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stripes – Military spouses are prepared for almost anything but not this – Stars and Stripes05.31.21

Some areas of New York City are less scenic than others. (iStock)

As my car wound along Lexington Street through the neat rows of tidy duplexes in Coddington Cove military housing community near Naval Station Newport, R.I., I breathed a long sigh of relief. Id taken this shortcut to Home Depot many times before, but today it felt like therapy a comforting and familiar routine.

I had just returned from a two-day apartment-hunting trip to New York City with our daughter, Anna, who was moving there to start her career. In 48 hours, we walked 16 miles, climbed 40 flights of stairs and toured more than 20 apartments. I was sore, tired and somewhat troubled by the whirlwind trip.

As a seasoned military spouse who moved 11 times in 23 years, lived six years overseas and traveled extensively, I considered myself a model of resilience, adaptability and grit. But New York City had jackhammered its way through my hard-earned calluses (literally I have a blister the size of Fort Bliss on my big toe) and rendered me a pathetic jellyfish, quivering in fear among the shadowy depths of its towering and complex personality.

I was excited to experience Annas eccentric new locale, with only mild apprehension. I figured, how different could it be from Rome, London, Paris, and all the other cities wed visited as a military family? As wed done before, wed figure out the subway, find our bearings, hit major landmarks and sample indigenous cuisine. Easy peasy!

Walking from our Midtown hotel the first morning, I was too distracted by interesting architecture, charming parks, gargantuan billboards, ethnic restaurants and fascinating characters to notice the citys seedy underbelly. But soon, the wormy side of the Big Apple exposed itself. Several tiny apartments we toured in the East Village were filthy, with entrances wedged between noodle shops and tattoo parlors. Some had dank basement laundry rooms where rapists might lurk, and others forced tenants to patronize nearby laundromats where heroin addicts nap. In Midtown, I was shocked at what constituted an apartment bedroom: a flex space with just enough room for a twin bed, no closet, and if you were lucky to get a window, a lightless view of a brick wall.

The next day, we crossed the Williamsburg Bridge, believing wed find charming apartments among matcha bars and organic grocers. Our tour began at a bakery with massive wedges of sticky, nutty baklava, but then we saw six apartments, each one with its own appalling deal-breaker.

The last straw happened five feet from a train trestle so crumbling with rust, I thought it might collapse. Dont worry, our painfully thin and jittery agent told us as we trudged up another grimy stairwell, the apartment has noise-cancelling windows. Minutes later, I looked out a bedroom window as a train rumbled by, mere feet from the sill. Not only was the noise deafening, I had to grab my chin to keep my teeth from chattering.

Back in Rhode Island, I shuddered at the memory of two dead rats (one flattened and displaying hideous fangs) among scattered garbage I side-stepped in Brooklyn.

Should I trust our daughter to live in a place that reduced me to a withering pantywaist? Had military life really toughened me up? Did I take safety, camaraderie and order for granted after 23 years of living in military communities? Does our daughter have the resilience to succeed in New York City?

Short answers: Yes, yes, yes and yes.

While military life forces military spouses out of comfort zones, it also coddles us with secure housing, safe neighborhoods and close-knit communities. Our children, on the other hand, learn from a young age to adapt to new and sometimes frightening situations. They know they might need to climb a few stairs, avoid the dark alleys and sidestep a scary rodent or two before theyll learn the ropes.

It may be hard for a seasoned military spouse like me to admit, but my military childs unique courage sometimes makes her better suited for the real world than I am.

Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisas book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.

meatandpotatoesoflife@gmail.com

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Today Is the 1-Year Anniversary of the Worst Pandemic Headline of 2020 | Jon Miltimore – Foundation for Economic Education05.06.21

Its a headline that certainly grabs your attention.

Georgias Experiment in Human Sacrifice, read the title of an April 29, 2020 article in The Atlantic.

Written by staff writer Amanda Mull, the story suggested Georgia Gov. Brian Kemps decision to reverse course on the states shutdown and lift restrictions on businesses was an experiment to see how many people need to lose their lives to shore up the economy.

The decision, readers were told, was reckless and deadly.

Public-health officials broadly agree that reopening businessesespecially those that require close physical contactin places where the virus has already spread will kill people, Mull wrote.

Without the government to protect them, all Georgians could do is try to protect themselves as best they can, Mull said. But she concluded that, because of the way the virus works, another deluge of cases could be inevitable.

[It] may be two or three weeks before hospitals see a new wave of people whose lungs look like theyre studded with ground glass in X-rays, Mull wrote. By then, theres no telling how many more people could be carrying the disease into nail salons or tattoo parlors, going about their daily lives because they were told they could do so safely.

Mulls lurid predictions didnt come to pass. Today the states COVID mortality rate stands 30-35 percent lower than many states that enforced strict lockdowns, such as New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

While the articles claim that Georgia was committing human sacrifice was hyperbolic, it was not particularly unique. Other publications would use similar languageThe Republicans Take America on a Death March, one New Republic headline blaredwhen other states began to lift pandemic restrictions.

