Reporter's Notebook

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An ongoing collection of the best things we hear from our sources. (Earlier archive here.)

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Quoted: The Complexities Edition

Ali Hashisho / Reuters

“You can spot a secretary of state dressed like a pirate, or a titan of industry done up like a zombie,” John T. Miller, a former fundraiser for Princeton University, on reunions at the school.

“They have not mated yet as far as we can tell, but there has been interest. There has been flirting,” Angus Davison, a biologist, on arranging a date between a rare pair of snails.

“I’m planning to write myself about how angry I am. … It’s going to arrive at my house the day before midterms, just in case future me has decided to stop doing anything,” Katie Caulfield, a Democratic voter in New Jersey, on preparing for midterm elections in 2018.

“If one of us from HR goes out to visit … the instantaneous response is, ‘Oh my god, what are you doing here? Who’s in trouble?’ Why do people think that? We’re here to say hi. We’re here to have fun. We’re here to buy lunch,” Jeni Strand, a human resources executive in North Dakota.

“Regardless of who folks voted for, the election has not been a positive and uplifting experience,” Jeanice Kerr Swift, a school superintendent in Michigan.

“The complexities that make loving each other so rewarding are the same thing that makes it so damn hard,” Ron, an Atlantic reader, on moving forward after the election. More from Ron and other readers struggling to find that common ground here.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

“I feel like I’ve been reborn. This is a new nation,” Stephanie Jason, who supported Donald Trump for president.

I’m afraid for my grandchildren,” Mary Frillici, who supported Hillary Clinton for president.

“He can build a wall, but we’ll just build a tunnel,” Magdaleno Santos, a construction worker who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador, on Trump’s immigration policy.

“He has an opportunity, but it is up to him to seize it,” Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, on how Trump could change public perceptions of America’s role in the world.

“We’re stronger together. I think it would be really swell if people connect to the other side,” Kibiriti Majuto, a refugee student, who is president of his senior high-school class.

“Please, I’d like to join the discussion,” Bradley, an Atlantic reader, in a single-line email to us.

You and Bradley and other readers can do so via We’ve already started two robust discussion threads here in Notes: “Processing the Pain of the Election,” which primarily features stories from Clinton supporters, and “Will Trump Voters and Clinton Voters Ever Relate?,” which primarily features stories from Trump supporters—but with a lot of crossover in both threads. We will also be airing perspectives from educators on how they are addressing the aftermath of the election, as well as reactions from non-Americans living outside of the U.S.

Jonathan Drake / Reuters

“If they said the world was ending in a week, I’m willing to bet that comedy shows would be sold out. ... So, if anything, this time feels more normal than most days would in my life,” Trevor Noah, the host of the Daily Show, on the countdown to Election Day.

“Really, it’s like the Jersey Shore with less alcohol,” Bill Lesniak, a voter in Chicago, on the scandals of the presidential campaign.

“I don’t think either of us met the other and said ‘I’m so excited to waste years of my life making yours miserable,’”—an Atlantic reader, reflecting on a toxic relationship.

“I don’t want to go down in history as the generation that was offended by everything,” Nicole Been, a college student who supports Donald Trump.

“We need to change out the formula of the Jesus juice they’re drinking so they’re not so righteous they’re wrong,” Cynthia Edwards Paschall, who supports Hillary Clinton, on her fellow North Carolina voters.

We all come together in this one pathway. We cross; we are part of two cultures. It shouldn’t be seen as an obstacle,” Mayra Kahori Vidaña Sanchez, a college student in El Paso, Texas, on the U.S.–Mexican border.

Guadalupe Pardo / Reuters

“I tried putting out non-carbonated ginger beverages, and I know: People like their bubbles,”Chris Reed, who founded a craft ginger ale company.

Trump also means, especially in British English, to, erm, break wind,” Eleanor Maier, a dictionary editor, on the etymology of the verb “trump.”

“The process of dating inherently sucks. I literally am trying to call my dissertation ‘Why Dating Sucks,’ because I want to explain that. But I can’t, because they won’t let me,”Holly Wood, a Harvard PhD candidate, on the trials of online dating.

