The New Year is well underway and do we see anything different than previous years? Has “old acquaintance” been forgotten? I guess it never is. The following ran a year ago on SERENDIPITY and still applies today.

The Same Auld Lang Syne, by Rich Paschall

Another year has begun and we can see it is not exactly the same as days gone by. If “old acquaintance be forgot” as one year passes into another, then we would certainly like to forget the past year, not to mention the year before. The global pandemic which blasted forth in early 2020 was carried forward throughout 2021. If there were new divisions over the vaccine, old divisions remained too. Old hatred, old disputes, old ethnic and racial divisions, old border wars, and old religious battles carry on as if they will forever be remembered. Are these disagreements worth fighting over? Dying over?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
and never brought to mind? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
and days of auld lang syne?

In our neighborhood, just as in many around the world, we conclude our year wishing “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”  It is on our greeting cards and in our songs.  It appears in Christmas stories and is heard from pulpits and lecterns around the world. The invocations I used to read on Christmas Day, to those assembled at noon mass at a nearby church, included a call for world leaders to truly seek world peace. For this intention, I would say to the congregation, “We pray to the Lord.” They responded to my prayer by rote, since we have the same response to all our intentions, “Lord hear our prayer.”

The Lord may hear our prayer but I think He surely means for us to work at resolving the conflicts that plague the world, not to mention the pandemic which is a plague on the world. I am convinced not many really heard the intention or remembered it by the time they hit the pavement an hour later. Do we want a new beginning or will things continue in the same direction? Our history of this sort of thing suggests the answer.

Sometimes our world leaders do indeed seem to be making strides for peace, but these strides often suffer reversals when conflicts begin anew as they predictably do. While Presidents, prime ministers, and even royalty call for peace, how many are actually plotting retaliation and wars behind the scenes? In fact, we would all think our leaders were careless and irresponsible if they were not prepared to take up old battles at a moment’s notice or begin new ones if need be.

Even the current Pope, revered for his concerns for the poor, has condemned violent groups and urged the world not to be indifferent to the suffering they have caused. If we are not to be indifferent, then what are we to do? Is it a call for those facing conflict to continue the fight? Is it a call for outsiders to join in?

There are no easy answers to what is left of the Taliban, the warlords, and terrorist groups. If there had been, I wish we would have employed them by now. How about closer to home? What about racial profiling, police brutality, gun violence, and large prison populations? What of the street gangs and drug cartels? What of “organized crime” and the violence they are willing to commit? How many marches in the street will it take to rid us of the same old acquaintances we know through these oft-repeated scenes? Will marches alone bring peace to our homeland?

The sad truth of starting each year with a call for peace on earth is we end each year needing to renew the call again. Perhaps it would be best if old acquaintances could be forgotten, so we could start with a new and clean slate. There are, however, those who can not let go of the hate. They perpetuate the cultural divide. They do not wish to give up the fight or extend a hand across the aisle, the border, or the battlefield. Is this what we were taught? Did we say “Peace on Earth” when we really meant “Don’t let our enemies get any peace?” What messages are we really sending when we learn that the greeting card verses are more fiction than fact?

“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never be brought to mind?” Perhaps. And perhaps we need to start believing in the simple verses of seasonal songs and bring peace to the earth. The answers to our problems are actually there in many of those simple holiday songs. They have always been there. It is contained in a four-letter word we are afraid to use, especially when it comes to those we perceive as our enemies. Do you know that word?  Love, as in Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself. They know on the streets we can not continue to live with the past wrongs, some streets anyway.

Auld Lang Syne, or “old long since” is a Scottish poem by Robert Burns.  It was subsequently set to traditional folk music.  The modern question for us is, “Will we ever ‘take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne’?”

And there’s a hand my trusty friend! 
And give me a hand o’ thine! 
And we’ll take a right good-will draught, 
for auld lang syne.


The coming midterm elections might be the most important of your lifetime, considering the desire of some politicians to do away with our current democratic form of government. The following recently appeared on SERENDIPITY.

The Real Steal by Rich Paschall

Gerrymandering – The political manipulation of constituent districts to favor a political party.

If you are ever wondering why a congressional district has such weird-shaped boundaries, it is likely because the party in power drew the boundaries to favor themselves. If you do not want people of color to have representation, for example, then divide them up in such a way that there is no majority in one district. If that is almost impossible, then try to draw the boundaries so they get one district and no others. This can be done with ethnic minorities as well. This process has helped keep many old Republicans in power for decades.

