Dudes, check out these Links (Love)

IO9 with some cross-national differences in math abilities across genders.  Hint:  it’s probably culture.

We live in a wonderful country with wonderful food, via Scalzi.

The blog that ate manhattan with a commentary on product placement for birth control in a reality show.

A great post from a gai shan life on poverty… I guess one of these Mondays I’ll post up about Moral Hazard.  Also type 1 vs. type 2 error.

Want some great suggestions for sci-fi reading and also maybe a little bit of patriarchy-blaming?  Look at this comment thread (the thread is dead but still a good resource).

Also, we say again that octopodes are cool.

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance.

Google questions answered

Q:  how can you pay off credit card debt without getting a second job

A:  Cut expenses.

Q:  careerhow to have kids in acadimia

A:  Just don’t.  Neither the kids nor especially the academia.  Especially not the academia.

Q:  who are mothers

A:  Ooh ooh, I know this one.  To quote Free to Be You and Me.  “Mothers are women, women with children.”  They can be almost anything, but they cannot be fathers (barring hermaphrodites, and assuming that transsexuals are only one sex at a time).

Q: can i eat colby jack cheese if i’m allergice to cow’s milk?

A:  What?  No!  How did you survive long enough to be able to use the internet on your own?  (Now, if you’re just lactose intolerant, you’ll have to try it and see what happens.)

Q:  is it a sin that people are starving and yet we are wasting

A:  If I recall my Catholic indoctrination training, yes, it is a sin of omission.  We are all sinners because we cannot save the world and many of us are too lazy to try.  We should probably try a little harder than we do, but perhaps not so hard as we think we ought.

Q:  am i famous on the internet yet?

A:  Not yet.

Q:  who should i ask to buy stuff from my fundraiser

A:  Not us!

Q:  can i eat sharp humbolt cheese while pregnant

A:  probably not, for the same reason you should avoid brie and other soft raw milk cheeses– if you get food poisoning that’s dangerous.  You can eat it if it has been cooked extensively first to kill any potential pathogens.

Q:  do you cancel teaching when you’re sick?

A:  So far, no.

Q:  do leftovers from night before keep for packed lunches next day if not heated

A:  We don’t want to get sued, so we’ll say, “When in doubt, throw it out.”  Obviously different kinds of leftovers are going to make better packed lunches than others.  We do not recommend sushi, for example.  Pancakes are probably fine.  But always, be careful.

Q:  can we use the same dataset to publish different papers

A:  Of course!  So long as the questions and answers are different than your previously published papers.  Otherwise only one paper would ever be allowed to be published using say, the census, and that would be silly.

Q: should i tell my mom i have twitter?

A: Not unless you remove that link to the picture of your junk first. Actually, do that anyway. Nobody wants to see it.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 9 Comments »

Words for pee

I have to pee a lot these days.  Before I had a kid, or rather, before we started potty-training, if I had to leave a meeting early or something at work to use the restroom (if looked askance), I would say, “I had/need to use the restroom.”  Then came potty training and a lot more comfort with bodily functions, and I say, “I gotta/hadta pee,” or occasionally, “I haveta go potty.”  Which is silly and unprofessional, but pretty much all my colleagues are at that point as well.

Back in college, I would say, “I must needs micturate” because in college one can say things like that.

Growing up, we would use the euphemisms “big” and “little” for #2 and #1 respectively.   DH’s family uses the standard poo and pee so we went with that.  My grandma would always talk about her dogs widdling (whereas our cat “used the litterbox.”)

Here are some options from #2:

wee wee
golden showers

What words do you use for pee?  Have they changed throughout your life?

Men: You are allowed to be feminists at Grumpy Rumblings

I guess that goes for our two male readers….

But if you believe in equality between the sexes, you may call yourself a feminist.

If you believe that society is structured in a way that favors white men, and you want that to change, then you may call yourself a feminist.

Of course, just thinking these things isn’t enough, we also expect you to *act* like a feminist.  (You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.)  Do at least half the chores if you’re partnered, listen to women at meetings and say things like, “Yes, that was the point Mary was just making” when a woman is talked over, question when women are automatically passed over in hiring “let’s look at this cv again,” and so on.  Be on the look out for systems that encourage disparities and work to change them.  There are many things you can do and may ways you can prove your feminist bonafides; be open to learning about what they are.

