Twenty-third Entry


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Thursday, April 9th, 2020

The US government is debating adding trillions more relief dollars. Just a few weeks ago, the president suggested two billion dollars to combat Covid-19 hardships while the Democrats wanted four times as much. Billion, trillion — we use these as mere words, not the significantly different numbers that they are. Eight trillion may be the amount the government will spend before this pandemic has passed—maybe more. A lot of bake sales are going to be needed to repay those loans.

Updated models show the death count in NYC may be lower than projected. This new term “social distancing” may be the explanation. The swift and significant change in millions of people’s behavior continues to impress me. It appears to be easier to get people’s attention when something is brand new, just before it gets its political labels.

The mayor is bringing New York one step closer to the watery city of Venice. Like the powerful Doge who ruled Venice, Mr. de Blasio announced that he wants people to report their fellow citizens for breaching social distancing rules. When they locked you up in the days of the Republic, you had to rely on private support to survive; families paid to feed and sometimes even house their incarcerated kin.

Yesterday, the first prisoner in a New York jail died of Covid-19. He was “up the river” at Sing Sing. Native Americans called the area “sinck sinck,” which means “stone upon stone” in Wappinger. The prison was built by prisoners with stone they had cut and was sited right on the Hudson River. Prisoners could be easily transported to the site from upstate, and the marble they cut was sent south by boat to be used for new buildings in Manhattan—including churches. By the 1830s, Sing Sing was considered a model prison because it produced revenue instead of being an expense for the state; that was before the private sector saw the opportunity.

A guard at Guantanamo has tested positive for the virus. The prison staff numbers around 1,800 for about 40 prisoners—most of whom are now middle-aged and many of whom are in poor health after being locked up for nearly two decades. Guantanamo’s court and prison has cost six billion dollars since 2002. So far they have finalized one conviction. More than half of the inmates have never been charged with a crime.

Nelson Mandela often spoke about the idea that no one truly knows a nation until they have been inside its prisons. Dostoyevsky wrote that one of the ways to judge a society is to observe how they treat their criminals.

 2-minute Audio
April showers, seeing the wind, horn honk.