I don't often write or speak about “values,” because value and values both are abstractions arrived at subjectively and, these days, bandied about by far-right religionists as if they had coined those words. But I've been thinking about values lately, as the United States enters this ordeal some call "opening up." Remember the adage, “Crisis doesn't build character; it reveals it”? Values are in effect the character of a society, and ours is definitely being revealed. Trump and his followers claim that the “real folks”—white, working-class males—are eager to get back to work, and it's only elite liberal intellectuals on the coasts who want to go slow until it’s safer, with better precautions in place. (I know, hilarious: Trump posing the situation as a class struggle.) The truth is that 74 percent of the U.S. population is very leery of these precipitous openings, and has made it clear that they/we...

“The Joe Biden Thing” hit full force after my last week’s blog had posted—but waiting is not necessarily bad in such circumstances. It offered an opportunity to cool down from volcanic levels, try to think calmly, read and listen to different opinions, and do some research of my own. Here goes. —Women (and some smart men) are expressing frustration that accusations against Biden are being examined in greater detail and intensity than Donald Trump's far more numerous, even self-admitted sexual assaults; I heartily agree. Trump hasn't been asked about these (at least 25) attacks in many months, possibly years. How about the press returning to those stories, in detail? —Hopefully, others were as irritated as I was by the shock of pundits who gasped that Senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and former Georgia State Senator Stacey Abrams all vouched for Biden as being a...

Unintended consequences of an action or event are inherently shocking. They do sometimes offer hints, warnings, clues so subtle as to make sense only after the fact. But mostly they can’t be predicted–unless they were so obvious they could have been predicted, so naturally were ignored.

It's acknowledged by many now that the women who constitute only 7 percent of world leaders did a notably different and excellent job of preparing their countries for the coronavirus pandemic and of coping with it as the full force has hit.

Awestruck, people in the northern Indian state of Punjab stare at the sight of the grand Himalayan mountain range, now, after half a century, again visible for more than 100 miles. Why? The reduction in air pollution caused by the national lockdown to contain the coronavirus. Across the planet, in major cities and minor ones, the grind, screech, and roar of modernity are now barely detectable on seismograms. Why? Little or no traffic. Less large-scale machinery. A 30 percent drop in the cacophonous London morning rush, a 38 percent drop in midday Paris, a 50 percent drop in parts of Los Angeles, a staggering 60 percent drop noted at the Geophysical Institute in Quito, Ecuador–where suddenly they hear rumblings from the active volcano that sits beneath the city. As a result of this human quiescence, Earth’s continual quivering, shifting, and settling is being recorded with astonishing clarity. It sighs. It crackles...

Suffering is not a competition. The pandemic bestows trauma and tragedy on everyone. Yet it's also true that catastrophic events expose societal fault lines. In the USA, the 2020 plague is crushing some far more cruelly than others. The poor. People of color. Old people. Disabled people. Female people.

In the days immediately following 9/11, I wrote three descriptive email dispatches to friends. They shared them, and the dispatches wound up going around the world, garnering the name Letters from Ground Zero. Then, in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy devastated the New York area, I wrote Letter from Ground Zero IV. This is Letter from Ground Zero V.

A year ago this planet's population got our first vision of a black hole. Now it feels as if we’re in one. We need a comfort zone. Somewhere.

How many times does black America have to step up and save the republic it built? African Americans did it again on Super Tuesday. They did it with a vote that was unequivocal, pragmatic, and politically sophisticated.