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Thursday, February 20, 2020

More thoughts on parking lot mom paranoia

The FB posts about being "approached" in stores and parking lots by threatening strangers have not only continued but gained momentum. Utopia is apparently experiencing a veritable epidemic of thwarted kidnappings and assaults. The new trope is "foreign" people in parking lots begging by showing women index cards claiming that they need money to feed their kids. FB mom response: Call the police! Pack heat! (Virginia is an open-carry state.) Maybe run them over with your car!

I now feel like I am living in some kind of alternate dimension or a low-key mass hysteria where everyone has claimed to have personally seen the Abominable Snowman or something and now they are working up a serious plan to trap him and interrogate him.

In order to make sense of my altered reality, I have come up with the following theory: Having previously lived in cities where begging and panhandling, including occasionally aggressive and in-your-face variants, are common, I no longer feel that being approached by strangers constitutes a major violation of my personal space or of decent behavior. I don't like being asked for money, but I'm used to it. But many people here in Utopia have grown up in rural and small-town settings where begging and panhandling is very uncommon, and so they are more sensitive to it as a serious and potentially threatening indecency. So what appears to my desensitized self as an extreme overreaction is to them a reasonable response to an unknown threat.

I noticed shortly after we moved here that people here who grew up here (as opposed to the more urban-raised transplants) have what seems to me to be a disproportionate need for privacy. They think homes need to be on big lots (or preferably on acres) so that no one can get into their business. I find their ideal of a 1500-sq ft bungalow on five acres up on a mountain to be sort of comical, like were Peeping Toms ever such a big problem that they had to retreat to the wilderness to live with bears for neighbors to fend them off? Not just apartment buildings offend them, but the kinds of close-set single-family homes that developers now build everywhere (including in the middle of nowhere) in the name of "walkability." How could you stand your neighbors always watching you through your windows?

So I conclude that the parking lot paranoia is just another manifestation of this country/city divide in expectations about privacy and personal space. Plausible?

Monday, February 10, 2020

I choose my chosen family!

In many ways, the claims DBrooks recites here about the collapse of the nuclear family are obvious. It's open to all, who can afford the childcare costs. And then, once you can afford them, you don't see your kids anymore and instead of an extended family, you have an extended network of contracted, semi-professional "childcare providers." But his solution - what he calls the "forged family," an apparently random agglomeration of strangers whom we choose to treat as family for however long it's convenient for us - seems almost to be the worst of all worlds.

If the thing that held the (good, beautiful) multi-generational, extended family together originally was the demands of agricultural production, and the thing that killed it was urbanization and industrialization, we clearly have not at all brought back the conditions that would allow the extended family to thrive again, even if we also haven't sustained the conditions for the success of the nuclear family. The multi-generational family was, in Brooks's telling, the result of economic necessity - the labor demands of farm life and its immobility. The nuclear family too, in its heyday, grew out of economic necessity. Urban loneliness led to early marriage, and distance from extended family along with constrained income to afford large housing led people to focus on only the most immediate blood connections.*

But if you take an economically deterministic view of all previous family arrangements, then why  should a choice-driven one suddenly work or make sense now? The argument that Brooks seems to want to make is that a new economic necessity has actually arisen: people need help with the basic tasks of living like childcare, advice, and emotional and financial support during hard times. That help that used to be provided by extended families or neighbors. But the new, market-based substitutes for that help have become too expensive for most people to access. So they need a free version, but the only existing model for free help is the family, so they form families of choice to provide this help. The problem with this argument is that economic necessity in play here already has its own economically-determined solution (market-based services); it's just not a very egalitarian solution and Brooks doesn't like it. But his alternative requires people to break out of economically-determined behavior entirely, and it's not clear why they'd do that now, under these circumstances, if they never did it before under previous ones.

Choice may be in keeping with the spirit of the times, but given how poorly autonomously-chosen commitment has worked for sustaining marriage - a permanent relationship with just one person - how well should we expect it to work for sustaining entire networks of permanent relationships? Take the example Brooks gives of his own "forged family" experience: five years ago, he joined a couple that was hosting their son's poor friends at their home for weekly dinners, and they have become his "chosen family." Except, it seems, that family is actually collapsing too. The kids have grown up and "need us less," and the couple that started the whole thing moved away. So this "forged family" lasted all of five years, and then gave way to the same pressures that are sinking nuclear families - the desires for flexibility, mobility, and time-savings.