If Republicans control the state redistricting map, as they do in most states, then they can draw the map to minimize the voting power of Democrats. Consider the Republican-controlled state of Ohio. The large cities like Cleveland and Toledo along the lake are likely to vote Democratic. If you can put them in their own districts with other likely-voting Democrats, you can minimize Democratic representation and send more Republicans to Congress. That’s exactly what they did. The dark blue districts have a majority of Democrats and the light blue districts are about 50/50 with a slight edge for Democratic voters. All the other districts are drawn in such a way as to favor Republicans. There are other tactics for the Republican-controlled state houses to use to try capturing light blue districts and strengthening their hold on red ones.

Ohio Congressional District map 2022

Voter suppression – reduce polling places

If you don’t want so many of your opponents’ voters casting their ballots, a good tactic may be to reduce the polling places in the areas where they are likely to vote. If Democratic voters are forced to travel long distances or stand in long lines, perhaps they will not bother to show up on election day. It may not change the outcome of district races in Democratic strongholds, but it may help to ensure certain outcomes in close races and at the statewide level.

Let’s take the great state of Kentucky, for example. Prior to the 2020 primary, Kentucky cut 95 percent of the polling places in the state. They reduced the number from about 3700 to 200. If you want the Republican senator to have a better chance of winning, let’s say, Mitch McConnell, you might want to have fewer polling places where Democrats vote. In Jefferson country, home to Louisville and half the black voters in the state, the number of polling places was reduced to one. That’s right! There was one polling place for approximately 616,000 registered voters. Some may not only consider this a tactic to defeat Democrats but a racist move to prevent people of color from casting their votes.

Between 2016 and 2020 (the Trump years) approximately 20 percent of the polling places in the US were closed. Of course, some states used COVID-19 as an excuse. There is no doubt that was an issue in the reduction. The extreme amount of cuts and their locations are certainly suspect decisions in many states.

Kentucky 2022 Final Congressional map

Voter Suppression – restrictive voting laws

Republican state legislatures from around the country have been busy in the last two years passing restrictive voting laws. In some cases, they appear to be targeting people of color who often vote Democratic. In the first half of 2021, 17 states passed 28 laws making it harder for people to vote. The Republican states often used THE BIG LIE (Trump’s false claim the 2020 election was stolen) as an excuse for passing such restrictive measures.

Challenges to two Arizona laws made it all the way to the Supreme Court last year. Not only did the high court uphold the Arizona laws, but some also argue that the decision erodes protections afforded under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If the Trump judges at the Appeals and Supreme Court levels were already willing to have a hand in “Destroying Justice,” don’t you think they would be willing to help in Destroying Democracy as well?

Voter Suppression – mail-in voting

The Trump-appointed postmaster general has been responsible for removing mailboxes, destroying sorting machines, and slowing down first-class delivery. If the mail is unreliable when it is election time, it may discourage some from using this process. This could mean that the sick, elderly, and poor may have no way to vote at all. Historically, these groups tend to vote Democratic. Trump’s postmaster is still in office. In case you are wondering, the current president can not remove him.

State Attorney General – election policies

Many states have seen a lot of advertising for Attorney General races. In some states where the election might be tight, Republicans are pouring a lot of money into the state in order to win this office. What is the increased interest in the state Attorney General?

You may recall that a certain Orange politician was encouraging the Georgia Secretary of State to find him some votes. “There’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, you’ve recalculated.” Georgia investigated the false claims of the then-president and certified the election for the opponent. Attorney General Chris Carr would not help the orange guy by overturning the election results. Now Republicans are hoping to put people in place who are willing to lie for the party and declare the loser to be the winner.

Independent State Legislature Theory – Moore vs. Harper

If none of the above-stated devices will put Republicans in federal offices, including the White House, then perhaps this one will. The theory asserts the proposition that it is the state legislatures that have the authority to determine the outcome of elections and may decide them as they feel appropriate. In other words, they can decide the results of a federal race no matter how the people of the state voted. Further, they could choose their own electors for the Electoral College, rather than the ones picked by the voters.

The ISL (Independent State Legislature) challenge made its way to the Supreme Court before and was rejected in 2015. That was before the Trump Judges. Now the high court has agreed to hear Moore vs. Harper, an ISL case that could throw democracy out the window. It would be a decision that would make Authoritarian rulers, like Russia, North Korea, and China, proud. Will the ultra-conservative court help Republicans appoint the next ruler and have a hand in Destroying Democracy?

