The “Tragedy of Afghanistan” Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. Enjoy.

S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate political gabfest for August 18, 20, 21. The Tragedy of Afghanistan, Ed.. I am David Klauss, city councilman here in Washington, D.C. I’m joined, thankfully, by Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School from her home in Connecticut. Hello, Emily. Hey, David. And John Dickerson is still away on vacation. So we have a wonderful a wonderful substitute for John, even more brilliant than John, possibly Alexandra Petri, who’s the columnist for The Washington Post and joined us for our Conundrum show this year. Right, Alexandra.

Advertisement

S3: Yes, I did. Welcome back. Hello.

S1: David makes everything comparative. He can never just praise. It always has to be at someone else’s expense.

S2: That is kind of true.

S3: It’s all relative in some way.

S2: Yeah, that’s true. Actually, I’m a cultural relativist. This week we will talk about the tragedy in Afghanistan. Could it have been prevented? What should we do now? We’re going to talk to any Pforzheimer a diplomat who helped shape Afghanistan policy for much of the past decade. Then the attempted recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom. Could it succeed? What does it tell us about the state of American politics? And then a funny a funny topic. We’re going to do pandemic ethics. We are going to tackle a string of late pandemic conundrums like should you see your unboxed friends, for example? Plus, we’re going to have cocktail chatter to help us make sense of the tragedy in Afghanistan. We are joined by any Pforzheimer who is a non-resident associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And she was the deputy chief of mission in Kabul in 2017 and 2018 and also the assistant secretary of state for Afghanistan until March of 2019. So any thanks for joining us. I want to start with with some practical questions insofar as you might have answers to them, what is actually happening at the airport in Kabul and is there an orderly process there? And who is who is there? Who is going through whatever process is happening

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: at this point? And thank you for having me. There is no orderly process outside the airport. I’m sure that within it there are people checking paperwork and deploying evacuation flights. But the really tragic story right now is what’s happening around it. The airport has two main roads that come in to it, and these are being choked off by the Taliban who are not permitting people, even those with paperwork to go forward. In many cases, they are doing so at gunpoint.

S1: So we’ve read a lot about paperwork interfering with these special immigrant visas and also just about, I think, the kind of tangle of the decision to exit Afghanistan for the US military to exit and how that connects to how terribly botched and full of miscalculations the actual very chaotic exit has been to me. I bring up the visas because this question of, you know, how to protect people who worked with and helped the U.S. seems so important. But I just wonder how you think about this larger question. Was there a way to leave that was not this way? And what steps could have been taken to prevent, you know, the chaos that you’re talking about?

Advertisement

S4: Well, first of all, I think that, you know, over and above the daily grind of news stories, I think Americans have to think about the larger picture that the U.S. has to remain engaged in Afghanistan, even if there’s some kind of successful evacuation, 35 million people are staying behind. And so there’s a lot that we still need to do. Could this have been done differently? There are many, many ways it could have been. But the most important of these was that we shouldn’t have been signaling our departure date. That was the biggest strategic error that was made out of quite a few. We had the option of keeping forces in country and making all of these procedures take the time they needed to take without this kind of terrible pressure. And at this point, civilians being, you know, facing armed men trying to run for their lives.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I’ve been so curious about this question about what is the mistake of signaling the departure date. Those people who who made the decision to signal both in the Trump administration and later in the Biden administration, what is the logic of that signaling?

S4: Why did they put a departure date in there?

S2: Yeah, why did they think that signaling made sense?

S4: Well, those of us and I was still working within the State Department for part of this process who understood or think we understand the. Quality of the Taliban and Afghanistan in general told them repeatedly that that was a mistake because it obviously drew away the motivation to remain at negotiations. If they knew exactly when we were leaving, we had given away our leverage. Why did people do it? It really feels more like it was a signaling to the American people that they meant it and that they wouldn’t be drawn into some sort of indefinite commitment. But I think the people we needed to be worrying about in this case were the ones in Afghanistan

Advertisement

S3: as someone who was primary thought, as a sense of great sorrow for the people in Afghanistan, especially those who’ve put their lives and their family’s lives at risk to help the United States, is this is sort of a gut wrenching example of the consequences that government processes can have on people’s life, especially with the paperwork situation. And I know there’s also other problems on the ground, but is there something that you recommend could happen with the paperwork now in terms of making it serve the people it’s supposed to serve, as opposed to being a process to sort of exist in a void?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: I think there are many things that could happen which would reflect the requirements of the moment. I will say that, you know, the way that we look at immigration and visas are a version of immigration, is that the people being served are the American people. We’re always looking to protect our immigration laws, our borders, our security. So that’s why the procedures have been so very complex and time consuming. But there are emergency situations where we have to look beyond our most narrow interests. And I think that there are signs that Congress, which is really the place where those changes have to happen, is reflecting the urgency and is streamlining the process.

Advertisement

S2: And the Taliban have ruled Afghanistan before, or at least an organization by the name of the Taliban, maybe. I don’t know how much it’s exactly the same people, but the same guiding institution has ruled it before. And they lost power because they gave shelter to al-Qaida because they create a huge amount of resentment internationally and they became international pariahs and they were driven out of power. Do you think there is any reason to hope that the Taliban that has taken power in Afghanistan, twenty, twenty one is going to be a better international actor? They will. They don’t want international sanctions on them. They want access to Afghan assets abroad. They presumably don’t want to be overthrown in another invasion. And as a result, are they likely to protect the rights of women any better than they did to to not engage and in bloodshed on a mass scale against people who worked with with the United States?

Advertisement

S4: I like many others. I hope the same thing you do. The logic is certainly there. But there’s another logic in the world, which is if you if you believe that you won a great victory by being true to your ideals, you know that you have kicked the biggest superpower in the world in the Teeth because you were faithful. I don’t really see that you’re going to worry that much about what the rest of the world thinks of you. I think you believe that you had the right formula. So the way that they are going about things, you know, everyone’s gathering evidence day by day, hour by hour. What questions are they asking? Who are they harassing? Are they shooting people or are they just scaring people? We do not have enough evidence now to know how they think they’re going to govern. But I’m not that hopeful that they have changed in any kind of deep or fundamental way.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Forgive me if this is kind of a dumb question, but I keep stumbling on the fact that the estimates for the number of Taliban, as I understand it, are around 75000. And we’re talking about a country of more than thirty five million people. Obviously, they’re the ones in military control right now and they have all the tools of fear that come along with that. But is there a way in which they’re just going to have to work with some of the civil servants and local governments that will, you know, ameliorate some of the kind of pressures you were just talking about? I mean, I completely understand that if you just one, especially if you have this kind of fundamentalist ideology that you’re not eager to compromise, but is there just like a reality on the ground that might not allow them to impose the kind of rule they had before?

