Conversations With Dad

I called dad while I was driving home; it’s good to check up and make sure everyone’s doing OK. At my age, one cannot take one’s parents’ presence for granted, anymore. I wanted to gloat a little bit about the amazing way that science has come through for us, in spite of the bureaucratic roadblocks thrown in its path – the Covid-19 is toast, like a certain other malignant pathogen I won’t name – it’s now just a matter of time and not stumbling as we approach the finish-line.

Lately I’ve been re-listening to Tom Holland’s Rubicon, which is a beautifully written and spun tale of the final end of the Roman republic – so my mind is full of the vivid characters and events of that time, and naturally I seek echoes and correlations with current events in my world. Commenting on such similarities has its consequences when you’re talking to a history professor, but I risked offering the opinion that perhaps some of us might feel like Cicero did, as he watched the republic crash and burn. Dad didn’t miss a beat, “Yes, I imagine Cicero jumped out of bed each morning yelling “WHAT THE FUCK!?!and I immediately pictured my dad doing that, nearly drove off the road laughing.

Don’t ask “how bad can it get?” because the answer is always, “worse.”


  1. komarov says

    Now I wonder if there were any fond memories of the good old days when the empire still was merely falling, as opposed to the process being complete. The event was probably too diffuse for that, but these days things move so much more quickly.

    “it’s now just a matter of time and not stumbling as we approach the finish-line.”

    Indeed, much like many European countries which had (or had gotten) the pandemic under control and definitely did not get complacent and bungle everything up. Not at all. It would have been the height of irony, too, had it happened just before the first vaccines were ready. Can you imagine how stupid everybody would have felt then? At least it’s not like you have some idiot narcissist in charge who along with his cronies is intent on maximising damage in his final days. That could have been a cause for concern.

  2. says

    The Roman Republic was in reality a power sharing oligarchy.

    I’d say that’s the case with the US, too. Fake republics are all the rage. It’s what you get when you have politically ambitious people who don’t trust eachother but they have to work together.

  3. bmiller says

    Marcus: Wonder if you have come across the…concerns…about the Pfizer vaccine highlighted on Naked Capitalism this week? I am not capable of really deciding on it, but these kinds of concerns will certainly reduce vaccine uptake.

  4. bmiller says

    Komarov: I thought many of the European countries are in fact experiencing a major upswing this winter month? Not as bad as here, but certainly serious. Even with “socialized medicine” and not-Trump leadership.

  5. says

    @bmiller: a friend also asked me about that article. I have thoughts, but I also wrote a letter to the TWIV team. Hopefully I’ll get an answer.

    Short form: my opinion is that it’s pseudoskepticism in service of disinformation. I will perhaps post on this tomorrow. Since I consider myself non-expert on the topic I want to wait for more information.

    The doctor is a dentist not a virologist. That adds more to my skepticism.
    Edit: Wait, no, the article’s author is a pseudonym, so it’s not a dentist – that was a name collision. Who is this person? How do I verify their claims?

  6. bmiller says

    Thanks, Marcus. I hoped that was the case. I like Naked Capitalism, but sometimes they are contrarian just to be contrarian. (And I loved their demolition of the Uber plague). There was always a strong whiff of “left wing Trumpalo” in the commentariate as well

  7. komarov says

    Sorry, bmiller, my comment was in fact rather sarcastic. Europe is indeed going down the drain pandemic-wise, without sarcasm.

  8. bmiller says

    No worries, komarov.

    I utterly despise Trump. I think he has provided terrible leadership on COVID issues (as well as being personally a vector?). I think our health care “system” is ridiculous (had a recent bicycle accident, and the three hours of absent minded and very basic care in the Napa Emergency Room was billed at $35,000!!!!!) But the liberal meme that COVID is all Trump’s fault seems a little wrong headed given the death rates in places like Mexico and Italy.

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