What is your fitness formula? Have you made any changes recently, and how have they worked out?
What is your fitness formula? Have you made any changes recently, and how have they worked out?
This article discusses emphasis on quarterly, rather than long-term, earnings. This is one of the biggest changes at my employer in my career. Managers used to be focused on technical aspects of projects and developing people, and now they spend a lot of time managing quarterly finances. (Cash flow is not an issue at the company.)
My favorite fact was one I’ve tried to find unsuccessfully in the past: 8% of stocks were held by institutional shareholders in 1950 compared to 70% of stocks today. I don’t know how 401(k) accounts are considered in that allocation, but pension funds will definitely have their returns affected by any increase in corporate taxes.
Despite the emphasis on profitability, the S&P including reinvested dividends has had historically moderate growth for the past couple decades. Since I opened a 401(k) in ~December 1998, the S&P (with dividends reinvested) has increased by 3.0% annually after inflation. Is there any agreement on the long-term expectation and whether this is expected to be typical? I’ve long been skeptical of the graphs by financial planners, but I’m 20 years into my career and I’m even more skeptical. Or am I missing something?
S&P 500 Return Calculator, with Dividend Reinvestment
by Honolulu Mother
Apparently of the kids who play organized sports, only 30% are still playing by the end of middle school, as written up in this Washington Post article:
The article suggests a number of reasons, which largely come down to the way the system is designed to be up-or-out and narrow down to the most serious and competitive players, in combination with similar increases in time demands and competitiveness in other activities forcing kids to choose just one or two things to focus on.
Do you have thoughts on this phenomenon? Is there a place for a once-a-week fun league in high school? Have your high schoolers found other fun ways to keep active when they’re not in organized sports?
Here’s an article from Tiny Buddha on setting “compass goals” instead of typical New Year’s resolutions. Have you made resolutions for 2017? If so, would converting them to “compass goals” be beneficial to you, or do you prefer the traditional type? Also, did you make resolutions for 2016, and if so, how did you do?
And related: do you subscribe to any daily e-mail services like Tiny Buddha, to receive articles on life improvement or other topics? Which ones do you find helpful and which do you usually delete without reading?
by Grace aka costofcollege
We have an open thread on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Maybe you want to discuss race relations or a similar topic?
Or maybe you’d like to share your profound thoughts on the meaning of making your bed.
Or what else is on your mind?
This week Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Any thoughts?
Many of us have must-haves when shopping for a house. These could include features like gas cooking, master bath with a large tub, eat-in kitchen, easy commute, top public schools, attached garage, no corner lot, two story, one story, etc.
What are your non-negotiables? Look through this College Confidential discussion if you’d like to get more ideas.
Related, do you have any regrets about choosing your present home? What features would you change if you could?
This article detailing an alternative to Copernicus’ view that planets travel around the sun intrigued me, because correct hypotheses in science are usually the ones we learn and remember. It reminded me of the modern controversy over short term global cooling and warming trends and how to interpret the past 50 years of planetary temperature data, in light of limited historical data. Had you heard of Locher? Does he remind you of any other scientist? Does the controversy remind you of any other scientific controversy?
New Year’s Day has come and gone. Did you use it for a big project? Friends of mine reportedly spent it quilting, reading Dostoevsky’s oeuvre on the couch, and watching a Scooby Doo marathon, and I’m sure some were watching football and parades. I got started cleaning out my closet. I’ve made stacks for things that are: too big, ready for recycling, a good fit, for when my waist is 2″ smaller, and for when my waist is 2″ smaller than that. It’s slow going, because there are very few items I’m not trying on. Here is another suggestion of a project worthy of at least one day, cleaning the kitchen. Did you undertake any projects on that day, or do you have any planned?
The Great A.I. Awakening
How Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, one of its more popular services — and how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself.
by Honolulu Mother
For those with high schoolers, here’s a deep dive into the sausage-making leading up to the new SAT this past spring. It sheds some light on where it’s coming from and is also entertaining in an industry gossip sense:
For everyone else, sorry about this topic! Perhaps you’d like to discuss actual sausage making? Have you ever tried it? We have and it’s a production, but having a freezer stocked with the end product is nice. Do you have a favorite sausage maker, either a national brand or local product?
What’s on your mind? Feeling better or worse about our presidential choice?
Only rarely do my interests in history, software modeling, Biblical interpretation and astronomy come together, so when I read a modern hypothesis of what the Magi (aka wise men) saw that brought them from “the East” to King Herod in Jerusalem, I was intrigued. Many of the events recorded in the Bible are so long ago, and recorded in such a way that it is difficult or impossible to understand what was written in its historical context. I had long considered “the Star” that brought the Magi from “the East” to be an example of such a mystery. However, use of astronomical modeling software makes trivial calculations that were excessively laborious for Kepler, who used his laws of planetary motion to attempt to understand the mystery of “the Star in the East” soon after discovering the laws.
Unfortunately, Kepler relied on a copy of the works of Josephus printed after 1544, which contained an error that caused Kepler to believe Herod had died in 4 BC, and so Kepler searched the skies for the two years prior to Herod’s death. Subsequent scholarship has identified an error in the 1544 printing of the works of Josephus and 1 BC is now believed to be the year Herod died, so the hypothesis of interest focuses on 2/3 BC. In September of 3 BC at the time of the Jewish New Year, the planet Jupiter came into conjunction with the star Regulus. The Babylonians called Regulus “Sharu” and the Romans called Regulus “Rex”, both of which mean king, so the Magi observed the King Planet come into conjunction with the King Star, which happens every 12 years. However, due to retrograde motion, a triple conjunction occurred due to a wobble in Jupiter’s orbit, which is much less common.This triple conjunction occurred within the constellation Leo. The expected Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), which was represented by a lion (Leo). Leo is followed by the constellation Virgo and the expected Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), so it seems possible that the Magi (some of whom may have been Jews whose ancestors were left behind in Babylon) would associate kingship, Leo and Virgo with the expected Messiah.
Regardless of whether this hypothesis regarding the astronomical event that brought the Magi from “the East” (probably Babylon or Persia) is correct, some event caused the Magi to travel an extraordinary distance, to inquire of King Herod and to set off a slaughter of male infants in Bethlehem, a slaughter that was recorded by the historian Josephus and the apostle Matthew. It seems apparent that the Magi were priest-astronomers and had no idea their inquiry would result in infant slaughter. Philo the Elder of Alexandria wrote about Magi from the East with great respect for their knowledge of the natural world. The response of Herod and the priests in Jerusalem suggests that they respected the Magi as well. It is possible that Magi gained awareness of Jewish culture during the Babylonian captivity, when the Jewish elite including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego became officials in the Babylonian Empire and Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel a Chief Magus. Even though we don’t know how the Magi gained knowledge of Jewish culture and writings, a few hundred years after the Babylonian captivity, the Magi had sufficient interest in the birth of a Jewish king to travel to Jerusalem and to inquire of Herod.
After being informed by Herod and the chief priests that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the Magi proceeded from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and did not return to Jerusalem in order to inform Herod about what they had found, a situation which made Jesus’ birth one of if not the best-documented birth in ancient history. His death is, if the hypothesis is correct, equally well-documented. Passover begins on the 14th day of the Jewish lunar month of Nisan. Jesus must have died in a year on which that 14th day was a Friday, and Pilate was Roman procurator from 26 to 36 AD, so inquiry should focus on that date range. In 30 AD, Passover began on the equivalent of Friday April 7 and in 33 AD, Passover began on the equivalent of Friday April 3. The latter date is likely correct for a couple of reasons. First, Pilate seems reluctant to crucify Jesus. Sejanus, a notorious anti-Semite and regent for Emperor Tiberius, was killed in 31 AD for being a traitor and official Roman policy became to let the Jews alone. In 33 AD, Pilate would have every desire not to upset the Jews. Second, there was a lunar eclipse from noon to three on April 3, 33 AD, and an earthquake centered in Bithynia. A lunar eclipse resulted in a “blood moon”, which had particularly dark significance to ancient people. The lunar eclipse and earthquake just before the beginning of Passover (which began at sundown) made that Passover particularly memorable.
