link love: Hulk Style.


Ok, so if I didn’t have any family or a job (or a bladder) and had enough moneys to pay for shelter and computer power, I would totally totally want this.  Squeee!!!!!

Delagar suggests an alternative to the Bechdel test.  Also gender and schools.

First gen American talks about clothing and ultra-frugality as a child.

Pictures of bookcases!  Alyssa, CPP, Wandering Scientist.  Do you prefer the full shots of entire libraries or just the snippets?  The full frontal or the ankle/shoulder peep?

Oil and garlic has a super-awesome chart of frugal substitutes, as requested by Debbie M.

Explain xkcd has its claws in us this week.  Updating every half hour… It’s almost as if we’re at the beach too.

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

Googled questions

Q:  will i love second baby as much as first

A:  yes

Q:  why do i feel like i have to be better than my dad

A:  Because you don’t want to be a wanker?  Seriously, man, your dad sucks.

Q:  reasons parents should pay for thier childrens education in the econmy

A:  Because many public school programs just don’t do a good job of teaching spelling, and that makes the kids less employable.

Q:  what is a parent philosophy

A:  A big philosophy that spawns smaller related philosophies

Q:  is it true that i could marry my bestfriend

A:  Depends on your best friend’s feelings and the laws in your state

Q:  would you let house go into foreclosure to send child to private school

A:  no

Q:  if i sold house payed off first mortgage but still owed second can they still buy house

A:  So long as the amount they pay is greater than the remainder of the mortgage (which you will then pay off with the proceeds).  If not, then you will have to try a short-sale.

Q:  does a b+ kill my phd prospects?

A:  No.

Q:  activities in me this weekend

A:  Circulatory, pulmonary…

Q:  should kids have jobs

A:  According to child labor laws… no.

Why do I do this to myself? A research rant!

Why do I put projects down and not pick them up forever?

I spend so much fricking time trying to figure out what I was doing a year, two years, five years ago.

A lot of this is my coauthors’ fault.  I hate nagging and other coauthors don’t, so I’m often low on the queue.  And sometimes there will be something they have to do that I can’t do.  And months will pass.

But… that doesn’t explain why I do this to myself on single-authored papers too.

And I always swear to myself that this time I will leave myself better notes.  More complete files with better comments.   Ugh.  Unfortunately whatever it was that caused me to put something down often keeps me from putting it away neatly too.

One benefit of having to figure out what the heck it was I was doing– I often find mistakes.  But really, I’d prefer to find those mistakes in a faster way.

#2 chimes in:

Cripes, I do that too!  I have so many things that are around 85% done.  All the hard part is done!  If I just put in a few hours, fewer than 10, I can send this stuff out for publication by the end of this month.  But yet, I don’t do it!

There are various reasons for this.  Sometimes, I stall out when I don’t know what to do next.  Instead of asking for help like a reasonable being, I try to pretend nothing’s wrong.  I have some fear that the project somehow isn’t right, in some way (not rigorous enough?  stats not correct?), and that reviewers will, I don’t know, laugh at me.  This is silly because peer review, whether through a journal submission or  just asking colleagues for informal feedback, will catch existing problems and make the paper better.  Maybe those problems aren’t even there and I’m just imagining them!

Maybe I have a fear of success.  If this article is great, I have to keep producing great things!  What if the next one isn’t as good, or I can’t get the next one done?  I better hold on to this one in case I need a submission for next year.  (??!!?!?!?!?)

Sometimes, I get distracted.  For example, I have to get my RAs started on data collection for the next project, and that takes a lot of time and energy, and I don’t make it a priority to finish writing the previous paper.  I’m dumb like that.

Sometimes, it’s just hard work and I’m tired.  In my head, I have found great results and know what they mean.  Or found not-great results and I’m already working on a follow-up study that fixes this one’s limitations.  Taking the extra time to explain complex results for an audience can be tedious.

Sometimes, I can’t face the thought of all the work still to come.  I can submit for publication and forget about the paper for a while… yay!  But then I might get a revise-and-resubmit, and have to do YET MORE work on this project that I am mentally done with, and that would be tedious.  Or I could not do the revisions, and send it somewhere else.  This works a surprising number of times.

