A little link love

Not really a light link love, but shorter than usual for various reasons.

I’m not sure where/how to report our political action as time goes on, but, like my friend who IM’d me yesterday said, I do not want to get complacent or too dispirited and stop.  This needs to keep going until I can, until we all can, trust our government officials to make decisions again.  Until then I MUST stay active and pay attention.  This past week was full of calling senators and congress people about trump’s racist cabinet picks, his conflicts of interest, and the other things mentioned in the previous days posts.  I also got on the mailing list for our local democratic party even though they haven’t done anything.  I think we’re still active enough as a nation that there will be plenty more to do in the coming weeks without me planning it out now.  But eventually I will get organized and report back to the Grumpy Nation with posts about what I’m doing and why.  Please keep telling us what you’re doing as well.  It’s really scary when you talk to a former member of W’s administration and he tells you that his biggest fear going forward is the same as your biggest fear (and also explains how your second biggest fear can lead to the first).  We must stay vigilant.

I want this on a shirt

syllabus for white people to educate themselves

we need diverse books fundraiser

sigh 

:(

a way to fight racism online

a way to protect people who are being harassed in public

holy F*

Reminding myself of sunk costs has helped me

calming manatee

I bought this shirt

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Updates of the life variety

We’re still not ready to get back to regular posting– ask the grumpies will have to wait at least another week to get back on the schedule.  Here’s a few life updates while you wait for our wisdom to return.

  • My friend with secondary infertility who has been trying to get and stay pregnant for more than 2 years and many many IVF cycles has a pregnancy that has been sticking so far.
  • DH’s relative got a new job pretty much right away (via networking!).  It has better benefits and pays $1K more than his old job.  There’s also a little less hard labor work and a little more desk work which is good given his arthritis.  He’s disappointed because they decided the salary by asking him what he got paid and then adding 1K to it, and he is pretty sure he’s underpaid.  BUT it’s a better job and he won’t have an employment gap.  He did negotiate for another week of vacation and they didn’t blink.
  • #2’s father-in-law died recently of a stroke.  Really really sad.  :(  I remember seeing him at #2’s wedding and he was so very proud of his son.  Such a great family.
  • Went to the doctor and got lots of blood tests.  I have high cholesterol.  Doctor said to eat less fat and less dairy and to exercise more.  I already don’t eat much fat other than dairy (and use things like olive oil when cooking).  Last time I had my cholesterol tested my overall level was high but my good cholesterol was making up most of that– the bad cholesterol was normal.  I didn’t ask about that this time.  It is always true that I need to exercise more.  :/ .  Also my Vit D levels were low despite my daily supplement, so now I’m on 2000 instead of 1000.  That seems to have gone a long way to reduce the almost constant fatigue I was feeling.
  • action item for today: https://twitter.com/gaileyfrey/status/799380085610450944

Helping others: Becoming more politically active

I was brought up knowing that I had God given gifts that a lot of people don’t have.  Because of those gifts, it is my responsibility to use them to Make the World a Better Place.  My parents are very politically active.  My sister has been progressively increasing her activity.  (Note:  her local planned parenthood and women’s shelters were both full up on volunteers when she called– a lot of people are feeling that call to activism.  There were still spots for driving women to get abortions, so she will be doing that.)

DH and I both have jobs that ultimately help other people.  My research is policy-driven.

But I’ve been falling down on the political sphere.  Much of this is because I hate politics.  Even the best politicians cannot do things that are politically infeasible even while economically the best option.  Some of this is fear– when I was younger I was brave but I’ve been beaten down too many times for speaking my piece.  Intolerant bullies are especially scary these days and those we should be able to trust to protect us often ignore threats against women and minorities until the threat has materialized into actual hurt.  Even speaking out anonymously carries the possibility of real danger.  A lot of this is just laziness.  I’m good at being dragged places, but not so good at going on my own.

I don’t know yet what to do.  I mean, I’ve done some things already– donated money to various groups, written my senators about the possibility of introducing legislation to limit executive action, written Paul Ryan to praise him for taking stands against racism and xenophobia and to ask him to keep it up.  But I don’t know what is best to do or what to do long-term.

Ideally I would pick one organization and get heavily involved in it such that I was making a strong difference there.  My state’s disorganized democratic party would be a really good place to start.  But… I have a job and I have a family.  That’s not going to happen.  My mom was on school board for many years and it kept her from doing research.

So I’m going to start small.

Every weekend until Trump is out of office DH and I are going to do *something* politically active.  We may donate to a charity (easy).  We may write or call a politician (somewhat harder).  We may join protest rallies (even harder).  We may do something more substantial if we can figure out what to do (campus democrats were extremely active 4 years ago, but they haven’t even updated their webpage in a year… maybe they need a new faculty sponsor?).  There’s a lot of good out there that can be done, and it’s our responsibility to find it and start doing some of it.  Even if we’re starting small.

Action item for today (fighting hate):  Call your state senators/congressperson and ask where they stand on the Bannon appointment.  Tell them he is unacceptable.  Bannon is an “alt-right” racist, misogynist, anti-semite from Breitbart.com who Trump intends to appoint as chief strategist.  White nationalists are delighted.

How are you engaging politically?

