In which I critique — ah, the hell with it.

I have been known to critique science before.  Sometimes things on the internet make me want to critique bad reasoning.

But THIS? The mind boggles.  ESP, really?  I wish that I could read the reviewer comments on this paper.  I boggle and become incoherent.  Apparently in some circumstances, college students can detect the appearance of porn ahead of time, very slightly better than chance.  Also:

From the NYT article:
“In his version, Dr. Bem gave 100 college students a memory test before they did the categorizing — and found they were significantly more likely to remember words that they practiced later. “The results show that practicing a set of words after the recall test does, in fact, reach back in time to facilitate the recall of those words,” the paper concludes. “


#2 chimes in:  note this telling bit in the NYTimes article:

So far, at least three efforts to replicate the experiments have failed. But more are in the works, Dr. Bem said, adding, “I have received hundreds of requests for the materials” to conduct studies.

Remember that within a 95% confidence interval, when you perform this experiment 20 times, one of those times it is going to come up significant, on average.  Even if he hasn’t falsified anything or added any other kinds of accidental cues, chances are every once and a while the wrong result will come up statistically significant, even when there is no actual relationship.

Things we want (or want to think about) after tenure

So we have a lot of things we want, but we can’t really think about now so we say, hey, maybe after tenure.   Some stuff, like buying a house or renovating the kitchen aren’t going to be worthwhile if we find out we’ll have to move (which we would have to do without tenure).  Some stuff we’d like a little more academic freedom to not stress over (like not inflating grades, or telling obnoxious students to buzz off…).   Some things are just going to take more time than the tenure clock allows, like top journal pubs (not that we haven’t tried!  but we’re getting too close to really take those risks on new things that might not pan out right now).

Anyway, here’s our list:

  • an entirely new kitchen
  • a raise
  • developing an online course
  • a vacation that doesn’t correspond with a conference
  • a top tier journal publication
  • lower tier journal publications that are just fun even if not actually important from a theoretical or practical standpoint
  • a raise
  • a sabbatical
  • another cat
  • a house
  • boots
  • freedom to tell students to step off
  • fair grading
  • more time with partner
  • publishing fiction?  at least writing more of it
  • hair dyed a cool color
  • a different research culture
  • a wider driveway
  • a raise
  • the ability to wear something other than suits to teach in
  • figure out whether to do laser or electrolysis and do it

Are we foolish or savvy for waiting on these things?  Do you think we’ll get to them after tenure?

Academics and former academics:  What are your tenure goals if you’re one of us and if you have tenure, did anything come to fruition?

Pirates and airships and armored sharks, oh my

This is a brief mini-review of a very silly book called The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook.


Ok, first of all, the cover.  A guy with half a face, half-naked, and not in a good way.  I’m sorry.  Please ignore the cover.  I don’t know what happened there.

BUT!  Inside: steampunkery.  There’s a guy who is a (supposedly) reformed pirate.  Some pirate ships.  Armored sharks!!!!  Airships.  Automata, mechanical hearts, nanites.  Clockwork flesh.  A kraken from the deep, which must be daringly harpooned by the ass-kicking heroine (oops, minor spoiler).  This thing is so over the top; I loved that part.  Robot cats that breed.  Treason and treachery and a doomsday weapon!  Difficult race relations in a postcolonial, somewhat post-apocalyptic setting.  High society.  Oh, and also zombies.  I’m not even kidding.

#2 would definitely not like how sex is handled in this book.  I’m not sure I like it either.  There is some confusion going on and I think it could’ve been handled differently.

I would give it a high 3.5 stars out of 5.  I would like to give it 4 stars for fun, but it’s not quite there.  Still, a good way to pass the time.


regional food delicacies we have loved

I’m currently hooked on Man vs. Food via Netflix streaming.  We LOVE food!

In this post we’re talking about stuff you can’t find everywhere but you also don’t find in just one restaurant.  They’re town or city or regional specialties.  Here’s some favorites from places we’ve lived or visited:

kolaches — sweet egg enriched dough with meat or fruit or cheese in it, similar to a danish but the dough is more bready

cheese curds — they make your teeth squeak!

beer nuggets — deep fried lightly fermented (day-old) pizza dough, served with pizza sauce or sprinkled in cinnamon sugar

frozen custard — eggy soft serve icecream like substance

Pittsburgh steak salad– comes with steak and french fries on top

red bean frappe– red beans in an ice cream shake… or should I say frappe?

king cake– colorful cake that hurts your teeth with the sweetness

St. Louis style ribs– sweet goey pork bbq in a rich tomato based sweet sauce, charred to perfection.  It’s all about the sauce.

