Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day.

I’ve seen quite a bit of social media discussion generated by this article.  It’s a topic we’ve discussed here a time or two.

Daniela Jampel and Matthew Schneid met in college at Cornell, and both later earned law degrees. They both got jobs at big law firms, the kind that reward people who make partner with seven-figure pay packages.

One marriage and 10 years later, she works 21 hours a week as a lawyer for New York City, a job that enables her to spend two days a week at home with their children, ages 5 and 1, and to shuffle her hours if something urgent comes up. He’s a partner at a midsize law firm and works 60-hour weeks — up to 80 if he’s closing a big deal — and is on call nights and weekends. He earns four to six times what she does, depending on the year.

It isn’t the way they’d imagined splitting the breadwinning and the caregiving. But he’s been able to be so financially successful in part because of her flexibility, they said. “I’m here if he needs to work late or go out with clients,” Ms. Jampel said. “Snow days are not an issue. I do all the doctor appointments on my days off. Really, the benefit is he doesn’t have to think about it. If he has to work late or on weekends, he’s not like, ‘Oh my gosh, who’s going to watch the children?’ The thought never crosses his mind.”…

For Ms. Jampel and Mr. Schneid, both 35, two more equal and less time-intensive jobs weren’t an option, they said. For one, they’re hard to find in corporate law: “At the end of the day, these jobs are client service jobs, so if you’re not responding to your clients, someone else might be more responsive to them,” said Mr. Schneid, who does commercial real estate law.

Also, they would be leaving money on the table — both now and later, because by putting in long hours now, he’s setting himself up for higher future earnings. If he had a 40-hour-a-week job and she had her current half-time job, they would be working 60 hours a week total — but earning significantly less than he now earns working 60 hours, they said.

They’d be earning significantly less and living a more harried life, with daily juggling of child and home issues.  I’ve also seen this in couples with jobs in other fields.  For example, the plumbing contractor works long and unpredictable hours while his teacher wife works a routine schedule that means she handles most of the childcare.  The article seeks a solution to this so-called problem, but some families don’t see this situation as a problem but rather an option that works fine for them.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Feeling middle class  (AustinMom)
Thursday  — How I lost my cellphone  (Swim)
Friday  —  Never did it (Sheep Farmer)
Sunday —  Politics open thread


Meal kits

by Rhode

Are meal kits the saving grace for high-quality home-cooked meals AND the environment?

Meal Kits Have A Smaller Carbon Footprint Than Grocery Shopping, Study Says

I guess that depends…

Results suggest that meal kits’ streamlined and direct-to-consumer supply chains (-1.05 kg CO2e/meal), reduced food waste (-0.86 kg CO2e/meal), and lower last-mile transportation emissions (-0.45 kg CO2e/meal), appear to be sufficient to offset observed increases in packaging (0.17 kg CO2e/meal). Additionally, meal kit refrigeration packs present an average emissions decrease compared with retail refrigeration (-0.37 kg CO2e/meal). Meals with the largest environmental impact either contain red meat or are associated with large amounts of wasted food. The one meal kit with higher emissions is due to food mass differences rather than supply chain logistics.

Comparison of Life Cycle Environmental Impacts from Meal Kits and Grocery Store Meals

Real estate topics

by July

When the housing crisis hit in 2007, they thought their time to buy had come. They bought a condo in the Fontainebleau, a resort in Miami Beach, in 2010, after prices had bottomed out, paying 60 percent less than it had sold for two years earlier. The condo has since doubled in value.

In hindsight I regret not snapping up a distressed Miami condo back a few years ago as recommended by more than one person I know.  What about you?  Have you had success in real estate investing?  Or, are you just not interested?  Or, like me, have you had a bad experience that soured you on that sector?

What’s your take on this?

A Growing Problem in Real Estate:  Too Many Too Big Houses – WSJ

Uncertainties are a sure thing

by S&M

I thought this was fascinating. It’s only about one set of words, but it’s a set I was fairly certain I could use precisely. I believe you also are likely to feel you know just what’s being communicated with them.