The same pressures will come to bear on co-housing and the other sorts of "chosen family" schemes he discusses. People may want or crave more family life, but not more than they want or crave professional success and financial security, and if these things demand all their time and attention to attain and they're not willing to sacrifice them for their own biological families, they are unlikely to sacrifice them more for strangers. As long as those are the priorities, all "chosen families" based on freely revokable choices will be composed of free-riders and will dissolve when their members move away for new educational and professional opportunities elsewhere. Maybe this can be addressed by forcing them to sign contracts promising to stay for a certain number of years or to provide some predetermined set of community benefits, but once you get into the world of contracts, it's not a family anymore; it's a co-op or an insurance policy.

And indeed, many of Brooks's examples - including his own - are of non-profit organizations dedicated to helping at-risk youth. These are commendable things and they serve an important social purpose, but charity organizations are hardly a cutting-edge 21st century phenomenon; they have existed as last-resort alternatives to families for centuries. They play a compensatory role for those who lack families, but they're fundamentally unlike families because their purpose is time-limited: get the at-risk kids safely to adulthood so they can start their own families, and then your job is done. If all goes well, their kids won't have to become clients of the same non-profit. By contrast, in an extended family, if all goes well, all subsequent generations of children will become regular clients of the institution.

If you reject all this economic determinism from the outset, then using public policy to encourage and support the extended, non-chosen family does seem like a pretty reasonable solution to what I agree is a big problem for current families. None of Brooks's hurried proposals at the end will do that because they are all confusingly aimed at supporting the nuclear family. But if you start from the economic and social incentives that militate against multi-generational, extended families and think about policies to counter them, maybe you will get somewhere. My proposal is to allow seniors to receive their full Social Security payouts early if they can demonstrate that they are providing full-time or at least substantial childcare for their grandchildren, which would require them to live very near, if not literally with, their kids. That is my "nice" idea. My "less nice" idea is to conscript them into said childcare against their wills. I will let you choose which policy you prefer to enact.

Finally, I want to make the minor point to the editor of this essay that it is unclear why we should be troubled about "senior citizens dying alone in a room." Should they die on the front lawn instead?

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*I'm not saying this history is accurate, just that it's what Brooks says happened. I think the rise of the nuclear family was a much longer-term and trans-Atlantic phenomenon. Also, what I know of early American agricultural life was not especially multi-generational or extended. People had more kids living in their homes, sure, but not more aunts and uncles. But that's just my impression, since I've never looked into that question on its own.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Why do people with kids get followed in stores?

I googled this, but the only answer I got was racial profiling, which doesn't address the question I have, so maybe you have an answer. Practically every week on my parenting FB groups and listservs (yes, I do this), there is a post by someone saying she was followed through the store by a creepy person or couple at Target/Walmart/supermarket while she was there with her kids, and it was terrifying and she called the police and felt grateful to have escaped. This kind of thing seems to happen constantly, but it has never happened to me, and I don't really understand why it would happen at all. Assuming these stories are true, what do followers of women shopping with their kids hope to achieve? The implication of all these posts is that the followers wanted to snatch the kids, but I never hear about kids being kidnapped in Targets in my town, or any town for that matter. So either the would-be kidnappers or traffickers have a zero percent success rate, or there is something else going on. The accounts seem to implicate women as often as men, so I don't know if there is some kind of fear of sexual misbehavior, like that the creepy people will expose themselves to the kids. What is this stuff about? Honest question.

Reflections: A Blog Post Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of Cultural Expectations, by Miss Self-Important

In the last decade, I ceased to be a "young adult" and became a straightforward adult, but it all felt pretty natural and expected as it was happening, so I don't really have many interesting reflections on it. One reflection I do have is that I discovered to my surprise that I'm not actually a very self-reflective person, like all the characters in the books I read growing up were and I therefore expected myself to be. But, pressed to saying anything insightful about the past at anniversaries of events or on other significant occasions, I can never come up with much, even about very significant people or events. Is that a character flaw, or a character strength? I don't really know.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Gamechangers: products I have bought on the questionable recommendation of fashion and mom blogs

I don't do this very often because I am not a moron, except for those times when I am completely a moron and eagerly accept claims that some product is a "game-changer." Usually this occurs when the product seems to solve some longstanding but extremely minor annoyance I have had and not given much thought to, or even an annoyance I didn't realize I did have, until this product was brought to my attention by a blogger.

