It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for me to solve all your problems and make the world a better place.
As always you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymity guaranteed. (And by the way, if you’re mad about all the coronavirus related questions, that’s what everyone is asking about! Send a question that has nothing to do with the coronavirus at all and I’ll consider it. Also, it’s a good time to ask you to be brief. If you write me a thousand words, that’s way too much information. Give it to me in 250 words or less. There are very few questions that require more words than that.)
With that in mind, here we go:
“I need your help as COVID has ravaged my friend group. All of my friends have become huge coronabros. My brother, my best group of buds that live in another state, and even my current roommate. From quoting constantly from the worst fear porn, to blaming the entire thing on Trump, to even accusing me of being a bad person / part of the problem because I live in a state with rising case numbers… 100% coronabros all around.
I (like you) look at the facts and data and have made the determination that I should take precautions, but can’t hole myself up in a closet and wait for the end to come. I’ve flown on a plane a couple of times and even eaten in a restaurant multiple times (my friends lost their minds at the thought of me sitting in a restaurant…).
In summary, I’ve tried to live a “COVID-adjusted” life, not a “COVID-paralyzed” life.
My question to you is how do I get these folks to see my point of view that the data says I should take precautions (like wearing my mask) but can’t just shut it down?
I’ve started to just tune folks out and give general non-descriptive answers. One friend loves to flash fear porn charts and graphs that over blow the numbers and blast Trump to which I’ll give general responses like “yea man, pretty crazy times we’re living in…”
Should I fight to help my friends recognize the numbers and that we’re all pretty well off, still employed, living in the greatest country in the world with access to healthcare so our risk of dying from this is pretty low, or should I just call them p***ies and find a new group of friends / a new roommate?”
I’d try to persuade them with facts.
I mean, here’s an easy question for anyone who is out there reading right now who is under the age of fifty years old.
If your friend told you he was never driving to work again because he was afraid of dying in a car accident would that be normal behavior?
Of course not, you’d tell him to buckle up his seatbelt, not to look at his phone and text while he’s driving, and generally to practice the safest possible precautions while driving if he was afraid of death.
You wouldn’t tell him to abandon his car.
And here’s the kicker: If your friend is under the age of fifty he’s more likely to die driving to and from work than he is from the coronavirus.
Okay, let’s continue.
What if a college-aged friend told you he was never going to go outside again when thunderstorms were forecast because he was worried about getting struck by lightning?
You’d tell him that was crazy to just monitor weather conditions and use common sense so that if a thunderstorm arrived he could go indoors and be safe from lightning. Yet, if you are 24 years old or younger you are more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to die of the coronavirus.
Put it this way, if you invited your college buddies to go golf and one of them said no because he was afraid of being struck by lightning, you’d all ridicule him to no end on the text chain.
Yet, he would actually be more likely to be struck by lightning than to get the coronavirus. So if your buddy isn’t going to a restaurant because he’s afraid of the coronavirus, he’s making a decision even more illogical than not playing golf because of lightning.
Finally, what if a friend of yours said he or she wasn’t going out to bars and restaurants any more because he or she was afraid of being murdered while there?
You’d think that was crazy too, right?
Well, you’re more likely to be murdered if you’re under the age of fifty than you are to die of the coronavirus. So if you think the murder fear is crazy, why don’t you think the coronavirus fear is crazier?
The point isn’t that all fear is worthless, plainly fear is important because it helps us adjust our behaviors — that’s why I always say my general life rule is DBAP — Don’t Be a Pussy — but that SBAP also applies — Sometimes Be a Pussy — if the risk factors justify it.
That is, being afraid of going swimming in a lake — if you can swim — is being a pussy, being afraid of swimming in a crocodile infested lake, is not being a pussy.
Yes, there is a risk of death from lightning, car accident or murder, but it’s a very rare one. And, significantly, there are basic things we can all do to make ourselves less likely to die from any of these things.
And the same is true of the coronavirus.
There’s a difference between making out with someone you know is covid positive and playing golf during the coronavirus. There’s a difference between visiting everyone in a nursing home two nights after you went to a crowded bar and working out in a gym by yourself.