I found this hypothesis so convincing that I believe Jesus died at age 35 and not age 33, as has long been thought. Can you think of any other situations where astronomical information allows us to re-interpret ancient literature? Does any information in this summary surprise, frustrate or intrigue you, or change your thoughts about Epiphany, the traditional Christian feast to celebrate the visit of the Magi, held on January 6? (That’s just after the 12 days of Christmas.)
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judea: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. [WCE comment: A reference to Micah 5:2]
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. Matthew 2:1-12, King James Version
Kepler Reference:De Stella Nova (1606); De vero anno (1614)
This CollegeConfidential post must have hit a nerve because it generated so many comments.
FIL passed away recently. FIL (and the sons) were terrible about money in the sense that they were always throwing wads of money at each other. “Here let me pay for that. No really I INSIST.” “No really WE INSIST.” Yada, yada.
Typical situation: When everyone was returning to base for the funeral week, SIL spent $200 to stock up the MIL/FIL house with food for the incoming hoard (it was empty for the season when they winter over in the south). H gave SIL $100 because MONEY. Not sure why it was our responsibility to pay for stocking the house (there are 5 siblings) since we live in the same place and were not the ones eating all that food, but that’s how it is. We’re wealthy – it’s not like it matters.
So people were spending hither and yon, and H and I had a discussion about whether everyone was going to keep track and start billing each other. We agreed that since MIL is not poor in any sense of the word, and all this tracking and billing would be a PITA (and why?), we would generally have MIL pay for her own expenditures as we went along.
Since she has a hard time getting around, one of the things I am trying to do now is pick up things at the market once a week or when I happen to be going I ask if she needs something. I get a separate bill and have them bagged separately and she reimburses me when I take them in. Tonight, I picked up a few things she asked for and made dinner at her house as well. H showed up and tried to waive off the $10 for her groceries. I took the money because that was the plan. Now he is having fits and says I’m just greedy. I basically told him to pound salt.
The initial comments indicate some readers believe other issues besides money are at play here. But isn’t that usually the case? Money can represent so many things — love, prestige, self-worth, independence, etc.
Misunderstandings can easily occur. I was recently surprised when a relative insisted on compensating me for my Uber expenses after I did her a favor. At first I was a bit surprised, as if she considered it a financial transaction instead of a favor. Then I realized that she just viewed these types of things differently and did not want to burden me financially. And I made a mental note that she would probably expect to be compensated if I asked her for a similar favor.
How does your family operate? Do they “nickel and dime” expenses among each other? Or do they tend to be more casual? How are restaurant bills split? Have you had major (or minor) disagreements? Financial dealings between parents and their children can be particularly touchy. Part of what makes these types of dealings potentially more complicated are discrepancies between family members’ wealth. But even when everyone is in a similar financial position, misunderstandings can occur.
Have you ever borrowed or lent money to family? How did that turn out?l
What are the most important historical events of your lifetime?
Time magazine published this poll in which people ranked the most significant historical events in their lifetimes. Not surprisingly, 9/11 came out on top. But it is more interesting when the rankings are broken out by generation. The Silent Generation has a very different list from the Millennials. For the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers, wars and civil rights dominate. For Generation X and Millennials, we see Obama’s election, mass shootings, and bombings. Generation X saw the end of the cold war as very important, but it doesn’t even appear on the list for Millennials. Only Millennials list the most recent recession. Perhaps everyone else has lived through multiple recessions and just saw this as one more?
The list that is closest to my personal list would definitely be the Generation X one. I would probably replace the Challenger disaster with Sandy Hook (which does appear on the Millennial list) because that was so huge for me, whereas I wasn’t realy following Challenger. How about you? Do your picks for important moments in recent history match up with your official generation? Are there other events you think are important that were unnoticed?
The Washington Post has compiled its annual list of what is “IN” and “OUT” for 2017. The article also provides a link to lists as far back as 1978.
What do you think of the list? Will you be happy that the “OUT”s are leaving us? Did you see the “In”s coming? Or, did you have look up what some of the items are?
by Grace aka costofcollege
It’s been quite a year for discussions, particularly those of a political nature. Since they were week-long posts, I excluded the weekly political open threads from this list.
Totebag posts that received the most page views in 2016:
Any thoughts? What were your favorite posts and topics? Any ideas for changes for our blog? Do you think politics will continue to be a hot topic?
Happy New Year! On January 20th we will have a new president. I’m sure you have some thoughts on that.
by Grace aka costofcollege
For the last regular Totebag post of 2016 we’ll have an open thread. Here’s one topic to get the conversation going.
If you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, how about choosing a “theme” for 2017.
… for the last several years, I’ve identified one idea, summarized in just one word, as an overarching theme for the entire year.
My sister Elizabeth often does this kind of resolution, too. Last year her theme is “Novel.” One year was the year of “Free Time,” another, “Style,” another “Hot Wheels” — that year, she got a car and started driving; she and I have both struggled with a fear of driving, which was much tougher for her, given that she lives in Los Angeles and I live in New York City.
Another friend of mine does the same thing. One year, I remember, was “Dark,” another was “Make.”
For 2015, I chose “Upgrade.” In this post from January 2, I wrote, “I want to take many areas of my life to the next level.
This may sound gimmicky, but if you were making a resolution what theme would you choose for 2017? (You can cheat and use a two or three words!) Also, what theme word(s) would you use to describe your 2016?
I enjoyed this map detailing the difference in educational spending between typical and high poverty rate schools by state. Missouri has the biggest gap in spending. What I found more interesting than the within-state gap, however, was the gap between states. Wyoming, Alaska and some New England states have per capita spending in the high teens. Most southeastern states, Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho have below average spending, around $7000. I would guess the national population-weighted average (not the average of 50 states) is $10,000/student, without knowing how technicalities like the need for new buildings being greater in some states is handled.
The site notes that some states have determined that unequal funding between districts within a state is unjust, but this gap is negligible compared to the gap between states. Do you think the inequality between states is unjust? What, if anything, do you think should be done about it? Other than New York, it appears that many states with the poorest students and the most ESL students have the lowest funding.
by Honolulu Mother
I found the responses, and comments on the responses, interesting for this Quora topic:
The five-point response from the recruiter I found especially disingenuous, explaining why everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds and you should definitely give an interviewer your current salary when requested. Many commenters also took issue with his response.
Do you have a preferred way to approach this?
The holiday shopping season means bulging shopping bags, boxes piled up outside front doors, purchases galore. In spite of the retail cheer, I thought I’d bring up MMM (The Grinch?). Have you regretted any purchases? Have you racked up too many bills? Spent on things or experiences that were not worth the price tag?
by Grace aka costofcollege
Get ideas and give us your take on your 2016 reading.
Who Read What in 2016
Steph Curry, Dava Sobel, Mike Lee, Yaa Gyasi, Abby Wambach, Jeff Bewkes and 44 more of our friends name their favorite books of 2016.
Here’s another from Vox.
What did you read this year? What were your favorites and your not-so-favorites?
Here are some listening ideas.
The 50 Best Podcasts of 2016
From politics shows to horror series, highlights from a year of listening
Do you read free books and magazines from Amazon? (I missed this announcement when it came out in October.)
Introducing Prime Reading – The Newest Benefit for Prime Members
Prime members are now able to read as much as they like from a selection of over a thousand top Kindle books, magazines, short works, comic books, children’s books and more – all at no additional cost.
What about 2016 TV shows, movies, music, and other media? Give us your reviews. What are you looking forward to in 2017?