On the upside: A pre-tenure push to clear the backlog has really paid off for me.  But I need to try not to get such a backlog in the first place.

Grumpy readers, please smack us upside the head and tell us to stop being dorks, ok?  Also, send cookies. (Do you do this kind of stuff too?)

Live every day as if it’s the last day of your life?

If I did that, I would never go to work.  Never.  Neither would my partner.  I wouldn’t save any money for retirement.  I wouldn’t exercise.

I don’t like those mental exercises where they ask you to change your current behavior based on some doomsday scenario.  They seem to assume that what we would want to do in a short period of time is the same as what we would want to do over a long period of time. That is, they don’t get diminishing marginal utility (or present value).

If I had a short period of time left obviously I would want to spend my time with my family and not working (not to mention eating decadent and expensive food). But long-term only being with my family would start to grate on me and I’d yearn for something outside of that, or I’d get fat or start disliking the special food and I’d have no money for retirement.

Which leaves me where I go to work and do projects that will gratify me in the long-term, even if they sometimes annoy me in the short term, and to eat healthy foods on a moderate budget. Yes yes, I know they’re supposed to get us to think about what really makes us happy and they assume we aren’t already maximizing our utility with our revealed preferences… but I think such exercises also lead to bad feelings and sub-optimization.

Or as Lucy says around minute 3:40 :

Residual effects of February challenge

Damn it.

I’m still thinking about spending.  Even though we’re no longer under a challenge, it’s harder to just get something to eat without major pre-planning.  And when I do, there’s some regret.  If only I’d put more stuff for me on the grocery list.  Then I wouldn’t have had to pay for that overpriced mediocre salad at the cafeteria.  Earlier me would have said, it’s only $7, and I should probably get this mediocre $6 california roll too just in case.  Obey my hunger!

I ran out of larabars is the problem.  Also we ran out of any fruit but apples.  And we ran out of rice cakes.  And cheese.  And yogurt.  And tortilla chips.  And EGGS.  And nuts.  And used up the cooked rice and cooked quinoa.  And I think wheat products have started giving me hives on my arms on top of the potentially imaginary symptoms I was having.  (Thursday night, after DH and DC had pizza at a birthday party, DH accidentally got the regular sweet and sour chicken at pei wei instead of gluten free for me because our cupboards were bare, other than wheaty things.  I ate it anyway because I was hungry.)

We obviously didn’t get enough at the grocery store that Saturday and we should probably have gone again mid-week, but I kept thinking, we’re going into the city this coming Saturday, surely we can wait.  In the end we went grocery shopping on Friday anyway after I ate out twice (and again in the city the next day).  If we’d spent enough the previous Saturday, we’d probably have saved more down the line.  Or maybe everything will eventually get eaten anyway and it doesn’t matter when we buy it.  Except that when we have easy-to-transport wheat-free food, I don’t end up eating overpriced wilty salads.

Larabars are expensive at $1 each.  But they’re less expensive than snacks at the cafeteria.  Once I’m no longer nursing I should be able to cut back on them.  We have stocked up.

I did go crazy in the city that weekend, mostly without guilt.  I feel a little bad about what was spent, but also bad that I feel bad.

Also bought presents for people this month and spent what was right for the present rather than cutting back.  Next year the perfect present we think of will be less expensive, I’m sure.  (Thanks, Rumpus, for the TONX suggestion!)

So I don’t think we’re really spending less than we would be without having done the Feb challenge, but we’re feeling worse about the spending we do.  I wonder if this will wear off, or if we’ll eventually tighten our belts or what.

Urgh.  So we need to either spend less, make more, or figure everything will just work out.  It is so much easier when your income is far more than your enough!

link love

A kitten in the hand is worth two of anything else (from momdot).

jliedl used to believe in renewal

Why did the chicken go to the seance?  Gunnerkrigg court with the answer.

Do we not grumble enough for you?  Thank goodness for angry face.

The Book of Kells online is pretty.

Performance today with a drummer’s thoughts while playing Bolero.