“The treatment works, but no one does it, and no one can find it,”Jeff Szymanski, a clinical psychologist, on the most effective treatment for OCD.

“All the younger guys are talking about the world ending, and the older guys are like, ‘Yeah, well, this is more what it used to look like,’” Sam Rosen, a lobster fisherman in Maine, on this year’s fishing season.

“This article is fantastic. It is also objectively wrong,” —an Atlantic reader, on the claim that milk chocolate is better than dark chocolate.

Jim Hollander / Reuters

“It could be orange elephants who became literate, for all we know,” Bruce Schneier, a computer security researcher, on the hackers behind a major internet outage.

“Everyone’s always on some sort of diet. Everyone’s beautiful. The physical piece of it can get surprisingly exhausting,” Annie Truex, an actress in L.A., on the audition process.

“Singles are smarter than people think,” Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, on why online dating won’t change love.

“We will have a gender gap the size of the Grand Canyon,” Whit Ayers, a Republican pollster, on the 2016 election results.

“Jeez Louise! This is kind of scary,” —an Atlantic reader, on how consumers are surveilled online and in stores.

“I mean, if you had no flesh on your face, you probably wouldn’t be adorable either.” Melissa Wilson Sayres, who studies Gila-monster genetics, on the skull of one of the reptiles, which she also describes as “lovable” and “chill.”

Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters

“We’d like to be the chicken’s choice. If I’m a chicken and I’m going to be raised by somebody, I want it to be Perdue,” Bruce Stewart-Brown, a senior vice president at Perdue Foods.

“When the Republican Party sends its candidates, they're not sending their best; they're sending criminals; they're sending rapists ... and some, I assume, are good people,” —an Atlantic reader, on Donald Trump’s alleged sexual assaults.

“We want to talk about repentance, how we should change our lives, how we should get our act together. Instead, we’re all involved in this meshugas about chickens,” David Eliezrie, a rabbi, on animal-rights activists’ lawsuit against a Yom Kippur ritual that sometimes involves swinging a chicken overhead.

“I went to all these wine tastings, and I was still completely bored out of my mind, but then I went to a Johnnie Walker tasting and I was like, ‘Liquor is way more fun,’”Juyoung Kang, a mixologist, on why she became a bartender.

“The U.S. is destined to lead whether you like it or not. As the world’s only superpower, that’s your burden,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary-general.

“Boys aren’t the only ones who can accomplish things. Girls can make history as well as boys,”America Delgado, an 11-year-old student at an all-girls school in California.

Pichi Chuang / Reuters

“This is not a man who seems willing or able to spend $1 billion of his own money on anything—the losses had to come from some sort of financial manipulation, and we don’t know what it is,” Edward McCaffery, a law professor, on the $916 million loss in Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns.

“As a general rule, Americans have a hard time with the idea that bad things happen to good people,” Sherry Hamby, a psychology professor.

“If you care what people think, you’ll do what I used to do: hide.” Nell Zink, a novelist. Read a review of her latest book here.

“Children are like emotional geiger counters,”E. Mark Cummings, who studies how marital discord affects kids.

“What took ’em so long?” —an Atlantic reader, on the magazine’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.

“When you come across a python, you want to get it out in the open. You want to make sure you know what you’re dealing with,” —what Jenny Novak, a wildlife biologist in Florida, tells people when she’s teaching them to capture invasive pythons.

“Nobody ever said, ‘Hey, where do I find a cult in the yellow pages? How can I join?’” Daniel Shaw, a psychotherapist and former cult member.

“It makes cancelling Comcast look like the simplest thing in the world,” Victor Echevarria, who co-founded an app to help people dispute medical billing errors.

“What we do at CIA is to look at a country’s capabilities, look at their intent, look at things that they have done in the past, and determine whether something that certainly looks like a duck, smells like a duck, and flies like a duck [is] a duck or not,” John Brennan, director of the CIA, on investigating Russian cyberattacks.

“So I watched the whole debate and I have to say, Republicans were right. Hillary just murdered someone on live television and she’s not going to lose any voters,” —an Atlantic reader, on the first presidential debate.

