Thursday open thread

Talk amongst yourselves.

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66 thoughts on “Thursday open thread

  1. When did we, as a society in general, decide rules don’t apply to us? I know there are rules we disagree with (some dress codes come immediately to mind), and it is perfectly reasonable to work to change the rules or to no longer participate if we disagree that strongly or cannot have any impact on changing them. But, to an extent, you agree to follow the rules when you choose to participate. Yet, in many areas of my life I am seeing people selectively choose which ones they want to follow, have no concern for how their choices affect others, and don’t think there should be any consequences.

  2. Interesting question AustinMom. Do you think it has to do with how one is parented? Just thinking about last night, my DD had a fit because she didn’t agree with the rules of something. So we had a discussion about why they are in place, how the rules impact her and how they impact other people, and the consequences of not following the rules for herself and others.

    Sure the rule is annoying, and I could have said, you are right, that is dumb, just ignore it, and my DD would see that I’m supporting her at this moment. Then in the future she could ignore rules that she didn’t like.

  3. Also, sometimes path to least resistance is just break the rule and ask for forgiveness later. I’m guilty of this, but I think it takes a lot of reasoning to do that and have it work in your favor.

  4. It looks like we’re going to have a teachers strike starting Monday, unless something drastic happens. DPS sent an email last night with this important piece of information:

    “During the teacher strike, some teachers may not report to work in our schools;”

    Yeah, that’s the definition of a strike.

  5. I was well brought up by a self controlled rule conscious deferred gratification type who would put Finn to shame. My residual bourgeois/totebag prudence is likely due to her influence.

    My take on this, somewhat related to yesterdays thread, is that communities were smaller, less upwardly mobile, more closed and life long. They had a well defined if not written set of rules and most relevant, gradations of privilege/status that defined who could break which rules without consequence.

    Men used to be allowed by statute, custom, and economic freedom to assault their wives, for one example. Prohibition more than any other nationwide rule established a precedent for defying actual statute, not just behaving badly.

    I never perceived the mainland US world as orderly and rule following. I couldnt understand the social rules despite moms best efforts, so rules were like a foreign language from which to memorize necessary phrases. My goal was to reach an SES where my frequent foot faults would not lead to disaster.

  6. Since this is an open thread, I have a couple of book reviews for those who like social history. The first one is: Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America, by Jeff Wiltse. It’s the story of public swimming pools in the Northeast United States (he narrowed it down because there are many regional differences). Starts with the 19th century swimming pools that were really baths for working class men and boys. Black and white men and boys swam together with no problem (well, other than the rowdiness and fights that broke out because it was a rough community). Then in the early 20th century women and men were swimming together, but racial groups were segregated. Anyway, there’s a lot of stuff and it’s quite interesting to see the evolution of what is actually kind of a weird phenomenon, the municipal swimming pool.

    Another is Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It by Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, Sinikka Elliott. It could be subtitled “Why Don’t You Just Fuck Right Off, Michael Pollan?” It’s a close look at working class families and their struggles to feed their families despite chaotic work schedules, chaotic family relationships, picky children, defiant children, and just life generally. There are big statistics and then some ethnography sections where the authors follow women around as they try to get through their day and make sure that their families are fed. Here’s an excerpt from the intro. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1536504214545755

  7. My parents were rule followers who took risks within the rules. Tying this to yesterday’s thread they inherited the best genes/work ethic of each of their families and they did well for themselves. When people wanted to point out that they were so lucky/blessed they couldn’t attribute it all to good luck because my parents did put in the effort.
    They paid their taxes. This was remarkable because many of their peers avoided taxes. Years later, when they were harassed and audited because of family property and business absolutely nothing could be found. The tax officials were shocked. They had counted on bribes to let my parents off the hook.