This week our open thread begins on Christmas Day. I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend.
by Honolulu Mother
As we get to the point in the season where we’ve all had LOTS of opportunity to hear all the holiday music, perhaps it’s time to reflect on the holiday songs that least bear repeated hearings.
This LA Times article by Randy Lewis can get you started:
My contribution to this topic is the album “All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.” It’s hilarious at first, but a little of it goes a very long way.
One of the things I like about this group is the hijacks and side discussions that take place, often started by someone asking for advice.
Let’s share how things worked out. What car did you buy? What computer did your DH buy? How are those working out for you? Have the bullying problems been worked out?
More generally, what advice or suggestions have you received here that has been particularly useful?
by Honolulu Mother
Caitlin Gibson of the Washington Post took a recent look at a case of videogame addiction:
The next level
Video games are more addictive than ever. This is what happens when kids can’t turn them off.
I really think this may be the biggest challenge for our kids’ generation. Maybe the boys lean a little more toward videogame addiction and the girls lean a little more toward social media addiction, but they’re all faced with the challenge of pulling themselves away from a virtual world that’s been deliberately designed to be immersive and addictive (because that’s what makes for a successful game / app / platform), and is always available at any time of the day or night. Even though most of us had video arcades and MTV and maybe an Atari or early Nintendo available in our teens and college years, the technology and availability weren’t comparable: we just didn’t have the same level of temptation to face down.
We don’t have problems at the level portrayed in this article, but I certainly wouldn’t say my kids are immune to this and they’re still trying to find ways to be able to have a little screen time after school and still be able to pry themselves loose back out before too long to get back to homework or other projects. We don’t have particularly strict screen time restrictions, as my theory is that this is something they really have to learn to self-monitor to be successful in college and adulthood.
How do your kids deal with the call of the screen? Are they independently able to exercise moderation, do they exercise moderation primarily through parental strictures, or is this a problem area for your family?
With T-day in our rear-view mirror, we’re well into the holiday season.
Are you sending out cards? What kind do you send? Do you attach a newsletter to your cards? How do you feel about receiving newsletters with cards?
If you do send out cards, here’s some grammar help:
Do you have travel plans for the holiday? Kids coming home from college? Do you have any travel planning tips to share? Ever tried Google flights?
Do you have any gift ideas to share? What items seem to be this year’s “it” gifts?
When did you first notice you were getting old?
. . . and added by Rocky Mountain Stepmom:
Just for fun, this photo series shows how attitudes toward “old” have
changed a bit.
What’s on your mind this week?
Very few people send out holiday letters anymore but two of my relatives do and I must say I have enjoyed reading them. Their letters are balanced, not over the top cheery nor down in the dumps.
It has been a tumultuous year. Capture that spirit in your own holiday letter spoof. You can pretend to be someone else. Make us laugh, spread the cheer!
by Honolulu Mother
My youngest, a seventh grader, has been a challenge to live with (and to teach) lately, in similar ways to his older brother at the same age. (My daughter went through the phase less severely and about a year earlier.) It led me to google “terrible twelves,” which turned up this NY Magazine article
Do you agree?
(And, remind me again that this stage will pass . . .)
by Fred MacMurray
What’s your favorite when it comes to pizza?
There are, of course, the big national chains Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Little Caesar’s.
For a more sit-down approach, and a much wider menu than just pizza there are California Pizza Kitchen and Uno Chicago Grill. And of course there are regional favorites like Giordano’s (Chicago) and brands that cover a lot of area, just not nationally, like Shakey’s and Round Table.
So, where should totebaggers get pizza when they are in your area? Are there toppings that make the experience unique? And what else should they order from the pizza place for that local experience?
With the death of Fidel Castro, the healthcare system in Cuba has received some attention.
What parts of the Cuban healthcare system do you think could be adopted here?
by Honolulu Mother
Do you entertain during the holidays? An open house kind of thing for friends and family, a work-related thing, a cookie-decorating party, the big family dinner, a cocktail party? Let’s share our holiday entertaining tips!
My household relies heavily on Costco when doing a big party. We get the shrimp tray, the crudite tray, the cookie tray, some of the booze, the frozen spanakopita. Sam’s Club we use to supplement (sometimes they have better selection of frozen puff pastry hors d’ouevres), along with a couple of trays of finger food items from a nearby restaurant. I avoid having much cooking to do during the party as I find that even having to remember to take a pan out of the oven is more than enough to remember once the party is rolling.
Our biggest challenge is probably finding a date, as it seems like most people we know have packed weekends in December full of kid activities and family obligations. We just aim for earlier in the month and cross our fingers.
Do you have holiday entertaining tips to share, or stories to tell?
Scott Adam’s blog post about two separate reality paths made me think of our blog, which reflects what I observe among many other people I know in real life.
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States has effectively forked reality into two versions that are running in parallel. Clinton’s supporters believe they are living in a world that is a repeat of 1930s Germany, with Trump playing the part of Adolf Hitler. See this reaction for a typical example.
Meanwhile, the other half of the country believes we elected a highly-capable populist who will “drain the swamp” and bring a business approach to government along with greater prosperity.
How can it simultaneously be true that Trump is OBVIOUSLY the next Hitler while it is also true that half the country didn’t notice? There are at least three ways to explain-away this dissonance. Maybe…
- Half the country are sexist, racist monsters too, so they like Trump.
- Half the country is stupid and can’t identify a Hitler that is right in front of them.
- Clinton supporters have been duped into believing something ridiculous about Trump.
What do you think?
by Grace aka costofcollege
Despite her initial doubts, this NYT travel writer gave a positive review of a trip she took using a bargain package deal.
For years I’d seen online ads for surprisingly affordable prefab vacations — airfare and hotel, with maybe a car and a tour thrown in — through unexpected vendors like Groupon and Costco. I remember thinking, “Do people actually buy vacations through Costco?” To me, packaged bulk trips were the five-pound tub of mozzarella balls of travel. Sure, it’s a bargain, but how bland? What quality could you possibly get for that impossibly low price? I was, in short, the worst kind of travel snob.
I regularly check deals that come my way, mainly Groupon Getaway and Travelzoo. But I’ve never tried any. Sometimes they seem too good to be true and sometimes they seem to scrimp more than I’d like. (Are the hotels lacking? Can I get an aisle seat on the plane?) Sometimes they don’t seem like such a great value when I start to compare low airfares and housing options that I could assemble on my own. But I keep telling myself that one day I need to throw caution to the wind and buy a five-night inclusive trip to the Caribbean for under $600. How bad could it be?
Here are three travel deals I recently came across, all departing from New York:
Do these sound enticing to you? Have you ever bought one of these deals or have you considered it? Do you know people who’ve had good or bad experiences? Do you avoid these mainly because they’re too conventional and you prefer more personalized travel? In other words, are you a “travel snob”? Any advice for someone who’s considering buying one of these deals?
Also, do you have any travel plans coming up or any dreamy destinations that you’d like to visit soon?
It has been a while since we talked about or vented about our jobs. Let’s talk about that. Also, what about our respective professions, industries and workplaces. Any changes there ? Any impacts from the election, favorable or unfavorable ? Did anyone make changes that worked out or not career wise?
In my area, as noted in the article, we have a fairly large opposition to vaccinations for children. I think, as the article notes, that many parents of young children today never had the disease vaccinations target nor even have known anyone who had them which leads them to think the disease is eradicated vs. controlled. Our family knows families who by choice do not vaccinate at all by, vaccinate selectively, and/or vaccinate on a much longer schedule than recommended for healthy children. We also know a family who can only vaccinate on a limited basis due to health reasons. Lastly, I grew up with a friend who cannot build an immunity to chicken pox and would have it almost annually; even as a mature adult still gets it every few years.
