Will The Future Judge Us Moral?

by WCE

Once and future sins

I read this article on how values and norms may change in the next 100 years and Grace’s request for posts prompted me to submit it. My parents have commented on how rapidly norms and values change compared to what they remember. In all likelihood, some of these changes are good and some aren’t, and only through the lens of history will anyone be able to judge what’s what.

I am particularly intrigued by the idea of considering future people (zoning to maintain historic neighborhoods and fossil fuel consumption, for example) more in moral decision-making. I also thought about moral problems that bother me (prison rape and general mistreatment of prisoners, for example) that don’t receive much attention in society at large. How do you think norms and values will change? How do you think they should change? How do we weigh unknown and unknowable future risks (earthquakes, fracking, global warming, etc.) against known current harms? What, if any, religious norms will influence social moral change? (I’m thinking of previous movements like abolition and temperance here.) Will norms and values continue to vary across social classes?

Here’s a quote, since the article is a bit long.

The tricky question is who exactly counts as the ‘other’ whose interests we should set above our own? Every society has had its own answers, as does each one of us: we expect you would go to much greater lengths to do good for your child than for your neighbour, and it would be easier to lie to your boss than to your spouse. And some beings, whether animal, vegetable or microbial, are outside the realm of consideration altogether. In moral terms, some always matter more than others. This understanding offers us a fairly straightforward idea of moral progress: it means including ever more people (or beings) in the group of those whose interests are to be respected. This too is an ancient insight: Hierocles, a Stoic philosopher of the second century, describes us as being surrounded by a series of concentric circles. The innermost circle of concern surrounds our own self; the next comprises the immediate family; then follow more remote family; then, in turn, neighbours, fellow city-dwellers, countrymen and, finally, the human race as a whole. Hierocles described moral progress as ‘drawing the circles somehow toward the centre’, or moving members of outer circles to the inner ones.


156 thoughts on “Will The Future Judge Us Moral?

  1. Yesterday I was reading an article about how slavery changed to one based on race and female lineage vs. a conquest of war or a temporary condition one could get work to get out of or convert to the “appropriate” religion and how that change was somewhat slow, but visible to people at the time. In this case, they were thinking about certain groups (those who benefitted from keeping people enslaved for their entire lifetimes and generation) and disregarding others (those enslaved).

    This is an example of when doing “good” for one person or group results (intentionally in this case) in making it “worse” for another person or group. While we often think about choices we make in terms of who it affects, I don’t think we often cannot see or do not make significant effort to see the entire ripple effect of those choices. Something as simple as giving preference to returning war veterans on the surface seems appropriate given their sacrific in time and possibly health for our country, but when they compete for jobs with new college graduates, it is possible that this preference may result in those grads being under-employed inititally, and/or slow their lifetime career growth. Then the question becomes is this an “acceptable trade off”. As a society, we have said yes, but knowing individuals that were college grads when hundreds returned from Viet Nam, I am not sure they would agree.

  2. If you look back to the 19th century the infant mortality rate was something like 241 per 1000 live births and the average women bore 6 live children. So, statistically every mother lost a child. Imagine if you heard that Madison next door had died at the age of 18 months, imagine the shock and devastation. Now imagine a world where that sort of thing happened all.the.time. It’s almost inconceivable.

    Looking at this chart look at the dramatic decrease in accidental death:

    I predict that c. 2115 things will be so safe and medical care will be so good that the death of anyone before a very old age will be a newsworthy event.

  3. Yeah, I read too much Margaret Atwood to be very hopeful about the future.

  4. I think the food thing is more unlikely than not, but I don’t know about how advanced lab-grown food is at this point. Might depend on how severe global warming gets and if there is a food shortage because of it.

    Things I hope will be eradicated: racism, sexism, hunger, war, mass incarceration, global warming, species extinction. Except mosquitoes! Those can go away any time.

  5. Not sure I’ll get to the whole article today (I’m leaving at 12:15 for the long weekend), but whenever I ponder things like this, I always come back to the scene from Contact where Ellie (Jodie Foster) is asked what question she would ask of the alien race which sent the blue prints for the transporter. She responds – “How did you do it? How did you get through this technological adolescence without blowing yourselves up?” The assumption is that this race is advanced and peaceful.

    I do wonder if in 100 years we’ll be more/less peaceful and how much technology will advance. I’m looking forward to reading this tonight – I want to see what others think about where our moral compass leads now and in the future. And how everyone sees the future.

    Maybe we’ll finally have flying cars and hoverboards and clothes that fit us perfectly. The 15th sequel of Jaws might be fun too. But will the world look like HG Wells’ Time Machine?

  6. The prison rape example seems like a strong contender. As a society we’re very callous about that — we treat it as a punchline — but even though inmates are imprisoned for a reason, that’s not supposed to be part of their punishment and it would be unconstitutional if it were.

  7. That article by an Englishman and a German brought to mind turn of the century (1900) post millennial eschatology, which was very popular among Protestant (primarily English speaking and German) theologians and social philosophers of the time. It differs from the more familiar pre millennial views of the cleansing and scourging return of Christ in that it posits that He will return in triumph after Christianity, through education, reform and good works, has gradually transformed the world into a peaceable and godly kingdom. This view was implemented through the social gospel and secularly by the liberal state. The historical context in Europe and somewhat in the US was the perception that progress was continual, inevitable and beneficial. Social ills were being eradicated in the Western world. Liberalism, in the Teddy Roosevelt sense, dictated that those in power look to the “greater good” in thinking of future generations. WW I discredited that view of progress, and Nazism discredited that view of Western moral superiority, but sixty years of economic progress and European style socialism have revived that sort of “optimism” among European intellectuals – theologians don’t have the same public weight as they did 100 years ago.

  8. Rhett – Those figures are still relying on max instantaneous capacity for solar and wind.

  9. Milo,

    But the point was more the trend.

    Over the last 5 years, the price of new wind power in the US has dropped 58% and the price of new solar power has dropped 78%.

  10. From Rhett’s energy article:

    “The long-term obstacle, beyond perhaps 20% of grid penetration, is ‘dispatchability’ – the ability to issue the precise amount of energy needed, when it’s needed”

    We’ve been there for a while. Our local utility put the brakes on rooftop PV installation because in some areas, there were times when generation was at or near demand, and the grid wasn’t able to transport any excess outside of those areas.

  11. I read Bernie Kernick’s book, From Jailer to Jailed. I thought it was fascinating because he is now trying to work on prison reform as a result of his experience. I think there is a very large problem in this country with how prisoners are treated in the system, and even how they are treated when they re enter society. The “system” makes it very hard to start over in the US with any type of criminal record.

