Know Your Neighbors 2 – South America

September 7, 2020, Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – A little more detail on the twelve countries of South America. Which country has the largest military budget? Which country has the lowest per capita GDP? Which countries have emeralds and diamonds? Which country has Dutch as their official language? In which country is life expectancy for females the highest? In which country is life expectancy for males the lowest? In which country do the most people claim to be Catholic? How well do you know your neighbors?

Countries in South America

  1. Argentina
  2. Bolivia
  3. Brazil
  4. Chile
  5. Colombia
  6. Ecuador
  7. Guyana
  8. Paraguay
  9. Peru
  10. Suriname
  11. Uruguay
  12. Venezuela

Argentina, Capital City Buenos Aires

Argentina, the third largest South American country by population (45,089,492), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 77% Catholic and 11% Protestant and 7% Agnostic. The defense budget is $4.2 billion and there are 74,200 active troops. Natural resources are lead, copper, iron ore, petroleum. The Per Capita GDP is $20,567. Compulsory education ages 4-17. Life expectancy female 81.0; male 74.5.

Bolivia, Capital City La Paz

Bolivia, the eighth largest South American country by population (11,473,676), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The primary language is Spanish and the country is 79% Catholic and 9% Protestant. The defense budget is $533 million and there are 34,100 active troops. Natural resources are natural gas, iron ore, petroleum, timber. The Per Capita GDP is $7,859. Compulsory education ages 4-17. Life expectancy female 73.1; male 67.3.

Brazil, Capital City Brasilia

Brazil, the largest South American country by population (210,301,591), is a federal presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is Portuguese and the country is 65% Catholic, 14% Protestant, and 11% Independent. The defense budget is $28 billion and there are 334,500 active troops. Natural resources are gold, iron ore, petroleum, timber. The Per Capita GDP is $16,068. Compulsory education ages 4-17. Life expectancy female 78.2; male 71.0.

Chile, Capital City Santiago

Chile, the sixth largest South American country by population (18,057,855), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 61% Catholic, 22% Independent, and 9% Agnostic. The defense budget is $4.2 billion and there are 77,200 active troops. Natural resources are copper, timber, nitrates, hydropower. The Per Capita GDP is $25,284. Compulsory education ages 5-17. Life expectancy female 82.4; male 76.2.

Colombia, Capital City Bogota

Colombia, the second largest South American country by population (48,631,464), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 86% Catholic, 9% Protestant, and 3% Agnostic. The defense budget is $10.6 billion and there are 292,200 active troops. Natural resources are copper, emeralds, hydropower. The Per Capita GDP is $14,999. Compulsory education ages 5-14. Life expectancy female 79.7; male 73.3.

Ecuador, Capital City Quito

Ecuador, the seventh largest South American country by population (16,703,254), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 84% Catholic, 11% Protestant, and 4% Agnostic. The defense budget is $1.7 billion and there are 40,250 active troops. Natural resources are petroleum, fish, timber, hydropower. The Per Capita GDP is $11,714. Compulsory education ages 3-17. Life expectancy female 80.5; male 74.4.

Guyana, Capital City Georgetown

Guyana, the eleventh largest South American country by population (744,845), is a parliamentary republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is English and the country is 34% Protestant, 30% Hindu, 11% Independent, and 8% Muslim. The defense budget is $56 million and there are 3,400 active troops. Natural resources are bauxite, diamonds, timber, shrimp. The Per Capita GDP is $8,569. Compulsory education ages 6-11. Life expectancy female 72.4; male 66.2.

Paraguay, Capital City Asuncion

Paraguay, the ninth largest South American country by population (7,108,524), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official languages are Spanish and Guarani and the country is 85% Catholic, 11% Protestant. The defense budget is $313 million and there are 11,500 active troops. Natural resources are hydropower, timber, limestone. The Per Capita GDP is $13,571. Compulsory education ages 5-17. Life expectancy female 80.5; male 75.0.

Peru, Capital City Lima

Peru, the fifth largest South American country by population (31,624,207), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official languages are Spanish, Quechua and Aymara and the country is 84% Catholic, 12% Protestant. The defense budget is $2.3 billion and there are 81,000 active troops. Natural resources are copper, petroleum, fish, coal. The Per Capita GDP is $14,393. Compulsory education ages 3-16. Life expectancy female 76.7; male 72.3.

Suriname, Capital City Paramaribo

Suriname, the smallest South American country by population (603,823), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is Dutch though English is widely spoken, and the country is 30% Catholic, 20% Hindu, 16% Muslim, 15% Protestant, 5% Agnostic . The defense budget is NA and there are 1,840 active troops. Natural resources are timber, hydropower, fish, gold. The Per Capita GDP is $15,498. Compulsory education ages 7-12. Life expectancy female 75.6; male 70.6.

Uruguay, Capital City Montevideo

Uruguay, the tenth largest South American country by population (3,378,471), is a presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 52% Catholic, 30% Agnostic, 9% Protestant, 7% Atheist. The defense budget is $486 million and there are 21,000 active troops. Natural resources are hydropower, fish, minor minerals. The Per Capita GDP is $23,531. Compulsory education ages 4-17. Life expectancy female 81.0; male 74.6.

