Bathing, Evidence, Control, Dating, Social Security

  • Why daily bathing (just like trying to kill every germ in sight) may not be healthy;
  • Items about Republican admissions they don’t have evidence for their claims; how they take credit for what they voted against; how the party of limited government wants to control the every move of women seeking abortions; how Republican voters don’t seem to care about Trump’s plan to subvert democracy;
  • Amanda Marcotte on how guys who support Trump have difficulty on the dating market;
  • Robert Reich on Nikki Haley’s plan to gut Social Security.

Here’s one of those stories I find interesting for its counter-intuitive claim.

Big Think, Derek Beres, Oct 2020, updated Nov 2023: A physician didn’t shower for 5 years. Here’s what he found out, subtitled “‘Less is better’ is not a catchy marketing slogan, but one doctor who didn’t shower for five years thinks there’s a lot of truth to it.”

Key Takeaways
• For his new book, Clean: The New Science of Skin, physician James Hamblin didn’t shower for five years. • Soap is a relatively simple concoction; you’re mostly paying for marketing and scent. • While hygiene is important, Hamblin argues that we’re cleaning way too much — to the detriment of our health.

Before citing the article’s points, think about it: our skin evolved to protect us and keep us healthy. When you bathe, you’re washing away a lot of the protective oils that your skin exudes naturally. And some of the tiny creatures who live there. What might be the consequences? (The comments in parens are mine.)

What follows are six important lessons in his book, ranging from hygiene to greed.
#1. An obsession with soap might be creating allergies (like the one to peanuts)
#2. Your skin is crawling with mites (and they’re natural exfoliants)
#3. Soap benefited from ingenious marketing (you’re paying mostly for scent and packaging)
#4. The skincare industry is largely unregulated (Hamblin found out by creating his own product!)
#5. Disinfectant decoy (it’s not healthy to kill every “germ” in sight)
#6. Animals smell — and you’re an animal

I’ll quote on this last point:

The soap advertisements that kicked off modern marketing relied on one concept: B.O. We think of body odor as a given, but that too is an invention. Our feet “smell” thanks to bacteria like Bacillus subtilis, which has potent antifungal properties. Shoes weren’t available for most of history, a period in which smelly feet bestowed a strong evolutionary advantage. As Hamblin writes, we didn’t evolve to smell; we evolved in harmony with protective microbes that we just happen to find unpleasant.

That’s as far as this piece goes. Questions arise. If smelly feet were an advantage, why did we find the smell unpleasant? Well, maybe we don’t find body odors that unpleasant; they’re not that far from the kinds of scents (perfumes and colognes) that function as kinds of aphrodisiacs. Some people are turned on by a sweaty athlete… Things changed, perhaps, when human society drew more and more people more and more closely together. Thus perfumes and colognes.

More to the point, we don’t hear to what extent if any Hamblin cleaned himself at all, or how often. His point isn’t unique; there have been stories in recent months about other people, even celebrities, foregoing daily washes. Followed by doctors’ advice: at least clean armpits, groin, and feet, the three areas that smell.

When I was growing up, the term “B.O.” was spoken is hushed tones, like a curse word — by my father, on those rare occasions when he had one of “those” discussions.

Furthermore, personally, decades later, I admit that I too am no longer obsessive about showering every day. I don’t go an office, for one. I’m saving water. I do shower (and shave) about twice a week. If I’m going out in the evening, I’ll at least clean up at the sink, and shave. The rest of the time, I sit at home mostly working at my computer, and only sweat mildly while taking my daily walk.


Headlines with brief quotes, to speak for themselves.

Joe.My.God, 28 Nov 2023: GOP Rep Laments: There’s No Evidence Against Biden, from Mediaite, 28 Nov 2023: GOP Rep Admits to Maria Bartiromo There’s No Evidence of Biden Policy Changes as a ‘Result of Getting Money from China’

Joe.My.God, 28 Nov 2023: Sen. Mike Lee Admits Imprisoned Rioter Isn’t A Fed, from Huffington Post, 28 Nov 2023: Mike Lee Acknowledges Jan. 6 Rioter Was Probably Not A Federal Agent, subtitled “The Utah Republican had amplified a false claim that a Trump supporter at the U.S. Capitol riot was actually an undercover government agent.”