F* YES Tenure, from PhD Comics.  (Though we wish we’d gotten three submissions in…)

Awesome obit.

Saw this in the funny papers.

I got a parking ticket this week because I forgot to put my tag back up after an oil change.  #2 tried to comfort me with this article.  It didn’t work.  (“I was an idiot,” fortunately is not on their list of reasons you cannot use to ask for ticket forgiveness, so I requested a challenge.)


Food for thought.

Also, ARGH!

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

Ask the Grumpies: Should I get a PhD in Accounting?

TH asks:

I’m 31 and in my junior year of college, majoring in accounting. I started back to school part-time ten years after dropping out in my first semester to move across the country for Loooooove… a couple years into school I wound up divorcing and am finishing up on my own with a great deal of emotional support from far-flung friends and family.

I was raised to be a good Christian wife and make lots of babies. I’m not doing any of that now except maybe the “good” part, and when I realized that my current program of schooling would end in a master’s degree, I was astonished. I was homeschooled all the way through high school, and while my parents assured me that I was smart enough to be anything I wanted, I wasn’t steered towards higher education in any way, although they’re both college grads and my dad is an MD.

Last year, a professor in one of my classes asked me if I’d considered a PhD in accountancy. I didn’t even know there was such a thing then, and certainly hadn’t considered it for myself. Circumstances being different then, I decided I wasn’t interested at the time but might consider it at a future date.

Circumstances have changed, and I got an e-mail from the same professor this weekend (he’s now teaching overseas, his gain and my loss) asking if I’d thought more about it. I hadn’t, but now I am.

You’re in academia. I don’t know anything about what that’s like. Do you have any thoughts or advice for me? I can do the coursework. I’m smart, and I can work hard. I’m carrying a full-time courseload, working about 30 hours a week as a self-employed editor of court transcripts, and my GPA just dipped from a 4.0 last semester. I ran some numbers today (average CPA salary, average accounting professor salary for new entrants) and financially it would put me ahead to get the PhD and work as a professor. There’s high demand right now.

Things I don’t know: If I’m going to hate being a professor. If there’s so much bureaucratic bullshit I’m going to want to drink myself to sleep every night. If I can learn to be a good teacher. If I can learn to talk for hours without losing my voice or coughing to death. If I can come up with subjects to research. If I can survive a PhD thesis defense. If adding five more years of school is going to destroy my chance to meet someone awesome who wants to have a family with me, and get that started.

I realized today that some of my reasons for brushing this off earlier are bogus – like being afraid that being visibly very schooled/”smart” will scare guys off because it intimidates them (my ex got more insecure the more I learned, which he didn’t need to be insecure about that). So that’s challenged me to reconsider.

Accounting professors are going to have a different experience than many of our humanities readers. You are absolutely right that the demand for accounting PhDs outstrips the supply. You would also most likely be looking at a 6 figure salary or close to one straight out of school. But I’m sure you’ve looked at the numbers and have a more accurate picture than I do. (Disclaimer: I haven’t looked at the numbers in a few years, and I don’t remember them exactly, just that they were up there with Pharmacy PhDs.) You’ve also noted that the accounting PhD takes less time than most humanities or science PhDs (on average, 5 years). Another nice thing to note is that it is not uncommon for people to start accounting phds later than their early 20s, which you tend to see in some other disciplines. You would not be out of place (not that that should bother you if you were!).

The number one thing you need to know about going into academia is whether or not you will enjoy doing research. I have to confess that I don’t have any idea what kind of research it is that accounting professors do. This year or next, see if you can do a research assistantship with an accounting professor, or even better, a guided research project of your own. If it turns out you don’t like doing research, you can still teach accounting with a masters degree, and adjuncting accounting classes pays more than adjuncting humanities classes does.

When you look at accounting programs, an important thing to ask is what the pass rate is– how many people get kicked out of the program or drop out. Some of the accounting PhD programs are pretty brutal and arbitrary in that respect.  Check to make sure they want you to succeed.  Talk to current students.

>If I’m going to hate being a professor.

