1. Apparently there's a new mental heuristic that fails us in certain conditions in town!
[W]hen faced with a problem, people tend to select solutions that involve adding new elements rather than taking existing components away.
So in other words, when you're hunting for a solution, it takes a little extra cognitive load to consider subtractive solutions than just additive ones. People do it, but it's less likely to be the first thing they think of to try.
This makes intuitive sense to me: if you're adding something, you can think about the thing, and then glom it on like a graft to the existing situation. If you're subtracting something, you have to understand the entire system, and observe that it might work more efficiently without this impediment. You have to understand how the thing is situated within the system, and why it mucks it up.
It also matches my personal experience: it feels reasonable to take the existing set-up of a problem as your starting point, and look to see how to tweak/change/add to it. It takes an extra beat to consider removing something that might be impeding the situation. If you're writing something, your first impulse is to add more and more, to get your point across, and it is a later stage of editing or maturity when you can remove parts.
The article takes this as an individual mental bias, but it's obviously a group bias as well, for different reasons. It's much easier to add elements than subtract things, because every thing you might subtract is someone's pet thing. You can add to a curriculum all day long, but good luck arguing that cursive is not the most important skill for a 7 year old anymore.
2. This is not worth it's own post, but: it seemed to take me about half a year to accept that Trump was actually the fucking president. I had a memory of writing "How is this shithead still our president?!" nearly exactly four years ago.
And now, it's like he's a million miles away. Like he was packed into a silver capsule and launched into orbit, and in the sequel he's been mostly written out of the plot, but occasionally they show his face behind the glass look-out panel.
This is more a comment about the mental gymnastics it takes to get my dumb brain to believe that that shithead held the presidency, than anything else.
The word "friend" is having a moment, and it keeps cracking me up. I hear it sometimes sarcastically, and sometimes genially, and I like both. I don't know what to call this part of speech, but it's like referring to someone right there, "Hi, friend," not like "my friends were at the party". Maybe the distinction is that it's being used in the 2nd person?
To me, it sounds lifted from daycare and small children settings, where the teachers used to constantly refer to classmates or the group collectively as friends. I'm very much enjoying it.
(There's no way this next part will work on paper, but it first caught my attention last fall, when the comedienne Karen Kilgariff was doing a bit. The premise was that she was thoroughly annoyed with someone making an outsized request, and she improvised: "Or, how about you go fuck yourself? There are all these options...I'll see you at the breakfast buffet, Friend." I've been remembering that whole line for months and just enjoying it so very much.)
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.
Lately I have a theory that grief, anger, and reality form a sort of three legged stool, where each one affects the other two. Specifically, I'm starting with a reality that you don't like and wish wasn't true - think climate change or a loved one with a terminal illness. Or just a crappy thing that happened - someone did something and you feel a surge of anger in response. Or you read something in the news and it makes you sad. You get some information, and you have a basic preference that it not be this way.
The reality changes you, and/or you can choose to fight reality. Grief and anger are those two experiences. Grief is what you feel when the reality is changing your interior landscape. Anger is what you feel when you reject changing your interior landscape, and it's role as an emotion is to drive you to fight for change. (Ie you research medical options, you fight for political causes, you have an urge to yell or be bite back at the person who pissed you off, which hopefully you suppress because you're a grown-ass adult. But the anger emotion is tied to wanting to change the thing, or not wanting it to be permanent.)
So there's some degree of tension between grief and anger. Grief is more about a stance of "it can't be changed, I have to get used to it" and anger is more about being revved up and wanting an outlet to go out and change the thing, or affect reality somehow.
There are a million scenarios that you can toss out that contradict this. "What about the grieving parent who starts a charity foundation?" etc etc. I'm just saying that the emotional responses live in the dumb brain, and the smart brain can make some observations about them that roughly hold up in many cases.
Where this came from is that I've heard (from various outlets) of therapists that say "anger is not a real emotion unless you're physically threatened, or your kid is. Otherwise it's a response that's happening super fast to cover something else up. We have to slow down your anger response so that you have a chance to feel the other thing - the sadness or whatever." This is probably useful for people - slowing down your anger response and looking to see what else is going on is a good thing. But I don't actually think it's quite right. I think anger over non-physical danger is a real thing, and you feel it when you reject what just happened and want to undo it or change it.
I've also heard that anger is depression turned outward, and depression is anger turned inward. That's closer to what I'm getting at, but I added value.
Lastly: maybe it's not a three-legged stool. See-saw? pair of cymbals? candle in the wind? idk.