Seeing a pattern here?

Joe.My.God, 27 Nov 2023: GOP Rep Tours Johnson Around FL Airport Expansion Made Possible By Infrastructure Act They Voted Against

OnlySky, Adam Lee, 27 Nov 2023: Abortion travel bans: Coming soon to a red state near you?

The party of limited government wants to control your every move.

LA Times, Robin Abcarian, 29 Nov 2023: Column: Trump’s plan to subvert American democracy is on the record. Will Republican voters care?

She cites an honest headline on an article by Charles Pierce of Esquire: Nazi-Curious Madman Currently Under Indictment For 91 Felonies Gives Speech, subtitled “Trump’s rhetoric, coupled with his stated plans for his next presidency, should clarify for any thinking human being the fact that he must not be elected next year.”


Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 28 Nov 2023: It’s a good thing most women don’t want to date Trump voters, subtitled “Now the Washington Post has joined a campaign to shame women for having the bare minimum ‘no Trump voters’ standard”

Worth quoting:

It’s an amusing truth that comes up with regularity: Men who love Donald Trump struggle on the dating market. This is neither surprising nor regrettable. Supporting Trump is much like refusing to bathe, blowing your nose in your hands or farting loudly on purpose. It’s a repugnant habit that makes you repulsive to normal people. The whole point of dating and marriage is to find happiness, not to spend the rest of one’s days suffering in silence while the racist you live with cackles over Greg Gutfeld’s latest hateful diatribe disguised as “comedy.”


On a more serious note:

Paul Krugman, NY Times, 27 Nov 2023: Nikki Haley Is Coming for Your Retirement

He discusses Haley’s cynical shifting of positions to suit the political winds; what does she stand for? “Nothing.” Then he turns to Social Security.

The first thing you should know about Social Security is that the actual numbers don’t justify the apocalyptic rhetoric one often hears, not just from the right but also from self-proclaimed centrists who want to sound serious. No, the exhaustion of the system’s trust fund, currently projected to occur in roughly a decade, wouldn’t mean that benefits disappear.

It would mean that the system would need additional revenue to continue paying scheduled benefits in full. But the extra revenue required would be smaller than you probably think. The most recent long-term projections from the Congressional Budget Office show Social Security outlays rising to 6.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2053 from 5.1 percent this year, not exactly an earth-shattering increase.

And so on.

Still, Social Security does face a funding gap. How should it be closed?

Anyone who says, as Haley does, that the retirement age should rise in line with increasing life expectancy is being oblivious, perhaps willfully, to the grim inequality of modern America. Until Covid struck, average life expectancy at 65, the relevant number, was indeed rising. But these gains were concentrated among Americans with relatively high incomes. Less affluent Americans — those who depend most on Social Security — have seen little increase in life expectancy and, in some cases, declines.

Krugman wraps up and concludes,

How, then, should the Social Security gap be closed? The obvious answer — which happens to be favored by a majority of voters — is to raise more revenue. Remember, America collects less revenue as a percentage of G.D.P. than almost any other advanced economy.

But Haley, of course, wants to cut income taxes.

My guess is that none of this will be relevant, that Trump will be the nominee. But if he stumbles, I would beg political reporters not to focus on Haley’s personal affect, which can seem moderate, but rather on her policies. On social issues and the fate of democracy, she appears to be a pure weather vane, turning with the political winds. On fiscal and economic policy, she’s a hard-right advocate of tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the working class. If calling someone a populist has any meaning these days, she’s the exact opposite.

Remember also the Republican plan to cut funding for the IRS, to make collecting revenue from the wealthy even more difficult. But this is all consistent with my repeated observations about the relationship between Republicans and the wealthy.

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