Politics Open Thread: Sep 30 – Oct 6

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.

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Electric Scooters? Really?

From MooshiMooshi
I had not even been aware of the tiny electric scooters until I visited SF in early May and saw them everywhere. Evidently they are rented out for short time periods.  I saw lots of millenial yuppies scooting about on them.  SF temporarilly banned them in early June because they were making such a mess. They don’t use docks, so people were just abandoning them everywhere.  We don’t have these in Westchester, but we now have a plague of Lime bikes, and while I am all for biking, I also get annoyed when I see these things blocking sidewalks, building entrances, and mailboxes.
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The case for the scooters is that they take up much less space than a car and thus might ease congestion. I don’t really understand that. In cities like NYC and SF,  people already walk and use mass transit quite a bit. Any trip that is short enough to make sense for a scooter is probably also quite walkable or bikeable. An electric scooter is certainly not as bad for the environment as a car, but it is worse than a bike, and not nearly as healthy for the rider as walking or biking would have been. And in the more typical sprawling, freeway bound cities of the South and West, I can’t see why anyone would be using a scooter.
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Plus, people look seriously dorky on them.
 
What do you think?  Will these replace cars or replace walkers/subway riders?  Just a millenial trend moment or are they here to stay? And what about those Lime bikes? 

 

Online shopping and excess stuff

by S&M

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.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/08/online-shopping-and-accumulation-of-junk/567985/

Open Thread and New Topics Needed

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)

 

 

 

Home Alone – Playing Hooky for Adults

by AustinMom

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?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-single/201507/craving-time-alone-and-privacy-home

Politics Open Thread, Sept 23 – 29

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.

https://www.city-journal.org/why-cant-new-york-control-its-infrastructure-costs-16036.html

International food quiz

by July

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?

Air Conditioning in Schools

by honolulu mother

My older son pointed me to this paper on Heat and Learning, which as the abstract explains suggests that hot classrooms contribute substantially to difference in academic performances across regions and socioeconomic groups, and that air conditioning classrooms is a solution:
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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.

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My son fully agrees that non-air-conditioned classrooms impede learning — most classrooms at the high school he recently graduated from, and that his younger siblings still attend, are not air conditioned.  In fact, lack of air conditioning is problem for Hawaii’s public schools generally, and despite efforts to get air conditioning into more classrooms the expense of doing so has limited its spread.
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Have you, or your children, had experience trying to learn in hot classrooms?  Do you agree that it makes it significantly more difficult to learn?  And, do you think air conditioning should be considered an essential part of school infrastructure?

Open Thread

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)

No More Alcohol, Study Says

by Risley
is a bit of a downer but is consistent with what I was recently told by an oncologist—that they have lowered the “one drink/day” limit for women trying to avoid breast cancer to 3 drinks/week. For ages, we’ve been told a drink/day is better than *not* having a drink/day, so this new guidance was very surprising to me. From the article, it’s clear it’s not only breast cancer that’s an issue. (FWIW, the oncologist also told me 2 drinks/day *doubles* a woman’s risk of breast cancer).
What I wonder is how many Totebaggers will change their habits based on this new guidance.    I’ve been amazed at how many people (including science/medical types) have told me to ignore the 3 drinks/week limit. I’m a rule follower!! (Not for everything, but for something like limiting my risk of breast cancer, I am.)
The broader question is how many sacrifices we are willing to make, and/or how many obligations we are willing to take on, for our health. Prophylactic prescriptions? Avoidance of, or limitations on, of certain foods, beyond the basic “watch caloric and fat intake” and now, for me at least, alcohol?

I thought everybody did that!

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.

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What things did you think were standard, as a child, only to later learn they were particular to your family or some other particular group?  I’m not limiting this to things reflective of family money — count in the military brats accustomed to PCSing every few years, the small towners accustomed to everyone being fixated on the preferred local sport, the professor kids thinking everyone’s parents have PhDs.

Our [job title] are too educated

by Rhett

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
August 13
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

Traveling with your adult children

by July

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:

How To Have An Adult Vacation With Your Family — Without Losing Your Mind

Open Thread

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.

The “Price” of Parenthood

by Finn

 

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?

What’s on your walls?

by Finn

DS just asked my thoughts on renting a framed print from a university museum for $30/semester.
 
Besides being an interesting concept that was never an an option that I knew of during my college years, it got me to wondering: 
How are your walls decorated?  Framed prints?  Family photos?  Commissioned paintings? 

 

School Lunches

by Houston

Here is an article advocating simple, fuss-free lunches that your kids will actually eat.

https://qz.com/quartzy/1370144/back-to-school-why-a-boring-school-lunch-is-just-fine/

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.

Reefer Madness ?

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?

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/08/americas-invisible-pot-addicts/567886/

The Empty Nest – Plans and Parental Reinvention

by Louise

This week I heard from a far relative who had just gone back to work. Her only son is in high school, she is an engineer who gave up her job once she had her son. I wasn’t expecting her to get a job at nearly fifty years old. On thinking about this I realized that over the years I had heard of women heading back to work once their kids reached the end of high school. They could spend a good ten to fifteen years in the work force.

Some of us on the other hand are looking to cut back or quitting as soon as that last tuition bill is paid. I have always felt my best has yet to come or if put negatively yet to grow up…

How old is too old…?
Too old to get married….to have kids…..to take up a musical instrument…..learn a new sport..
What are your plans for the empty nest years ? Any advice from Totebaggers who are already on this phase ? Do other things tend to occupy your time – elder assistance comes to mind.

 

Labor Day Open Thread

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)