But if some crazy nutjob on the internet tells you that because you have a Y chromosome, you’re not allowed to be a card-carrying feminist… well, that’s just that crazy nutjob’s opinion.  The nutjob may say (s)he speaks for all women, but (s)he doesn’t.  She will also attack any woman who disagrees with her by telling her that she has too much privilege to speak on the subject, despite having breasts and no Y chromosome.  Just smile and disengage, but keep doing your good work and strive to do better.

Those of us who aren’t nutjobs appreciate it.  There’s a long way to go, and we need your help too.

p.s.  We would tag this post “debatable” except… it really isn’t.  We’re providing a definition for our blog.  Definitions, are, by definition, not debatable.

Yet another “levels of personal finance”

JD talks about the stages of personal finance:
1. learning the basics
2. practicing the basics
3. what next?
4. financial independence

A lot of folks follow these stages with step 0:  having lots of consumer debt, step 1 learning that they can get out of debt, step 2 actually getting out of debt, step 3 realizing they can do things like save for like travel (because in steps 1-3 they started disliking stuff), and finally step 4 being able to quit the job they hate and become full-time bloggers (etc.)

Some of us started out not only naturally frugal, but kind of skin-flinty.  I strongly identify with Jacq, FGA, and Donna Freedman in this respect.  Some of us never got into consumer debt and our only debt was student loans or mortgage debt if that.  We were gazelle intense before we ever heard of Dave Ramsey.

We have our own levels of personal finance.

This post is inspired by a recent article by Donna Freedman in which she’s contemplating how she needs more time in order to make more money without killing her health.  Doing every tiny thing from scratch is no longer worth her marginal wage.  Occasionally it’s worth more to her to *gasp* order a pizza.

So I present to you, the terrified-of-debt-ultra-responsible-perhaps-too-thrifty-by-US-standards levels of personal finance.


1.  In this stage you’re just starting out.  If you have any debt (specifically:  education debt, car debt because you need transportation to work, emergency medical debt, or debt your ex-spouse left you) you’re scrambling to pay it off.  You don’t live beyond your means.  You eat a lot of rice and beans, or potatoes and onions and you know how much everything you ever buy costs.  You watch every penny and every wasted penny is mourned.  (And you beat yourself up over its loss.)

2.  In stage two, your debts are gone and you have a tiny emergency fund.  This allows you to feel comfortable adding a little meat and fruit and vegetable to your diet, even if these items aren’t scavenged from the “odd ends” or “eat today” section of your grocery.  You still keep close eyes on every penny.

3.  In this stage, you have a nice emergency fund and your income has gone up so you feel comfortable that an emergency isn’t going to kill you.  Additionally, you realize that your time is valuable because your real wage is pretty high.  Instead of saving $5 soaking beans, you could be making $25 working the same amount of time.  You start doing cost-benefit analyses, you realize you can outsource things you dislike (or that are just time-consuming) if the monetary trade-off is high enough.   You spend nickels and dimes, but mindfully and optimally.

4.  In level four you have a really big emergency fund and your income is high enough compared to your spending that you could replenish your emergency fund in a month or two.  Say you’re saving 40-60% of your income and you’re not feeling particularly deprived doing so.  One day you suddenly realize that you can slip up and it’ll be just fine.  Rather than beating yourself up over a lost penny you say to yourself, “it’s only money, and I’m still doing fine.”  You stop watching the pennies.  Instead you put away dollars and feel free to spend what is left.  It’s ok to mess up because the dollars are already saved.  At this stage you may even decide it isn’t worth your time to argue when a company mischarges you for something, but you probably will anyway, just out of the principle of the thing.  (Even if it’s not an optimal use of your time.)  You may do cost-benefit analysis from time to time, but sometimes you decide it is not worth your time to do so.  You’re a lot more relaxed about nickles and dimes so long as you’re keeping tabs on the dollars and hundreds and thousands.  A certain zen slips in.  You’re still frugal on the whole, but that frugality allows you to stop worrying so dang much.

In one of my favorite MSN articles not written by Donna Freedman, Liz Pulliam Weston talks about when you no longer need a formal budget.  Basically it’s when you’re out of debt and spend a lot less than you earn just naturally.  Your savings are on auto-pilot and an emergency isn’t going to wipe you out.  This happens in level 4.

Where’s Donna?  I can’t really say because it’s her income, her savings, and her comfort level that determines that.  But, based on her recent blog post (the one that inspired this one), it sounds like at level 3.  But (hopefully) at some point she’ll be able to look at her savings and at her regular income and realize she’s suddenly at her own level 4.  And that will be good for her blood pressure!  That level of peace is well worth the hard-effort that built up to it.