But The Atlantic is not The New Republic. Its perhaps the most esteemed magazine in America. Its where the smart people go to read because it still cares about good journalism and features writers like Graeme Wood.

How did The Atlantic fail so badly? The answer isnt hard to find. Like so many media publications, the magazine fell prey to fear. Once this happened, the pandemic became a moral struggle between those who care about human lives and those who care about the economy. In taking up their crusade, the magazine, like many, fell for a simplistic fallacy: more government restrictions automatically equals fewer deaths.

That this assumption is fallacious is increasingly obvious today, with numerous open states seeing COVID cases decline even as restrictive states continue to struggle. At the time, however, the fallacy was less clear.

One reason the fallacy persisted was because lockdowns had become scientific dogma that mustnt be questioned. Indeed, the same month The Atlantic published Mulls human sacrifice piece, the magazine declined to publish an article submitted by Dr. Martin Kulldorff arguing for focused protection in lieu of lockdowns.

For those who dont know, Kulldorff is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Hes also a biostatistician and epidemiologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Nevertheless, The Atlantic concluded Kulldorffs opinions on the efficacy of lockdowns could not be published. Meanwhile, the magazine ran Mulls article that compared lifting restrictions and allowing people to move freely to human sacrifice.

To be fair to Mull, the words human sacrifice do not appear anywhere in her reporting; they may very well be the work of an undisciplined editor with an overactive imagination. Nevertheless, Mull has no apparent scientific credentials, while Kulldorff is an epidemiologist with direct expertise in detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks.

Yet Mulls COVID musings were deemed publishable while Kulldorffs were not.

A year later, a lot has changed.

As Kulldorff himself recently noted, The Atlantic is now running glowing profiles of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the first governors to embrace a focused protection strategy over lockdown.

[DeSantis] delayed closing bars and restaurants until after the end of the 2020 spring break. He ended restrictions early, allowing all Florida businesses to reopen in September, writes David Frum. The state of Florida never imposed a mask mandate, and DeSantis forbade local governments from collecting any fines for violations of their own mandates. Perhaps his most consequential decision was to reopen Florida schools to in-person learning in August 2020.

These actions, Frum admits, were bitterly controversial. But their results were not.

Florida ranks in the middle of the 50-state pack in cases and deaths over the course of the pandemic: 23rd in cases, 28th in deaths, writes Frum.

Florida achieved these results despite having the second-highest percentage of people over 65 in the US, behind only Maine. (Something Frum doesnt mention.) Meanwhile, the Florida governor can point to two major accomplishments.

The first is that the unemployment rate in Florida never spiked as high as it did in some other states. As of March, Floridas unemployment rate stood at 4.7 percent, placing it 19th in the country; Californias was at 8.3 percent, Frum writes. The second, and probably even more important for the long term, is that Florida opened its schools to in-person learning in August, putting students back in classrooms, even as instruction in many other states remained remote.

What a difference a year makes.

Still, despite the clear failure of lockdownswhich caused severe unintended consequences that will persist for decades to comeand the failed prophecies of media Cassandras, in some ways, it seems weve learned little. COVID dogmas persist, and Kulldorff and other highly-credentialed scientists find themselves censored by YouTube for sharing medical opinions that challenge them. (Meanwhile, in a stroke of irony, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently was awarded the Freedom Forum Institute's Free Expression Award.)

But facts, as John Adams once said, are stubborn things. And nothing breeds humility quite like failure. So theres reason to believe that once the pandemic dust settles a new generation will come to recognize F.A. Hayeks immortal lesson on economics.

The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design, the Nobel Laureate observed.

If humans cant learn this bit of wisdom after 2020, I fear we never will.

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Today Is the 1-Year Anniversary of the Worst Pandemic Headline of 2020 | Jon Miltimore - Foundation for Economic Education

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Gothika Ending, Explained | Why Did Miranda See the Boy’s Ghost? – The Cinemaholic01.03.21

Its a pity that Gothika is the only horror film in Halle Berrys career. The Oscar-winning actress exudes a particular brand of vulnerability that draws out our sympathy and worry for her character. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (The Crimson Rivers), the film tells the story of a psychiatrist, Miranda Grey (Berry), who wakes up one day to find that she has been incarcerated for murdering her husband Douglas (Charles S. Dutton). With no memory of what really transpired, she comes to believe that the ghost of a young girl is possessing her. Gothika also stars a pre-MCU Robert Downey Jr., who portrays Mirandas colleague Dr. Pete Graham. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Miranda works at the womens ward of the Woodward Penitentiary, where her husband is the administrative head. One stormy night, while returning home from work, she spots a teenage girl standing in the middle of the road. In a desperate attempt to avoid hitting the girl, she swerves her car and has an accident. When she approaches the girl, the latter suddenly bursts into a flame and touches her.