Sources include: “Princeton Gerrymandering Project,” Princeton University,, 2022.
Kentucky Slashes Number of Polling Places Ahead of Primary—Especially Where Black Voters Live,” by Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, June 21,2020.
The US Eliminated Nearly 21,000 Election Day Polling Locations for 2020,” by Cameron Joseph, Rob Arthur, Vice News, October 22, 2020.
Report: Republican-Led State Legislatures Pass Dozens of Restrictive Voting Laws in 2021,” by Horus Alas, US News & World Report, July 2, 2021.
Georgia officials fact-check an infamous Trump phone call in real-time,” by Rachel Treisman, NPR, June 21,2022
6 battleground state attorney general races to watch in 2022,” by Nicole Narea, VOX, July 21, 2022.
See also: Destroying Justice,” SERENDIPITY, August 28, 2022.


The following appeared last year on this date on SERENDIPITY. You will read about my Columbia-American “family” member below.

Civics 101 by Rich Paschall

Most of us are Americans because we were born here. We did not have to meet any special requirements. We did have to learn about our history and our government, however.  When I was in 8th grade we had to take a Civics class. Basically, it taught us how the government works, or how it is supposed to work anyway. We were told if we did not pass Civics and a test on the Constitution, we would not graduate from Elementary School. We studied hard. Never underestimate the power of a nun tapping a three-sided ruler on the palm of her hand to put the fear of God as well as the fear of not graduating in you. You certainly did not want to take 8th grade twice with Sister Angela Rosary. Yes, I went to Catholic school.

In recent years you might wonder if they still teach Civics. There are a lot of people with very little knowledge of our history or our government. Even some of our elected officials have demonstrated a remarkable lack of knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. What if they had to pass a test to be an elected official, or even to be a citizen? How many of them would fail the test?

Those who wish to emigrate to the United States to become citizens will learn that the process is long, hard, and expensive. In the end, you must demonstrate you are a good citizen and pass a Civics test. There are a hundred questions, but you will only get ten. You must get a passing grade to become an American. OK, class, get out your Number 2 pencils and get ready to take your test. These are actual questions asked by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). No, I did not steal them. Practice tests using the actual questions are on the website for applicants to study. Will you become a citizen today?

01. How many amendments does the Constitution have? a). 27  b). 10  c). 23  d). 21
02. Name one problem that led to the Civil War.  a). westward expansion b). slavery c). oil d). sugar
03. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?  a). 9  b). 10  c). 12  d). 11
04. Who did the United States fight in World War II?  a). Japan, Germany, Italy b). Japan, China, Vietnam c). the Soviet Union, Germany, and Italy d). Austria-Hungary, Japan, Germany
05. What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for?  a). U.S. diplomat b). the youngest member of the Constitutional convention c). the third president of the United States d). inventor of the airplane

A flag over the Mumford.

06. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?  a). because the stripes represent the members of the Second Continental Congress b). because the stripes represent the original colonies c). because it was considered lucky to have 13 stripes on a flag d). because the stripes represent the number of signatures on the U.S. Constitution
07. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s.  a). Korean War b). Mexican-American War c). World War I  d). World War II
08. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?  a). freed slaves in most Southern states b). gave the United States independence from Great Britain c). ended World War I  d). gave women the right to vote
09. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?  a). James Madison b). Abraham Lincoln c). George Washington d). Thomas Jefferson
10. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?  a). Civil War b). Spanish-American War c). Vietnam War d). World War II

Bonus Question:
Who is the current President?  a). Barack Obama b). Joe Biden c). Donald Trump d). Harry S. Truman

Put your pencils down and pass your tests forward to the angry-looking nun in the front of the room. Please note that if you picked an orange politician for the Bonus Question, you fail even if you got the 10 questions right.

Arriving at Chicago O’Hare

You may have met my friend John right here at the SERENDIPITY gathering place. He has been the subject of a few articles you may have read, although I may have just referred to him as “roomie” or roommate. He was also the inspiration for various characters that have appeared in my stories.  I also used pictures of John to illustrate some stories. Some of the pictures for a series of South American short stories were shot from the roof of John’s building in Medellin. He waited thirteen months for a visa to come to America. I collected him at Chicago O’Hare on the day he left his country for good.

He spent years learning English and assimilating into our culture. He had just one goal. He wished to become a US citizen.  It was a difficult journey.  After his application was accepted last November he studied the 100 questions while he waited for his interview and that Civics test. He was given an appointment in May for an interview and a test. By the time he went, he probably knew history and government better than some Americans. We discussed many of these events, institutions, and politicians as we waited.

One day the letter finally arrived. John had a date at the Everett Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. On June 17th he became an American. Would you have passed the test?