Probably not. Especially if you can manage your time well, not stress out too much about tenure (and with a PhD in accounting, you should be able to find a job if you leave), and not stress out too much about teaching evals.  The only way to find this out might be to try grad school and try to get a handle on it; you could also try doing as many informational interviews as you can with professors and try to get their honest opinions about what it entails.  The good news is, they should all have office hours you can drop in to.

>If there’s so much bureaucratic bullshit I’m going to want to drink myself to sleep every night.

One nice and not so nice thing about accounting: Most likely you’re going to be in the business school. On the one hand, you’ll have fewer crazy colleagues than you might in some other fields. On the other hand, you’ll have colleagues who are business professors. How much do you like economists, marketing profs, etc.? You will also most likely have to wear suits, or at least business casual. Business schools generally have more resources than the rest of campus, you’ll be less resource-constrained, the rest of the campus will resent that slightly.  (And if not in the business school, then a subset of the economics department, though from what I understand accounting profs in econ dept are kind of second class citizens compared to accounting profs in business schools, but this may be because accounting profs in econ dept tend to be at SLAC and often do not have PhDs.) You’ll probably have the same bureaucratic BS more or less than you would have working at a mid-size to large company, depending on the kind of university you end up at. So non-trivial, but not more than you’d have in any big business.

>If I can learn to be a good teacher.
Yes. Another note: Business students are really obnoxious and entitled and whiny. However, I hear that accounting students are the least obnoxious group within business.  And other students are obnoxious and entitled and whiny too, so it’s not like you can escape that.  (But business students are especially bad.)

>If I can learn to talk for hours without losing my voice or coughing to death.
You won’t need to. Case studies!  But if you *need* to talk for some time, there are techniques you can learn.  (Relaxing your throat muscles!  Drinking lots of water!  Learning to project from the diaphragm!)

>If I can come up with subjects to research.
This is really important. Talk to professors about this starting now. Tell them you’re interested in research and ask for opportunities. Think about the big questions and the little questions in Accounting. Read papers. It may take a few years to figure out the answer to this question.

As much as you can, try to get research experience — sign up now for next semester.  Work for a professor.  Read articles and see if they get you excited.  For most PhDs, you simply must love research in order to make it through.  Try to find this out.

>If I can survive a PhD thesis defense.

>If adding five more years of school is going to destroy my chance to meet someone awesome who wants to have a family with me, and get that started.
Lean in. Also go someplace with a good engineering school. Engineers are sexy.  If the person you meet isn’t down with you having an advanced degree, you don’t want them anyway.  Plenty of my friends had babies in grad school, or got married, or got divorced, bought a house, got a puppy.  You can make your life work.  [If you get a puppy though, make sure you have an equal partner in house-training.]

>I realized today that some of my reasons for brushing this off earlier are bogus – like being afraid that being visibly very schooled/”smart” will scare guys off because it intimidates them (my ex got more insecure the more I learned, which he didn’t need to be insecure about that). So that’s challenged me to reconsider.

Like I said, engineers! They love smart women. Any guy worth having does (at least any guy worth having if you’re a smart woman!).  We repeat:  if a man doesn’t want to be with a woman who has a higher degree than him, DTMFA!

And that brings us to the last point. Even with an accounting degree, you get very little choice about where you move to after you’re done. We’re living in places we wouldn’t choose if it weren’t for the job. There’s a limited number of professor jobs in any discipline each year and you have to have a certain amount of flexibility. If you absolutely have to live in a specific city, it’s unlikely you’ll get a TT job there. It’s possible, but not likely. If you are location dependent, see what kind of jobs you can get with a PhD in accounting in industry and/or government (depending on the location).

Good luck with this decision!

Readers, anything we forgot?

Language is important: A feminist primer

Dr. #2 is going to have to help me out on this post since she’s the feminist scholar.  (Everything I learned about feminism I’ve been learning from her and academic blogs!)  But I’m beginning to know subtle sexism when I see it.

Language is a tricky thing.  We can say one thing overtly but use language that implicitly says something quite the opposite.  How we say something can be more important than what we actually say.