Venezuela, Capital City Caracas

Venezuela, the fourth largest South American country by population (32,068,672), is a federal presidential republic with a president as head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 81% Catholic, 11% Protestant, 5% Agnostic. The defense budget is $741 million and there are 123,000 active troops. Natural resources are petroleum, gold, hydropower, diamonds. The Per Capita GDP is $18,102. Compulsory education ages 3-18. Life expectancy female 79.5; male 73.4.

Resource: The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2020

 

Know Your Neighbors – South America

September 6, 2020, Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Do you know your geography? There are twelve countries in South America – I keep up with them by memorizing them alphabetically.

Countries in South America

  1. Argentina
  2. Bolivia
  3. Brazil
  4. Chile
  5. Colombia
  6. Ecuador
  7. Guyana
  8. Paraguay
  9. Peru
  10. Suriname
  11. Uruguay
  12. Venezuela

Where do the most people live?

  • Brazil – 210,301,591
  • Colombia – 48,631,464
  • Argentina – 45,089,492
  • Venezuela – 32,068,672
  • Peru – 31,624,207
  • Chile – 18,057,855
  • Ecuador – 16,703,254
  • Bolivia – 11,473,676
  • Paraguay – 7,108,524
  • Uruguay – 3,378,471
  • Guyana – 744,845
  • Suriname – 603,823

If you had to walk across it, which county would take the longest? Which is largest in square miles?

  • Brazil – 3,287,957
  • Argentina – 1,073,518
  • Peru – 496,225
  • Colombia – 439,736
  • Bolivia – 424,164
  • Venezuela – 352,144
  • Chile – 291,933
  • Paraguay – 153,399
  • Ecuador – 109,484
  • Guyana – 83,000
  • Uruguay – 68,037
  • Suriname – 63,251

Which country has the highest percentage of internet users? Most technologically inclined?

  • Chile – 82.3%
  • Argentina – 74.3%
  • Venezuela – 72.0%
  • Uruguay – 68.3%
  • Brazil – 67.5
  • Paraguay – 65.0%
  • Colombia – 62.3%
  • Ecuador – 57.3%
  • Peru – 52.5%
  • Suriname – 48.9%
  • Bolivia – 43.8%
  • Guyana – 37.3%

Which country has the highest literacy rate? Percent of population able to read and write?

  • Argentina – 99.1%
  • Uruguay – 98.6%
  • Venezuela – 97.1%
  • Chile – 96.9%
  • Suriname – 95.6%
  • Colombia – 94.7%
  • Paraguay – 94.7%
  • Ecuador – 94.4%
  • Peru – 94.1%
  • Brazil – 92.6%
  • Bolivia – 92.5%
  • Guyana – 88.5%

Which country has the highest population density? How many people are there per square mile? Close to each other or lots of breathing space?

  • Ecuador – 156
  • Colombia – 121
  • Venezuela – 94
  • Brazil – 65
  • Peru – 64
  • Chile – 63
  • Uruguay – 50
  • Paraguay – 46
  • Argentina – 43
  • Bolivia- 27
  • Guyana – 10
  • Suriname – 10

Which country has had the most confirmed DEATHS from COVID19 in 2020 to date?

  • Brazil – 126,960
  • Peru – 29,976
  • Colombia – 21,615
  • Chile – 11,682
  • Argentina – 10,179
  • Bolivia – NA
  • Ecuador – NA
  • Guyana – NA
  • Paraguay – NA
  • Suriname – NA
  • Uruguay – NA
  • Venezuela – NA

Which country has had the most confirmed CASES of COVID19 reported in 2020 to date?

  • Brazil – 4,147,794
  • Peru – 691,575
  • Colombia – 671,848
  • Argentina – 488,007
  • Chile – 425,541
  • Bolivia – NA
  • Ecuador – NA
  • Guyana – NA
  • Paraguay – NA
  • Suriname – NA
  • Uruguay – NA
  • Venezuela – NA

Resources: World Almanac and Book of Facts 2020 and World Health Organization

 

Know Your Neighbors 2 – North America

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – A little more detail on the ten countries of North America. Which country has the largest military budget? Which country has the lowest per capita GDP? Which country has mahogany forests? Which countries do not have an official language? In which country is life expectancy for females the highest? In which country is life expectancy for males the lowest? In which country do the most people claim to be Catholic? In how many countries is Queen Elizabeth II Head of State? How well do you know your neighbors?

Alphabetical List of Countries in North America

  1. Belize
  2. Canada
  3. Costa Rica
  4. El Salvador
  5. Guatemala
  6. Honduras
  7. Mexico
  8. Nicaragua
  9. Panama
  10. United States

Belize, Capital City Belmopan

Belize, the smallest North American country by population (392,771), is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. There is a Governor-General representing the Queen, and Prime Minister as Head of Government. The official language is English and the country is 61% Catholic and 27% Protestant. The defense budget is $23 million and there are 1,500 active troops. Natural resources are timber, fish, and hydropower. The Per Capita GPD is $8,786. Compulsory education ages 5-12. Life expectancy female 76.7; male 73.4.