Advertisement

S4: I think it’s a great question. There are a couple of different aspects of it. Number one is that there are parts of Afghanistan where their idea of rule and social behavior is is more accepted. And so they’re not swimming against the tide with those in those areas and they come to some kind of accommodation in the more urban areas in Afghanistan. Is vastly more urbanized now than it was 20 years ago. Yes, they will be basically trying to impose rules that people are going to resist, but they have a ruthlessness about imposing their own order. The assassination campaign that they’ve carried out over the last year has targeted the kind of voices that are the ones that channel that discontent. So they women judges or prominent media figures, women, police, these are the people that they and even sorry, moderate religious leaders. Those are the exact people who might be the voices of this resistance, and they’re the ones that have been picked off. So I think they know what they’re doing as far as a small number of people imposing their will on a much larger one. I do think that some negotiation will be possible to moderate some of their worst excesses. You know, at least I think there’s a little bit of hope for that.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Any I’ve seen in your writing, in other interviews you’ve done, you’ve made a really good point to sort of not to completely give in to despair and assume there’s nothing to do. And it’s the United States is in a position of complete and utter powerless. And you’re saying we always have something to do. I’m interested in particular what you think the United States and its allies can do right now to protect the rights and the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan.

S4: I think one of the first decision points for the international community that matters is the issue of recognition. That should be something now that we have given away almost all of our leverage, we only have a few tools left. So let’s look at them carefully. Recognition, political recognition, diplomatic status for whatever a new government may be. And I think probably a government that will include some members of the former regime that has to come at a price to the Taliban, that they will agree to abide by Afghanistan’s international human rights commitments and they should agree to some version of international supervision of those rights. You know, that’s tricky, right? But Afghanistan has had a vibrant media. So what is the ask from us all is protect the media and let the media and of course, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission let their own watchdogs, domestic ones in Afghanistan be the ones who tell us what’s happening. This is something they are very capable of doing, but they need our protection. And the place that this hell has to get worked out is probably in the United Nations Security Council.

S1: That’s really interesting. I just want to ask about one other tool money. You know, Afghanistan is a very poor country that relies a lot on international aid. There is a lot of fear of hunger and malnutrition and other poverty borne causes of illness and death. And I wonder if that is another piece of leverage the international community has.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: It’s a mixed piece of leverage. There are ways in which humanitarian assistance, of course, did continue under the previous Taliban regime and can continue. And it’s vitally important. There’s drought, there’s pandemic and the poverty, as you mention. But I think is a little too simple to imagine that the Taliban would be motivated by development aid, which was usually aimed at institution building and human rights and things that they’ve shown patently no interest in. And honestly, they have their hands on a vast amount of natural resources and mineral wealth and of course, the poppy trade. So we shouldn’t sort of fool ourselves into thinking that the international community’s assistance is, you know, is the biggest amount of money out there. And then Russia and China and Iran are all interested in Afghanistan’s resources and will be you know, we’ll be there to be friends, the Taliban. These are all reasons why obviously people like me thought that the withdrawal, the abrupt withdrawal was really a strategic error.

S3: One of the things I’ve been sort of struck by is at least on the Internet, there’s a sort of rash of people who, like seconds ago, you thought they were like a furniture blog. And suddenly they’re like, I actually know what we should have done in Afghanistan. And I wonder if there’s something you wish people knew before they started, like weighing in.

S4: I wish people paid attention to how we want simple narratives. You know, the Meira. It wasn’t the America’s war in Afghanistan. We were like one player among so many others. And when we. There’s still all those other players, so this concept that we end the war by leaving is so wrong, you know, and I don’t mean to be tedious, but like if you sort of want to start explaining all the different complexities, then people are not that interested. But you can’t have, you know, something happen across the world where people have had long standing rivalries and fights and fighting for four decades, enter it and willfully remain ignorant of all of the swirling interests around you.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: And before you go, I just have one question which you can answer or not. I’m curious if there’s any particular Afghan. Who you worked with or you knew who you’re thinking about and worried about and obviously don’t disclose any identifying information that would put them at risk, but is there anyone who’s who’s particularly in your thoughts?

S4: Oh, absolutely. My best Afghan friend was very young when I met him the first tour I was there and just the smartest observer of individuals in politics. And I used to tell him that every time I used one of his observations when I was in an embassy meeting, people were to tell me how smart I was. And he is scared and he is still there. And he is someone I think about pretty constantly.

S2: If you want if you’re an American and you want to help at this moment, like where? Where is that money? Where to

S4: do so? My answer is not a satisfactory one because the amount of money that’s needed to put things right is not, you know, sort of at the individual level. It’s two things. Number one is that Congress has to really fully fund the refugee resettlement. But they do that right. They know how to do that. They they have that money. And there are wonderful organizations geared up and ready to go. But also the ask I make is it people call their congressmen and say, I care and I want us to stay engaged in Afghanistan even after a successful evacuation? Because you get this congressional. Oh, nobody calls. Nobody cares. The withdrawal is fine kind of narrative, and it’s it’s fatal. So I just keep saying that. And I don’t think people have to ask for some specific thing. They just say, I want us to stay engaged. That’s it.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Any Pforzheimer is a non-resident associate with CSIS and was a longtime diplomat for the United States, particularly in Afghanistan. Annie, thank you so much for joining us.

S4: Thank you very much for having me.

S2: On September 14th, Californians will vote in one of the weirdest elections you will ever see, they will have the chance to vote on two questions. The first question is whether to recall Governor Gavin Newsom, the Democrat who’s been governor for the past three years, and if. More than 50 percent of Californians vote to recall him, he will stop being the governor, there’s a second question on the ballot, which they will answer at the same time. So before they know whether Newsom has been recalled, they will cast a second vote, choosing among dozens of candidates for who they want to replace Newsom should he fail to get that 50 percent. So it’s entirely possible, Alexandra, that Gavin Newsom gets 49 percent of the vote on September 14th and is recalled as governor stops being governor. And then one of the whatever it is, forty six, dozens of people gets 10 or 15 percent of the the vote on the second question by finishing first becomes the new governor of California. That is an entirely possible scenario. What the hell is going on there? How do we end up with a situation like that? Does it make any sense?

S3: Oh, it’s absolutely wild. I feel like the also the possibility that he could be replaced by a guy who’s been campaigning with a live bear. I just feel like we should keep the bear front and center as much as possible in this. But it was fascinating reading about this, that the origin of this was in like the progressive era. Hiram Johnson, who was Teddy Roosevelt’s vice presidential candidate, was like, you know what we need? We need to fight the big railroad in California. We’ve got to have a more just system where the people can gather together. And if their elected representatives aren’t representing their interests, we can recall them and pull them back, Democrat or Republican. It makes no difference. It’s not going to be a partisan tool. We’ll have this wonderful thing. And now it’s like this is absolutely it seems, as far as we can tell, probably, definitely a partisan tool because it’s a wonderful way of getting a minority of voters to propel their candidate into the office of power. So it does seem like a strange novelty thing that’s like so many of the tools of democracy has been around for a very long time and was implemented with wonderful intentions and now was like, oh, but we didn’t think of this particular use case.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: So, Emily, what is wrong in particular with the California recall structure? Other states I mean, most states have some form of recall structure. If you have a governor who is running a a car car thief operation of the governor’s mansion, you probably want a way to recall them. But what’s wrong with California and how is it different than other states?

