July is the month we say goodbye to writers who are retiring or moving on to new adventures, and this is Ben’s last post. He has been writing with us since August 2020.


Why is my dog so pretty? What goes through her head when she gazes out the window? How did she learn to identify which weekly phone call means the groceries have arrived?

How do you convince someone they’re wrong when their foundational beliefs are shaped on outright lies?

Why does my anxiety manifest as heart attack symptoms? Will I know if I have a real heart attack? Does my medication actually work or have I just convinced myself it does? Is there a difference? Will my body ever not be in a state of discomfort? If I’m alone and have a panic attack could I stress my body enough to cause a heart attack? Would I be able to call an ambulance? What percentage of people roll their eyes at the concept of an anxiety disorder? Would they like to trade places?

Will America ever not be ruled by corruption and fear and apathy? Will we ever blot out the increasingly-deadly scourge of gun culture? Is it a safe assumption that, on average, men with gun obsessions are compensating for something (the something being a small penis)? If so, do they know that there’s nothing wrong with having a small penis? Does collecting tools of mass murder really make them feel better?

How long would it take someone from the fourteenth century to adjust to modern life? Would it even be possible? Is there an instinctive shock response that would incapacitate any medieval monk who went on YouTube? Which pre-eighteenth century figure would be most likely to successfully adapt to living in 2022 New York? Which person would spend the rest of their life assuming they were in some version of the afterlife and write several bestselling books about it? Would I buy those books (yes)?

Would I have been happy as a video game designer? Could I have rallied from my abysmal freshman year of college and become a reasonably successful programmer? How can we expect eighteen-year-olds to choose a career? Who do I talk to about getting all schools to start later in the day? Should I have kept drumming?

What are the odds of dying instantly on impact if you don’t pull the parachute when skydiving?

Why do I open dozens of tabs to read and then leave them open for months before closing most of them and finally reading a couple? How do I stop feeling so despondent about the state of the world pretty much all the time? How do I balance that with working on policy issues that are by nature often disturbing and distressing and dispiriting? When does self care overtake the desire to do good? Would doing work entirely unrelated to policy or politics actually make me feel better, or just give me a new thing to stress about? Can someone please fucking do something about the Supreme Court? Is Gandalf more powerful than Superman?

Who is Tom Bombadil? Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Where’s the beef? Got milk? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Hello? Who is this?


  1. Geneva Langeland

    Thanks for your contributions to the blog, Ben — your voice will be missed!

  2. Alex Johnson

    This is one of the best cover photos I’ve ever seen. Also this post is intensely relatable. We’ll miss you here on the post; thank you for your time and dedication!


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