S1: Hello and welcome to the political gabfest for August 12th. Twenty twenty one, The Little Fires Everywhere edition. I’m David Plotz of City Cast. I am here in Washington, D.C., sweltering. We’re setting a record today, Washington, D.C.
S2: and that sounds
S1: horrible. It’s horrible. I haven’t been outside yet, so I don’t know how horrible it is. I am joined by Emily Bazelon of New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School. Hello, Emily. From her home in New Haven, I think.
S2: Hey, David. Yeah.
S1: And also by Josie Duffy Rice, a writer in Atlanta. And now Josie has a new job. Josie, you’re the interim co-host of the Daily News podcast. What a day. What is what a day and welcome.
S3: I’m really excited. It is basically a 20 minute breakdown of the news every morning. What you need to know and what you can do about what you need to know. And so I’m really excited. I’m dreading Monday, August 16th, two days a week, and alongside Gideon Resnick and Priyanka RBD and Travel, Anderson. And that starts on Monday. So, yes, I am no longer unemployed. I’m still sort of unemployed.
S1: Congratulations. What a day. What a day that will be. And John Dickerson is is just on vacation, I guess. I don’t know. He probably is on vacation. Maybe we’ll let
S2: him come back.
S1: This week, the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issued its sixth report on the state of climate change. The IPCC report presents a dire, dire, dire prospect for humanity. How do we avoid despair and fend off the worst of climate change? Or maybe we don’t and we just have to spare. Then a new book explores the enormous impact that Ralph Nader and other citizen activists have had on American life and reaches a very surprising conclusion about them. We’ll be joined by its author, Paul Sabin, a.k.a. Mr. Emily Bazelon. That’s going to be great. Then this week in covid lunacy, what should be done about kids and schools as the pandemic threatens to disrupt yet a third school year? Plus, of course, we will have cocktail chatter. The IPCC issued its sixth report on the state of climate change this week, and even Stephen King couldn’t possibly have written a scarier four thousand page book. It draws on the work of hundreds of scientists. And and just this generally is a pretty conservative study, as we’ll discuss. And this IPCC report concludes that we’re well on our way to one point five degrees Celsius of temperature rise, that extreme weather events, especially involving fire and flooding, are becoming alarmingly prevalent and likely and will only increase that bad sea level rise is basically certain and catastrophic sea level rise is pretty likely as well, and that we don’t have very much time to do anything about any of this. So we’ve invited actually Paul Sabin, who we mentioned earlier, to join us for this first topic, because Paul is a professor of environmental history at Yale. In addition to being a book author, in addition to being Emily BazelonThe slightly better half. So, Paul, welcome.
S4: Thanks so much for having me on. I thought we were talking about my garden,
S2: tomatoes, tomatoes,
S1: tomatoes. We can talk about tomatoes. So, Emily, let’s start with whistled past the issue of climate catastrophe repeatedly on this show.
S2: We have we whistle,
S1: we whistle, pass it. We just don’t talk about it nearly as much. I mean, I think that we’d agree it’s the issue of our age. It’s the crisis of our age. It’s much bigger than anything else that we’re facing, really. And it’s so terrible and big to think about. And we all all four of us here have children who are going to have to live with the worst of this, even more than we will. So given this IPCC report, how do you balance despair and paralysis and hope and action? We’ll get to the substance report in a minute. But just like I want to start with that.
S2: Yeah, I mean, it’s a great question. I think that looking at the realities in this report can be one can feel fatalistic because there is some temperature rise that at this point is baked in. Literally, however, the degree of the temperature rise, the extent of it matters enormously. And that is a chapter that we haven’t written yet and that we have a lot of control over. And so I look at this report and I think that we still have a chance to make sure that the world, as we know it continues and that it’s incredibly important for us to feel the urgency in the choices we make now and how they’re going to affect the kind of changes we can make to ensure that we don’t have these, you know, temperature increases above two degrees, which just seem like they really would be catastrophic. But I think it’s hard because when you know that something bad is going to happen and what you can prevent is something really much worse if you still have to kind of reckon with the bad part. And so I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s really hard to. At one’s brain to focus on this topic and and then, of course, there’s the long term incremental nature of it, which has made it so hard for governments to address and to have international true cooperation.
S1: Paul, you’ve just written a book about public mistrust in government and how public mistrust in government developed, which we’ll talk about in a minute. We have, with the climate catastrophe, a collective action problem of the highest level. They are really hard to solve, but they’re even more hard to solve in a divided nation and a divided world. So given that. It’s very easy to see how we don’t solve it, it’s very easy to see how we continue. What are the steps we start to take to start to. Do a little bit.
S4: I mean, my own view is that we need to start by thinking about climate change not as a scientific problem, but as a social one and a political one. So, I mean, I think that the information that came out in the IPCC report is devastating and frightening. But the thing that is maybe more interesting to me is to think about what new information, you know, is it going to take to prod, you know, the Republican Party or the judiciary to take action on climate change? So it really raises the question of how these descriptions of natural phenomena, you know, translate, you know, fires and floods and heat waves. How does that translate into politics? And so I think that that is actually the area that we need to focus on, maybe more. And that’s an area for hope building on, you know what Emily was saying, because that’s within our control. But it also is immensely challenging to try to figure out how to turn these issues. I think that there’s a lot of support for action. Polling suggests that. But, you know, our system domestically is is still very dominated by, you know, certain political interests and also energy interests and others that are, you know, leave this very entrenched.
S1: So Josie, I’ve actually been surprised at how little pushback we’ve heard from climate change skeptics, from the oil and gas industry to the IPCC report, it’s it feels like the level of visible and smellable untouchable catastrophe is so high right now, maybe because the fires are raging so vigorously everywhere in the world, including where you are. That denialism is is harder than it’s ever been. But the absence of pushback doesn’t mean the presence of change or the presence of positive action. Is there anything you see in the political system that gives you hope that people can be turned towards action, not just not denying it anymore?
S3: Well, my understanding of I don’t know about the political system at the economic system. And Paul, you might know you definitely want know a lot more about this than I do. But is that a lot of big corporations and businesses are starting to think about how to invest and practice, better environmental policy and better environmental protests because they recognize that their future is tied in to climate change. Right. I mean, if we are seeing the advent of a catastrophic event for the entire human population, that’s not good for corporations either. And so I think in some ways, businesses, at least some big businesses, have stopped with this sort of ignoring the impending climate change and trying to understand how to change it. But I also I mean, maybe it’s good we’re not seeing a lot of the pushback to the IPCC report, but on the other hand, like in the middle of the pandemic, it really does demonstrate how hard collective action is and how difficult it is to have people believe something when they just don’t want to believe it. And so I I’m not super hopeful about that, actually. I think the lack of skepticism is step one of 100 steps we need to take to get to where we need to be.