  8. Very interesting topic…

    I wonder if the sheer volumes of rules reduces compliance. I have gone from being a rule follower to looking at the rule and then looking at the consequence for not following it and the likelihood of getting caught. I have little faith that there is actual science or reason behind many if not most rules I am supposed to follow, and that wipes away the moral component in following the rules.

    I do not believe it is good to have society where there is so little faith in the necessity and validity of rules, but I do not see a way out either.

    On a side note, as a PSA, do NOT file your property tax records or life insurance payments with your other bills and store then for years so that your kids have to sort through them. Also, what are good podcasts to listen to while shredding years of saved paperwork?

  9. Cassandra, I highly recommend taking any big amount of shredding over to someplace that will do it for you. Office Depot will do it for you here.

  10. I never perceived the mainland US world as orderly and rule following.

    Of the 195 countries in the world, it’s certainly in the top quintile. I think a lot of it may be that we don’t even think about it. We talked the other day about jay walking vs. running a red light. Or my personal favorite – no one ever has gotten out of their seat before the plane has come to a complete stop and the pilot has turned off the seatbelt sign. In China, the plane hits the runway and it’s every man for himself. Or tipping! A vast and complex system of unwritten rules that is very rarely violated. Or lines. In Germany (of all places) people just crowd around and try and push to the front.

  11. Or being on time. Americans are neck and neck with the Germans in terms of being punctual.

  12. i coached that softball team last fall and it seemed to go really well. I started emailing parents about 5-6 weeks ago to see how many players wanted to play again this spring. After having to contact some people multiple times, I finally heard back from everyone, and only one girl wants to play again. Some of the others went to a different team to play with their friends, a coupe decided to play up an age level, and the rest are playing other sports. I don’t fault any of them, but I have to say it hurts a bit.

    Our club has another 10U team that the remaining girl can play on, so I sent her parents the coach’s contact info. They sent back a really nice reply about how much their daughter loved playing for me, so now I feel even worse. Our club director said they will probably need an 8U coach so I will do that if it works out. DD is thinking about doing track this spring, but she’ll help me again if she doesn’t.

  13. “Of the 195 countries in the world, it’s certainly in the top quintile.”

    That’s my impression, based on what I remember reading and on my own experience.

    “In Germany (of all places) people just crowd around and try and push to the front.”

    The first time flew in Guatemala, I didn’t realize that lining up to board the plane was not really a thing. Just elbow your way through. And bribes are just an accepted way of doing business in many Latin American countries, as I first found out the time I was unlucky to have a car accident there.

    Austin Mom, I’m curious about what examples you might give.

  14. Or my personal favorite – no one ever has gotten out of their seat before the plane has come to a complete stop and the pilot has turned off the seatbelt sign.

    On our recent flight to NY, someone got up as we were taxiing for an apparent bathroom emergency. The flight attendants made repeated announcements for everyone to stay seated.

  15. Is Costco membership worth it for travel discounts? Or other types of discounts? I’ve heard eyeglasses are a good value there.

    We let our Costco membership lapse years ago and I have very little interest in shopping at Costco. About a year ago I compared Costco car rental prices and I found a better deal through AAA. A related issue is that our local Costco locations are not convenient nor user-friendly as far as I’m concerned.

  16. I wonder if part of it is that while we’re very rule following, in terms of the median country, we don’t pride ourselves on it like the Germans, Swiss or Japanese.

  17. ” but I have to say it hurts a bit.”

    I can see how you feel that way, but I’m sure it’s not about you, especially given the nice note you got from the one set of parents.

    About two years after I was out of the Navy, I went to a ceremony for someone that I’d worked for. My old CO was also there, so he and I were talking over a couple of drinks in the reserved room at this nice restaurant in Mystic, CT.

    He said “My biggest regret is that every single one of you guys [the junior officers who worked for him] chose to get out” (rather than continue down the pipeline by becoming department heads.)

    “I ask myself all the time what *I* did wrong to cause that.”

