Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Coronavirus: The mismanaged pandemic is triggering an avalanche

David Leonhardt, who writes The Morning newsletter for the New York Times, addressed the issue of pundit accountability by evaluating various conclusions he'd reached about American politics.  I was grateful to read this, as I have been evaluating my own thinking about the pandemic, shifting from a model of managed retreat to one of cascading disasters. 

At the beginning of all this, I thought of  "managed retreat" as a several-month process of "flattening the curve" then re-emerging having limited death and illness, preserved much of what we had and ready to rebuild. 

Instead of giving the novel coronavirus a one-two punch, our society was ambivalent about both managing and retreating.  As a result, we've triggered an avalanche of social disintegration. We've lost a massive number of jobs, businesses, gathering places, and social supports that could be rebuilt with a Marshall plan, but how would we get through Congress?

As a physician, I must say that it has been torture (I mean that pretty literally) to watch the way the pandemic has been mismanaged.  I have had to change my mind: it's not a months-long process from which we will bounce back, but a years -- maybe decades -- long catastrophe that will cause profound suffering that will only end when people rise up in disgust and say "enough."

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Coronavirus: "Operation Christmas Drop" -- The Must-See, Feel-Better Christmas Movie

We are being whipped into the Christmas frenzy by a combination of capitalist marketing devices and our profound cultural traditions. And part of the tradition is that we gather -- "I'll be HOME for Christmas" is not apocryphal.  

Of course, this Coronavirus Christmas we are being urged in the strongest possible terms to stay home, or as Samuel L. Jackson put it, "Stay the F**K at home."  

These two HOME messages are actually contradictory so all of the people who observe Christmas are in a bind.  

Happily, Netflix has a must-see holiday movie which helps us with this: the film explains that "old traditions are great, but it's fun to make new ones."  

I took this to heart today when I was at the garden store where I get my Christmas tree every year.  It helped me have new ideas about what to do.  Specifically, it helped me think about an outdoor Christmas -- they had wood for my fire pit, and trees that seem perfectly happy to be outside.  I remembered, back in the old days, when my mother and I would string cranberries and popcorn, which perhaps the birds would like.  (I don't know if this is actually OK, but I'm going to check with the Audubon society).  

It will be a new tradition -- gathering outside and enjoying our "outside" tree.  Thanks, Operation Christmas Drop, for the inspiration!  And wait -- it's a true story! or at least "based on a true thing that has gone on every year since 1952."