My mom, who passed away in her early 90’s, was very pro-vaccination as she and most everyone she knew had these childhood diseases and she saw first hand the symptoms and the effects. I received all the vaccines that were available during my childhood. As there were no vaccines, I had chicken pox (mild case) and mumps (on one side and then on the other), but not measles. My children have had all their shots and some that at the time were recommended by our pediatrician before they became required by my state for attending school. While still not required, my children have had the HPV series.
I fully understand families with health issues that prevent them from vaccinating or that require vaccinating on a modified schedule. I understand how vaccinating their peers helps reduce the likelihood that those who cannot be vaccinated will become ill. My pediatrician, who is clearly pro-vaccination, hasn’t issued any requirements for being vaccinated to remain a patient.
Do you think that families should be able to refuse to have their children vaccinated for any reason other than medical necessity? Would you change pediatricians/clinics if they required all patients to be fully vaccinated, unless prevented by health issues?
Discuss whatever is on your mind today.
I recently read two articles that made me ponder the role of whistleblowers in revealing corporate malfeasance.
The WSJ article (first) discusses how the medical testing company Theranos used its attorneys to intimidate a young Stanford grad who went to work at Theranos and observed irregularities in its medical testing methodology. I identified with Tyler’s youthful idealism and interest in data. I also thought about our legal system, compared to other “loser pays” systems and thought about its disadvantages. I suspect that pressure to conform to the vision of a startup is not uncommon. The NY Times article (second) describes how Princess Cruise Lines is being fined $40 million for improper waste dumping around the world on many ships from ~2004-2013. The illegal dumping was observed and reported by a new engineer who observed the illegal dumping and promptly reported it to the British authorities and quit his job at the port of Southampton.
Do you think government regulatory bureaucracy can/should do a better job of protecting potential whistleblowers? Do you think boards of directors should do a better job of overseeing internal company practices? Have you pondered the complexities of international environmental regulatory compliance, from both a legal and an engineering point of view? How can governments do a better job of seeking out likely cases of illegal behavior, both to avoid the behavior and to protect ethical competitors? (Volkswagen emissions and Wells Fargo also come to mind.)
The transition plans continue.
by Grace aka costofcollege
Inspired by this article, I let myself dream a little about having my own franchise business. I don’t consider myself the traditional entrepreneurial type and I am not interested in any business that deals with food, but I have toyed with the idea of having a Kumon franchise. The hours seem reasonable and I foresee an ongoing need for their services.
Here’s one list that has Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches (I’ve never heard of them) as number one.
Some totebaggers run their own businesses, but most of us do not. What’s your dream franchise or business of any kind? And even if you don’t realistically see yourself as an entrepreneur, what business would you be interested in trying if the usual obstacles were magically removed?
My office recently changed to an open plan (other than for senior management) and I am struggling with it.
It was pitched to us as a way to improve collaboration and foster creativity. When pressed, management acknowledged it also resulted in cost savings.
A few thoughts –
Have you transitioned to an open office? Any advice, tips? Any advice on working from home? Do you use e-mail extensively or limit its use?
by Honolulu Mother
Sometimes it takes an outsider to notice what our unspoken customs and expectations are, as noted in this Atlantic article:
If you’re an adult with an etiquette question or even just trying to figure out the basics, there are places you can turn, like this forum (if you’ve never seen it before, set a timer before you start poking around!), or of course Miss Manners and whoever is the new Emily Post, plus more up-to-date versions of the advice column.
But with our kids, we have a responsibility to teach them this stuff before they head out into the world, and it doesn’t necessarily follow that raising them to be considerate and empathetic will necessarily lead them to just intuit how table settings work, or what the standard phrases are for congratulating or commiserating on life events, or the different expectations on arriving by the appointed time for a party versus a job interview.
Do you have a conscious program for teaching manners, or do you just try to work it in as you go along? Have you ever considered a class? And, at what point is it time for you to bite your tongue and figure that your kids are now beyond your jurisdiction — at 18, or later, or earlier?
by Grace aka costofcollege
Today’s post is open to any topic. Here’s what was on my mind:
Since I’m trying to establish a more minimalist approach to possessions, this article caught my eye.
The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things. As a result, we end up buying things that our previous selves never needed to feel happy or fulfilled.
- You buy a new dress and now you have to get shoes and earrings to match.
- You buy a CrossFit membership and soon you’re paying for foam rollers, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and paleo meal plans.
- You buy your kid an American Girl doll and find yourself purchasing more accessories than you ever knew existed for dolls.
- You buy a new couch and suddenly you’re questioning the layout of your entire living room. Those chairs? That coffee table? That rug? They all gotta go.
Have you ever fallen victim to the Diderot Effect? How’s your clutter management coming along these days?
After Trump’s strong showing in the Rust Belt, I thought about how the electoral college has changed over time. When my kids asked whether New York or Texas had more electoral votes, we had to look it up — it turns out Texas is way ahead, and New York is tied with Florida.
This link projects changes for 2020 that reflect ongoing Rust Belt emigration and population increases in Texas (3!), Colorado, Florida, California, North Carolina and maybe Virginia, Oregon and Arizona.
This link shows the electoral college and how each state voted over time. I was surprised to learn that Kansas and California each had 10 electoral votes for the 1908 election and Florida had only 5. New York’s share of the U.S. population peaked in the 1930’s and 1940’s, when it had 47 electoral votes. I find the chart fascinating and I also admire the wisdom of the Founding Fathers for creating a system that added (later apportioned) electors based on a census every decade.
Go at it!
by Grace aka costofcollege
We have an open thread for any discussion topics over the Thanksgiving weekend. How are things going?
Related to previous conversations about the “bubble” in which we live, here’s a version called the Thanksgiving Bubble courtesy of CollegeConfidential.
Is Your Thanksgiving in an Elitist Bubble?
No green bean casserole: 0 points
From scratch using a recipe off epicurious and fresh green beans and mushrooms: 1 point
Canned soup base, canned green beans, French’s fried onions: 5 points
Heritage breed, free range, humanely raised, hormone free turkey sold by your local butcher or Whole Foods at price that could pay for a nice dinner out for a family of four: 0 points
Pre-cooked turkey dinner bought at Dean & DeLuca: 0 points
Fresh turkey, nothing special: 1 point
Frozen Butterball Turkey: 2 points
Store brand turkey that you saved up the store receipts for months to get for free: 3 points
Turkey you shot yourself in the woods, gutted and dressed yourself: 10 points, with bonus point given for deep frying it.
Homemade cranberry sauce with fancy ingredients like candied ginger, figs or kumquats: 0 points
Homemade cranberry sauce, nothing fancy: 1 point
Canned whole berry cranberry sauce: 2 points
Canned jelly cranberry sauce still bearing the ridge lines from the can (my favorite kind ): 5 points
No cranberry sauce because you’re from the deep south and they don’t do the cranberry thing there: 7 points
Fresh sweet potatoes with a brown sugar/rum glaze (family favorite): 0 points
Fresh sweet potatoes with store bought marshmallows: 2 points
Fresh sweet potatoes with homemade marshmallows: -2 points
Canned sweet potatoes with store bought marshmallows: 5 points
Fresh whipped cream for your pie: 0 points
Whipped Cream from a can: 1 point
Premium ice cream: 0 points
Store brand ice cream: 1 point
Cool Whip: 5 points
What’s your score, both from your childhood and from today?
These two related topics dovetail nicely so they are posted together.
Holiday Gift Giving
by North of Boston
OK, Totebaggers, the Holidays are upon us, so let’s talk presents. What are you planning to give your loved ones? What are you hoping to get? Are you changing your gift-giving habits this year (e.g. expanding or contracting your recipient list, or spending more or less on gifts than you have in the past)? And if you’re stuck on what to get someone, here’s your chance to ask for suggestions!
With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, that can only mean one thing: Black Friday is also approaching, to be followed by Small Business Saturday, then Cyber Monday.