Canada, Capital City Ottawa

Canada, the third largest North American country by population (36,136,376), is a federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. There is a Governor-General representing the Queen, and Prime Minister as Head of government. The official languages are English and French and the country is 44% Catholic, 23% Agnostic, 11% Protestant, 4% Muslim. The defense budget is $18.2 billion and there are 66,600 active troops. Natural resources are iron ore and various minerals, fish, timber, coal, petroleum. The per capita GDP is $47,871. Compulsory education ages 6-15. Life expectancy female 84.9, male 79.5.

Costa Rica, Capital City San Jose

Costa Rica, the eighth largest North American country by population (5,043,084), is a presidential republic with a president as both head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 76% Catholic, 19% Protestant, and 4% Agnostic. The defense budget is $454 million and there are no active troops, rather 9,800 para-military style police. Natural resources are hydropower. The per capita GDP is $17,645. Compulsory education ages 4-16. Life expectancy female 81.9, male 76.3.

El Salvador, Capital City San Salvador

El Salvador, the sixth largest  North American country by population (6,202,330), is a presidential republic, with a president as both head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 66% Catholic, 15% Independent, and 15% Protestant. The defense budget is $141 million and there are 24,500 active troops. Natural resources are hydropower, geothermal power, and petroleum. The per capita GDP is $8,317. Compulsory education ages 1-15. Life expectancy female 78.8, male 72.1.

Guatemala, Capital City Guatemala City

Guatemala, the fourth largest North American country by population (16,867,133), is a presidential republic with a president as both head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 67% Catholic, 19% Protestant, and 11% Independent. The defense budget is $256 million and there are 18,050 active troops. Natural resources are petroleum, rare woods, fish, and  hydropower. The per capital GDP is $8,447. Compulsory education ages 6-15. Life expectancy female 74.2, male 70.1.

Honduras, Capital City Tegucigalpa

Honduras, the fifth largest North American country by population (9,325,005), is a presidential republic with a president as both head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 72% Catholic and 18% Protestant. The defense budget is $329 million and there are 14,950 active troops. Natural resources are timber, gold, coal, fish, hydropower. The per capita GDP is $5,130. Compulsory education ages 5-16. Life expectancy female 73.1, male 69.7.

Mexico, Capital City Mexico City

Mexico, the second largest North American country by population (127,318,112), is a federal presidential republic with a president as both head of state and head of government. The primary language is Spanish and the country is 86% Catholic, 10% Protestant, 3% Agnostic. The defense budget is $5.2 billion and there are 277,150 active troops. Natural resources are petroleum, various minerals, natural gas, timber. The per capita GDP is $19,969. Compulsory education ages 4-17. Life expectancy female 79.4, male 73.7.

Nicaragua, Capital City Managua

Nicaragua, the seventh largest North American country by population (6,144,442), is a presidential republic with a president as both head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 70% Catholic, 19% Protestant. The defense budget is $82 million and there are 12,000 active troops. Natural resources are gold, copper, lead, timber, fish. The per capita GDP is $5,524. Compulsory education ages 5-11. Life expectancy female 76.4, male 71.7.

Panama, Capital City Panama City

Panama, the ninth largest North American country by population (3,847,647), is a presidential republic with a president as both head of state and head of government. The official language is Spanish and the country is 74% Catholic, 10% Protestant, 4% Agnostic. The defense budget is $738 million and there are no armed forces but 26,000 paramilitary police. Natural resources are copper, mahogany, and shrimp. The per capita GDP is $25,509. Compulsory education ages 4-14. Life expectancy female 82.0, male 76.3.

United States, Capital City Washington, DC

United States, the largest North American country by population (331,883,986), is a constitutional federal republic with a president as both head of state and head of government. The primary languages are English and Spanish and the country is 27% Catholic, 24% Independent, 20% Protestant, 17% Agnostic. The defense budget is $643.3 billion and there are 1,359,450 active troops. Natural resources are coal, various minerals, petroleum, timber. The per capita GDP is $62,641. Compulsory education ages 6-17. Life expectancy female 82.4, male 78.0.

Resource: The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2020

 

Know Your Neighbors – North America

September 4, 2020, Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Do you know your geography? There are ten countries in North America – I keep up with them by memorizing them alphabetically.

Countries in North America

  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • United States

Where do the most people live?

  • United States     331,883,986
  • Mexico                 127,318,112
  • Canada                 36,136,376
  • Guatemala          16,867,133
  • Honduras             9,325,005
  • El Salvador          6,202,330
  • Nicaragua            6,144,442
  • Costa Rica           5,043,084
  • Panama               3,847,647
  • Belize                     392,771

If you had to walk across it, which county would take the longest? Which is largest in square miles?

  • Canada                 3,855,103
  • United States      3,796,742
  • Mexico                    758,449
  • Nicaragua                 50,336
  • Honduras                 43,278
  • Guatemala               42,042
  • Panama                    29,120
  • Costa Rica                19,730
  • Belize                         8,867
  • El Salvador               8,124

Which country has the highest percentage of internet users? Most technologically inclined?