I’m not sure if level 4 was what I was aiming for back when I lost my ability to digest red meat back at level 1.  But having gotten to level 4, I never ever want to go back.  And that’s what keeps me saving a large portion of our income and keeps me wanting to earn more than we spend.  If necessary we could go back to level 3, but I’d really rather not.

Do these levels describe you, or are you more the standard, “got into consumer debt and saw the light” or something more moderate entirely?  What level are you at?  When do you think you’ll be able to stop worrying so much?  Or do you maybe not worry enough?

Link love

Ask the Grumpies: Gremlin-cat-mowgli

Rumpus asks

Did you notice that the movie Gremlins could be an allegory about cat ownership if you replace the mogwi with kittens and consider “feeding them after midnight” to mean not spay/neutering and just letting the population grow beyond the bounds of the environment to sustain them?

#1:  No, that honestly had not crossed my mind before…

#2:  I did not notice that, no.  But now that you mention it…

Spay and neuter your pets everyone!  And support spay and neuter programs!


  • The Marriage of Figaro is the best opera ever.
  • Reason # 213 why Hugh Laurie is awesome:  When using an American accent he neither sounds like John Wayne (as British actors of olde) nor the cast of the Jersey Shore (as the actors on Hustle demonstrate is now the default).
  • Some of these students are getting exam problems wrong in a way that would suggest that they had access to the 2007 exam I used as a template.  I’m glad I decided to swap problems…
  • Some of the afternoon section students are getting problems wrong in a way that would suggest they had talked with the morning section students.  I’m glad I decided to swap problems.
  • LM Montgomery totally recycled plots to her short stories.  I only needed to read the “girls in boarding house write Christmas letter to lonely spinster” once, no matter how many details changed (and there’s always one girl who works for the newspaper and is held in awe by the high schoolers).  But I can’t get enough of “poor family gets special Christmas surprise, including toys and turkey, from last minute benefactor.”  Ah Kindle.   Without you I wouldn’t know there was so much repetition.  (I bet someone could get $ ‘recycling’ her stories to Ladies Home Journals even today.)
  • When you move from a working-parent centered daycare to a private school, birthday invitations and parent-kid projects suddenly get a lot more intricate.  I like to think we’re lowering the bar so that other parents don’t feel compelled to be perfect crafters.
  • Oh homophones, though art harsh mistresses.  And why doesn’t this generation not know that you don’t use an apostrophe to make a word plural?
  • I used “no opt out” in class today, basically refusing to take a student’s, “I don’t know” for an answer (and coming down hard on other students who were talking while he tried to figure it out)… and it really worked.  I was worried when he came up to me after class… but he just wanted to explain about what he didn’t understand, so we went through the general concepts again and we agreed that maybe I should cold-call on him  more often so that he has more checks to his understanding, since it makes sense when I say it but not when he tries to apply it.  So he needs more practice applying it.  I followed up “no opt out” with “right is right”– keeping at him until he got the answer exactly perfect.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 20 Comments »

What do you do when the offender cries victim?

I’ve noticed recently a trend among folks of saying something completely and totally offensive towards an entire group of people, and then claiming victimhood if someone disagrees.


(This is an old one, but it’s the first time I can recall… no wait, the whole mentioning that Liz Cheney is lesbian is the first time I can actually recall.)
Dick Cheney:  Shoots old man in the face.
General Public: !
Old man: I abjectly apologize for getting shot in the face and causing so much distress to Mr. Cheney.

Perry:  Does not change racially offensive name on lodge.
General Public: !
Perry: It is so hard being an oppressed white man. You have to be soooo careful with this stupid PC stuff, it just isn’t fair.

Poster:  Nobody is allowed to disagree with what I am about to say.  All people who cosleep are child abusers who are unable to get human touch any other way, are unable to be individuals, and are forcing it on their kids.  Also some deeply disturbing stuff about sexuality.
Reply:  I am offended and disagree.  (Also mildly sickened by what is going on in your mind.  That is messed up.)
Poster:  How dare you disagree when I said at the top of the post nobody is allowed to disagree?  I am hurt.

Nature:  Men can do science and women can only shop
All intelligent readers: The 1950s called, they want their stereotypes back
Nature: You are all hysterical, how dare you complain? More proof that women are unsuited to science! Plus if the editor weren’t Jewish you wouldn’t be saying such things. You anti-Semitic jerks.

Poster: WOHM cannot bond with their children.
Reply:  That’s a stupid statement and untrue
Poster:   I demand you apologize.

