Who goo? Google goo!

Q:  intelligent child will not sleep to stimulate or not stimulate

A:  We’ve opted for trying to get intelligent children lots of stimulation and exercise (or at least an hour each) as early in the day as possible.  It makes the day more bearable for everybody if we do, and gets them to sleep more.

Q:  on what occasion do you give each other presents?

A:  Christmas and our birthdays!

Q:  tiaa cref life funds?

A:  Yes!

Q:  should i pay off my student loans early

A:  Probably, but we’ll need more details to be sure.  Generally you want to pay off all your higher interest debt first, unless you’re planning on bankruptcy, in which case student loans aren’t discharge-able, so strategically you’d put money in there (morally, it depends).

Q:  what is financial independence of the press

A:  This looks like one of those take-home final questions.  Alas, we will not provide the answer for you on this one.

Q:  paragraph on the marriage partyof my cousion

A:  That is a weird homework assignment.  Remember to use spell-check.  And you can totally do this yourself– no need to plagiarize from the internet!  You’ll learn more if you do it that way too.

Q:  b list how much to spend on wedding gift

A:  As much or as little as you want.

Q:  is working two jobs worth it

A:  Not for us, but if you have more time than money, or if the second job is enjoyable, or if you’re heavily in debt and need to get ahead… it might be.

Q:  does unemployment hurt you

A:  Yes.  (On average.)  See Til von Wachter’s work on this topic.  Also Kory Kroft et al.’s new paper in the QJE.

Q:  is unemployment hurting people

A:  Probably yes.  See the Huffington Post or Daily Kos for heart-felt stories.

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What would make you quit a TT job mid-semester?

Just curious.

Do you know anybody who has quit a tenured or tenure-track job mid-semester.  Do you know why?  How did that work out?

How to clean a shower stall

For my birthday, I asked DH to recaulk the master bath shower stall, specifically where the glass meets the shower bottom. The caulk is icky and no amount of cleaning makes the stain go away.

He decided, instead, to deep clean the entire shower.

Turns out that many aspects of cleaning a shower stall are not that simple.

For the hard water stains on the glass doors, DH recommends vinegar and elbow grease.  He also tried other stuff like something from the store specifically for hard water stains, and he tried barkeeps friend, but that didn’t do its usual magic.

Here’s what he has to say about the plastic shower floor:
After many, many hours of trying random cleaning agents and voodoo, I have verified that The Works (applied vigorously with a stiff plastic brush) will actually clean that junk off the textured shower floor. Sure, it’s a toilet bowl cleaner, and an acid. Who knows why it’s legal to pour such stuff down the drain so it runs to the water treatment plant? But the proof is in the pudding you could eat off my shower floor…because it’s so clean…never mind, bad metaphor.

Nothing, however, works on the caulk.  So he recaulked.

What do you use to clean a shower stall, if anything?

More information: Good or bad?

In the rational Economics 101 world, more information is always a good thing.  You can throw it away if you don’t need or want it.  You can even refuse to look at it.

As we go on in economics we learn about things like adverse selection and that insurance markets can’t exist in worlds of perfect information, meaning those who are about to get hit by bad shocks are SOL.  But everybody else lives risk free, so whatevs.

And then we get into behavioral economics… what people actually do.

More information can be a double-edged sword.

You probably noticed that credit card statements have more information on them these days than they did a few years ago.  You know know how long it’ll take to pay back that debt paying down the minimum, for example.

The improved information on the credit card bills is based on work done in an experiment on payday lenders by Marianne Bertrand at UChicago.  They find that people are less likely to take out stupid loans from payday loan companies if how bad those loans are is made more salient.  New evidence from Sumit Agarwal and coauthors shows that the credit card change worked.

On the other hand, there’s work done on calorie postings on drinks– it actually hasn’t shown much of an effect on calories in beverage consumption. People overestimate the number of calories in Starbucks drinks and are pleasantly surprised to find actual calorie counts, leading them to consume more of things they’d been overestimating. There’s also some concern that they don’t understand what the number of calories means in terms of their own diet.  (They do tend to eat lower calorie food items at Starbucks with the postings though.)

Cigarette box warnings don’t work for the same reason that calorie postings don’t work. People already overestimate their chance of getting lung cancer from smoking.  So the warnings don’t add new information.

The money information added to credit cards and check cashing places is different than the food posting information… people really do not know how many years it will take to pay off a balance if they’re only paying the minimum, or how much they will end up paying in interest at the end of that. That does provide new information to consumers.  There’s no pleasant surprise when that information is put in an easy to understand format.

