Norman Lear’s work was an integral part of American life in the second half of the 20th Century. Television programs like Maude, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons dragged television out of the 1950s and into the real world. As Variety states: “Lear’s shows were the first to address the serious political, cultural and social flashpoints of the day – racism, abortion, feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam war – by working pointed new wrinkles into the standard domestic comedy formula. No subject was taboo: Two 1977 episodes of All in the Family revolved around the attempted rape of lead character Archie Bunker’s wife Edith.”
All in the Family, which ran on CBS from 1971 to 1979, typified the clash of generations. Middle-aged bigot Archie Bunker – played by Carrol O’Connor – was a right-wing King Lear in Queens, raging at the radical changes in society. Archie didn’t let ignorance get in the way of his opinions; once he argued that people who lived in communes were communists. The thing is, the old dog was actually capable of learning new tricks. Archie never evolved into any kind of saint. But over the nine seasons "Family" aired, experience taught Archie the benefits of listening to (and respecting) viewpoints far different from his own.
All in the Family was the jewel in Lear’s crown, but don’t forget the highly popular shows One Day at a Time (which featured Bonnie Franklin as a divorcee raising two daughters in the Midwest) and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (with Louise Lasser as the titular figure in a parody of soap opera conventions). Good or bad, Lear’s work was never indifferent.
More recently, you may have heard about Lear’s lively activism. His TV shows were themselves arguments for free and unfettered speech, and Lear supported a slate of liberal causes. In 1981 he founded People for the American Way. The organization’s website describes the ways that PFAW has “engaged cultural and community leaders and individual activists in campaigns promoting freedom of expression, civic engagement, fair courts, and legal and lived equality for LGBTQ people.”
Lear’s life was a long and fulfilling one. In 1978 he was given the first of two Peabody Awards, the most prestigious award in television. “To Norman Lear,” it reads, “...for giving us comedy with a social conscience. He uses humor to give us a better understanding of social issues. He lets us laugh at our own shortcomings and prejudices, and while doing this, maintains the highest entertainment standards.”
A pioneer, a gadfly of the state, a mensch. To paraphrase a lyric from All in the Family’s theme song, “Mister, we could use a guy like Norman Lear again.”
COVID-19 Part 4: New York Cases Plateau, Massachusetts Surges, the Rest of the U.S. Is Relatively Flat
COVID-19 updates from a Harvard physician.
By Anthony Lee, MD
Faculty, Harvard Medical School
As we make our way through this pandemic, the large number of cases in the United States has caught our attention and prompted much discussion. In Part 4 of this series, we examine the latest trends in cases and deaths in the 10 locations we've been following.
Much of the media continues to report absolute number of cases by location, which is misleading because a location's population matters in terms of what's known as local severity.
This is better described as case density, or the number of cases per capita. For example, if 10 out of 50 people were infected on a small grass field, the case density would be 20%. If 25 out of 500 people were infected on a larger grass field, the case density would be 5% even though there are more cases.
Therefore, even though 2.5 times more people were infected on a larger grass field, the case density would be 4 times less, and therefore the local severity would be less critical. The same is true for deaths per capita. With that in mind, here are the updated charts.
Figure 1: On a per 100,000 population basis, the rises for New York City and New York State are quite steep. When plotted with other locations, the plots of the other locations are squashed significantly and misrepresent the actual condition. Therefore, the plots of NYC and NYS have been removed for the sake of clarity. However, for the rates of change chart, NYC and NYS plots remain as they don't obscure the other plots significantly.
On the left of Figure 1, we see that Massachusetts is experiencing the largest surge in cases so far. It is said that Massachusetts may soon become the new epicenter of case growth in the US.
But to maintain perspective, NYS still carries 31% of all cases in the US and 9.9% of all cases in the world. By contrast, Massachusetts carries 5.2% of all cases in the US and 1.7% of all cases in the world. However, case density in Massachusetts has surpassed that of "The Rest of the US" (US-NYS) by more than a factor of 3, but less than half of NYS.
On the right of Figure 1, the number of daily new cases in Italy peaked on March 21st, 12 days after their lockdown with daily cases continuing to fall over the last 33 days. For NYS and NYC, the number of daily new cases peaked on April 9th, 23 days after social distancing began, and has continued to fall over the last 2 weeks.
For the UK, the number of daily new cases peaked on April 11th, 15 days after lockdown but 19 days since increasingly stringent social distancing began. This downward trend has been ongoing over the last 12 days.
For Ireland, the number of new cases peaked on April 11th but is currently escalating again. Belgium's number of new cases peaked on April 16th, but it's too early to tell if it will increase again. It looked as if Belgium was on a downward trajectory in terms of rates of change, but the country experienced a subsequent surge. The same holds true for Northern Ireland.
Sweden, like Massachusetts, is on a surge, but with much less magnitude.
Figure 2 illustrates the relative lag times between the peak of new cases and the peak of daily deaths. The arrows correlate to when the daily peak cases occurred (not the peak of deaths, although they may coincide by chance).
In general, deaths follow cases. One would expect that the peak of daily deaths for any location would arrive after the peak of daily new cases. This is true for Italy, where the peak of daily deaths occurred 7 days after the peak of daily new cases, which in turn occurred 12 days after lockdown. 19 days of lockdown were required to lessen Italy's death rate.
The UK needed 15 days of lockdown to simultaneously reduce both the number of daily new cases and the death rate. This could be because the UK may be under-testing, resulting in a delay of the peak of daily new cases.
It's also conceivable that the peak of new daily cases can arrive after the peak of the daily death rate. Further support for this notion is the fact that Ireland has a higher case density than the UK, yet the UK has a higher number of deaths per capita.
NYS required 24 days of social distancing to reduce the death rate; a reduction which occurred 1 day after the peak of daily new cases. Again, this could be due to the lack of testing. In NYC, deaths are on the rise again but to an unknown extent. The same is true for Massachusetts, Northern Ireland, Belgium, and Sweden. It's too early to tell what will happen in Ireland.
For "The Rest of the US," the death rate peaked 8 days ago, 29 days after social distancing was instigated.
Sources of data: Worldometer.com, Spectrum News NY1, New York State Department of Health, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, HSC Public Health Agency
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