- Neutrogena clarifying shampoo: A mom blogger I read said this was a game-changer for oily hair, which is a real longstanding problem I have long been trying to solve. Well, it does smell really good, but it seems to be basically regular shampoo, and you're only supposed to use it once a week, so your hair has so much time to get oily between uses that you'd never even notice the difference.

- Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Hot Air Brush: A (different) mom blogger said it was a game-changer for wavy hair that aspires to be straight but never actually gets there. I hate both blow drying and straightening my hair and rarely do either, but somehow I was convinced that what I needed was a combination of these two instruments that I never use in one instrument that I will never have time to use either. Verdict: this thing is the size of a baseball bat, but it does actually work a lot faster than either a straightener or a blow dryer, and certainly faster than both in sequence. Will I ever actually use it? Remains to be seen.

- Revlon Chubby Sticks: A fashion blogger said they were a game-changer for lips because they're like lipsticks with the properties of lip balm and don't dry out your lips. But they do dry out your lips and they don't even stay on longer than 10 minutes, so the only advantage is that they're a cheap waste of money.

- Duck boots: A fashion blogger I read said that they're a game-changer for feet in both (moderate) snow and rain. They're super ugly, but somehow their ubiquity at Utopia U has obscured my ability to fully recognize this. But they do work great for rainy days and keep my feet warmer than my previous rubber rainboots. I guess fleece bootliners would also have done that for a lot less money though. Performance in snow is yet to be determined, but does not look especially promising given that they're only waterproof up to the ankle.

- Bobeau One-Button Fleece Wrap Cardigan: The same fashion blogger said this was a game-changer for torsos. It's some kind of cross between a sweatshirt, a cardigan, and a cape. I liked it ok for a while with leggings because it fit into the SoCal athleisure aesthetic that gradually took over my wardrobe while I lived there, but then discovered that it actually is a game-changer for something, and that thing is nursing in public. It's basically like a wearable nursing cover that doesn't look like one, but rather looks like a sweatshirt cardigan cape. Which is at least better than wearing a nursing cover!

- Allbirds: Another foot game-changer that was both recommended by bloggers and incessantly target-advertised to me across all my social media as the world's most comfortable shoe in which my feet will never sweat, even without socks. I was not about to pay full price for these, so bought them for half off on eBay in an uglier color than a reasonable person would normally select. They are quite comfortable, and also quite ugly, and not usable for any actual exercise, but nice enough to wear for errands and things like that. Obviously, feet still sweat in them, especially without socks.

- Numerous dolman sleeve sweaters: You always think they'll look good because maybe they do look good in one particular pose, which is the pose that the fashion blogger wearing them struck when she photographed herself. For all the other poses that fill out the range of human motion however, they look bad, and then get re-sold on eBay.

- Numerous high-waisted and/or wide-legged pants: These were supposed to be game-changers for legs and torsos - even those of short women, as the short fashion blogger who pitched them to me insisted - but so far, every single pair I've tried - jeans, trousers, culottes - have looked extremely terrible on me, and all had to be immediately returned. (Lie: I kept the high-waisted jeans for aspirational reasons, and because they fit, but they could never be worn with the extremely age-inappropriate crop tops with which they were paired by various fashion bloggers.)

- Eileen Fisher tunic: I actually haven't bought one of these yet, but I am very strongly considering it (used, on eBay) because I read an (unfunny) academic satire last year in which the main character was described as a basically fat and unattractive middle-aged woman who had to upgrade her old wardrobe which consisted of handmade muumuus from indigenous women's collectives when she was promoted to the presidency of an elite college, and her personal shopper determined that the thing that would make a person like her look professional and presentable was Eileen Fisher tunics. I concluded from this description that the same look would perfectly suit me.