  • Canada                      91.0%
  • United States           87.3%
  • Costa Rica                74.1%
  • Mexico                      65.8%
  • Guatemala               65.0%
  • Panama                    57.9%
  • Belize                        47.1%
  • El Salvador              33.8%
  • Honduras                31.7%
  • Nicaragua               27.9%

Which country has the highest literacy rate? Percent of population able to read and write?

  • Canada                   99.0%
  • United States        99.0%
  • Costa Rica             97.8%
  • Panama                  95.0%
  • Mexico                   94.9%
  • Honduras               89.0%
  • El Salvador            88.5%
  • Nicaragua              82.8%
  • Guatemala             81.5%
  • Belize                     79.1%

Which country has the highest population density? How many people are there per square mile? Close to each other or lots of breathing space?

  • El Salvador           763
  • Guatemala           401
  • Costa Rica            256
  • Honduras             215
  • Mexico                  168
  • Panama                132
  • Nicaragua            122
  • United States       87
  • Belize                    44
  • Canada                   9

Which country has had the most confirmed DEATHS from COVID19 in 2020 to date?

  • United States        185,687
  • Mexico                     66,329
  • Canada                       9,141
  • Guatemala                 2,825
  • Panama                      2,046
  • Honduras                  1,954
  • El Salvador                 744
  • Costa Rica                   460
  • Nicaragua                    141
  • Belize                             13

Which country has had the most confirmed CASES of COVID19 reported in 2020 to date?

  • United States       6,095,007
  • Mexico                      616,894
  • Canada                      130,493
  • Panama                       94,914
  • Guatemala                  77,040
  • Honduras                   63,158
  • Costa Rica                  44,458
  • El Salvador                26,099
  • Nicaragua                    3,773
  • Belize                            1,118

Which county has the highest percent of their population diagnosed with COVID19 in 2020 to date?

  • Panama                  2.47%
  • United States        1.84%
  • Costa Rica              0.88%
  • Honduras               0.68%
  • Mexico                    0.48%
  • Guatemala             0.46%
  • El Salvador            0.42%
  • Canada                   0.36%
  • Belize                     0.28%
  • Nicaragua             0.06%

 

 

The Lone Ranger

September 3, 2020, Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – The Lone Ranger’s mask, according to movie hype, was designed to protect his identity. I went to many Lone Ranger movies in the early 50s, and even as a popcorn-munching 10-year-old, I knew I’d recognize my idol whether he was masked or not, even if he showed up without his trusty white steed. It did make him rather mysterious and handsome, but that was all. If he believed that little mask did what it was “supposed” to do, he was deluded.

I’m afraid some of us are equally deluded with regard to COVID-19 masks. Count me in that corner. I have been of the notion that the mask was to protect ME from being pelted with virus-laden droplets spewed out from some virus carrier. I was thinking that my mask would keep those droplets from entering my breathing apparatus, and keep me safe from harm. I thought the mask, like the seatbelt in my car, was all about ME.

I was wrong.

The masks we are advised, and in some instances, MANDATED to wear are to keep US from infecting other people. And if they are not the right KIND of masks, worn and handled the right WAY, they are no more effective than that little black strip around the eyes  that was meant to hide the Lone Ranger’s identity. Coronavirus Masks are meant to protect the rest of the world from the WEARER.

And I am distressed to tell you that the Centers for Disease Control, which we hark to here in the United States, and the World Health Organization (note the word WORLD) do NOT offer the same advice with regard to what kind of masks actually STOP any virus-laden droplets from spewing out into the world when we cough, or sneeze.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends a two layer mask. Go to THIS SITE to read their advice. It’s good advice, but is it enough?

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html

The Centers for Disease Control is a USA government entity that is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The Director is Robert Redfield, MD, who has served since March 26, 2018. He was appointed to the post by Donald Trump, after Trump’s first appointee, Tom Price, resigned over controversy regarding his use of private jets and charter flights at taxpayer expense.

The World Health Organization recommends a three-layer mask. Go to THIS SITE to read why “three layers are more effective than two.”

virus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The WHO Constitution  states its main objective as “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.

The Trump administration has begun the process of withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization, effective July 6, 2021, via a letter sent to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.  It is not clear whether Trump can pull the United States out of the organization and withdraw funding without Congress. Democratic lawmakers have vowed to push back; Sen. Robert Menendez , the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, commented that such an action “leaves Americans sick & America alone.” Joe Biden has commented that, if elected, he would immediately rejoin the organization and “restore our leadership on the world stage, because Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health.”

TO DATE, the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States accounts for 23% of all cases in the world. Why is that?

Masking is obviously NOT enough – at least incorrect masks, worn incorrectly. It behooves us to know what we  can do to protect ourselves, and others. One thing for sure – Trump’s resistance to wearing a mask himself because he “didn’t want to look like the Lone Ranger” was a fruitless worry on his part. He does not look like the Lone Ranger, no matter how hard he tries to separate the United States from the rest of the world.