The sheer quantity of absurdity in this thread of black people recounting the most ridiculous reason they've been stopped by the police is really something.
Black people, answer this with the most ridiculous reason you have been stopped by police.— William kimeria (@wkimeria) April 12, 2021
Mine is "not waiting the requisite amount of time between indicating a lane change and changing lanes"
A lot of online communication is "this stinks, smell it!" and I apologize. It was news to me that this happens to black kids (not teens) with some regularity.
Minivet writes: What has changed structurally for Northern Ireland post-Brexit? My naive search results suggest loyalist groups are pulling more shit out of anger over perceived declining consideration including but not limited to the institution of the sea border. But what's happening long-term? Are things just going to get worse and stay worse, e.g. more frequent violence, but not enough to blow up the Good Friday Agreement or prompt some new settlement?
Heebie's take: When will season 3 of Derry Girls come out, and is it wrong to understand Northern Ireland through that lens?
Nick S. writes: Good article in The Nation from a long-time union organizer about the failure of the Bessemer union drive. Long, but worth reading the whole thing.
In the next few days, you'll probably see a lot of messaging claiming that "even though the workers didn't win, they really did win." But they didn't. And that is horribly unfortunate. The media, especially the genre of media called the labor media, should have never overhyped this campaign--or the Volkswagen campaign, or the Nissan campaign. In all three cases, the impending defeat was evident everywhere. When media folks prioritize clicks and followers over reality, it doesn't help workers, and probably hurts them. The coverage heaped a mountain of unwarranted attention that might serve the media narrative behind the PRO Act, but overhyped campaigns also leave people feeling defeated. Sometimes, in fact, they feel so defeated that they withdraw and give up forever. This campaign likely should not have been run once the organizers realized how off their assessment was of how many workers were actually in the warehouse. There's no justification for putting workers on what organizers call a "death march."
For Bessemer workers, the likely next step is that the union will file a huge number of totally justified objections, or "Unfair Labor Practice" charges, against Amazon. They are likely to win the right to another election based on the illegal behavior of the employer. In the legendary Smithfield organizing campaign, where workers at the nation's largest hog slaughterhouse won their union after a 16-year fight, on their third election attempt, the lesson people should have taken is that, yes, labor law is broken--but also, you don't take shortcuts when you run a campaign. Many of the same limitations in the first round of Smithfield were true in the first run in Bessemer. It's time we don't take workers for granted, we don't sell them short, and we don't create scorched earth haphazardly.
Her interview with Ezra Klein was very good as well (there's a partial transcript at the link, but it's fairly small -- the conversation was much longer than that).
Jane McAlevey When I start a conversation with a worker, I'm going to start by telling them exactly why I'm there. There's no bullshitting: I'm here because coworkers of yours called up and they're in and figuring out how you can make things better in the workplace. That's it. I'm being very honest about why I'm on your door. The very next thing I'm going to do is ask them a question: If you could change three things at work tomorrow, what would they be?
This question is going to give me immediate insight into your human priorities. So, when I later find out that we may have very different political views, it doesn't really matter to me. If I know the three things that matter most to you about the workplace that you want to change, I'm sticking with that conversation the whole way through it. And I'm gonna help you understand who is in the way of fixing that problem and how only you and your coworkers can actually fix it.
Let's say a nurse says to me "I'm exhausted every day. I love my job in the ICU so much. But I'm so frustrated I can't get my job done. We need more staff on the floors." I don't know if she's Republican, a libertarian Democrat, Green Party, or has never voted in her life, but when she tells me that I'm off and running. The thing I'm gonna ask her is, "Given how much profit your employer had last year, why do you think you're working so short on the floors in the hospital?" The whole point of organizing is I'm never going to tell her what the answer is. I'm going to just start framing a series of questions that are going help that nurse begin to understand why it is she works for a filthy rich employer and why it is she can't get her job done. And it's gonna be pretty crystal clear.
Heebie's take: This is so key to everything that I'm cutting and pasting it twice:
The whole point of organizing is I'm never going to tell her what the answer is. I'm going to just start framing a series of questions that are going help that nurse begin to understand why it is she works for a filthy rich employer and why it is she can't get her job done.
And you don't ask it like it's a leading question or a rhetorical question. You ask it because you're genuinely curious as to how they put the pieces together, and then you ask the natural next question that you'd have, if you were in the headspace that they're in. It's the only way I know to be persuasive, whether in a math class or with my kids, or anywhere else.
On the broader point, I'm coming around to the idea that national attention can be toxic to local fights. I don't know what to do about it, though. Ask it questions and be genuinely curious as to how it puts the pieces together?