I'm not really that suggestible though. I still haven't bought those Rothy's washable shoes that have been target-advertised to me on every single website I visit for years. So I am strong and impervious to influence.

Finally, I end with a recommendation of my own, of a random thing I happened upon a while ago which is a game-changer for nails: Blossom non-stinky and highly effective nail polish remover. Some people put on nail polish and then fail to remove it for weeks, or maybe months. That is very wrong and bad. Bad people! But just in case you do this too, and then discover that regular acetone remover doesn't get rid of it once you finally remember to take it off, this stuff will still work. It also doesn't smell like death. It claims to be natural, but let's be real - nothing that can scrub months of accumulated chemical residue off your fingers is likely to be good for you. I'm just saying it works. It's even a game-changer.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Children of Men

I've been meaning to see this movie for a long time, possibly since Emily Hale blogged about the book almost a decade ago (!!). But I hadn't been able to find it on any of the streaming services I was free trialing or mooching until I recently discovered that my university's library subscribes to approximately 20 random "educational film" streaming services that each carry about 40 movies (which really blur the boundary between "educational" and "entertaining," like Ice Age 2) and seem to be extremely cost-inefficient, but which nonetheless have a lot of movies I'd been wanting to see for a long time. Including Children of Men.

Well, contra Emily Hale, I found this movie to be an extremely disappointing and basically pointless shoot-em-up. The plot motivator - human fertility has collapsed, no one can have any more babies, and the species is on the brink of extinction - was what initially piqued my interest. But the movie uses this point to no clear purpose. All governments have collapsed, Britain is flooded with refugees whom it is slaughtering while turning into a police state, there are constant terrorist attacks carried out by some vague combination of jihadists and domestic agitators. And also, no one can have babies.

But what do these things have to do with each other? It is never made clear. And there is no logical connection. Why, if they thought human beings would cease to exist in 50 years, would anyone even bother with jihad or war or terrorism? Why sacrifice or even risk your life for an abstract cause that has no short- or long-term prospect of success? Why wouldn't you do everything possible to protect your life against any danger or discomfort, knowing that it is, essentially, the last human life that will ever be? Now, sure, a universal urge to protect oneself can end up perversely resulting in universal violence (sayeth Hobbes), but without any prospect of a future order at which it aims, it's hard to see why the violence should be so well-organized and totalizing. I would understand random violence of convenience, or maybe even a kind of soft despotism with some totalitarian control in exchange for order and comfort, but not organized nationalist and jihadist movements slaughtering each other. (Also, where the population can't be increased by new births, why not invite immigrants to labor for the natives?)

So the entire movie is set in a nonsense context. The hero is trying to help the first pregnant woman in 20 years escape from the unexplained constant violence of Britain to some kind of utopian settlement off the coast that somehow has not been affected by the world's political collapse and continues to seek a cure for worldwide infertility in peace and safety. There is no particular reason this should be difficult either, since everyone seems to want to get into Britain and no one wants to leave, but somehow it is very difficult and very violent, and everyone gets shot up in the process, except the pregnant woman and her eventual baby, who is a vague, underdeveloped Jesus-character. And then it's over.

The movie totally misses what I thought was going to be an excellent opportunity to consider what rapid depopulation through falling birthrates might mean for human society. Frustrating. I guess someone else has to make that movie, then.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Athens in Dixie, part 6

Another one for this nearly-forgotten project:

"Some of it you learn the hard way

Some of it you read on a page
Some of it comes from heartbreak
Most of it comes with age
And none of it ever comes easy
A bunch of it you maybe can't use
I know I don't probably know what I think I do [emphasis mine]
But there's somethin' to
Some of it"
--Eric Church, "Some of It"
 
 "At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and in this I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom - therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and the oracle that I was better off as I was."
--Socrates, Apology 
 
Ok, stretching a little.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Goomba development files, 3

Goomba turned four this week, which is hard to believe, so this is the last of the age three files, capped off by the question, after my birthday present to her was delayed and I told her she had to wait a little while longer for it: "Do you think everyone in the world will give me a present over time?"

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Goomba: Where is Phoenix?
Me: Phoenix is in a desert.
Goomba: Is that in outer space?

“Do eyes grow?”

"Daddy, you are FAT. How did you get so fat? Did you eat too many donuts?"