TX style brisket– The other end of the bbq spectrum where only the meat matters.  You can tell it’s real by the smoke ring.

Bialy– Like a bagel with *stuff* in the center

Apple pie with cheddar cheese– on the East Coast they thought I was an abomination but they just go SO WELL together.

any deli sandwich with coleslaw and Russian dressing, oh man I miss sloppy sandwiches

almonds from almond plaza…. and chocolate from Giardelli square

The absolute best regional food:  Chicago style stuffed pizza!!!  A layer of deep dish dough, a layer of cheese and meat/veggies (I’m partial to spinach… or sausage and onion), another layer of dough, then covered with pizza sauce.  You only need to eat one heavenly piece to feel full, but you might have two anyway.

What are your favorite regional foods?

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In praise of DH’s adult allowance

I don’t tend to spend any money unless I really want something and I hate the process of shopping (exception:  grocery shopping and Trader Joe’s).  I’m the type of person who would totally hire a personal shopper to decide what I need, hunt it down, and purchase it for me.  I tend not to buy anything for long periods of time and then to go on a single blitz to get things that I need.  I don’t do much impulse buying (at least that isn’t edible).

My DH, on the other hand, seems to get more enjoyment out of the shopping process often than he does from actually owning whatever it is he’s purchased.  He spends days poring over consumersearch or boardgamegeek comparing and contrasting, reading reviews, and so on.  (Me, I decide I need something, I go to consumer search, see what their top choices are, compare prices, then I hit Amazon and buy it.  Unless it’s something I have to try on, but I still try surgical strikes.)

DH also has an interesting relationship with money in which he wants to spend all the money he has or none of the money he has.  Given how much he enjoys the shopping process, you can see how neither of these outcomes leads to anything but misery for poor DH.

So early in our marriage we hit upon the adult allowance.  GRS describes the adult allowance here.  We mentioned it briefly before here in our post on couples and finances.  Basically, DH gets a certain amount of money per week and 10x the weekly amount at Christmas and at his birthday.  He keeps track of it in his little black day planner (this year a somewhat larger Moleskine version).  Early on this was awesome for me too because I could get him to do annoying phone things by telling him he could have half of whatever money he retrieved from whatever customer service thing had messed up.  Win win!  It also works out because if he buys me something nice and expensive as a gift, or something that I think is a waste of money, I don’t feel like I would have had better uses for that money because it’s not my money.  He can get whatever he wants with his money.  When we got real jobs he gave himself a raise, though not a huge one because his needs are simple.  He tells me he’d been getting $30/week.

Things worked great with respect to the allowance for the first 10 years or so of our marriage. Recently though, he hadn’t been buying as much stuff.  He got a french press which really cut down on his latte factor, and he’s been working through rather than going out for lunch.  He feels like he needs to play more with the board games he has before he buys new ones, and so on. He’s also between hobbies.

So right before Christmas (and, importantly, right after doing our holiday donations), I noticed that DH had put in a $600 Zingerman‘s order.  I love Zingerman’s as much as the next person, but $600 is a LOT of money for fancy foodstuffs to get shipped from Michigan.  I literally felt sick to my stomach.  It’s really best if I don’t know these things.  ($300 probably would have seemed excessive, but I could probably have handled that.)  I tried really hard to fight down the negative visceral reaction because the whole point of the allowance is that it’s his money and he can do whatever he wants with it, but I had to leave the room to do so.

Anyhow, DH canceled the order completely (despite my encouragement that he just cut it down and get some stuff… he’s really an all or nothing kind of guy) and decided his allowance was too high.  Having $600 to spend was causing him to go a little crazy in the looking for things to buy.

So he dropped it to $15/week (!) and $150 and bought a couple boardgames or something for himself.  However, recently he realized he wants a super fancy desk chair, so he’s reinstated the weekly allowance to $30 and made the reinstatement retroactive. We’re going shopping for chairs this weekend.

My moral would have been “don’t go looking for things to spend money on because things to spend money on will find you and it’s good to have cash saved up when that happens.”  But I think his moral is that “it’s good to keep your spending money to your wants and just a little bit more.”