S1: Well, everything is wrong with it. So you need 12 percent of the votes of the voters in the previous gubernatorial election to sign a petition asking for the recall. That’s a lot of people, but it’s hardly like a majority. It’s not even like a significant plurality. Then you have an up or down vote on whether to recall the governor and then a follow up vote on who should replace him or her. The governor’s name can’t be on the list of other candidates, and none of them have to win anything like a majority. So there’s no runoff. And that’s why you can have the situation. You described where Newsom could be recalled by, you know, forty nine percent and then someone could end up being the governor with like 12 or 13 or 15 percent, which is totally undemocratic. Would it be just think about that?

S2: Would it be solved if you just allowed the sitting governor to appear on the ballot as who should be the governor?

S1: I mean, you could do that. I think, first of all, I don’t actually believe in recall elections. If you have a governor running a car theft operation, you can impeach them or embarrass them into resigning. I mean, we just saw that happen in New York with Andrew Cuomo. It doesn’t always happen. But when something is sufficiently scandalous, it tends to happen. And you know what? There’s also this thing called the next election, which is how you deal with politicians that you don’t like. I think they feel particularly strongly about this because I live in a city that has two year terms for the mayor. You’re only mayor for two years and it’s bananas. It’s a really bad idea. It means that you govern for like 18 months.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: So I wait till you hear about the House of Representatives. No, I’m kidding.

S1: Yeah, well, at least those people are not administrators, right? I mean, I think you could make an argument for four year House terms, too. But I think especially when you have administrative responsibilities, when you’re running the government, you should be able to, like, have some time to do it. And so this to me is some like democracy on overdrive that ends up being undemocratic.

S2: That’s actually going back to our Afghanistan topic. One of the things that was wrong in Afghanistan, people said, is that the US had whenever there were competent people. They would get circulated, you’d be you’d serve for a year doing something you’re doing well, so they’d put you on another assignment. And so people never stuck in assignments where they were doing effective work.

S1: But that’s it was part of why we didn’t have sustained policy to. Right. Yeah. And that’s a problem, I think, with this kind of recall system as well. I think it’s just a big mistake. And finally, whatever apparatus there is, if you’re going to go down this mistaken road, you should have the person who wins have to have a majority of voters behind them. That just seems like fun.

S3: Yeah, this didn’t come up in 2003 with Arnold Schwarzenegger because he did get like more votes than the person he was replacing.

S1: But yeah, although I was looking and he did. You’re right. But he got forty eight point six percent of the vote.

S3: So still a lot of.

S1: Yeah, exactly.

S2: But the well, it’s hard to get a majority when there are 20 people in a race.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Yeah. Although that wasn’t the case with Schwarzenegger, I don’t think. But in any case, let’s continue

S2: the so Alexandra is Newsom. Do you think any governor in this position in California is going to basically face recalls from now on because of negative partisanship? Or is it Newsom? Is that Newsom uniquely or specifically is being recalled because of stupid things that he did either around the pandemic or his masterclass, his incredibly gushingly idiotic decision to have a mass, less celebratory dinner at California swankiest restaurant during peak covid, which just pissed a lot of people off and were like, screw it.

S3: Oh, yes, the infamous French Laundry dinner. No, I think there’s a a confluence of circumstances that led to this happening where it’s a combination of the fact that they got an extension from a judge to get signatures during the pandemic and that he managed to do this spectacular faux pas that combined every aspect of politics that people don’t like. And so people have been doing recalls there before. They just haven’t cleared the signature threshold, which is, as you mentioned, not super high. But I mean, given how large California is, it seems like a lot of people, but percentage wise, it’s really nothing. But they were able to clear that this time because of those two things combined. So I think

S1: a lot of money. Right. Let’s make clear, this is a way that if you have a ton of money, you can be a spoiler,

S3: although there’s so much money going into it just in general right now. I mean, to keep him, I think it’s like fifty one point three million or some cartoonishly large number, which could be goiters, almost any other purpose more productively?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Well, also, the two hundred seventy six million dollars it takes to stage the election could be going to almost any other purpose more productively as well.

S1: It’s just a giant sinkhole.

S2: So the leading Republican in the race, the the person who is so there’s a whole bunch of people who put in to become Newsom’s successor should he fail to meet the 50 percent threshold. And they’re bunch there’s a guy campaigning with a bear. And then there’s this conservative talk radio host, libertarian conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, who is a opposes the minimum wage. He’s been a climate change denier. Why does he is he first in this pact? Because he’s leading. And so the theory is, if Newsom is recalled, this guy, Elder, who is just a conservative talk radio host, could be the governor of California.

S1: I mean, he has a platform, he has money behind him, and also we’re talking about such a small percentage rate, he’s leading, but not like with some large number of people. And so it seems almost like anyone could be in that position.

S2: Do you think Alexandra for a game theory perspective that the Democrats are choosing not to try to field a strong backup candidate is is bold or unbelievably stupid and a ludicrous risk? So to Newsom has basically made it clear he does not want any strong Democrat putting himself out there to be his replacement should he fail to get the 50 percent threshold as a result that people who are leading in the vote are all Republicans. And there’s no Northern California congressman who’s setting his cap to become governor by sneaking in. And the recall, is that a bad decision on the Democrat’s part?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: Well, it does have a sort of sense of creeping horrible deja vu where you think, oh, well, we’re just setting up such a stark alternative that people will certainly be motivated to vote against this Trump analogous figure. Certainly no Trump analogous figure would possibly be elected to any sort of large office because people will see this threat and respond to it. And just that a certain chill falls over my soul when I hear that sentence.

S1: But what could possibly go?

S3: Nothing. Nothing historically or even in the present.

S2: No chance that Dianne Feinstein could die under this new Republican governor, is there? Not at all. None of that.

S3: Oh, good. I hadn’t even thought about that. But there’s so many things that could occur.

S1: Then again, the

S3: the people they were naming is like, well, what what if Tom Steyer is running? I’m like, well, I’m not sure that Tom Steyer will be the solution to this problem either, although he did have that fun event where he really gets Icona Pop out there to deejay his events. And like, you know, that would have an element of fun, I suppose, to contrast with the bear. So maybe they should have thought about it from that perspective.