“Listen, he’s dead-even with Clinton, and she’s gone out and spent hundreds of millions of dollars, and he’s spent diddly-shit so far. So you tell me what spending means,” Carl Paladino, the co-chair of Donald Trump’s New York campaign.

“Everything fucking gives me joy!” Marnie, a self-identified hoarder, on why she can’t throw things away. For a reader discussion about keeping stuff, go here.

Jim Young / Reuters

“You know, I consider myself to be a nice person. And I am not sure they ever like to talk about that,” Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.

“Male atheists are bad. Women atheists are genuinely considered monsters,” Leigh Eric Schmidt, who studies the history of atheism in America.

“Look, if somebody tried to be your friend really annoyingly and really wanted you to do this weird thing like buy Budweiser, understandably, you’d want to stay away,”—an Atlantic reader, on Instagram ads for beer.

“We evolved in hunter-gatherer times. If someone steals your meat, you don’t think ‘Should I go after him?’ No! You strike back quickly,”Jennifer Lerner, who studies how emotions can influence decision-making.

“If you have a kid who’s a great student, who loves school, who’s doing well, who’s happy, who’s thriving, that’s fantastic. That’s great. But what if you don’t?” —Margot Machol Bisnow, who studies how kids become successful adults.

To be Brangelina is to be extravagant, beautiful, sexy, romantic, exotic, adventurous ... I think that will continue.” Vanessa Díaz, who studies celebrity media, on the Jolie-Pitt divorce.

Susana Vera / Reuters

“When people choose a wealth manager … they have to pick someone they want to know everything about them: about Mother’s lesbian affairs, Brother’s drug addiction, the spurned lovers bursting into the room,” a wealth manager based in London.

“Now that [our children] are parents themselves, we’re very careful not to talk about it because we can upset them very easily,” Sarah Levine, an anthropologist, on researching parenting around the world with her husband.

“This article is comforting in a way I did not anticipate,” —an Atlantic reader, on reading about what it feels like to die.

“Once you get yourself on that path where you’re willing to find something delightful in laundry and in dishwashers, it means that you train yourself to be able to find it almost anywhere in almost anything,” Ian Bogost, who studies play.

“When I was 9 years old my mother went to a child psychologist and said, ‘I got this 9-year-old boy, and all he wants to do is hang around a funeral home.’ That guy said, ‘Well, he’ll outgrow that,’” Bob Arrington, a funeral director.

“School segregation is so bad [in Washington, D.C.] that you literally can tell what school kids are going to based on what color they are,” Natalie Hopkinson, a D.C. parent and journalist.

“A lot of people who are on the outside picture sororities at every school, including Princeton, as just craft-making, hand-clapping, hair-braiding types of groups,” Devon Naftzger, an investment-banking analyst and former CEO of a Princeton sorority chapter.

“Frankly, in the beginning, we thought we wouldn’t find anything and that it was probably a waste of time,” Naci Mocan, an economics professor, on a study of how college football scores affect judicial decisions—in which he found that judges issue harsher sentences after disappointing losses.

“It’s like a game of bacterial whack-a-mole. We hit them with bigger and bigger hammers, and they wear better and better hats,” Michael Baym, a biologist, on how bacteria evolve to resist antibiotics.

People need to stop talking about this and start saying ‘the next industrial revolution could release humanity’s full creative potential,’”an Atlantic reader, on the prediction that the next industrial revolution could put millions out of work.

“The chemicals in your brain learn what it feels like to have sex, and they want to have sex again. So it’s best to not have it at all,” Misty Stewart, a sex-education instructor in Odessa, Texas.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

“I want to literally make people smarter by jamming things in their brains,” Vivienne Ming, a theoretical neurophysicist.

“A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see people come in with Q-tip-related injuries,” Jennifer Derebery, an inner-ear specialist.

“If someone was to say something about broccoli, you wouldn’t feel sucked into the argument,” Anita Vangelisti, who studies interpersonal interactions.

“I don’t care if it’s your toaster or your car … if it acts in strange or unpredictable ways, it’s not acceptable,” Chris Rockwell, who created a design consulting firm.

“As our family doctor put it, the main cause of tumor growth is: living,” an Atlantic reader, on the FDA’s recall of chemicals used in antibacterial soap.