Do you use an adult allowance?  Do you need one?  Does your significant other?

Ing doesn’t want to let go of my money

Grrr.  So if you recall from my retirement adventures, I’d decided to switch from Ing to Fidelity.

Not only did this require a lot of thought and figuring things out, it also required filling out a LOT of forms.  The forms telling my uni to stop giving money to Ing and to start giving it to Fidelity all worked.  The uni and Fidelity worked that out amongst themselves quite nicely.

However, something happened when Fidelity and the University tried to communicate with ING.  While they got the letter asking to move DH’s smaller account, Ing somehow didn’t get the memo to move my account.  Ing sent a huge impossible to figure out packet for DH to fill out a few weeks later to enable him to make the move (luckily Fidelity was able to help him fill it out), but no packet ever came for me.  A first paycheck for the year and still my assets hadn’t been moved (still being eaten away by Ing fees).

So I called up Fidelity and they said when they’d sent the letter and I asked if they could send to Ing again.  They said sure and suggested sending me a copy too so I could fax to Ing if they keep being recalcitrant.

A week later Ing calls and says they’ve gotten the (second) Fidelity packet but nothing from the university.  The woman on the phone is, in fact, quite rude when I suggest that perhaps since this was the SECOND time I’d sent them things and they apparently hadn’t gotten packets from EITHER Fidelity OR my Uni the first time (despite processing my husband’s that were sent at the same time) that perhaps they are at fault.  Because if it were just missing Fidelity or just missing the University I’d be more likely to believe it could have been anybody’s screw-up.  Anyway, I confirm the form that they are missing from the Uni.  I go to the Uni and ask them to send it again.

… weeks pass…  

… months pass…

oh hai, I suck and still haven’t done anything to fix this since it looks like I need to contact them again

So yeah, stay away from Ing.  Some of my northern European heritage just makes me dig my heels in when someone tries to make things difficult for me, otherwise they might win with their additional hassle.  But I HATE incompetence and I hate being played.  So either way forces me to get on their tails to make things right.  Except currently laziness is winning…

And Ing sucks.

#2 says: I told you how they screwed over my dad and he had to sue them for breach of contract, right?
Are we going to get mega-hate-mail now? Will ING send goons? Good thing we are anonymous!

Mid-Month Link Love

A maze of twisty passages that comes with being an academic.  Love it, love it.

This one is from November, but an EXCELLENT how-to and more importantly, how-not-to go about going to a community college and transferring to a four year school.  It is really important to do your homework BEFORE taking a single class at the community college– otherwise you may spend 5 years in school instead of 4.

Here’s some drama we missed last week… play by play from eemusings.

Oh My Word… a scandalous misdeed at the UC Davis Vet school from Dr. Isis.  And the very professional response from the chancellor.

Full room library, by Chanel.  DO WANT.

So, you found something cool on the internet?

I always thought I better matched with Aquarius.  What the potential change in astrological signs can mean for you, from Everyday Tips.

Totally serial with some suggestions for new moms and nursing.

Money Reasons on how to lesson the duration of undesirable events.

Maybe you don’t actually want to be caught in a dark alley with a Canadian at night.  A terrifying look at what the secret lives of Canadians, from days with my daughter.

Hot off the presses this morning, Worst Prof Ever wants to know how frequently she should blog, given that more posts means less careful posts.  Give her some feedback!

And I still LOVE quarterly dividends.  Yay!

A question for anybody who sends their kids to private school:  Do you use a Coverdell?  I’m thinking they’re only worth it if you start at birth because they seem to be Roth-like… but who knows…

UPDATE:  Hey people with blogs!  Check your spam filter!  Chances are we’re in there.

Boys we have dated or crushed on or been admired by

NOT our significant others.  These are the ones who make us grateful every day for what we have because they’re the alternative.

The first guy I ever had a crush on didn’t work out.  He didn’t tell his friends in middle and high school about me, started smoking, went and got an exclusive girlfriend who didn’t know about me while still dating me outside of school… and so I broke that off before anything started.  I believe he now owns or is in some way affiliated with a photography studio that specializes in erotica.  Then I dated a nice nerd two years older who I dumped during his pre-frosh weekend at a fancy engineering school.  Poor guy.  Happily I hear the nerd is married now to some nice woman he met on station in the military.  (So I no longer feel guilty!)

