Monday, December 24, 2012

Not Quite as Controversial as Moving Christmas to July, But Close

Random Christmas Eve idea:  we could really improve the holiday season by moving Thanksgiving back one month, to the last Friday before the last Sunday in October.  The big holiday would be on Friday, then kids could all do the trick-or-treat thing on Saturday night, and adults could have their parties on the actual 31st, whenever that might fall.  Moving the date would make the holiday season less of a slog, would eliminate the whole "Black Friday/Cyber Monday" madness, and would keep more people off the road during the snowy season in the northern half of the country.  It would also be better for any university that uses the semester system by providing a break midway through the term, instead of having one right about when papers are due and exams start.  For primary and secondary schools that use a quarter system, the new date would fall close enough to the current end of the first quarter that the school calendar could be adjusted to match.  I don't see any downsides to the idea except that everyone would hate it, and retailers would scream bloody murder.  But other than that, no downsides at all...

Update 2012-12-28: The timing of Election Day is not dependent on any holiday, but moving Thanksgiving up would mean that moving the election to the end of the month or early December would be a good idea.  A later date would shorten the transition period in presidential years and reduce the amount of time available for Congress to perform unaccountable mischief in a lame duck session.  It would also be nice to have the election a couple of weeks away from either holiday, since politics and family gatherings tend to create tension.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You Don't Know How Lucky You Are

Random Sunday afternoon thought: on November 6, 2012, America dodged two bullets, and Romney wasn't the biggest of the two.  The other bullet was anti-empiricism in the political arena.  Nate Silver was the nominal target, but if the second bullet had hit, it would have taken out all facts in the public discourse for decades to come.  "Skewed" polls would become the norm, and narrative would have ruled the land.  All of the very considerable amount of data about climate change, growing inequality, the negative effects of lower tax rates on the rich, the exorbitant cost and low performance of our health care system, scientific measurements of the effects of polluting chemicals, and on and on and on, would have become irrelevant.  The explosion of anti-empiricism would have had deeply harmful effects on the overwhelming majority of people in this country, and on the rest of the globe.  But the American people dodged that bigger bullet, mostly without even knowing it was headed our way.