S2: Emily, do you think the Democrats should have felt fielded should field someone?

S1: I don’t know. I feel so. The whole thing is just such a waste. I mean, I can understand if you’re Gavin Newsom, you’re like, no way the governor like you give them this alternative than it lets them off the hook. On the other hand, you know, going to a fancy restaurant indoors during covid when you told everyone else not do for like a, you know, wealthy donor, it’s like a textbook error. And it plays right into the kind of fancy pants image that Gavin Newsom has, which is, of course, that fundamental error of politics that I feel like John would make sure to say if he was here, which is like when you make the mistake, that just makes everyone think about what they already didn’t like about you. That’s the thing that really sticks.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: OK, but

S1: sure, I should note that Gavin Newsom denies that this dinner took place indoors. He has a theory that the restaurant had three sides, and so it actually fell within California’s covid rules. But come on, is it a venal, venal thing?

S2: It’s a venal, either venal,

S3: 51 million dollars worth of indulgences. And that’ll probably. But no, I think it is an interesting question, which is how much is this about him, though? And how much did it just about somebody figured out, hey, there’s this nifty loophole where any time a Democrat is governor of California, we can change that.

S1: Right. And what the Democrats really should do, what you know, the legislators should do in California is change this recall system.

S2: Oh, I thought you were going to say what the Democrats really should do is if Newsom loses, is that recall whoever succeeds him on day one.

S1: Yeah, but by the time you do that, it’s going to be time for the next election.

S2: Guarantee that someone.

S1: I’m sure you’re right. Absolutely. That will happen. But couldn’t they

S3: do like a Dave situation where they get somebody else whose name is like a Gavin Newsom would like to Vee’s and then he’s like, oh, I’m going to step down and, you know, in favor of my favorite friend Gavin with one we like. Couldn’t they do some sort of ballot thing? I feel like there’s a lot of people I mean, like in the name Gavin Newsom of all the names, that they would easily be a duplicate person out there. I’m not 100 percent on that.

S1: I like where you’re taking this Alexandra it’s appropriately absurdist.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I would like there to be. When you mentioned Hiram Johnson, I feel like there should be more politicians named Hyrum. That would be even better.

S3: Yeah, or fire them. Heyo.

S2: Politicians is do you guys think do you guys think that Newsom is going to hold.

S1: This off, I mean, probably, but people have to turn out and people are kind of pissed off and tired of this whole thing, they are mailing tons of ballots, though, so hopefully that will help.

S3: I think the mailing will help. I think it does. It comes down to turnout, she said, an original insight no one had ever uttered before.

S2: Well, time will tell.

S1: All right.

S2: Another one. Another one.

S1: We earned our bad pundit marks this morning.

S2: Slate plus members. You get bonus segments on the gabfest and you also get benefits like no ads on any Slate podcast, as well as bonus episodes of some slate shows like Slow Burn and Dear Prudence. Our topic this week, Alexandra, who is one of the funniest writers alive now, maybe not alive or dead. One of the funniest writers.

S3: No hit got the direction I was not expecting.

S2: She’s going to tell us some of her favorite funny books and we will tell her some of ours and funny writers. I cannot wait for this. I just read a really funny books. I’m in the mood for funny things. I’m excited about this. We’ve talked endlessly, as we should have, about the pandemic, about Delta, about me asking about schools. But in the course of that, we have ended up skipping over some of the pandemic and lifestyle questions that actually occupy most people’s thoughts most of the time when they think about it, this kind of conundrum of pandemic life. So when we were thinking about what should we talk about today, we’re thinking, oh, should we talk about booster shots? We’re like, actually, there’s a whole bunch of sort of small questions that you grapple with which some moral or ethical or just efficiency questions that that we haven’t gone after. So I’m going to start with you, Alexandra. There was a Wall Street Journal piece that you pointed out about remote work. And we’re all lots of us, a remote working. And this was a story about people who are doing remote work. And they were like, you know what, I can do two jobs remotely because no one’s going to know that I’m working on my second job. I can just mediocracy, do two jobs instead of my regular one job where I showed up in the office and just had to do it to my side. Hustle can now be a real job, too. Is it OK to work two jobs and hide the second one from your other employer?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: I think my answer on this might be surprising, which I think it’s if you want to subject yourself to working two full time jobs and are able to perform them to a level that people aren’t bothered by that. Yeah, go ahead. I mean, knock yourself out. I mean, I think it’s sort of a testament to how much time you spend at the office knowing like, oh, I have to sit here, but I’m not really doing anything. That sort of remote work has pulled the emperor’s suit off of that a little bit. And some people are like, I’m going to respond to that by going to the beach. But some people are like, I’m going to respond to that by taking on another full time job. And I say more power to them, honestly.

S2: All right. That brings up another question in this vein, Emily. So, so much so when you used to go to the office, those of us who had office jobs, you know, you could maybe sneak out to go to the bank at lunchtime or something. But now if you’re working at home, there’s so much so much of my workday at home. I’m doing chores. I’m like preparing dinner, doing the laundry, or maybe I even walk out to do the grocery shopping and do a phone call while I’m doing my grocery shopping. Is that OK? And should you admit it when you’re doing that or should you try to hide it?

S1: Well, are you less productive, are you actually just doing just as much or more work out of some sense of duty and guilt, but spreading it out and mixing it up with these other activities?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: My girlfriend actually has a brilliant thing I may have talked about before, which is that what she’s on? She if she’s doing her Zoome call, she turns her camera off and rather than be on her computer because she knows she’ll just like surf Twitter, she does. She she irons or folds her laundry and she’s she pays much more attention to work because she’s basically doing this mindless, useful task on the side so that she’s more productive because she’s doing something else.

S1: Yeah, I actually do some of that, too. I’m a big sweeper of the floor

S2: sweeping the floor, so I

S3: can’t know if you’re listening to a podcast while you’re also ironing. What I did on a resume called Not a work call. I should clarify this. I’m like, I will also work out and I’ll just be on my video off. And that didn’t work as well, because you have to be kind of like doing one of those video things where you have to like, you know, lower your eyes and inhale and do all this stuff. I wouldn’t recommend that. I think there’s limits to what you can multitask.

S1: Yeah, I think that the double workout multitasking. If you end up like someone asked you a question or you just have a secondary, it’s you can’t fake it because you’re like. Right. You’re breathing really hard. You can’t answer. So I agree that there are certain settings and we could think of more of them that are not a good idea to combine, but ironing or folding laundry or sweeping the floor like.

S2: Yeah, what about leaving, you know, going out and going for a walk or going and doing your shopping and

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: not doing compunction about that. Yeah, I don’t I guess I don’t feel like leaving the house is any I don’t see a boundary there. Like I’m fine with people. People go for walks all the time. Now on meetings, sometimes people schedule meetings that are walk meetings. And I think that’s really fine. I mean, I guess it’s a little bit distracting and sometimes you have to commute, etc.. But again, I think often people think better when they’re moving around, when their bodies engage. So that seems totally fine to me.