    And I said, honestly, “Nothing. It’s just the way it worked out.” I meant it, too, even though there were some things he did that annoyed the hell out of me, but they were minor in the big picture.

    Still, I had never considered that he would take that somewhat unusual statistical outcome as an indication of personal shortcoming.

  18. I think a lot of people break rules of politeness and good manners out of laziness. I am surprised when I receive a thank you note for a gift including a hefty check for a wedding. I am amazed at how many young people won’t hold a door for people behind them, push ahead of old people, infirm people, pregnant women and women/men holding babies/toddlers and diaper bags, or give up their seat to any of the above. The overall exception seem to be young black men. They have wonderful manners – opening doors, helping people burdened with packages to their car.

  19. that costco is not far from you and I would meet you for coffee before or after if you join. We could go to Stews for coffee since our Costco is not very nice.
    My mom uses the car rental and she thinks the rates are amazing. My parents and some friends use the eyeglasses. We use the photo service because DD gets so many gifts for friends. Much cheaper than Shutterfly or similar. I think the answer depends on how often you will use the membership. If you hate our stores ( i get it), you can order on line. Many items have free shipping.

  20. July – We already had a Costco membership and we’ve booked our two cruises through them. I guess we get a decent price. I think with this last one, we get a $500 Costco gift card as our rebate. So maybe that’s the savings?

  21. BTW, I do not use the eyeglass benefit because they have a limited selection of frames and I couldn’t find what I wanted, but the prices are very good if you can frames that you would like to wear.

  22. “I do not use the eyeglass benefit because they have a limited selection of frames and I couldn’t find what I wanted”

    That reminds me of the half-price promotions that Lenscrafters or other places have. The sale price never applies to the frames I want.

  23. That reminds me of the half-price promotions that Lenscrafters

    Or the “free” glasses you get through your vision insurance. You ask and they reach down to a dusty shelf to pull out the rapist glasses and the frames they give to death row inmates.

  24. In my college days, I spent some time traveling around Europe. I have a vivid recollection of one particular thing I noticed in Norway: Pedestrians would always — always — wait for the “walk” sign to illuminate before staring to walk across a crosswalk. Even if there was no car in sight in either direction, no one would cross the street if the “don’t walk” sign was illuminated.

  25. I like the frames that they bought at Costco, and the glasses look good on them. They do have frames in a variety of prices, but they don’t have as wide a selection as some of the local shops.

    We have VSP and I get 25 – 100 back every other year on a frame. It stinks….I don’t understand why vision isn’t covered under medical. It is like teeth and hearing. It makes no sense that these things are excluded from most plans. I can find out that I can’t see or hear, but then my insurance won’t cover the corrective device to fix the problem.

  26. Rhett – did you see the article in the NY Times about Imposing a Speed Limit on the Autobahn? According to the article, it’s the one place that highly regulated Germans can have absolute freedom. An excerpt:

    The experiment gave birth to the “Freie Fahrt für freie Bürger!” campaign — or “Freedom to drive for free citizens!” — the car lobby’s most powerful slogan to this day, and one used by political parties and car companies alike, a sort of unwritten second amendment.

    “It’s all about freedom,” said John C. Kornblum, a former United States ambassador to Germany, who first arrived here in the 1960s, and has been living (and driving) here on and off ever since.

    “In that sense it really is like gun control,” Mr. Kornblum added, albeit with far fewer deaths. “All the rational arguments are there, but there is barely any point in having a rational debate.”

  27. Waiting for the walk sign has been my experience in Portland, OR. Oh, and Oregon has a state law that if anyone is in the crosswalk you have to stop…even if the walker is in the wrong. Last year when I was in Bend, twice I had a car stop midway in right turn, roll down their window and apologize for going through, because they didn’t see me. Both times I had just stepped into the crosswalk on the other side of the road, nowhere near the car.

    DD – I think it is great that you continue to coach teams that your children are not now. Finding coaches or leaders for club events (like girl scouts) is so hard.