 

Hair Today

September 2, 2020, Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – It makes sense that Donald would comment on Nancy getting her hair blow dried; something a big hair guy would be sure to notice. Hard to tell if the hullabaloo is about Nancy walking down a hallway with wet hair and no mask, or the idea that blow driers in and of themselves are deadly. Geez, it’s hard to look pretty, with this virus thingy making a haircut so dangerous. I decided to check it out. What evil lurks in the hair salon these days? Beauty Parlor Gossip was the worst thing about such an environment in years past; Eudora Welty claimed to get some of her best story ideas from an afternoon under the drier.  One of her short stories, The Petrified Man, is actually set in a beauty parlor. Lots of gossip in that one. Yes, back before Twitter, we relied on our beauty parlors to spread tales.

But back to our modern hair salons, and the dangers they may, or may not, present for us. Prevention magazine recently interviewed infectious disease specialist Michael Ben-Aderet, MD, about salon safety tips and recommendations in the age of COVID-19. The article appears at a time when many states are easing restrictions and businesses like hair salons are reopening.

“The number one-way coronavirus spreads is through respiratory droplets from someone who is sick,” said Ben-Aderet, explaining the virus spreads the same way in salons as it does anywhere – making it increasingly more important that sick people do not enter salons. “One way to do this is to screen clients before appointments to make sure those who are sick reschedule if they have fever, cough, or shortness of breath.” But many people want to know what happens if someone sick does enter a salon. Can products and tools like a blow dryer spread COVID-19?

“A blow dryer does have the potential to spread contaminated air around a room,” said Ben-Aderet. “But again, there needs to be an infected person around. Unless someone coughs into a hair dryer and that spreads the droplets, it’s very unlikely.” As for the blow dryer itself, Ben-Aderet says it’s “unlikely for a hair dryer to be contaminated with coronavirus.” He does explain, however, that while viruses can’t grow on surfaces, they can persist on certain surfaces for a particular amount of time, making it imperative that each salon is cleaned and disinfected after each client. “Touching a surface that is contaminated with secretions or mucus membranes from a sick individual and then touching your face can make you sick,” said Ben-Aderet. “It’s important to remember that viruses need to grow in a person.”

So there you have it. A sick PERSON is the dangerous thing. And if not yet obviously sick, A VIRUS CARRIER. If nobody is hauling the virus around on their body, and coughing and touching things with their virus-contaminated droplets, or hands they just wiped against their nose, there is no virus to get anybody else sick. And the notion of “sick people” spreading things to other people is true for ordinary colds, the flu, and lots of other stuff that people transmit from one to another. It’s rude to take your sick self out and put your germs off on somebody else. Don’t do it!

We’re advised to wear masks when we do go out now, so if we have that Virus Thingy, we don’t spread it. This is a dangerous proviso – having a mask dangling around your neck and not properly positioned, or made of the wrong material, or not kept clean, is as bad as not having one at all. Also, RELYING on a mask as your ultimate protection is foolhardy. Look at these videos showing how far DROPLETS can travel THROUGH a mask!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evATiHUejxg&feature=youtu.be

Tomorrow: Masks Better Than Even The Lone Ranger Wore

 

That Virus Thingy

September 1, 2020, Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Six months have passed since we really started counting “that virus thingy.” I check the US stats on the Centers for Disease Control website every week; so far no US state or territory has had a week go by with NO new cases. Except for American Samoa, bless their peaceful, well-isolated hearts. Today I took a worldwide look – the World Health Organization has an excellent site and really good advice. It’s vitally important to track what is going on in our own neighborhood, but I believe it is equally important to track what is happening beyond our borders. Compare – how are they managing? How are we, in the US?

As of the beginning of September, 2020, the World Health Organization shows 25,541,380 cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide; 852,000 deaths. If we want to compare that death count with the population of cities of equal size – we could say that EVERYBODY in Indianapolis, Indiana is dead now. Or, Seattle, Washington. Dead. No living, breathing persons left in those cities. When you look at it THAT way, it seems like a lot of deaths, doesn’t it? Other cities in the US that have populations in the 800,000 range are Charlotte, North Carolina; San Francisco, California, Columbus, Ohio; Forth Worth, Texas.  Imagine them gone! Imagine a dystopian horror tale, such as Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars (2012); a world where the unexpected happened – a flu pandemic struck – and life on the planet had to adjust to “what is.” While I’m a believer in Positive Thinking, I’m also a believer in being well-informed. And approaching life in ways that are reasonable, and not based on impatience to “get back to normal, now!” Like, opening schools.  Sure, kids are getting a sucky education right now. Sure, parents are sick and tired of having to manage and monitor their children’s schooling from home.  Sure – well the issue is ablaze in arguments and accusations and vastly different proposals. Politics involved. What is the best solution? Start with facts.

Here are the numbers broken down by sections of the world, and then the US.

World Health Organization Statistics – Number of Cases Reported Worldwide as of September 1, 2020

  • Americas – 13,469,747
  • SE Asia – 4,318,281
  • Europe – 4,225,328
  • Eastern Mediterranean – 1,939,204
  • Africa – 1,056,120
  • Western Pacific – 501,959
  • TOTAL WORLDWIDE – 25,541,380

Of the Americas, that’s both North and South, let’s look at what is happening just in the United States. We’ve got the most cases of any American country — 6,004,443 COVID-19 cases reported to date; 183,050 deaths from the virus. That “death” total kills off everybody in Little Rock, just about! The US numbers are big, and continue to get bigger. Over the next month, I’ll be looking at what other countries in the world are doing to combat a pandemic that is “sure ‘nough” real, and how they are keeping their citizens safe.