Measuring Perceptions of Uncertainty

What is the difference between an event that is probable and one that is highly likely?

The two terms seem mostly interchangeable, but each individual’s interpretation is actually highly subjective. That means that when stakes are high, such as for the intelligence community or for high-ranking government officials, a slight misinterpretation in the meaning of these phrases could be a matter of life and death.

Another area where such differences in definitions crops up is in colors; one person’s tomato red is another person’s orange, and is that indigo or deep blue? Is “berry” one color or a range?

One more that I’ve run into recently is “usually”. When someone tells me this is the way things “usually” go, my expectation is that they are about to introduce an exception. That turns out not to be true. Any time I’ve been confused by this has not ended well for me. Those people who use “usually” to mean “always, it is a hard and fast rule that cannot be abrogated for any reason” are offended when I take their “usually” to mean “not always” and find questions about the exceptions offensive. I believe this tendency is stronger in Southerners, with that genteel fear of saying exactly what one means, and expectation that others will infer meaning.

Where have you run into differing understandings of words in languages you speak well, how did you learn the other person did not mean what you thought they meant, and how was it resolved?

Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day.

Pick one.

As of earlier this morning we had no submitted posts in the pipeline except for those listed below.  I encourage you all to send in topics otherwise we’ll be seeing more open threads coming up.  That could work, too.  But if you have topics you’d like to see posted, send them in or put them in the comments here.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Uncertainties are a sure thing (S&M)
Thursday  —  Open thread
Friday  —  Real estate topics  (July)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

Politics open thread, April 21-27

Any political comments?

Two Universes, One Report
The release of Robert Mueller’s findings was a choose-your-own-adventure moment for political punditry.

From the moment the 448-page document was published, two separate news universes took shape. In one, the special counsel’s report was presented as a smoking-gun chronicle of high crimes and misdemeanors. In the other, it was heralded as a credibility-shredding blow to the president’s opponents.

Decade by decade

by July

This writer had an unusual way of commemorating her 30th birthday.

My 20s passed away Thursday morning at their home in Brooklyn. It has been confirmed that they expired after a lengthy battle with expectations. At the time of their departure, they had just turned 10 years old.

My 20s are best known for creating, producing and distributing panic attacks. Although most episodes of my 20s’ panic attacks were centered on career issues, several of the most attention-grabbing installments were stand-alone: They include such classics as “Casual Sex,” “Could Be Doing More to Save Democracy” and, of course, the annual holiday episode, “Immediate Family.”…

The final hours of my 20s were spent in the presence of dear platonic friends. At the time of passing, there was singing. One friend described the gathering as “kind of like a celebration.”

My 20s are survived by my 30s, who ask for privacy at this time.

Here’s another article marking the end of a “period” in the author’s life.


How would you characterize your 20s or other decades you’ve lived?  How do you remember the expectations, relationships, and goals of your past when compared to today?  Highs and lows?  Do the stages of your life have definitive themes or do they all meld together?  Do you miss aspects of some decades, or do you wish them “good riddance!”  Would you like a redo for some years?  No need to try to be clever like the linked essays, but you can write obituaries if you’d like or just simply reflect on olden days.

D&D is what our kids need

by MooshiMooshi

My kids are dedicated D&D players and have been for years. I’ve come to appreciate how important it is in their lives, and the way it allows them to form close bonds with a small group of friends in this era of Instagram and selfies. We host a weekly D&D session which has persisted for a year and a half now. The kids who come are not the socially awkward geeks of Stranger Things. They are the cool artsy kids, the kids who do drama and AP art and play in rock bands. The session goes on for 3 to 4 hours, with the kids all gathered around our dining room table. It sounds like the Superbowl every week, with the kids hooting and cheering loudly (and using a certain amount of bad language). After it is done, my kid sits with a few of them for a while longer, or they walk up and down the sidewalk outside, discussing religion and art and politics, as well as school gossip.