  28. NoB – people used to make comments about jaywalking (and lack thereof) in Seattle. Seattle was heavily populated with Scandinavians and I think that influenced the culture here.

  29. “Or my personal favorite – no one ever has gotten out of their seat before the plane has come to a complete stop and the pilot has turned off the seatbelt sign. ”

    We did this once because one of the kids (around age 5 or 6) had to use the bathroom. The flight attendant was NOT pleased.

  30. I was just at my DD’s school for a concert. The concert started one hour before school got out and already parents were lining up at the pickup line. I’m always amazed to see parents come an hour before they need to be there, so that their kid can be one of the first to leave. I rarely do school pickup, but the times that I have I have gotten there right when school got out and was out of the parking lot in less than 5 minutes.

    Now for the concert, before it began they told the parents that for anyone who parked in a certain area of the parking lot, the buses will be coming in when the concert gets out, so you’ll have to wait until the buses have left to get out (there is no way to get around the buses in this section). So what happens? I see four cars that backed out and were stuck behind buses, that will be there for another 25 minutes until they are loaded up. The principal was out there yelling at them to move back into the spots and wait. Again, I’m amazed at the sense of entitlement to do what they want or just plain lack of awareness that their car is actually blocking buses.

  31. Norway: Pedestrians would always — always — wait for the “walk” sign to illuminate before staring to walk across a crosswalk.

    Toronto, too. When we were there a couple of years ago we jaywalked across a street devoid of traffic while the “wait” light was illuminated. The locals were aghast!

  32. it’s the one place that highly regulated Germans can have absolute freedom

    But they only have the freedom because everyone follows the rules. Everyone’s hands are at 10 and 2. The left lane is for passing only. If you’re driving in the left lane with your left blinker on it means you’re doing a high speed run so get the fuck out of the way.

  33. Germans never ever jaywalk either. But in addition to culture their is also a legal reason. In the US, if you come upon a jaywalker, you’re obligated to try and not hit them. In Germany you have no obligation to avoid them.

  34. DD, I understand why you might be inclined to take it personally, but the chances of it having anything to do with you are slim. Softball for girls under 10 is tough. There are going to be a few kids who are good at it and want to continue, a few who are “meh” and a few who do it only because their friends play. And we can’t forget the occasional kid who is there because her parents think it will be good for her to have a physical activity and she thinks she’d be happy at home reading a book.

    Unless a kid is in the ‘love it’ category, you can have a hart time convincing them to stay. Softball is boring at that age.They might love it at the high school level, but they get soured to the sport long before that.

  35. My brother from the UK was agasht that some cars didn’t have their taillights on and we were driving on the highway in the middle of a thunderstorm with very poor visibility. In general he noticed that here we had more onus on the drivers to drive safely than many rules which were highly enforced e.g. driving above the speed limit but not speeding, going through yellow at a stop light. We are more aware of the personal liability and so the risk and consequences are ours to face if we end up in an accident.

  36. When we were in Melbourne a few years ago, the city was in the midst of a safety campaign, complete with chants of “heads up, phones down!” at major pedestrian intersections. But we never encountered this:

    “In 2016, in-ground lights were installed at busy intersections in Sydney and Melbourne to stop mobile-phone zombies walking into oncoming traffic. This followed efforts of other major cities in regard to the same problem, such as Paris. After the deaths and injuries of 4500 pedestrians in traffic crashes in one year alone, the Road Safety Authority of Paris introduced a Virtual Crash Billboard at some of its danger hot spots.

    When a pedestrian crosses while a light is red and a “billboard” present, the screeching sound of a car braking to avoid impact is heard and a photo of the jaywalker’s reaction taken. These photos of pure terror are then displayed on billboards all over the city as a deterrent to others.” https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/the-jaywalking-phone-zombie-plague-is-completely-out-of-control-20180511-p4zenj.html

    The author of that piece connected cellphone zombies with an entitlement culture, which makes sense when you think about it.

