Never will I . . .

by Rhett

Cordellia mentioned that her house has three water heaters because as a child she promised herself she’d never take a cold shower as an adult. I grew up in a house that was hot in the summer and freezing in the winter so I promised I’d always have powerful HVAC.

What are some of the things you’ve promised yourself as a child that you’ve achieved as an adult? What are some of the things you haven’t achieved?

You won’t believe this secret rule that you know without ever being taught!

by Honolulu Mother

Ha, sorry, creeping Buzzfeeditis strikes again.

I am of course referring to the recent story about how there’s a fairly complex order in which adjectives modifying a noun must be listed, that native speakers use without realizing that they even know it because it just sounds wrong otherwise. Here’s the BBC article on it.

Why the green great dragon can’t exist

Do you think that order is correct? Can you think of other grammatical rules that we don’t know we know?

(And speaking of clickbait, did you see the professor who played with a #clickbaitsyllabus on Twitter recently?

You won’t believe how this college prof clickbaited students. Or what happened next.

Supersmart kids

by Finn

If we’re all honest with ourselves, many of us have very smart kids. Perhaps they’re not supersmart, but they’re well above average, and common topics of conversation here are related to our kids being smarter than their classmates, and sometimes smarter than their teachers.

So these accounts of a study of supersmart kids will likely be of interest. Some here have mentioned some level of participation in the Johns Hopkins programs for very bright middle schoolers, and my niece participated, but I was totally unaware that the program was part of such a study of supersmart kids and how to help them maximize their potentials.

How to Raise a Genius: Lessons from a 45-Year Study of Supersmart Children

Want to Raise Wildly Successful Kids? Science Says Do This for Them (but Their Schools Probably Won’t)

What are your takeaways from these articles? Do they suggest any possible directions you will take regarding the education of your kids?

Election 2016, September 25 — October 1

Trump-Clinton debate expected to shatter records

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump promises to be the most watched ever, with an audience that could exceed 100 million people, according to experts interviewed by The Hill.

A debate with an audience that size would be something never seen before in U.S. politics and would be a figure close to what the Super Bowl gets.

The first debate is tomorrow, September 26.

Urban Suburban

by Louise

This article talks about mixed use, denser development in the suburbs. It is definitely a trend in my city. Apartments and town homes are being built at a rapid pace in suburban centers and construction cranes fill the skyline. No large lot is left unbuilt.

What do you think of this tend ? Did you start off or still live in a dense setting ? Discuss.

Suburbs Trying to Attract Millennials Diverge on Development Patterns

Would you ban your college age kids from a major?

by Honolulu Mother

This Washington Post clickbait, I mean article, discusses parents who forbid their college student offspring from choosing a liberal arts major.

Meet the parents who won’t let their children study literature

I assume the parents in question are paying for college. Would you ever place specific subjects off-limits as a field of study for your college-aged offspring? And if so, what subjects?

To me it seems inappropriate and controlling. But, I’m not paying for college yet so ask me again when one of mine announces s/he has discovered a grade-free program of study in Video Gaming as Narrative that involves playing as many games as possible and then discussing them at informal seminars to be held Friday nights over a keg.

High-achieving siblings

by MBT

Then don’t even mention Calculus…..

Here is the summary of a study on high-achieving siblings, and the commonalities in how they were raised. A lot of what these parents did seems contrary to the Amy Chua, or even Totebag parenting ideals. In particular, there seems to be a willingness to allow children to fail that we really don’t seem to have here. However, they mention drug and alcohol problems, teen pregnancies, and other stumbles on the path to adulthood. Many on this board would not consider those outcomes to be a success. The siblings profiled all did achieve success in their chosen fields, so there must be something more than chance going on. I’m not sure how that can be, though, because Calculus is not mentioned anywhere in the article. Do you see any similarities between your parenting styles and those profiled here? Do you consider these families to be successful?

Secrets of Super Siblings

Out of state students

Both MooshiMooshi and Rhode sent in posts for this topic.

by MooshiMooshi

Are cuts to public state universities forcing kids to go out of state?

This article, from the NYTimes, contends that increasingly, this is the case. The article discusses reasons why some states are sending so many students out of state, and the second article shows the data, state by state.

Public Colleges Chase Out-of-State Students, and Tuition

How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State

In my experience, some states have traditionally sent lots of students out of state – CT and MA come to mind immediately. Even back in the 80’s, it was assumed in CT that many students would leave. Both states had relatively underfunded flagship public universities at the time, and little tradition of widespread public university education. The best students always went private. But other states, like CA, had a long standing tradition of public higher education. In the state where I graduated HS, very few students went out of state, and that appears to still be the case. But CA is now sending a lot of students out. And Illinois???

How is your state doing according to the data? If your state is sending a lot of kids out of state, do you agree with the reasons given? Do most students in your state go to public universities or do many go to private schools? And do you think we should continue to have state based public higher education systems? Or should everything thing be national, or even private?

* * * * * *

by Rhode

This article describes how public college students migrate. Did you follow the pattern of your home state? What about your kids?

