Googled Questions answered

Q:  does taxes take out alot with a second job?

A:  Whether it is a second job or more hours at the first job, or just an increasing income, as your income goes up your marginal tax rate goes up if you change tax brackets.  Basically you will still be paying the same taxes you were at the first job, but if your second job pushes you from the 15% tax bracket to the 25% tax bracket, then each dollar made after the last dollar in the 15% tax bracket will be taxed at 25% rather than 15%.  So, let’s assume you’re single.  If your first job pays you 30K/year (AGI), then your tax rate on your second job will not increase until you’ve hit $35,350 (the ceiling for the 15% rate).  The first $5,350 at your second job will be at the 15% rate and each dollar made after that will be at the 25% rate.  Does that make sense?  (There will also be Social Security etc., but that’s a little more complicated.)

alternate answer:  Yes.  Or, no.  Define alot.

Q: do you say he or it for government?

A:  You say she or it.  Your choice. (or We, comrade.)

Q:  what does the term even john who does not usually like that mushy stuff

A:  Yeah, we’ve got no clue on this one.

Q:  do all professors receive summer support

A:  I wish

Q:  what kind of christmas gift to i get my useless brother-in-law

A:  You don’t have to get him anything.  If there will be severe negative repercussions for not getting him anything, then just get him a gift certificate someplace like Amazon or iTunes.  It doesn’t really matter.

Q:  is money an ok gift for brother in law

A:  Depends on the brother-in-law.  Some people don’t like money as gifts, some people don’t like gift cards, and some people prefer money to gift cards or gifts.  We tend to give money to people who have immediate monetary needs (accident, purchasing a house, wanting to pay off consumer debt etc.) and we want to help them with their goals.

alternate answer:  sure, why not, it’s easier than shopping.

Q:  he owes me money should i just take it out of paypal?

A:  Let him know you’re doing it shortly after the fact.  And make sure he doesn’t have access to your account.

Q:  how to tell person you do not like their gift

A:  Hey-o.  Unless they are being intentionally offensive (say, donating to Right to Life when they know you’re a Planned Parenthood supporter), then you don’t.

Q:  whats a good starting sentence for telepictionary

A:  Any sentence is a good starting sentence for telepictionary (aka Eat Poop You Cat).  The best are the ones that make sense at the beginning, because they’re the most hilarious at the end.  Starting with something nonsensical just doesn’t have quite the same punch.

Q:  do artists make bad spouses?

A:  According to my happily-married-to-artists colleagues, no.  They’re also highly portable and thus make excellent trailing spouses.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 6 Comments »

Moral Hazard or Why Ron Paul Says it’s Ok to Feed Kids

Even without the concept of moral hazard (defined in the next paragraph), there are cost-effective reasons to have some social programs.  For example, if we cut all social safety net programs, we would have to spend a lot more on things like street cleaning dead bodies off the street (and more medical stuff because dead bodies aren’t healthy) and more to the point, on jails.  Jail is expensive.  Jail can be more expensive than some of these programs that get kids food, or preschooling etc.  Some social welfare programs are actually cost effective because they reduce crime and thus the number of people needing incarceration.  Even the most cold-hearted conservative should be in favor of them for that reason.  Because we have to keep society safe and we have to spend money to do that.

One big reason that many conservatives do not like social programs is the problem of moral hazard.  Moral hazard encompasses the idea that if you offer a benefit, people are going to change their behavior in order to take it.  It mathematically happens if we assume that people are rational.  Some people with higher values of leisure will take leisure if a program is poorly targeted, even if they would have worked without the benefit.  It’s the main argument against these kinds of programs.  If we could perfectly target people who are actually disabled, actually unable to find work etc., it would be easier to sell these kinds of benefits.  Since we can’t figure out who really needs them and who doesn’t, we’re going to be making mistakes both ways– not helping people who need it and helping people who don’t.  It just falls out of the equations.  (In science terms there’s type 1 and type 2 error… or false positives and false negatives.)  It’s a fact.  So many folks know someone on disability who is cheating it somehow… but some of us also know people who really ought to be on disability but did not qualify for the program.  That will always be true unless the program is universal (in which case nobody is denied) or does not accept anyone.

