Sunday update: Playing devil’s advocate with COVID goals

If you’re not reading James Aycock’s COVID-19 analysis on Twitter (he goes by the handle @firstresponses), you are missing out on some excellent work. He presents facts hidden in the data that you don’t find anywhere else, such as change in rate of testing vs. change in rate of new COVID-19 cases. He provides an alternate look at where we really are in the fight against the virus, so that we don’t have to depend solely on a government agency’s spin on the data. He typically does a mid-week report on Wednesday, and an end-of-week report on Saturday. Here his thread for Saturday, August 29.

Aycock rallies his readers around an idea I completely agree with: Residents of Shelby County would do much better fighting virus spread as a whole if we set a common goal which we could rally around, each citizen taking pride in working toward its achievement. COVID-19 certainly sucks but in it, there is a huge opportunity: For our community to see itself as one, rather than as separate from each other. Just think how far we could advance as a society, not just eliminating a virus but in many other ways, if we all learned this important lesson.

Aycock’s suggested goal for which to strive: To wipe out the virus in Shelby County to the point that kids can attend school in person after fall break. A visit to the Shelby County Schools website reveals that fall break is October 12-16, so we would have about six weeks to work on this goal as a community.

Okay. I want to play devil’s advocate here. I promise you I’m not trolling (I have a representative who handles that for me). Serious question:

How do you get people to rally behind the goal of getting kids back to school in person after fall break, when many those people don’t have any children, are not themselves educators, and don’t otherwise have any connection to the school system?

Think about the guy around the corner who throws legendary Labor Day cookouts. There’s bratwurst, there are ribs, there are burgers. Needless to say, there is beer, lots of beer, and a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Last year there was even an ice luge for people to do shots off of. People who want to cool off can take a dip in the pool, and he has several TVs for those who want to watch the games that are on. Last year 82 people showed up. It’s the guy’s claim to fame, the one day of the year he is somebody in his community.

How do you convince him that kids attending school in person are more important than his party, when he has no kids himself? How do you convince any of the 82 people who had a blast at the 2019 Labor Day party that they should skip the 2020 version and stay home?

Imagine, if you will, a smokin’ hot 22-year-old with luxurious long hair, sparkling eyes, perfect skin, full lips, and a rocking body. Last year, during her first year when she could legally drink, she discovered that she was the center of attention at the club. Guys stared at her, bought her drinks, asked her out. One dude even offered to buy her a car… she turned him down, but how cool was it that he offered? Of course, attention from men was not the real reason she wore those tight, sexy clothes on Saturday nights… it’s because she knew all of her friends were secretly jealous of her, and she wanted to rub salt in their wounds. Saturday nights were the crown jewel of her week, the three hours or so out of an otherwise dull existence when she was a star. She longs for more of those nights, but the health department closed the club. There’s a second club that’s not as good, but still open because it has a full-service restaurant license. But it closes at 10, and well, DUH, everyone knows only losers go out that early!

Now, we can all hope our young, pretty friend finds higher ambitions in life. However, right now, she is who she is, and she’s as capable of spreading COVID as you are. How do you convince her that she should give up her 15 minutes of fame so kids can attend school?

Max’s Sports Bar has been jam-packed every Saturday in the fall since it opened almost 13 years ago. It’s the place for Downtowners to watch football because Max’s has over a dozen TVs and all the sports packages. He tapes signs to each TV letting customers know which games will be on which sets, so they can select where to sit. That is, if they can find a place to sit, which they won’t if they get there more than 30 minutes after the first kickoff. There are buckets of Miller Lite and there are chocolate salty ball shots and there are BBQ nachos and there’s the guy who always says “Next year, that’s gonna be ARRRR YEARRRR” after Tennessee loses to Georgia State.

For many people, those Saturdays are the 14 best days of the year. Furthermore, if those Saturdays don’t happen, their good friend could be forced to close the business he has owned nearly all of his adult life, joining Lucky Cat Ramen and Midtown Crossing Grill on the list of beloved recent COVID casualties. Most of the regulars at Max’s don’t have kids, so how do you convince them that they should lose their gathering place at least for one season, and possibly for good, so kids can go back to school?

I hesitate to label any of the people/stereotypes above as selfish, although I realize many others would. We’re all here on earth to discover and experience that which fulfills us. For some, it may be working to discover a cure for cancer. For others, it may be shaking their ass at a club at 2:25 in the morning. Neither experience is more “right” or “wrong” than the other.

On the other hand, I do believe COVID was sent to us as an opportunity to see the entire human race as our family, rather than only the people we share a home with, or only the people we share a bar table with. If that is indeed the case, we are largely failing at our opportunity.

All right, now that I’ve pissed off just about everyone, let’s get on to the Sunday news…

The Daily Memphian has coverage of Memphis 901 FC’s march to end racism and their boycott of last night’s scheduled match. Super proud of my city’s football club. Let me reprise what I said two paragraphs ago. The events of 2020 are an opportunity to see the human race as our family, rather than only the people we share a skin color with.

A few days ago I discussed Microsoft Rewards as a way to get about 100 bucks a year in Walmart or Target gift cards for spending a few minutes a day doing Bing searches. Got another suggestion… install the ReceiptPal, ReceiptHog, and FetchRewards apps on your phone and scan grocery and drug store receipts. Based on what I’ve seen so far, each will amount to about a $100 Amazon gift card a year and you can scan the same receipt in all three apps.

I tried a Blind Bear receipt the other day but apparently the apps don’t accept receipts from bars limited service restaurants full service restaurants. “Not a real receipt,” said one of the apps. Next time I go in, I will show that to Jeannette. If it’s not a real receipt, does that mean I can stop paying my tabs there?

Travel + Leisure magazine gave our fair city some love in its article 9 stops you should make on a Great River road trip. Of course, the four major river cities made the list. In case you’re wondering what smaller cities are recommended, they are

  • Headwaters, MN
  • Lake Pepin, WI/MN
  • Dubuque, IA
  • Marianna and Helena, AR
  • Natchez, MS

If you’re looking for a way to entertain yourself at home today, the Indie Memphis Youth Film Fest is happening online.

For my readers who are casual pro wrestling fans: One of the most significant happenings of the year closed this Friday’s episode of Smackdown:

Heel Roman Reigns, managed by Paul Heyman. This is going to be AWESOME.

Biden’s lead is starting to slip. When FiveThirtyEight first launched its presidential election tracker, Uncle Joe was listed as “favored” to win, scoring the victory in 72 of 100 simulated elections, a number which went up to 73, but which has now slid down to Biden being “slightly favored” with 69 victories out of 100. Over on RealClearPolitics, Biden’s average lead in battleground states is 2.7%, down 2 points from just a couple of weeks ago, and his lead in Michigan has shrunk to 2.6% which is downright scary. If any state is a must-win state for Biden, Michigan is likely it. Slightly better news: If any state is a must-win state for Trump, it’s Florida, but Biden is up by 3.7% there.

One final comment on COVID-19: I certainly understand businesses raising prices in response to the pandemic. However, I also understand economics. If I like business A and business B equally, but I can buy a product at business A for 25% less than at business B, I am generally going to buy that product at business A.

That’s it for today. About to head out to business A to buy one of those products, along with a side of unwanted fries. Back tomorrow with more news.