US Citizenship papers

Answer key: 1. a, 2. b, 3. a, 4. a, 5. a, 6. b, 7. b, 8. a. 9. d. 10. d.


Newton Minnow is still around and still has opinions on the value of television. The following ran last year on SERENDIPITY.

The State of Television, by Rich Paschall

When the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission spoke to the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington, DC, he began his speech as one might expect. He offered praise for the “noble profession” of broadcasting. He told the group, “When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.” It was a good beginning for the new Chairman giving his first speech. Then he added: “But when television is bad, nothing is worse.”

He challenged the group to watch their own channel, “and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you.”  Then the Chairman offered his brutally honest opinion. “I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.” It is a line that has echoed through the FCC ever since.

In 1961 we had a 19-inch “portable” black and white television set. They called it portable because it had a handle on top so you could pick it up and carry it. It had a cathode ray picture tube along with a number of smaller tubes inside. It was really heavy. Putting a handle on top did not make it portable. We kept it on a TV stand with wheels. That’s what made it portable.

Our television received the three major networks via channels 2, 5, and 7. The local independent television station WGN-TV was on channel 9. It was particularly popular with us for covering Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball home games. It also carried our favorite kids’ programs. There was Educational Television on Channel 11, a member station of National Education Television (NET). Channel 11 (WTTW) had limited broadcast hours. That was it. There were just 5 VHF channels, no cable, no satellite, and no internet.

The stations did not always come in clearly. This meant I had to get up and adjust the television antenna. After I got the picture to come in as good as possible, I would start to walk away from the TV, only to reverse course and adjust the “rabbit ears” some more.

Martin, Tennessee 1960s. The pole on the upper left is the antenna.

When my grandparents moved to Martin, Tennessee, they had to have a tall antenna to bring in stations from Paduch, Kentucky, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. As long as CBS was clear, they were satisfied. My grandmother watched one soap opera in the afternoon and my grandfather watched Walter Cronkite in the evening. There was not much else to see in the “vast wasteland” of television as far as they were concerned.  Of course, in 1961 in the south, and for many years after, you could see The Porter Wagoner Show. I recall pretending to watch that a number of times, but I digress.

Newton Minow was a young lawyer and chair of the local NET station in Chicago when President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the Federal Communications Commission.  They felt strongly that television needed to be better, especially in the Cold War era. They also felt children’s programming needed to improve as well.

It was sixty years ago this month that Minow surprised the FCC with his honest assessments of the television industry. The “vast wasteland” speech generated a lot of publicity and some would say it changed television.  Well, it startled some executives, anyway.

Minow pushed the All-Stations Receivers Act in 1961 requiring all televisions sold in the US to receive UHF as well as VHF channels. This led to more stations. He also helped start non-profit educational television, which we know today as PBS. Minow thought his most important accomplishment was legislation that would pave the way for telecommunication satellites.  He told President Kennedy, “communications satellites will be much more important than sending man into space because they will send ideas into space.”

While Minow was exerting great influence over television, not everyone was fond of him as chairman. Years later it was noted that the creator of Gilligan’s Island named the shipwrecked boat the SS Minnow as a jab at Minow’s tenure.

So what does the telecommunications lawyer think of television today? He believes that because television is vaster it is less of a wasteland.  Nonetheless, there are problems today. “We’ve enlarged choice, and at the same time I think we have a serious problem in our news reporting where facts and opinion are mixed up together, where we no longer have agreement on what is a fact.” There is no such thing as “alternative” facts.

Minow believes the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated, requiring broadcasters to present both sides of an issue. “If you don’t agree on facts I don’t see how you can have a civilized discussion,” Minow said. Recent history will bear out the veracity of that statement.

Source: “The Scathing Speech That Made Television History,” by Lily Rothman,, May 9, 2016.
Still a ‘Vast Wasteland’? Newton Minow Reflects on the State of Television,” by Marissa Nelson,, May 10, 2021.


It is now over two years since we were sent to work from home. The following appeared last year on SERENDIPITY. I have since “retired” but continue to work part-time for the airline from home. Do you know anyone who wants to work in air freight?

One Year On, by Rich Paschall

Sunset at O’Hare

It was just one year ago when our boss called the whole group into the conference room for a meeting. The odd thing about it was that after a year at the airline, I don’t recall the boss ever having a meeting with our whole group in a conference room.  Nevertheless, we all headed over there.