Update:  Here’s another cool article: Paging Inspector Sands: The Costs of Public InformationSacha Kapoor and Arvind Magesan We exploit the introduction of pedestrian countdown signals—timers that indicate when traffic lights will change—to evaluate a policy that improves the information of all market participants. We find that although countdown signals reduce the number of pedestrians struck by automobiles, they increase the number of collisions between automobiles. They also cause more collisions overall, implying that welfare gains can be attained by hiding the information from drivers. Whereas most empirical studies on the role of information in markets suggest that asymmetric information reduces welfare, we conclude that asymmetric information can, in fact, improve it.

So information can help or hurt depending on how addictive the behavior is and whether we’re over- or under-estimating the badness of what we’re addicted to.

Have you ever been in a situation in which you would have been better off without more information?  Has getting more information ever transformed your actions?

Link love

Well, there have been a lot of excellent posts this week on the Nature/Henry Gee/misogyny thing.  But I think we’re just going to link to this one.  It says all that needs to be said unless and until Nature takes actual action.  Academic and science readers, please pop over and sign it.

Lessee here… not linking to the post where JD says the best way to get rich is to get a lot more money in a little bit of time… Personally I think the best way to get rich is to be born with money.  Too bad it’s too late for that for most of us.

Sinfest 1 2.

The effects of parenthood on academic productivity among economists.

Wandering scientist should have split this post into 3 parts so we could link to each.  Go read the entire thing, it’s worth it.  Don’t worry, we’re short on links this week so you have extra time.

So cute!

“I love Wuthering Heights so much. That book is all, “Oh, you wanted to romanticize rural life? LET ME TELL YOU A TALE OF PSYCHOPATHIC NECROPHILIACS.” ”  Are you in a Bronte novel?

Where is MLK Blvd?

Ask the grumpies: To move or not to move?

To move or not to move asks:

My husband and I have been talking about moving from the city where I did my PhD to my hometown. This move would result in us going more than halfway across the country.

We have two kids (baby and toddler).

Here are the factors we’re considering:


–          My husband has a very well paying, fairly secure job that he enjoys for the most part.

–          I am currently on maternity leave, but the position was a contract position and it ends before my maternity leave ends.  I do not have a job to go back to, and am looking at a career change.  My latest position was not a post-doc, but it was related to my PhD field.  Unfortunately, my PhD field is one in which there are not that many obvious direct paths from academia to industry, but it’s also freeing in that there’s no just one part of the country that has all the jobs related to my PhD.

–          Neither of us has job prospects in hometown at the moment (though we’re always looking).


–          We don’t have family or many close friends in PhD city. In hometown, we’d automatically have family (my parents, brother/his wife, aunt/uncle, cousin, grandmother) and close friends nearby – it would be an instant support system that we don’t have here.

–          Hometown is also closer to husband’s family (next state over instead of across the country) – makes for easier and less expensive visits.


–          We love our house and neighborhood in PhD city. We don’t love PhD city or the area of the country, but it’s okay. It seems to be a good place to raise a young family.

–          Hometown is an amazing city with lots to do in and nearby.

–          Weather in PhD city is better overall – milder/shorter winters, warmer/long spring/summer/falls (winters in  hometown is what bothers husband the most).

Cost of living

–          So much more reasonable in PhD city. We bought our house in PhD city for $250K, and the equivalent in an equivalent neighborhood in hometown would be about $700K-$1M.

So, my questions are:

–          How in the world do we make this decision?

–          What factors are the most important? Are we missing any?

–          If we do decide to move, what factors needs to be taken care of beforehand?

Wow, that’s a lot of discussion.  It’s hard for us to advise you on this decision because we have always moved for the job.  That’s why we’re both living in red states where we get to choose between the libertarian candidate and the tea-party Republican.  Fun times.  But most people stay close to home and family and support networks, so it’s not like you’re talking crazy talk.

Ultimately this is a very personal decision.  We’d advise you to make a list of pros and cons like you’ve done, but only you can weigh the job uncertainty vs. the desire to move back near family vs. the weather, etc.

Just straight off, it’s hard to see a good reason to move to PhD city without employment in place.  Your DH likes his job and doesn’t have a new one lined up and the new city is really expensive.  Unless you’re independently wealthy, there could be some pretty strong risks to moving without a job.  Even though it’s usually easier to find a new job in a city after you’ve moved there.  But you two should definitely both keep seeking out employment opportunities in Hometown– once there’s an actual job you’ll be able to do actual salary vs. cost of living vs. happiness calculations.  If your DH hated his job, then there would be more reason to jump ship without a backup plan in place, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.  Still, you may weigh other factors (like family) heavier in your decision and be less risk averse than we are.  Also #1 hates winters too.