S3: Yeah. I also think it sort of comes down to this idea of like who are we really serving here by being very mean in the gray flannel suit and typing frantically at our desks all the time. Just do the appearance of working. Whereas if we just got to use that time to go to the dentist, then we could still produce the same amount like it’s this very sort of puritanical someone’s looking down and judging me type vibe. I’ve got to work. There’s Calvinism in my heritage sort of energy that I think it’s nice to maybe get away from a bit.

S2: Yeah, but it is, you know, that’s just it’s also one of these inequitable divides in life, which is there are certain people who have jobs where you have to be physically present. Yeah. You can’t you can’t be a coffee shop barista without being in the coffee shop to death. You can’t can’t work in a warehouse in the warehouse

S1: or you can’t be a doctor or a nurse seeing patients. But on the other hand,

S2: you can actually know that.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Oh, well, but you have like I don’t know, I guess you could fill the laundry. I feel like then people want to see you on Zoome. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. My friends are doctors went back to the to seeing patients in person a long time ago are going to the hospital and same with people I know who are nurses. One benefit of those jobs is you don’t have homework constantly hanging over your head all the time, which some office jobs do produce.

S3: You don’t have to take the espresso home and produce it overnight. Now, it’s got to say, speaking of jobs, you wouldn’t think could be remote. When I was in Tampa, back in I think 2012 for the Republican convention, I was visiting a lot of the strip clubs and there’s one called 2001 A Nude Odyssey, where you can actually make it rain remotely. They have like a technology where you you pay the website and then it spits dollar bills out on your behalf and sends you a video of that. So like things that you would think you might need to be present for, it turns out like the human human ingenuity continues.

S2: That is the efficiency revolution that everyone keeps talking about. OK, can we talk

S1: about the ethics of these third booster shots? Because I actually feel like that is really thorny or is that not fun? And the

S2: dish. Yeah, it’s sitting right there. Should you get a booster when much so much the world isn’t even very well?

S1: I feel very torn about it. I mean, I think there are people who should get a third job, like if you are immunocompromised or you’re in another risk group, you know, older people, I get it. I kind of think for the rest of us, it’s like super questionable right

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: now because it’s taking away from shots that could be going elsewhere in the world.

S1: Yeah, I mean, it just seems like we’ve already hogged vaccines to such a terrible degree. You know, all these international promises about some kind of equitable distribution of, as I can tell, kind of gone out the window. This just seems like totally adding to that. And, you know, for healthy people who are not older, well, I guess this is the problem, though. It’s really hard to tell what the rest of that sentence is right now like. Currently, it seems like for those people, the vaccines are working well enough that you get a breakthrough infection, you’re not going to be in the hospital and you’re not going to die in all likelihood. But if that changed on the line, then the ethics of the booster would change, too, I suppose.

S3: Yeah, I think it does really depend on the data. And there’s also the thing where by being vaccinated, you’re not just protecting yourself, but hopefully you’re making yourself less able to transmit it. Although doing with the Delta, everyone seems to think that you can still carry it. Oh, no, I’m sounding like somebody like a town hall meeting. I’m spewing medical misinformation, but I’ve.

S1: No, you’re

S3: right.

S2: It comes out of your pores. It comes out of your reports.

S3: No good ideas like you’re I mean, the whole sort of you’re masking not just to protect yourself, but to specifically to protect other other people. And with the vaccine, it’s a little bit more well, if I get it, I won’t be hospitalized. But then again, the best way for everyone to be safe is for more people to be vaccinated. I think the solution is for more people to be vaccinated. But, yeah, who should be should we be vaccinating people who already have been vaccinated? I think the priority should be people who haven’t been vaccinated yet.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Right. But then if we’re so but it matters so much whether you’re thinking beyond the country’s borders or not. If you’re thinking internationally, you think like, no way, we shouldn’t take these third shots. They absolutely should go to countries that have low rates of vaccination. If you’re thinking withinside the United States, yes, it would still be much better for the unvaccinated people, like the marginal benefit of that is much higher. But if they’re not going to do it right and they’re all these shots, well, then is there are some public health benefit?

S2: Yeah, I mean, it’s it I find it hard to work up a lot of energy to say that the unvaccinated people should get priority over for the booster, for Bridgette priority, for vaccination over people seeking booster’s because, man, they’ve been offered it so many times. And like I mean, we should keep offering. Of course, it’s more important. It’s a more important that the unvaccinated people get the shots.

S1: But you’re not going to go around, like judging people and not welcoming to them to your home because they took it there.

S2: But I’m not going to.

S1: Are you going to get a third job?

S2: I think I’m sure it depends on how readily available it is, what the evidence is about, like, you know, how much is the stealing from the world supply? If they if they set aside, you know, 40 million booster’s and they’re some going wanting, I’m sure I’ll be like, yeah, sure, why not?

S1: Were you I mean, I think similar calculus, like right now, I don’t feel comfortable taking one, but also no one’s offering it to me right now. So it’s not really a real world problem.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: So should you visit and spend rich, deep time in close contact with your unvaccinated friends?

S3: I like the concept of rich deep time also, I think. It’s interesting, some of the unvaccinated people I know were babies right now or like, you know, the people who physically can’t get vaccinated, they’re like friends who they’ve been vaccinated, they’ve been careful. But, you know, the guidance just doesn’t exist yet. And I have visited those babies. But I think it’s also you have to do so cautiously because they don’t have the protection that you have. And so it’s it’s not like I’m going to punish them by denying them deep time, although I’m sure the babies aren’t like, oh, my gosh, these I really enjoyed when you sort of sat there and tried to test my Determinants, but at the same time, it’s more like I’m worried for them than it is that I’m judging them for not being 12 yet.

S2: I guess. I mean, more adults when you have adults who might have children also not facts, but adults who’ve made a decision not to be vaccinated.

S1: I mean, I don’t feel really comfortable. I when I thought the vaccines were this incredible shield, I wasn’t thinking about this at all. And I really enjoyed not thinking about it. But now that we’re concerned about breakthrough infections and about infecting other people as carriers, I don’t feel comfortable being inside with people who I know aren’t vaccinated.

S2: I, I guess I, I think I come down on another side of this from you guys, which is sure there’s an increased risk, there’s an increased risk for them. There’s an increased risk for you of some sort. But man, if there’s anything I felt from the last year, it’s that human connection is human connection is number one, two and three in the world and. If you are vaccinated, it’s not that risky to you to go and spend time with someone who is unvaccinated is more risky to them than it is to you and. It it overcomes alienation and division and and builds human connection and love and and and comedy and community, and that’s like really, really, really important. Even though these are people who may have made a decision you disagree with or, you know, maybe living living in a way that you don’t you have disagreements with. But we have disagreements, like if you pushed on anybody deep enough, you would find that they held morally repugnant views and did things that you thought were completely outrageous.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Well, they might not also be causing a public health crisis, you know.

