It’s been quite a week! The impeachment “trial” verdict, the Iowa caucus, and the State of the Union (SOTU) speech. By rights, we ought to take them in order, but as of this writing (2/6/20), the debacle that was the Iowa caucus is still not quite over, despite starting on Monday, so we’ll save that for last, in hopes we might get complete clarity by deadline. And we’ll begin with the President’s speech to the nation before the joint session of Congress at 9 PM on Tuesday, February 4th.
On January 7, 2020, the Chinese government announced that it had isolated the cause of a new strain of flu-like contagion, which it named the novel (“new”) coronavirus. Part of a large class of viruses which include the common cold, MERS and SARS, the new disease had already claimed at least one life, in late December 2019, before it was identified. To date at least 259 people have succumbed to the virus, which has now spread to more than a dozen countries, with upwards of 12,000 known to be infected. Over 60 million people have been put on lock-down in China, and international researchers are racing to develop a vaccine before the contagion becomes a worldwide pandemic. The US government announced that as of February 2nd, all foreign nationals who had visited China in the past 14 days would be barred from entering the country, and all Americans returning from China would be placed in quarantine.
The Democratic presidential contenders are in the starting gate, ready to begin the donkey race. Who will take the lead, who will stumble? Who are the sprinters, who are better in the turns? Is there a dark horse in the field? We all know Donald Trump is a mudder – who can take him on and win? One way we can handicap the competition is by analyzing the cosmic turf, as the asteroids representing the candidates jockey for position in the stars.
The world was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant, who perished in a fatal helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Bryant, whose career spanned two decades with the LA Lakers, had been the third-highest scorer in the NBA, until he was eclipsed by LeBron James just the day before his death. With typical class and magnanimity, what turned out to be his final Tweet was in praise of the man who had just surpassed him: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”
The 2020 Academy Awards are already upon us! Weeks earlier than usual this year, the Oscars will be presented on Sunday, February 9, at 5 PM PST in Los Angeles. We’re fortunate to have a large number of nominees with exact PNA (Personal-Named Asteroid) matches to represent them; two of the contenders even have asteroids named specifically for them! By placing these in the chart for the 92nd Academy Awards, we can rate the chances of their terrestrial counterparts, pinpointing who may walk off with Oscar gold, and who has to rasp out, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”
Despite a recent heart attack, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has maintained his slow and steady pace in his current bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, coming in reliably second or third in most polling. Bernie (I find it impossible to call him “Sanders”, so associated is he with his nickname) famously broke upon the national political scene when he challenged Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination, and while he failed in that attempt, he came remarkably close for someone with very little name recognition prior to throwing his hat in the ring. Bernie quickly became the darling of the progressive left, but also pulled from much of the same demographic of working class blue collar voters that fueled Trump’s grievance campaign. With fellow ultra-progressive Elizabeth Warren flailing of late, assuming Joe Biden stumbles and falls at some point early on in the process, Bernie Sanders would seem to be the man most likely to step into the breach. But would that be a winning choice for Democrats?