Woman as child

There is so much infantilizing of women.  When’s the last time you called a woman over age 18 a girl for any reason?  Please, check yourself.  If you get together with a group of women, are they girlfriends?  Who gets called baby?

[disclaimer:  I think this song is MAD CATCHY!]

Pronouns matter

Much of this information comes from the work of Janet Shibley Hyde and colleagues. 

Much research shows that when people read, say, or hear “he” or “him” as generic pronouns, they almost always think of male examples.  In one study, participants read a sentence about “the average student” at a university, and that student was referred to as either  his, their, or his or her.  Then participants had to make up stories about this fictional student.  When “the average student” got the his pronoun, 65% of the stories were about men.  Using their resulted in 54% of stories being about men.  Using his or her, 44% were about men.  There are a lot of studies that replicate this finding.

That study was from 1978 with adults, so Hyde wanted to look at children and how they developed these ideas. She gave children a sentence such as:  When a kid goes to school, ____ often feels excited on the first day.  She filled the blank with either he, they, or he or she.  When the word was he, not a single boy in all of elementary school (through fifth grade) made up a story about a girl.  In fact, most children, girls and boys, did not even know about he being (supposedly) gender-neutral.  However, despite not being aware of the rule, most children thought of “human” as equivalent to “male”.  In another sentence, Hyde had children fill in the blank: If a kid likes candy, ____ might eat too much.  Overwhelmingly, the children filled in “he” to represent a random kid.  Even the girls.

This is true in English, which does not have genders on all our nouns, and also in other languages, like German and Spanish, which do.

Finally, Janet Shibley Hyde gave elementary school children a paragraph describing the fictional occupation of wudgemaker.  She varied the pronouns, and then asked children how well a woman could do the job, and how well a man could do it.  When rating men, pronoun had no effect on what children thought of them as wudgemakers.  They answered that a man could do the job pretty well whether the pronoun described wudgemakers as he, they, she, or he-or-she.  However, when figuring out how well a woman could do the job, pronouns mattered.  Children who heard the pronoun he to describe a typical wudgemaker rated a woman as being “just ok” at that job.  Children who heard she rated a woman as being very good at the job.  The other two pronouns were in the middle.

Sexist language can even lower females’ ability to remember content from a passage of reading.

Media and sexual abuse


And don’t get us started on language used in rape cases.  Well, I guess it’s too late.

Problems include passive language“Every year thousands of women are raped.  How can this problem be stopped?”  Hello.  Every year thousands of men rape women!

In another study of sexual assault coverage, most of the quotes used were from the perpetrator or his lawyer (eww).  Who gets to tell their story?

Child Abuse

It gets worse with child sexual abuse in the media.

The media often use “it” to describe a child (most victims of sexual abuse are girls), and even when the media identify the gender they will later revert to using it, in something called Gender Slippage.  Language is of critical importance in influencing societal views.  When they do this, the article becomes more neutral and reduces the reader’s emotional involvement.  It also reduces the perceived seriousness of the problem.  Do we want to do that?

When adults abuse children, the media often frames the situation as a consensual relationship.  Media sometimes use the word “affair” between a 60-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl.  That is not an affair.  That is abuse.  “Jailed teacher afraid lover boy will dump her”  (O’Mahony, 1998) is one example.  Again, ewww.

Domestic Violence

Johnson (1994) did an incredible study of San Francisco newspapers’ coverage of domestic violence (DV) cases involving death of the victim.  Professional DV experts were quoted in only 25% of articles; the main source of quotes was perpetrator’s family.  Who has voice?

The term “domestic violence” was used repeatedly for non-white couples but rarely for white couples.  White perpetrators were usually described as nice, normal, sweet, and loving; minority perpetrators were described negatively.  In the articles, violence was seen as aberration in white communities but expected in minority communities.

Bullock and Cubert (2002) studied over 200 Seattle newspaper accounts of domestic violence.  They find that many many articles shifted blame from attacker onto victim or circumstances (“the divorce was hard on him”).  EWww!  One possible mechanism for how this happens is DARVO.  There was also a misconception that abusers should be readily identifiable (i.e., not the rich white people-next-door).

