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Thoughts on the drive home

A collection of the kinds of thoughts I’ve had while driving home from work over the past week or so. You know the kinds of drives I mean: the ones where you arrive home and have no memory of the drive, but have nearly worked out the solutions to several big problems.

Actually, other people might work out big problems. I come up with questions like “I wonder if the dog has a favorite TV show …” But sometimes I get a little more profound.

For example, there are vast differences in the reasons some people are eagerly awaiting Congress’ getting off its collective tuchus and agreeing to a second stimulus package. While I understand the light-hearted joking of “come on, stimulus … momma needs a new hot tub,” there are others thinking something more along the lines of “momma needs to know she can put her kids in warmer clothes this winter and pay the mortgage.”

It is a pretty good indication that there are not many in Washington who remember (or ever understood) what life is like for the vast majority of Americans. Their total failure to have a sense of urgency is unacceptable — but I’m not sure a lot of them would understand even that.

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How in the world did scientists come up with the most likely strain of flu to hit the U.S. this year? I’m seeing signs for the availability of flu shots at some locations. Did the wearing of masks by responsible Americans make any difference in their attack strategy? Was there less attention paid to getting the flu shot right this year as resources were pulled toward finding a COVID-19 vaccine? And what is next? What do we do if there is a COVID-20, or some other newly discovered virus? I would not want to be an epidemiological policy consultant right now.

***

The best way to get a social media friend to stop posting subtly racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted or otherwise awful “jokes” is to ask them to explain it. “I don’t get it,” “I’m missing something. Why is that funny?” or “I don’t understand,” with no other comment are as effective as blasting the person.

***

It would be interesting to see some research on the number of people who fly both Trump 2020 flags and Confederate battle flags at their homes. In fact, some I’ve seen are flying the Confederate battle flag at the exclusion of the American flag. A few of these also have Don’t Tread on Me and/or the Back the Blue flags somewhere nearby. I wonder what the reasoning is for that particular collection of banners, especially together. I hope there are sociologists finding out what sets of circumstances lead to such displays, and, in turn, what sets of circumstances lead to displays at homes where there are Biden/Harris signs in the yard. In fact, that is another question: Why (at least in my own limited exposure) are those who support Trump flying actual flags, while those who support Biden place disposable signs in their yard? Often the Biden signs appear with other banners such as the Human Rights Campaign flag or declarations that Black Lives Matter.

While it is a different question entirely to try to get to the bottom of how people became so convinced there was no wiggle room in being placed firmly into one of two camps, it would be fascinating to take an objective, scholarly look at those who — generally speaking — fall on one side of the aisle or the other. We could learn so much if we were willing to accept scientifically discovered trends in political affiliation. Help me out, here, universities with lots of time and money on their hands; I’m driving here …

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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