It’s a nice conference room. It seemed to get more use as a place to gather for milestone birthdays and milestone work anniversaries. We had gone there for cake or pizza or other goodies. Some actually used it for work meetings, I hear. We were not a group inclined to have meetings. This was going to be different.

After a few opening remarks that I have since forgotten, the boss told us to pack up and go home. The global pandemic seemed to be getting much worse very quickly and we were going to try working from home for a while. Although we did not know how long it would last, we were assured we would be called back in a short time. “Take whatever you think you will need, laptops, docking stations, cords, monitors, anything else to do your jobs.”  Yes, we had to give the company tag numbers to the boss for the computer equipment and then get out. It was Friday, the 13th.

At the end of 2019, the office had been redesigned and remodeled.  The airline was doing well and some assets were being improved for future use. Walls were moved, and new equipment was purchased. Everything looked great. We were to have a grand re-opening celebration in April 2020 when the weather improved. The plan was to invite the freight companies that did business with us. The celebration went on permanent hold.

While the remodeling work was being done, we temporarily moved to an office formerly used by another airline. We had more than enough room to work for a couple of months. The irony was that when we moved equipment to the temporary space and then moved it back, we worked from home for a couple days. We used some new processes that eventually became a lifeline. Microsoft teams were a way to share files and chat with one another while we were out of the office. We learned to use company websites remotely. We figured out how to work from home in an emergency. No one could have imagined in late 2019 that a worldwide emergency was knocking at our collective door.

The Monday through Friday staff left. We went back on March 14th for one more day. At the end of a Saturday, I moved my car as close to the outside door as possible and loaded up some items from my desk. I had a large workspace in the office, I was not sure exactly where I was going to work at home.

By the end of March, some people had been given what was planned to be a two-month furlough. It was hoped that by the end of May things would start to improve and the airline business would start getting back to normal. When two months passed, things were worse. Planes were grounded, staff retired or left the country, and others had to be let go. As each month passed we had hoped it would just be another month or two and things would improve. We could then go back to that nice office at the airport.

By mid-summer talk of returning had stopped. We had successfully worked at home for months, why hurry back? We did hope that by the end of the year passengers would return and the airline would be back to around 50 percent capacity. Later that wish turned into 30 percent. It was about 10 percent as the year ended and is no better now.

While many were waiting for things to return to “normal,” and some still are, it became apparent that there will be no return. There will be a new normal someday and we are getting a glimpse now at what that might be. Technology has led to more remote working. There are virtual meetings and shared files, all online. People don’t have to sit in traffic. Companies may be wondering now why they need big offices when much of the workforce can work from home, or from Starbucks for that matter.

One member of our group lives in Hawaii. Another went down to Texas for part of the winter. They can book freight from Chicago O’Hare International airport just as easily as from an office in Chicago.  In fact, we do take care of much of the country.

We may all go back this year when everyone is vaccinated and the company feels it is safe. We have a nice workspace to return to. On the other hand, another year may go by and I could retire. In that case, I would only be returning to bring back the computer and monitors. It’s going to be a somewhat brave new world.


UPDATE: This article originally ran a year ago on SERENDIPITY.  Since then the airline I work for has reached about 30 percent passenger capacity. That is well short of last year’s projection. The effects of the pandemic linger on.  Some 767s were sold to a company that will convert them to cargo freighters. The airline will lease some back as another step in reinventing its business model.

Reinventing Ourselves, by Rich Paschall

When I was much younger, perhaps late teens, and throughout my twenties, I used to like to go down to State Street, “That Great Street,” in Chicago. It was alive in much the same way as Time Square and Broadway in New York were. And yes, just like NYC, our downtown had a somewhat seedy period, but that came later.

“On State Street, that great street
I just want to say
They do things that they don’t do on Broadway, say…”

I particularly liked to go downtown in December to see all the Christmas decorations. Marshall Field’s, the giant department store, had Christmas windows filled with mechanical people, trains, cars, and all sorts of moving parts to marvel at. I was just like the children gathered around the windows to get a good look at the displays. Our fantasy world was mechanical back then. Today it is video, but I digress.

Marshall Field’s at Christmas.  Photo credit: Richie Diesterheft

There was a time when I would plan to do my Christmas shopping, sometimes all of it, on Christmas Eve. I could arrive at the Red Line subway stop right in front of the historic Chicago Theater and go first to Field’s. I might not buy anything there because it was the most expensive stop, but if you went downtown, you had to go there.