S2: Yeah, so you’re right. So you’re sitting there in judgment over them for helping to contribute to this public health crisis. That’s true. And and I but

S1: you’re also playing a potential role. I mean, I agree with you. The risk is relatively small. But I mean, why can’t you hang out with them with the windows really wide open and the breeze blowing or outside? Yeah, no,

S3: I would say because you

S2: can you can minimize risk, but it’s like do you avoid you’re like, oh dude, like I can’t we can’t come and see you.

S1: I’m so. No I haven’t. Oh yeah. No I

S3: think yeah. The you just go back to hanging out the way you had to hang out before anyone was vaccinated, which is you know, you’re outside, you’re in your winter coat, you’re six feet away. Reverting to that unvaccinated people is totally fine. But I think like there’s so much to be said for human connection, but I don’t want to do that at the cost of somebody might die if I can possibly avoid it. To me, it’s worth it to be a little bit inconvenienced.

S1: I mean, I think so. There is an ethical question about like the social pariah example you were just giving, David, which is like I mean, I don’t think I’m up for this personally, but you could argue that, you know, people should use their social capital to make unvaccinated people feel badly as a way of peer pressuring them into doing it. I just myself, it’s just so uncomfortable. I do have a friend who’s not vaccinated, and I spent some time in the spring like exhorting and making arguments and it didn’t work. And I just ended up feeling really frustrated about the whole thing. And I have given up and not brought it up for months. And maybe that’s just cowardice. But it goes back to what you were saying before, which is like trying to use human relationships to overcome division and not being a scold, I guess.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: Right.

S2: Does I mean, does that it’s also you’ve already answered your own question there, Emily, which is was it effective for you to harangue and guilt your friend to try to get them facts? And apparently it wasn’t. Now, maybe there are examples where it would be, but I my own experience is it’s really hard to shame and guilt people into doing things you don’t want them to do. You can compel them. You can force them to do things they don’t want to do. Well, your

S1: friends really

S2: know, not your friend. But yes, you can. You can. Yes, you can for sure.

S1: The government can force more like the faculty. I mean, I’m totally.

S2: Yeah, you can lobby. You should lobby for massive mandates is what you should do. I mean, for that shot.

S1: Well, yeah. Or you can’t go into a restaurant or the gym if you’re not vaccinated. Those inducements are seeming increasingly appealing to me.

S3: There was an interesting piece about people at Lake of the Ozarks who are still highly not vaccinated. And they said one of the things like people had had family members sending them all kinds of emails, but somebody had gotten vaccinated because there was a concern that that person wanted to attend where you needed to be vaccinated and like, oh, you know, your cousins and your aunts and your uncle and your sister said to you all the stuff didn’t make a difference. But having something that you wanted to do, the door was it apparently did. So more things like that, maybe.

S2: Let’s go to cocktail chatter. Emily, when you are sitting empty nest Allie at the end of this week, because I think you’re setting your second child off to college. Oh, wow. And you’re desperately down in cocktail after cocktail. What are you going to be slurring your cocktail chatter to? Your friends about

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: well, this is a funny piece of cocktail chatter to bring up with that intro, but as Gabfest readers know, I am very concerned about school and kids going back to school and the effects of the pandemic and exacerbating all our existing inequalities in education. And I read an article in The Lancet this week, a new article that I thought did a better job of just very clearly explaining the problems, the challenge and some ideas for solutions about what the authors are calling health equity, schooling Hesitancy and the social determinants of learning. So this is an article in the Lancet by Meira Levinson Alan Geller and Joseph Allen, who are education and public health professors at Harvard. And I really recommend reading the whole thing. But some of the statistics in it that just jumped out at me, there are between one and three million children nationwide who were simply, quote, lost by schools last year. That means they didn’t officially enroll. They never showed up in person. They never logged in.

S2: Wow.

S1: Wow. Yeah, right. Right. It’s just staggering. And we just don’t know whether they’re going to come back. And this phrase school Hesitancy that these authors use is their way of capturing their fears that, you know, the same problems of mistrust, of real risk, of other factors they outline that made parents afraid to send their kids to school last year may really be continuing because of Delta and these continuing issues of mistrust. One other fact in here that is important for the solutions is they say that in high poverty schools, I think it was like fewer than one fifth have even a part time nurse on staff. So, you know, these are things there’s a lot of federal money coming into the schools, these kinds of beefing up of personnel, of nurses, social workers, guidance counselors, people who can really help families feel more comfortable. And finally, they recommend using schools as vaccination sites currently for 12 to 17 year olds, but then for younger kids when the vaccine is approved for them. So I really recommend this piece.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Alexandra. What is your Chatner?

S3: Oh, well, my Chatner is a little less topical than that, I have to say. But OK, just so the thing that has been getting me through the pandemic has been just I really love a good messe memoir. I’m obsessed currently with this book called Never a Dull Moment by Marguerite Casini, that which basically all I do whenever I meet a friend is I just sort of grab them by the ear and I tell them about this in an uninterrupted monologue for some 10 or 12 minutes, but I highly recommend it. It’s so. Margueritte Casini was the illegitimate daughter of the Russian ambassador back in like 1980 when she was Alice Roosevelt’s best friend. And it lives up to the title like the very first few pages. She’s like, Oh, I single handedly stopped the Boxer Rebellion because I had a cute dog and then my mother lost her operatic singing voice. And just every page is something that I try to throw myself off a cliff. But the field marshal of France came and stopped me. And then he gave me a speech about how the Russian people will always be resilient and then her family loses everything and the Russian Revolution and that she has to make her living as a seamstress. And then her one of her sons becomes a gossip columnist and the other one becomes Jackie Kennedy’s designer and casini. Yes, exactly. This is their mom. And she basically wrote the book to be like, here’s what happened in my life. And it’s completely off the rails on every single page. I was reading it like just silently to myself. But it would be so wild that I would stop and interrupt whatever my husband was doing and be like, you got to hear what Marguerite is doing. Like we were on a first name basis. By the end of this, I highly recommend never a dull moment, which is just a treat from beginning to end. And you know, the rare memoir that lives up to its title entirely,

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: The Lemony Snicket of French memoirs.

S3: Exactly.

