The rural poor

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

I think this article is interesting, but I can’t decide if it’s too political. I have a bad feeling it might be. It’s from the Wall Street Journal, but I’ve saved it to my Google Drive so that it’s accessible.

STRUGGLING AMERICANS ONCE SOUGHT GREENER PASTURES—NOW THEY’RE STUCK

It’s about how the rural poor aren’t migrating to where the jobs are anymore. They’re too comfortable where they are, and yet they have no prospects where they are. It’s a far cry from earlier generations who just got up and moved. They fear immigrants are taking their jobs, and yet immigrants are the ones leaving everything they know and coming to the cities. It’s a difficult situation to resolve.

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Wellness

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

We often talk on the blog about health care policy, health insurance, death panels, Medicaid, etc. But at the Totebag end of the spectrum, there’s the wellness phenomenon.

The Wellness Epidemic

Do you follow any wellness practices or protocols? I’m unlikely to steam my vagina (sorry, Gwyneth) but I take some vitamins and do yoga. How about you?

Movie recommendations

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

I just finally got around to seeing “Date Night” with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. It was really cute, and it moved right along. There wasn’t too much embarrassment humor ( I HATE embarrassment humor) and really, you could watch it with kids over the age of 10 without too much cringing.

I do love a good romcom, and by “good”, I mean not sappy or horrifying or grotesquely embarrassing.

I guess some of my other romcom go-tos include “L.A. Story”, “It Happened One Night”, and “Philadelphia Story”. I think I have “Philadelphia Story” memorized.

What are your movie recommendations? What genres are your go-tos? What
have you seen lately that you recommend?

Breaking survivalist stereoptypes

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

This article interested me because I have survivalist tendencies. I don’t have the proverbial snowball’s chance of ever actually surviving any natural or man-made disaster, but I look at the big tubs of freeze-dried food from Costco, and wonder vaguely about acquiring some more gold, and just generally spiral down into wondering if I should develop an arsenal and start making hundreds of pounds of jerky in my neglected dehydrator.

DOOMSDAY PREP FOR THE SUPER-RICH

Respectful disagreements

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Recently I’ve come across two articles about how to communicate with / persuade people who disagree with you.

The first is from the Harvard Business Review, written by Deepak Malhotra, who has a book about negotiating in impossible circumstances. He suggests finding ways to let your opponent save face, and to find ways to include them in your tent.

How to Build an Exit Ramp for Trump Supporters

The second is by Daniel Dennett, who is a big shot in the philosophy world. This one is more about how to argue with people so that you can actually make some progress down a given intellectual path. Believe me, most philosophers don’t follow this approach, but they probably should.

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently

I freely admit that I’m not very good at following any of these rules unless someone is paying me to do so. Totebaggers, what do you think of the advice from Malhotra and Dennett?

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?

Caught between two countries

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

A certain well-received novelist has written this essay about feeling
caught between two countries:

A writer with two countries

I’m very clearly USAn. I use that instead of “American” because I get
yelled at by my Canadian friends if I say “American”. I’ve lived in
California, North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, and Colorado.
But I feel like either a Californian or a Westerner. The whole gun
control debate doesn’t hit me the same way it hits East Coast folks.
(Yes, gun violence is bad. I’m against it. But I don’t have the same
revulsion to guns that East Coast people seem to have). I don’t know as
much about Colonial history as my East Coast friends, but I can tell you
a lot about Junipero Serra and SIr Francis Drake and the 1906 SF
earthquake, and my mom’s wedding ring was made out of a gold nugget that
was dug up by one of my dad’s 49er ancestors.

Do you feel fully USAn, or do you have a more regional alliance? Are you
a Southerner, an East Coast elite, or something else entirely?

Big Data keeps tabs on college students

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Institutions collect startling amounts of information on students. Do the students have a right to know how it’s being used, and should they be able to opt out?

As Big Data Comes to College, Officials Wrestle to Set New Ethical Norms – The Chronicle of Higher Education

[The linked article is behind a paywall, but here’s a PDF that will stay posted for a limited time.]

20160710.As Big Data Comes to College, Officials Wrestle to Set New Ethical Norms – The Chronicle of Higher Education (1)

Smug style?

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

The smug style in American liberalism

I don’t agree with everything in this long essay, but some of it rings true. I take the author’s point about boycotting Indiana over the marriage equality issue but failing to boycott over the failure-to-expand Medicaid issue. “But few opinion makers fraternize with the impoverished”. I don’t know if that’s true. I do fraternize with the impoverished, and I’m usually horrified at how racist and reactionary they are, but I try not to be condescending about it and I try to figure out where they’re coming from. I don’t always succeed.

Your smart home

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Amazon Wants Alexa to Take Control of Your Smart Home

I was thinking, “Good thing I have a dumb home.” Then I realized that my
sous vide talks to my phone, and my phone talks to Alexa, so probably
Alexa and my phone gossip about the sous vide. Never mind the horror
stories about the smart houses taking over and killing us. I expect that
the Internet of Things will form cliques, unfriend each other on
Facebook, ditch each other right before prom, cry a lot, and refuse to
cooperate on group projects.

Oh, and my phone answers the doorbell, so who knows who they’re letting
in for parties while I’m out?

Totebaggers, how smart is your house? How smart do you want it to be?

Cliques, social groups, and popular kids

Today we have two posts on similar topics

Cliques and social groups

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Grace:  Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.


I had an interesting discussion with some online friends the other day. In my high school, the social groupings were very much like the scene above from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Well, not quite, but we had the rah-rahs, the jocks, the jockettes, the nerds (represent!), the burnouts, the Beautiful People, the Jesus Freaks, the stoners, the Band Geeks, and more that I’m probably forgetting.

My friend from Florida: “Are you crazy? We had three groups. The whites, the blacks, and the Cubans. That’s it”
My friend from rural Ontario, Canada: “We didn’t have social groups. We were all rural Canadians.”

And I kind of get that. At Paly in my day, we had a black kid. Her name was Cammie. She didn’t really count as a social group, though. So the many, many white kids all subdivided ourselves into the groups I mentioned.

Do your kids go to a school with many different social groups, or are they mostly divided by race? By rural/urban? Something else? What about your high school?

*********

Popular kids

by Louise

Recent posts from Totebaggers have described taking action against bullies. My kids are now navigating through the tween years where kids split into groups. I would describe my kids as being in the middle – generally getting along with everyone. Do you see a change from when you went to school ? Have the anti bullying and respect for different types of kids programs worked ? If you could go back what would you do differently ?

Popular Kids

The eyes have it

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

What Google Learned from Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

This is a long article about which work teams are successful, and why.
It has a lot to do with the soft skills of being able to read others’
facial expressions and body language and respond to those. I think there
are parallels for families, too. Do the conclusions seem correct to
you, Totebaggers?

All the single ladies

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

The Single American Woman

This is a long article about the influence of single women on the
political scene. On the Totebag we have several members who hold strong
opinions about single mothers, for example. This article addresses why
remaining single often seems to be in women’s self-interest. It looks at
affluent single women as well as lower-income women. Totebaggers, if you
found yourself single tomorrow, would you look for another partner? Or
would you say “BTDT” and forge ahead independently?