After the visit to Field’s and perhaps a purchase of Frango Mints, off I would go to Carson Pirie Scott, Montgomery Ward’s, Sears, Wieboldt’s, Goldblatt’s, JC Penny. By the time I got to the last of the giant department stores, I would buy everything else I may have needed. Then I could go right out to a subway stop at the other end of State Street and head home. It was a marvelous adventure and has always brought happy memories of downtown at Christmas.

The stores are gone now. Every single one of them is gone. Marshall Field’s is now Macy’s. They have kept the Marshall Field’s plaque outside the building below the famous clock, so as not to upset the locals. They also have Frango Mints. These are the only throwbacks to those days. Except for that one grand store, the department stores of State Street have all been replaced by other businesses or torn down.

Times changed. They did not. Instead of transforming themselves for the future, they waited for the past to come back. It didn’t. I saw these great stores disappear one by one. Ward’s, Sears, Wieboldt’s, and Goldblatt’s all had large stores in our neighborhood. When Sears had the motto “Sears Has Everything,” they really did. From washing machines to stoves to clothes, that was our favorite store. Gone.

It is the same with many businesses. As motivational speaker Simon Sinek likes to point out, these are not unprecedented times. Major shifts in business have come before. This one is just “more sudden, absolutely. More shocking, absolutely.”

He gives several good examples we all know are true. The internet changed business. Some companies are surviving now because they have changed the way they work. In Chicago during a period of lockdown, one small clothing shop gave virtual tours of the store and video displays of the clothes. When delivery and pickup were available, people could tour the store online, pick out and pay for what they wanted, and drive to the business, where an employee would come to the curb to hand them their purchases.

Restaurants are gone for good after being out of business for months. Others survived by reinventing themselves as online products. They found their way to Yelp and partnered with Grubhub, Door Dash, Uber Eats.  Reinvention saved them.

Sinek likes to note that Starbucks did not put the local coffee shops out of business. They offered a newer version, and the old-time shops refused to change. Why would I go to a shop with an old worn-out sofa and year-old magazines, when I could go to one with the latest newspapers, a variety of beverages, pastries, and sandwiches, and importantly for millennials, wifi?

I work for a major airline that is operating at 5 to 10 percent capacity on any given day. Most of its fleet is grounded. It has lost 20,000 people from its workforce. Facilities around the globe go unused. Business disruptions and government regulations eliminated many flight destinations.

The airline industry believed back in March that they could regain 90 percent of their pre-COVID business by December. Now the hope is 50 percent. As the novel coronavirus continues to surge in certain countries, the USA for example, so the hope to recover your business any time soon is fading.

In 2012 Air Canada had launched Rouge, a subsidiary to more effectively compete in the low-cost tourist/vacation travel industry. It was looking at other growth opportunities to serve the ever-growing luxury tourist trade. Their business model was built around these expanding travel markets. That dream has taken off as the last flight from the battleground.

So what is a passenger airline with no passengers to do? The Canadian government is not going to hand the airline billions of Canadian dollars to help it through to the time when business returns to “normal.” The new normal is right around the corner and it does not look like it did in January.

They have to reinvent themselves of course. The 767 Boeing aircraft are being retired early. Accelerating this process for an older part of the fleet only makes sense. They were not being used anyway. Some of the planes had the seats removed to put freight on top, but this is a stop-gap measure. The main deck has no cargo door so this is labor-intensive. Other planes fill the belly entirely for cargo runs, but the seats are not removed. Mail, e-commerce partnership, and cargo and business charter runs are added to the new business model.

What about underserved areas of Canada? The airline has entered into a drone partnership. The initial run was to indigenous people who live on an island. There are many far-flung communities that can be served through a combination airline, drone service.

Without adapting and changing, airlines will die. Some already have gone under while others stay afloat through government bailouts. There are those, including a prominent orange so-called politician, waiting for things to go back to the way they were. We have news for them. It is not going to happen.


What is right for all? Is it absolute freedom? As we hope to be finally seeing light at the end of the long Pandemic tunnel, we must still be reminded of the truth we started with. This commentary appeared last year on SERENDIPITY (

Stay at Home, Save Lives, by Rich Paschall

While we accept the precept of “freedom of speech,” we also understand that it does not apply to everything in all situations. As you probably have heard often, we are not allowed to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is none. This could cause a stampede for the exits and put some people at risk of being hurt or killed in the panic.

Similarly, you can not shout out in a crowd that you see a gun when there is none. Due to the types of mass shootings, we have seen in recent years, we know that there could be a panic that could cause harm.

You are also forbidden to engage in the type of speech that would incite a riot. Hate speech in gatherings could, in turn, result in attacks either at a rally, let say, or following in the days to come. There may be a politician or two who have gotten away with this, but that’s another matter.