S2: Yeah, I mean, I see some of the most promising changes in the market just to pick up on what Josie saying. So the insurance industry, like there’s reality here about some of the properties that are going to be astronomically expensive to continue to insure, and that is going to force property owners in certain parts of the country and the world to change their behavior, change how they think about where they build. And then there’s also the military planning and law enforcement and cities like the the sort of realities of the people who are actually responsible for making sure that the infrastructure stays up if it possibly can. I wonder, though,
S1: but Emily, just sorry. Just to I mean, yes, I think that’s true. And certainly the military insurance companies are good examples. But have you looked at the the housing market in Miami recently or is it hot? It’s super hot. I mean, in every sense of the word, it is super hot.
S4: I guess that goes back to kind of what I was saying about how the disasters don’t actually translate into policy and whether they actually lead to the kinds of changes that one wants. Because you can also imagine you will have heat waves. So then there’ll be more air conditioning. We’ll have we’ll have some sea level rise. It won’t work in Miami because the water comes from below. But in some places, you know, that will build seawalls. So you can imagine like adaptive strategies that provide a lot of corporate opportunity but don’t actually solve the problem. I mean, I think there’s one of the big areas of hope is a market one, which is just that solar and wind power. The prices have been plummeting. And so competitively, there’s a tremendous opportunity to shift away. And I think what Josie said about the pandemic is both cause for concern because government response to the pandemic has been challenging. But for me, it’s also inspiring. I mean, we just spent trillions of dollars in over a couple of years in responding to the pandemic. And we can’t we muster, you know, trillions of dollars to solve the fate of the planet. You know, I mean, if we spend trillions of dollars on on shifting the energy system, we could accomplish a tremendous amount.
S3: Yeah, I think that one of my friends who is also an environmental law professor says it’s that policy got us in this position. And the thing that gives our hope is that policy can also get us out, that making making better decisions is possible. The question is just whether or not we’ll actually I
S1: don’t think policy got us into this decision. I think what got us into the decision is that energy drives the world and that the best sources of energy turned out to be
S3: a lack of policy, got us in this position. I mean, in other words, like we could have been regulating
S2: Elon subsidies for oil and gas. I mean, the whole way that we structured the economy. I mean, you’re right, David, but also, like, there’s always policy decisions underlying how markets do that.
S1: Sure. Sure. But but mostly what happened is that I mean, Paul, you’re the historian of this, so I’m sure I’m at a butcher. This is that in starting in the late 19th century or mid 19th century, we discovered these forms of of energy that were incredibly productive and stored much more energy in them than anything we’d ever seen before. And we’re pretty easy to mine or to to drill for and like that allowed us to to, you know, to have the incredible prosperity and wealth that that many of us have been luxurious enough to to
S4: I mean I mean, I think there’s a lot of truth to that. And it goes back to my my first book on the oil in California was really about the role of the government in the marketplace. And I think it’s undeniable that coal and oil provided energy and a new in new ways that was incredibly productive for society. But government, you know, played a huge role. You think about the way it various ways in which it sort of structured the whole energy marketplace, the building up of the highways, the giving away of the oil lands for a relatively low amount of money, the allowing of, you know, coal and oil to just pollute the air. I mean, go back and look at those photos of Pittsburgh and think about what government was was doing to permit the pollution of the of the entire country, you know, and the and the terrible air quality. So, I mean, there were a tremendous number of of government decisions. And I think that the challenge now is figuring out how do you know that that’s all baked into the landscape. We live sprawled out over the country. We’re all depend on our automobiles. We are accustomed to flying in various ways. How do you then restructure that economy after a hundred and fifty years of investment? Incredibly difficult.
S1: How much Josie do you think we owe it to our children to focus on our personal behavior? I mean, in my case, it’s shocking. I’ve taken like four plane flights this summer, which I’m sure is just devastating or how much is our responsibility to focus on personal behavior? Is our responsibility to focus on like let’s push on the policy changes that will really make a difference on the global scale? You can’t say both. You can’t say we have. You know,
S3: I have to say both. Well, this is what I you know, when when there is all the talk about straws, remember, and then people were saying these paper straws and then the backlash was using straw. Is that what’s causing climate change? Right. It is these big businesses that are practicing bad policy that are creating this problem. And I think that’s true. The idea that we can all stop using straws and, you know, make a huge dent in climate change is wrong. But it is very important for people to understand that to make important changes globally, you have to make important changes personally, like you do have to understand the importance of personal sacrifice or we’re never going to get to up to where we need to be until we’re sort of forced to sacrifice everything because, you know, like we were talking about the costs of road and the everybody’s life changes on a daily level. So so I really do think that obviously the answer here is that on an individual level, we can’t have the impact that that changing policy on a broader level can. But I do think just as a kind of moral and social imperative, we have to focus on individual behavior as well.
S2: Yeah, I also think it’s a useful reminder of our common our common ground here. I have a different question, though, that I want to ask Paul. So you were talking about how difficult it is to change the landscape and all the structure of our petroleum built world. The Senate just passed an infrastructure bill with a trillion dollars, and some of it is designed to address these issues. Can you kind of grade the bill? How do you divide into pieces? How effective do you think it is as a kind of initial investment in the kinds of changes you’re talking about?
S4: Well, I mean, I’m positive on the bill, particularly if it’s paired with the reconciliation bill that would come afterwards, which includes a lot more. But it just showed just how difficult it’s going to be to to address the climate problem through public investment. Because, you know, I think the largest single item in the bill is roads and bridges. And then there’s money for, you know, for transit and and rail. But that’s mostly shoring up the stuff that we have with some expansion, quite modest. Seven a half billion maybe. I can’t remember exactly four electric charging stations, which is never going to be enough to switch people over to electric vehicles. And so if you think looking back at the trillions of dollars that were spent on highways in the country and think about like, what would it take to move us away from this highway oriented lifestyle to maybe a significantly more use of mass transit and biking and walking and other types of mobility? You have to think about something that’s commensurate with what’s been spent in the past. And what this bill is, is still actually highways and roads getting the lion’s share of it and and the alternatives getting more than they’ve ever gotten in the past, but not enough to shift the balance. So, I mean, I see this as an opening, an opening bit, a positive forward step for government doing something and taking some action and maybe shifting the balance slightly. But so much more will will have to be done in the future to actually really change things.