Kids don’t have moral hazard because they’re not the ones making the decisions.  That’s why even Ron Paul says we should feed hungry kids (he said this either on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, I don’t remember which one).  There’s no downside to the kids– they don’t change their decisions about work because they’re not working.  Sure, some parents who might have fed their kids on their own will be less likely to (moral hazard at the parent level), but it’s not a kid’s fault if a parent would rather buy cigarettes than food, and when a kid isn’t fed, the kid is more likely to have developmental delays and eventually become a cost to society rather than a productive member.

So… feed the kids.  They’re our future, and it isn’t their fault if their parents suck.

link love

We are at a conference.  Or at least we are in a big city eating yummy food.  A conference may have been involved.  Not many links this week, but each one is excellent and worth reading all the way through!

Mutant super model gets ready to love math and show up that evil high school teacher who should be flagellated.

Dr. Crazy talks about how this (word that means separate into two parts that don’t overlap… bi-something) into women who want/have children and women who don’t is incomplete and inappropriate.  She hits compensating differentials and differing circumstances.  The comments are also excellent, and well worth reading.

On what seemed to be national blog book review day, wandering scientist recommends a really interesting sounding book about the first woman to circumnavigate the globe… which she did as a working class botany assistant disguised as a man.

I had to go to xkcd explained to understand Friday’s comic. That lead me to this. Enjoy!

Ask the grumpies: Checking for student understanding

Rumpus asks:

… my most-disjoint part of class is after I work a problem and need to evaluate whether the class understands. Currently I look at their faces for signs of confusion (or sleep). Then I cold-call 2-3 people (out of 25-35) and ask them to self-identify if they understand or want to talk about it or want to work another problem. Then I ask the class “are we good?” And I’m not getting a good understanding of what level of understanding the class has. These problems take 10-15 minutes each, so I need to get a good evaluation before deciding whether to work another. What do you do to evaluate class understanding on the fly? (Or do you?)

#1:  I have the students do call and response or sometimes I’ll cold-call.  I don’t cold call enough in one of my classes and I wonder if that’s why I have a small handful of students who are getting Cs.  They all sit together and have last names that are similar.  I need to work on this.

#2  That kind of question is hard for me to answer because I frequently use problems for which there is no one right answer.  You can poll the class about what they got and how, having them report back to the big group, designating 1 person per group as the reporter.  I would have them vote:  “Raise your hand if you think you got the right answer and are very confident.”  “Raise your hand if you don’t know if you understand or not.”  “Raise your hand if you’re totally confused.”

Does anybody have better suggestions for Rumpus?

On brown rice

Plain brown rice can be pretty bad.  But mixed brown rice is wonderful.  Since #1 can no longer eat white rice because of her insulin resistance, she’s become something of a connoisseur.

This stuff is good and is what we get at our local grocery (it’s in the fru-fru aisle, not with the other rices).  TJ’s has some California blends that are similar and Whole Foods has a similar blend in its bulk aisle.

We also like quinoa quite a bit.

If you have leftover brown rice, it might be better as fried rice or in something like soup or a fritatta.

#2 hates brown rice.  HATES IT, MY PRECIOUSSSSS.  Also wild rice.  That stuff’s not fit for birds.   Yukk.  Quinoa is ok though.

What are your favorite grains?  Have you tried fancy mixed brown rice?

What are we reading?

Bath Tangle isn’t very good.  The main characters are a.  unlikeable and b. not suited for each other.  Now that we’re older we know that someone you constantly fight with does not a good partner make.  At least Beatrice and Benedict stopped fighting after they fell in love. In Heyer’s later work, this couple would be the silly ingenues that the main characters of the book get exasperated over.

Read Kitty’s Big Trouble.  Number who-knows in the series.  A little more relaxed than previous books, but still a good plane read.

Read Bewitched and Betrayed, #4 in the Raine Benares series.  Something *happens* in this one!  As in various plots move forward instead of just getting more tangled.  This is another series where I wish the heroine would be able to take a vacation between books, but it’s always running and fighting for her.