  37. I also spent some time in Japan circa 1990. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but back then, many stores would display all kinds of goods outdoors, with no one watching the outdoor displays. There was a convenience store near my little apartment that had all kinds of little toiletries displayed, unattended, outside — tubes of toothpaste, bars of soap, and the like. If you wanted to buy something, you took it inside the store to pay the clerk. I would look at those displays in amazement, and think to myself, if this was the US, that stuff would all be stolen within about 60 seconds.

  38. “Pedestrians would always — always — wait for the “walk” sign to illuminate before staring to walk across a crosswalk.”

    After spending some time in your neck of the woods, I can see why that would surprise you. The regional influence is turning DS into a scofflaw.

  39. “I’m always amazed to see parents come an hour before they need to be there, so that their kid can be one of the first to leave.”

    At my kids’ school, the early arrivers comprise a group of grandparents that socialize while they’re waiting. They’re typically in no rush to leave.

  40. Finn, it was 11 degrees and currently in a winter weather warning (6 inches of snow falling). No one was socializing. Just sitting in their cars.

  41. ” but I have to say it hurts a bit.”

    I can see how you feel that way, but I’m sure it’s not about you, especially given the nice note you got from the one set of parents.

    I know that completely, and I’m not taking it personally. It’s more a feeling of disappointment because I was really looking forward to coaching them again.

    DD – I think it is great that you continue to coach teams that your children are not now. Finding coaches or leaders for club events (like girl scouts) is so hard.

    Thanks Lemon! I think I had more fun last season than the girls did :)

    Softball for girls under 10 is tough. There are going to be a few kids who are good at it and want to continue, a few who are “meh” and a few who do it only because their friends play.

    I know – they all have perfectly good reasons for moving on and I totally understand. But I’m sure if they have an 8U team for me, I’ll have just as much with another great group of kids.

    Is Costco membership worth it for travel discounts? Or other types of discounts? I’ve heard eyeglasses are a good value there.

    I’ve posted previously that I tried buying lenses there once to save some money and they were total crap. It was not worth the savings at all.

    The concert started one hour before school got out and already parents were lining up at the pickup line.

    They do that at our old school. The car line is a nightmare, but is it really worth sitting in your car for an hour to save 20 minutes?

  42. I don’t do carpool at my kids school so the rare occasion where I have to do it, I have a bit of anxiety. The other parents are pros with well honed carpool strategies so if you mess up, it’s silent peer judgment. Kids school entrances are off busy roads so there is usually a policeman ensuring that traffic flows smoothly.

  43. This won’t suprise any of us Totebaggers, but research shows that helicopter parenting works. And also increases inequality.

  44. I am a Costco devotee, but I wouldn’t join just for the travel discounts. They aren’t that great – not worth the membership price. As a member though, I often find good deals there. Same with the other home services – window treatments, HVAC, etc. For all of those – it is the time savings too. I know that if I book via Costco that the quality & price is good without putting in a lot of legwork.

  45. Dr. Doepke and Dr. Zilibotti can’t prove causality (to do that, you’d have to randomly assign parenting styles to different families).

    Uh huh….

    I was struck by something I read and posted a few days ago. I think everyone would agree that growing up in a home with an alcaholic parent increase ones risk of alcaholism. But when the look at children of alcaholics raised by their alcaholic parents or adopted at birth the kid’s risk of alcoholism as an adult is exactly the same.

    From what we know, the most likely explanation is that helicopter parenting isn’t a cause, it’s a symptom of the underlying heritable traits.

  46. Regarding cellphone zombies, I know a girl who got a really bad concussion/head injury by falling when walking across a street looking at her cellphone instead of her surroundings. She had to take short term disability as she could not do her job (dealing with procurement) and couldn’t watch much TV or be around too many people (too stimulating). She admits it was totally her fault, but said the recovery was miserably boring. Makes me pay more attention.