    I think that people get so caught up in their own problems, and day to day juggle that it is hard to find time to think about some of the issues raised in the article. The most time I had to think about some of these things was during my four years in college.

  12. Rhett – In some ways yes, but it’s relying on a very misleading premise. And furthermore, until you solve the storage issue (maybe by damming a lot more rivers into recreational lakes–no arguments from me on that one) renewables start to become increasingly more expensive with honest accounting, because you soon have to start building a greater amount of backup capacity specifically as backup, which very quickly drives up the overall costs.

  13. Meme, I appreciated your comment on the intellectual/theological history of social justice. I attend church small group with people involved in nuclear and solar startups, so while their actual work is filled with engineering detail, their small group discussion is, “How do we help people live well in a God-honoring way?” regarding energy.

  14. Rhett – Interesting. I would need several of them (at $3k each) to keep the air conditioniners running between (effective) sunset and sunrise.

  15. ” I think there is a very large problem in this country with how prisoners are treated in the system, and even how they are treated when they re enter society. ”

    I think much greater use should be made of home confinement, e.g., Martha Stewart, with the prisoners bearing the cost of monitoring, and only allowed out of the home to go to work, and only if their work requires their physical presence at an office or jobsite. Besides eliminating the problem of prisoner treatment in prisons, that would also eliminate the need to release prisoners early due to overcrowding, reduce prison costs, and facilitate longer sentences.

  16. I have a hijack/question. My DD just got her SAT scores back. She scored 2180 taking it cold. Is it worth it to spend the time and money on an SAT prep course? She actually has (I think) a fairly impressive resume, she has been a state finalist in several contests, is ranked 1 in her class, and has a couple of club presidencies. She can’t improve her reading/writing scores, but there is some room on her math score. She hasn’t picked a college that she really wants to go yet. Any thoughts….

  17. Advances in technology that lower the cost of survival in terms of person-hours may cause our descendants to shake their heads at our treatment of the homeless and very poor. I’d compare it to the way we shake our heads at 19th century tenements, workhouses, children working in factories, families at risk of actual starvation. Or, for that matter, the common idea in fiction (a la Jane Eyre) that an aunt and uncle taking in an orphaned niece/nephew will of course treat her/him as a drudge instead of as another child. From our position of relative affluence we look back and are horrified, and we have programs to keep people from starving and keep children in school and cover basic medical care, and to house people who can’t pay market rates, but we’re not prepared to go so far as to provide a basic income and housing *for everyone who needs it* to get people off our streets. (I’m not making an argument that we should — we’re not so affluent a society now that we could readily do so — but from the perspective of a future, richer society the fact that much of our concern about homelessness is that it’s unsightly and makes public spaces unusable may look cruelly indifferent.)

  18. Milo,

    Also, it seems that a typical residential AC unit uses a total of 36kWh of electricity (per 24 hour period) so your storage needs to run the AC during the night would seem to significantly less than 36kWh and well withing the capacity of an 85kWh Tesla battery to manage.

  19. I have a quote for an 11500 BTU solar AC system, which includes PV panels, for $7500, with tax credits bringing the after tax cost down to about $4200. I would be able to run it from shortly after to sunrise to near sunset with zero electricity costs.

  20. “it seems that a typical residential AC unit uses a total of 36kWh of electricity (per 24 hour period)”

    What sort of AC unit do you mean? Are you talking about central AC running around the clock?

    At our rates, that’s about $378/month. Around here, the most typical residential AC units are window units; a lot of homes are built with cutouts specifically to accommodate them. E.g., it’s not uncommon to look at a residential high rise and see a grid of window units.

  21. I’ve seen the suggestion that future generations will universally view abortion as shocking and immoral. (Of course some hold that view now, but it is far from universal.) I could see that view becoming universal iff (if and only if) technology offers better solutions for those situations in which a woman might seek an abortion — perhaps starting with more reliable and ubiquitous birth control (having to deliberately choose to get it turned off might not be a bad plan), and where that’s not enough, such as those situations where a wanted pregnancy threatens the mother’s health, an artificial womb would take away the horrible choice between the fetus’s life and the mother’s.

  22. Are you talking about central AC running around the clock?

    Yes. A quick googling says “An average central ac will use 3000 to 5000 watts of power every hour for around 9 hours a day …” 4000 x 9 = 36kWh. I took 9 hours to be the total time the compressor is actually running as it cycles on and off during the day.

  23. Anon, what grade is your DD? Was it her first try at the SAT?

    She doesn’t have a lot of room for improvement, especially, I’m guessing, in the non-essay part of the test. I agree with HM on that part; use of the free online resources for self-study may be sufficient for those parts. BTW, IMO the most important thing to learn and practice is how the test is scored, and how and when to guess. Keep in mind that the current version is guessing agnostic.

    If she didn’t do well on the essay, that’s another story. The essay is apparently graded on some very specific criteria which are not spelled out in the official prep books, and scoring well on that part of the test apparently requires some inside knowledge that may be taught in prep classes. E.g., I’ve read that it’s important to include citations, but it’s not important to verify them, i.e., you can lie and won’t get penalized for that.

    I would suggest looking at online resources, and also SAT prep books (older editions are often available inexpensively, e.g., Craigslist, thrift shops, rummage sales, and kindle versions of current editions are often less expensive than print) for specific information on scoring well on the essay.

    If you do any of this, please post what you find, and what your DD decides to do and how much of how she does you feel comfortable posting.

  24. SAT 1:21 – I don’t know how to translate that score back to the 2 part ones, but I received advice for my youngest son after the PSAT (he needed a major league verbal boost, math was just fine) from a professional tutor – friend of the family. He said that given the fact that the starting point was Lake Wobegon above average, and we were aiming for higher, it was really up to him to show the desire and make the effort, so buy three or four prep books, let him pick the ones he likes best, and have him self direct the process and give him lots of help. He made up flash cards on paper, we drilled every night, he took a few practice tests. His verbal score after the prep was more than 100 points higher than the PSAT projection. Cost, about 35 dollars and some of my time.

  25. Rhett – We have two central AC units. I’m getting lost in the numbers when you say 3,000 to 5,000 watts. Do you mean 3 to 5 kw*hrs? Then I’d have to go back and look at the Tesla numbers again. And keep in mind that whatever this battery costs is good for 10 years. Then it’s soon time to replace.