But wait, you also get…

We’ve already covered stereotype threat.  Yes, words really can hurt.

You get to choose what you consume in the media.  What will you tolerate?  Do you write letters to the editor?

What are we reading?

Sherlock Holmes short stories (free! on kindle)

The Indiscreet Letter, (also free! on kindle)

Goblin Tales series by Jim C. Hines. Here’s an omnibus.  Oh, but the omnibus doesn’t include the short stories that #1 was actually reading… hm… that’s available on amazon.

Mort. by Terry Pratchett

Sourcery, also by Terry Pratchett

(both of us have read these Discworld novels multiple times!  #1’s current project is to read these in order for the first time. :)  )

Bossypants (I think I was the last person in the world to have not read this yet. Or, if YOU are the last person, read it!)

Saga, volume 1, by Brian Vaughan — amazing! Please read it!

Freakangels vol 1 — interesting. I will read some more in this series and see how it goes.

Darkbeast — this is a YA book but I think adults might even get MORE out of it. Highly recommended. Do check this out.

Skylark — dystopia and magic

The Immortality Engine. Third in a series, and I love it!

Grumpeteers, got anything we should add to our lists?  (Like we need more!)

Also, courtesy of CPP’s request, here’s some shots of our bookshelves (only a partial shot, of course).


bookshelves 001

What is financial independence?

So we’ve talked a lot about financial independence as a side-note and we’ve talked a lot about the book Your Money or Your Life (and some about Mr. Money Moustache and Early Retirement Extreme), but mainly in the context of other things like what to do if you’re not enjoying your career, or why are hardcore bloggers so popular.

I was looking for a link to define financial independence when replying to a comment the other day, and it turns out we don’t have one.

What is financial independence?

Well, my dad says that success is when the money you make from investments is greater than your salary income.  That’s one version of financial independence– being able to replace your earned income with passive income.

Your Money or Your Life defines it as when your income from passive investing covers your living expenses.

A somewhat simple definition is:  You have enough money from other sources that you don’t have to work for pay.  You only work if/because you want to, not because you have to.

There’s some disagreement with the nitty-gritty details.  Do rental properties count if you’re the one doing the property management?  Does drawing down stocks at 4% count or do you have to live off the dividends alone?  (Note:  draw-down vs. dividends is kind of a red herring–depending on the tax structure you may prefer a company that reinvests profits to one that spits out dividends.)  Does having a working spouse paying some of the bills mean you’re not financially independent?  It can be hard to say.  And in the end, it probably doesn’t matter except for getting into silly arguments on the blogosphere with all your new-found free-time.

How do you get to financial independence?  Well, you get rid of your debt.  You get your living expenses as low as you can/want.   You save a lot of money.  You put that money in places that are going to make money for you in a relatively low-risk setting.  (Note:  the stock market is low risk over the long term but high risk over the short-term… diversification is *very* important to manage risk.)   You keep saving and investing until you hit a magic “crossover” point, in which the money you make from your investments is “enough” to cover your “enough”.  Then you’re financially independent.

At that point you have the freedom to walk away from your job.  To take a risk on your current job or on a new job.  You can stop working, keep working with the freedom that you could lose the job and still be ok, or change work entirely.

Financial independence is freedom.

Now, you may not want to achieve full financial independence, or may not be able to achieve it any time soon (because your “enough” is too large compared to your income), but you can still achieve partial financial independence.

Partial financial independence is when you have a very large emergency fund and you’re on track or ahead of the game with your other saving.  Partial financial independence means you’ll eventually have to find another job, but you can still leave employment or take risks with your employment and you’ll be ok for a while.  (In the academic context, it’s a nice thing to have when you want to take a sabbatical and aren’t sure on funding sources.)  Many people call this type of financial independence having an “FU fund.”

In the US, of course, there are sticking points for those under the age of 65.  Health insurance is the big one.  Hopefully it will become easier to get affordable health insurance not tied to your job as the Affordable Care Act continues to be rolled out, but health costs will still be increasing over time.

Have you thought about what it would take to be fully or partially financially independent?  Is this something that, absent of getting a large inheritance or other windfall, would be of interest to you?