Are you looking to take advantage of any deals offered in this shopping season? What are your strategies? Are there any great deals out there that you’re willing to share?
by Honolulu Mother
Amazon has done a couple of sales on board games recently, probably in anticipation of the holidays, and it’s got me thinking about games for a crowd, or just a family game night. I bought Escape: The Curse of the Temple for this year and have high hopes for it, especially since each round of play is so short that agreeing to play isn’t an hour-long commitment. I’m also considering God Hates Charades, a promising-sounding mashup of Charades and Cards Against Humanity that might be perfect for a theater-loving extended family where the youngest is a cynical twelve.
Do you have favorite games, past or present? I’m thinking especially of the ones played with multiple people in the same place at the same time, though feel free to share your favorite solo games too! This can include not just board games, but computer or gaming system party games like Dance Central or Mario Kart. I always enjoyed Cranium, though I haven’t played it for years — perhaps it’s time to introduce it to the kids! And I do indeed like Dance Central. How about you?
The 2016 presidential election is over but we still want to have a forum to discuss politics. Here it is!
This website tells you how common your surname is around the world. Both my maiden name and my married name are relatively uncommon, with a few hundred or a thousand people around the world who have each. Is your surname common or rare? If it’s common, where in the world is it common? Are there any surnames you input for fun where something about the results surprised you?
by Denver Dad
My son just turned 15, which means he is going to get his learner’s permit. I’m hoping DW and I can be patient driving instructors for him. When my brother and I were learning to drive, my mom would always jam her foot on the imaginary break and turn the imaginary wheel and yell “Watch! Watch!” when she’d see a car coming on a side street a half-mile down the road.
What were everyone’s experiences like teaching their kids to drive? How well did you handle it? And for those whose kids aren’t old enough, what do you think you’ll be like as a driving instructor?
by Honolulu Mother
This Vox article argues (based on a few studies and talking to a couple of psychologists) that the key thing with willpower is not so much having the self control to resist a temptation when it’s looking you in the face — apparently we’re all pretty bad at that — but instead developing a taste for virtue and cultivating habits that don’t bring you into temptation’s path, Other factors less conducive to individual control are winning the genetic lottery of being conscientious and abstemious by nature, and having the financial stability to focus on the future instead of just the moment.
Do you have any favorite tricks to avoid temptation?
A week ago Hillary Clinton suffered a crushing defeat at the polls. A couple of days later one of her supporters encountered Clinton out hiking near her home in Chappaqua.
This news caught my eye because I remember after suffering one of the most devastating losses of my adult life I took to walking almost every day for hours. It was therapeutic, and I frankly could not think of any other way to deal with my misfortune. And it helped me understand that taking one day (or one step) at a time was an effective way to deal with life’s adversities.
How do you deal with loss and disappointment? Whether it’s a small setback like not getting an expected promotion or a large one like the death of a loved one, we’ve all had to find ways to handle loss. Do you try to put it out of your mind and carry on with your regular routine? Do you exercise? Do you overeat or drink? Does religion offer you comfort? Do you turn to deep self-analysis? Do you seek out support from close friends? What works, and doesn’t work, for you?
This topic is right up the Totebag alley. What is the most fun elective you took in school/college ? What are some interesting seminars or classes you attended where you learnt something outside your field ?
I had limited opportunity to take non core classes at school/college but the few classes that I was able to take taught me things which I still remember and I had fun taking them.
What electives have your kids chosen ? Anything interesting?
For a few more weeks? Or are we done with this as a regular topic? Your thoughts?
by Honolulu Mother
This Atlantic article discussed a recent study finding that students in selective public high schools didn’t end up with greater academic benefits than similar students at other schools:
The researchers divided schools into four groups: selective, top-tier, middle-tier, and bottom-tier. The first group consisted of schools that admit students based largely on test scores. The latter three groups were ranked by their students’ ACT scores and high-school graduation rates.
The study compared students against peers who attended different-tier schools but were otherwise similar based on traits including past test scores, degree of parental involvement, and home neighborhood. This approach isn’t perfect, but it allows researchers to estimate the impact of schools while holding student characteristics constant.
When simply making raw comparisons between students at selective-enrollment versus other city schools, the differences appear stark: Students at selective schools scored more than seven points higher on the ACT, which has a maximum score of 36. Yet when researchers controlled for a variety of factors to isolate the effect of attending a selective school, the disparities all but vanished. Attending a selective-enrollment school led to only a statistically insignificant bump in the ACT of half a point. The selective schools also seemed to have little or no effect on the likelihood of taking Advanced Placement classes, graduating from high school, or enrolling and staying in college.
The article notes a couple of caveats, though: the comparisons of individual students across schools were not typically across the whole spectrum of schools, but rather from selective to top-tier, or middle-tier to bottom-tier; and the study did find some non-academic benefits as to attendance and suspension rates, peer behavior, perceived safety, and their trust level in teachers.
We don’t have selective public high schools here, so I don’t know to what extent they’re comparable to the selective private schools that we do have (which were not part of the study). Those of you with experience with selective public high schools, do these conclusions ring true to you? And what do you think of selective public high schools in general — are we missing out on a good thing here? Does it require an urban area over a certain population size for the concept to work?
by Grace aka costofcollege
… my mom is what you might call a “hands-off” Grandma—or Bubbe, as she is affectionately referred to. She loves her grandkids. She enjoys spending time with them, in small doses. She cares about their well-being and what is happening in their lives. But she is not interested in participating in the grunt work of raising them: the tasks that include bodily fluids and flailing limbs, tears and stall tactics and four outfit changes in as many minutes. In so far as it is possible to engineer, my mother, at 70, is looking to experience the good bits associated with young children, the fun bits, and not the slog.
For her, this is the line between what it is to be a grandparent and what it is to be a parent. This is the privilege you earn with the prefix “Grand.” “I’ve done my time,” she says, and she certainly has. She is the mother of three children, across eight years and two marriages. She did everything for us as we grew up—playdates, parties, projects—everything. She watches some of her friends “grandparent” in a way she finds unappealing, women, she says, who are attempting motherhood all over again. “I have my own life,” she reminds me, with perfect kindness and accuracy. “I don’t need to re-live having children through yours.”
What type of grandparents did you have and what type of grandparents are your own parents? What would you prefer, hands off, hands on, or something in between? What type of grandparent are you or will you be?
Discuss whatever is on your mind.
Psst … send in some posts.
by Honolulu Mother
This long Oatmeal cartoon muses on what happiness means, and suggests that our definition of happiness is too limiting. The author won’t call himself happy. Instead, he says, “I do things that are meaningful to me, even if they don’t make me ‘happy.'”
(The cartoon is way too long to display in the post; you’ll have to follow the link)
If asked, would you describe yourself as happy? Or content? Unhappy? Or do you agree with The Oatmeal that those terms are too limiting to really capture the experience of living?
And if you’d like to be happier, the internet has no shortage of suggestions. E.g.
There are many types of success other than patent filing, but this map still might interest folks on the blog.
After this Tuesday we should know who will be our next president. Even after all this time, I’m not sure if I’m ready.
Any comments on the Electoral College?
This article lifted my spirits a bit.
History Repeats as Farce, Then as 2016
‘We’ve been divided in much, much worse fashion before, like 1861 when we were actually killing each other.’
by Grace aka costofcollege
We have an open thread today, but first a question. Do you feel a need to bust out of your rut?
101 Rut-Busting Things to Do This Weekend
Tired of same-old Saturdays and dismal Sundays? From real-estate adventures to pet-related impetuousness, this list of suggestions will shake up your downtime. Bonus: Try the Random Idea Generator
Okay, most are outlandish and silly, but some got me thinking. Coding, open houses, blindfolds . . .
Anything on the list catch your fancy? Or do you have something else you’ve been thinking about doing to shake up your life a little? Or maybe some of you are too busy juggling the basic functions of family life to even think about anything else now.