S2: My Chatner is about another actually Slate podcast. And our old colleague Emily and my old colleague Dahlia Lithwick has a podcast called Amoco’s, which is a great podcast about the law. And she interviewed a law professor named Michael Heller about his new book, Mine How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives. And I have not read mine. And I’ve only sort of read this interview that he did with Dahlia. And but it’s fantastic. It’s so fascinating. It’s just about property rights. And in particular, he talks about airplane seats and about who owns an airplane seat. So when you sit in an airplane seat, you have the button which allows you to recline, and then you have a person behind you who is sitting there who’s like, what the hell? You’ve just reclined into my space, which I my space where I’m trying to work on my on my full down tray. And you’ve just reclined into it. And the question is like, where’s that? What’s the property right there? Who is. Legal possession of it and this guy, Michael Heller, has a totally fascinating discussion about how essentially what airlines have done is they’ve sold the same piece of property twice. They’ve sold the person who’s sitting in the front, the the right to recline into space and the belief that they get that space behind them and they’ve sold the person who’s sitting behind the belief that they get the space in front of them, this air in front of them, to not have a chair two inches from their head. And that ambiguity allows them. Whereas if they admitted, oh, actually, you don’t really get all the space, this is not really all yours at all. People would be more resentful, but it’s this ambiguity about who has the ownership, makes it makes it possible for them to charge you a higher price. And that what they don’t want to admit is that ultimately who who does have the right to? Is it the person behind or the person with a reclining seat?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: That is totally a great way to think about that question, who does

S3: the airline has set me up for failure?

S1: Who I mean, there’s a

S2: there’s a legal answer to it. Who has the right

S1: to the person who leans back must have a right because you’re allowed to fly

S2: back. Yeah. Yeah. The person who leans back. But the airlines do not want you to know that they don’t even want flight attendants know that. Wow. I don’t want it.

S3: No. And so what makes that the case is the inclusion of the button. That implies that I have that right. Or they just know it in their secret contract.

S2: Well, I guess the inclusion of the button button that allows it sort of solidifies it. Yes, but. And I guess there must be some small print somewhere in deep in airline contracts that says you have if you get the seat, you have the right to use it in the way that it’s. Set up. So anyway, it was great. So listeners, you send us great chatters and you tweet them to us. That’s like so many fun ones have come through. And this week we have a really delightful one that came to us at at SlateGabfest on Twitter from Lesley Guild.

S5: Hi, David. John and Emily. This is Lesley from Sydney, Australia. And this is a suggestion for cocktail chatter, which I think David will enjoy, especially as a site called Bored Panda, its images, photographs of famous events and sites that have been taken from unusual and interesting angles. And I hope you’ll enjoy it.

S2: So this is a really amazing set of photographs.

S3: It was very cool

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: when I clicked on every single one.

S2: Yeah, yeah. Like the back of the Sphinx, the people watching terrible events unfold, the people watching the space shuttle explode,

S3: or the David surrounded by bricks to protect it.

S2: David surrounded by bricks during. Well, I never knew it. That was incredible.

S1: That was incredible.

S2: The behind the price is right. We’ll have more of that one, too. You guys see that? Yes. Or the never mind baby getting out of the pool. That was also great.

S3: I feel like just the headline on that one is already perfect. Totally.

S2: That is our show for today. The Gabfest is produced by Jocelyn. Frank, Josh is back. That’s so good. Our researcher is Bridgette Dunlap. Bridgette is back. She never really left. Gabriel Roth is editorial director of Slate Audio. June Thomas is managing producer. Lisa Montgomery is executive producer of Slate Podcasts. Follow us on Twitter at SlateGabfest. And please tweet your Chatner to us there for Emily Bazelon and Alexandra PetriThe. Alexandra. So great having you. I’m David Plotz. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next week. Hello, Slate, plus, how are you? Alexandra PetriThe, as many of you know as a columnist, The Washington Post, and she’s a really funny columnist, The Washington Post, which is a lot to live up to

S1: a lot and not very many people pull it off like Alexandra might be a category of one of

S2: George Will. It’s like you can just like throw out, you know, just write some of that shit or you’ll be Bosnich. David. David Brooks, you just like, you know, whatever you find some some thing to some more about moral failing to hold forth about. But for you, you actually people expect when they open Alexandra Petri column, they expect to have a laugh. And that’s that that’s a hard thing. We don’t need to talk about that. But what we are going to talk about is you I am sure, our scholar of great, funny writing and so hopefully are going to tell us about some funny writing that you like, funny writers, funny books and why and. Well, and we’ll tell some of ours. I just read a really funny book that I’m so happy about and I want to share.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: Oh yeah. I’m curious what you read, but I have so many of these because I like just love reading funny books, especially like really old funny books. Like I’m like, listen, Aristophanes has jokes. If you don’t believe me, read the clouds. But do believe me, it’s very funny. It’s mostly about farting and just ragging on this one guy named Klutziness who’s a sex life was apparently they didn’t think it was correct and they had a lot of opinions about it. We don’t know anything else about this. He wasn’t like the great lawgiver. He was a different guy and they really were judging him hard. An author that I can never get enough of reading is PJI Wodehouse. Speaking of funny people from the past, just on a sentence by sentence level, I think he’s one of the funniest writers of the English language. He and Raymond Chandler apparently went to the same like high school in England. So there must have been a teacher there who was just like really into good similes because they both have that same thing where it’s like she gave me a look. You could have poured on a waffle or he emitted a street, a stricken waffle, like a bulldog who’s been denied cake, just like on a sentence by sentence level. It’s just full of so much pure joy. And I know like there’s elements of it that don’t 100 percent hold up. But the plotting is tremendous and the writing is just a treat.

S2: So Raymond Chandler, I thought Raymond Chandler is American.

S3: You know, he gives off an American vibe, but he’s secretly British. Yeah. Wow.

S1: OK, messing with my mind.

Advertisement

S2: All right. PJ Wodehouse, who else?

S3: I also I’m a big fan of and on an individual book level, I haven’t read all of his stuff. But Jerome K. Jerome, who did three men in a boat that just like a very funny book, very well observed, like I’m a I have a weakness for things that are just like here’s somebody getting into a chair and having a difficult time about it. And it’s described really well so that you understand their difficulties. And he describes just some friends going on a road trip. It’s like a 19th century road trip and it just doesn’t go well because none of them are good at any of the elements involved in a road or boat trip. And it’s hysterically funny. So big fan of three men in a boat if you prefer comics, which I also really do enjoy reading comics Allie BroshNew latest or her original book. I’m a huge fan of Allie, BroshNew and BroshHyperbole and a half was her blog. And now she’s got a variety of books like Solutions and Other Problems is her most recent one. And there’s this hilarious thing about just how she used to sneak out and sneak into her neighbor’s house like through the doggy door when she was a child. And it’s just hysterically funny. Another funny cartoonist, Kate Beaton, that’s somebody I’ve been actually turning to for just comfort food a lot lately. And Harkov Igorot is her first comics collection that got just if you want jokes about like Jules Verne corresponding with Edgar Allan Poe. But that will make you actually roll on the floor with laughter but also feel like you’ve learned something. It’s really hard to beat her comics. So big fan of both of those.