Becoming an adult used to be about learning how to make better life decisions. (Note, that doesn’t mean adults always make better life decisions than kids, but, in general, if you had to choose, a fifty year old makes better decisions than a twenty year old does. I make better decisions at 41 than I did at 21 and I’ll probably make better decisions at 61 than I did at 41.) With age comes maturity, and significantly, at least for most people, less emotion-based decision making.
What troubles me is we’ve allowed social media, which is primarily a medium dominated by young and/or hyper emotional people, to dominate our national discourse.
Logic and facts are completely abandoned in favor of emotion.
How many people do you think know the actual danger from coronavirus for people of their age and health status? I think it’s like 20%, if that. Most people are just sharing the same fear porn articles about a baby who died or a 30 year old person who looked completely healthy and then died. I’m sorry for those stories, I wish no one ever died, but we can’t allow narrative anecdotes to dominate the actual data.
And the actual data says this: if you are under 65 years old and healthy you have virtually nothing to worry about from the coronavirus at all.
Feel free to share the anonymous mailbag with your coronabro friends and I hope it helps.
“In an effort to find some non-Covid-esque questions in your mailbag, I’m hoping you can settle a debate my buddies and I have had.
How common is it for a 30, 40, or 50 year dude, to have had a woman stick a finger up his poop chute at least once in his life? It happened to me two times in college during random hookups where all of a sudden, with zero warning at all, wowza. I didn’t necessarily love it or hate it but I was damn sure surprised by it. I told that to a group of my buddies, all 40-something year old, college educated dudes, and all 5 of them scoffed at me as if I was some sexual deviant.
I’m not asking how many guys REQUEST it. I think that’s a small % and by the way, if that’s their thing, hey, go for it. But I’ve never asked or even implied that it’s something I wanted. A couple of random girls just took it upon themselves to give me the ol’ fastball sign up the wrinkly red-eye.
But a few other friends I asked later said they’ve definitely had some girls do it to them too.
So, is this normal or possibly a generational thing?”
I think like five percent of girls go finger in the butt hole, but I think those five percent of girls have had a boyfriend or sex partner who requested and liked it.
Like, that’s not just something you stumble into without some prompting, someone had to ask for that.
I also think it’s much less common in random, casual sex than it is in a relationship. After a while, a girl might get bored and try it or just do it to see how her man reacts if they’ve been dating for a while, but in general most women think men are disgusting — which is true — and don’t want to put their fingers anywhere near our butt holes.
I had it happen to me once — unsolicited in my case too — and it was a definite shock. (Hence the shocker). I actually think guys are far, far more likely to do this to women than women are to men. Either accidentally — it can be a challenge to hit the right hole in the dark, especially if you’ve been drinking — or intentionally.
So I’m going with five percent of women overall have done it.
“I’m 48, wife (my second) is 30 and wants to adopt a kid. I’ve got two kids who she has a great relationship with but they’re 22 and 19 and closer to her age than mine. I’ll admit I was an absent father. I had a job that required me traveling about 150 nights a year so it was easier to avoid the spouse but it killed our marriage. I’d love a second chance of being a present dad, but I’m terrified of being the “old guy” at every function they have and dying before their milestones-college graduation, marriage, etc. Do I just pack a flask at every tee ball game and point to my wife’s ass and let them know I’m sleeping with that or just sit alone and be the old guy that isn’t social?”
When is too old for a dad to be a dad is essentially the question you’re asking.
And I don’t think there’s an easy answer because you’re attempting to predict the future.
So the first question is, are you healthy now? If you’re a healthy 48 years old right now then on average you probably have 35 or so years left of life, give or take a few years. That takes a kid well past college graduation, which is what I think most parents should plan to make.
So, to me, if you feel like you can be a great dad for 22 years, yes, it sucks to not be there to see your kids get married or have their own kids, but 22 years of great fatherhood is more than most kids get.
Plus, let’s be honest, once you make the decision to have a wife nearly twenty years younger than you, you’re essentially making the decision to be an old dad too. Because most women are going to want children at some point in time, even if they initially claim they don’t.