S1: You will not hear Josie in this book segment coming up. That’s because she had a power outage, a climate change fuel power outage and wasn’t able to join us. But she’ll be back for the segment after this. And now we can talk about Paul’s new book, Paul Sabin, who, as we said, is a Yale professor of history, has written an amazing and really interesting new book, Public Citizens The Attack on Big Government and the Remaking of American Liberalism. And it’s really interesting for a lot of reasons, but notably, as we will discuss, because it gives us a whole new way to think about what Ralph Nader and Ralph Nader’s cohort meant for. American Life for Americans, relationship with government and for the conservative movement that has attacked government in the years since Nader came on the scene. So, Paul, start by telling us who is Ralph Nader and who are the cohort around him and what did they do to change Americans’ relationship with government?
S4: Sure. Well, thanks thanks for having me on to talk about the book. The book really takes up Ralph Nader’s early life. Nader came into public prominence in the 1960s, and I situate him as one of a group of public intellectuals in the early 1960s who were coming from the left as liberals or leftists, attacking the government and criticizing the government. And it was really a new phase in the post-war period in which people like Jane Jacobs and Rachel Carson and also Nader start to articulate a critique of federal agencies. And so part of what I’m trying to do is to explain what happened to the New Deal period after the New Deal and what role liberals played in bringing that period to an end. And I think that what’s interesting about people like Nader and Carson and Jacobs is the way they started to reframe the federal government and see the government as a source of problems as opposed to a source of solutions to society’s needs.
S1: And actually, just to dig in on that a little bit before we get to the media, your argument, what is it that Nader in particular did to actually change what government did, what was his strategy and what, in fact, came out of it?
S4: Yeah, yeah, of course. So Nader came onto the scene in the mid 1960s with the book on auto safety, and he was pivotal in getting past some highway and auto safety bills in the mid 60s. And he was distinctive in that. That then launched him into a career as I guess what I would call a social entrepreneur. It led to the creation of multiple nonprofit advocacy groups and also the passage of a whole slew of different kinds of environmental and consumer protection laws. And so Nader was a very interesting transitional figure in the sense that he started as a public intellectual like Rachel Carson or Jane Jacobs. But then he became an organizational entrepreneur of the 70s. And if you go back to the early 1970s, that’s when many of the new environmental organizations were started and also all sorts of different kinds of rights based organizations, women’s rights, civil rights, all sorts of different kinds of advocacy organizations outside of government were started to kind of watch over the government and litigate against it to critique it. And so Nader was a progenitor of that whole movement and he helped lead it through the 1970s. And then in many ways, it sort of went beyond him and became something that’s really institutionalized in American society today.
S2: And so the basic critique, I think, correct me if I’m wrong, is that these federal agencies could be captured by industry. And so they were no longer really sticking up for American citizens. They were supposed to be the watchdogs for consumers and people in labor, and instead they needed watchdogs over them. And a lot of the strategy they’re using is litigation. They’re going into court and they’re suing. And they’re also trying to get people riled up and mad and a variety of ways. And this is the 1960s. So how does all of this intersect with the civil rights movement and with the protests about the war in Vietnam?
S4: Yeah, great. Great question. Well, first, I just point out the interesting flip that you just described there from kind of how liberals thought about agencies and courts in the 1930s and then how they came to think about them in the 1960s. And that’s one of the interesting reversals, which is that in the 1930s, liberals thought of agencies as independent experts that could wisely set the agenda for the nation. And the courts were the conservative obstacle to federal initiative of the New Deal. But by the 1960s, it sort of had flipped. The agencies were often seen as a problem, either because they were captured by industry, as you say, or they had their own terrible ideas that they were pursuing, and they needed to be reined in by citizen activists who were then working through the courts. And so it’s a reversal. And I think that has a very important intersection with the civil rights movement, which also turns to the courts during this period. And many of the kind of liberal activists going beyond civil rights in the 1960s looked to groups like the NAACP legal arm for inspiration groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund were modeled on the civil rights movement, and they were inspired to be suing the government and trying to force the government to do what it saw as the right thing. And the Vietnam War also was a pivotal factor there in that the misrepresentations, the lies, the deceptions and the sense that the government was doing the exact opposite of what it should be doing, doing terrible things inspired a whole movement of people who didn’t trust the government. And they saw that their role was to set the government on the right path and to try to assert the true public interest.
S1: So the argument in the book that it’s getting the most attention, and rightly so because it’s so interesting when you start to think about it, is that Nader and his allies are. Even though they’re trying to build a stronger a better government, they’re trying to build a better government. They end up creating distrust in government because they’re exposing all the failures of government and that this distrust of government then becomes and I’m interested in how you would characterize it, becomes allied with it becomes connected to the conservative project that grows up around Goldwater and then through Reagan to make government the enemy of American citizens. And that counterintuitively, this Liberalism that Nader represents or that people you would argue that he was from the left. This leftism ends up helping serve the project of weakening government that conservatives take on in the 70s and 80s.
S4: Exactly. I’m really trying to hone in on two different aspects of this. One is the issue of trust, and then the other is sort of the coalition that was maintaining the active government coming out of the post-war period. And Nader and others, you know, really set their sights on that coalition. You know, big business, big government, big labor, seeing that as a problematic constellation of power that was allied together and was pursuing things that were actively dangerous to the American people. And they had, you know, plenty of examples that you could think about the testing of nuclear weapons. You could think about Rachel Carson and pesticides and DDT spraying that across the land, and you could think about the building of highways through cities and the impact on communities. There are a lot of different ways in which this growth coalition essentially of the of the post-war period was wielding science and technology and government power in a way that was dangerous to communities and the environment. And they were rising up against that. And they also were part of a critique of the sort of corruption of that period. And so it’s interesting, we got one when people think about deregulation, they often go back and they attribute it to the Reagan years. But the impulse to deregulation really started earlier. And it was in the in the 1970s and a lot of it happened under Carter and liberals were very active in it. And what that deregulation was, was a denunciation of the bargain, the partnership between government and business, and the idea that the regulation was essentially serving the interests of industry and the industries had captured the agencies that were regulating them. And there were cartels essentially in communications and trucking, in energy that needed to be broken up. And so liberals like like Nader, even people like Ted Kennedy denounced this this regulatory structure and called for something new. And they’re kind of attacking the New Deal coalition. Essentially, it helped clear the way. And just one more further point is just that the you know, the Reaganites came in with the simple answer, governments, the problem, the markets, the solution. And I think that part of what I’m saying is that liberals have struggled with coming up with their own answer, because what they have is a new, more nuanced one, which is that government is the problem. The market’s not the answer by itself. We need government, but we also we need government to be better. And so they came up with this thing where we need, like both citizen activist and government need to work together. It’s a complicated story. It’s a part of what I’m trying to highlight is the challenges of telling that story, which I think have really hampered liberal efforts, you know, over the last generation.
