February 2022

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

February of 2022 had to be a strange month.

The second day of the month, Groundhog Day (correct about 40% of the time) was 02/02/22. On a Tuesday (twos-day) later in the month we had 02/22/22.

On that fateful Groundhog Day, Meta (previously known as Facebook) lost $200 billion (about the value of New Zealand’s economy).

Black History Month

February is, of course, Black History Month. Besides Black related events and television specials, President Biden nominated a woman who is likely to be the first Black female US Supreme Court Justice.

The news from Spotify

If you needed any further evidence of how abstract, if not surreal our economy has become, Spotify, the music/dis-information streaming service has been abandoned by an increasing number of recording artists. Musicians, long frustrated with how little Spotify pays to play their songs, are hoping the backlash will force bigger, permanent and more lucrative changes.

In politics

Former President Trump called for a Congressional investigation into former Vice-President Mike Pence for not “over-turning the election”. Few, if any, Constitutional scholars would concur that “over-turning elections” is within the vice-president’s purview.

In Oklahoma a state lawmaker proposed a new bill that could levy fines on teachers whose lessons promote positions that are in opposition to a student’s religious beliefs. The language of the legislation is so vague, it essentially allows parents to file complaints if they disagree with a lesson’s content for any reason.

If a teacher chooses not to adjust the curriculum according to the complaint, they could be fined $10,000 for every objectionable lesson they teach.

Late in 2021, the same state lawmaker proposed a bill that would ban public school libraries in Oklahoma from carrying any books that a parent might complain about. Under his proposal, schools would be fined $10,000 per day if they failed to act after a complaint was made. The school librarian would also be fired and prohibited from working in a public school setting for the next two years.

Book burnings to be held separately.

Snowflakes in America

Besides literal snowflakes that buried much of the USA in actual snow, figurative snowflakes have introduced bills in 35 states that would protect our fragile students by prohibiting teachers from discussing any topic that creates ‘discomfort, guilt or anguish’ on the basis of political or religious beliefs.

After all, who would want education to challenge students or allow them to encounter anything they didn’t already know and believe?

Several state legislatures have discussed placing cameras in every classroom to ensure that teachers don’t allow discussions on forbidden topics.

Free speech has, apparently, become dangerous.

In the economy

In the unlikely event that the gyrating stock market, supply shortages and ever-present “help wanted” signs were not enough to convince you that our economy has entered near-permanent surrealism, if you are so inclined, you can be an owner of a color (as an NFT). The Color Museum (https://color.museum/) is offering 10,000 colors that you can invest in.

Local business

For whatever set of reasons, Tacoma area businesses suffered a rash of broken windows and related thefts and damages. The city of Tacoma dedicated $250,000 for short-term private security enhancements in business districts and $300,000 for window replacements.

Metaverse, what metaverse?

Google, Microsoft and, of course, Meta (previously known as Facebook) are piling billions of dollars into a “virtual” world that few of us understand, need or want in what is perhaps the grandest and certainly most expensive (digital) rendition of the principle of “build it and they will come”.

Politics redux

Or maybe that should be politics, ridiculous.

In a bid to “protect” America, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at blocking federal funds from going toward “crack pipes” and other drug paraphernalia.

The Preventing Illicit Paraphernalia for Exchange Systems (PIPES) Act would prevent the government from purchasing syringes and needles to be used for illegal drug injection.

In response, the Department of Health and Human Services released a statement saying that “no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits”.

Many political careers have been built on grandstanding about non-existent issues.

MyPillow Guy to the rescue

Speaking of grandstanding, Mike Lindell (the MyPillow Guy) is always willing to make a spectacle no matter how absurd. In his attempt to deliver much (apparently) needed pillows to the truckers protesting COVID restrictions and blocking the busiest border crossing in the USA, he was denied entry at the border.

Mr. MyPillow decided to airdrop pillows across the border from a helicopter “with little parachutes”.

Some of us might remember airdrops of essentials of food or medical supplies in war-torn conflict areas. Who of us knew that Canadian truckers had such a desperate need for pillows?

War in Europe

With COVID, the worst inflation in four decades, and expanding crimes rates rivalling those of the worst of the 1990s, who would have expected breathless reports all across the media of an impending war with Russia over the Ukraine?

Russia initiated the largest land-based invasion of any country since World War II.

Among other things, the Russian ruble has been reduced in value to well under one US cent. Various other trade agreements have been restricted if not cancelled.

Economic sanctions have never been set against a nation as large as Russia – one of the largest economies in the world. This impacts every area of the economy from gas to grain and vodka and much more. President Putin will, at minimum, make his name known forever in Russian, if not world, history.

The curse of the Olympics

For a variety of reasons, from COVID to politics to human rights and more, television viewing of the Olympics was at record lows.

Talkin’ about the Weather

If you happened to find yourself looking at a national weather map just about any time in February, you could not miss the unrelenting disasters and crazy weather in just about every corner of North America.

Floods, freezing weather and even tornadoes filled our national weather maps for most of the month.

We in Western Washington had our driest February on record. Only the last few days of the month gave us our usual temperatures and precipitation levels.

The avocado shortage

For a short time there was a ban on the importation of Mexican grown avocados. Good thing it went into effect briefly – after the Super Bowl.

The Lunar New Year

February 1st was the beginning of the Lunar New Year – The Year of the Tiger. As you might expect in such a year, power, passion and turbulence are the benchmarks and character traits to expect.

Who knows what we’ll see in a year that began with extreme weather border to border and according to some, the opening stages of World War III.