I totally get the concern about being gone before your kids have seminal life moments, but I’m sure you remember having those fears even when you had your first two kids at a much younger age. The moment my first son was born, that immediately became my biggest fear, aside from something happening to him, “What if I’m not here for him?”
I think that’s the biggest parenting fear for moms and dads no matter how old we are when our kids are born. We never know what’s going to happen, but given your age and assuming you’re healthy, you should feel pretty good about being there for the biggest moments of your child’s life.
Plus, I tend to think older dads are better dads.
I was 28, 31, and 35 for the birth of my three kids.
Come January I will have a 13 year old, which feels crazy to me because I remember being 13 years old so well myself. And because it frankly doesn’t feel that long ago to me, even though it was.
I feel like many dads, such as the two of us, spend much of our late twenties, then our thirties and forties so focused on working hard to provide for our kids that we don’t slow down and experience fatherhood. (This can be true for working moms too.) Balancing work and family life and kid obligations can be a huge challenge. That’s why I now spend like 99% of my (limited) free time with my wife or kids.
But I can already tell a difference with my younger son because at 41 I have much more financial security than I did at 31. And that financial security just allows you to feel a bit less stressed about life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I work an absolute ton and have like ten different jobs, but I feel like I’m a better dad now than I was when I was younger because I don’t feel the same stress to make a living.
So being less financially focused helps, but I also think it’s just men are better dads at older ages than they are at younger ages.
All things being equal, I would have rather started at 35 as a dad than at 28.
Now the benefit of starting younger is that I can be an (intentional) grandpa — I don’t want any accidental grandkids — by my late fifties or early sixties and feel like I get to experience that without being too old to enjoy it.
And everyone says that’s the best gig of all; being a grandparent is like being a parent except with most of the stresses gone — you get to have fun with the kids and then give them back to the parents when you are tired and want to escape — so we’ll see how that goes.
But I don’t think you’re too old.
Good luck with the hot, young wife.
“I really appreciate all the facts and how you continue to call people out on their fear porn, it really helps me keep a level head.
I am a high school statistics teacher, so I rely on data and graphs.
Our school board makes the final decision tomorrow on how we will start the school year. Currently we are scheduled to return to a hybrid model (half kids one day, other half kids the next day). Our teachers and union have lambasted the school district and board members for their previous decision of the hybrid model. Therefore, I think tomorrow the school board will vote to go straight distant learning.
I will not lie like most teachers on social media are lying, teachers have it really easy during distance learning. Teachers that say there is more work to do while distance learning did not know how to properly lesson plan in the first place. My question is, do I call out my fellow colleagues on social media for not wanting to teach kids in a classroom? And provide much needed daycare for parents that are back to work? (Yes teachers reading this, we are a daycare and you need to stop using that as an excuse).
If teachers are scared to return to teaching in the classroom then they should be forced to find another job, just like the rest of the work force had to make this tough decision. Or do I let people continue to be scared knowing my life is a lot easier as a teacher if we choose distant learning full time? I would love to continue to “teach” while fishing or drinking a beer while camping.”
Whether you should speak out is a tough call because the data is so clear here: SCHOOLS SHOULD ALL BE OPEN.
The CDC and 67,000 pediatricians have all come to the same conclusion. The risk to kids is far more substantial not being back in school than it is being back in school.
My personal opinion is that if remote learning is going to happen teachers should be paid based on the hours they are instructing students. For instance, in my hometown of Nashville teachers are going to be distance teaching for two hours every day. That’s it. What was once an eight hours at school job, is now a quarter of that.
In almost every other profession if you worked one-fourth of the time you were contracted to work, you would get one-fourth of your pay. So in an ideal world that’s what I think would happen with teachers. If you are providing one-fourth of your usual job value then you should get one-fourth of your pay if you want to stay home and continue to teach remotely. Conversely, if you are willing to go into the school and teach in person for an entire day’s work then you should receive your full pay.
I think many teachers would change their minds about their work decisions if they were given those two options and if their finances were connected to their job choices. That’s how, in fact, a market based economy works.