  26. 1:21, I would pay for the most expensive, current version of the SAT prep software. College prep tests change over time. And “unofficial” prep books have less-well-written questions. Official questions have been culled better than unofficial ones. (Thank my 9th grade social studies teacher for being so dull that I have a large sample of test prep books in my history.) I don’t think the software is that expensive and it should provide better analysis of where she is missing questions on the math test than a book. Or you could help her figure it out, but software lacks the parent/child relationship aspect, which is a good thing in this case.

    I think most colleges care about math + verbal and less about reading/essay.

  27. Do you mean 3 to 5 kw*hrs?

    Yes. But, the compressor is typically only running 9 hours a day total. Also, looking at the typical weather for Northern Virginia the average August high is 88 and the average low is 71. So, set at 75 or IIRC you said 78 – for much of the night the compressor won’t be running at all.

  28. WCE, thanks for this article — it is so completely you, and I love the analytical breakdown of the issue and how it creates a framework to approach the issue (and now we can all debate whether that’s the correct framework. . . ). I do like that framework myself, and that tends to be how I approach things — if you look at a list of “Things That Set Laura Off,” a recurring theme is discounting/ignoring/unfair treatment of the “other.” Of course, I still have animals and plants in outer rings in my philosophical chart, so I clearly have a ways to go. . . . :-)

    On energy: I am fascinated by this, because DH and I are both involved in different aspects of this at times. Two things that seem to hold true over time:

    1. The speed with which storage capacity is increasing, and the costs of such storage are decreasing, is waaaaaay faster than most people realize.

    2. But demand keeps increasing at an equal or greater rate, as we continue to invent newer and better ways to use up all of that new, cheap capacity.

    So in 100 years, we’ll still be where we are now. We will be using our energy for different things — we will probably have flying cars that can handle your annual fuel needs with the equivalent of one split hydrogen atom. But we’ll still be complaining about the increasing costs of running the pumps to keep Manhattan from becoming the new Venice (which will have become the new Atlantis). Etc.

  29. For many of the top schools, SAT/ACT scores are, in fact, optional.

    assuming even scores across all 3 elements, a 2180 translates to a ~1450 on the old 2-part 1600 max test. A 2180 is 98th %-ile. From prepscholar.com (FWIW). I googled 2180 SAT and it came up.

    2180 on SAT: Where do you stand?

    Here’s how you compare to other students and how many colleges you can apply to:
    •A 2180 places you at the 98th percentile nationally. This means that of the 1.67 million test-takers, 34472 students scored at or higher than you.
    •With a 2180 SAT, you’re competitive for 1292 colleges. You’ll be able to apply to this many schools and have a shot at getting admitted.
    •With a 2180 SAT, you’re missing out on 14 schools. If you apply to these schools with this score, you’ll have a very low chance at getting in.

    What are your chances at getting into your top colleges?

    We’ve collected data from millions of students and thousands of colleges to figure out your chances at getting admitted with a 2180 SAT score. You’ll also see how your chances improve with a higher SAT score.

    To add a school to your list, type in part of the school name, choose from the dropdown, and click the button.

    Check My Chances

  30. LfB, glad you liked it. One of my interests is how US-centric many concerns are. When people say they are opposed to sexism, are they bothered because I have a 7 month maternity leave, and no one was surprised that I took it instead of Mr WCE, or are they worried about genital mutilation in Africa? I happen to think that the US is doing pretty well on racism and sexism, compared to most of the rest of the world. You will not be surprised to learn that I am interested in what is achievable and how to get there. One of the things I’ve observed working with South Koreans is that they are becoming culturally more open (though still very Korean/ancestor focused) and more accepting of women. Probably the most concrete evidence of this is the change in the male:female birthrate over the past 20 years.

  31. Rhett – Google tells me that a typical, single central AC unit uses 3,000 watts of power when running.

    The Tesla home batteries that you linked list in their stats that they can provide 2,000 watts running power for a total of 7 kw*hr. That means just to run a single central AC (for any period of time), you need two of those units, so $6k. Now you have 14 kw*hrs of capacity per full charge, so that you gets you 4 hours of run time. That might get you through most nights, but don’t open the refrigerator too often, definitely don’t try to run the clothes dryer or even the washer or dishwasher after dark. More likely, a Totebag suburban house is going to need four or five of these to not crimp our living standards too much, so $20k. And that’s just the storage, not even the solar. Add another one if you’re off the grid for well and septic.

    Now, if it gets cheaper, that’s different.

  32. When people say they are opposed to sexism, are they bothered because I have a 7 month maternity leave, and no one was surprised that I took it instead of Mr WCE, or are they worried about genital mutilation in Africa?

    You can address an issue on multiple levels at once. Genital mutilation and sex-selective abortion are concerning; prepubescent girls being married to middle-aged men in Yemen is concerning; Saudi treatment of even their princesses is concerning; the treatment of daughters by the Quiverfull set in the US is concerning; the trend toward having more rigidly defined sex roles in the .01% is concerning (even though that wife bonus thing smells like BS); and the trend toward having only childless women able to build the stratospheric resume needed for a Supreme Court nomination without running into Zoe Baird-style nanny problems — all of these are concerning for me. But they’re definitely not equivalent in severity.

  33. HM, that’s a good perspective. I like the fact that many roles are open to women- and I’d like to see more caregiving roles open to men- but I’m not sure what it would look like to “arrive” in terms of male/female equality, due to biological differences and their association with cultural differences and preferences. Mr WCE’s team has people spending a few weeks each in Europe working long days bringing up equipment, and I’m rather glad I get to stay home and nurse Baby WCE. But nursing a baby and spending weeks overseas on equipment are incompatible roles, with definite career progress implications.

  34. Thanks for all your comments. DD is a junior, this is her second try on the SAT. She scored better on this try than her first, although she had no time to prepare. She hit 770 on both the reading and writing, so I can’t fathom any reason to spend much effort to increase those scores. On the old 1600 scale, she would have had a 1410 score. My initial reaction was that this score was good enough for any college she had expressed an interest in and that she could be done with this. She wants a higher score.

    I like WCE’s idea of buying the software and having her work through that.

    Currently, the house is inundated with college catalogues. I have no idea how to differentiate between them, other than, no Florida colleges.

  35. Now, if it gets cheaper, that’s different.

    That’s the entire point. In the past 10 years the price per kWh of batter storage has fallen from $1300 to $400 with estimates of $150 soon.

    Pardon the wrong kWh rating on the home unit, I assumed they were the same as the cars at 85 kWh.