Eating for Beginners nowhere near as good as Hungry Monkey.  The author says things like, “Can pregnant women have raw milk products?  Well, the dairy guy’s wife did when she was pregnant once and that pregnancy turned out ok.  That’s good enough for me.”  She’s also really neurotic about what her kid eats.  The kid will only eat healthy and exotic (spicy/sour) foods.  He refuses unhealthy processed stuff and refined grains.  He prefers things in season.  Early on he may have one of those sensory disorders that may cause kids to dislike certain textures (IIRC from my forum days, this is something a speech therapist can fix?).  But he’s eating healthy food!  Why fret that he doesn’t like hot dogs? (Also:  the kid started eating more stuff at age 2.  Two!  Most kids wait until 4 or 5.)  Much preferred Hungry Monkey’s research base and the author’s realization that he should stop worrying and just go with the flow.  Also, he was hilariously funny.

Heroes at Odds by Moira J. Moore is some number in the Heroes series.  The series started out really strong with the first couple of books Resenting the Hero and The Hero Strikes Back, with great world building and interesting character development.  Somewhere in there it lost its way and became angsty with little character change and no more character development (or conversation really) regarding the male protagonist.  Heroes at Risk was so blah that I didn’t bother looking for the next sequel.  But Heroes at Odds leaped out at me at B&N when my parents were visiting so I picked it up.  Turns out I completely skipped Heroes Return, but the online reviews for it say it’s no big loss.  Heroes at Odds is a great improvement over the last couple books.  Again, stuff happens, and the heroine actually grows a little and stops being quite so neurotic and closed mouthed.  The plot is kind of interesting too and the other, non-main characters are interesting.  So, worth the read.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal:  OMG fantastic.  Literally Jane Austen with magic.  I await the sequel!

Howards End is On the Landing by Susan Hill: adorable musings on books and reading. Her house sounds so cozy; I wish I had that many books!

Giggling into the Pillow by Chris Bridges: misc. humorous writing about sexual topics. Pretty male-centric but still amusing. Probably the funniest is the story “Found: One Dildo.”

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury: Did I talk about it already? I love it! Everyone should read it and maybe the author will write a sequel.

Two and Three year old behavior

We’re long-past this.  DH was especially good at avoiding and defusing any potential situations.  When he was gone for business trips, I would have to sometimes walk away and take a break in order to calm down and deal with a situation.  But in general we did ok.

Early on, a lot of frustration is inability to communicate.  For that reason, we still used baby signs even after DC was verbal.  More.  All Done.  Help.  Want.  Eat.  These all cut down on frustration for everybody.

Another thing to check is to make sure DC isn’t hungry and isn’t sleepy.  Those are two meltdown triggers… we don’t want to get past the time when it should have been bedtime, and we don’t want a starving kid melting down at the grocery store (thank goodness for free cookies).

One of the main things that we did was we copied our very excellent daycares.  We used their key words.  Walk away.  We don’t hurt our friends.  Up the stairs, down the slide.  When DC was at Montessori, we talked a lot about property rights and turn taking.  When DC was at a religious pre-school we talked a lot about sharing and being nice.  We learned from systems that worked and we were consistent with what DC was getting from other adults and later, other children.  It is amazing watching kids do their own conflict resolution at a well-run school where everybody has been given the tools they need and the culture is to use them.

Offering two choices was another super helpful thing. Do you want X or Y for snack? Do you want to wear red or green? etc.

Also at that age, distraction was really helpful, and getting hir to laugh helped (Oh! what’s that?!). As I said before, if I ever couldn’t handle something I would just walk away.  DH was better at not having to do that precisely because he was so very good at converting a potential meltdown into laughter.  (And the daycare ladies were masters at distracting away potential problems before they happened!)  Time for the tickle monster!

Another common trigger with kids these ages are transitions.  A kid is happily playing and all of a sudden it’s bath time.  And even if the kid loves baths, ze doesn’t want to take a bath now!  With transitions what was really helpful for us was blaming the clock or some other outside influence. It is *snack time* because it is 7:30. It is X time because it is Y:YY. Oh no! The mosquitoes are coming out! It must be time to go home.  And these reasons would become routine, and thus eventually expected.  One of our friends had a lot of success with 5 min warnings and sticking to them, but we found that we didn’t need them.

