Like a tube-train up your spine
Will the tightrope reach the end
Will the final couplet rhyme?” — Roger Waters
Sometimes our worlds are just a bunch of numbers. I certainly feel that way sometimes. Officially I am called a support facilitator and case manager at work. So, I essentially have two jobs. The first job requires that I support special education students in English classes. So, I officially support 10th grade and 11th grade English students with three different teachers.
That job varies from year to year. Sometimes I support 12th grade students as well and occasionally I support students in classes other than English. However, managing numbers is key. I am the first line of defense for that student in that class to make sure they keep up with their assignments. I work with the other case managers to make sure all of our students are succeeding.
As a case manager, I have between 15 and 20 students that I monitor every year. I write goals for their annual reviews and write many of the other parts of their annual review (called ARDs). I also make sure they are passing all of their classes. That means spending much of the week looking at grades and talking with their teachers and parents.
As you might imagine, I deal with numbers a lot. Anyone that knows me knows that I also look at numbers in my spare time. Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated with baseball statistics. The lifelong fascination has led to four books on baseball with my last one coming during the pandemic. In fact, that is how this site got its name.
One of the hardest lessons to learn is that numbers are neither good nor bad. They can be both depending on the situation. A 65 in English III is a bad number for me, but if you said a player had 65 home runs that would be terrific. You see two numbers in the headline and without context there is no telling whether those numbers are good or bad.
We will start with 70,000. That number was revealed yesterday during an MSNBC interview. That is the number of people that registered to vote in Georgia between election day and the time of that broadcast. How does this happen? A number of possibilities come to mind. The most likely possibility is that someone turned 18 after the deadline to register for the presidential election. If they turned 18 sometime in October or November they could register for the runoff election.
A little over 40 percent of those new registers are African-American. That by itself means nothing. The election doesn’t take place until January 6th. While many have voted early or voted by mail, we will not know how that 70,000 will impact the runoff elections. We could surmise based on past experience that younger voters and African American voters would vote Democratic for the most part, you can never know for sure.
It has been said that many of the 70,000 registered because of the fight over the stimulus currently going on in Congress. Many pundits feel there would be no stimulus at all without the runoff elections. So, you can thank Georgia for at least 600 dollars and the drama over the possibility of getting 2000 dollars is still playing out.
The 41 number is in reference to representative-elect Louis Letlow’s tragic death yesterday. He was set to represent northern Louisiana in Congress before he succombed to COVID-19. He was only 41 years old. There is no possible way to couch that number as anything but tragic. Only a sociopathic jackass would treat such a death any other way.
Apparently, he was one of more than 3700 deaths yesterday. That is a record that will almost certainly be broken at some point between now and January 20th when Joe Biden takes office. If we conservatively average 3000 deaths per day between now and then, we will see the national death toll clear 400,000 before inauguration day.
Again, I have gone through a parade of numbers. Numbers are neither good nor evil. They aren’t good or bad until we attach meaning to them. For the Letlow family, one is all that matters. He was a father of young children. He leaves behind a young mother that now must raise those children on her own. By all accounts he was a good man and a good father. They don’t care about those 3700 other people right now and no one could blame them. They only care about the one they lost.
2020 is about to come to an end. Again, that is just a number. Turning the calendar over to 2021 will not magically end the suffering. Yet, at the same time those 70,000 new voters could turn the tide and help flip the Senate. Just remember that numbers are neither good nor evil until you attach meaning to them. We all hope for a better new year, but we each will play a role in making it either a better year or worse year. That will have more to do with action and inaction than any number we could come up with.