  36. Anon, a 640 math has room for improvement. Even if she doesn’t take the SAT again, it would be good for her to understand where her areas of weakness are. In terms of college admission, I agree that her scores are excellent, but in terms of merit aid, it might make a difference.

    I’ll admit right now my bias that standardized tests measure something and that virtually every student headed to a non-regional college should have a 700+ in math. The verbal section has changed since I took the SAT. It used to have a much higher ceiling and be more vocabulary dependent. Strangely enough, my high school had a phenomenally high average SAT score, because only NMSF who needed to confirm their score took it.

  37. even though that wife bonus thing smells like BS

    I read a comment that made sense. Assume you were a stay at home mom and your husband was a trader who had a $250k salary and a $1.5 million bonus. At some point you’ll need to decide on how to spend it. College funds, retirement savings, vacations, a new kitchen, etc. and some of it will be “fun money”. How would you personally go about deciding how much of the money will constitute your “fun money”?

  38. Rhett and HM – the thing that I find off-putting about the idea of the “wife bonus” (and contrary to how my marriage works) is the idea that the fun money allocation, and all of the other allocations, are made by only one spouse.

  39. “the common idea in fiction (a la Jane Eyre) that an aunt and uncle taking in an orphaned niece/nephew will of course treat her/him as a drudge instead of as another child.”

    Or Harry Potter.

  40. “How would you personally go about deciding how much of the money will constitute your “fun money”?”

    Umm, not based on how well I had executed on managing the house/kids/hubby. That’s an employer/employee or parent/child relationship, not a marriage.

  41. “Now you have 14 kw*hrs of capacity per full charge, so that you gets you 4 hours of run time. That might get you through most nights”

    You said you would run your AC from sunrise to sunset. Why do you need so much storage capacity to get through the night?

  42. Anon: Congrats! On whether to retake the SAT–your DD’s score is great. I’d focus on other things. There’s more room to go down than to go up. I’d invest the time in honing your college list, starting on essays and applications, getting a good internship, etc.

    That said, we are paying (I think) $750 for a prep class this summer for my DS, who will be a junior next year. I think he will benefit from being in a class v. self studying.

  43. “But demand keeps increasing at an equal or greater rate, as we continue to invent newer and better ways to use up all of that new, cheap capacity.”

    Is that really true? Around here, the big electricity hogs have historically been hot water heating, then refrigeration, and lighting. Hot water heating is now done mostly via direct collection of solar heat, and we have much more efficient refrigeration and lighting.

    The local utility recently changed the consumption of a ‘typical household’ from 600 kwh/mo to 500 kwh/mo, reflecting reduced usage.

  44. Finn – During the roughly 12 hours, at least, that the sun is not effective, the two battery units, if they were fully charged, would provide 4 hours of total run time for a single A/C system.

    (And if you have two systems like I do, it would be 2 hours each, and there would need to be a computer to stagger their run times or else the discharge rate would be too high)

  45. The allocation methodology was what I assumed was the aspect of the “wife bonus” in which I suspect the author was being fooled. I am aware that the wife in that economic class gets a distribution from the year end bonus for her own discretionary spending. I just never heard that it was expressly based on a set of performance metrics. Certainly, a wife in that position would expect that a husband would be less generous if she caused public embarrassment by appearance or behavior or was unable to retain and manage competent servants to keep the house running and the children supervised and tutored, and the wives might joke over their wine about their efforts to maximize their bonus.

  46. “I would pay for the most expensive, current version of the SAT prep software.”

    This is not the advice I expected to hear from WCE.

    “And “unofficial” prep books have less-well-written questions. ”

    DS just used the official prep materials, e.g., the free practice test on the College Board website, to study.

    Given that her scores are good enough for the schools in which she is interested, I question spending a lot of money on prep material or a class, especially for the math part of the test.

    I’m guessing she’s a typically overscheduled totebaggers’ kid, and she may have better uses of her time than taking an SAT prep class, e.g., sleeping.

  47. Milo, taking a step back, why are you even thinking about energy storage? Do you have any electricity generation capacity at your home? If not, then the only reasons I can think of for storage would be to take advantage of time of day pricing.

  48. “For many of the top schools, SAT/ACT scores are, in fact, optional.”

    Really? I’m curious as to which top schools. My understanding is that most of the top schools require SAT subject tests as well as the SAT or ACT.

  49. Finn – Because Rhett brought it up. It’s one of the missing links for cost-effective renewables.

  50. Finn, for a scaled score of 640, she missed 12 or 13 questions out of 54 on a math test that covers standard high school math. If she missed them because she is slow-but-accurate in math and isn’t entering a math-intensive field, her score is adequate and she can get on with her life. If she is missing all the geometry questions and will never need geometry again, she can get on with her life.

    But the SAT math isn’t very hard, and to miss over 20% of the questions is somewhat concerning.

    I agree with your point about being over scheduled and the time value of money, which is why I recommended the software program. I don’t see a lot of value in learning “the tricks” of the SAT, but I do see value in understanding why your accuracy is less than 80% on standard high school math.

  51. “Is that really true? . . . The local utility recently changed the consumption of a ‘typical household’ from 600 kwh/mo to 500 kwh/mo, reflecting reduced usage.”

    Yeah, but you are starting from some of the highest power prices in the nation. So you’re still on the plus side of the cost-effectiveness curve — you need to regress to the mean more before behavior starts to change in the other direction. Witness, e.g., the recent drop in sales of hybrid vehicles with the lower gas prices and corresponding rise in SUVs. Heck, even my mom no longer keeps the thermostat at 55 in the winter, like she did during the oil crisis of the ’70s.

    Best analogy is the cellphone. We now have much, much better battery life than we did when they were first developed. We could have used that technology to construct a cellphone that would run for weeks or months at a time. But instead we made phones that demand more power — first there were games and simple apps to pass the time; then oh, look, I can play on the internet if I’m in a hotspot; then wow, I can be my own hotspot; now we have apps that are always “on,” tracking you via GPS or linking with another device, and just sucking sucking sucking the power even when they’re not active. End result: we built it, and they came, and you still have to plug in your phone every night.

  52. “I’d like to see more caregiving roles open to men”

    Do you mean nursing? Are you not seeing an increase in the %age of male nurses where you live?

    Male nurses are becoming more common here, but there may be a large ethnic factor that makes it more common here than where you live.