Reason for sobbing meltdown: "Mama said what I said! I don't waaaant her to say the same thing as me!"

On examining her nascent vegetable garden: "The tomatoes are getting eat by pestos!"

On being asked to eat some more of her dinner before chugging the rest of her juice: "No! That's not how I live!"

Goomba: Tell me a story about a tiger who wanted to eat a rhinoceros.
Grandma: But a rhinoceros is bigger than a tiger. A tiger can't eat an entire rhinoceros.
Goomba: But he can take bites!

Goomba addressing an envelope: What's the address?
Me: Dry Bridge Road
Goomba: I can't write that, so I will just draw a road.

Me: What did you do at the pool?
Goomba: I swoom.

Me: Do you want to go out and play catch?
Goomba: No, I want to sneak some more food. Am I let?

Playing with phone: "I’m trying to call but no one is texting my email!"

The most Little Prince moment:
Me: If you bring me a brown pencil, I will draw you a squirrel.
Goomba, returns downstairs with a brown pencil and a cup of acorns: I brought you a pencil and nuts.
Me: Why nuts?
Goomba: To feed the squirrel!

Goomba: The stuffties are taking a sitting class.
Me: What do they do in sitting class?
Goomba: They sit and sit and sit. And sometimes they also stand.

“Let’s play a game. You be an octopus and I’ll be a polka dot.”

“If you don’t let me make a mess, I will kill you.” 😬

“You are not treating me well! I will go to another house where they will treat me better!”

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Traveling with kids, part II

After this summer's travels, my daughter's imaginative play consists almost entirely of her stuffed animals having all their flights and trains delayed and cancelled, being stuck in traffic on the highway, and staying in rented homes. So, a victorious summer, I guess.

I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who inaugurated or at least popularized the idea that vacation for respectable (rich) people ought not to consist in relaxation and luxury, but rather in strenuous labor under conditions of maximal discomfort. I have no evidence for this connection, but it seems like a thing he’d approve, and I don’t know of wealthy people voluntarily signing up for activities that required them to imitate the circumstances of poor people (like camping and hiking) earlier than his lifetime, but maybe they did. In any case, it’s what we value these days. And it’s pretty hard to do with kids.

But we tried it anyway, schlepping our 3-year old and 3-month old to a cabin with no cell service on Mt. Desert Island in Maine that we rented with another family with two young kids, so that we could all spend a week hiking in Acadia National Park. We did do some hiking. Scrunchball tolerated this well, strapped to me and sleeping. Goomba needed a bit more...encouragement. But mostly we did a lot of driving to and from the ice cream shop in Bar Harbor, and to other food sources, like lobster pounds. Turns out, me and Goomba are the only people who actually like lobster, and Goomba may have just liked it because she was imitating my excitement. We also did tidepooling, an activity that toddlers like a lot more than hiking, fyi. And we took a lobster demonstration boat out lobstering, which was actually really interesting, but again, less so for toddlers. Also, all the kids got sick, including poor little Scrunchball, who had to spend a day in the cabin with me and the snotsucker. This was the only relaxing day of the trip.

On the way back, our flight from Portland was cancelled and could not be rescheduled until three days later and all the trains were booked (this being the weekend after July 4), so we had no choice but to drive home to Utopia. This was not possible in one day, so we called up my dissertation advisor, whose wife invited all eight of us to stay with them in Cambridge for a night. Goomba had the time of her life during this visit because she was allowed to pick intentionally-grown flowers and now she constantly reminds me that we do not have nice flowers, the ability to pick nice flowers, or even the knowledge of which flowers are nice and she wants to go back to Cambridge to the nice flowers. The next day, we drove home for like 13 hours, about seven of which were spent in the traffic between Boston and New York with Goomba yammering and whining incessantly in the backseat ("I have to pee RIGHT NOW and I CANNOT WAIT!!!" on repeat), and it was terrible. We stopped for another night by Dulles, retrieved our own car, and finally got home two days later than scheduled. Mr. Self-Important loved this trip so much that he's already planning next summer's strenuous Maine getaway. I liked it fine, but thought it all seems a lot easier in the Robert McCloskey books.