Miranda wakes up three days later as an inmate at the penitentiary and learns from Pete that she has been accused of brutally killing Douglas. She keeps seeing the girl, who is actually the ghost of Rachel, the dead daughter of the facilitys director, Phil Parsons (Bernard Hill). Odd things start happening around her. While conversing with her lawyer, she discovers that the words Not Alone are carved on her hands.

Despite her scientific training, Miranda is forced to admit that Rachel is possessing her.At the facility, Miranda befriends her former patient, Chloe Sava (Penlope Cruz). The psychiatrist finds out that a man with an Anima Sola tattoo had been visiting and raping the other woman. After she manages to escape from the penitentiary, Miranda returns to the house she used to share with her husband. The memories of that fateful night come rushing back to her, making her realize that Rachel killed Douglas by using Mirandas body as a vessel. A clue from the paranormal world leads the protagonist to a farmhouse in Willow Creek, Rhode Island, where she discovers who Douglas truly was: a monster who abducted young women before raping and killing them.

With the new evidence coming to light, Mirandas lawyer asks the authorities if she could be placed under supervised house arrest. Sheriff Bob Ryan (John Carroll Lynch) declines, reminding the lawyer that Miranda is still a murder suspect. Miranda calls Pete and begs him to investigate the man with the Anima Sola tattoo, believing him to be responsible not only for sexual assaults on the female inmates at the facility but also for the murders at the farmhouse. While Pete initially berates Miranda for accepting her delusions as reality, he still tries to find more information on Anima Sola on the internet. At her request, the Sheriff, who is a childhood friend of Douglas, comes to talk to her. During their conversation, Miranda figures out that he was her husbands accomplice in all his crimes.

Since the moment when the phrase Not Alone appears on the misted glass door of Mirandas cell, it becomes the most important plot point in the film. As she has no memory of what she did to her husband, this aforementioned scene emerges as the first time that she is forced to acknowledge that something else has taken residence in her body.

The film establishes pretty early on that Miranda values logic and science the most. When paranormal incidents start occurring around her, she has no choice but to reevaluate all her ingrained beliefs. She initially thinks that Rachel is letting her know that she (Miranda) isnt alone in her mind through the writings. After discovering what Douglas was doing at the Willow Creek farmhouse, Miranda starts thinking that the phrase might mean something completely different.

After arriving at the farmhouse, Miranda goes into the cellar of a barn, where she finds, amongst other things, a digital camera with a recording of Douglas killing a young girl and a survivor of his atrocities. She becomes highly convinced that Rachel was one of Douglas victims, and the phrase is the girls way to let Miranda know that she (Rachel) wasnt the only one.

But when Miranda speaks to Parsons about this and learns that he used to have recurring dreams of his daughter burning until he started taking medications to drown it out, she realizes that there is a second killer. It is the same man who she saw inside Chloes cell a few days back. Anima Sola tattoos depict the sufferings of the condemned in purgatory, and the one Miranda saw on the chest of the murderer is no exception. It shows a woman burning in flames.

By writing the phrase on the glass door and later etching it on Mirandas arm, Rachel was trying to tell her that Douglas had a partner, who turns out to be the Sheriff. He and Douglas were childhood friends and started hunting and killing young women when they were teenagers themselves. After Douglas became the administrative head of the penitentiary, it gave them access to tens of troubled women, including Chloe.

Even after Douglas murder, the Sheriff still could get in and out of the facility without being noticed. When Miranda tells the Sheriff that she has already spoken to Pete about her findings, he realizes that he is close to being discovered and has to act fast. He reveals himself to her and attempts to drug her, but Miranda takes the syringe and stabs him with it instead.

The Sheriff tries to shoot her but ends up causing a gas leak. His death is incredibly symbolic. He starts screaming that its illogical when he sees Rachels ghost and tries to shoot her. This causes a fire to erupt from the leaking gas and engulf him like the souls in purgatory before Miranda shoots him in the head. Pete arrives right at that moment, after figuring out himself that the Sheriff was the second killer. Ashamed of not believing her all along, he apologizes to Miranda.

The closing scene takes place about a year after the events of the climax. Both Miranda and Chloe are out of the penitentiary and seem to be doing well. While Chloe admits that she still gets bad dreams, Miranda asserts that she has put it all behind her. And yet, the moment the psychiatrist is alone, she sees the ghost of a missing boy.

Although she listened to and helped Rachel punish her rapists and murderers, it doesnt mean that Mirandas involvement with the paranormal world is over.As Chloe, who can also see the ghosts, correctly puts it: once the doors are opened, they cannot be closed. Like Rachel, the boy, Tim, is a victim of violence. Evidently, Miranda can see the ghosts whose deaths have been abnormal and filled with suffering. Its a dubious gift to possess and has already made her life a difficult one.

Read More: Best Halle Berry Movies

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Gothika Ending, Explained | Why Did Miranda See the Boy's Ghost? - The Cinemaholic

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