Friday, November 04, 2005

 

Existential Friday: Prioritizing worry

There are too many things to worry about, and I don't have time to worry about them all. Here is my list of worries, in no particular order. Indeed, that's part of the problem -- I need to prioritize.

Oscar Madison's Worries
Partial List (in no particular order)
  1. Avian flu.
  2. Flu in general.
  3. Should I get a flu shot, either for general flu or avian flu? Will the government use the flu shot as an opportunity to catalogue my genetic code as part of an alien colonization project?
  4. Whether any aspect of the X-Files conspiracy might be at least partly true.
  5. Environmental degradation in general.
  6. Whether the electric power plant in my neighborhood is polluting the air to a sufficient degree to locate my home within a cancer cluster.
  7. Low level radiation or electromagnetism produced by wireless telecommunications (WiFi, cell phones, cordless phone handsets, etc.) Do these cause cancer?
  8. Mass bird kills caused by cellular telephone signal towers.
  9. Disastrous climatic conditions caused by global warming.
  10. My hair -- loss, graying, etc.
  11. Adulteration of the food supply by industrial food production -- toxic pesticides, genetic modification of foods, anti-biotics and growth hormones fed to livestock, mad cow disease and the feeding of animal bi-products to livestock.
  12. Adulteration of labelling by FDAm allowing agribusiness to use "organic" label for foods that aren't all that organic.
  13. Secret CIA prisons abroad.
  14. Am I saving enough for retirement?
  15. Terrorism -- bio, nuclear, and plain old.
  16. Will I live to retirement?
Will prioritizing these worries actually help me, though? Maybe what I need is a broad approach to worry management. For example, should I follow the rule "only worry about things you can control?" That would bring retirement savings to the forefront (at least arguably), and put bio-terrorism back a few. But what about avian flu? I can't control that, but maybe I can control whether or not to get a flu shot. And maybe I should be preparing for bio-terrorism or climatic disasters by storing gallons of drinking water and canned goods in my basement.

Should I assign certain worries to others, and allow myself to ignore them? Phantom Scribbler, for instance, seems to be doing the worrying of ten people on the subject of avian flu. Maybe she can take on my avian flu worries. But then, maybe I'd just be sticking my head in the sand -- I worry about becoming that sort of person.

Sometimes others' worries become a source of worry. B is concerned about hearing some opinion poll allegedly showing that 59% of Americans believe that the Book of Revelations is an accurate prediction of future events, or want the Rapture to come about, or some such. Without knowing all the details, I guess that Jews don't do so well in the Tribulation that precedes the Rapture.

B wants us to come up with a contingency plan in case a 21st century Holocaust comes to America. People who temporarily wallow in gloom about the political future of our country often say "Canada," as in "if that happens, I'm moving to Canada," but I point out to B that that notion of Canada is an idealization that may be little more than a figure of speech. Why would Canada be such a sanctuary if the United States goes all to hell?

So what's the worry here: religious nuts take over the country and launch anti-semitic Jihad? Canada not a realistic refuge? Real estate prices in Canada? Are we saving enough for second home in Canada? Or B worrying too much about stuff?

Comments:
Hmm, I think I'd rather surrender to the Jihadists than move to canadia.
 
I'm with you on much of this (though I don't much care about my hair), but you don't need to worry too much about Avian Flu ... kimchi may save us:

www.jsonline.com/alive/news/nov05/367937.asp

I too wonder if we're collapsing into a religio-fascist nightmare in this country. If so, I'm going a lot farther than Canada. (France sounds good today, Australia's pretty nice, but you go where you have to.) Still, before we pack suitcases to keep by the door, we may still have some chance to ward this off.
 
How about if we organize a worry co-op? I'll worry about avian flu for everybody, since I seem to have got that down anyway. And B could take over worrying about 21st-century anti-Semitism? I'd really appreciate it. If she could just raise the red flag and let me know when it's time for me to stop procrastinating and get the family all passports, that would be great.

By the way, I suppose if we really wanted to answer the question, "Is Canada a realistic refuge?" we ought to ask some Canadian Jews. I'll poll my friends if you'll poll yours...
 
Personally I am worried that Oscar's mid-life crisis is going on waaaaaaaaaaaaay too long.

psssst, Oscar -- your hair looks just fab!
 
Um, I don't mean to add to your worries but . . . how can you not be worried about what Bush is doing to the Supreme Court? And there was no mention about the effects of poverty? Are you really not worried about poverty? Worrying about poverty keeps me up at night! What about child maltreatment? Do you have any idea how many children are in the child welfare system due to abuse and neglect by their caretakers? And what about identity theft? And all that data that's being collected about ordinary citizens by the government and corporations? What the hell are they doing with all that information?

I could go on. Believe me -- I could go on.
 
Don't get a flu shot. You'll only have to worry about whether the particular flu you'd get is the one the vaccine is for. Why go to the trouble of doing something that just replaces one worry for another? I've only once gotten a flu shot: when President Ford told us all to do it (a 70s craze). And I've only once gotten the flu (in a different year). It was terrible!

Hope this helps.
 
With the riots in France and in Argentina.. I wonder if the worker rebellion is on the way..
 
stock up on purell and hand wipes like "Monk" uses. And face masks. That will solve your avian flu worries. (oh, and don't share towels or sleep in the same room as someone with symptoms). And up your vitamin C doses.

The people I know in Canada seem to be quite personable, and one of my Canadian friends owns 50 acres somewhere (Vancouver, I think). I plan to cultivate them and more in case I need a "safe house" at some point as a prelude to emigration.

After watching "Inside Katrina" on the National Geographic channel (and not a porn film as you might infer from the title), having a couple of weeks of non-perishable foodstuffs and potable water stocked in the house is not a bad plan in general. If a disaster strikes, response times may be slower than you think from watching TV shows. It will also go very well with my case of sterno, purchased before Y2K.

But by all means, continue to worry about retirement.

And you can add "sending Linney to Veterinary School" to the list, as well :)
 
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Hello there,

Well done on such a great blog.

Keep it up.

Cheers

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