  53. LfB – All great points. And cell phones are relatively small consumers. Think about how much more efficient we’ve made refrigerators. So what do we do? Every upscale new house has a separate wine refrigerator in the kitchen. Then there are fridges in the master suite, possibly an extra one in the basement or garage or man cave.

  54. Finn, I’d like to see more men as childcare providers and stay-at-home parents. Mr WCE’s high school friend is a research oncologist and her husband is a SAHD. SAHM’s could do more to include Dads (she types before she leaves to pick up the twins from a playdate with a SAHD house)

    Of course, I’d also like to see a career track that allows for sequencing for men and women- spending a few years out of the workforce and then being able to rejoin at the same level.

  55. I just attended a Planned Parenthood lecture last night. I was talking with some friends who work for local nonprofits, and we were drawn to the realization that much of our society preys on the poor in ways that keep them disadvantaged, and this is what I think we will be judged on. The speaker (actress Kathleen Turner!) talked about how even though many states have enacted laws designed to circumvent Roe v. Wade and make it harder to get an abortion, women of means generally can find a way to get one if they want to. It’s the poor who are most affected by distance to a clinic, mandatory waiting periods, limited availability of providers, etc. And if those people had adequate access to reliable contraception, they would be less likely to want/need an abortion in the first place. A woman’s ability to control number and spacing of children has more impact on her health, education, social, and economic situations than anything else. But it’s not just women’s healthcare, or healthcare in general. It’s finance, housing, childcare, the legal system – we make it so hard for people to get ahead or to get back up when they fall. The Planned Parenthood rep at the meeting held Virginia up as an example of how important elections are and how we really can make a difference by getting involved with these issues. (VA recently elected Democratic governor, attorney general, and Senator who were running against extreme anti-choice Republicans.)

  56. Milo, at least per Rhett, by the time you have need for storage (either your own generation capacity, or time of day metering, or both), the cost of that storage may be much lower and thus may be a realistic option.

    Our use is somewhere around 15 to 20 kwh/day, so two of those batteries should be more than ample for our overnight needs. At $1350 each, if that allows us to go off grid and avoid the ~$56/mo grid connection fee our local utility wants to charge, the payback would be about 4 years.

  57. Finn – Your climate and electricity needs are never going to be a representative sample.

  58. we were drawn to the realization that much of our society preys on the poor in ways that keep them disadvantaged

    I reminds me of something MMM said, “It may be that most parents of the very-upper-middle class are still operating from a scarcity mindset.” I think we are operating with that mindset in terms of public policy as well and a shift will occur as we move toward a post scarcity economy.

  59. ” It’s one of the missing links for cost-effective renewables.”

    I don’t think that’s yet the case in much of the US. We’re an outlier here in terms of PV and wind penetration, but I believe in much of the rest of the country, the penetration of PV, wind, and other non-firm sources is low enough that the most cost-effective way to integrate renewable sources is the combination of net metering and time of day metering (or supply and demand based metering).

    Firm sources have inherent energy storage, so storage is only needed when non-firm sources are a significant part of the total supply.

    BTW, some renewables (e.g., hydro) are considered firm.

  60. “Firm sources have inherent energy storage, so storage is only needed when non-firm sources are a significant part of the total supply. ”

    I said as much above, about how the more you try to add solar/wind, the more expensive it becomes. Which also means that the costs they are reporting for solar wind are not completely honest, either, because they’re reliant on “firm sources” as a backup, but that cost is not included.

  61. WCE – This article is five years old. From the caption of the second picture:

    Eddy is president of Cape & Islands Self Reliance and a founding member of Clean Power Now. He built his first wind generator in 1976 to mark the U.S. bicentennial and believes that reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil is a moral imperative.

    Somebody should call him up and tell him the great news! Mission accomplished.

  62. I said as much above, about how the more you try to add solar/wind, the more expensive it becomes.

    I don’t think that includes the precipitous decline in battery storage costs. Much of the analysis on the other side seems to assume* a steady state. It’s like someone casually dismissing the cell phone c. 1983 due its $3,995 price, 30 min talk time and $3 per min pricing.

    * Dishonestly in my opinion due to tribal affiliation.

  63. Mission accomplished.

    Then tribal affiliation is at least party behind your insistence on a steady state analysis?

  64. Milo, the article is five years old, but are there windmills on Martha’s Vineyard? (I haven’t been there, so maybe there are.) My point was that the Columbia Gorge is also a national scenic area, but since white people didn’t get off a boat and look at it in 1620, it isn’t worth valuing in the same way.

  65. “the Columbia Gorge is also a national scenic area, but since white people didn’t get off a boat and look at it in 1620, it isn’t worth valuing in the same way.”

    Snort. This may be my favorite thing you’ve ever written. :-)

  66. WCE – Lol. My five years comment was noting that five years ago, he didn’t realize that we actually were going to become much less dependent on foreign oil.

    My comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek. We got the result he supposedly wanted, if not via the means he desired.

  67. “I don’t think that includes the precipitous decline in battery storage costs. ”

    I agree. I used to think, not long ago, that getting to high %age of non-firm renewables would involve a shift from a demand-based consumption model to an availability-based model, but low cost storage may obviate that.

    Interesting how Tesla is in the mix. I’ve long thought that the elephant in the room is electric cars, and using their batteries not just to power the cars, but to provide the storage necessary to match demand with supply.

  68. ” the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest have quite a few windmills”

    Between wind and hydro, don’t renewables provide much of the electricity in the northwest?

    Isn’t it ironic that global warming, and the associated climate change, may be negatively affecting hydro, causing increased use of fossil fuels.

  69. WCE – I in with the sense that East Coast media bias caused reporting on the proposed Cape ocean wind farm and its opponents to be blown up in importance, and that conforms to the comment about 1620. But if the well financed and litigation savvy and simply stubborn in the Columbia Valley oppose wind farms, there would be a struggle to build them, even if it never made the national press/cable news.

  70. “I’d like to see more men as childcare providers and stay-at-home parents.”

    I know quite a few grandfathers who are, or have been childcare providers, including my dad.

    When I was dropping off and/or picking up daily at preschool, I thought doing something there might be a good part-time retirement job. When I picked up, I enjoyed just being around the kids.

  71. Milo,

    Your political tribe claimed that renewables will always be an impractical pipe dream. Now that it looks like solar will be a huge component of our energy infrastructure, you’re resisting the idea because it will prove you side was wrong.

  72. Rhett – I’m not resisting the idea at all. I’m just pointing out that the accounting you’re trumpeting is misleading.

    When it’s cost-effective, the utilities will be happy to build it.