#2 adds:  If you don’t hate PhDCity and are just homesick, then stay put.  If you hate PhDCity, which it doesn’t sound like you do, it might be worth moving anyway.  Really though the two of you need to do more research about job options before we can give more solid advice– the job is a big missing piece, especially if PhDCity is the cheap place to live.  You would have to get HELLA free childcare and HELLA cheaper travel to family to make up for the COL increase.

Factors:  Get jobs.  Get a decent rental you can stand.  Childcare.  Vaccinations.  Find schools.  Find a new pediatrician.  Consider your cars/pets.  Moving is the very very worst.  You may find cheaper rates in the off-season (not summer).  Moving across the country will make you nuts.

Grumpy Nation, surely you can give a better response here than we did.  Help 2mon2m out!

Patriarchy fatigue

I just can’t even.

With patriarchy.



#1 wrote the above BEFORE this latest Henry Gee thing.  But I think after the latest Nature editor letter thing.  We were gonna run it next week, but decided to move it up because…

Turns out the patriarchy doesn’t like being ignored.  Whodathunkit?

We cannot imagine an editor at the top social science journals of our fields going on a twitter account rampage. But then, what do you expect from an evolutionary biologist?  It’s not like they do real science.  It’s sad how evolution is so cool and yet the people who study it are TEH WORST.  [UPDATE:  Our readers inform us that we are getting Evolutionary Biology mixed up with Evolutionary Social Science and that Evolutionary Biology is totally legit.  We apologize.  Henry Gee is a poor representative of your discipline.]  I think it’s because it’s so hard to do actual science in that field, so all they can do is compare penis length at each other (and feel better about themselves because the average is low).  But it might just be like theoretical physics and it’s hysteresis– it’s always been that way and nobody wants to hang out with them because the rewards are so small for the amount of harassment one has to put up with.  [Update:  It appears that Henry Gee doesn’t actually do any science, real or pseudo.  The irony.  Truly inconsequential!  Except that he has this power over publication at Nature that he should not have.  Maybe the blackmail theory has something to it.]

It’s almost comical how he’s threatening dissenting (female and minority) tweeters now.  He’s got some sort of “list” that he’s put them on.  He’s strongly hinting it’s a blacklist because he’s got the PWR.  [#1:  I wanna be on THE LIST.  I HOPE YOU KNOW THAT THIS WILL GO DOWN ON YOUR PERMANENT RECORD.]

He shouldn’t have that power.  But he does.  He still does.  Two years after Womanspace.

I sure hope this time Nature takes the complaints seriously and fires him.  Because if they don’t, then two years from now [or sooner!] he’s going to do something even worse and crazier. Because we keep teaching him that he can.

I’d say it’s like he’s daring Nature to fire him, but I don’t think he even thinks that’s a remote possibility.  Initially I’d thought maybe he’s got blackmail dirt on someone, but no, I really think that Nature is just THAT clueless.  [#1:  evidence from the past seems to show…]

Anyway, as much as we’d like to ignore the patriarchy this semester while we’re teaching it, it seems like that’s not gonna be an option.  Sorry, #1.


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A review of this library that you might not even know is here

There is kind of a “stealth” library really near where I live.  It is part of the county system, not the city system, so I didn’t know about it until I walked in looking for a place to work on my laptop.   It looks like a secret from the parking lot.

It turns out to be a pretty good place to work if I’m feeling done with the coffee shop for the day.

It’s quiet, with just enough noise to not be creepy.  It has lots of places to sit, including this:

bookcase fakeout

Facilities include study rooms, a computer room, and a surprisingly decent collection of graphic novels.  I started a new series while I was there, and I’m planning to go back for 2 more.

Near a sofa is a vase with some yarn and a pair of knitting needles in it.

In the back is a huge classroom with kid- and adult-sized chairs.  I don’t know what classes are held there.

It has carrells, an enclosed children’s room where they can make some noise, and a “Christmas tree” made out of old encyclopedia volumes (it was summer when I went).

If you get bored you can wander around and look at all the pocket pets they have distributed throughout the library in little cages: tiny tree frogs, a guinea pig, gerbil, bearded dragon, gecko, dove, koi.