S2: One of the things you say in the book is that liberals treated government like a bicycle that they took apart, but then they didn’t necessarily figure out how to properly put it back together. And now we live with the legacy of Reagan and conservative, super entrenched opposition to big government and in a lot of ways to thinking of the government as the solution to problems. And we’re in this moment where the Biden administration is trying to spend gobs and gobs of money to prove them wrong. And so I wonder what you think the lessons are from history here in our moment as you assess what these bills are doing and how the political debate around them is taking shape.
S4: Well, I mean, I think that’s why the better is so important in the build back better framing of the infrastructure and investment, because when you go back and look at the history of infrastructure in the US, there’s a lot of bad infrastructure that got built and destructive policies that were pursued. I think it’s really urgent that liberals and trying to develop a new deal, that the reframing has a green new deal. That’s partly because the original New Deal, we’re not just trying to resurrect the New Deal, we want something different. And I think it’s really important to be framing it in that way is that there’s a need for government to act an urgent need, particularly with the climate report coming out this week. But at the same time, government needs to be watched over continuously improved upon. And one way to build trust is to to show a government that’s working effectively and that there’s a commitment to efficiency, effectiveness, to serving the people and monitoring of government activities. I think what happened with this idea of the taking the government apart in the nineteen seventies is, is that liberals figured out a way to, you know, break up some of the power structures. But I think they’ve struggled to figure out how to reassemble them into an effective governing approach. Many examples. One might be the return of earmarks right now in Congress is an interesting example. Those were eliminated in the, you know, kind of coming out of the spirit of the 1970s, that they were a form of corruption, that it was Congress self of self dealing, collaboration with local economic constituencies, and they needed to be eliminated to kind of purify the Congress. And then interestingly, that people argue that that helped the Congress sort of grind to a halt because it couldn’t do the kinds of compromises and and bargaining and that are necessary to pass legislation. And so that’s just an interesting, you know, one example. You can have a lot a lot of those of how the push for transparency and accountability and all that has also made it more difficult to accomplish things.
S2: You are singing David Song. Maybe we could just call it the gabfests like.
S4: Well, but marks are problematic, but also serve a purpose. Oh no.
S2: In PlotzThe universe they’re only good.
S1: The if only I got earmarks. Something myself. Yeah.
S2: Really. That’s the whole thing here. We need the David Plotz honorary Bridgette.
S1: Oh I would love a bridge. I would definitely love a bridge.
S2: I think bridge is what you would want. I don’t know if everyone would want a bridge.
S1: I want I would or I’d want a forest. I’d like a national forest.
S2: Yes. That is a more romantic image.
S1: So to close this out here, Paul, this question of trust and restoring trust in how to how does the left find a way to make Americans believe in government again is so important. And I note that you’re writing historical book, not a policy book. But when you look either at state government or the US government or at governments in other countries, can you cite examples of ways that they have gone about restoring this trust that you think might be a model for what liberals should pursue here?
S4: And that’s a great question. Well, I think there are two things. One is recognizing that compromise policies can still be very effective. So even though I don’t know, the Affordable Care Act is is not a perfect bill. It has provided health care to millions and can gain trust. I think things like the more minor things, like everyone loves to talk about, the DMV is the worst agency, you know, in the world. But trying to find ways to this is, again, sort of minor. But the efforts of local government to, you know, three one one call and you have one way to get to the government and they’ll they’ll answer your problems or find a way to actually just make an appointment at a government agency. So, you know, and you don’t have to go there and wait for, you know, five hours to get your thing. I think I think that’s kind of continuous improvement of trying to figure out how do you make the system work better is one way. And then I think also coming to terms with flawed policies, maybe the best we’re going to get and being able to accept those flaws while accomplishing ends is another important aspect of it.
S1: Paul Sabin has written a Public Citizen’s. Check it out. Paul, congratulations.
S4: Thanks so much.
S1: Slate plus members, you get bonus segments on the Gabfest and other Slate podcasts. You get zero ads on any Slate podcast. You even get full bonus episodes of some Slate shows. And you also get to support the journalism that Slate does. And you can do that for just one dollar for the first month of membership. So to sign up, go to Slate dot com SlateGabfest plus. And today, our topic for Slate plus our extra segment is going to be How to. Write a book, we will talk to Josie about how she’s writing her book, and then we’ll talk about our own methods for writing a book. So if you are interested in writing a book and are confounded by the difficulty, how to get started, how to do it, how to follow through, how to keep at it. We are going to have all your answers. Go to sleep. Dotcom SlateGabfest plus today. Emily, what worries you most about the Delta variant kids and schools as we start the school year?
S2: Oh, man, so here’s how I think about this, to me, it just seems imperative, based on the research for kids to go back to in-person school as many kids as is safely possible. There are immunocompromised kids who are going to still need remote learning. I recognize that. But I think for everybody else in person, school five days a week is just essential. And the delta very complicated because it is now covid is more contagious and and that, you know, puts some kids at risk. And it also makes them a potential source of spread in a way that is probably a bigger threat than it was before. I think it’s crucial to think about the role the vaccines play in mitigating spread the vaccines mostly of adults and older kids. Right. Or actually, I should say entirely, because the younger kids can’t get the vaccines yet. And so I think it is so important for us to recognize that kids have sacrificed tremendously because of covid you look at the research, especially poor kids and black and Latino kids have really suffered academically. And there are a lot of also distressing findings about the mental health of kids and how much that’s been affected. And so the adults who work in the schools and also adults in communities, because that’s what affects community spread, need to pull together for kids so that they can go back to school as much as possible and as safely as possible.
S1: Josie, you have kids who I believe are pre vaccine age and preschool age, right?
S3: Yeah. Their daycare. Yeah.
S1: Yeah. I mean, so how is how is a parent who’s dealing with children who cannot get vaccinated but who do need to be out in the world and in this public experience or in this communal experience. Yeah. How does that the Delta surge affect you?
S3: You know, a lot of the discussion around Delta and really around it at all is kids don’t die. Most kids don’t die, which is true. Most kids don’t die. I try to remind people that the you know, the sacrifice and the impact that the vaccine has on kids and families is not just death or no death. Right. So my kids started school on August 2nd. On August 3rd, we got an email saying that there had been a co exposure from a teacher who went to every class. So the entire school shut down for 10 days now. And what. Yeah, yeah, yes.
