The Pendulum

Today is Sunday September 20th. Kia ora, kia kaha.

“Be strong in the Lord, and the might of his strength”, Ephesians 6:10.

I am quite rattled by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, which I heard about yesterday, just before 1 pm.  I just heard today (via Dr John Campbell) that the US has passed the milestone of 200,000 deaths from Covid 19.  Another website gives the total as 199,000 thousand. Worldometer gives 203,000 deaths. I am feeling quite anxious. There is lot’s to be anxious about.

The US election looms, a few weeks away now. While I can do nothing to influence the outcome in any way, it is hugely consequential for my family, for the US, and for the entire world. 

The death of RBG, while not unexpected (she was 87, after all, and had suffered four forms of cancer), sets off an unwelcome train of events.  Mitch McConnell signalled right away (within one hour of the news of her death, according to one source) that a new justice will be put to the vote on the Senate floor. Trump has indicated that this will be done “without delay”, although it was RBG’s dying wish that she not be replaced until after the election. One gets the feeling, that she was a wonderful woman, so wonderful, that they just can’t wait to replace her on the Supreme Court.

There will no doubt be a fight of sorts over this. Many people feel justly grief and despair, and a huge sense of frustration, that the McConnell and Trump not only cannot be counted on to do the right and honourable thing, they have indicated already that they will not. It occurs to me that should the election be close, the Supreme Court may well be called upon to make a determination as to the outcome (cf. Bush v Gore and the Florida recount).  In such a case the party of Trump would want a Supreme Court stacked with conservative justices, who might be expected to vote in his favour. Most commentators agree that RBG’s death changes everything. The question is, how?

RBG was heard to say (and I am paraphrasing her here), that the symbol of America is not the bald eagle; rather that it is the pendulum (implying that it’s time for it to swing the other way). She also said that Trump’s election in 2016 was an “aberration”.

A republican was quoted as saying that she would rather put up with Healthcare for All, rather than see justice so perverted. One might be very sceptical about the merits or otherwise of the American system of justice, but it did result in the conviction of Paul Manafort and others.  The justice system means a very  great deal to many Americans: witness the number of podcasts eloquently exploring legal decisions and possible outcomes. Many detest the way Trump has used the legal system to his own ends. There is a saying here that “the law is an ass”, and everyone knows that it is usually very costly to hire a lawyer.

Having said that, even Republicans against Trump seem to be strongly right-wing and dread any move to the “Left” on the part of the Democrats, or any move towards socialism, while refusing to see that the military is socialistic, and that the government’s support for many rich individuals is also socialistic. Just what are they so afraid of?

We went to see the Da Vinci film A Night at the Louvre: Leonardo da Vinci. I had pre-booked, and amazingly, we got a carpark nearby and got there early. It was a very good film. It’s always nice to retrace places we’ve been to, picking out which paintings we had seen, and where. This time I noticed how his women are real people, with a brain: they aren’t sex objects. This reminds me of RBG, who, while always civil and well-spoken, even amusing sometimes, had a good brain and a very good memory. In one of Leonardo’s early paintings of the Annunciation, his angel looks rather feminine and his Mary quite boyish. The movie was in French, with subtitles, another bonus. 

The beauty of Leonardo’s paintings formed a rather nice counterpoint to the passing of RBG. One is reminded that talented people are usually talented in many fields: Leonardo besides being a great artist put his knowledge of mathematics, geometry, anatomy and science and nature to great use. The women he painted always seem like real people, who enjoy life. The smiles become enigmatic, strange, hidden, perhaps there is a secret joke; only the woman depicted in the painting in Washington is not smiling: she seems to be  pouting, even (Ginevra de Benci, c. 1,475, is apparently one of his earliest paintings). Evidently he was still working on his technique.

Afterwards we have a nice, late lunch. We shared arancini, hot bread with EVOO and oregano, a pizza with leeks and artichokes, coffee and tiramisu. It’s nice to share a meal and talk about the film, and our trips – we have seen the Cenacolo in Milan, and La Joconde; we have been to the Louvre three times.

Again we marvel that we can do this: even at level 2, we can go to a movie and have lunch in a café. Cuba Street has plenty of people, but it’s not crowded. Just the way I like it, really.

In New Zealand Aotearoa today there are two new cases of Covid 19, both in the community, household contacts of an arrival from overseas who had had two negative Covid 19 tests. This person has now tested positive, more than a week after leaving managed isolation. His family members are self-isolating. That is strange and rather scary. As usual, it is very difficult, looking at a newspaper’s website, to identify today’s news and not old news.  We had assumed that returning travellers were “safe” after being in managed isolation for 14 days. This finding casts even more doubt on our recent trip to Auckland.

There’s a lot of community testing for Covid 19 happening in New Zealand, for which I am thankful. I know several people who’ve been tested recently – all negative.

That’s it for now. Nga mihi.

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