  73. I’m just pointing out that the accounting you’re trumpeting is misleading.

    As is your steady state analysis.

  74. “But the SAT math isn’t very hard, and to miss over 20% of the questions is somewhat concerning.”

    Chuckle. This is from the woman whose husband was a NMSF and could self-study a calculus class in a day or so, but who doesn’t think her kids will be able to get into a selective school or get merit aid.

    ” don’t see a lot of value in learning “the tricks” of the SAT”

    What “tricks” are there for the math part? I don’t know of any, just the basic advice:

    -Know that guessing is not penalized, so make sure you answer every question in which you can eliminate any of the choices, or for which you have an intuitive feel for the answer even if you can’t definitively solve the problem. IOW, if you have basis for anything beyond a totally random guess, answer the question.

    -Don’t spend too much time on any one question, or any part of the test.

    -Go through the entire test once quickly, to make sure you answer all the questions for which you know the answer, can easily determine the answer, or can easily eliminate some choices.

  75. I never said it was steady state.

    All the analysis I’ve read is based on the costs contining to decline significantly. But, you keeping basing your claims on the fact that it’s not viable today. Which everyone agrees. But, no one is talking about today.

  76. ” She hasn’t picked a college that she really wants to go yet.”

    Anon, given the above, I suggest she retake it after some self-study and taking practice tests over the summer, focusing entirely on math. A 640 in math will limit her options, and she can probably increase her score with some prep, which will open up more options, including more merit aid possibilities.

    She should make sure to take the test for which she studies. The format will change in spring 2016, and among other changes, not guessing will be penalized. These changes will require a different approach to the test to maximize her score.

    Increasing her math score will probably also increase the amount of mail she receives.

  77. But the SAT math isn’t very hard, and to miss over 20% of the questions is somewhat concerning.

    Is that a joke or are you serious?

  78. It wasn’t very hard even back in the 80s before they adjusted the scores, Rhett. For the kids with solid math ability it was more of a test of punctiliousness (reading the questions carefully and taking the time to be error-free) than of math — you had to take the Math II exam to really show what you could do. (And even that was apparently curved because you didn’t have to get everything right to get an 800.)

  79. Please, Rhett. Milo is a real man. He doesn’t need a girly mini-wheel and video camera to back up a trailer.

  80. LfB,

    You’ll note the conceptual similarity to the nose wheel tiller on a 747.

  81. “Your climate and electricity needs are never going to be a representative sample.”

    Perhaps not for where you live, but I imagine there are other locations for which it is more representative. South Florida, for example, or maybe PR or GU.

  82. Anon, please share your and your DD’s experiences in the college selection process. I’m sure there are others here besides me (e.g., Houston) with kids near the same age who are interested.

  83. The SAT math only tests into Algebra II. As my hog farmer-turned-math teacher uncle would say, “Anyone worth sending to college should be able to get to Algebra II.”

    Finn, I think my kids will get into selective (though not the most elite) schools and I think they’ll be able to get merit aid if they go the extra mile by, say, bothering to fill out the applications and apply themselves enough to turn in their homework.

  84. While I love renewable energy and would consider PV cells for my roof and a good electric it hybrid car, I wonder if it’s viable on large scales.

    Yes prices are comin down and yes tech is there. Wind farms are proposed off RI and it’s windy enough here. But wind, solar, geothermal- these are diffuse sources. To equal fossil fuels people need a lot more space and tech. Think of it as food- fossil fuels are caloric dense meals. Lots of filling in a little package. Renewables are not. You’d have to eat a lot more of those calories to get the same bang for your buck.

    Will space/willingness to donate space be there? How will climate change change our calculations? I don’t know. But I will be very surprised if we are fossil fuel free in 100 years. I do bet that our ancestors will wonder why we are debating this instead of conserving what we have.

  85. LfB / Rhett –

    I was going to say that there are not many things that I am naturally very gifted at. I don’t have Mr. WCE’s math gifts, because I started losing my grasp in Calc II, and I hit a brick wall by the end of Differential Equations. The concepts of Electrical Engineering are not natural for me. I’ve always been an unremarkable athlete.

    But I do have a natural gift for that sense of space and motion combined with a very intuitive touch for handling machinery. I could sail a laser on my own at 10. I picked up driving a stick shift with no effort whatsoever–around the age of 12. At 15, in Driver’s Ed, I parallel parked once on the first try with the instructor and never had another problem with it. I’ve aced just about every Man Overboard! ship-handling drill I’ve ever conned including, humorously, as a midshipman on summer cruise on the positively ancient SHREVEPORT http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Shreveport_(LPD-12), with her old steam boilers, that left the captain disbelieving his eyes.

    So backing a trailer is nothing. But more than that, I don’t know that that feature would be helpful to anyone who doesn’t have a stiff neck and can’t turn around well. There are already so many mind reversals going on when you’re backing a trailer, and this only eliminates one or two of them, depending on your perspective, but adds a couple more. To take it in segments, backing a trailer is like pushing a grocery shopping cart from the wrong end, as your pushing from the swinging end, not the pivot point. If you’re pushing a shopping cart backwards and you want to turn right, you push your end to the left, and that’s the same with the trailer. The difficult part is that you’re doing that reverse motion with the wrong side of the car, so if you really want to back the trailer to the right, you need to push the tongue to the left, but first you have to get the rear end of the vehicle in a position to the right of it so that it will actually push left, which usually requires going the opposite direction initially and getting in front of it, and you’re doing this while looking backward, and it’s too many opposites for me to even follow here.

    So I’d rather see the trailer with my eyes and at least be looking in the direction that I want to push it, not be looking the opposite direction and trying to convince my mind that what I’m seeing on the screen is behind me.

  86. “Perhaps not for where you live, but I imagine there are other locations for which it is more representative. South Florida, for example”

    You’ve got to be joking. You will die in South Florida without robust air conditioning. You will literally die.

    Battery houses are probably more viable in New England where you don’t actually need A/C, and you can just continue to rely on oil or gas for winter heating.

  87. It wasn’t very hard in the 60s, either. There was absolutely no geek cachet to 99th percentile math aptitude score, even a full 800. In my day you also took the Math II to prove your chops, since most high schools did not offer calculus or preparation for an AP Math exam. 800 on the verbal was considered worth crowing about.

  88. The SAT math only tests into Algebra II. As my hog farmer-turned-math teacher uncle would say, “Anyone worth sending to college should be able to get to Algebra II.”

    Out here in the real world, my highly compensated college graduate friends and co-workers were amazed that I can calculate 70% of 50 in my head.

