On being … an alphabetical look at 2021

By Ingrid Sapona

Though 2021 hasn’t brought a return to pre-Covid life, I decided to return to the year-end alphabetical review. But before doing so, let’s pause to reflect on the over 5.4 million Covid deaths world-wide and the many millions of people left grieving those who died of the virus…

Now, my list for 2021:

A is for anti-democratic – the new laws enacted in various U.S. states that make it harder for people to cast a ballot are anti-democratic. Pure and simple. Interestingly, A is also for authoritarianism, which is the direction those who passed such laws have veered toward. 

B is for Biden – definitely not Trump, but not the breath of fresh air that many around the world were hoping for. Nearly a year into the Biden administration and many are coming to the realization that the U.S. will not revert to being the ally it once was.

C is for cheugy (pronounced chew-gee) – apparently, it’s Gen Z slang describing someone – or something – that’s late to a trend or someone trying too hard. For folks of my generation, I think the proper translation is: Oi…  

D is for Delta variant – you know, that scary Covid variant before the even scarier Omicron.

E is for enhancements – I suppose some people don’t necessarily see Botox as an enhancement, but apparently in the word of camel beauty pageants, injecting Botox to enhance a camel’s lips will disqualify you.  

F is for filibuster – unyielding adherence to the filibuster is more proof that the U.S. political system is broke.  

G is for ghost guns – these are guns that are assembled from kits and so they don’t have serial numbers. Apparently ghost guns aren’t treated as firearms under most U.S. gun control laws. But, not to worry – in practical terms, they’re as lethal as guns with serial numbers (and bonus: they’re easy to assemble).

H is for heartbeat – under Texas’ anti-abortion law – the Texas Heartbeat Law – anyone can bring a civil lawsuit (they’d be the plaintiff) against someone (they’d be the defendant) the plaintiff believes is involved in providing or facilitating the abortion of a fetus with a heartbeat. I wonder, do the folks who are anti-science (and don’t trust vaccines, for example) realize that we have science to thank for fetal heartbeat monitors?  

I is for is ivermectin – a medication meant for horses that, apparently, some people think is safer than the Covid vaccines millions of people have taken. How is this even a thing??

J is for Just-in-Time (JIT) inventory systems – turns out, JIT doesn’t work so well when shipping grinds to a halt.

K is for Kabul – you know, that city of over 4.5 million in Afghanistan that the U.S. and its allies couldn’t get out of fast enough as they abandoned the country in August. 

L is for legal fees – leave it to Texas to take the sting out of legal fees you may incur if you sue someone. Under Texas’ Heartbeat Law (see H, above) if someone (a plaintiff) brings a civil action under this law and they win, in addition to receiving damages of at least $10,000, the person they sued (the defendant) must pay the plaintiff’s legal fees. If a plaintiff loses in such a suit, however, they aren’t on the hook for the defendant’s legal fees – after all, Texas wouldn’t want to do anything that might discourage anti-abortion plaintiffs from suing.

M is for Miller vs. Bonta – a case in the U.S. District Court for the southern district of California that overturned California’s 30-year-old assault weapons ban. In the decision, which was handed down on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Judge Roger Thomas Benitez termed the ban a “failed experiment”

N is for non-fungible tokens – if you don’t know what these are, you’re better off. Even if they aren’t all scams, they’re a tremendous drain on the energy grid. I say, if you’ve got money to burn, why not just respond to one of those emails from a Nigerian prince or from someone who promises to transfer funds to as soon as you provide them with your bank account number.

O is for Omicron – with a lower case “o”, omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. But, with a capital “O”, it’s the current variant of concern related to Covid. Unless the folks naming the variants are just choosing random letters, it’s a bit scary to think that there have been so many variants of concern already! Let’s hope the world doesn’t learn more letters of the Greek alphabet in 2022 – or any other names for Covid variants, for that matter.

P is for predicted – Despite Biden saying no one expected Omicron, scientists who model pandemics told us that as long as there are many people who do not have defenses against the virus (because, for example, they’re not vaccinated) the virus would mutate. See D and O, above.

Q is for the Queen – say what you will about monarchy, I think Queen Elizabeth’s strength, stamina, and grace are remarkable. I hope that in 2022 she’s able to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee in recognition of 70 years of service on the throne.

R is for Reddit and Robinhood – on an internet forum (Reddit) a group of retail investors started buying up shares of GameStop, which started the year selling at about U.S.$17. Apparently the Redditt group were trying to make a point because they noticed that hedge funds where short selling GameStop. The Reddit users drove the price of GameStop up, causing big losses for the hedge funds. Then, in late January, a popular investing app (Robinhood) that allows users to do certain trades for free, stepped in and prevented users from buying Game Stop shares on their platform (at this point the shares were trading at about U.S.$348). This series of events brought outrage on both sides. The hedge funds called for the government to make short selling illegal and the Robinhood users were outraged that the trading platform didn’t allow them to trade as they wished. I see this as whole saga as an example of what happens when things are designed with the goal of being disruptive. 

S is for the shadow docket of the Supreme Court – this refers to rulings the U.S. Supreme Court makes through summary orders, without the need to write an opinion and without pesky things like multiple rounds of briefings and oral arguments. A prime example was the Supreme Court’s granting of an emergency injunction in April blocking California’s Covid-based restrictions on in-home gatherings. Such rulings have been around for awhile, but the current Court is issuing them way more than the Court has in the past: from October 2020 through April 2021, it issued at least 20 rulings from the shadow docket. Of course, just because something happens in the shadows doesn’t mean it won’t have wide-ranging impact. 

T is for trust – without trust in those who govern, society will fall apart. Question is, can such trust be regained? Maybe the answer to that lies in asking ourselves who gains if trust in government isn’t re-built.

U is for unusual and unreal – the latest twist on ways of monetizing one’s home certainly struck me as unusual: people renting out their pool by the hour through Swimply. What’s unreal is how much people apparently are willing to pay by the hour to swim in someone’s pool. Sonny Mayugba, Swimply’s vice-president of growth, says that some folks are clearing $100,000 for the season.  

V is for vaccine – the Christmas gift science gave the world in 2020. The 2021 news about this phenomenal gift is not exactly what the public health experts had hoped for, however. In 2021, where vaccines were widely available many people were too stupid or stubborn to get it and where vaccines were not plentiful, millions wait to get it.  

W is for walked away – that’s what the world did in (or, more accurately, did to) Afghanistan this year.

X is for double x – I never realized there are two x’s in vaxxed. Did you?

Z is for Zoom bookshelves and other fake backgrounds people use during on-line meetings – the proliferation of such meetings led to people ordering customized fake backdrops, including bookshelves designed to reflect one’s interests and/or political bent

I thank you for reading On being… and I wish you and yours a safe, healthy, and fulfilling 2022. 

© 2021 Ingrid Sapona


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