Meanwhile, wash your hands, keep your chin up (with MASK intact!), and if you happen to live in any of the states below, get in touch with your governor because your state is leading the pack this week, an honor you don’t want.

US States With Highest Percent of Population Diagnosed With COVID-19 as of September 1

  1. Louisiana – 3.2%, Governor John Bel Edwards, Democrat
  2. Florida – 2.87%, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  3. Mississippi – 2.81%, Governor Jonathon Tate Reeves, Republican
  4. Arizona – 2.77%, Governor Douglas Anthony Ducey, Republican
  5. Alabama – 2.57%, Governor Kay Ellen Ivey, Republican

US States With Greatest  Numbers of COVID-19  Cases Diagnosed as of September 1

  1. California – 704,485, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom, Democrat
  2. Florida – 616,629, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  3. Texas – 612,969, Governor Gregory Wayne Abbott, Republican
  4. New York – 435,783, Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo, Democrat
  5. Georgia – 270,471, Governor Brian Porter Kemp, Republican

US States With Most New Cases Diagnosed in One Week as of September 1

  1. California – 40,416, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom, Democrat
  2. Texas – 35,432, Governor Gregory Wayne Abbott, Republican
  3. Florida – 22,342, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  4. Georgia – 16,522, Governor Brian Porter Kemp, Republican
  5. Illinois – 15,130, Governor Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker, Democrat

John Bel Edwards, LA

Ron DeSantis, FL

Tate Reeves, MS

Doug Ducey, AZ

Kay Ivey, AL

Andrew Cuomo, NY

Brian Kemp, GA

Gavin Newsom, CA

Greg Abbott, TX

J B Pritzker, IL

 

Sunday Morning Sidewalk

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – It’s Sunday. Did you go to church today? Or do you put yourself in the SBNA column, that is, Spiritual But Not Affiliated? “Organized religion” has been on a worldwide downtrend in recent years; reasons are not crystal-clear, perhaps there is simply more poll-taking. Freedom of Religion, and its first cousin, Freedom of Speech, are the Top-Valued basics we brag about most here in the US of A. When Kayla and Sam and I visited the National Archives on our recent NDI RTW, one of the things we saw in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom was The Bill of Rights, adopted December 15, 1791. And the very FIRST Amendment on that list reads like this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Forty-five words that pack a heck of a lot of power. The first thing I get from that part about “religion” is simple: I can choose which religion I want and I can choose not to practice a religion at all if that is my wish. And from the part about “speech,” I understand that I can say, or not say, whatever I please, except, that has been amended a bit to say “don’t tell lies about other people and don’t use filthy language that distresses other people.” Which, of course, has led to many other amendments and arguments about just what “filthy language” IS, and what distresses others. A can of worms there. And sometimes, NOT saying something is considered a real faux pas.

I was thinking about that this morning when I read the story that came out of the Democratic Convention last week about the Pledge of Allegiance. The Democrats were accused of leaving “under God” out of the Pledge. And then  AP Fact Check came forward to explain: The Central Programming of the Convention featured the entire Pledge, complete with “under God.” However, the Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly and the LGBTQ Caucus meeting on Tuesday chose not to include those words. That was not part of the prime-time broadcast.

That’s a good example of a nitpick. Because the truth of the matter is – we have the right to speak, or not; and we have the right to be religious (whatever that means) or not, but we will be judged on our choices. Yes, I can be a Wiccan or an atheist or a born-again Christian, but along with that choice comes a passel of attitudes that will be formed about me, depending on whether or not the other fellow is a Wiccan, or an atheist, or a born-again Christian (or Jew, or Muslim, or SBNA…..)

It’s the way our minds work. We categorize!  And in fact, the choices people make DO speak to who they are, and how they think,  unless they’re just  sheep following the most popular shepherd. No doubt the revelation that VP Candidate Kamala Harris attended both a black Baptist church and a Hindu temple growing up, and is now married to a Jewish man, will cause some heads to spin. Labels will be stuck to her forehead! And golly gee, look at VP Candidate Mike Pence – he grew up in a Catholic home, then in college he became a born-again Christian and joined a mega-church. So he now identifies as a born-again Catholic, who adheres to the Billy Graham belief that men and women who are not married should not be alone together. And he’s on the ticket with a man who, well, you know that story.

Will our current tickets have a broad enough appeal to pull in almost EVERYBODY? Protestants & Catholics & People Who Once Were Catholics & Jews & SBNAs? Others? Will that get the vote up from the lousy 56% in the 2016 election?

Here are the answers people gave in a 2014 national survey when asked what their “religious preferences” are. There’s a map at the end.  (No Religion includes the SBNAs)

United States Percent of Population Religious Practice

  • Protestant 46.5%
  • Catholic 20.8%
  • Mormon 1.6%
  • Non-Christian Religion (Islam, Buddhist, Hindu, other) 5.9%
  • No Religion 22.8%

Then I broke it down into the top 5 states in each of those categories for a sense of “lay of the land” in case you are campaigning.