  89. Rhett, he wouldn’t hire them to feed his hogs. But maybe there’s a reason why several grain elevators in northern Iowa decided to consolidate their grain sales under his leadership.

  90. and you can just continue to rely on oil or gas for winter heating.

    Did you miss my link to the natural gas powered residential AC?

  91. What bothers me most about the publicity around the Duggar story is that it completely violates the custom of keeping the names of victims of sexual assault private. I understand the desire to expose the perceived hypocrisy of the Duggar family, but those girls should have been able to decide for themselves what they revealed or not. For private people, I can’t imagine how humiliating that revelation was. Those girls may have not even told their husbands what happened prior to the news release. I think the way it was disclosed was wrong.

  92. * I realize that being on a reality show negates “private people”, but that is Jim Bob’s decision, not the children’s. They may have wanted to preserve what small shred of privacy they had.

  93. WCE,

    Do you really think your assessments are accurate? I get the impression that while your IQ is 150 you think the average is 140 when it’s actually 100.

  94. I think some sports will no longer be in the form as we know them today. As people become more aware of the dangers of contact sports it will be dammed morally wrong to keep watching them.
    Also sports involving animals will be gone. Fox hunting, bull fighting, circuses and I think even horse racing and equestrian events will be deemed wrong.

  95. When we have IQ debates, I’m the one saying that a difference between 120 and 135 isn’t very meaningful but an accurately measured IQ less than 90 limits your life options, where other people are saying IQ doesn’t matter.

    I don’t think most engineers wind up using calculus but most use at least Algebra II, and need to be more than 80% accurate.

  96. I’m the one saying that a difference between 120 and 135 isn’t very meaningful

    It is when you’re talking about the relative difficulty of SAT math.

  97. MBT, I share your concern for the girls. I even wondered if their husbands would reject them since they have, in fact, been polluted by male lust.

  98. “I’d like to see more men as childcare providers and stay-at-home parents.”

    Oh, really?

    Will you let your snowflakes have playdates or hang out with SAHD’s? Especially if he doesn’t have a nanny or a wife?

    I’ve unhappily discovered that few parents will. It took a secretary at Junior’s school to tell me in essence, “PTM, it is because every Mother here assumes you are a pervert and is not going to take a risk. Always make sure in your invitation you say that your nanny or some other woman will be present at all times.”

    What if the SAHD doesn’t have a wife or a nanny?

  99. amazed that I can calculate 70% of 50 in my head

    So for a 30% off sale they pull out the calculator on the phone? Or just don’t bother to figure out the real price?

  100. Rhett – If someone says they can’t perform a certain physical task or series of actions because it is too difficult for them and they don’t have the natural body type, or the strength, or experience with the required tools, or the necessary prior physical training, that may be completely accurate, but it doesn’t change the fact that the task is in itself may not be particularly difficult.

  101. PTM, I just picked up my twins this afternoon from a playdate with a SAHD. He’s the only parent brave enough to have both of them over at once.

  102. I don’t know any full time SAHDs in my town, but there are PLENTY of dads that watch the kids while the mom is working, or off with another kid. I hope and assume that these dads are just regular guys and I send my kid with them all of the time. I have their numbers in my cell phone too, and I haven’t run into any situations in the last ten years (knock on wood) with dads that coach the kids for sports or watch the kids in their homes for play dates.

  103. Meme,

    Is SAT math hard for the set of all people? Yes.

    Is SAT math hard for the set of all college freshman? Yes.

    Is SAT math hard for the set of all college freshman who go on to earn a comfortable living? Yes.

    Is SAT math hard for the set of all students accepted to MIT? No.

  104. My middle daughter has a weekly play date with two girls and their sahd. I just forgot I am supposed to be skeeved out about it.

  105. My friend posted her daughter’s almost perfect score on the 10th grade state exams. Wasn’t a surprise because she had mentioned that her husband placed very high on the exam and my friend is pretty smart herself. What’s more interesting is that the family is moving back to the U.S. after a couple of years in the home country. I suspect this has to do with the daughter’s college education. No reason was given for the move back but it will be interesting to see where the girl goes to college. My friend has a job with a U.S. company and is able to move back and forth.

  106. Anon — Congratulations on your child’s SAT score, and I think you received some good recommendations for self-study that would work for a motivated student. OTOH, I fully understand Houston’s perspective on her son taking a class. One of the downsides to a class is that it may consist of students who need focus on different aspects, so one-on-one tutoring is often better. Typically, math scores are more likely to rise from short-term prep than reading/writing scores (except for the essay as pointed out).

    “I think most colleges care about math + verbal and less about reading/essay.” True!

    Definitely use College Board official material instead of copy-cat stuff. CB offers easy-to-use feedback on practice tests that helps a student pinpoint areas of weakness.

    While I might agree that most people consider SAT math hard, a student who scored 98 %ile in CR is more likely to have the natural ability to not consider it hard if the right type of instruction is applied.

  107. For some comic relief that may hit too close to home for some, here’s a post from a Westchester County message board:

    Will we be ok in Scarsdale?

    Hi all,

    We are looking to buy a home in Weschester and are considering Scarsdale. Scarsdale has a lot going for it – excellent schools, nice amenities (pool, tennis courts, etc). It’s a pretty town. In addition, and somewhat ironically, the taxes are much lower than the river-towns we’ve been looking at (Hastings, Irvington), and we could afford a nice house here for under $800K. It’d be a solid investment.

    However, some of the things we’ve read about Scarsdale have us concerned. I am an engineer, my wife is a teacher, we have a combined income of around 200K, and we have a 2-year old daughter. Russian Jewish immigrants. We aren’t flashy or showy, don’t plan on buying more than a Toyota Camry. I understand we’d be on the low-end in Scarsdale, which I guess is fine, but I worry about fitting in. More than that, I worry that our daughter will feel poor growing up and will feel out of place, surrounded by rich a**hole kids whose parents like throwing money around.

    This is obviously very subjective, but I must ask – is it as bad as they say it is? Has anyone had a positive experience in Scarsdale, in the income level similar to ours?

    Thanks in advance for any insights.

  108. WCE – even crazier, they said that the shot was unplanned and just happened naturally. Who doesn’t put a diaper on a baby just about immediately? Our kids probably had a lot more free naked time AFTER potty training (and even then, I can really only think of pool and sprinkler.)

    CoC – I might have written a very similar question if we were considering moving there. And my wife would be the most reluctant, since that was more like her world in high school, and she didn’t like it. She went to college a year early because of it.