  47. Upper middle class parents have always done what was necessary to help their kids succeed. “Necessary” changes over time.

  48. Regarding cellphone zombies,

    I’d really to escape it for a little while. Even a few years ago if you want to Europe the cell phone rates were so high you’d just turn it off. But now whenever you go – boat, plane, foreign country it’s always there. Maybe one of those off the grid Island Hunters type places.

  49. July, IIRC you can shop for travel through Costco without membership. If you see something you think is worth it, you can join then.

    IME, there’s usually some sort of extra(s) thrown in when arranging travel through Costco. E.g., when we rented cars through them, an additional driver was included, and when we bought a Disneyland package, it included early entry to the park.

    We used to get glasses from Costco, but lately we’ve been getting them from Zenni for much less, although we do miss being able to actually try on frames. We still buy our contacts from Costco; we’ve not found better prices elsewhere, and for us it’s convenient since we shop there regularly anyway.

    We may buy our next car through Costco.

  50. “I never perceived the mainland US world as orderly and rule following.”

    IME, US drivers are orderly and rule following compared to drivers in the other countries I’ve visited, except Singapore.

  51. “I know that if I book via Costco that the quality & price is good without putting in a lot of legwork.”

    I like to get things through Costco’s, and Home Depot’s, third party providers because I think those providers have more to lose if they screw up or don’t provide good service. I can go back to Costco or HD and complain and/or ask for my money back, and my guess is those providers don’t want to lose the business they get through Costco/HD.

  52. “I think a lot of people break rules of politeness and good manners out of laziness.”

    Don’t forget cluelessness and self-centeredness.

    I think the latter is consistent with jerkiness.

  53. I have many friends that get to school early because they don’t have any other place to go, and it is just more efficient to sit in the school parking lot vs. driving around. I used to do this once in a while at the middle school if I had a conference call. I could just sit in the parking lot and I know the call won’t drop due to poor service. I can also log into wifi on my laptop and be on the phone in a quiet, safe place. We only form lines to join the exit queue once our kid leaves school. It doesn’t help anyone get out because they have to wait for their kids to leave school and get in the car. NY state has idling laws, and our schools have also asked parents to try to turn their cars off if they are sitting in school parking lots. I try to avoid getting there early if it is hot because it gets so nasty without A/C.

    There used to be A LOT of rule breakers at morning drop off at all 3 of our schools. This includes parents that drove in the outbound lanes, used bus lanes for drop off, cut off buses, went through stop signs etc. One of the nice benefits of all of the increased security for school shootings is the number of cameras on school property. The administrators at all of our schools have video of these cars and license plates. It is so much easier now for them to deal with these parents that think they are only ones that have to catch a train.

  54. As sad situation with schools being under security is, I like that it can be used as an reason by the administrators to curb parental access at my kids elementary school. It was out of control, with parents there at drop off, volunteering, lunch, pick up almost the whole day.
    Here rule breaking at carpool is in check due to police presence. The cops will blow their whistle, draw attention and make you get in line.

  55. My favorite quote from the Enquirer/Bezos battle.

    Mr. Bezos said he had asked Mr. de Becker “to proceed with whatever budget he needed.”

  56. PSA: Oreo’s Dark Chocolate. And add a little peanut butter. Better than Reese’s candy imo.

  57. Sorry that I started the conversation yesterday and then had got wrapped up in a work “emergency”.

  58. Two packages of dark chocolate Oreos entered my home on Thursday. I “had” to buy 2 to get the sale price. They’re really good.

    Other favorite cookie is Tates. BTW, these cookies are much cheaper at Costco.

  59. [baking snob disclaimer] I don’t like most commercial cookies. Exceptions (1) oreos (2) milanos, regular, mint, or dark, but not the raspberry or milk (abomination). I’ll have to try the dark chocolate oreos!

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