After Maine, we went to New Haven for two weeks so I could teach a summer class. On this trip, we were to drive to Dulles, leave the car, fly to Hartford, rent a car there and drive to our friends' house in Guilford, where we would stay. Well, due to traffic and a detour en route to Dulles, we arrived five minutes too late to check our bags, so we would have to wait all day until the next flight with enough seats for all of us, at 10 PM. If we chose to drive instead, we would have to forfeit our return tickets. We chose to drive. A cascade of cancellations ensued. After another 10 hours of driving back up the east coast, we finally got to Guilford at exactly the time our flight would've taken off.

The actual stay in Connecticut was fun. We ate more seafood. Goomba encountered our friends' son's toy trucks and forgot all about flowers and now has eyes only for construction vehicles. Then we had to drive back home again, but this time, we were at least prepared. We spent a night in Brooklyn intending to have a day in New York, but then we remembered that there was still an active measles epidemic in the neighborhood next to where we were staying, so Scrunchball had to spend yet another day home with me while everyone else went out and had fun, and then came home and was immediately forced to shower and disinfect.

The next day, we made it home in about eight hours, a record. This included a lunch stop in Havre de Grace, which I've passed a million times on I-95 and always assumed was a nice place given its idyllic location at the point where the Susquehanna runs into the Chesapeake (who doesn't love the view from the bridge over the river?), but which in reality seems to be one of those places whose main business is antiques and vintage tchotchkes, which always suggests to me that people in the area are just endlessly reselling what they have and making nothing new.

Now summer's almost over. The kid is going back to preschool next week and University of Utopia starts up in two weeks. All the little errands demand the remaining time. I think this is the first real summer, clearly demarcated as a season of its own when the usual regimen is suspended, that I've had in a long time. It's because of kids too.

Also, I have three more trips with Scrunchball lined up in the next two months. But on the train! So they'll go smoothly, right?

Monday, August 12, 2019

A study in contrasts: UChicago edition

Preemptive thesis: Education has no reliable effect on people.

I was struck recently by these two profiles of 1990s graduates of the University of Chicago, Agnes Callard and Vas Narasimhan. Here are two people who profess to have taken the "Great Books" part of their college educations seriously, and seem to have studied with the same teachers (I'm assuming that Narasimhan's "whole course just reading one book, Tolstoy’s War and Peace" was also taught by the Kasses), and yet, no similarities between them can be detected today.

Narasimhan sounds like a human who has voluntarily turned himself into a robot, and he has no regrets. What actual human asks, "Am I eating for performance, or am I eating to enjoy?" and doesn't bother to mention that only the former can be the right answer. He just assumes that reasonable people would never consider the latter. And then there is this hypertrophied Ben Franklinism:
There’s a feedback loop. If I build those four areas into my daily schedule, I have a bigger impact. So I don’t see it as making time. I just build it in. I try to sleep from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. I work out from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m., and somewhere in there I try to do my meditation. Then I get to the office, and I try to take breaks during the day. I try to be super careful about what I eat all the time. I fast for 14 to 16 hours as well. I generally do from 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. to noon, with only coffee and water in between. I find that all of this helps. It’s just a matter of doing it for enough times in a row that it just becomes a part of your normal way of being.
Yes. Also, from 9 pm to 10 pm, he steps into his closet, dons his hair shirt, and whips himself to the rhythm of a metronome. Just part of the normal way of being. (There's also something odd about his account of Chicago, since you don't "decide" to take your Core classes after your third year, as he claims to have done.)

Callard is much more delightful (side note: doesn't the kind of life Narasimhan describes pretty much rule out the entire possibility of delight?), and not just (but maybe a little, or a lot) because her life  overlaps so much with mine, except she did everything 10 years earlier and with much greater confidence. The connection between her education and her life is clearer in a way, because she became a scholar, but it's actually also less clear in another way, since she says she was already studying philosophy before college, so Chicago may just have been a very congenial place to develop her pre-existing inclinations rather than an actually shaping place.

The best part of this interview, as I said on Twitter, is her response to being "disowned" by the Kasses for her divorce, which is not at all bitter or political, as one would expect. She gives a fair and sympathetic account of their objection, and seems to accept it as a valid one, though evidently not decisive.