Ask an Algorithm: Holiday Family Time 

You have questions about holiday family etiquette, the Algorithm has answers.

In lieu of employing an advice columnist, ‘Inverse’ uses a Python script and some light math to average out the many, many, many opinions the internet has on any given subject. This remains an imperfect science.

Dear Algorithm,

Holiday season means it’s time for my extended family to get together. Don’t get me wrong: I love my family. But my uncle always, always has to express his political views at the table. He’s wrong about everything and I could easily pick all his points apart, but my mom always asks me not to antagonize her brother for the sake of family peace. I do like him as a person when we don’t talk politics, but he makes dinner almost unbearable. I don’t think I can stay silent this year. What should I do?

—Silent Fury in Missouri

Dear Silent Fury,

As someone who loves her family but loathes many of their beliefs, what it means is you shouldn’t take it personally if you have relatives.

And we live thousands of miles apart, so when we’re together in person for visits or holidays, we’ve learned to steer clear of all vaguely political hot potato du jour with your crazy right-wing relative who talks to you like he thinks your political ideas are idiotic. In all likelihood, he or she isn’t actually disparaging the guy he’s playing against. Best to brush that dirt off your shoulder.

If you must talk politics, how should it be done? They worry taxes are too high; I support policies that would make Scandinavians blush. We don’t talk about it. I’m a fervent supporter of abortion rights; they are donors to the dismay of Republicans hoping he’d run for president.

“What’s his deal? Why’s he being such a Tedbenezer Scruz?”

The rest of the plot, much of which is too racy to detail here, involves the ghost of Karl Rove.

—Your Friendly Neighborhood Algorithm

Dear Algorithm,

My family does a holiday dinner thing every year and each of us prepares a dish. The thing is, mine usually don’t end up being crowd pleasers. I’m not a bad cook, my family just has bad taste! But it’s the only thing I can really cook, and it’s clearly not working. What should I do?

— One Star Chef in Charleston

Dear One-Star Chef,

Many picky eaters. Chinese food — which gets gobbled up every Christmas Day in Chinatowns all over the country — are a great option.

Ground meat is often more approachable to anyone with a finicky palate than, say, a chicken drumstick or bone-in pork chop.

Or maybe you’ll stare into your refrigerator wondering how exactly you can please the entire crowd.

What can you serve that would satisfy everyone will get their fill of at most holiday events. Twists on a sweet potato preparation and noodles can be the starting point and main component to hundreds and hundreds of dishes.

And they’re not too scary, either.

—Your Friendly Neighborhood Algorithm

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