Both kids participate in another D&D session, which started about 3 years ago. Most of the kids have gone on to college, but every week they do their session, using Google Hangouts. This one is more subdued, but the kids are absolutely dedicated to it.

I just missed D&D myself. We had role playing games in college and I loved doing them, but my high school years were just a bit before D&D, and it wasn’t a thing at my university either. The next generation in our family, the ones who are in their 40’s now, played and still reminisce wistfully about those days. But I think it is even more important for today’s teen players, since it is one of the few activities left in which kids meet up face to face and talk to each other

This is a great OpEd from the NYTimes that expresses exactly what I have seen. I also think it is funny that an activity that was heavily criticized as leading kids into Gothdom and doom and Satanism back in the 80’s is now seen as a salvation from the doom of social media.

How do your kids engage with each other face to face? Do they have activities that encourage them to get off their phones and talk?

Politics open thread, April 14-20

Welcome to our weekly politics discussion.

From WCE:

I was reading about Buttigieg and thinking about how the Democrats would likely win the election with a Rust Belt candidate. That led me to this article about the challenges of declining moderate-sized cities.

My favorite quote about per capita GDP explains why the education systems and social support of wealthy cities like Seattle and Boston are not economically feasible in cities like Michigan City and Saginaw.

I’ll remind the regulars of previous discussions about the importance of winning the geographic lottery at birth, which means living in a place where being well-educated lets you get a good job. If being well-educated doesn’t get you a better job, you just have a pile of student loan debt unless you move to where the jobs are.

Gross Domestic Product. In addition to weak growth, or even decline, in population and jobs, left-behind metro areas also have lower-value economies than average. Only two of the 48—Trenton, New Jersey, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania—had a real per-capita GDP greater than the 2017 U.S. average, $52,273; and 31 had a real per-capita GDP below $40,000 per year. By contrast, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (Washington) had a real per-capita GDP of $80,833, and Boston-Cambridge-Newton (Massachusetts/New Hampshire) had a real per-capita GDP of $78,465.

How Stagnating Cities Can Prepare for the Future

Your first apartment

by July

What was your first apartment like?  Bare bones or tastefully furnished?  What about your college dorm experience?  Your first home, with or without a partner?  Did you get help from parents or from others?  For those with adult children, what has been their experience?  Give us details.  Any lessons learned or regrets?

Does this look familiar to anyone?


by S&M

Now that we’ve all presumably adjusted to Daylight Savings Time, I thought this might be interesting.

I’ve always said that I’m a morning person, when I’m awake for it. Forcing myself to get up early generally backfires just as described here, but when I get enough rest and get up with my natural rhythm, morning is my best work time. Early evening is a distant second. That’s always been true. Equally true is that naps for me are 15-30 minutes long. Even if we both stay up late and both are really tired, my son knows that the next day, I’m likely to stick to that length of time for a nap, while his stretch to 3 hours, easily. Skipping my nap often makes it hard for me to sleep at night—I wake up after half an hour, and can’t really fall back asleep for 1 or 2 more hours.

One thing this skips over that I think is important is the assumption about how much sleep we need. I recall a prof from grad school who routinely was awake well after midnight and awake before 6. Any more sleep than that made him groggy, he said. Between that and being single and childless, he had many more productive hours than most people do.

Have you ever tried to reset your sleep schedule? Why, and how did it go?

Is the 5 a.m. Club the Worst Idea Ever? Read This to Find Out

Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread today.  What’s on your mind?

