-deaths?).
Multiple COVID variants have emerged, from Brazil, South Africa and the UK, among others, that are more lethal, contagious and resistant to current vaccines.
All have been reported in the USA.
Average American life-span decreased by the highest amount since WW II. As always, the effects were not equally distributed. (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/battered-by-the-pandemic-communities-of-color-experience-sharp-drop-in-life-expectancies?).
Economics 101 – or something like it
The Frys electronics chain is closing every store across the country.
Locally speaking, Macy’s is closing at least one store in the south Puget Sound region.
Canada banned all cruises until February of 2022. (https://www.afar.com/magazine/canada-bans-cruising-until-february-2022?) This includes all Alaskan cruises.
Who knows the future of cyber currencies? The mayor of Miami thinks city employees should have the option of getting paid in BitCoin. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/538546-miami-mayor-proposes-resolution-offering-to-pay-employees-in-bitcoin?
A property adjacent to famed “area 51” entered the real estate market – https://www.mysterywire.com/area-51/medlin-ranch-for-sale/?
Above my pay grade
And in the category of news, I don’t understand in the least, the Memphis airport, a major hub, cancelled all flights because of low water pressure. (https://wreg.com/news/memphis-airport-cancels-all-passenger-flights-due-to-water-issues/)
I can’t say that I fully understand this, or its repercussions; Russia has declared independence from the US dollar and is “finally free from the “icy grip” of the Rothschild banking cartel and New World Order cabal.” (https://mondestuff.com/world-news/putin-announces-total-independence-from-rothschild-controlled-us-dollar/?)
File this under “What is wrong with these people?”
In a step apparently toward equal opportunity, it is not just politicians or celebrities who make public actions or statements that defy common sense or human decency; regular, everyday people currently feel free to behave like amoral, oblivious nitwits.
Or at least people in Florida. Two women “disguised” themselves as “grannies” in order to get the COVID vaccine. They got one shot and got caught the second time around. Apparently, they were a bit confused about their birthdates on their driver’s licenses. (https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2166947900073/two-florida-women-wear-granny-disguise-to-get-covid-vaccine)
And in Arizona, one man faked his own kidnapping to avoid going to work. https://people.com/crime/arizona-man-faked-kidnapping-get-out-work/
It’s what’s for breakfast
And if you are looking for a breakfast that gives you that “GREAT!” feeling and the energy boost you need each day, try cocaine-frosted flakes – https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/539645-feds-seize-282-million-worth-of-frosted-cocaine-corn-flakes.
And who could have imagined a Grape Nuts shortage? https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/grape-nuts-prices-skyrocket-online-shortage-coronavirus
Beyond Meat (the meat substitute) has a new deal with McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-beyond-meat-results-idUSKBN2AP2X8
Everyone is going electric
Besides ferries, cars and trucks, John Deere, farm machinery extraordinaire, is going electric (https://www.deere.com/en/engines-and-drivetrain/vehicle-electrification/?)
General Motors announced that it is going all-electric and will offer 30 new electric vehicles by 2025.
And just in case you were wondering if electric motors had enough “muscle” for heavy lifting, take a look this article on Ford truck’s electric pulling power: https://www.engadget.com/2019-07-23-electric-ford-f-150-tow-over-a-million-pounds.html?
Fossils fuels, as they say, are so 20th Century.
Even the flag might be changing
Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico might each add their own star to our national flag. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/20/puerto-rico-washington-dc-statehood-politics?
Texas might want to remove its star on its way out: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/05/texas-republicans-endorse-legislation-vote-secession?
Meanwhile, on Mars
NASA’s latest Rover, the Perseverance landed on Mars in a search for ancient life on that planet. https://www.nasa.gov/perseverance
For a short review of some of the mysteries Mars has given us already, look here: https://www.space.com/weirdest-mars-discoveries-opportunity-spirit-rovers.html?
Who of us knew that Texas had its own electrical grid? And who imagined that it would be unprepared for increasingly colder winters?
And who would have imagined a billing system that would charge more than a thousand dollars a day for standard utilities?
Who would have thought it possible that it would take years to pay for the repercussions of one weather event? https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/poverty/540122-ordinary-folks-will-be-paying-off-50-billion-in-texas-freeze?
And yes, liberals, windmills and antifa are being blamed for the utility collapse across Texas.
News that should have been in the headlines
The US military held airstrikes in Syria that killed more than 20 in President Biden’s first military action as president.
The Federal Reserve system collapsed (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9296385/Entire-Federal-Reserve-payment-CRASHES.html) because of an “operational error” that disrupted the inter-bank transfers of billions if not trillions of dollars. https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2021/02/breaking-hot-feds-system-that-allows.html
Poetry in 2021
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and founder of City Lights Books, died at 101. So we lost Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Rush Limbaugh in the same month.
January was dominated by poetry (Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem) and February by the poetry of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Here is one of his poems from late in his career.
“PITY THE NATION”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (After Khalil Gibran) 2007
Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except to praise conquerors
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty!