Topic suggested by L – Mémé expansion
Many of our political conversations on the other thread focus on the fact of economic, social or intellectual differences between people, whether these should be ameliorated in some way, and if so, who should bear the cost.
Do you teach your kids about privilege, haves and have-nots, and other differences between people? Do you have formal conversations with them on these topics, let it come up organically, rely on the school programming, or participate as a family in hands on activities? Or do you think they should be sheltered? Do you find a need to counteract messages they receive from the media or from their local environment?
Let’s invite everyone to share their updates on topics raised earlier this year. I raised the idea of re-doing certain areas in the house that needed focus. I was at a loss on how people budgeted for home improvements, and several people had great suggestions. Shout-out to Lark, who gave a specific example with a budget attached to her planned improvements. That was really helpful.
I budgeted $12,000 and improvements we have made include: new furniture for DS2’s room (transition from elementary school furniture to more grown up furniture), fixing door and window trim that had experienced rot from moisture seepage, some landscaping, and fixing the AC and roof.
I look forward to hearing about everyone else’s updates.
Wed – Updates on Prior Projects and Discussions (Houston)
Th – Teaching Children about Class Differences (L)
Fri – Unique Occupations (Rhode)
Mon – Investing for (in?) the Apocalypse (RMS)
The theme of recent book club book was loneliness, which led to a discussion of whether we felt lonely, if we saw loneliness looming in the future, how we reacted to people we viewed as lonely, and whether we were acting taking steps to counteract loneliness.
Do you fear loneliness in the present or future?
Given the role that chemical engineers play in developing and manufacturing pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical regulation has long interested me. I believe in a role for government in regulating drugs, but use of international approvals/studies rather than national ones and international discussion of on how drug development and safety demonstrations should be funded could improve lives and optimize healthcare spending.
In a private report leaked to news outlets in April 2018, the Goldman Sachs analysts caution against investments in pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies aiming to develop outright cures, and cite Harvoni as a case study. It’s a simple point to make – if profit is your goal, then a product that eradicates its own demand might not be a wise investment.
Though it sounds bad, it’s not a nefarious perspective. The overwhelming majority of pharmaceutical development occurs in the United States or other market economies abroad, where private industry is the force majeure that drives progress. And industry, as much in pharmaceuticals as in any other business, is at the game for revenue rather than the greater good. Much benefit can and has come from this arrangement, but it’s something of an externality to the powerful incentive to make money.
The predominance of the market in US healthcare has taken plenty of flak for promoting profit over quality, and for crescendoing costs.
But there’s a deeper set of issues surrounding how the market influences – or distorts, maybe – the very bedrock of healthcare and medicine. In a system driven primarily by profit, certain diseases or treatments must languish simply because they’re not lucrative. And how can such a system do other than favour revenue over patients?
Eileen Fisher is worn by
A. an eccentric ceramicist exiting her beach house studio
B. women studies professors
D. Moms on vacation
All of the above?
My DD#1 is not into social media. She now has a Facebook account out of need rather than desire. Her college has a group for her Class (Class of 2022) and some of her clubs have groups to communicate. She follows these groups and several friends (from high school and from college) contact her this way. Also, since her phone is android, she uses the feature to video chat with me. The students also set up a number of snapchat groups, but she was not ready to go that far yet.
While there are lots of articles about what not to post, how to secure your account, etc., I found an interesting take by another parent. Social media is a way to create the appropriate amount of distance between you and people you “friend”. For each person, you can choose how much of “you” is shared with them and how much of what they are willing to share with you that you see. As you get to know them in real life, you can increase the amount that is shared or at the other end unfriend them all together.
When I talked about this with my daughter, whose initial reaction was it is just easier to text, she said that this point of view was one that made the most sense for her to use social media.
What do Totebaggers think?
Any thoughts on hiring friends? My job has grown, and I’m taking on a major two year project, so they are divvying up my responsibilities and hiring a contractor for the length of the project. My last hire, from the limited pool of internal candidates, didn’t work out. So, I wanted a sure thing. I sought and received permission to hire a former colleague who I’ve remained friends with for over twenty years. (I framed it as former colleague and didn’t refer to her as a friend, because I don’t want her perceived as my buddy rather than a completely competent professional). I’m really looking forward to working with someone I enjoy and who I know is good at her job and won’t require a lot of babysitting once trained. Is this a mistake? Are there any pitfalls I should watch out for? Right now I see nothing but upside.
For a couple of weeks I am holding back topics that even remotely deal with gender or privilege. Here is the very interesting lineup for the next week.
Wed – Hiring a Friend (Becky)
Th – Social Media Privacy for College Students (AustinMom)
Fri – Eileen Fisher and #menocore fashion (SM)
Mon – Loneliness (Cassandra)
by honolulu mother
There have been a few articles recently pointing out that most people were middle children through most of history, but they’ve become a shrinking minority. Here’s one article from NYMag:
National Review article on immigration from WCE for the politics page
I recently came across this website and was shocked at how much goods cost back when I was growing up. For example, Mr. Coffee was $35 back then. I just bought a 12 cup Mr. Coffee for my parents. It cost less than $20. And the funny thing is that they didn’t want to throw out the coffee maker it was replacing because it was still “sort of working fine” according to them.
I can still remember the time my parents came home with a microwave. It was amazing (and huge). I also remember the first remote controlled TV we got. That was life-changing for me. I no longer had to be the channel changer. Looking at these prices my parents had to pay a significant chunk of their paycheck. What are your fond memories of these luxuries?
I know we talk a lot about how exceptional and gifted Totebag snowflakes are, but some of us have also alluded to having kids with learning differences, too. This article popped up in my newsfeed:https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wired.com/story/tyranny-neurotypicals-unschooling-education
Do Totebaggers think their public schools appropriately accommodate learning differences?
I came away from reading this article with the realization that both “relentless effort and emotional control” are important qualities I’ve observed in many exceptional leaders.
The Two Contagious Behaviors of a Great Boss
There are only two essential qualities for leading by example; George Washington mastered both
Over the last decade, I’ve studied scores of leaders who have achieved long-lasting success in business, sports and the military.
Among the many flavors of contagious leadership behavior I’ve observed, only two have consistently produced superior results—and George Washington was the embodiment of both….
The first was a combination of seriousness, courage, tenacity and outsize effort—I’ll call it relentlessness. Ron Chernow’s vivid 2010 biography showed that when Washington pushed his troops to the limits of their endurance, he was always right beside them….
The best example may be Washington’s actions at Princeton. After wheeling around to face his fearful troops, he beseeched them to keep fighting. Then, according to one account, he reined in his horse and faced the enemy directly.
Studies have shown that an extraordinary effort by one team member can compel everyone else to give more. It’s fair to say that Washington’s actions at Princeton infected his ragtag army of outnumbered amateurs. One young officer who witnessed them left no doubt. “Believe me,” he wrote, “I thought not of myself.”…
Washington’s second leadership posture was ironclad emotional control….
Again, it was Princeton that showed the depth of Washington’s emotional fortitude. After he’d rallied his army to victory, a teary aide approached him to express his relief that the general hadn’t been killed. Washington quietly took his hand and changed the subject.
“Away, my dear colonel,” he said, “and bring up the troops.”…
Leading others by relentless effort and emotional control demands immense personal sacrifices. The good news is that it doesn’t require exceptional talent. Washington had many gifts but he was a middling military strategist with a long list of defeats.
In the end, the source of Washington’s greatness was simple, even if it wasn’t easy to pull off.It was a function of the choices he made consistently, every day, in darkness or light.
Do you think “relentless effort and emotional control” are key behaviors of a great leader? What other qualities would you consider important and can you give examples? Should core leadership behaviors vary considerably depending on the situation? For example, would these two qualities be important for both a school principal and the head of an investment banking firm? What about other types of everyday leaders, like the head of a family or the key member of a sports team?
Thanks for more articles. I will be rotating off as primary admin in mid November, so please keep up the good work so I can leave a few weeks filled up for July when I go on vacation.
Wed Leading by Example (July)
Th Learning Differences (GreenEyes)
Fri Appliances Back In the Day (Lemon Tree)
Mon Are Middle Children now in the Minority? (Honolulu Mother)
Rhett proposed this as “Are Totebaggers too prudent and responsible?” I switched the emphasis to spark discussion. And for those regulars who in the past did NOT take the safest or default path, have you noticed a disinclination for further risk as you became more prosperous and entered middle age?
A few random links
No suggestions. Events will likely dictate.
Note: We have several previously submitted and interesting topics for the regular thread that (after consultation with others) are being held back for a few weeks because the discussions could end up as charged/political in the glare cast by the Supreme Court confirmation hearings and we don’t want to exclude the general readership by posting them here.
Topic suggested by Kerri
We discuss this from time to time. Please share how this is working and changing over time. Also a chance for the college parents to share details and any pitfalls they have encountered.
Here are some formal lesson plans I found online.
I haven’t been around much lately, or online at all, really, but I did see this article which reminded me of the group and the high percentage of people there who use Amazon. We’ve talked about clutter before, and how to get rid of it, but what about the nature of online shopping habits themselves? Have you observed changes in your habits in the last decade?
I bought lots of clothing from Nordstrom Rack online over the past two years as I lost weight. At variance with the article, I returned nearly everything I didn’t wish to use (I was caught earlier this year when they tightened up their formerly generous return policy). My son uses Kindle Unlimited reading, but not Prime Reading; our Prime anniversary date is on the calendar to remind me to cancel later this year. I don’t need incentives to shop online, and “free” shipping is easy to get without paying the annual fee.
I have two more for next week and that is it. The well has run dry. Unless there are a large number of new submissions, starting next week I’ll have two weekday Open Threads Tues and Th and on Th include a link to one of the scholarly or wonkish news articles I have in reserve for the group to enjoy (or not) with no particular expectation that a discussion on that topic will ensue.
Wed – Online Shopping and Excess Stuff (S&M)
Th – Financial Education for Kids/Teens (Kerri)
Fri – Electric Scooters (Mooshi)
Mon – Are We Totebaggers too risk averse? (Rhett)
Everyone else in my household gets the house to themselves somewhat regularly. Back in July I was looking forward to the house to myself for 36 hours, but due to DD#1’s delayed flights, it was barely 6 hours, of which I had to work for four. Fast forward to today, I’ve been unproductive for a few days now, partly due to missing DD#1 and the rainy weather that makes me want to crawl back in bed. However, I got home from the gym and SO said he was off to do thing with friends for the rest of the day. At first, I tried to work and then realized, I had to jump on this opportunity for home alone time. I called in sick and am luxuriating in the quiet house to myself.
I found this article about how much other adults want time home alone. What are your preferences? Is it good enough when others are home but asleep?
On why infrastructure is more difficult/expensive to construct in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world. From one of WCE’s conservative sources.
German-speaking transportation planners have a maxim: Organisation vor Elektronik vor Beton, or “Organization before electronics before concrete.” They mean that inefficiencies in a transportation system should be fixed first by improving coordination among different agencies, then by upgrading electronics systems, and only then by heavy construction. Visitors to Berlin can see this maxim in effect. The Verkehrsverbund Berlin–Brandenburg (VBB), a corporation owned jointly by 20 state and local governments, coordinates public transportation over 11,794 square miles in Berlin and the surrounding region. The 38 public and private operators that VBB oversees use a completely unified fare system: the same tickets that work on buses, ferries, and subways also work on longer-distance regional trains, and fares depend only on the route traveled, not on the mode of transportation. Transferring from one operator’s lines to another, unlike transferring from New York’s subway to the commuter rail or PATH, does not require paying twice. Such feats of organization are hardly unique. In Basel, Switzerland, the regional rail network, the S-Bahn, crosses into French and German territory and is operated jointly by all three nations’ national rail companies. And in Japan, holders of any of ten interoperable fare cards issued by regional railways can use them on virtually every urban train in the nation.
How Many Of These Foods From Around The World Have You Actually Tried?
Are your tastes ~international~?
We have so many more international food choices among local restaurants and grocery stores than even a few years ago, even if we don’t live in big cities.. It wasn’t too long ago that the variety of dishes in this article could only be had by traveling outside the United States.
Take the quiz. What are some of your hits and misses from the list? Do “international” dishes make up a big part of your regular meals?
by honolulu mother
We provide the first evidence that cumulative heat exposure inhibits cognitive skill development and that school air conditioning can mitigate this effect. Student fixed effects models using 10 million PSAT-takers show that hotter school days in the year prior to the test reduce learning, with extreme heat being particularly damaging and larger effects for low income and minority students. Weekend and summer heat has little impact and the effect is not explained by pollution or local economic shocks, suggesting heat directly reduces the productivity of learning inputs. New data providing the first measures of school-level air conditioning penetration across the US suggest such infrastructure almost entirely offsets these effects. Without air conditioning, each 1° F increase in school year temperature reduces the amount learned that year by one percent. Our estimates imply that the benefits of school air conditioning likely outweigh the costs in most of the US, particularly given future predicted climate change.
Do you use points? Where do you get them, and how do you use them?
Let’s hope for a calm week on the regular threads. Not so sure about the political threads.
Wed – Points and Other Rewards (S&M)
Th – Air Conditioning in Schools (honolulu mother)
Fri – International Food Quiz (July)
Mon – Home Alone – Playing Hooky for Adults (AustinMom)
The declining employment participation of men is acknowledged by both left and right to be one of the great social ills of our time. This is a book promotion essay from Vox to prime our discussion.
by honolulu mother
This article (post?) lists things that various people who grew up wealthy assumed everyone did, only to learn in college or early adulthood that they were not typical. A couple of them (11 and 13) seem more like signs of being financially secure rather than wealthy as such, but it’s still an interesting list and an amusing thing to think about.
What else could we do to increase the efficiency of the educational system?
Or as Dylan said, 20 years of schoolin’ and they put you on the day shift. (Mémé)
Our doctors are too educated
By Akhilesh Pathipati
Akhilesh Pathipati is an ophthalmology resident at Harvard University’s Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
I had just finished an eye examination for one of my patients and swiveled around to the computer. It was clear that he needed cataract surgery; he was nearly blind despite his Coke-bottle glasses. But even before I logged in to the scheduling system, I knew what I was going to find: He wouldn’t be able to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist for more than three months. Everyone’s schedule was full.
Moments like these are far too common in medicine. An aging population with numerous health needs and a declining physician workforce have combined to create a physician shortage — the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortfall of up to 100,000 doctors by 2030.
Policymakers have proposed many solutions, from telemedicine to increasing the scope of nurse practitioners. But I can think of another: Let students complete school and see patients earlier.
U.S. physicians average 14 years of higher education (four years of college, four years of medical school and three to eight years to specialize in a residency or fellowship). That’s much longer than in other developed countries, where students typically study for 10 years. It also translates to millions of dollars and hours spent by U.S. medical students listening to lectures on topics they already know, doing clinical electives in fields they will not pursue and publishing papers no one will read.
Decreasing the length of training would immediately add thousands of physicians to the workforce. At the same time, it would save money that could be reinvested in creating more positions in medical schools and residencies. It would also allow more students to go into lower-paying fields such as primary care, where the need is greatest.
These changes wouldn’t decrease the quality of our education. Medical education has many inefficiencies, but two opportunities for reform stand out. First, we should consolidate medical school curriculums. The traditional model consists of two years of classroom-based learning on the science of medicine (the preclinical years), followed by two years of clinical rotations, during which we work in hospitals.
Both phases could be shortened. In my experience, close to half of preclinical content was redundant. Between college and medical school, I learned the Krebs cycle (a process that cells use to generate energy) six times. Making college premedical courses more relevant to medicine could condense training considerably.
Meanwhile, the second clinical year is primarily electives and free time. I recently spoke with a friend going into radiology who did a dermatology elective. While he enjoyed learning about rashes, we concluded it did little for his education.
In the past decade, several schools have shown the four-year model can be cut to three. For instance, New York University offers an accelerated medical degree with early, conditional admission into its residency programs. The model remains controversial. Critics contend that three years is not enough time to learn medicine. Yet a review of eight medical schools with three-year programs suggests graduates have similar test scores and clinical performance to those who take more time.
Finally, we can reform required research projects. Research has long been intertwined with medical training. Nearly every medical school offers student projects, and more than one-third require them. Many residencies do as well. Students have responded: The number pursuing nondegree research years doubled between 2000 and 2014, and four-year graduation rates reached a record low. Rather than shortening training, U.S. medical education is becoming longer. The additional years aren’t even spent on patient care.
Done right, this could still be a valuable investment. Intellectual curiosity and inquiry drive scientific progress. But that’s not why most students take research years. I conducted a study showing that less than a quarter do so because of an interest in the subject matter. The most common reason was instead to increase their competitiveness for residency applications.
And because having more research published represents greater achievement in academic medicine, students are presented with a bad incentive to publish a large amount of low-quality research. Many of my peers have recognized this, producing more papers than many faculty members. It’s no surprise that there has been an exponential increase in student publications in the past few decades, even though a majority are never cited.
Medical schools need to realign incentives. This starts with the recognition that students can do valuable work even if it doesn’t end up in a journal. It’s time we get them out of school and in front of patients.Too
There is nothing like traveling with your adult children to make you feel dazzled and impressed that they are truly all grown up, competent citizens of the world. And there is nothing like traveling with your adult children to remind you that they are still your children and sometimes you need to take care of them.
Is this a trend, as the NYT suggests? What is your experience, from your perspective as both a parent and as an adult child? What are your observations? Pros and cons?
From the kids’ perspective:
I have two weeks plus 2 days of posts scheduled, so I need some new ones, especially on everyday subjects. Thanks to the less frequent post contributors who have been stepping up, including Finn for yesterday. I will include next Monday in the list from now on, but if events indicate a change I reserve the right to move it.
Wed – Traveling with Adult Children (July)
Th – Our [job title] are too educated (Rhett)
Fri – I thought everybody did that! (honolulu mother)
Next Mon – New guidance on Alcohol (Risley)
Starter idea for today. If you were a baseball player, what would you use as a walk up song? For the sports-challenged among you, here is an example of a walk up song. NSFW dialogue later in the clip.
An economic mystery of the last few decades has been why more women aren’t working. A new paper offers one answer: Most plan to, but are increasingly caught off guard by the time and effort it takes to raise children.
The share of women in the United States labor force has leveled off since the 1990s, after steadily climbing for half a century. Today, the share of women age 25 to 54 who work is about the same as it was in 1995, even though in the intervening decades, women have been earning more college degrees than men, entering jobs previously closed to them and delaying marriage and childbirth.
The new analysis suggests something else also began happening during the 1990s: Motherhood became more demanding. Parents now spend more time and money on child care. They feel more pressure to breast-feed, to do enriching activities with their children and to provide close supervision.
The people most surprised by the demands of motherhood were those the researchers least expected: women with college degrees, or those who had babies later, those who had working mothers and those who had assumed they would have careers. Even though highly educated mothers were less likely to quit working than less educated mothers, they were more likely to express anti-work beliefs, and to say that being a parent was harder than they expected.
Though the study did not analyze fathers’ role in depth, it found that their beliefs did not change significantly before and after having a baby. They were less likely than women to say that parenthood was harder than they expected.
Totebaggers tend to plan their lives more than most, so parenthood was likely planned by most of us. Were you caught off guard by the price of parenthood? Did the actual price of parenthood affect subsequent decisions whether or not to have additional kids?
Politics starter from WCE
Here is an article advocating simple, fuss-free lunches that your kids will actually eat.
Do you agree, or do you and your family like more variety and creativity? Do you pack lunches for your kids and yourself or do you buy lunch? What do you and your kids eat for lunch? Any lunch questions or suggestions?
I rotate between 2-3 sandwiches and 2-3 snacks for DS. This simplicity helps keep my shopping list straight forward. I usually eat leftovers. DH does a mix between sandwiches and leftovers.
by WCE. (Title by Mémé)
Marijuana is legal in Oregon. I didn’t vote for legalization for all the reasons described in this article. I was satisfied with “medical marijuana” and didn’t much care about prescriptions to treat depression and irritable bowel syndrome. I don’t think marijuana should be a Schedule 1 (highest risk of abuse, no medical use) substance. How should public policy balance the risks and benefits of relatively low risk recreational substances like alcohol and marijuana? How should the costs of abuse be paid?
Topics for the Rest of the Week
College and college prep is on everyone’s mind, so I suggest a pre college topic for Education Thursday. I composed the headline for WCE’s topic (title of a 1930s educational film). And I can’t estimate the betting odds against a Friday Fun topic from Finn.
Tu — The Empty Nest (Louise)
Wed – Reefer Madness (WCE)
Th – School Lunches (Houston)
Fri – What’s on your Walls? (Finn)
Rhett suggested this as a starter.
by Rocky Mountain Stepmom
Since it’s from Popular Mechanics, you can probably guess that some are not standard Totebagger skills. What do you think should be added or subtracted from their list?
Thanks to Denver Dad for Monday’s topic.
Wed – Invisible disabilities in the Workplace (S&M)
Th – why don’t kids go into the trades? (Denver Dad)
Fri. – 100 Skills Everyone Should Know. (RMS)
No post for Monday, Labor Day.
That is the day I will be sorting through all the recent submissions. The list of repeat contributors is growing.
by Denver Dad
My wife found this article about Barbie trying to teach girls to stop
saying sorry when it is not needed.
I’m coaching a 10U softball team and the habit is very noticeable with some
of the girls. They sah sorry almost every time theu miss a ball or such.
What do people recommend to try to help the girls break the habit?
No starter this week.
I was watching a very good documentary about a women who stole $53 million from the small town of Dixon, IL over 20 years.
In the end, they talk to the new comptroller about all the process she had to put in place to make sure it didn’t happen again: dividing up responsibilities, making sure multiple people had to sign off on checks/payments, strict auditing, etc. Which got me thinking, “Wow, I’d be terrible at that job. I tend to trust people and I hate paperwork and process.”
With that in mind, what jobs would you be terrible at?
Personality traits and income (Houston).
How has your personality affected your career choices and income? Do you see a similar or different trend with your spouse?
WaPo article reproduced in full. (Denver Dad)
Do Harvard and other elite universities illegally discriminate against Asian American applicants?
I’m not sure. But there’s another group of people who definitely face routine prejudice in college admissions. They’re the quiet types who keep to themselves, often preferring a relaxed evening at home to a rowdy night out. They like to study alone, not in groups. And they’re often the last ones to speak up in class.
I’m talking about introverts, of course. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from reports on the recent lawsuit against Harvard University’s admission system, it’s that introverts routinely get the short end of the stick.
The lawsuit alleges that Harvard has engaged in unlawful “racial balancing” by systematically discriminating against Asian Americans, who were given lower “personality” scores by admission officers. It’s a hard charge to prove. If an Asian applicant received a lower personality score, how can we know if that’s because she was Asian?
We can’t, without evidence. But here’s what seems apparent: Harvard’s “personality” evaluation favors people who are outgoing, gregarious and comfortable in the spotlight: in a word, extroverts.
Consider this example, which the New York Times drew from the hundreds of documents that have been filed in the Harvard lawsuit. An Asian American applicant was described as a “hard worker,” but “would she relax and have any fun?”
Other Asian American candidates were characterized the same way — industrious and high-achieving but often lacking in “distinguishing excellence” (or “DE” in admissions shorthand). Nor were they likely to be seen as “leaders,” the figures who stand out from the crowd by standing in front of it.
And that’s what our elite schools are looking for, unabashedly and unapologetically. When Harvard says it wants people with a “positive personality” who are “widely respected” — two other criteria the Times extracted from the court filings — it’s not talking about the kid who will stay in her dorm room on Saturday night to study or watch a video. Introverts aren’t always shy — sometimes they can be quite chatty — but they also need time alone.
And they definitely don’t need to be the center of attention, which makes them markedly less attractive to admissions committees. Colleges want the applicants who will take the bull by the horns and the campus by storm! That means joining as many groups as possible and ideally being the president of each one. And it means participating in — maybe dominating — every available conversation, in and out of class.
That would be defensible if we knew that extroverts were more intelligent or successful than other people. But they’re not. As Susan Cain shows in her indispensable 2012 book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” extroverts have us snowed. We perceive people who talk a lot — and, especially, those who talk quickly — as more able. And there’s zero evidence for that.
Ditto for the presumption that they make better leaders. As Cain shows, there are plenty of introverts — including Bill Gates and Charles Schwab — who have become famously effective leaders. They govern by example rather than charisma, by listening rather than talking.
Going back to the 1950s, some colleges have argued that the corporations that hire graduates — and that also donate millions to the colleges — preferred the “gregarious, active type,” as one dean told sociologist William Whyte, author of the 1956 classic “The Organization Man.” The dean added: “We see little use for the ‘brilliant’ introvert.”
That’s still generally the case at our selective universities, as recent research on admissions suggests. Never mind that not all of our students intend to enter the corporate world, or that a wealth of research demonstrates that introverts can flourish in that world as much as extroverts can. We want “strong” personalities, who make their mark in public performance rather than behind the scenes.
And we’re sticking with that story, despite evidence that Asians are less likely to display these traits than Westerners are. Cross-cultural studies have demonstrated that people in the East tend to emphasize traits such as humility and hard work, while Americans more often favor cheerfulness and enthusiasm.
So do our admissions policies. I don’t know if that makes them racially discriminatory. But I do know that they’re scientifically indefensible, especially in light of everything we have learned about personality over the past half-century.
This week, the rest of the Ivy League — including my employer, the University of Pennsylvania — closed ranks behind Harvard, defending the use of race in college admissions and emphasizing “the profound importance of a diverse student body for their educational missions,” as the schools wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief. I agree with them. I just wish they were friendly to diverse personalities, not just diverse races. Without that, we’ll end up with students who look different from each other but think and act the same.
We haven’t discussed real estate in a long time. I have been watching very escapist fare namely Escape to the Continent on Netflix.
I am interested in what buyers want in a house and the compromises they have to make. Of course, the series features beautiful locations in Europe.
Any real estate transactions closer to home ? Any real estate shows worth watching ? How about growth and prices in your area ?
Thanks for all the submissions, including Monday’s post from RMS
Wed – Real Estate (Louise)
Th – Introverts – College Admission/Income/Employment (Houston, Denver Dad)
Fri – Don’t Ever Hire me for this Job! (Rhett)
by Rocky Mountain Stepmom
Many of the insurance-covered treatments don’t work for back pain, but the non-insurance-covered treatments do, at least to some extent. Yoga, tai chi, massage, etc., are more effective than surgery and opioids. As a decades-long back pain sufferer, I have found that massage and yoga go a very long way towards keeping my lower back pain in check.
suggested by NoB, who said
the author’s (Colin Woodard’s) book “American Nations” went a long way toward helping me understand other parts of the US.
It is much better to click through to the full NYT article because there are detailed maps with text that I can’t paste here.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the most significant and abiding divide in American politics isn’t between city and countryside, but rather among regional cultures. Rural and urban places certainly have distinct interests and priorities, but in our awkward federation their differences have taken a back seat to the broader struggle between our constituent regions.
Sectionalism isn’t, and never has been, as simple as North versus South or an effete and domineering East against a rugged, freedom-minded West. Rather, our true regional fissures can be traced back to the contrasting ideals of the distinct European colonial cultures that first took root on the eastern and southern rims of what is now the United States, and then spread across much of the continent in mutually exclusive settlement bands, laying down the institutions, symbols and cultural norms later arrivals would encounter and, by and large, assimilate into.
Understanding this is essential to comprehending our political reality or developing strategies to change it — especially as we approach a momentously consequential midterm election.