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  Sleep  (S&M)
Thursday  —  Open thread
Friday  —  Your first apartment  (July)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

Growth mindset theory

by WCE

On growth mindset, favorite quotes:

An enduring criticism of growth mindset theory is that it underestimates the importance of innate ability, specifically intelligence. If one student is playing with a weaker hand, is it fair to tell the student that she is just not making enough effort? Growth mindset – like its educational-psychology cousin ‘grit’ – can have the unintended consequence of making students feel responsible for things that are not under their control: that their lack of success is a failure of moral character. This goes well beyond questions of innate ability to the effects of marginalisation, poverty and other socioeconomic disadvantage. For the US psychiatrist Scott Alexander, if a fixed mindset accounts for underachievement, then ‘poor kids seem to be putting in a heck of a lot less effort in a surprisingly linear way’. He sees growth mindset as a ‘noble lie’, and notes that saying to kids that a growth mindset accounts for success is not exactly denying reality so much as ‘selectively emphasising certain parts of’ it.

and on the importance of understanding the direction of causality:

In their book Effective Teaching (2011), the UK education scholars Daniel Muijs and David Reynolds note: ‘At the end of the day, the research reviewed has shown that the effect of achievement on self-concept is stronger that the effect of self-concept on achievement.

The growth mindset problem
A generation of schoolchildren is being exhorted to believe in their brain’s elasticity. Does it really help them learn?

Bad news and good news

by Swim

Friday fun topic: The bad news is _______. The good news is _______.

The bad news is the freezer isn’t keeping things completely frozen. The good news is the ice cream is *perfect*, no need to wait for it to melt a bit before eating.

We’ve all had one of these happen at some point. What was your silver lining?

Cultivating a look

by July

Elizabeth Holmes used a deep voice (fake by many accounts), black turtlenecks, and blonde hair to cultivate a look that helped as she guided her company Theranos to a meteoric rise and later disastrous fall.  She’s now facing federal criminal charges that she tried to defraud investors and patients.

Even if you’ve never achieved the “success” and failure of Holmes, can you relate to cultivating a particular look, either for business or pleasure? Have you ever tried to make your voice sound deeper and more authoritative?  Do you have a clothing style or uniform that you consistently wear?  Have you colored your hair?  This may seem more geared to women, but men also frequently try to build a certain image in the way they dress or behave.

Anything else you find particularly fascinating about the Theranos story?

Elizabeth Holmes’ Baritone

Why the Black Turtleneck Was So Important to Elizabeth Holmes’s Image
It has a long and symbolic history.

Why we care so much about Elizabeth Holmes’s “bad hair”
It’d be easy to believe that the Theranos founder’s split ends were part of the scam. But there’s a simpler answer.

It might not be a leap, then, to suggest that Holmes’s hair was just another calculated component of her aesthetic. It is, of course, dyed blonde, an unexceptional quality for an American white woman to have, but made slightly more exceptional when noting that while just 2 percent of the population has naturally blonde hair, 48 percent of female CEOs at S&P 500 companies do, which could have been Holmes’s way, conscious or otherwise, of attempting to become one of them.

Young people are not forming romantic relationships

by MooshiMooshi

This study found that 51% of people between 18 and 32 do not have a steady romantic partner.

Just over half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 — 51 percent of them — said they do not have a steady romantic partner, according to data from the General Social Survey released this week. That 2018 figure is up significantly from 33 percent in 2004 — the lowest figure since the question was first asked in 1986 — and up slightly from 45 percent in 2016. The shift has helped drive singledom to a record high among the overall public, among whom 35 percent say they have no steady partner, but only up slightly from 33 percent in 2016 and 2014.

My just turned 19 year old has never dated, and since he attends a school where women are distinctly in the minority, he doesn’t have a ton of current prospects. My 17 year old also has never dated. Their friends don’t seem to date very much either. However, my 12 year old reports something that is new to me – the girls are dating – each other!! They talk about their dates and snuggling and have one month and two month anniversaries. And it seems to involve a lot of the girls. Are they all going LBGTQ+, or is this just innocent practice for the future?

The article mentions people trying to find partners through online platforms and apps. I personally think that is a big part of the problem. Young people increasingly live their lives online and don’t get together face to face all that often. And when they do, they spend a lot of the time peering at each others phones. I just don’t think it is a way to form the kind of deep bonds that lead to romance. Thoughts?