S1: And with the vaccinated teacher, you don’t need to say
S3: not to vaccinate a teacher. Oh, good. And and so could we. You know what we and look like my kids school is also in this very difficult position because hiring is almost impossible right now for daycares. Right. There is sort of no more real help from the government to to stay alive. The school has lost a ton of staff in the past year and a half, since the time since it was closed or since it was like sparsely populated. And so they’re really trying to make do with too few staff, too little teachers, too little infrastructure. So the school shut down for ten days. And look, my kid, I mean, I have a pandemic baby who was born in September and then a three year old. And my three year old has lung issues, lung health issues that he’s had since he was a baby. So that part worries me. But honestly, the social part worries me a lot. And it’s really sad for him that he went to school for the first time in a really long time. I was so excited. And then two days later, he’s back at home with his parents, who he already doesn’t think we’re cool. He’s three and he’s already realized we’re not we’re not cool enough to hang out with him. So so, you know, the impact is massive and it really just lays bare the failures of of kind of our system to do things like ensure child safety, to do things like ensure childhood education at all. Right. To pay teachers enough to really be risking their health. I mean, it’s it’s just so frustrating. This entire thing is extremely frustrating.
S1: I am maddened by the vaccine situation for younger kids in particular, maddened by the fact that the 12 to 17 year olds are not getting vaccinated at the rates that I wish they would. But that’s that’s one issue. But that the five to eleven year olds, that there’s been significant trials, months of results, and the FDA has not sped up the approval. And I was really glad to see the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is headed by a friend of mine, Lee Beers, wrote a letter to the FDA saying, hurry the hell up. These are pediatricians, hundreds, you know, representing the major organization of pediatricians in this country. And they’re saying, look, you don’t have to wait to study the six month reactions to these vaccines there, that there are very few reactions after two months in vaccines, that basically it’s not that it’s not a thing. So. Just get these vaccines out, because if you don’t, you have kids who are. Getting sick and dying, transmitting the disease to other people who are going to get sick and die, and it’s it’s infuriating, Emily.
S2: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I don’t understand the the way in which the FDA has not acted with total urgency. I mean, we’ve talked about this before in terms of the timing of final approval of the vaccines for adults and 12 to 17 year olds. But I just continue to find this mystifying as a cost benefit analysis. I just don’t I just don’t get it. I will say one of the more promising developments this week was that Randi Weingarten, who’s the head of one of the biggest teachers’ unions in the country, said that they the union is no longer opposing vaccine mandates. That doesn’t mean all the local unions will drop their opposition to vaccine mandates for school employees. But at least Weingarten is willing to move on this. I mean, I wish she had said that far earlier. I just think it’s really important to remember that the vaccines are our best tool here. We’re going to have a huge fight. We’re having a huge fight over Musk mandates in schools. And, you know, I support mass mandates for students right now, given how contagious the Delta variant is. But we don’t have randomized controlled trials that really show that the masks for kids made a huge difference in terms of preventing infection last year. Given how contagious Delta is like I again, I support them right now because I can see the argument and and I think it is totally worth it to have mass in order for the kids to go back to school. And I hope it helps address parents fears. But it’s really the vaccines that we that are going to get us out of this.
S1: You know, it’s funny, I. I guess I owe it to myself to be to go where the science is, I if there’s not significant evidence that mass or reducing transmission in schools, then I really feel like that’s a fight that is just not worth having and not great to have. And and. We shouldn’t do it, and also we know that kids wearing math has a. Maleficent effect on them, too, which is like when you don’t look at people, when you don’t see them, it’s bad when you can’t kind of interact. And so and so, yeah,
S2: especially with younger kids
S1: speech. I was I had a whole interaction with someone yesterday, and it was it took it was like it was like we had a we had to have a translator because everything she said, I had to be like, what? And then she had to say it really loud. And then everything I said she had to be like, what? And it took twice as long. But anyway, that’s neither here nor there because we were talking through mass. But I guess I, I don’t I can’t get too much energy worked up about having mass mandates. And it also is politically polarizing. But the vaccine situation isn’t is just infuriating. It’s like this. It’s infuriating our.
S3: Yeah. I have to say one thing that I feel I’m happy about Massow at my kid’s school, the three year old Rosmus, the baby obviously can’t, but honestly, it saves me an enormous amount of worry during the day because especially at that age, they’re touching each other all the time there. So there’s no kind of control. And I spend so much time worried about him getting sick. Right. General Prie covid. I worried about my kid getting sick all the time. So the fact that he’s wearing a mask is a little relieving, but, you know, he plays soccer, can’t wear it, he doesn’t wear, you know, like it’s not as if I don’t know how much he’s actually doing except for my general mental stability. But I’ll also say, like to the point about kids getting vaccinated, I’m so frustrated that we even have to show that kids are even in this position where parents are really worried about their five year old getting vaccinated because adults won’t do it. I mean, this was avoidable. And it really does feel like we are asking we’re forced to ask, right. These young kids to get vaccinated because we can’t trust adults to actually do what they need to do, you know, to do what’s best for their fellow citizens. And it to me is just so I mean, so, so much injustice of who’s actually carrying the weight of what we have to do as a society to to ensure that like another five hundred thousand people don’t die.
S2: Yeah. To to shine a ray of hope here. And I think John mentioned this last week. You know, when you look at the numbers from the United Kingdom with Delta, they rose in this incredibly scary spike and then they started to fall rapidly, even though the UK was not imposing mandated mitigation measures. And when you look at England, which lifted everything in July versus Scotland, which kept them, you don’t see a difference in those curves. And so maybe Delta is going to kind of burn through our country and then fall. I think some public health folks are predicting that. And, you know, herd immunity gets built through natural immunity as well as the vaccines. And so while I would certainly prefer to have fewer people get sick and die over, you know, the way that we’re being affected right now, like, I wonder if this is but feels so alarming right now could turn out to be relatively short term and then we could come up with a different approach for school. You know, once the numbers start to fall, I’m worried about these mitigation measures like mass getting super calcified and entrenched beyond necessarily the numbers being high for the reasons that David was saying, like masks impose a real cost on kids.
S1: I wonder if you do you guys think, just as a good question here, when we get out of the pandemic, there are lots of vaccination requirements. Most in fact, maybe as far as I know, every state has vaccination requirements for kids in schools and there are always a few kids who are allowed to get out of it for whatever reason. But you’re required to get an MMR vaccine. You’re required to get maybe tetanus and maybe the hepatitis ones. Are we going to see a massive rebellion against kids getting those vaccines, which we know have been incredibly beneficial to society as a whole, as well as to individual children?