There are laws against slander and libel as the defamation they bring may cause harm to groups or individuals. While we see misinformation spread often on social media, doing so as a respected news source could bring danger to others. A well-known News network is being sued by a Washington State group for issuing false news in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Yes, the Constitution promised you freedom of speech, but that does not mean you can say whatever you like. Where there are dangerous consequences to what you say, you can be held liable for your remarks. Don’t you wish that also applied to Orange politicians, but I digress?

There is also “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” but it doesn’t mean you can gather a large group wherever you want. Try to form a parade down State Street (that great street) without a permit and see how far you get.  You can not take over a baseball diamond in a public park if another group holds a permit. You can not have the pavilion at the local forest preserve if another group holds a permit. In fact, we have many regulations regarding the assembly of large crowds. It is not uncommon to post limits of assembly, many by fire codes that are enforced by the local government.

It’s a free country, or is it?

You have probably heard of people who do not want to shelter at home during the COVID-19 outbreak. They insist it is a free country and they can do what they like. The government is not going to tell them what to do. They have their constitutional rights. But do they have such rights?

The Constitutionality of the restrictions we have described above has been tested in courts and upheld. Local and national governments not only have the right to impose such restrictions on the public, but they also have a duty to do so.

Scientific evidence has told us that the only way to “flatten the curve,” in other words lessen the spread of the virus, is to keep a “social distance.” This has caused many at the state and local levels to impose restrictions. Some do not want to abide.

You can find plenty of examples of people who did not want to social distance and observe the restrictions, who have died of the virus. They not only put themselves at risk, but they also put others at risk as well.  They do not have that right.

Social Contract

Many of the authors of The Constitution were certainly well aware of the philosophical writings of John Locke (The Second Treatise of Government), Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Du Contrat social). These works would have greatly influenced their thinking about forming a new national government. They knew that members of society must agree to give up certain rights for the good of society as a whole. It is a “contract” we have as a member of society, to act in a way that benefits all. It is the greatest good for the greatest number.

“That a man be willing, when others are so too (as farre-forth, as for Peace, and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.” – Thomas Hobbes

In other words, we must do what is right for all. Those who think they can assemble as they please, including at religious services, are misinformed and violating the laws of nature, science, and the social contract. No one has the right to go out and spread the virus. They are not immune. They are not free to do as they like. Governors (Republicans all) who refuse to issue stay-at-home orders, or allow large exemptions (think Easter services), are not acting in the interest of the greatest good for the greatest number.

Let’s put it in a way that may drive the point home. There is a post going around social media that may illustrate the problem of some states practicing social distancing, and others ignoring the advice.  We must “ lay down this right to all things; and be contented” because it is the only reasonable course of action.

Sources: “Leviathan,” Thomas Hobbes,
Washington State Group Is 1st to Sue Fox News for Calling Coronavirus a ‘Hoax’,” by ken Stone, April 2, 2020.
The Social Contract,” Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
Social Contract,”


Stay at Home, Save Lives, by Rich Paschall

While we accept the precept of “freedom of speech,” we also understand that it does not apply to everything in all situations. As you probably have heard often, we are not allowed to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is none. This could cause a stampede for the exits and put some people at risk of being hurt or killed in the panic.

Similarly, you can not shout out in a crowd that you see a gun when there is none. Due to the types of mass shootings we have seen in recent years, we know that there could be a panic that could cause harm.


You are also forbidden to engage in the type of speech that would incite a riot. Hate speech in gatherings could, in turn, result in attacks either at a rally, let say…

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This week on SERENDIPITY we talk about taking a look backward at your younger self. What advice would you give? Here is my look backward as crazy and uncomfortable as it may be. 

Letter to my younger self: Taking a tough look back

Dear Rich (at 14),

I know you are going through a tough time right now and you have learned to clam up about it.  You don’t know who to tell or even who to trust so you build walls of defense around your personal life.  These walls will not serve you well over time, I am sorry to tell you.  I can say it is good you did not run away, although you probably did not have the courage to do that anyway.  Your parents are going through an ugly time.  When they sold the house and got an apartment, you and your brother both knew it was a mistake.  The worst part about it is they made that mistake, they thought, for you.  It was to see you through grade school, but it should have ended when it was over.

At 14

The good thing about the apartment was the large bedroom and large walk-in closet.  It was an actual closet you could go hide in when necessary.  Too bad you only lived there for a year.  In this time you will take refuge frequently at a Boys Club where you have been a member and played sports, even though you were not real good at sports.  You are further away from the club now so school, a few friends, and the Club will keep you away from home most of the time.