Adding onto the idea of routine, once these are in place they’re golden.  You can ask the kid, “What comes next?” and the kid will be excited to tell you and may actually do it of hir own volition.  With our (lengthy) nighttime routine we tried to alternate something ze loved with something ze didn’t love so much.  So, bedtime:  not that popular, but we started it with SNACK, which was very popular (also helped keep DC from screaming from hunger at 5am).  After snack, teeth brushing (not fun), bath (fun), pajamas (not as fun as nude streaking), being read to (fun!), staying in bed (not fun) while reading to self (fun).  Your kid may have different preferences, but being able to say, “after you do not fun thing we can do fun thing” helped move things along.

We NEVER assumed ze was trying to manipulate, unlike a lot of women complaining about their kids on mommy forums.  Maybe some kids do manipulate, ours did not.  Some parents seem to attribute things to manipulation things far too early.  Maybe some super-advanced two year olds can manipulate their parents, but an infant really can’t.  Sometimes a kid just wants more attention.  So we give more attention, but positively.  “Do you feel neglected?  Do you need more attention?”  “Behavior X isn’t appropriate… but did you need a hug?  You can always ask for a hug if you need one.”

We did a lot of explaining why it was in DC’s best interest not to do things that were icky. So, “Ew, that’s dirty” etc. Though we also did a lot of what the heck, it’s strengthening zir immune system. Our main things were: Dangerous, Dirty, and Not polite. Dangerous we always said with a scary voice and ze took it seriously.  We let little things go. Clashing clothing? Whatever. Running into the street? SCARY! DANGEROUS! and unacceptable.

We did about 5 time outs that we took very seriously (once a time-out actually started to have an effect… DC was a late-bloomer), always for hitting.  We used the standard Super-Nanny method.  Get down to the kid’s level.  Explain what they did wrong.  Tell them they’re in time out for a certain amount of time.  Then time them one minute for each year of age, restarting the clock each time the kid gets up.  Time-outs would generally result in a very sad very apologetic DC.  Then ask if DC remembers why ze is in time-out and request an apology and a promise not to do it again.  “Are you going to hit again?”

On one of the mommy forums I was on, people would consider time-outs to be the worst possible punishment one could give to a kid.  (Withdrawing attention is child-abuse, they say.  And it is true that our excellent Montessori has never needed time-outs for little kids, though I have seen it do cool-downs for much older kids when something is going on with the kid, like acting out because mom and dad just had a baby.)  On another forum, folks would argue whether or not parents who spanked were too soft.  We have never spanked, mainly because I don’t want to model any behavior I don’t want DC to think ze can do hirself.  I would have been mortified if DC started spanking kids at school, and how can we teach “no hitting” if that’s something we do?  (Plus I don’t think it works– I remember sitting on a plane pre-DC next to a woman and her lap child.  He would hit her.  “Don’t hit!” she would say, hitting him back.  Which he thought was hilarious, so he’d do it again.  “Don’t hit!” WHAP!  progressively harder back and forth until the kid got hurt and started screaming.)  Thankfully we’ve never needed to spank, especially with all the tools we’ve picked up watching the real experts (folks who interact with kids, not just those who make money writing books telling mothers they’re destroying their kids) along the way.

What do you recommend for the avoiding the terrible part of the terrible twos/threes?

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 30 Comments »

But I *deserve* to get a loan

We read an argument on a public finance blog of a 20-something recently.  It went something like this:  I’m a good credit risk, even though I have a lot of consumer debt.  I’ve never failed to pay back a personal loan.  Therefore people are being selfish not lending money to me.

If you think there’s nothing wrong with the above argument, here’s something we would like to say to you.  THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU.  Sometimes people would prefer to keep their own money and not lend it to you, whether or not you’re a good credit risk.  That’s their business.

Mature adults do their best to have emergency funds and low enough expenses so that they don’t have to borrow money from others.  It might be one thing if you had a sudden medical emergency, and even then, generally working a payment plan out with the hospital is the best idea (since they will usually cut the balance), or a temporary car problem making it difficult to get to work… but you have consumer debt and you don’t want to live on rice and beans while you’re getting rid of it?  Or you want to buy a house but haven’t saved a down-payment?  Suck it up.

We get these kinds of students in class on a pretty regular basis.  At least we’re not related to them!

Link love

Femomhist with her delightful rundown on Death at Pemberly.

Who says legos aren’t for girls?  Geeky mom blog’s girls are lego winners.

Speaking of Austen times, if you ever wondered what gout looks like, wonder no more.