S2: I think the answer’s no. I think a lot of what’s going on right now is the newness of the vaccines and the way this particular one has been polarized. And I think over time, this is going to just ebb. And I think one of the really hard parts about vaccine mandates right now is that if they’re going to be imposed, they are going to be imposed mostly on adults like we’re used to. Exactly what you just said, David, which is the vaccine mandates come in for children through school, and that’s a social norm. We don’t usually ask adults to get vaccinated. And I think there’s a that flip has affected the the polarization that we’re seeing. So, yeah. And the longer term, I feel hopeful about the vaccination mandates in schools, but we’re just not there yet. And the other thing that we’re starting to have to face up to is that, you know, covid some form of covid may and wind up being endemic, which means it’s just going to be with us. And then the best hope is that it turns into like a bad cold or the flu and we get booster’s every year. And it’s not something that’s like killing. A lot of people are making people really super sick. But the path from here to there is is just not clear. And it seems right now like there’s just are a lot of obstacles.
S3: I think probably the best way to make sure people get the vaccine is to tell them they can’t, you know, just like make it seem like something only only the government gets to have and then hope that, like, reverse psychology works on people because I feel actually a lot less positive. I live in Georgia, so I am certainly in the midst of, like, vaccine denial world, but in a way I really do worry about what has been thought of as sort of like a fringe anti science movement that wasn’t even across the political spectrum. People were OK getting their kids vaccinated. As a general rule, I am worried about like what happens after this because so much misinformation is spreading. I was just seeing the other day on Instagram a friend of a friend who is a nurse and she’s protesting outside the hospital because they’re saying she has to get vaccinated and she doesn’t think that’s fair. And you just wonder. Yeah, it’s very it’s dark, right? It’s very it’s very depressing and concerning to see so much rejection even from medical professionals. Right. Of the need to get vaccinated against something that has literally killed I mean, almost over half a million Americans alone. And yet there’s still so much pushback. So I I’m I’m worried about what is coming down the hatch on this.
S1: Yeah. I mean, it’s so our inability to act for the collective good is so high these days or failure or incapacity to see. I mean, I’m sure the nurse is saying, oh, well, I you know, I’m willing to endure that risk for myself. And it’s like it has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with you, nurse. It has to do with all the people you’re going to interact with who are vulnerable.
S3: I mean, what she actually she said was like she was they were treated so badly so that they had no PPE, they had no protection. They were asked to do so much. They which is totally true. I don’t understand why the response to that is we should be able to put, you know, sick people at risk versus we deserve better worker protection. We deserve better pay, we deserve better hours. I mean, it just feels so misguided to me. And in some ways, I think it is an attempt to exercise control and a world that that people feel like is unpredictable, that they don’t have a lot of control over. But honestly, seeing nurses protest outside hospitals, they’d be a lot more pessimistic. Can I ask
S2: you a question about the sort of global moral quandary we’re in? So, you know, I totally understand why parents of younger kids are begging for a faster approval of a vaccine in the United States. It doesn’t seem like we can get to herd immunity without those kids, especially with the more contagious variant. At the same time, we have these horribly low rates of vaccine access in much of the world. And, you know, we were supposed to have a plan that ensured that vulnerable people globally, older people, people with other risk factors, got access before the lower risk. People who were the younger people, I mean, have we just, like, abandoned that out of pure selfishness in the United States? Is the contagiousness of the Delta variant a legitimate reason? What like how are we supposed to think about this?
S3: I mean, I was actually thinking about that right before you said it, Emily, that I’ve been talking about the US so much as we’ve been talking about this and not like what this actually is, is so much more dire for people in other countries. And they don’t have access to what we have access to. Which, by the way, makes the vaccine those who are refusing to get the vaccine a little bit more frustrating because you see in other countries, people waiting 10, 12 hours in line for the hopes of getting a vaccine. And here we’re just rejecting it. But it is true that what we’re seeing in places with less vaccine access is, you know, makes what’s happening here look like a cakewalk. It’s it’s devastating.
S1: Let us go more cheerfully to cocktail chatter when you are sitting in the swelter of New Haven. Emily Bazelon, they are extremely cold. Drink next to you, cold alcoholic drink. What will you be chattering about? To Paul Sabin
S2: I am imagining that Marguerita over the weekend, I can never resist an opportunity to talk about the census. And this week the Census Bureau is dropping the all the data for redistricting across the country. So this is the data that will enable states to reallocate legislative seats within states. We already did apportionment. Now we’re on to the inside states. How does power shift? And we’re going to just have this mad dash of map drawing because a lot of states have these really fast approaching deadlines for redistricting to take place like in the fall. And it’s just going to be really interesting to see, you know, how this data affects the power balance within states. What happens to opportunity districts for black and Latino voters that are required by the Voting Rights Act? There’s just like. Lots of political power to be reallocated with huge consequences and some of the states that are going to expect it to move really quickly, according to Politico, are Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa, other states with early deadlines, Oregon, North Carolina, California, Virginia. Those are some really important states for both the balance of power in the House and states, some of them with their own state houses in play. So anyway, I will be watching all of this very closely because I am obsessed with the census.
S1: JTR, Josie, Grace. What’s your jetter?
S3: So Clint Smith who cohosted Justice in America with me for our first two seasons. And it’s just one of the kindest people on Earth. But that is not why I’m recommending his book, because this book is legitimately great. It is called How the Word Is Passed, and it is kind of a survey of American history through visits to different historical sites. So he goes to eight different sites, including Angola Prison and Louisiana. He goes to Monticello and he kind of analyzes and assesses the role of slavery in American history, the way that we grapple with it or don’t grapple with it. And it’s really just beautifully written as well. I mean, it’s it almost reads like fiction and so, so beautiful. So I highly recommend Clint Smith. And then one other book that I just want to anybody who has middle school kids will really enjoy this book called Maya and the Robot, which is this amazing book by Evildoing, who is just an incredible scholar and all sorts of ways, but wrote this amazing Y.A. book for kids. I guess it’s not what it’s like for second to fourth grade or something around that age, but it’s really, really good. And so I highly recommend that one as well.
S2: I just want to second your recommendation, especially for Clint book and also to say a few weeks ago you were on the show and you talked about Transition Baby, which is a novel that I was in the middle of when I was listening to you talk about it. Oh, my gosh. We have to talk about all types.
S3: Do is amazing. I got a lot out of that book. Yes. It’s so good.