Tracing our history, I’ve identified 11 nations, most corresponding to one of the rival European colonial projects and their respective settlement zones. I call them Yankeedom; New Netherland; the Midlands; Tidewater; Greater Appalachia; Deep South; El Norte; the Left Coast; the Far West; New France; and First Nation. These were the dominant cultures that Native Americans, African-Americans, immigrants and other vital actors in our national story confronted; each had its own ideals, assumptions and intents.
Look at county-level maps of almost any closely contested presidential race in our history, and you see much the same fault lines: the swaths of the country first colonized by the early Puritans and their descendants — Yankeedom — tend to vote as one, and against the party in favor in the sections first colonized by the culture laid down by the Barbados slave lords who founded Charleston, S.C., or the Scots-Irish frontiersmen who swept down the Appalachian highlands and on into the Hill Country of Texas, Oklahoma and the southern tiers of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.
The Quaker-founded Midlands, the swing region of American politics that makes up a great swath of the heartland, has often been the physical and political buffer between rival regional coalitions, its pluralistic, community-oriented culture at peace neither with the Yankee’s utopian drive to engineer social improvements nor Southern culture’s emphasis on individual freedom above all else. It played the kingmaker’s role again in 2016.
Pundits speak of the “solid South,” but Yankeedom has had stalwart allies as well. The people of the slender Pacific coastal plain from San Francisco to Juneau, Alaska, have backed the same horse as the Yankees in virtually every contest since their states joined the union, and in opposition to the candidate favored by the majority of people in the interiors of their own states. Yankees have long found partners in the Dutch-founded zone in and around New York City and, in recent decades, the sections of the Southwest that were effectively colonized by Spain in the 16th to 19th centuries.
The cultural differences between these regional cultures have a greater effect on our politics than the size and density of our communities. I ran the numbers for the past three presidential elections, comparing the voting behaviors of rural and urban counties within each “nation.” In five regional cultures that together constitute about 51 percent of the United States population, rural and urban counties voted for the same presidential candidate, be it the “blue wave” election of 2008, the Trumpist upheaval of 2016 or the more ambiguous contest in between. In the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, New France and the Far West, rural and urban majorities supported Republican candidates in all three elections, whether voters lived in central cities, wealthy suburbs, mountain hollers or the ranches of the high plains. In El Norte, the Spanish-colonized parts of the Southwest, both types of counties — empty desert or booming cityscapes — voted Democratic.
by Honolulu Mother
We haven’t had a recipe swap post for a while! Since it’s late summer and most of you are experiencing a seasonal bounty of produce, let’s focus this one on ways to use up all of those gorgeous fruits and vegetables — what are your favorite recipes for zucchini, basil, corn, other produce? All recipes are eligible, though, you’re welcome to post your hearty winter fare or pantry-based staples too.
We often discuss our favorite new gadgets. But let’s look at the ways you can use technology or even mechanical improvements to change your life, not just how to be lazy about the light switch. An example might be kids and adults with anxiety or other quirks/disabilities who need to be able to wear earbuds with soft music to get them through their work/school days. Or the use of word processing software for children for whom handwriting is a barrier to completion of assignments. Not to speak of medical conditions that can be ameliorated by improvements.
suggested by Rhett and others.
We would need to address different tiers of hitting the fan.
Off the top of my head, in loosely increasing order of severity:
1) 90% crash in stock market
2) 50% nationwide unemployment
3) exponential inflation of the dollar (taking wheelbarrows of cash to buy a loaf of bread)
4) major war on our soil/Red Dawn
5) total breakdown of civil law/roving marauders and bandits
6) outbreak of deadly pathogen or disease
I originally was going to post this a Friday fun topic, but Totebaggers are known for contingency planning, and I have considered all of the above at one time or another. I would rank them a bit differently than Milo, since I actually expect number 6 to happen with a rapid 25% reduction in world population, possibly within my lifetime.
Thanks to L for Monday’s post. And there are many new submissions while I was traveling, so the queue will fill up soon.
Wed – What would you do if the [stuff] hits the fan? (Rhett et alii)
Th – Life changing tech for school/work (S&M)
Fri – Recipe Swap, Harvest Edition (honolulu mother)
Are you a hoarder or a minimalist, or somewhere in between? What are your views on keeping or discarding (1) kids’ papers? (2) mismatched cups and bowls? (3) towels that have become hard or threadbare through years of washing?
I only have a hard time getting rid of clothes, particularly work clothes that are still ‘perfectly good’ but out of style or that I never wear any more. For everything else, it’s out the door! DH has a hard time getting rid of anything, though, so we have more stuff around the house than we would if I was in charge!
Still fishin’. Attempting to post a NYT link on the difference between the totebag frothy economy and the decline of blue collar wages, specifically in trucking.
This Washington Post article raises the question:
The esteemed Manhattan theater in which I spent several hours on a recent Saturday night might as well have been a dormitory. Up and down the rows and aisles, people could be seen in various states of drowsy repose. A woman in the row ahead of mine had her head thrust all the way back, as if she were paying the audience member behind her to shampoo her hair. A younger man at the opposite end of the row behind me was fighting to stay awake, his droopy head snapping back to upright each time his eyelids became heavy. The woman next to me slept through the entire first act. She opted not to return for the second.
He goes on to raise the question of whether, apart from being an expensive way to take a nap, sleeping at the theater is also a disservice to the performers themselves:
Do people attending plays and musicals have a moral obligation to the performers to try to stay awake? Would earlier curtain times offer some mitigation of crowd fatigue? I recently talked about the impact of audience snoozing with a highly regarded director of contemporary and classical plays, and what he told me shed light on how even one sleeper can take the air out of a performance. Sometimes, he said, actors can lose their edge at the sight of dozing spectators. (Many times, I’ve seen people in seats in the front row hunched over in slumber.) When the actors exit the stage, the idea can be conveyed to other members of the cast waiting to go on that, well, tonight is just not a good house. And being human, the cast, the director said, might perceptibly deflate, maybe even pull back a tad on the reins of their performances.
I understood the loan and family concerns of the working class immigrant woman who wrote this article. Note from Mémé, her family was working class in the US, but her parents were trained as engineers in the home country, not an uncommon story.
Here is an article (behind paywall, but there are numerous others on the same topic for free – M.) about Starbucks. It has to walk the line between negative publicity when it asks guests to leave (or calls law enforcement on them) or lets them stay even if they don’t buy anything.
The other corporation in the news is Amazon, with the question of affordability in whichever city it chooses as HQ2.
What do you think about corporations and social change, especially in the age of social media where an immediate response is required. What about long term impacts in cases like Amazon. Do they owe the cities they operate in, anything more than their success or should they try to do more as corporate citizens ?
Admin coverage will be spotty this week. If your comment appears to get hung up in moderation or spam, please try again with the Lark/Lemon extended handle method. The three dots don’t always work.
Thanks to Swampy for Monday’s topic.
