Letter From Claverack 05/04/2017 The time is nigh…

Well, the time is nigh.  Today Republicans voted, successfully, on “Repeal and Replace,” hoping to end the Affordable Care Act with their own American Health Care Act.  “Obamacare,” long despised by Republicans, may be gone and they will have had their way and many of them will be holding their breath that it does not go badly wrong because if it does, the piper will need to be paid.

We will find out if, as President Trump says, pre-existing conditions will be covered or as Democrats are saying, they will not.  If they are covered, it does seem coverage will be much more expensive.

Not a fan of Jimmy Kimmel, I was profoundly moved by his discussion of his newborn son’s heart surgery.  If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it.  It is from the heart. [Yes, pun intended.]  Please look here.

As I ponder this, I am, not surprisingly, listening to jazz, being all hygge at the cottage, sitting in my favorite corner on the couch, starting preparations for a Friday night dinner party.  Have I mentioned I tend to look at the Food Section of the New York Times before I read the news?  First thing, comfort and coffee, and then I hit the hard stuff.

Yesterday marked the month anniversary of my once a week radio program.  My first guest was Jeff Cole, CEO of the Center for the Digital Future at the Annenberg School of Communications, part of USC.  We talked futures.  How we are changing and being changed by technology.

His great concern, and I share it, is how we will, as individuals and society, adapt to the coming advent of AI, artificial intelligence, which is already shaping our lives.  Last night, as I was heading to bed, I paused and asked Alexa to set two alarms for me and they went off flawlessly, a soft chirping sound in the dark which could be eliminated by a command:  Alexa!  Snooze! And she snoozes.

I am experimenting with Siri, changing her responses from American English to British English.  All fun and games until we get to the moment when the machines decide we are superfluous.  Think the Terminator movies or the Hyperion novels which, to me, are more likely than the Terminator scenario. [In some respects, particularly Book One.]

Since I was very young, I’ve been a space enthusiast. Stephen Hawking, the phenomenon of a physicist, has warned us we have about a hundred years to get off the planet.

We could do it if we put all our energies to it but I don’t think jihadists are going to put down their guns to get us into space.

Outside, there are soft sounds and the trees are blooming.  In the morning when I wake, I thank God that I get to look out at the creek and am here, in Claverack, a place that centers my soul as no other place ever has.  When I look out, I am sometimes nostalgic for the time fifteen years ago when the geese formed a flotilla on my waters.  They are mostly gone now.

It sometimes reminds me of an episode of “Star Trek: Next Generation” in which Jean Luc’s brain is infused with the memories of a dead civilization and one of the signs of their passing was the drying up of a creek.  Occasionally, I stand on the deck and think: if the creek is gone, so are we.

However, today the creek still flows.

Generally, I am not fond of George Will, the conservative writer.  Today, I read an article of his that encapsulates my ongoing sense of unreality.  Read it here.

Encased in the safety of the cottage, I am doing my best to live in hope because we must live in hope. Hope is what has driven the race forward; it is what has brought millions of immigrants to our shore, who have shaped the country in which we live.  My great-grandparents, on my father’s side, were among them as were my grandparents on my mother’s side.  They came to the United States, buoyed by a sense of chance, of opportunity.

It’s hard for me to think that could change.

 

 

 

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