Reading Michael Lewis's new book, "The Premonition: A Pandemic Story," for some reason reminded me of the Albert Einstein quote: "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will get you everywhere."
"The Premonition," in the same way that Lewis used in books such as "The Fifth Risk," "The Big Short," and "Moneyball," celebrates imagination - mostly, in this case, as it is found in the unknown doctors, scientists and public health officials who, long before anyone ever knew what Covid-19 was, had a passion for figuring out how to combat a pandemic efficiently and effectively.
The book has an extraordinary cast of characters and a wonderful way of portraying their quixotic belief that the United States was ideally positioned to deal with the next pandemic, whenever it would come. (It is worth noting that in "The Premonition," Covid-19 does not show up until about halfway through the book.) However, reality taught them a painful lesson - that there was a kind of rot eating away at the nation's public health foundation, enabled by politics though not attributable to any one person's politics, that made it difficult, even near impossible, to deal with a pandemic to the degree necessary.
I must admit that I was surprised at the degree to which "The Premonition" sparked competing, conflicting emotions as I read it. To some degree, I felt hope - there are a lot of really smart people working for various government agencies, not interested in fame or fortune, but completely committed to the public good. (I've read some criticisms of these folks as "medical elites." but if that's true, they give elitism a good name - they are simply smarter than everyone else, able to see patterns and probabilities that most cannot.) But at the same time, I found myself dispirited by a system that seems largely built to diminish or squash their contributions. I find myself worrying about the observation made by a member of one team, an immigrant from Poland, who looks at the US public health system and observes, "These are the symptoms of a failed state."
It is interesting reading a book like "The Premonition" at this point in time, when there seems to be so much hope about the pandemic receding into memory. The real problem, Lewis suggests, is a corrosive attitude toward the public good that, if we've dodged this bullet (and that's hard to argue when more than 600,000 people have died), doesn't mean we'll survive the next skirmish, the next battle, or, heaven help us, the next war.
Read Michael Lewis's "The Premonition." It is as thought-provoking a book as I can imagine for times like these.
There are few things in the world that I enjoy as much as what I would call a "pizza wine." Red. Uncomplicated, Great mouth-feel. Bold. Smooth.
Which is exactly how I would describe the 2018 Cesari Rosso Justo Veneto from Italy - we had it the other night when I made pizza on the grill, and it was perfect.
That's it for this week.
I hope you have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.
Stay safe. Be healthy.