Protestant

  • Alabama 78%
  • Mississippi 77%
  • Tennessee 73%
  • West Virginia 70%
  • Arkansas 70%

Catholic

  • Rhode Island 42%
  • New Mexico 34%
  • New Jersey 34%
  • Massachusetts 34%
  • Connecticut 33%

Mormon

  • Utah 55%
  • Idaho 19%
  • Wyoming 9%
  • Arizona 5%
  • Alaska 5%

Non Christian Religion (Islam, Buddhist, Hindu, other)

  • New Jersey 14%
  • New York 12%
  • Hawaii 10%
  • District of Columbia 9%
  • California 9%
  • Massachusetts 9%

No Religion

  • Vermont 37%
  • New Hampshire 36%
  • Washington 32%
  • Massachusetts 32%
  • Alaska 31%
  • Oregon 31%
  • Maine 31%

Are you surprised?

 

The Better To Hear?

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – I got curious, and went on a search. When, I wondered, did the Democrats and Republicans begin using donkeys and elephants as party symbols? And more puzzling, WHY? A donkey, aka, JACKASS, with an annoying bray? And a big lumbering elephant who would surely eat you out of house and home if you let it in?

Turns out the story actually does begin with somebody calling somebody a jackass. Andrew Jackson, back in the election of 1828, was depicted as being “stubborn as a jackass” and Andrew just flat turned it around and, with a donkey as a mascot, beat out John Quincy Adams! Remember, Adams became president in 1824, though Jackson had won the popular vote. But Jackson tried it again, and whupped Adams you-know-what. It was a landslide.

The “mascot” idea didn’t really catch on until the mid-1800’s however, and I found some interesting examples of political cartoons. The first I’ll share, with full credit to American Antiquarian, explains what “seeing the elephant” generally referred to. Citation: “Jeff. Sees the Elephant,” The News Media and the Making of America, 1730-1865, https://americanantiquarian.org/earlyamericannewsmedia/items/show/120

Jeff. Sees the Elephant

This color lithograph published by E. B. & E. C. Kellogg of Hartford, Connecticut, and George Whiting of New York City dates from 1861 or 1862. It is believed to be the first time that the elephant and donkey appear together depicting the Republican and Democratic parties. The phrase “to see the elephant” was a common expression in the mid-nineteenth century and often appears in descriptions of both the gold rush and the Civil War. It is thought to originate with the circus. The large mammals such as lions and elephants were the climax of the circus experience and always appeared toward the end of the performances. When one had “seen the elephant” then one had seen the entire show. The term then gradually became synonymous with experiencing or” seeing it all.”

In this image the elephant bedecked in formal attire with accessories festooned with stars and stripes and the U.S. Constitution in his pocket represents the Union. The cannon barrels protruding from his waistcoat, and the multitude of even more cannon and cannon balls behind him, represent the great military prowess of the Northern states. Eventually Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) took on the elephant as his mascot. By his reelection campaign in 1864, trunks and tusks were used in his campaign materials and “the elephant is coming” became his slogan. Republicans have been associated with elephants ever since.

This humorous image also contains Jefferson Davis (1808-89) as a donkey, peering through a monocle at the elephant and his enormous quantity of arms and armaments. Behind him is an army of “jackasses” carrying pitchforks, rakes, brooms, and scythes, which are clearly no match for the North’s cannon. The gallows in the center background of the image portends a bleak future for the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis was a lifelong Democrat, having served as a U. S. representative and senator before becoming president of the Confederacy after the South seceded.

A fellow named Thomas Nast (1840 – 1902), a German-born American caricaturist, is considered the “Father of American Political Cartoons.” He was associated with Harper’s Weekly, and popularized the donkey-elephant symbols in his work. In general, his political cartoons supported American Indians and Chinese Americans. He advocated the abolition of slavery, opposed racial segregation, and deplored the violence of the Ku Klux Klan. Harper’s Weekly, and Nast, played an important role in the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1864, and Ulysses S Grant in 1868 and 1872.

Clifford Berryman (1869 – 1949) was another influential political cartoonist; he worked with both the Washington Post and Washington Star. He drew thousands of cartoons commenting on American presidents, lampooning both of the Roosevelts and Harry Truman. A Pulitzer Prize winner, his cartoons are in the National Archives, and the Library of Congress today.

I found hundreds of donkey-elephant images during my search – they seem to be handy critters for “poking fun” or making serious accusations in a clever, right-to-the-point manner. The DEFINITION of each animal didn’t go far in explaining how they keep winding up on bumper stickers every four years though:

  • Donkey: a domesticated hoofed mammal of the horse family with long ears and a braying call, used as a beast of burden; an ass.
  • Elephant: a heavy plant-eating mammal with a prehensile trunk, long curved ivory tusks, and large ears, native to Africa and southern Asia; the largest living land animal.