Along with all of today’s articles on the issues with increasing plan costs under Obamacare, came this article.
Despite our stereotype that other countries with more socialized forms of medicine are morasses of long waiting periods and lack of access, it turns out that we are worse on those measures than many other countries. And we pay more to boot.
While Obamacare may not be the most perfect system out there (my own opinion is that if they put real teeth into the penalties, they would fix the rising plan costs in a hurry, but I digress), it is clear that our healthcare system is a mess and it was a mess before Obamacare, and that we need to be moving towards the models used in other industrialized countries (which doesn’t have to be single payer, by the way).
I have one pet theory: I think Americans value healthcare less, at least while they are healthy. Perhaps that is why healthy Germans, Swiss, and Canadians will pay more taxes or pay for their mandated plans, while healthy Americans simply won’t. That of course is what leads to the dreaded death spiral – if healthy people don’t participate in the system, only sick people are left, driving up costs. It seems like other industrialized nations have figured out how to get everyone into the system, but we haven’t.
by Honolulu Mother
This Atlantic article notes that Americans move more often than Europeans do, and wonders why:
Decades of data, including a more recent Gallup study, characterizes the United States as one of the most geographically mobile countries in the world. “About one in four U.S. adults (24 percent) reported moving within the country in the past five years,” the report noted. With the comparable exceptions of Finland (23 percent) and Norway (22 percent), Americans also move considerably more than their European peers.
According to the article, the main reason people move is for work, but the large size of the country and having a common language throughout doesn’t hurt. However, we’re moving less frequently than we used to:
During the 1980s, 3 percent of working-age Americans relocated to a different state each year; that figure had been cut in half by 2010. “While part of the decline can be attributed to the Great Recession,” the authors suggest, “the bulk of this phenomenon took place over the course of several decades and is unlikely to be related to the business cycle.”
So why are more people staying put? A round-up of theories by Brad Plumer at The Washington Post included the aging of the U.S. workforce (older workers are less apt to move), the further rise of two-income households (logistics are tougher when there are two earners), the burdens of real estate (read: underwater mortgages and high rents), evolving workplace culture (telecommuting is more acceptable than ever), as well as the flatlining of wages, which makes moving away for a job, on average, a less rewarding financial proposition.
Most of my moving was done before I began my career — I’ve only moved once, within the city, since then — and my kids haven’t ever moved house. But we moved around some when I was young, and my college and grad school years, and my summer jobs, had me moving frequently and over long distances.
Have you moved often, as a child or as an adult? Do you think of geographic mobility as good, bad, or neutral for a society?
As I’m typing this it’s early Sunday afternoon, and I’m working my way through my usual Sunday to-do list. We try to have a fair amount of downtime on Sundays, but I also try to spend at least a couple hours getting ready for the week. Here are the things I routinely do on Sunday to make the rest of the week easier:
1) Finish up the kid laundry. Adult and household laundry gets done throughout the week, but I try to make sure all kid laundry is done by Sunday afternoon, so they can put it away before bed. Because they wear uniforms, I’ve learned the hard way to start the week with a full supply.
2) Clean out the fridge. After breakfast on Sunday, I do a big clean out of the fridge, getting rid of all the bits and pieces from the previous week, and adding to the grocery list for things we’re running low on.
3) Meal plan and grocery shop. These days I sketch out a meal plan on Sunday morning, and it goes Sunday through Friday. Then I do a big grocery run. As soon as I get home, I season and prep any meat that will be used over the next few days, and have it ready to go in the fridge.
4) Prep smoothie bags. Our kids love smoothies in the mornings, so I make a week’s worth of pint sized ziplock freezer bags containing sliced bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and spinach. Those go in the freezer, and all I have to in the morning is grab a bag, dump it in the blender, and add yogurt and almond milk.
5) Long run. I try on Sundays to do my longest run of the week. (I use the term ‘long’ loosely – anywhere from 4 to 6 miles). This is the one time each week I run on my own (weekday runs are with a couple of girlfriends), so I use the time to think about the week ahead and generally get my head in the game for the upcoming week. It’s really a nice way to get that ever-elusive thinking time.
6) Work e-mails. Fridays are the one days my kids never have sports (at least for now, this could change for the winter season), so I actually like to work late on Fridays and make sure the week is completely put to bed before checking out. However, if something prevents that, then I do spend about an hour on Sunday cleaning out my inbox, attending to any small tasks, and preparing the Monday morning to do list. Then when I get to my desk on Monday, I’m ready to hit the ground running.
Do you guys have regular things you do on the weekends in preparation for the upcoming week?
by Grace aka costofcollege
Candy corn was the most popular in five states. Really?
Candy Corn Lovers Will Eat Candy Corn Anything—No Matter What It Tastes Like
Trick or treaters will score candy-corn flavored Oreos, Peeps and M&M’s, but confectioners often have no idea what candy corn should taste like; ‘eating an antique candlestick’
Here’s another description: “It’s not candy, it’s not corn, it’s earwax formed in the shape of a rotten tooth”
What’s your favorite candy and how is your Halloween celebration coming along?
We’re dragging to the finish. Although I hear (from both sides) about the great concern that the latest October surprise will torpedo HRC’s chances for the presidency, a part of me believes she will survive this. What do you think?
by Honolulu Mother
This Washington Post article has some thoughts on what leads kids to act ungrateful or entitled, and how we as parents can try not to promote those traits. The article is framed in terms of behavioral economy / psychology, but its suggestions can be summarized as:
– Train them to think about other people’s experiences and perspectives
– Avoid hedonic adaptation, i.e. don’t spoil them
– Show them how the world outside their bubble lives
. . . . especially by focusing on individual examples
– Don’t bribe them for desired behaviors
I’m not sure I entirely agree with the last one — sometimes bribery can be a way to get the ball rolling, especially if it’s phrased as a token of appreciation for their help and accompanied by verbal appreciation as well; and in a short-term situation bribery can be the tool that gets everyone through. But by and large, these seem like time-honored and common sense strategies.
Do you consciously try to follow these or similar strategies? Is the list incomplete? Have you ever been startled by some piece of entitled or ungrateful behavior by your child or children?
by Grace aka costofcollege
What are the components to charisma?
Charismatic behavior can be broken down into three core elements: presence, power, and warmth.
When people describe their experience of seeing a charismatic person in action, whether Bill Clinton or the Dalai Lama, they often mention the individual’s extraordinary “presence.” Presence turns out to be a core component of charisma, the foundation upon which all else is built.
But if presence is the foundation on which charisma rests, power and warmth are the stuff of which it is built….
You need all three to be charismatic, but the degree of each determines the kind of charisma you have….
You can become more charismatic.
Stare like a lover, stand like a gorilla, speak like a preacher….
Do you agree with the components listed in the quote, or would you describe it differently? Are you charismatic? Do you work on it? In what specific ways have you seen charisma benefit someone? Who is the most charismatic person you personally know? Can you teach your children to be more charismatic? What suggestions would you have for someone trying to be more charismatic?
by Grace aka costofcollege
Today we have an open thread. Here’s a topic to get us started.
Refute his argument, if you can. The author touches on topics previously discussed here, like the possibility of a growing class of “unemployables”. He focuses on the role of the technology sector.
A common assumption was that new jobs in new industries would take up displaced workers. Unfortunately, the reality has been different.
The number of people employed in technology has remained modest, around 5% to 6% of the workforce. By one estimate, only 0.5% of the U.S. labor force is employed in industries that did not exist in 2000. In Silicon Valley, only 1.8% of workers are employed in new industries.
One reason is that many new industries are not labor-intensive, and when they are, the tasks are outsourced to the cheapest supplier in the world. A leading technology company like Google GOOG, -0.02% has only around 60,000 employees worldwide.