  109. FWIW, DS did a one week SAT verbal class and brought his score up by about 60 points. For him, it really was about learning the tricks/thought process of how to approach the questions. Around here, a lot of the private schools do inexpensive one or two week summer classes on specific SAT prep issues, so that could be an option as well.

  110. DS has been following his Math teacher’s son as the kid makes his way through high school. DS was relived to see that that kid has emerged unscathed from his AP Calculus exam.

  111. There are five elementary schools in Scarsdale. There is one neighborhood that has smaller homes that can be purchased for 800K. It is actually a much larger community than most people realize, and I have to drive across several neighborhoods in Scarsdale when I drive the carpool to certain activities. There is a wide range of housing from less than a million to over ten million. The taxes are high for certain properties, but some homes have taxes that are “fair” for the area.

  112. @Lauren – are the elementary schools assigned by neighborhood or by lottery ? In one of the Boston towns there were a number of elementary schools, assignment was by lottery so you could end up with your kid across town even though there was a school closer to your house.

  113. DH’s best friend is from Scarsdale and he grew up very blue collar (dad was a teacher).

  114. Rhett — With that link you’ve fallen trap to the confusing configuration in Westchester that places some homes in the Scarsdale PO but in ANOTHER school district, in this case the detested Yonkers district. It’s all about the schools, although a Scarsdale PO does give some prestige.

  115. Louise, the elementary school is a local neighborhood school. All of the Scarsdale kids will be together for middle and high school. They’re together in earlier grades too for soccer, little league etc.

    We looked in Scarsdale when we were moving from the city. We didn’t want to move there for the same reasons the poster mentioned. Ive met plenty of normal, nice people that live there. The stuff that I didn’t want to deal with a girl is the stuff the girls wear in HS. I see it on the train, designer shoes and bags that cost 1000s. It’s not everyone, but there are a decent amount of kids that could afford to buy it.

  116. CofC,

    Then where is that house? To whom do they pay their taxes? Does you address says Scarsdale, 10853 but you actually vote and pay taxes in Yonkers?

  117. I am literally laughing out loud at the “Math SAT is easy” comments – of course from the engineer and the tax accountant. This might be the most Totebaggy comment thread of all time. I’m expecting the next comment to be “My 5 year old does the Math SAT practice tests for fun while eating a dessert tomato”.

    I am completely with Rhett on this. Do none of you work with normal, non-engineering, non-finance people on a day-to-day basis? There are a whole lot of successful people who don’t work with numbers on a regular basis who will have trouble figuring out 70% of 50 without a calculator or who can’t reliably calculate their % growth when given the sales figures that they are personally responsible for. (and that doesn’t mean that they can’t sell the crap out of what they are supposed to be selling, BTW)

  118. I wouldn’t have ever nursed DS without him in a diaper. When changing his diapers as a baby you had to be houdini with the switch to not get peed on

  119. “address says Scarsdale, 10853 but you actually vote and pay taxes in Yonkers?”

    Yup, and you are assigned to Yonkers schools. It’s a common thing around here; very confusing. I think this was briefly discussed here recently.

  120. ” that doesn’t mean that they can’t sell the crap out of what they are supposed to be selling, BTW”

    Although, the top sales people I’ve known seem to be able to use math quite proficiently when they’re calculation their commission or sales totals. :)

  121. On test tutoring – DS took the ACT, and I got him a tutor to help with English for the second time he took the test. His score shot up quite a bit. I can’t remember the percentages, but it went from OK to excellent. I think she taught him how to take the test, and what they were looking for. It probably didn’t hurt that 1) he didn’t prepare at all for the test the first time he took it, and 2) she was a tall, blonde, beautiful former Ivy league volleyball player!

  122. Rhett,
    the US Postal Service decides how they want to handle mail delivery, so that’s what town/ZIP code your address says.
    Legal maps for taxing purposes in NY are different. Your house may be in X town so you pay taxes to that town, but the school district lines will probably be different than town lines, so many people end up paying their school taxes to a different entity.

    It’s possible to be in the sweet spot where your post office mailing address is one town, your town of residence another, and the school district your kids are mapped to a third. Rare, but possible, since it happened to friends of ours.

  123. Wow – have I missed a lot – Duggar scandal, Math SAT scores, playdates with a SAHDs kids and concerns about being viewed as poor in Scarsdale. Where do I start?!!

  124. normal, non-engineering, non-finance people

    I’m pretty sure I count as a non-engineering non-finance person. But I guess normal might be a stretch.

  125. As a group, we’re outside the norm relative to the US population as a whole. Speaking for myself, that’s one reason I’m here; this is a subset within which I’m closer to the norm.

  126. It’s certainly true that the SAT-M rewards speed and abstraction. If my farmer uncle wanted to reseed an area that had gotten drowned out during a wet spring, he could either look at the area and estimate how much additional seed to buy, or he could do a calculation using geometry and spreading rate. Some farmers could correctly estimate how much seed to buy but couldn’t do the calculation. My BIL-the-pipefitter is talented at accurately translating blueprints into plumbing and ducting, and he can size a line to install a gas fireplace given other natural gas loads, but he probably couldn’t do SAT-M level abstract problems about those topics.

  127. DD is finishing 9th grade and I assume will take the PSAT next year in 10th grade. I’m planning on having DD do some test prep this summer before she takes the PSAT – but is it better to wait until she’s taking the actual SAT itself?

  128. SSM, be aware of the changes in the SAT and PSAT. Your DD is young enough not to be affected a lot, but current sophomores could really waste a lot of time and effort in prep if they’re not aware of the changes. It’s my understanding that the upcoming PSAT will use a format similar to the new SAT, which will debut in spring 2016. I don’t think it would be worth it for her, or any current freshman, to spend any time prepping for the current SAT.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to prep much for taking the PSAT as a sophomore, since it’s purely a practice test. OTOH, stakes are quite high for many juniors.

    If my kid were a current freshman, I’d have him do some online training at Khan Academy once it’s available– last I read, it was supposed to be available next month. I wouldn’t want him to go in totally cold; I’d want the test to be predictive of how well he’d do as a junior, when it really counts. OTOH, as a rising soph, I wouldn’t want him to spend a lot of time and effort on it.

    If he did well enough, i.e., well above the historical NMSF cutoff, I wouldn’t bother with a prep class. The next summer, before junior year, I”d have him do self-study with materials from the College Board (e.g., free practice tests on their website) and Khan, then take both the PSAT and SAT in fall.

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