Saturday, December 12, 2020

Weekend Reading: The Starting to Feel Like Christmas Edition

Our tree and outdoor lights have been up since the weekend after Thanksgiving, but I've been decidedly lacking in Christmas spirit.  I wouldn't say I am brimming with spirit now, but I am starting to feel a little less grinch-y.

My kids were bummed that we won't get to see my parents for Christmas and so I decided to try to cheer us all up by having a little fun with these small metal Christmas "mailboxes" my mom gave them a couple of years ago. I decided to put them out on the chest behind the sofa in our living room and put a small gift in them every day from December 1 to Christmas Eve. The baseline is little candies - Hershey's Kisses and Starburst - and every few days I put something else in. I've done fuzzy socks, gloves that allow you to still work your phone, and detangler combs. I have some Christmas-themed masks on their way.

You may be seeing the problem with my idea. In a year in which I am trying not to go into shops, I need to come up with not just stocking stuffers for their actual stockings but also for the mailbox thing. Oops. 

But Petunia is starting to get into the mailbox thing, and Pumpkin is getting really into finding good gifts for everyone... and maybe I can get in the spirit, too. We might start doing some baking this weekend. Baking usually gets me int he Christmas spirit, and at the very least I will have some treats to eat!

Anyway, on to the links.

If you're looking for gift ideas, the Cool Mom Picks site and their associated sites have a bunch of posts full of ideas.

On the pandemic front:

I am going to assume you will find plenty to read on the EUA for Pfizer's vaccine. This is great news, and I remain in awe of how quickly both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are going to be available. This is due to the combined effort of many scientists and others in those companies, the NIH, the FDA, and more. And it is also due to remarkable good luck that none of the myriad of things that often go wrong in a development and clinical trial program went wrong. 

Here is a story about the Sanofi vaccine effort having less good luck. We are now manufacturing-limited in vaccine distribution, so it would have been really good to get another vaccine with a different manufacturing mode. But it looks like we won't get that as soon as we had hoped.

Still, I think it is a good time to stop and be grateful for what we have, and I am thrilled that the health care workers who have been risking their lives during this pandemic will soon be protected. Here is a short thread on that:

The rest of us need to mask up, limit our outings, take steps to reduce risk when we do see other people, and hope for a successful manufacturing ramp up for the vaccines we do have.

I think we need to get better in our messaging about risk reduction, too. We have years of research from the HIV epidemic that tells us "abstinence only" messaging does not really work. I agree with Julia Marcus on the need to help people learn how to reduce risk when they do the things they consider essential, even if we don't consider those things essential.

On the politics front:

I am glad the Supreme Court slapped down that ridiculous suit from Texas. I am horrified that so many Attorneys General and other Republican elected officials signed on to it. We are in a dangerous place, but again I assume you can find news of that on your own.

Here is an opinion piece I strongly agree with: we've stopped expecting civility from Republicans while we still demand it from Democrats. I don't want Democrats to get more aggressively rude and threatening. I want us to stop giving Republicans and the right wing protesters a pass for being rude and threatening. 

On the climate change front:

I finished reading The Ministry for the Future. I am not going to write about it here, because I want to do a larger post on it. I'll just say that it had a lot of interesting ideas, but that the structure of the novel annoyed me sometimes.

There's good news on batteries. Before the pandemic, we had been low-key debating what we'll replace our Mazda 5 with when the time comes, which we thought would be within a year. Now we hardly drive anywhere so are wondering if it might last a little longer. Maybe we can hold out long enough to wait for the next big advance in electric cars. Or if we can't, maybe we'll decide to lease for a bit and wait to see.

As great as it will be to have people in the White House who believe we need to address climate change, I think a lot of the action will remain at the local and state level. Here's an article about Nashville that shows what that can look like. If you're looking for a way to help fight climate change, look at what your local government is doing and see if there are any local initiatives you can support.

David Roberts, my favorite reported on the climate change and environment beat, has left Vox and started his own Substack newsletter, Volts. Here is the first post. The newsletter is free until the end of the year, and after that you only get some of the posts for free. I am annoyed by the move to newsletters - I don't actually want this stuff in my inbox!- and wish we could all go back to old school blogs (like mine!) but I understand people need to make money and so here we are. I signed up as a paying subscriber. This is the first newsletter I've actually decided to pay for. 

(I am a subscriber to Anne Helen Peterson's Culture Study and Zeynep Tufecki's Insight and may eventually convert one of those to a paid subscription but haven't yet.)

Here are some things that made me smile this week:

This article about a man who designed a smartwatch app to help his dad who has PTSD nightmares from serving in Iraq.

This thread is long but delightful:

This thread on dogs recognizing dogs is fun:

My husband found this San Diego band and we enjoyed trying to guess what part of San Diego this was filmed in:

Here's your weekly bunnies. I think this duo is dropping their new album soon:

Happy weekend, everyone!


  1. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Thank you.

  2. I haven't found any Christmas spirit yet either but I did have them set up our tree before Thanksgiving so I could enjoy the lights before we had no time for non essentials.
    As a surprise, I bought the Bonne Maman advent calendar for our attempt at pandemic holiday season and not at all surprisingly we haven't been able to keep up with a whole one ounce jar of jam per day but whenever we're in the mood to try a new jam, it's right there! Much easier than stocking stuffers, I think ��

    I am hoping I can get one small gift for PiC but that's really iffy at this point. Most things under the tree are for JB and Smol Acrobat.

  3. Charlie Peony7:22 PM

    I’m not up to The Ministry for the Future but I might try another book by this author, discovered after reading reviews of Ministry:
    Galileo’s Dream. Any views on that novel?
    As for Christmas, the news of the first vaccine delivery rollout brought tears to my eyes. I’m calling that my Christmas present.
    That so many people do not understand the miracle of science, speed, and cooperation this represents is yet another sad commentary on the low state of general understanding in the USA. Somehow we must do better.


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