The interesting backbone to this article is the reduction of state aid to public colleges. How does this affect you? Are your children’s colleges choices or how far the budget will stretch affected?

The broader question I have is what do you think about the reduction of state aid to public colleges?

At least in RI, the aid from the state is supposed to subsidize RI student costs, so that way our state public colleges are very affordable. In an odd twist, the cost to keep the lights on is the cost of out-of-state tuition, so the state aid basically fills the gap between “what the state thinks RI students should pay” and “what it actually costs to run the college”. I’ve never agreed with the model – it’s a catch-22. The college needs to recruit out-of-state students to keep the lights on, so the state thinks that the college doesn’t care about in-state needs, and then reduces aid, forcing tuition to increase across the board. If the college focuses on drawing in-state students, then programs may be cut because the college doesn’t have enough out-of-state tuition to keep the lights on.

What about your state? Is funding to public colleges decreasing? Do you think it’s important for states to fund public institutions? What about the federal government? Should more aid be given to reduce tuition costs across the board?

Hamilteens

by Honolulu Mother

My daughter spends her evenings in a Hamiltrash chat via Instagram. I have heard (upon information and belief) that many other teens do the same.

Hamilton’s teenage superfans: ‘This is, like, crazy cool’

What, if anything, will it mean for this age group that their big teenage musical obsession involves a rap battle over whether to found a national bank instead of the usual boy band output? Will this come to be considered a generational marker?

Locations in three words

by Anonymous

Have you heard of what3words? It’s a new addressing system to help people communicate specific locations. One can currently do that with coordinates, but those are prone to error – telling the pizza guy you want your order to come to 34.057905°N 118.208899°W may get you to the entrance of USC’s hospital but giving the guy 31.057905°N 118.208899°W will get you a few hundred miles off of the Mexican Coast.

In order to have accuracy, you have to have a lot of numbers. In order to use traditional addresses, you need an agreed upon system of words and numbers – which much of the world doesn’t have. Enter what3words – a set of word-based coordinates that identify a 3×3 meter square.

I think it is the most interesting thing. My college’s art gallery is matrons.defend.smokers, which is awesome. Given the size of the gallery (or your house) there are 10s or 100s of choices. Some of them are brilliant. The whole ideas is a combination of nerdy, whimsical and social justice – being able to provide ambulance or mail delivery to the slums changes people’s lives.  [link updated]

what3words keeps Olympics visitors on track in Rio

This is probably not the discussion where people disclose the coordinates of their front door – but perhaps their favorite beach. What do you use to find your way without addresses? How can that be improved? Is everyone else as in love with this as I am?

 

The long and short of height stagnation

by winemama

Make America Tall Again? Height Stagnation in the 20th Century

It’s good to be tall. Tall people live longer, are considered more attractive, and make more money – an extra inch of height is correlated with an additional $800 in income….

Countries with tall people are wealthier, have longer average life spans, and are less likely to have experienced conflict. There’s no better sign of a country’s health and wealth than height….

Rather than genetics, diet and well-being during infancy and adolescence are the primary determinants of a country’s average height. During these growth periods, the body has the greatest need for nutrients. Sickness and malnourishment in childhood can mean a loss ofthree to four inches in height….

The Dutch are the tallest people in the world. The average man is nearly 6 feet tall, compared to 5’ 9” ½ in the United States, and the average woman is 5’ 6” ½ compared to 5 4” ½ in the U.S….

The United States was once among the tallest countries in the world.

According to the data, Americans born in 1896 were the 3rd tallest in the world, and as recently as 1951, Americans were 10th. But the second half of the 20th Century was a period of sharp relative decline for American height. Today, the United States ranks 40th, and the height of the average American (5’ 7”) is no greater today than it was for those born in 1950….

The most likely answer is that with equally distributed economic growth, average height across the world could grow several more inches, but not much more. Anthropometric researchers and anthropologists tend to agree that the Dutch have reached close to the limits of human height.

Discuss

All About McMansions!

The Worst of McMansions blog elicited post ideas from two Totebaggers.

Honolulu Mother has some thoughts on this:

We’ve talked before about what makes a McMansion a McMansion, versus a large house or an actual mansion. Now someone has helpfully done an entire blog series for us architectural n00bs, explaining the rules of graceful construction and how McMansions violate them:

McMansions 101: What Makes a McMansion Bad Architecture?

There are links to other posts in the series at the bottom.

Let’s talk about McMansions! Do you live in one? Do your neighbors? Do you have strong feelings on the subject?

Rocky Mountain Stepmom has similar questions:

Totebaggers, do you agree with the distinction between mansions and
McMansions? Do you live in one or the other?

Our uncivilized public lands

by WCE

As Homeless Find Refuge in Forests, ‘Anger Is Palpable’ in Nearby Towns

In many western states (see Time magazine link for details by state), the federal government owns a majority of the land, either as national forest or as Bureau of Land Management land. This allows for great hiking and camping opportunities, as well as grazing, firewood cutting and mushroom hunting, but so much open land has disadvantages as well.