I know this is a really common tactic among the Rush Limbaughs and Fox Newses of the world.  It looks like other folks are picking it up too.

There’s even a name for it.

It irritates me.

What do you think is the best reaction once they have claimed victimhood?  How do you react?

Dropping it seems to allow the person to continue their spreading of vitriol unchecked.  Pushing back even more allows them to milk the victim card even more.  How about directly addressing the claim of victimhood?  “Really, you just compared an entire group of people to Nazis and now *you’re* claiming to be the victim?”

Is baking a *thing* where you are?

Femomhist recently posted a link to a ridiculous NYT debate about all the issues surrounding the vitally important topic of people buying baked goods instead of baking them for school fundraising bake-sales.

I’ll let you digest that thought for a moment.  I can wait.

The NYTimes is always talking about mothers and baking.  And buying baked goods.  And faking store-bought baked goods so they look like they’re home-made.  And should mothers feel guilty for not baking.  And do mothers who bake make other mothers who don’t bake feel guilty for existing.  (And always mommy guilt– dads are somehow exempt, but that’s another gripe.)  And so on and so forth.  I read these narratives on the internet too– on blogs and on mommy forums.

I ask you, gentle readers, when did baking get to be a *thing*?  When did it become some sort of archetype or symbol or whatever it has become?  When did a cookie stop being just a cookie?

And actually, I further ask, is it a *thing* away from the internet?  Like, IRL?  And if so, is it a *thing* outside of NY or LA?

My thought has generally been:
yummy > effort => bake
effort > yummy => don’t bake

Growing up in the midwest, I don’t remember baking being anything other than a way to get baked goods.  We had a lot of box mix brownies and cupcakes.  Chocolate chip cookies from scratch.  Yummy stuff, but not a measure of anyone’s true worth.  I remember some church bake sales that were just out of this world, but that was a previous generation of retired ladies making those wonders.

I can tell you it wasn’t a thing around normal people when I was an impoverished grad student in an expensive coastal city.  Not that I hung around many mothers at that point in time.  My partner and I both baked a lot because we had time, no money, and juuuust the right amount of stress; baking provides a sweet spot in terms of stress relief for my partner.  There’s something especially calming about kneading bread.  We were very popular with the administrative assistants at our schools.  Everyone seemed pretty happy about getting homemade baked goods, but they didn’t seem to merit any sort of saint-hood or obligation or whatevs.  Of course, we had not reproduced at that time, so maybe I just missed out.

Here, people don’t make things from scratch.  Sometimes they make things from mixes.  Our baked goods that were smashing successes in the coastal city aren’t as popular as stuff from the stores because tastes here run much sweeter.  People probably prefer the store-bought stuff because they don’t actually have to see how much sugar they’re putting into it!  And, I’m not sure that just plain sugar can get things as sweet as people want.  Baking is definitely not a symbol of anything except maybe being a little bit of a health nut.  But people are polite about it, even if homemade stuff doesn’t disappear as quickly as storebought.  And to be honest, other than the tooth-numbing sweetness, the cakes at the grocery stores around here are way better than cakes most parts of the country.  I just wish they put butter in their pie crust– texture is more important than flavor in these parts when it comes to pie dough; their pies are super flaky.

Anyhow, the point is, if I didn’t spend too much time on the internet and occasionally reading the NYTimes I would have no idea that whether I baked or not had anything to do with how many mommy points I’ve racked or how much hate I’m supposed to be getting from other mommies.  I’m pretty sure that IRL nobody cares.  If the cookies are good, they’re appreciated.  If they’re not sweet enough they’re politely nibbled at and there’s more left for us.  But nobody comments on how they wish they had time to bake or how guilty they feel for not baking or how amazing it is that we bake.  They either comment on the cookies being good, or they politely ask if they’re healthy.

Maybe if people on the internet ate more yummy baked goods, they’d spend less time psychoanalyzing them.

So:  Is baking a *thing* for you?  Is it a *thing* where you are?  Do you enjoy it when other people bake?  Is someone else baking showing off and thus a personal affront to one’s femininity/fitness as a mother, as so many of these bloggers suggest?  (And why is it never a personal affront to one’s fitness as a father?)

[Disclaimer:  The pregnant one of us is not allowed to eat sugary/non-glycemically-balanced foods until she delivers.  She dreams of brownies and male chocolate chip cookies, but does not often get to eat them, even in her dreams.  They taunt.  But that's a different kind of *thing*.]


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