Rest of the week:
Wed- Corporations and Social Change (Louise)
Th – Student Loans and Career (WCE)
Fri – Sleeping at the Theater (HM)
by Swampy, a lurker
Here is a story that is nominally about boxers and boxing but is really about friendship. Bonus in that it plays out in a Totebag-y suburb (The Woodlands, TX) What would you do for a friend? What cost is too high to help out a friend?
starter from WCE
Interesting article on a location-focused tax benefit to help disadvantaged areas like Fresno, California. Economists quoted seem to agree it will likely help disadvantaged areas, but not the MOST disadvantaged areas, but disagree over whether not helping the MOST disadvantaged areas is acceptable policy.
Combining many of thetotebag’s favorite things I offer you a totebag whodunit!
What are some of your favorite crimes, criminals and victims? Sunny von Buelow, Aldrich Ames, Bernie Madoff, take your pick?
Controversy! History! AP! Multiculturalism!
What do you think about the new changes to AP History outlined in the article below? How were history classes taught when you were young? What changes do you suggest be made?
History is one of my favorite subjects and I still enjoy reading about it. My favorite topic is ancient (i.e. Roman, Greek) military history. What is your favorite topic in history? Why?
Let’s talk about productivity. Please share your tips on maximizing productivity and minimizing distractions. Are you most productive in the morning? In the evening? Are you a list-maker? Do you use a timer?
I have the problem outlined in the article, and am now trying to schedule more back to back meetings or errands to increase my productivity.
And from L
Have you used any of these productivity tips when your output was lagging? What other strategies would you suggest?
Mémé is traveling for two weeks. I will check in late evenings and mornings, but only from handheld devices. A flurry of new submissions, thanks especially to the first timers, caused postponement of a few previously scheduled posts.
I suggest that travelers post in two places. Once to the daily page and once to the permanent Travel page. Or post for the record with lots of detail to the travel page and select some excepts as highlight/lowlight for the daily page. The water cooler factor of the daily back and forth seems to be the preferred and more effective interaction method for most readers.
Thanks to Dell for Monday’s post.
Rest of the week
Wed – Productivity and Scheduling (Houston, L)
Th – What did you like about History Class? (Houston)
Fri – True Crime Favorites (Rhett)
Jealousy. All of us are susceptible to it. I admit to being insanely jealous on occasion.
by honolulu mother
This article runs through the at-home alternatives to sending your dry cleaning out to a commercial facility:
Is it not only unnecessary but wrong to try to justify Humanities degrees as having any practical or job related application at all?
This is interesting to me, as none of my family members studied humanities in college, except me (including aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, husband’s family….). Neither of my kids is interested in humanities. Humanities are giving way to STEM and STEAM in K-12. Kids are encouraged to code, and not necessarily to read, as they grown older. Can we save the liberal arts degree?
Open offices: how many Totebaggers work in one? If you have experienced both an open office and ‘closed’ office plan, which is more conducive to productivity? http://mentalfloss.com/article/550775/want-chat-your-colleagues-dont-work-open-office
What is your work situation WFH or at the office ? Do you have flexibility to go in or not? Is virtual collaboration effective or not ?
This week I would like to give a shout-out to our most consistent and prolific topic contributors, in no particular order.
Louise, L, Houston, Honolulu mother, S&M, WCE, Rhett. There are a number of others who send something in every other month or so. Thanks to all of you as well. The objective is to increase the number of participants in the latter group (like alumni giving statistics-by-class, no amount is too small/ no topic too trivial). Controversial topics are welcome, but will likely be posted to the Politics page.
From now on I am going to insert the post authors on this list, with mention of the Monday post author. (S&M sent in the topics for yesterday and next Monday)
Rest of the week:
Wed – What is your work environment? (mash up L and Louise)
Th – Humanities in the University (Houston)
Fri – Dry Cleaning and Alternatives (HM)
Text taken/modified from a seminar description sent in by S&M
No starter this week.
What are your favorite ways of relaxing or taking a break (i.e. wasting time)? Please don’t mention the Totebag–We are not wasting time! We are…..having productive conversations with like minded people. Very edifying!
I have two favorites: Watching make up reviews on You Tube, and playing Solitaire (I’m old school that way) Please share your favorites–maybe I can waste even more time!
by Fred (WSJ article in full) Please use to kick off Education Thursday
As Harvard, Notre Dame, Georgetown and others pledge to increase diversity, admitting the children of alumni at higher rates complicates their efforts
Top colleges have pledged to become more socioeconomically diverse, but the admissions edge many give to children of alumni may make that goal harder to achieve.
At the University of Notre Dame, the University of Virginia and Georgetown University, the admission rate for legacies is about double the rate for the overall applicant pool, according to data from the schools. At Princeton University, legacies are admitted at four times the general rate, or roughly 30% compared with about 7% overall over the past five years, the school says.
Legacy applicants at Harvard University were five times as likely to be admitted as non-legacies, according to an analysis of admissions data from 2010 through 2015. The numbers—33.6% for legacies and 5.9% for those without parental ties—were submitted in a June court filingfor a case claiming Asian students are being discriminated against in the name of greater diversity at the school.
All of those schools have signed on to or plan to join the American Talent Initiative, a Bloomberg Philanthropies-backed effort to enroll 50,000 more low- and moderate-income students by 2025.
Concerns over the legacy advantage reflect broader unease about competing priorities in admissions. Diversity initiatives have led to complaints by white students that minority students have a leg up. Meanwhile, highly qualified Asian students say they should get more slots based on academics. Both say long-standing traditions like legacy admissions soak up coveted spots.
Advocates for considering legacy status argue that favoring the children—and, in some cases, grandchildren—of graduates helps maintain an engaged and generous alumni base and lets students serve as ambassadors to new campus arrivals.
Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack has said legacy admissions help perpetuate “a Cornell family that goes on for generations.” In an interview with the student newspaper in May, she said the practice isn’t about giving preference or an advantage to legacies, but such a designation is one of many “balancing factors.”
by Rocky Mountain Stepmom
Barbara Ehrenreich has a new book out, Natural Causes.
Once associated with play, exercise is now closer to a form of labor: measured, timed, and financially incentivized by employers and insurers. Like any kind of alienated labor, it assumes and intensifies the division between mind and body—indeed, it involves a kind of violence by the mind against the body. Ehrenreich is tired of being told to “crush your workout,” of being urged to develop “explosive strength” through a “warrior” routine. She cites the copy from an advertisement for a home fitness machine: “A moment of silence please, for my body has no idea what I’m about to put it through.” Exercise, for some reason, has become a struggle to the death. As Oscar Pistorius—the amputee and Olympic runner convicted of murder in 2015—has tattooed on his back, “I beat my body and make it my slave / I bring it under my complete subjection.”
As the title of the article suggests, it’s really a much deeper critique of the idea that we have total control and agency over our bodies, and also suggests that more attention be paid to social justice and less to trying to control something that’s fundamentally out of our control — our mortality.
With summer travel, the reserve of topics, especially light hearted or lifestyle ones, is getting thin. Because of upcoming travel by the two admins, during the two weeks starting July 29 the site may occasionally be on autopilot. Please keep ’em coming!!