Soon you will learn that the first person interested in you sexually is another boy.  He is a year behind you in school, but not very much younger in reality.  He seemed quite experienced next to your naiveté.  The brief friendship will weigh heavily on your Catholic, guilt-ridden conscience.  You will come to terms with this, although it will take you years to do so.  Many years later you will learn from your mother that this boy married (a girl) and still lives in the old neighborhood.  You will have moved to another area and stayed put for years.  I write to you from there and I can tell you that we found employment at the Club for a while and spent many years playing in that same park you found as a kid.  These will be good memories.

Photo by cottonbro on

While you attend high school proms and college dances with girlfriends, you will discover there are other boys who find you “cute.”  You never thought of yourself as cute or handsome so these attentions may seem a bit confusing.  When you get hit on by the younger brother of a close friend, you fear that the world will soon know all about it.  Don’t worry, no one knows.  At least, I think no one knows.  Other boys travel through your life, but none stay.  I think that is largely due to your stubborn attitude about most things.  I guess it is less so from where I am at now.

You will come to believe, perhaps rightly so, that your various groups of friends, and various lifestyles, will not mix well so you make sure they don’t mix at all.  This is a talent you picked up when you were very young.  Within these several groups, people only see one side of you and may believe that is all there is.  It is a defense mechanism on your part and I must tell you that in the long run, it is not beneficial.  You are solidly convinced right now that you are doing the right thing, but people will leave your life not knowing who you really are.  That will make you sad.  It is a hard time to be open, but I am convinced your friends will stand beside you, even as they do now.  Would you be surprised to learn that your closest friends after college and for many more years to come are mostly from your high school days, both from your class and a few that followed?  When you finally let them get to know you, they remain your close friends.  You will also make new and younger friends right about now.  They will be great friendships, perhaps because they really know you.  Well, I guess I am not certain about that, however.

Photo by Pixabay on

I would like to warn you that after high school and college you will make a lot of stupid mistakes.  You will invest time in meaningless friendships and all for the wrong reasons.  Dare I tell you of the beating you will take for who you are and the scars it will leave on your face and your spirit?  You were not going to have your class portrait taken for graduating from NEIU because it was soon after, but they convince you to come.  Your face will be bruised and battered from what they would now call a hate crime.  The photographer tells you that you can reject all the pictures and you are convinced you will.  I am glad to tell you they come out OK.  We would call it photoshopping now but you will know that they did a great job of airbrushing the pictures.  I still don’t know exactly what that process is but it worked well.  I do not think my words of caution will do much good since I know you so well.  Would you steer a better course if I showed you the way?  I fear not, since you remain stubborn.

Despite the mistakes and the downtimes that will follow, I need to tell you this one very important thing.  It gets better.  Those three words will almost be a cliché by the time you get to where I am now, but it is true.  You will find many around you who will say the same.  It is the only thing I can tell you that matters.  I can not alter your course, but I swear to you that it gets better.  Please believe me.

Your future friend,


See Also: “A Glance Backward,” Serendipity, Sunday, February 21, 2021.


What are your post-election thoughts? Here are some of mine. Be sure to click on “view original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of this article.


From The Battleground, by Rich Paschall

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” – Matthew 12:25

Many were expecting a Blue Wave to wash over Washington and take away the Republican Party in a sea of reason and renewal. It was believed that the American people would collectively come to their senses and remove the hypocrites and liars from office. Depending upon how you look at it, the election was barely a ripple. In fact, while the orange menace may have been removed, it was more of a red sea than blue.

It was expected the Democrats would make gains in the House and possibly take the Senate majority as well.  Not only did they lose a significant number of seats in the House of Representatives, but they may also have failed to take control of the…

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This is a short story of politics and resistance. It is a mythical time and a mystical place, or is it? Be sure to click on “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of the story.


Resistance, a short story by Rich Paschall

After Durward Tower narrowly won his election to the Presidency late in the century, he declared that he had a landslide victory. It was a mandate by the people to make big changes needed by the country. The wealthy leaders of the Congress and of big business helped to spread this myth. It was to their economic advantage to do so.

The many appointments to the courts gave Tower supreme control of the judiciary. Many were not actually qualified for their roles, but they would support any case for which Tower had an interest.

Both houses of the legislature also bowed to the whims and wishes of the so-called Leader. The minority party had little to say and much less money to say it. By the midterm elections, Durward Tower considered himself the Supreme Leader of the land.

All during his time in…

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