S1: My chatter is about maybe the best. Story I have read in a long time, it’s Jen senior story in the Atlantic, what Bobby McIlvaine left behind grief, conspiracy theories in one family’s search for meaning in the two decades since 9/11. And it’s about a family. And this family lost a son in 9/11. Bobby McIlvaine and his father and mother survived. His brother survived. His girlfriend survived. And Jen senior, who was very close to Bobby McIlvaine family, goes back and spends time with them 20 years later and tries to understand what his loss meant and how how that’s shaped, how they’ve moved through the world since then. And it’s I don’t want to spoil it by getting into any of the details. It’s just a beautiful, heart wrenching story about loss and and about surviving loss. So check it out. Listeners, listeners, listeners, listeners. You send us your Coquille Cheddars and it’s great. Please keep them coming to us. Please send them to us at SlateGabfest on Twitter because they are so good. And the one this week bewitched me. It comes from Matt Gousman. And let’s hear from Matt Gousman about his listener chatter this week.
S5: Hello, Slate, political gabfest, this is Matt Gousman from beautiful Oakland, California. I was riveted this week by YouTube two hour long, two part video of Tim Dodd from everyday astronaut getting a tour of the SpaceX facility by Elon Musk himself. The two of them basically nerd out and discuss rockets and space travel for two hours. It was honestly more fascinating than any documentary I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them. And it’s made me rethink the limitations of mainstream media and how gems like this rarely get to see the light of day. I hope anyone who’s interested checks it out. Thanks, guys. Onward and upward.
S2: Whoo hoo!
S1: It is Grace. It Elon Musk is so impressive. Honestly, like you can say what you will about the guy. There’s all sorts of complexity there. But listening to him talk about rockets and payloads and the engineering of it, totally, totally fascinating. So I also concur with Matt on that. That is our show for today. The Gabfest is produced this week by Jess Miller, who sat in for Shayna Roth, who sat in for Jocelyn Frank. We had a Jess. Thank you so much for stepping in at the last minute to to fill a void. Our researcher is Bridgette Dunlap. She has helped this week by Grace Woodruff. Thank you all. So Grace and Bridgette. Gabriel Roth is editorial director of Slate Audio, Jen Thomas as managing producer and Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate podcasts. Please follow us on Twitter at SlateGabfest and tweet your chatter to us. They are for Emily Bazelon and Josie. Def Grace and Paul Sabin. I’m David Plotz. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next week. Hello, Slate plus. How are you? We have talked I feel like we’ve had a version of this conversation before, we’ve talked to Josie about the fact that she was writing a book and how it’s going. Emily wrote a book recently. I’ve written books not so recently, but in the past. And I know that a lot of people who listen to the gabfests are people who certainly read a lot of books. But a lot of you are people who want to write books or are interested in maybe one day writing a book or have or are writing books. And it’s a hard thing to do. It is it is tricky to do and there are different ways to approach it. And so we thought we’d do a gabfest, a slate plus segment here about how to write a book and what our processes and what works and what doesn’t for us. So Josie your mid stream, maybe you want to listen, but. You’re really at the beginning.
S2: Tell us where you’re at.
S3: My proposal is done and is not my book is not sold yet. So I’m in kind of that process. And I have really, like I spend so much time researching my book topic is kind of big. I mean, it’s like about justice and mercy. So I spend half of my time researching and and the other half panicked that someone else has already written this book and nobody is going to care about it. So it’s not like I will take all the book writing advice you won’t have because whatever I’m doing is not super effective. Also, do not recommend trying it with two toddlers in the house. They’ve not proven to be very conducive to me getting anything done.
S1: They’re not allies.
S2: Yeah, that’s a total challenge.
S1: You know, let’s actually start with one basic point, which is how do you get started if you’re going to have a book, how do you get paid to write a book? So lots of people write books. They’re not getting paid for it. But if you try and get paid, you write a proposal. And then you get a publisher to hopefully buy that proposal, and if you’re lucky, they will give you an advance, which is some money up front to help fund your work. Lots of people don’t get advances. They’re just told. Yeah, well, we’ll consider publishing this book after you’ve written it. But usually you write something which is called a proposal, which is a precis of what you’re going to write, maybe a sample chapter, a comparison with other books. And hopefully, if you’re again, if you’re lucky, you get an agent to take that proposal out into the world and help sell it for you and the agent, then we’ll take a chunk of your whatever proceeds you end up getting for the book. So that’s sort of an initial just point. I think a lot of people don’t even understand that. So just want to say that, Emily, what are your key book? Writing a book, researching tips.
S2: Oh, so hard writing book is so hard because it’s such a big project. You have to find your way through it. You have to deal with the extra central doubts Josie was talking about. Do I really have something original enough to say that’s worth a book length treatment? And then how do I report and research that topic that like really matches what I want to say? And do I think those are like huge challenges and then there’s just the loneliness of it and the fact that, like, frankly, nobody cares except for you for almost all of the process. I mean, if you’re lucky, your agent at least cares somewhat and helps with your proposal and then your editor cares. But the truth is that even the best editor and I love love my book editor, Andy Ward, they really need, like some text to engage with. They can’t really, like, solve your initial inchoate brain troubles. And I think that’s really the tricky part. So, you know, for me, since what I love to do is like narrative, long form, the crucial part of writing both my books were was finding the stories I wanted to tell and the main characters who I wanted to follow. And there is picking those people. And for me, like I wanted people who were going through the kinds of experiences I wanted to write about. So for charged my book about criminal justice, I wanted people who are experiencing the criminal justice system and then people who are open and who are going to let you stick with them. That’s like a huge fear for narrative, long form journalist is that, like, people are going to just like drop out for whatever reason and that part of the relationship is really important. So, I mean, I guess Josie I think it’s good that you’re doing a lot of research up front because I think you have to do that in order to, like, really know what you want to say. Although I completely share I will like research and report forever. I will always make another phone call to avoid writing. And there is some point at which
S3: I mean, I have to
S2: write something. I mean,
S3: part of the problem is just how much I like this, like what I’m writing about. I mean, I always say that spent like this is like my sports, like this is my heart. My work is criminal justice and also my hobby is criminal justice. And so, you know,
S2: but that’s great. I mean, the avocation vocation coming together like that is only going to be to the good of your readers.
S3: I hope so. If, you know, if if climate change hasn’t gotten us first away, hopefully this book comes out one day. Hopefully my book editor is not listening to this, but it is it’s really lonely. It feels huge. Right. And it feels like every day is kind of like where do I start? And so, like, trying to impart structure and navigate all that is hard for me.
S1: I have very narrow but specific advice about this. Yeah. So give advice. I think we’re talking about non-fiction books. I don’t know how you write a novel. I think that’s a yeah. Let’s just different.