Wed- Wellness Culture
Th — Legacy Admissions
Fri — Time wasters
We’ve talked fairly frequently about members of our families passing on and the requests they’ve made. We talk about writing everything down to ease the strain on the surviving family. But we’ve never really addressed the surviving family side.
I never thought about this until my dad passed. I knew he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered. Until recently, Catholics were not to be cremated. While the Vatican changed its position, and deceased Catholics can be cremated, their ashes cannot be scattered.
Any reservation I had about scattering his ashes had nothing to do with Catholic law. My issues were solely legal. I knew he wanted his ashes scattered on public and federal land. So I had a few options: (1) get permits (2) don’t ask don’t tell (3) don’t do it. I explored option 1 getting frustrated at the state of NY, and ended up following option 2. I couldn’t bring myself to not fulfill his wishes. I had plenty of reasons not to – “not my responsibility” was top on my hit parade. This was his wife’s (now widow’s) job, but she left him at the funeral home for six months while she planned her move to Florida. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t stand the thought that he would sit somewhere and be forgotten. My moral conviction to honor his wishes outweighed any issues with potentially breaking a law.
This led me to wonder about other cultures and how they handle death and funeral practices…
Have you been privileged to witness a funeral tradition unlike yours? Or, when honoring requests, have any of you been asked to do something that you cannot honor?Honor
Here are some thoughts from WCE on land/wildlife management as a starter.
While we were at White Sulfur Springs, one of the topics of conversation with random locals in the hot pool was wolf management and their interaction with cattle. This article describing someone treed and rescued in Washington brought those conversations to mind. Mr. WCE saw lots of wolf sign and few young elk while hunting last year, suggesting that many calves are being killed by wolves. One of the challenges of environmental and wildlife management is the rural/urban divide. When should decisions be made democratically vs. by people most affected by the decisions or by wildlife managers?
I’ve been thinking lately about the little luxuries in life that make me happy.
This started because I spend too much time reading news and politics, and it’s making me cranky. So I have been making a concerted effort to spend some time each day on things that I know make me happy. In addition to nightly walks with DH, I am making more time to read.
As I crawled into a freshly made bed to read, the first time I’ve read in bed in more than a year, I realized that to me this is the ultimate in luxury. I enjoy the quiet, the soft lighting, and the chance to just relax and take my mind off the day.
What are little things that feel like a luxury to you?
Article suggested by Rhett on a Hamilton College Student
Should colleges notify parents if they become aware of a student “at risk?”
Have student privacy rules gone too far in keeping the tuition payers in the dark about everything in their student’s life, including grades or academic probation or health center admissions or unpaid campus bills?
by Honolulu Mother
A while ago I ran across this article by a woman who tried eating in a more French style (or her understanding of that) for a week, and found that not only were there lifestyle elements that made it challenging for her, she also felt that by the end of the week the differnet diet was having a negative impact on how she felt. She’d been eating a lot more bread than usual and blamed that for feeling extra hungry during the day, and she was also tired of bread.
Topics for this week:
Wed – The Downside to Changing Your Eating Habits
Th – Student Privacy vs Suicide Risk
Fri – Life’s little luxuries
SPAM TRAPPING: Several more posters have been getting caught in spam. One person suggested that it relates to clearing cookies or other privacy settings on your browser or device. I observe that almost the posters who are occasionally held up have handles that are words in ordinary language or appear to be place names. Perhaps in the spam catching algorithm identifies them as bot generated handles. We work on it, but at midday I am often out and can only free it up when I get home.
PRIVACY INITIATIVE: The administrators may have bitten off more than we can chew in promising the complete change for July 1. Please be patient. We have other things going on in our lives, and most of this has to be done by “July” since for some reason “Mémé” doesn’t have the right sort bulk editing functionality for WordPress.
The fact that my administrative view in WordPress is limited provides a nice segue into a starter topic. There are websites that work and display completely on my desktop Mac but not on my husband’s desktop PC (and I have logged into them via Google Chrome on both, so it is not browser specific), and vice versa. There are mobile versions that lose partial functionality on the Ipad but not on the Android phone and vice versa. Tech savvy folks, why is this? Help!!!!
Milo mentioned no longer being able to tease his parents about certain topics (I can’t recall teasing my parents ever having been appropriate). Louise commented on expecting her parents to call when they get home from a long trip, which I think many of us do. After months (maybe over a year) of me pointing it out plainly, my mother may be beginning to realize that when she refuses to put things into words, or thinks things go without saying, I probably won’t have any idea what she’s thinking.
How has the relationship changed for you over time? For older posters, are you seeing changes in the ways your launched adult children relate to you? For those who no longer have living parents, please share your past experiences.
Another week. A friend is wondering whether she should accelerate her car purchase into 2018 from 2019. Will the tariff war raise the prices of almost everything, directly if imported or indirectly?
This article reviews several changes to the current college admissions process in the US including a lottery and limiting the number of schools to which students can apply. What do you think about these options (other than the fact that some could be illegal). Parents of high school seniors: how did the college application process go for your child? How are the plans for the actual departure going? Parents of high school juniors: how are you preparing for the coming college application process?
There will be no topic tomorrow on the holiday, the college process recap topic on Thursday, July 5 and no new topic on Friday Back to regular schedule next week.
If it’s from Apartment Therapy, you know it’s from me [S&M]
We’ve discussed the pros and cons of packing cubes so often that most people on the blog can probably tell you who does and doesn’t use them. But what about other travel organizers? This article, which first came out a year ago, includes a variety of organizers to take on the road.
I can vouch for the usefulness of a toiletries bag, but it has been years since I used the folding one from LLBean with a hook on it. I think my mom uses the one I gave her, but she checks luggage. We almost always carry everything on, so our bottles of liquids are much too small to take advantage of that bag. What I use most often is a little one from American Airlines that has a mesh compartment and a couple of pockets. I love it, and am surprised ti’s held up so well for several years. I wish I could find similar for sale, for when it eventually gives out. On the other things on this list—that’s a swanky looking jewelry organizer, and an itinerary that required so many baubles would probably be pretty luxe as well. Sigh. Not my life. I’m a sucker for things like the $5 organizer bag, but doubt I’d actually use it or the tech accessories thingy. Further downhill, replacing my usual system with a passport wallet would probably throw me into disarray, and the thought of a special bag just for bras makes me laugh. I’m on the fence about laundry bags; of course it’s useful to separate dirty things from clean, but if I shift things around in my packing system, then it doesn’t all fit together the same way. Besides, when I’m traveling, the only things that I absolutely rule out re-wearing because of hygiene are undies, and those don’t need a whole bag. Even a shirt with something dribbled down the front can work as a layering piece. I note that many commenters mention plastic bags and clear vacuum bags. I’ve been using vacuum bags recently (I like U-Haul’s much better than Zip-Locks; they’re harder to rip and easier to zip), and compression cubes are the one type that make sense to me.
What about you? What are your favorite travel organizers? Do you replace your usual daily routine when you travel, or expand it greatly?
Recently there was some discussion of premature babies and the cost immediate and ongoing. I have also become aware of people in my community (in their 40s) who are on the list for organ transplants. This has involved ongoing fund raising within the community.