If all teachers aren’t back working and since teachers are paid by taxpayers — mostly via local property taxes — I think the local governments should refund everyone’s local property taxes with all the money they save on teacher salaries. Why should we all be paying full price for work that isn’t being completed?
If the guy mowing my yard did one fourth of the mowing job, I wouldn’t give him full pay. Why should teachers be any different?
Furthermore, teachers are just shifting the risk, to the extent that risk exists, to other people, typically lower paid than they are. It’s not like the risk disappears. It just moves to day care workers, or grandparents, or parents themselves. Someone still has to watch and care for young children all day long. So it’s not as if the burden of risk just vanishes if schools are closed, it’s just shifted to someone else. Someone, by the way, who isn’t being paid anywhere near what teachers are to bear that risk.
What’s more, think about all the people out there working in public all day long every day who make a fraction of what teachers make: retail workers, construction workers, day care workers, restaurant employees, you name it, there are millions of people making a fraction of the salaries of teachers. Why should those people have to work to make their salaries, but teachers don’t?
Trust me, I get why teachers don’t want to go back to work. They’ve gotten paid their entire salaries since March for doing a fraction of the work they normally have to do. For them the coronanvirus has been one long, fully paid vacation. But most of us haven’t had that luxury.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I took pay cuts in radio and TV and kept working full time.
I bet the same is true for most of you as well.
Teachers, arguably, have gotten the most economic benefit from the coronavirus shutdown with the least financial stress. Honestly, it’s true for government employees in general. If you work in a private industry almost all of us have lost income or lost jobs, but teachers have had no impact at all to their lives from a financial perspective.
Having said all of this, I don’t think you gain anything by calling out your co-workers. At this point it’s highly unlikely your individual opinion is going to shift the school board’s decision. But all of your co-workers will see your post (or have it shared with them.) And while many teachers will agree with you, the majority will not, which means they will judge you for (accurately) judging them.
Which could create a work environment mess for you.
I don’t think you stand to gain very much by being outspoken here and I’d probably sit this one out.
Enjoy the camping and fishing.
“Heard your podcast this morning regarding the whole summer camps being open but school openings still up in the air.
My 10 year old has been going to a summer camp during the day throughout the entire summer. I also have a 3 year old who has been going to the YMCA for daycare throughout this entire pandemic (took him out for maybe a month back in March). Up in Wisconsin, day cares remained open as they were deemed essential. There was never any outbreak, that I am aware of, at a daycare facility around my town or in the state.
I am not a scientist or a doctor but if all these camp counselors and YMCA staff members are able to spend hours and hours a day around these kids w/out getting sick, why can’t our teachers?”
There is not a single case in the entire world of a teacher contracting the coronavirus from a student and dying.
That’s because kids aren’t primary spreaders of the disease, either amongst themselves or to adults. In fact, if we had it to do all over again, the entire decision to shut down schools made no sense because kids weren’t actually in danger from the coronavirus. Only thirty kids under 15 years old nationwide have died of the coronavirus according to data last week from the CDC and almost all of those kids had underlying conditions that made them susceptible to the disease. In fact, the seasonal flu kills far more children every year than the coronavirus has. (At least six times as many kids die from the seasonal flu).
For the past several weeks our kids have been enrolled for three different week-long summer camps in the Nashville area. They’ve been to a local private school’s sports camp, to the local Jewish Community Center’s kids camp, and to the YMCA’s kids camp. They’ve been looked after by teachers and instructors all day long every day at these camps and, at least to my knowledge, there hasn’t been a single positive test among the kids or the counselors and certainly the camps haven’t been shut down or had any issues with the coronavirus.
The YMCA camp was the most interesting to me because our kids rode on a school bus to and from the camp every day, making it very similar to a typical school day in that respect. Plus, there were two days where there were storms so they spent the days inside, as opposed to outside. And unlike teachers, who are comparatively well paid, the people working at the camps were probably college-aged kids making $10 an hour or so. (I’m guessing at their wages, I have no idea, but it’s certainly not a full time job and $10 an hour seems like a decent wage for a high school or college kid working at a camp).
And everything went completely fine.