S2: Exactly. At least stick to that which we know a tiny bit.
S1: I had it in the books I’ve done. I had very specific process and it was really it really worked for me. And I’m just going to tell you what it is. My view about nonfiction books is that they are entirely structure. If you have the structure of the book, it’s just typing. If you don’t have a structure, you have nothing. So that until you figure out like like what is the overarching structure? Like what is the beginning, middle and end of this book, then you you’re at sea. But once you figure that part out, like then the rest is just like you just plug things in. And my method was I did I just did all my reporting or the vast majority of it. I’m not like Emily where I always wanted more reporting. I was like, yeah, I’m fine. Much saner then sort of like gathered the structure together. And that’s where I needed advice. Like my my book editor at the time said a really good job of sort of seeing a through line that I hadn’t seen. It’s like, oh yes. And then then it all. All together, but I had a very specific process every day is that I would decide, OK, here is the next thing I need to write. I know the structure, I know that I’m in this chapter. And the next section I need to write is this chapter, which is about the history of American eugenics from nineteen hundred to nineteen forty five. I would gather all my notes about that. I would read the notes and I would write myself a hand outline. And then the next day I would, I would write the outline. The next day I would sit down, I would get up. The first thing I wouldn’t even brush my teeth. I would just write and write and write and write through that until I finished that outline and I would not take any breaks. I was crazy not to do anything else. And usually it usually you have to figure out how much can I write in a day? And for me it was like somewhere between two thousand and six thousand words a day. I write,
S2: Oh my God, I write. Really, for most people it’s like five
S1: people are different. People are different. Like this way for me it’s just like I didn’t check anything, I didn’t check quotes. I would be like, oh yeah, that quote. I know there’s a quote about about about Oliver Wendell Holmes here. Like I know there’s going to be that quote. I know I just knew the material well enough and not ever. I wouldn’t then I would not even look at that, you know, 4000 words at all. I wouldn’t I wouldn’t look at it. I would just be like, I’m done. And I would outline the next section. And then I would go do it again and again. And eventually when I had outlined every section and written every section would be like, oh, there’s a manuscript now. Nothing had nothing had connective tissue. None of it had been none of it had been written except in the first draft. But it was like it was all there. And then I went back and I was like, oh, now I can rewrite it and edit it and I’ll make it a book. And that worked so well for me. And but that’s because I don’t like I, I know there are other people who have to get it every word right before they can move on to the next word. I think for me it was just like get it all out and then go back and fix it.
S3: I have a question for you, David, which is how long was your outline when you would outline it?
S1: Before I would outline it would be, you know, like a handwritten outline if I was writing, say I knew the next segment was going to be four thousand words, the handwritten outline, I would handwrite it so it wouldn’t be I wouldn’t like I wouldn’t spend too much time being perfect about what the issues are like. Let’s organize. It would be, you know, five hundred words or something.
S3: So one of the things that has been helpful for me is that I have been using this this program called The Most Dangerous writing up, I think that’s what it’s called, where you have to write for depending on the version you get there, kind of different versions of this, but you can kind of decide our interval. So I usually do three hundred seconds. So five minutes and then my, like, wiggle room is like seven or eight seconds. And if you stop typing for more than seven seconds, everything you’ve written so far disappears. Wow. Wow. I know it’s crazy. I mean, everything you’ve written in those three hundred seconds, not like period but you know it is it everybody I’ve told this to is like you’re crazy for doing this, but it has been very helpful for me because it is true that like trying to go back and think of the right word and not getting past the sentence because you’re like overanalyzing what’s already been done. This really does help me just get started with the writing and then you have something to work on versus does it give you two?
S1: One, does it give you any one now?
S3: It kind of fades. The writing kind of fades. So you realize it like, you know, I mean, you have you have a couple of seconds of warning. And, you know, sometimes I’m just writing like blah, blah, blah, because I have to write something and I don’t have anything in my head. But it is like helpful for getting words on the page. And it’s it turns out that’s what I need, the threat of all of the things I’ve been writing going away for me to actually get it done.
S2: Oh, my God. That’s like the kamikaze approach to book writing.
S3: It feels nuts, but it’s working. It’s funny. I’ve only met a couple of people who it works for them, but people who work for them, it seems to really work for them. So I guess we’re all just a little nuts and trying it out. Wow.
S1: That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, was an amazing idea. How many times have you lost it?
S3: I haven’t lost it yet, actually, because I’ll just I mean, like, you know, if you just sit there and do this little, it’s fine, but you wouldn’t be done it,
S1: wouldn’t it be? I think it would be even better is if it doesn’t actually lose it. But you can only get it back if you write an abject email like like to some person where you it’s like I failed write my words back.
S3: But actually that’s kind of an interesting idea that maybe if it disappeared, you had one more chance to get it back to you. You know, did ten minutes. Right. Right.
S1: Double or nothing. Double or nothing, please.
S3: It really is. It’s really gone like, oh, my God, I know
S2: this is making my blood pressure rise. Just listening. Just the idea of this. I just want to go back to what David what you described your method like I aspire so much to do it. I think it is so much more efficient and I’m incapable of it. I’m not someone who, like, sits and makes everything perfect. But I have so much trouble with the blank page that I have trouble moving from one section to the next, which is why I think what you’re doing is like so much preferable. But I think for a lot of people it’s really hard. And I set up like far more limited goal for myself when I was writing my book, which came from my friend Beverly Gage, which was like 500 words a day. And that’s like you can do that every day. And even if they’re crappy words, they’re like possible to get down. And actually, if you amass five hundred words a day, even three hundred words a day, you do get somewhere over time. I just want to give that shout out to people who might find your method intimidating.
S1: I just feel like, Emily, you and I were very similar in how we generally approach work in the world. So I would I would have thought my method would work for you. You should try it should.
S2: It totally should. But I not is I. It’s harder. I’ve gotten better at what you described of like, oh, I don’t know what this Oliver Wendell Holmes quote is, but I know it exists. I’m going to fill it in later. But I, I’m very I feel like you probably actually know this about me because you’ve edited me. I’m way too fixated on connective tissue. It’s very hard for me to write without. In fact, one of the things I’ve tried to develop in my writing is less connective tissue, like a paragraph that just starts with a new thought. They don’t always have to tie together. And I think that helps me do what you’re describing more, although I just still fall into my habit of wanting to go back to what I’ve already drafted.
S1: Well. I’m sure it’s gonna be a great book, Josie.
S3: Thanks, guys.
S2: Yes, we’re very excited. We look forward to the next report.
S3: I hope I have more to tell you.
S1: BazelonThe plus.