What has been your experience with medical issues ? How have families managed costs ? Did people do everything to save their loved ones, regardless of the quality of life or the cost ?
This week we start with WCE’s submission of an article that attacks liberal thinking and motives (the word evil can be found). I requested conservative sources – please do not assume that she endorses every assertion.
Because the MSM articles we post on the regular threads often have a culturally liberal slant, I haven’t solicited far left ones to provoke discussion here, seeing the politics page as a place where the moderate to right wing viewpoints usually start us up. However, if any of you debate lovers have anything that is left of NYT/Vox/Slate, send it in.
Now that most of my transactions are online, the amount of incongruent commercial and solicitation snail mail has fortunately decreased. And even that is easier to discard, because the recycle bin is adjacent to the mailbox and it does not even have to enter the house. I can recall a subscription to Horse Lover or some such that I received many years ago. I called them and it took quite a while to convince them that I had not subscribed. I said, I live in an apartment in the city. Someone is playing a joke.
But even with spam and bulk mail filters on the electronic inbox, I occasionally find myself on the receiving end of newsletters that give me a chuckle. The current one that has been coming for months is This Week in Weed. It is all about the Massachusetts introduction of recreational marijuana sales.
What strange humorous stuff comes to your home or computer? Does it bother you or amuse you? Do you take steps to reduce both paper and electronic junk mail?
A topic that seems perfect for our group WSJ article reproduced in full.
Who Needs Calculus? Not High-Schoolers
They’d be better off taking AP statistics or computer science.
By James Markarian
Thousands of American high-school students on Tuesday will take the Advanced Placement calculus exam. Many are probably dreading it, perhaps seeing the test as an attempt to show off skills they will never use. What if they’re right?
I started thinking about this recently when my 14-year-old daughter was doing her pre-calculus homework. I couldn’t help wondering: Is this the best direction for children her age? Students need skills to thrive in the 21st-century workplace, and I’m not convinced calculus is high on that list. Sure, calculus is essential for some careers, particularly in physics and engineering. But few eighth-graders are set on those fields.
It’s clear, on the other hand, that the American economy has entered a new age of data. Workers increasingly must analyze reams of numbers to improve products, increase sales or cut costs. Maybe high schools should spend more time on subjects like statistics and probability.
The Labor Department estimatesthat “statistician” will be one of the fastest-growing job categories over the next decade, faster than “software developer” and “information security analyst.” The pay isn’t bad either: The median statistician made $84,060 in 2017.
Yet in 2016 nearly 450,000 high-school students took an AP calculus exam. Fewer than half that took the statistics test, and fewer still took an AP exam in computer science.
Calculus classes have expanded dramatically in high schools since the 1980s. Intense competition for elite colleges is probably pushing students to take calculus because they hope it will increases their chances of admission.
But if high schools “teach to the test,” gearing classes to help students pass the AP exam, it could be counterproductive for students who wind up choosing physics or engineering. When college comes around, they may struggle if they are allowed to skip first-semester math classes even if they haven’t truly grasped the basics.
I’m not saying high schools should stop teaching calculus, but perhaps colleges should reconsider awarding credit for it. Changing the incentives could encourage students to take subjects relevant to their ambitions. Statistics and probability are much easier to apply to real-world problems, such as traffic analysis or election polling, which helps keep adolescents engaged. Failing at math is sometimes cited as an “academic trip wire” that causes students to drop out of school.
There’s evidence that parents already favor a change in curriculum. In a 2015 Gallup poll, 9 of 10 parents said computer science should be taught in schools, but many districts don’t teach it well. The education system is not aligned with the reality of today’s workplace.
One positive shift is that outside opportunities for learning have greatly expanded. Millions of people world-wide have signed up for MOOCs, massively open online courses, which facilitate self-directed study. Popular courses include machine learning, data science, and the programming language R, which is widely used in data science and statistics.
So spare a thought on Tuesday for the half-million teenagers drudging through derivatives. I hope the test gets them into the colleges of their dreams, but how much it will help them build careers is uncertain. As for the next generation of high-schoolers: Statistics is calling. You might like it, and it can get you a good-paying job—in all probability.
Mr. Markarian is chief technology officer of SnapLogic.
Appeared in the May 15, 2018, print edition.
Rhett suggested an article from the NYT by Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bébé. She has a new book coming out.
If you want to know how old you look, just walk into a French cafe. It’s like a public referendum on your face.
When I moved to Paris in my early 30s, waiters called me “mademoiselle.” It was “Bonjour, mademoiselle” when I walked into a cafe and “Voilà, mademoiselle” as they set down a coffee.
Around the time I turned 40, however, there was a collective switch, and waiters started calling me “madame.” These “madames” were tentative at first, but soon they were coming at me like a hailstorm. Now it’s “Bonjour, madame” when I walk in, “Merci, madame” when I pay my bill and “Au revoir, madame” as I leave. Sometimes several waiters shout this at once.
On one hand, I’m intrigued by this transition. Do these waiters gather after work for Sancerre and a slide show to decide which female customers to downgrade? (Irritatingly, men are “monsieur” forever.). The worst part is that they’re trying to be polite. They believe I’m old enough that the title can’t possibly wound.
This has all happened too quickly for me to digest. I still have most of the clothes that I wore as a mademoiselle. There are mademoiselle-era cans of food in my pantry.
But the world keeps telling me that I’ve entered a new stage. While studying my face in a well-lit elevator, my daughter describes it bluntly: “Mommy, you’re not old, but you’re definitely not young.”
I’m starting to see that as a madame, even a newly minted one, I am subject to new rules. When I try to act adorably naïve now, people aren’t charmed — they’re baffled. Cluelessness no longer goes with my face. I’m expected to wait in the correct line at airports and show up on time for my appointments.
And yet brain research shows that in the 40s, some of these tasks are harder: On average we’re more easily distracted than younger people, we digest information more slowly and we’re worse at remembering specific facts. (The ability to remember names peaks in the early 20s.) You know you’re in your 40s when you’ve spent 48 hours trying to think of a word, and that word was “hemorrhoids.”
These days, when I think, “Someone should really do something about that,” I realize with alarm that that “someone” is me. It’s not an easy transition. I’d always been reassured by the idea that there are grown-ups in the world out there curing cancer and issuing subpoenas. In an emergency, I’ve always trusted that grown-ups — mysterious, capable and wise — would appear to rescue me.
I’m not thrilled about looking older. But what unsettles me most about the 40s is the implication that I’m now a grown-up myself. I fear I’ve been promoted beyond my competence. What is a grown-up anyway? Do they really exist? If so, what exactly do they know? Will my mind ever catch up with my face?
Wed – How to survive your 40s
Th – Who Needs Calculus?
Fri – What’s in your Inbox/Mailbox?
Note: There will be only two discussion topics posted during the following week that includes Independence Day. Thanks for sending in some new ones to fill up the rest of the month.
Here’s a Vox interview (Guy promoting a book) as a starter for today.
Possible NSFW alert. The full form of BS appears in the title and throughout the article.