As you may be gathering, it’s much bigger than it looks from the outside, as well as having good a/c and wireless access.  On the somewhat sad side, there are surprisingly fewer books than I think it needs (the shelves are not full and there is room for a lot more of them).

There are some “honor books” by the front that you can take without checking out and return whenever.  I haven’t checked out their bookstore yet.

It’s really doing a pretty decent job overall!  It sort of looks like they have not grown into their huge space yet, though they have been there at least 3 years.

This review does you no good, Grumpeteers, but it amuses us.  #2 adds:  What do you like about your favorite library?  What would your dream library have?

compound interest

One of the things Dave Ramsey is infamous for is making the claim that the stock market returns 12%/year.  Lately he’s been saying well, his money market funds return that.  (Uh huh.)  Then he goes through an exercise showing how much money you’ll make if you put away X, assuming an interest rate of 12%/year.  It’s a lot.  Because of the magic of compounding.

And obviously that 12% number is garbage.  (Reality is probably closer to 7%.)  However, after he makes this claim, he’ll often say, “Even if I’m half wrong…that’s still a lot of money.”

The implication being, if the interest rate is closer to 6% you’ll end up with half of that huge number he just calculated, which is still a huge number.

Of course you don’t.

Because compound interest doesn’t work that way.  As time goes on tiny differences are magnified with each compound, so that 6% difference starts out as half as big, but ends up compounding over time to something much larger than half as big.

Here’s a calculator because that’s more fun than doing the math by hand.  (Or at least it’s more fun than either typing out the formula or typing out the derivation of the formula.)

Take a Principal of 100,000.  Don’t add anything to it.  Assume a 12% interest rate that compounds once per year for 30 years.  You get $2,995,992.21 .  Or almost 3 million dollars.

Now let’s assume it’s actually half of 12%, or 6%.  If you’re thinking, I could totally live on 1.5 million dollars… you probably could.  But a 6% interest rate over 30 years only gives you $574,349.12, or half a million dollars.  Not chump change, but not enough to live through retirement on, even assuming these are real interest rates (putting things in today’s dollars instead of tomorrow’s inflationed dollars) and not nominal (if you assume 2% inflation, the real interest rate is 2 points lower than the nominal rate).

Half the interest rate compounded doesn’t result in half the earnings, but instead far less than that.

Losing just 1%, for a rate of 11% gives $2,289,229.66, which is a loss of about 700K!

The truth is that compound interest is magical, and the longer your time horizon, the less you need to put in to get big numbers out the other end.  However, it’s not quite as magical as a 12% interest rate would have you believe.  If Dave Ramsey is 50% wrong, you’re much worse than 50% worse off.

link love

Apparently if you let things die down after a double-down, they keep doing the EXACT SAME THING.  (Nature does it again.  I don’t know how anybody can take that rag seriously.)

Anne Jefferson explains exactly how the recent bad science stuff is doing harm.  Trenchant.

The weekly sift explains exactly why angry white men.  Fascinating.

I’d like somebody to name and shame.

The myth of gender blind parenting.

This doctor doesn’t understand why thinking of her patients as if they’re children and calling them “sweetie” might be, oh, I don’t know, just a little bit offensive (just her sweet pathetic female patients, mind you).  And why it’s ok for a waitress at Denny’s to call someone sweetie, but not for someone in a position of authority.  Like, my department secretary can bless my heart when I’m complaining, but I’d be seriously pissed if my dean did the same.  Initially, I thought it was great that she was willing to change her mind and stop doing something she hadn’t realized was problematic, but instead it looks like she’s attacking anybody who disagrees with her and was just trying to justify doing something she knows deep down is bad.  Note that all the people disagreeing with her (except us!) are doing it anonymously, reinforcing that authority thing.

Turns out booth babes don’t actually generate sales at tech functions.  Whoda thunk it?  It’s like it’s not the 1960s anymore or something.

If you can’t find your phone

Ideas are overrated.

capybara sits on a yuku forum


The adrenaline rush can be good.

This is so sweet.

This is a kind of neat exercise routine.

Toast.  Read it to the end.  Because it’s more than toast.

I might need one of these for work.

This is (less) funny because it’s true.

This is also true.  And less funny if you’re living it.

The new abortion laws, what you need to know.

Metonymy.  Not to be confused with meronymy or meronomy.

I picked this one.  It’s supposed to come next week.  (See the original thread for more details!)

“White male leader not actually a dickhead. Film at 11.”

A friendly reminder to take what your 3 year old says with a grain of salt.