So far as I know there were no protests or discussions about in-person or remote camps. Everyone just understood that the camp either would exist in person or it wouldn’t. You can’t do most camps, just like you can’t do most schools, remotely. It defeats the entire purpose of the event in the first place.
So if all camps can happen all over my region, how can all schools not be open?
“I’m writing to the anonymous mailbag to protect my son. He has worked in sports since graduation. He has interned and worked at various colleges in their sports departments and over the past few years has worked for an MLS team. He is currently in Orlando under the controlled environment for the MLS tournament and being tested regularly (every other day) for Covid. No positives for him so far.
Politics is now such a large part of sports that he is starting to lose interest in working in this field. The MLS tournament in Orlando is requiring all sideline participants to wear Black Lives Matter T-Shirts. My son wasn’t happy about wearing the shirt but wants to keep his job, especially since they’ve furloughed several staffers and cut salaries. You have also written in past articles about the national anthem controversy, which I agree with and that employees have to wear/do certain things when working for a company.
My question to you is this, will politics ever leave sports again so that it can be about competition? I’m not sure what the viewership has been with the MLS tournament but I think many that have never followed soccer turned the channel at the start of the tourney when 15 minutes was devoted to the Black Lives Matter movement. Such a shame since it was an opportunity for soccer in the US to gain some fans but I’m sure many were turned off by it.”
No one talks about this, but how about the team employees who make hardly any money at all being forced to advocate for political groups that they don’t support in order to keep their sports jobs? In other words, there’s a great deal of talk about athletes having the right to their political opinions at work, but what about everyone else?
Your son would probably get fired if he refused to wear this t-shirt.
If everyone deserves a voice on the job at work, why doesn’t your son?
I think the only way sports returns to sports is by the leagues losing money.
I believe player political activism in uniform at work on the field is a bad business decision for the players and the leagues. I think players believe it’s a good decision because their Twitter and Instagram feeds — as well as the sports media who cover them — are filled with people who encourage them for taking political stands.
But that’s a small minority of their overall fans.
Players think a 16 year old kid on Instagram is paying their salary, but it’s really the 55 year old executive.
Which I believe is one of the big challenges of the sports business — athletes have forgotten that ultimately it is fans who pay their salaries. But it isn’t a direct relationship between fan and player, which is why athletes have forgotten about the link.
That is, athletes are entertainers, but unlike, let’s say, singers, they are buffered from their audience.
If people stop buying tickets to a singer’s concert that entertainer knows it almost immediately. He has to start playing smaller venues, he has to cancel tour dates, the entertainer is directly connected to his audience. But if people stop buying tickets to the games the athlete doesn’t notice it because his salary is signed for multiple years and athletes have gotten used to the idea that salaries, over time, only go up.
They aren’t thinking about the long range success of the league.
Much of their salaries have been fueled by what I think is a cable and regional sports network bubble. I’ve written a ton about this, but just think about the last forty years of sports salaries, it has been a time of massively increasing player salaries and team values.
But what if that trajectory stalls? Or even starts going backwards? What if in 2040 the average NBA player isn’t going to make more than the average player makes now when adjusted for inflation? Well, if that happens it’s going to be because fans have tuned out and just don’t care as much as they used to care.
What’s the fastest way to get fans to tune out of your sports league? Alienate them with politics.
We know what happened with Colin Kaepernick’s protest — NFL ratings dropped 19% over two years. This year is a bit different because there’s no real precedent for how the coronavirus is going to impact TV ratings — maybe more people will be at home watching television as a result of corona — but what we definitely know is competition this fall for viewers will be fierce.
Every sports league will be competing against each other in a way we’ve never seen before: The NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Kentucky Derby, college football, MLS, NASCAR, and the PGA will all be going head-to-head, for instance, in September. I would think that by itself would mean there are fewer sports viewers for everyone.
Combine that with a presidential election year — which typically drives down ratings — and a hyper-politicized sports environment and I think the leagues are heading for a tough battle this fall.
I believe their ratings are likely to decline compared to pre-covid numbers.
As always send your anonymous mailbag questions to email@example.com.
And thanks for reading.