I’ve never found a Fertility and Sterility medical journal article that seemed appropriate for The Totebag, but this article on the tradeoffs of healthy pregnancy/babies as a function of maternal age and career choices seems ripe for a Totebaggy discussion. I am somewhat vocal on the blog about my view that male/female career/social equality is difficult or impossible, and this article is a good summary of the statistical reasons.
Do you think people (men and women) should think about these facts when planning their lives? Do you think both sexes will?
If the link doesn’t work and you care, the article may be available from your library login.
For those not interested in/unable to access the whole article, the summary paragraph is this.
It is difficult to publically challenge convention, and it seems that these days it is politically correct to portray women enjoying the best of both worlds when it comes to family and work. However, if this is achieved by delaying pregnancy then the risk of complicated pregnancy, infertility, and childlessness must also be understood and accepted. The goal should be to promote earlier efforts at procreation, while condemning myths suggesting “you can have it all” by delaying reproduction until a time that it is convenient. Starting a family is never convenient and it never has been. A social re-engineering back to a more conventional time may be difficult, if not impossible to do, but a failure to do so will result in increasing numbers of women left childless and without adequate medical interventions to reconcile their needs. To succeed in this endeavor doctors will need to enlist the support of partners in all aspects of life: educators, employers, lawyers, theologians, and legislators. Finally, accurately portraying the difficulties faced by both older patients attempting pregnancy and those who are experiencing it is long overdue. Realistic characterization should not scare patients away from trying to have children but rather serve as a warning of the perils of postponement and be sobering reminders that all stages of life are fleeting and pregnancy is still best accomplished while young.
by Rocky Mountain Stepmom
Recently I’ve come across two articles about how to communicate with / persuade people who disagree with you.
The first is from the Harvard Business Review, written by Deepak Malhotra, who has a book about negotiating in impossible circumstances. He suggests finding ways to let your opponent save face, and to find ways to include them in your tent.
The second is by Daniel Dennett, who is a big shot in the philosophy world. This one is more about how to argue with people so that you can actually make some progress down a given intellectual path. Believe me, most philosophers don’t follow this approach, but they probably should.
I freely admit that I’m not very good at following any of these rules unless someone is paying me to do so. Totebaggers, what do you think of the advice from Malhotra and Dennett?
The end (of the campaign) is near. Voting takes place in 15 days.
“If [Trump] gets in, good luck to him. That’s what the people wanted….”
Yes, this is a democracy, and if Trump becomes President, there’s no blaming Trump. It’s something the people made happen. The same goes for Hillary and for our awful predicament having Hillary and Trump as the candidates. That’s us….
by Grace aka costofcollege
New data show that, in certain medical fields, large majorities of physicians tend to share the political leanings of their colleagues, and a study suggests ideology could affect some treatment recommendations. In surgery, anesthesiology and urology, for example, around two-thirds of doctors who have registered a political affiliation are Republicans. In infectious disease medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics, more than two-thirds are Democrats.
The author suggests that salary and gender play a role in the political leanings of doctors.
Here’s another measure of politics and occupations that is based on political contributions.
Democratic vs. Republican occupations
Most librarians are Democrats. Most farmers are Republicans.
As a group, doctors are in the middle, though pediatricians lean left and urologists right
Do you see these trends among people you know? Do you fit in with any overall political orientation among your colleagues, or do you usually feel out of place? What about with your neighbors, friends, and relatives? Do you talk politics in real life?
by Honolulu Mother
String theory has always had the problem of being essentially unfalsifiable. I’ve wondered myself if it’s just particle physics’s version of epicycles. Thus, I was very intrigued by the suggestion in this Atlantic article on string theory (I know, that reputed science journal, the Atlantic) that insofar as string theory produces testable hypotheses, they’re being borne out:
Using the physical intuition offered by strings, physicists produced a powerful formula for getting the answer to the embedded sphere question, and much more. “They got at these formulas using tools that mathematicians don’t allow,” Córdova said. Then, after string theorists found an answer, the mathematicians proved it on their own terms. “This is a kind of experiment,” he explained. “It’s an internal mathematical experiment.” Not only was the stringy solution not wrong, it led to Fields Medal-winning mathematics. “This keeps happening,” he said.
Do you have an opinion on string theory, or any other cutting edge field of science? Or failing that, do you support the level of public spending necessary to, say, prove the existence of the long-predicted Higgs-Boson particle?
by Grace aka costofcollege
We have an open thread today, with a side conversation about tracking apps.
What do you all think of tracking apps? I’ve seen kids and parents go to both extremes. Some kids are nonchalant about the use of this technology, finding nothing offensive about having parents know every move they make. Others are fiercely resistant about their privacy and want none of it.
One mother I know wanted to use a tracking app for the times when her 19-year old daughter was taking public transportation late at night after work. Her daughter was against it, and they compromised with agreeing to regular texting from the daughter. On the other hand, another mother and her twenty-something daughter seem to know each other’s every move by using Find My Friends. Young people I know use that app to keep track of each other.
Do you or will you use a tracking app with your high school or college kids? What about with younger kids? Do you think it’s helicoptering, or just a common sense safety measure?
by Honolulu Mother
This 538 article discussed an interesting survey of what public or shared displays of faith make nonbelievers uncomfortable, versus what public or shared displays of faith believers *expect* to make nonbelievers uncomfortable. Sometimes the differences are striking:
Then again, perhaps the true explanation is that for each category, the survey only questioned those believers who regularly engage in a given act — in other words, only the approximately 1/3 of believers surveyed who routinely ask people to pray with them were asked to predict nonbelievers’ comfort level with the request. Perhaps the believers who expect nonbelievers to be made uncomfortable by such a request are among the 2/3 who don’t regularly ask people to pray with them!
Do you see ways in which religious believers and nonbelievers misunderstand one another? And is that necessarily a bad thing?
Totebaggers, we often hear about doing good for our communities. In today’s world what does that mean? Volunteering, donating or taking care of our families and helping out our friends the best we can? What are the issues facing your communities? How about experience with government programs at the community level. Have they worked?
I feel with this election cycle there has been a long period of time where we have become distracted by day to day sound bites and have lost focus on the issues that really affect our communities.
What’s on your mind?
ADDED: Just saw this.
Answer these 11 questions that were part of a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center to find out where you fit on the partisan political spectrum. And see how you compare with other Americans by age, race, religion and gender.
by Honolulul Mother
Yes, it’s an article on sex! This Pacific Standard article by Malcolm Harris looks at the trendline showing that millenials are waiting longer to become sexually active than earlier generations, and reframes the question:
Instead of asking why Millennials are having less sex, we could also ask why Boomers and Gen-X had more. Rather than asking why Millennials are so weird, we could compare birth cohorts in a way that doesn’t assume any of them as the baseline. Sexual norms and practices are in constant flux, and we ought not treat them as fixed.
The author has a theory:
One possible explanation based on the data, and on what we know about gender and power in America, is that young women who don’t want to have sex (or aren’t sure) are having their wishes respected at a greater rate. This explanation also fits with the crime data we do have on teen sexual assault victimization, which has declined significantly over the time in question.
Do you think his theory has merit? (I do.) Do you think the trendlines are showing a real change, or a blip? And do you agree with his reframing of the question as why the two previous generations had more sex, instead of why millenials are having less?
by Grace aka costofcollege
Do you maintain close ties with your parents, siblings, and extended family?
Frank Bruni and his family place great value in having a week-long family reunion every year.
… we’re also dedicated to it, and we’ve determined that Thanksgiving Day isn’t ample, that Christmas Eve passes too quickly, and that if each of us really means to be central in the others’ lives, we must make an investment, the biggest components of which are minutes, hours, days. As soon as our beach week this summer was done, we huddled over our calendars and traded scores of emails to figure out which week next summer we could all set aside. It wasn’t easy. But it was essential.
Marjorie Rosenblatt’s youngest child is in high school, and she wants to be sure to stay close to her kids as they become independent adults.