Tiger beatdown discusses the TX abortion law.

Ianqui asks whether you call yourself a professor or a disciplinist.

A PSA from profgrrrl.

We recently discovered randsinrepose via a link off Wandering Scientist.  This post really struck a chord with both of us.  We may do a full post on it later after #2 has a conversation with her partner.  I will relate the IM conversation #1 had here:

#1: “Don’t get too comfortable because he’ll move on, and, when that happens, you’ll be wondering what happened to all the attention.”
is that TRUE???
Partner: yes. but you are always in my “relevant” filter
[pause]
you and I have already passed that before we got married
[pause]
or possibly a better way to think about it is that I don’t think I’ll ever lose that sense of wonder about you. I find you fascinating.

The first response is TOTAL NERD.  The third response is why we’ve been together for so long (SMOOOOOTH).  The second response is probably just demonstrating our midwestern pragmatism.

What was I doing with some dear student letters.

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

Suggest the color of my parachute?

Dear Grumpy Readers…

I have always, always wanted to be a professor.  I never trained for anything else, nor wanted to!  But now… Please help me brainstorm about jobs out of academia that I might be able to do without wanting to die.  Not in a cubicle.  Not dependent on grant funding.  Preferably with benefits.  Any ideas?  I don’t necessarily need health insurance (I could get on my partner’s, potentially), but I still need to fund my retirement and get sick days.  I worked in a bank for a while and it was hellacious.

Sometimes I take career inventories or similar tests… they always come out “professor”.  Always.

#2 suggests freelancing, and I think that’s probably the way to go.  Not that that’s a steady income.  Some quick googling turns up infinite scummy gross websites where “freelance” means “write your homework paper for you”

 #2:  Why don’t we ask the blog?
 #1:  we should, probably.  Working  9-5, 5 days a week makes me want to DIE, as do cubicles.  I know, because I tried it for a year [not the bank job, a different job].  In 12 months my body never got used to the morning schedule and I was never able to learn how to concentrate in a cube, headphones notwithstanding.
#2:  librarian?
 #1:  their job market is bleaker than academia and I would need to get even more degrees… and lower paid, too.  Also, “librarian” doesn’t mean “work with books”.  It mostly means “deal with whiny patrons, or computer programming, or both”.  I love books.  I hate people.
#2:  Courtesan?
#1:  I could be a courtesan if I liked making small talk with strangers, which I don’t.
 I really want nothing social.  Preferably not working with people.
P.S. I have very few marketable skills and I want to sleep and read novels ALL THE TIME.  I’m really bad at being a grownup.  I think I might need a personality transplant.
#2: but really, soft money and a big emergency fund. Working part time, in SF.
#1:  I really think that would give me ulcers, not knowing if I would have an income the next year or not. And my track record with getting grants is not great.
I dunno what to do with my life.  if only this school weren’t so hideous, I really want to have tenure and be a faculty member and do research.  But the teaching?  I don’t know if I can do this for 40 more years.
#2:  after tenure can you care less about teaching?
#1:  yes, but I still have to do it. With how much I hate it, I wonder if it’s sustainable on my stress level. I probably just need therapy for the rest of my life in order to realize how to grow up and be an adult and do  a job I don’t always love because that is adulthood.
#2: if it were fun they wouldn’t pay you to do it
and the question is– is there a job you hate equally that pays more!
#1:  yeah, the problem is balancing the fact that I want money to live comfortably with the hatred of all work that feels like it is sucking out my soul but in reality nobody ever died from that.
My dream job is still academia.  I just need to be at a different school.  This is probably a separate post, but I’m feeling that I’m really not fitting in with the mission of this school and this college.  I have workload issues and specific administrator issues.  I feel like my scholarship isn’t respected here because it doesn’t fit with the mission.  Further, the location depresses me.
So, readers… help!  What should I do?  Nothing in a cubicle, something that gives sick days, nothing with physical labor, I hate interacting with people, and I don’t know how to program.  (I could learn, but it’s not worth it; I’m not patient nor interested enough.)  Nothing that is teaching.
Ideally I want to have the same job at a better place, but those jobs seem impossible to come by.  I did look, believe me I did.  Last year there was 1 job in the country that I could have applied for, and it’s not worth moving for.
AUGH.
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