The NY Times article discusses the mess and risks associated with disadvantaged people who live on public lands. Two of my friends who are PhD wildlife biologists have confirmed that there are significant risks when hiking and camping on public lands. Unlike cities, which are usually well-policed, forest lands have very limited law enforcement. Growing marijuana and drug trafficking are probably the most common crimes. A single officer may be responsible for hundreds of square miles. Even with the cooperation of local law enforcement and fire departments, crime and wildfires are very problematic. The federal government has reduced/tried to eliminate “payment in lieu of property taxes” for forest lands, so the costs of busing kids to school in these areas is high and borne by counties with an artificially low tax base.

Do you have any thoughts (or maybe questions, since there are a few of us in states with lots of federal land) about how federal land should be managed? Do you agree or disagree that it is under-resourced in terms of fire/police protection? Any other thoughts about how federal land ownership affects western states?

Teasing and Friendship

by Honolulu Mother

Recent articles from New York Magazine and Quartz suggest that kids need to learn to distinguish between good-natured teasing, which can be an important part of friendship, and the kind of unfriendly jibes we might consider bullying.

Teach Your Kids to Take a Joke or They’ll Be Bad at Friendship

Teasing has many benefits, when done right

From the NYMag article:

Boston University psychologist Peter Gray tells Quartz that if parents and teachers try and shield their kids too much from any sort of smack talking, then they don’t learn to enjoy the crass banter that’s such a part of growing up or to stand up for themselves when it goes too far. Those sheltered kids have “heard from adults that [light-hearted teasing] is bullying and so they get really upset about it rather than knowing how to roll with the punches,” he says. It’s like the social equivalent of the microbiome: If your parents didn’t let any microbes into your house growing up, there’s a better chance you would develop asthma. And if they didn’t let you exchange barbs with your friends growing up, it might be harder to accept the vulnerability that’s a part of talking shit as an adult. . . .

We do a lot of teasing within our family, which I think has helped our kids to see it as an affectionate thing within the right context. In the school context, I think that kids teasing one another often are honestly uncertain themselves whether they mean it as friendly banter or mean teasing — often it’s the target’s reaction that decides it for them. So I do agree with the article that it’s helpful for kids to experience teasing as a part of normal social interaction, so they can distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ teasing as they grow up.

Can your kids join in to friendly teasing, and give as good as they get, or do these interactions upset them? Are your family members fond of teasing one another?

Podcasts

by Risley

After being advised by my son for several months that I simply must listen to the SERIAL podcast (masterminds behind This American Life and available for free on iTunes), I finally downloaded the first season a week or so ago, and listened to the first few episodes on a drive to the other side of the state. Oh my — HOOKED!

For those who haven’t heard of it, season 1 is about a 15-year-old murder case (a HS senior was murdered and her HS senior boyfriend was tried, convicted and is serving time for the crime. He is now 32). The host, Sarah Koenig, interviews various witnesses and experts, as well as the defendant, and reviews all the evidence, presenting a case that (this far into my listening, at least) seems very far from cut and dried. Did he or didn’t he? I have reasonable doubts, to be sure.

I’m up to episode 8 now and am already mourning the impending ending of season 1. I’m so glad there are 2 more seasons left. (I assume each season presents a different case, but I’m afraid to look at the website in case there are spoilers. I was on there earlier, looking for Sarah’s Twitter handle, and already learned info about Season 1 that I didn’t want to know now). I didn’t watch Making a Murderer on Netflix, but I imagine fans of that show would love Serial.

Also at my son’s insistence, I started listening to Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast. It’s interesting, but not nearly as riveting (to me) as Serial. DS and I recently flew together, and we spent the flight sharing headphones and listening to Revisionist History shows stored on his phone.

In addition to these new (to me) shows, I have always loved This American Life, The Moth, and a few shows on CBC Radio. And I’m sure DS will keep me apprised of any he gloms onto in the future.

I actually don’t make time in my week for podcasts. I don’t have much of a commute anyway, and on the 2 days I go to the office, I listen to Morning Edition en route there, and Fresh Air en route home (or I call friends/relatives to chat). On the other days, I don’t really have any spot in my schedule for podcasts. If I happen to catch these shows when I’m on long drives, I cheer and listen raptly; otherwise, I miss them.

Or at least, that’s how it was *before* Serial. Not anymore! Now that my son has gotten me hooked on this show, I’ll be finding pockets of podcast time in as many days as I can. Maybe while I walk the dogs, or while I do my 15 minutes/day of gait therapy on the treadmill? I can’t see listening to podcasts during more vigorous exercise, like spinning. But maybe as an alternative to reading, especially on nights when my brain’s fried from work? I don’t have a gadget to attach my phone to my pants, but maybe I’ll get one, and listen while I clean the kitchen? I’d listen to/from the cottage, which is my only regular drive over 20 minutes, but it’s rarely only me in the car then, and unless DH and the kids are at the same spot in the show that I’m at, it would be no fun for them to play it then.

What about you? What podcasts are you hooked on? When do you listen to them? Do you have a system for keeping your phone/iPod storage files cleared of old ones, so you can make room for the new? Are there any your entire family listens to together, or you and your partner? Are there any that you actually pay for?