Then I thought of PETA

PETA had been thinking about it too, and published a piece about it. In a showdown, which real animal would win? PETA called it a tie.  https://www.peta.org/blog/elephants-vs-donkeys-win/

  • Physical prowess: Elephants are active for 18 hours a day and can travel up to 30 miles a day. Donkeys can run up to 30 miles per hour and are sure-footed on rocky mountain crags.
  • Compassion: Elephants will pitch in to help a mother elephant rescue her drowning baby. Donkeys are affectionate and patient with children.
  • Beauty: Standing up to 13 feet tall with trunks that can reach for 7 feet, elephants make a majestic sight. Donkeys are beautiful with soft coats of fawn, chocolate, red, or black fur and a graceful gait.
  • Intelligence: Elephants figured out a shortcut researchers hadn’t thought of in an experiment to see if they could work together, both pulling opposite ends of a rope, in order to move food close to them. Donkeys are smart too; companion donkeys answer to their names, go for walks off leash, and can even learn to pull carts through obstacle courses.
  • Enjoying leisure time: Elephants like to cool off by using their trunks to spray water all over their bodies. Donkeys like to roll on their backs in the grass or dirt and love receiving treats and ear rubs.

One thing is clear. Both animals have big ears. The better to hear you with?

 

Who Counts?

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Interesting, isn’t it, that women fought so long and hard to be allowed to vote, but still must live in the right state for their vote to count. That’s true for men too! If you favor a Democrat, but live in a state full of Republicans, your vote isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. And vice versa. In fact, you don’t actually vote for a CANDIDATE at all, though political campaigns are designed to appeal directly to the individual, coddling us with love and promises, if we vote for THEM.

Once our vote is cast, however, it actually starts a ride through the maze known as the Electoral College, and if you recollect, five times since 1788 a candidate has won the popular vote but lost the election.

  • Andrew Jackson in 1824 had 38,149 more votes than John Quincy Adams, but lost.
  • Samuel Tilden (Dem) in 1876 had 254,235 more votes than Rutherford B Hayes (Rep), but lost.
  • Grover Cleveland (Dem) in 1888 had 90,596 more votes than Benjamin Harrison (Rep), but lost.
  • Al Gore (Dem) in 2000 had 543,895 more votes than George W Bush (Rep), but lost.
  • Hillary Clinton (Dem) in 2016 had 2,868,686 more votes than Donald J Trump (Rep), but lost.

The Electoral College

I’m sure you’ve got this memorized from Civics 101 in 6th grade, but just in case the details have gotten fuzzy, here is where your vote goes. Established in Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution, the Electoral College is the formal body that elects the President and Vice President of the United States. Each state has as many “electors” in the Electoral College as it has Representatives and Senators in the United States Congress, and the District of Columbia has three electors. When voters go to the polls in a Presidential election, they actually are voting for the slate of electors vowing to cast their ballots for that ticket in the Electoral College.

Got that? You are voting for Electors.

Most states require that all electoral votes go to the candidate who receives the plurality in that state. After state election officials certify the popular vote of each state, the winning slate of electors meet in the state capital and cast two ballots—one for Vice President and one for President. Electors cannot vote for a Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate who both hail from an elector’s home state.

But not every state is the same.

Maine and Nebraska employ a “district system” in which two at-large electors vote for the state’s popular plurality and one elector votes for each congressional district’s popular plurality. In the November 2, 2004 election, Colorado voters rejected a “proportional system” in which electors would vote proportionally based on the state’s popular vote.

The District of Columbia and 26 states “bind” their electors to vote for their promised candidate, via a number of methods including oaths and fines. Though still rare, electors more commonly changed their vote in the 19th century—particularly on the vote for Vice President. Such “faithless electors” have never decided a Presidency however.

There has been one faithless elector in each of the following elections: 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1988. A blank ballot was cast in 2000. In 2016, seven electors broke with their state on the presidential ballot and six did so on the vice presidential ballot.

Faithless Electors! But to continue – A Job You Wouldn’t Want

Since the mid-20th century, on January 6 at 1:00 pm before a Joint Session of Congress, the Vice President opens the votes from each state in alphabetical order. He passes the votes to four tellers—two from the House and two from the Senate—who announce the results. House tellers include one Representative from each party and are appointed by the Speaker. At the end of the count, the Vice President then declares the name of the next President. With the ratification of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution (and starting with the 75th Congress in 1937), the electoral votes are counted before the newly sworn-in Congress, elected the previous November. Sitting Vice Presidents John C. Breckinridge (1861), Richard Nixon (1961), Hubert Humphrey (1969), and Al Gore (2001) all had to announce that they had lost their own bid for the Presidency. https://history.house.gov/

There have been a total of 165 instances of elector faithlessness as of 2016. The United States Constitution does not specify a notion of pledging; no federal law or constitutional statute binds an elector’s vote to anything. All pledging laws originate at the state level. In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Chiafalo v. Washington that states are free to enforce laws that bind electors to voting for the winner of the popular vote in their state.

Supporters of the Electoral College argue that it is fundamental to American federalism, that it requires candidates to appeal to voters outside large cities, increases the political influence of small states, preserves the two-party system, and makes the electoral outcome appear more legitimate.

Non-supporters would argue that the Electoral College places powers governing a national election within state boundaries and removes the ability of the individual to select their leader.