Advertisement

S2: Those are great, Emily.

S1: So I have a super specific recommendation, which is a recent New Yorker story, which I listen to. I recommend listening to it by Sam Lipsyte called my apology. Did you guys happen to catch the story in July?

S2: I feel like I did tell more about it.

S1: It’s just this kind of like to me, hilarious, sort of very Mordente brutal dissection of a guy like making doing something terrible at work and getting in trouble for it and all of his, like, self-justification and his terrible ideas about the world and terrible parenting. Anyway, it’s just I thought it was really funny and I do really recommend the audio version of it.

S2: So the book I just read, which I’m sure. It Alexandra you you’ve probably read it already is the new Teeth, the Simon Rich Simon Rich his new collection of stories.

S3: Oh, I haven’t read it yet, but I read a review that I was just like mad because all the ideas in it sounded so good.

S2: It’s so funny. Simon Rich is is my I think he is so funny. Used to be when I was a kid I read a lot of Woody Allen, which I am ashamed to. But Woody Allen’s writing back in the day was really, really funny and absurdist and in the best possible way. And I think Simon Rich is but has is that for a new generation. But even better, I mean, there’s one story called the Big Knap. Yeah. Raymond Chandler, which is like a Hard-Boiled detective story, but it’s told from the perspective of a toddler who’s the detective investigating the disappearance of his baby sister’s toy. And it’s incredibly funny. And there’s another one which is raised by wolves, which is about a woman who was raised by wolves. And then the wolves come over for Thanksgiving and they’re just wonderfully sensitive, thoughtful parents. But the daughter is extremely resentful of them. It’s just it’s great.

Advertisement

S3: I oh, that sounds wonderful.

S2: I went and then ordered all the Simon Rich books after after I got that. Have you read him, Emily?

S1: I haven’t really. Or maybe I’ve read things and I just haven’t. It hasn’t I don’t like know who he is as a writing personality. Now I’m going to go check it out.

S3: He did like an ant farm. He’s very funny. And yeah, no, I do see also people don’t give enough credit for coming up with a funny concept because it’s like you have to come up with it, then you have to execute it and then you have to do that like 15 more times. And it sounds like he did throughout this delivers.

S2: He didn’t want Emily. I’m sure we talked about this before about the pickle, the guy who fell into a vat of pickle juice.

S1: Oh, yeah. Yeah. You have talked about

S2: this and who was brind and then was revived in twenty fifteen and started his own artisanal pickle business and was so pleased to learn of the existence of interns because you could have you can have slaves,

S1: you could have you’re the world’s greatest innovation since indentured servants.

S2: I think the other funny book that I consistently love to read and think is so funny is Pride and Prejudice. I find Jane Austen so funny.

S1: She is really funny.

S2: She’s the Aristophanes of of of George in England.

S3: I mean, I always keep meaning to go back to Jane Austen because I was one of those girls who’s like, I don’t I’m Jane Austen, like, whatever. And I keep

Advertisement

S1: I think you would enjoy it if you went back now, because I

S3: read like Pride and Prejudice for school. And the entire time I’m just like the one thing I do love is like Meira. You have delighted us with your playing long enough. Oh, right. Right. Which I use a lot as somebody who plays the piano. My husband, I was like, well, you

S1: let’s give

S3: the other girls time to exhibit. Yeah, no, I think on a sentence by sentence level, she’s much funnier that I used to give her credit for because I was always like, oh this isn’t Bronte, I like Bronte. I’m a Bronte lass.

S1: Oh, you are dark. You were out on the moor.

S3: Well, not like specifically Charlotte Bronte, which I guess she is. She’s out on the moors, but Emily is like all over the place, like she’s she’s a whole party.

S2: I have a final question about this.

S3: I mean, I’ve got so many words like

S2: you went, oh, give it. Give give to more.

S3: Give more. OK, well here for it by our Eric Thomas is great. It’s like very funny memoir. Just like on a sentence by sentence level. It will make you laugh like he’s sort of like he will just keep writing at you until you laugh hysterically. So highly recommend it then. I’m also I always like to put in a plug for Robert Benchley, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. Your David Copperfield is one of his. But just in general, James Thurber, who is like another sort of guy. It’s very funny, my life in hard times classic. Oh yeah. And he was always like, Benchley did it better twenty years ago and I always am finding it. And which is also a feeling that I have about the toast, which is why I’m so glad I subscribe to Daniel Lavery newsletter, which you can do also, and get laughs in your inbox daily. If you want somebody to make you laugh about against to Marcus.

Advertisement

S2: Laugh about what?

S3: This just an ancient oration against to Marcus and he just goes through it and is like, here’s everything that is going on here. And until you’re like laughing hysterically, I didn’t know anything about it before. I’m saying it so I sound really arid. I’m like, of course everyone knows about that classic Arason against Marcus, but I didn’t until I read this. And now I feel like it’s the funniest thing ever. So you can have that experience in your inbox. So those are some more.

S2: What do you think your books are? Should be on the shelf.

S3: No, I think my next one should be my next one is going to be really funny, but everything. What is it? It’s a collection of like historical documents that I just found there, ones that like should exist but don’t yet. Oh, that’s

S1: awesome. You found them or you made.

S3: I made the.

S2: But what can you say? One example,

S3: like one is like I found the draft of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at Hunter S.. Thompson wrote when he forgot to bring any drugs on. And so he and his lawyer just had to have like a friendship time. So it’s just like documents like that. It’s sort of like a terrible anthology of like your English teacher was trying to put together a history of American literature, just got very drunk and handed this to you instead.

S2: That sounds fantastic. Went that went

S3: out next year, hopefully assuming I finish it.

S1: Huh. Speaking of coming up with 15 ideas to both execute and then follow through on

S3: No-Hit, whenever I see someone doing it really well, I’m like, man, the difficulty of this has not been underestimated.

Advertisement

S2: The do not read funny things when you’re yourself are working on your book. I found it so difficult to read any nonfiction when I was writing my nonfiction books.

S3: Well, the truth is you can’t read people who have like a distinct style because then you start doing a weird pastiche of them, whether you mean to or not, totally, especially somebody like Wodehouse who’s just very contagious. And suddenly you’re being like you’re saying things like my aged aunt and it’s like, this is not how you write. This is you’re going to have to redo all of this or like Dickens or somebody you can’t.

S1: That’s excellent. I love that. Your aged aunt, your bulldog waffling.

S3: Yeah. So you sound like your best. You come out as sort of like a Douglas Adams, which is a great place to come out. But like it works is just like that’s funny. Douglas Adams is.

S1: Yes, he’s so funny. Those books, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, etc..

S2: Wow, that was awesome. All right. Byfleet plus.