May is over – warm weather is finally here

April showers brought us May flowers - and more showers

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

The month of May was come, When every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May. – Sir Thomas Malory

The month in COVID

Many municipalities and states (and businesses) relaxed or dropped their mask mandates. As expected, a new surge of COVID cases emerged. Most of us have decided to live with the virus and the consequences.

US COVID related deaths hit, and surpassed, 1,000,000.


Monkeypox is a rare, usually mild infection, typically caught from infected wild animals in parts of Africa. But somehow a case of the rare and potentially dangerous monkeypox has been confirmed in the U.S.

As of May 26, 2022, the UK had the highest numbers of recorded cases in a non-endemic country, with 106 people known to have the disease, followed by 49 people in Portugal and 26 in Canada.

Monkeypox can be caught from a bite by an infected animal, or by touching its blood, body fluids or fur. It’s also possible to catch the disease by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been cooked properly. It’s thought to be spread by rodents, such as rats, mice, and squirrels.

One of the reasons that monkeypox is believed to be spreading now is because of the population’s diminishing protection from smallpox vaccines. Smallpox, which is in the same family as monkeypox, was eradicated in the 1980s through mass vaccination.

Human-to-human infection is unlikely.

Be careful around those monkeys.

In Pop Culture

The Bob Dylan museum opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma – on the same city block as the Woody Guthrie Museum.

Through much of May, Paul McCartney had a world-wide concert series – virtually every one sold out.

And in the world of fast food, due to popular demand, Taco Bell included Mexican Pizza as a permanent menu item.

And yes, you can look forward to “Mexican Pizza: The Musical” – featuring Dolly Parton.

The Supremes

A preliminary draft of the majority opinion of the Court, in this case authored by Justice Samuel Alito, on the proposed revocation of Roe v Wade, was leaked to the public. To say this caused a public relations fire-storm would be an understatement. This short document drew into question both the process and legitimacy of our highest court.

Three recent appointees of the Supreme Court, at their hearings, under oath, testified that they would not move to revoke Roe v Wade and agreed that it was “settled law”.

The Supreme Court was once the ultimate and final court of the land, but has become a rotating ideological forum assigning rights and taking them away and bringing them back. To put it mildly, the Court is supposed to be more stable and predictable than that.

As would be expected, this disclosure galvanized political action on both sides of the issue.

Abortion access

As women in the United States find themselves on the verge of possibly losing the constitutional right to access to abortion services, courts in other parts of the world, including in many historically conservative – and religious – societies, have moved in the opposite direction.

Heavily Catholic Latin American countries, like Colombia and Argentina, among others, have liberalized abortion access.

Nations with total bans include Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Many African nations also maintain complete bans and its been forbidden in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Most European countries have legalized abortion access, including several predominantly Catholic ones.

Talkin’ about the weather

Here in the Pacific Northwest, May was an extension of April (or was it February?) with temperatures substantially lower, and far more rain than usual on a seasonal basis.

And, no, it’s not your imagination; for the first time in decades we had a total of two (2) days that hit 70 degrees or higher in the South Puget Sound area in the entire month of May.

This was not true in the rest of the country.

Record breaking heat and wind has led to equally record breaking levels of fire and drought across much of the US southwest. States from New Mexico to Nevada and Arizona have had brutal (and early) fire seasons.

It will certainly get worse as the season progresses.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has won the presidency in the Philippines. Marcos, known by his childhood nickname, Bongbong, used the power of social media to boost his campaign and rehabilitate the reputation of his father, Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted from power in the 1980s after being accused of stealing billions from the national government.

The war beyond Ukraine

The invasion of Ukraine is not going as planned – though wars rarely do.

In related news, The UK agreed to support Sweden and Finland if they are attacked. Toward the end of May, Sweden and Finland officially left behind decades of neutrality and requested admission into NATO.

To put it mildly, Vladimir Putin did not appreciate the gesture.

And at the Federal Reserve Board

Michigan State University economics professor Lisa Cook was confirmed to the Federal Reserve Board. She is the first Black woman to serve as a governor of the Fed board.

All 50 Senate Democrats voted to confirm Cook, who also served as a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors during the Obama administration and serves on the executive committee of the American Economic Association. Every GOP senator voted against her.

The Senate is also expected to confirm Fed Chair Jerome Powell for another term leading the central bank.

Retail struggles

In related news, the stock market declined as the economy as a whole was sluggish at best.

Inflation has influenced shoppers to focus on the basics.

Retail, as a whole, has slowed.

On the road

And, it’s not just you, it is a reality that local drivers are more erratic or distracted than before. Washington state road deaths reached a 20-year high in 2021, with 663 fatalities. Preliminary data for 2022 indicate that the trend in fatalities will continue to increase, with more traffic deaths in the first quarter compared with the same time frame last year.

Equal pay in soccer

The U.S. Soccer Federation reached an agreement to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally, making the American national governing body the first in the sport to promise both sexes matching payment.

FIFA has yet to follow the new model.

Point Defiance

Much of the outer reaches of Five Mile Drive closed forever in May – and the newly rehabbed and updated Owen Beach finally re-opened. Owen Beach has been described as Tacoma’s living room. We have missed it.

New traffic patterns only add to the adventure.

Another school shooting

So far in 2022 we have had more than one mass shooting at a school each week somewhere in America.

One of the worst in our history took place in a small town in Texas the last full week of May. The shooter was 18 years old and the majority of his victims were in elementary school on their last day before summer vacation.

For whatever reason, police waited outside the classroom door for over an hour before intervening.

Politicians did their usual hand-wringing and obfuscation. Legislation was proposed almost immediately to restrict sales and ownership of military-style assault weapons – in Canada.

No other nation comes close to our death rate by guns.

There must be some reason, but it continues to elude our policy makers.