Happy Cranksgiving

What air travel looks like as of the publishing of this blog post on Wednesday at 5pm PST.

Thanksgiving? Current mood is Cranksgiving, that feeling when you type out three angry blog posts, think better of it and fail to push the publish button. So rather than that one belabored and cranky post I offer up a few fragments longer than an aphorism but just short for a proper rant. Here we go:

It’s Never Time for Brunch
We seem trapped, in this country, between two heads of the same neoliberal hydra. One party that denies the reality of the pandemic and another party that demands that people stay home (which, to be clear, we need to do) but offers no help to those who can’t work. We need to pay people to stay home. It’s not fair to bail out wall street but kick workers and small businesses to the curb.

Covid Denial
Why do people deny the reality of Covid? Because, counter-intuitively, it’s rational to do so. If your organizing principle in life is the pursuit of personal happiness, which is what we were all brought up with, then it makes no sense to change your lifestyle to prevent the spread of the virus . Most of us are unlikely to get coronovirus and if we do odds are we’ll recover (though, I have to say I sure don’t want to take the risk–I’m just trying to imagine why some people don’t seem to care). The problem with this kind of selfish thinking is that if I get coronovirus I’m also likely to spread it to other people who will then, possibly, bring it into the household of a multi-generational family, a nursing home, a hospital or a prison where it will grow exponentially and kill a lot of people. But unless I’m a health care worker, odds are those deaths will be out of my sight. Another problem is that if I do behave well and take precautions I’ll never see that my actions had an effect. Since Covid denialism is ideological and baked into our culture, I don’t think we should blame individuals for espousing it. Rather we need to focus our energy on changing the systems that promote toxic individualism. Let’s tell stories about solidarity instead. Not me us, in other words.

Stats, stats, stats and more stats
I never studied statistics. Most people never studied statistics. This is probably why there are so many statistical errors in the media. If I’m spotting them it must drive the mathematically inclined insane. Most of us seem to be especially bad at appreciating exponential growth in something like, say, a communicable disease.

Junk Science
This pandemic is also a reminder that, as research has shown, at least half of all science studies are junk. Unfortunately the press has a bad tendency to uncritically report on junk science. The crappy New York Times repeated a easily discredited study this week that purported to show that masks don’t make a difference. The very basic problem with this study is that the virus is spreading in households where people don’t wear masks, which this study failed to account for. We have better editorial standards here at Root Simple than they do at the Grey Lady and we’re pretty sloppy. Makes you wonder what else they’re getting wrong . . .

Good Science
A study in India shows how Covid is spreading: children and young adults are bringing the virus into multi-generation households. So, unfortunately, it looks like putting kids in school right now isn’t a great idea. Most schools in this country closed for the 1918 flu epidemic so this isn’t a new situation.

Covid Theater
I was perusing our local health department’s new closing guidelines and came to the conclusion that they are just making stuff up on the fly. Some things are open and some closed and it’s obvious that the decisions aren’t based on any research since their probably isn’t any. When you see a multi page list of directions for “model airplane facilities” you know they are winging it. Again, the solution is simple. In a surge like we’re having right now, close everything except what we need to survive and pay everyone to stay home until we can get the numbers down. Do this periodically until we get vaccinated.

Let’s Cancel Thanksgiving Permanently
Capitalism, as Mark Fisher often noted, is great at causing anxiety and then selling solutions. Think of the way women are made to feel body anxiety and then sold beauty products and plastic surgery. The same applies to the holidays. Make people anxious and then offer a Butterball hotline. How about we skip this particular holiday permanently? Who’s in (or out) on the cancel Thanksgiving idea? At least this year, a pandemic seems like the perfect excuse not to fly somewhere to eat dried out turkey.

My New Hustle
I was joking with a friend about writing a book called “Rhetoric for Families: how to have an argument at the dinner table.” Talk about creating an anxiety and selling a solution! Who wants this book?

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing or not doing, Root Simple wishes you a happy holiday season. Please stay safe. If you’re bored check out this flight tracking website and be thankful you’re not traveling.

Leave a comment

10 Comments

  1. I know I said, cancel CANCEL culture on the other thread BUT I’m totally for cancelling Thanksgiving.

    from WIKI: “Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, with a proclamation by President George Washington after a request by Congress. President Thomas Jefferson chose not to observe the holiday, and its celebration was intermittent until President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. On June 28, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the Holidays Act that made Thanksgiving a yearly appointed federal holiday in Washington D.C.”

    Jefferson passed on Thanksgiving.

  2. Well, Erik, happy Cranksgiving to you and Kelly. And I hope that Kelly is recovering well from her most recent surgery. That would be cause for thanks indeed.

  3. Interesting comments on statistics and junk science. Of course, it has been reliably proven that 87.342% of statistics quoted are complete fabrications!

  4. I could do without Thanksgiving AND Christmas. Too commercial and a stress point for so many people. The true meanings have been lost along with making people feel guilty for not conforming and running up their charge cards. But winter is a great time to just be with family and friends and appreciate life.

  5. Such a well thought out, organized and thoughtful post. Your insights Eric are a breath of fresh air (no pun); much needed these days. Cheers.

  6. I don’t understand you guys. Thanksgiving, and Christmas too, are what you make of them. Aside from the fact that they’re on commonly agreed upon dates they are entirely matters of personal and family tradition so far as I can see.

    I love them both. They come at a time of year when days are short and dark and cold and a little decoration and celebratory feasts and gathering to share the love are entirely welcome.

    If you want to buy presents, buy them. If you don’t want to buy presents, don’t do it. If you need more time, take it. It may be that this particular year means adapting, changing and seriously planning, but, instead of grumbling (publicly), how about letting others enjoy?

    • rainey,

      I don’t mean to offend. But I think you hit the nail on the head here, holidays are too often during Winter. You’re right.

      This is the reason most suicides happen because people feel they have to be with people, plus less sun equals less Vitamin D, which means people tend to be down.

      So instead of grouping holidays in the Winter, let’s group them in Summer.

      For example, in the Bible its fairly certain that Jesus was born during Summer (late Spring to early Fall), ex. shepherds were out at night; Roman census were usually in Summer; then adjust for Gregorian vs. Julian calendar,

      IMHO around August would be the ideal birthday of Jesus.

      This COVID19 world now also tells us that we’re better off, holding most of our get-togethers during Summer, where we’ll be outside, and less prone to getting sick, ex. Vitamin D exposure to dry/cold air meaning less humid, which affects how viruses attach to us.

  7. No, I can’t relate to the spirit of wanting to cancel Thanksgiving. It is what you make of it. Four uninterrupted days with friends and family? If you don’t like your family, spend it with your friends. Practice gratitude. If you’ve become too cranky and cynical to think that the practice of gratitude is a worthwhile activity…maybe take a look at whatever is hardening your heart. Hint: It’s not capitalism. It might be YOUR role in your community, but that is yours to figure out.

  8. Canceling Thanksgiving is killing the messenger. The problem is not the holiday, it’s how we’re doing it. A bunch of people (who you may or may not be related to) joining for a meal and being thankful is a lovely idea. Unlike Christmas, it’s not a gift-giving/buying orgy. The millennials, as usual, have it right in holding “Friendsgiving” dinners instead, where they gather with those they are close to and celebrate the season with those they care about. Period. No drama, no politics, no angst.

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