While I recognize this progression toward independence was our eventuality, even our goal, it felt and still feels somehow unnatural to me; how can we as parents know the comings and goings of and daily events in the lives of our children, only to accept that this degree of involvement would be relatively abruptly replaced by an occasional text or phone call? How can our family, an indivisible unit, disperse, and yet (we hope) continue to be solid? How can we stay close as a family as our lives diverge?
She suggests group travel, text threads, traditions, and care packages. Gretchen Rubin and her family send frequent email “updates” to each other as a way to maintain close contact.
I like some of these ideas, but they do require a commitment to make them work. I’ve seen how easy it is to let family ties fray. One way I maintain contact with some extended family is through a private Facebook group, where we post updates about what is happening in our lives. We feel we can share more on this private group than on our regular timeline.
Has your extended family kept close ties? If so, how have you made it happen? Have you thought about ways to maintain close contact with your children as they become adults? If your children are grown, are you satisfied with the type of relationship you now have? On the other hand, do you prefer to keep a friendly distance from some relatives?
I don’t have to write a blurb – the title speaks for itself. The comments are mostly from introverts trying to figure out why it is considered rude not to be social. I think this might overlap with elitism for some – my time is too valuable to waste on you, your conversation is too plebeian, but for most of us (I am not an introvert, but I hate parties and chit chat) it is mostly just how do I want to spend my limited time.
by Honolulu Mother
The linked article discusses recent instances of death or serious injury caused by bad design. What I found especially interesting was how many of the examples were of designs that had gone in the wrong direction from a safety standpoint — taking a standard and well-understood design and deciding to visually jazz it up, in a way that increased the possibility of harmful errors. For instance, the laundry pods that look like candy, fuel additives packaged like energy drink shots, detergents packaged to look like fruit drinks, or the shifter design on the right:
which has been blamed for a recent death because it makes it difficult to tell whether your vehicle is really in park.
Design is an important feature in our consumer culture. Good design been credited with propelling some product lines to the top, as in the conventional wisdom that Apple’s design has traditionally been both aesthetically pleasing and intuitive. But does the quest for a redesign to make a product stand out from its competitors sometimes run counter to the quest for better product safety?
And, how important is design to you? Do you pay the premium to buy your kids the interesting or fun school supplies or do you stick with the cheaper basic versions? When you look for furniture, does comfort rule or are you willing to trade it off for the look you want? Are there everyday items you consider examples of especially good or bad design?
McKinsey/Lean In’s report on women in the workplace just came out. What are Totebaggers’ thoughts?
The campaign continues.
by Honolulu Mother
Moving through September and into October doesn’t make much of a difference in the weather here, but I still start to think of making more pumpkin or apple based recipes, perhaps inspired by the Halloween stuff appearing in stores. For those of you in temperate climes, I’m sure your cooking style changes more noticeably with the seasons. So, please share some of your favorite fall recipes!
Here’s a collection to get you started:
And, here’s a recipe for a simple apple bundt cake — I don’t have my copy on hand but I found a copy online:
Totebaggers with older kids, what is the criteria for getting into a college that people would recognize ? I am not talking of Highly Selective Schools but maybe a tier below ?
Also, if you have experience with HSS, please share that. Some Totebaggers have left the decision on where to apply, how hard to work to their kids, others may have offered tips or made suggestions.
Still others have inside experience as readers of applications, college administrators and professors. I would love to hear your views on this edition of The Totebag College Confidential.
What do people do with old meds otherwise? Do they worry about effects of meds in their water?
Last week I went to a freshman (high school) parent night and was told about all the things I should be doing to ensure my child’s success. These included (1) making sure they were using the agenda the school gave them, (2) regularly checking their grades, (3) each weekend helping them select the appropriate FIT sessions for the next week, (4) subscribing to the teachers’ webpages for those using that system to get emails when each assignment is posted, (5) logging into my student’s account to see what the assignments are for the teachers using that system, and (6) in my account, I should also set it up so that I get a notification for missing grades, absences/tardies, and when the child’s average falls below a family determined level.
Before I go on, FIT sessions are mandatory 25 minute tutoring/study sessions that occur 3 days a week. Teachers post the topic/style of each of their sessions each week, such as Q&A review for Pre-AP Biology Test 2 or Review of Quadratic Functions, or the student can select a quiet study hall or a “open” study hall that allows talking so kids can work on group projects. Teachers or counselors can sign a student up for a FIT session that the student cannot change.
Yes, I set up my parent account so I can see grades, get notifications for missing grades and when an average falls “too low”. However, I think the rest of those items are my student’s responsibility, but I am absolutely willing to help her with any issue if she asks. The teachers and counselors have told them to do these things and have showed them how. I believe that my student should not be counting on me to do these things and then remind her about all her assignments. If she does not handle the responsiblity appropriately, then it is my job to step in and help her figure out what needs to happen differently.
The next day this article (Standford Dean) comes through my feed about the negative effects of helicopter parenting and not to do “everything” for them. The event last night that told me what “good”, “involved” parents should do seems to be promoting helicopter parenting.
About 5 days later I attended a set of college presentations with my HS junior. One of the speakers introduced the term “helium parenting”. The article (Helium Parenting) describes it better, but think about how a balloon is tethered to your hand when you hold it, but it can still move around freely within limits. Then, when you let go, it goes off completely on its own. Helium parents provide that freedom within boundaries knowing that they will ultimatley let go.
Totebaggers, do you feel that you are getting mixed messages about how “involved” you are to be in your child(ren)’s school life? Do you feel like you are a “helicopter” or “helium” parent?
A recent discussion delved into possible reasons college is getting so expensive. One factor we didn’t consider is the increasing cost to students of supporting increasing intercollegiate athletic budgets.
On the other hand:
With fees supporting athletic departments running to hundreds of dollars per year, for many students that can mean additional thousands of additional dollars of college debt. For those relying on Pell Grants, it could mean millions of our tax dollars supporting athletic departments, many of which spend millions of dollars on coaches’ salaries alone.
What do you think? Are athletic fees excessively burdensome to students, especially those scraping through by borrowing and/or part time work and/or taking semesters off to work? Should there be limits on government spending supporting athletic departments?
Any election comments?
Hello Totebaggers, some of us love the NYTimes Wedding Announcements. The purpose of this post is to ask you to write a spoof announcement in the style of the NYTimes. Incorporate details from your geographic areas, cultures, ethnicities, professions. Some fun for everyone !
Cordellia mentioned that her house has three water heaters because as a child she promised herself she’d never take a cold shower as an adult. I grew up in a house that was hot in the summer and freezing in the winter so I promised I’d always have powerful HVAC.
What are some of the things you’ve promised yourself as a child that you’ve achieved as an adult? What are some of the things you haven’t achieved?
by Honolulu Mother
Ha, sorry, creeping Buzzfeeditis strikes again.
I am of course referring to the recent story about how there’s a fairly complex order in which adjectives modifying a noun must be listed, that native speakers use without realizing that they even know it because it just sounds wrong otherwise. Here’s the BBC article on it.
Do you think that order is correct? Can you think of other grammatical rules that we don’t know we know?
(And speaking of clickbait, did you see the professor who played with a #clickbaitsyllabus on Twitter recently?
If we’re all honest with ourselves, many of us have very smart kids. Perhaps they’re not supersmart, but they’re well above average, and common topics of conversation here are related to our kids being smarter than their classmates, and sometimes smarter than their teachers.
So these accounts of a study of supersmart kids will likely be of interest. Some here have mentioned some level of participation in the Johns Hopkins programs for very bright middle schoolers, and my niece participated, but I was totally unaware that the program was part of such a study of supersmart kids and how to help them maximize their potentials.
What are your takeaways from these articles? Do they suggest any possible directions you will take regarding the education of your kids?
We have discussed here before – what do Totebaggers think of this article?