Then in college it was Loser 1 (1 year… taught me that learning to say no before anything starts is much less painful for the guy), Nice guy that was not for me 2 (a brief flirtation before he started dating my friend who had just dumped Loser 1), Loser 3 (who I went on a date with once in a moment of weakness but constantly asked if I was still dating my partner for the next two years), Loser 4 (had a crush on both me and my roommate I think at the same time… we did not date, but he did declare his undying devotion after I committed to my partner).  Not even kisses were exchanged with #2-4, so I’m not sure they even count as dating in this day and age.

Oh there was also a Loser 5 who apparently told everybody that I had sex with him (I did NOT! He was DISGUSTING) but other than a hug that I gave him (admittedly in when I was in my bathrobe, ah college dorms) after he broke up with his girlfriend, I never so much as touched the guy.  I didn’t find out until years later about his vile calumny…apparently some of my so-called friends believed him and didn’t want to say anything to me. He also spread nasty untrue rumors about his ex-girlfriend that caused her psychological damage. It hurt more that my friends thought I could have such bad taste and be that desperate than anything else.  I mean, ew.  (Not to mention I’m totally a prude.  But hey, if they wanted to think I was a loose woman, at least they should think I was one with standards!)

For a while I had a thing for Otto Von Bismark.  And another for Ruroni Kenshin (ep 1:  she locks him in a shed and he CLEANS it before escaping– be still my beating heart!).  My partner didn’t mind, so long as they were neither alive nor real.  And back during the Clinton years I thought George Stephanopoulos was hot.  He’s not anymore.

#2 says… John Barrowman.  That is all.  Thank you.

Tell us about your past loves!  Dish!

Do you use google docs?

With the new semester we’re totally working hard on working both hard and smart.  We’ve got tenure to aim for, after all.

Google has a lot of technologies to help keep us on track.  (Note:  we have zero affiliation with Google, we just like it a lot.  We WISH we were living in the SF bay area, but we kind of doubt this post is going to increase the odds of that.)

We use the Google Calendar to track our daily writing.  One of us aims for 30 min per day M-F, the other has 4 days per week and Sunday.

We use a Google site for accountability purposes– we give tips of the hats and wags of the fingers and boots to the behinds.  There’s also a section with check-lists that are quite helpful.

Finally we use Google Docs for longer to-do lists (#2 keeps hers up to date… #1 does better with paper even though the paper technology also has major problems).  These are really great because other people can go in and edit them, they’re incredibly portable– you just need internet access, and they’re much more difficult to lose than the standard back of a scratch paper list.  You can even use the strike-out function to cross things out on your list as you complete them.

Update:  Biz of Life recommends dropbox.

What technologies do you use to make your work/life easier?


So you’re all probably well aware of things like the pop vs. soda debate (click here for map).  And you may know that a milkshake is a frappe is a cabinet in various parts of New England (you can actually get a separate thing called a “milkshake” in various parts of Boston… it’s like nesquick… milk with flavoring).  Or that rotaries are traffic circles are round-abouts and are a PITA no matter what they’re called.  Southern Californians are incapable of pronouncing words of more than two syllables.  Some folks say two different words when they say, “Which witch is which?” and some just say one.  Similarly, there, their, and they’re aren’t homonyms in some parts of the country (thar, thur, they’re).

We’ve both lived all over the country and we’ve picked up some different sayings here and there, as well as different names for the same things.    Here are some we’ve noticed:

“go with” :  Can I go with?  Do you want me to go with?

at:  Where is the store at?

might ought to:  Maybe this is something I should do… I might ought to write thank you notes.

Bless his heart = He’s a moron.  Or, if “bless your heart” = I feel really sorry for the idiot circumstance you got yourself into.

God bless his soul = He’s a real jerk.

lightning bug vs. firefly

hazelnut vs. filbert

sow bug vs. pill bug vs. roly poly

The 10 vs. I-10 vs. Interstate 10 vs. 10/ I-94 vs The 94 vs. The Kennedy

it took me a while to figure out that their “finna” as in “I’m finna go to lunch” meant “going to”, and even longer to realize that it was a contraction of “fixing to”.

Fun linguistics fact: the phrase “analog watch” is an example of a retronym (a word or phrase that is formed to refer to the older technology when the newer technology becomes standard).

Here is a link to this wonderful survey, complete with maps, that we participated in when we were graduate students.  Check them out!

What are your favorite regionalisms?  Anything local to your neck of the woods?

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