Saturday, November 14, 2020

Weekend Reading: Preparing for Tough Times Ahead Edition

We're a week on from the day the election was called for Biden. I am trying to hold on to the joy of that day as we turn to face the hard work ahead. We should work to win those Georgia Senate seats, but also think clearly about what we can expect if the Senate stays Republican. For that matter, we need to be more realistic about what a 50-50 Senate will be like when the Democratic side includes moderates like Joe Manchin. 

I say that not to demonize Joe Manchin - I think he is probably accurately representing the people who elected him, and we should remember and respect that and figure out how to work with that. There is a difference between representing your constituents' views and obstructing all progress and we shouldn't take our anger at the obstructionists like McConnell on the people who are representing their constituents in good faith.

We have some big problems we really need to make progress on and we have to make that progress with the Congress we have not the one we wish we'd elected. The absolute best case scenario is that Biden manages to broker deals to get the progress we need, but we should be prepared for the fact that we may really hate what we have to give up in some of those deals.

Speaking of big problems... the COVID situation is dire in much of the country. If you are planning to have Thanksgiving indoors with people not in your immediate household, you should be quarantining already. My parents are coming over for the week of Thanksgiving. They have a safe travel plan and are staying in a rental house in our neighborhood instead of staying with us. They will come inside our house and spend time with us and our kids, though, and so we've been quarantining since Monday and so have they. We feel OK with this plan in part because the case loads in Arizona (where they are) and San Diego (where we are) are not super high right now. I do not know if I'd feel OK if we were in a part of the country with higher loads. I think it would probably come down to how safe we could make the travel plan.

We are also having Thanksgiving dinner with my sister and one set of friends. They cannot quarantine because of work reasons and therefore we will have Thanksgiving dinner outside, sitting at least 6 feet apart. I have given up on the traditional turkey as too hard to serve safely and too likely to get cold too quickly, and am instead planning to make chicken and vegetable packets (exact recipe still to be determined - menu planning is on my to do list for this weekend!) Right now, the forecast is for mid-60s and sunny on Thanksgiving day. I've bought fleece blankets and some outdoor heaters, and our yard gets good mid-day sun. Fingers crossed, the weather will hold! If it doesn't, we have all agreed that we'll reschedule the meal for a day with better weather. 

If you are not able to make safe plans to have Thanksgiving with others, I hope you are able to do something to make the day special. When I was in college, I could not afford to go home for Thanksgiving. Sometimes, I was able to join friends for Thanksgiving, but not always. My senior year in college, I was facing Thanksgiving on my own in my apartment. I bought a turkey breast cutlet and some stuffing mix and made a small dinner for myself and watched TV. (I also worked on grad school applications, because those needed to get done!) It wasn't the best Thanksgiving ever, but it wasn't terrible. This was pre-internet and TV on demand. I think the options are better now! 

If you're planning a remote holiday celebration, you may like this article about how to make Zoom holidays feel special.

Whatever you decide to do, please stay safe! We're in a really difficult stretch right now, but better days are coming soon. We'll have a better federal response starting January 20. The preliminary news on the Pfizer vaccine is better than most anyone hoped for - there are still challenges ahead, but I now think it is likely that we will have a vaccine that is making a meaningful difference next year. 

OK, enough pontificating - on to the links!

I found Ezra Klein's interview with Anne Applebaum about authoritarianism insightful and useful. It was sobering, but not depressing. At the very end, Klein asked Applebaum about what lessons we could take from Europe about how to defeat authoritarian parties. She said that what seems to work best is to not have the culture-based battle the authoritarians have framed, but instead to get real things done that improve people's lives. Let's all try to remember that when President Biden is making deals that we may not entirely like.

Anne Helen Peterson's interview with sociologist Jessica Calarco about the terrible bind working moms are in right now has been all over my Twitter feed, and for good reason. If you haven't read it yet, it is really worth your time.

Here is a write up of some political science research about what's happened to the Republican party recently. The problems predate Trump (go listen to that Anne Applebaum interview for more on that - she decided not to vote for McCain because she saw this problem coming!) and we really need to be clear-eyed about the threat we are facing. 

Ezra Klein makes the case that democracy reforms would force the Republican party to actually compete for majorities instead of playing to its base.

I am almost through the first episode in the new Weeds podcast series on the next four years. I recommend it - Matt Yglesias interviews a center-right Bloomberg reported about what went right in the Trump economy and what lessons we can learn from it. 

Here are some things that made me smile this week:

This unbelievably cute newly recognized species.

Matt Harding became internet famous for traveling the world and doing a somewhat dorky dance in lots of different places. I always enjoyed his videos. Seeing his post-election call celebration come across my Twitter feed was such a nice surprise!

This picture:

Here is your bunny for the week:

Happy weekend, everyone!


  1. socal.dendrite@gmail.com3:53 PM

    I've had a couple of memorable Thanksgivings. One year I was camping at Joshua Tree with my sister: we got lost on hike and only made it back to the campground well after dark by navigating cross-country with our compass (we knew that if we walked due East for long enough we would hit Keys View Road...). Another time, with my now-husband, we drove along random roads in LA in his convertible, eventually ending up at a strange Chinese Monastery in the middle of nowhere. Along the way, some kids took pot shots at us with paint balls, and we had dinner at Denny's because it was the only place open. Happy days :-)

    1. Thanksgiving my first year in college I ended up at a diner in downtown Chicago because my friend and I were too naive to know that if you want to eat out on Thanksgiving you need to make reservations! I think I still have a matchbook from that place...

    2. Not true! The Drake did not require reservations for their Thanksgiving buffet! It was really good. Last time I went was 2004.

  2. I think in the end my sister and her boyfriend will not be visiting for Thanksgiving. So we will be doing homemade Turkey sushi (with cranberry chutney) as per DC1's request. And cranberry milk-shakes per DH's request. And a bunch of roasted vegetables and a beet and orange salad because that sounds good to me.

    1. I love the Turkey sushi idea!

    2. She changed her mind this morning! So turkey sushi will have to wait for leftovers. I think we will stick with roasted veggies over casseroles though. She's going to bring my mom's dessert (it's a frozen fruit and cool-whip thing) and I'll make my mom's stuffing. So her boyfriend will get some exposure to our family favorites.


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