Saturday, July 18, 2020

Quarantine, Week 18: A Tale of Two Realities

It was the worst of times, it was, um, not so bad.  The contrast between the US and everything else just gets starker and starker.  I worry for my family and friends, even as life goes on up here.  My emotions ran the gamut from frustration to satisfaction to anger to sadness as events unfolded there and here.

Ultimate frisbee is back!  Woot!  Oh wait, my elbow is still sore from belated access to physio, so I can't play.  The Ottawa league has changed the rules--smaller games, distanced sidelines, and the defender can't get too close to the thrower--so it might not be dangerous to play.  But I can't.  Frustrating, but I have developed a good routine of biking and treadmilling, consuming podcasts doing the former and Star Wars animated shows when doing the latter.

On the bright side, I am happy that Carleton continues to do the right things--making quick decisions to move online, surveying the students to figure out what worked and what did not, and providing support for the profs to make the move (and more time on their tenure clocks).  I am horrified by other places that seem determined to put their students, faculty and staff into harm's way.

Another bit of good news and with some satisfaction is that the CDSN held a zoom workshop for folks teaching advanced classes in Defence/Security to see if there were tools/strategies/etc that could help folks teach online this year.  It went really well, although it was hard for me to tell mid-zoom as I was juggling all of the participants' involvement, tracking the chat window for links to helpful sites, and taking notes.  I see the CDSN as a collective action provider and even if it was not designed either teaching or pandemic in mind, it has the flexibility to help out in this area.  We will be posting a page with tools and sites that folks recommended or developed.

I am so angry at the preventable deaths and illnesses in the US mostly in states with irresponsible governors, and in most places where opening bars and restaurants took precedence over getting the schools right.  California, which seemed to be doing a lot right, for some reason opened up too much too soon and now will have to push back movie-making/tv-making which is not only bad for Furloughed Spew but also bad for the Cali economy.  The priorities should have been clear there and everywhere else.  Literally, making matters worse, Georgia's and Florida's governors continue to find the dumbest, most dangerous stances and embrace them. 

Speaking of Georgia, we lost John Lewis last night, which speaks to the sadness.  Obama wrote a great piece speaking to Lewis's impact in the past, present, and future.  Lewis's efforts remind us all that we can do better, something that I have been thinking about a lot lately personally and with the network.

Zooms with friends towards the end of the week helped greatly.  I met with a group of pals for a happy hour hangout, and that was much solace.  I also hung out with a professor pal in Europe--I missed seeing her due to the cancelled ISA.  We talked about the challenges of Hungarian authoritarianism, and I could not help think what will happen in the US if Trump wins.  So, that leads me to thinking about Portland and the use of federal forces abusing their power to pick up protesters.  These are really dire times.

But then, for many Americans, it has been dire all their lives.  John Lewis's death reminds us that the fight has been going on a long time and will continue to go on.  He went from a kid who protested at great risk to his life to a leader and then to a Congressperson, becoming the voice of "good trouble."  The kids today, acting much like Lewis did in the 1960s by putting themselves at risk for a greater cause, are more than alright.  I take inspiration from Lewis and this new generation of Lewises.  There will be plenty of opportunities ahead for folks to engage in good trouble.  Which gives me some hope.  Well, that and the poll numbers.  But it is clear it is going to get worse before it gets better.  As always, the only way out is through.

Be well, be distant, be masked, and be troublesome.

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