Getting an oxygen mask on: Protecting oneself monetarily

Before I could move to thinking about the horrors that are going to be inflicted on other people and what I can do to mitigate their influence, I first had to think about taking care of my family.

Worry 1:  Nuclear war.  This suggests not dropping everything and moving to paradise (where people are safer many other ways), because paradise is a more likely to be a nuclear target than is our current redstate for both geographical and population reasons.  Plus my mom said:  “Evidently when Nixon started drinking heavily during Watergate, the defense secretary alerted the military that they were not to follow Nixon‘s orders without checking with him first.”  So there’s some hope there.

We’re going to skip worry 2 because that doesn’t have a monetary effect.  Worry 3, the one about interment/mass deportation/nazi treatment of minorities/trail of tears, is less of a problem for us because I’m 100% Euro-mutt and by the time they get around to checking state registries to see that DH isn’t, we’ll have had plenty of warning since they’ll already have started taking other groups.  But still, we would need assets to flee.  For people in higher priority minority groups, this could be a primary concern.  :(

That leads us to Worry #4 which is already starting to happen:  Another large recession.  The recession will happen first because markets and businesses hate uncertainty and second because Republicans and Trump both are proponents of policies that will cause recession.  If either of them get their way, we’re in for one.  The Republican one will be smaller than the Trump one.

Knowing that a recession is happening, what should you do?  It’s hard to say what to do with money that’s already in the stock market.  Personally, I’m just going to let what’s in there ride out the next 2-8 years although this may turn out to be a poor decision.  The question is what to do with our new money.  This is especially important for us because there’s a non-zero chance that DH’s company will go out of business when federal funding dries up (and then I will have to cut down on savings).

Since this recession isn’t necessarily your standard Republican-caused recession, it isn’t clear that standard methods of thinking of the recession as an investment opportunity are the right ones.  If things get really bad under a Trump presidency, we could lose a lot of the property protections we’ve had since the Great Depression or before.  If he does something to the Fed or grabs assets (for example, if worry #5:  Russia taking over happens) or defaults on federal debt, nothing will make sense anymore.  So… should one dollar cost average in stocks during the recession and buy bonds before the recession… not all that clear.

When I looked up what to do in this kind of a situation, I got a lot of really stupid prepper sites.  They’d say things like, “if you expect hyper inflation, pay down your debt first”… which is the opposite of making sense (fixed-rate debt is good to hold in inflationary environments).  Or “if you don’t trust the government, invest in real estate” as if the government isn’t who enforces property rights.  Super stupid.  Don’t pay attention to those websites– in fact, I’m not sure they’re even trustworthy in terms of straight-forward things like emergency supplies just given their stupidity.

Right now, I think the best idea is to play it super cautious and to put excess money in cash and cds.  I think there will be a lot more warning about getting rid of FDIC or changing those kinds of rules than there will be even for defaulting on US debt (which I think is unlikely to happen, but it was a campaign suggestion so not outside of the realm of possibility), which means that those dollars should still be somewhat safe.

Of course, the dollar itself may not remain safe.  I looked up what to do when you think the dollar is going to crash and after ignoring all the prepper sites, it looks like a mix of foreign currencies is the best bet– the Swiss Franc, the Japanese Yen, and so on.  Every single one of these is potentially risky, but a mix may be a reasonable addition to one’s portfolio.  Gold and silver, the prepper’s favorites, are probably not the best idea because they’re probably already over-valued (and definitely don’t buy the actual metal– it is heavy and will be difficult to exchange for fair value).  I worry about investing too much in, say, Chinese or Russian assets or assets in some Latin American countries because there’s always a possibility that the government will just seize foreign investments for itself.

The latter paragraph is most important if you think you will have to leave the United States.  Staying in the US, it should be more ok to keep your assets in dollars and in mostly US companies because you’ll still be buying things in the US and hopefully making money in the US so you’re more insulated from shocks than if you had to flee the country (you’ll still feel the price increases, but they won’t be as disastrous).  If you are thinking you may have to leave the country, then definitely put more foreign stock indices into your portfolio (don’t switch it entirely– when the US sneezes, the rest of the world gets a cold).  We’ll be staying in this country unless my worry #3 happens because really we have no place else to go.

All of the above are secondary concerns, however.  If you do not have an emergency fund that can support you for at least 6 months of job-loss, then that should be your first order of business.  Save for a regular recession.  If you’re a tenured academic, your job is probably still safe in the short term, but make sure you could handle a 10-20% future paycut (again, probably not likely to happen immediately).  Do a financial fire drill What could you cut?

Paying down the mortgage is pretty irrelevant for us at this point.  But mortgage pre-payment may be a good idea if it has a better return than your bank account and you don’t want to be in a position where you may have to short-sell (and you wouldn’t foreclose).

So what we’re doing:

In the short term, we will continue to max out our retirement accounts and put money into 529 accounts in the same stock/bond percentages that we had been.  (I’m assuming 529s won’t be seized given their popularity with the wealthy.)  We will continue to do this until DH loses his job.  All extra money, instead of being put into taxable stocks, will accumulate in our savings account.  This contradicts our next mortgage post because that was written before the election back when all I thought we had to worry about was DH’s job going under.  We are also no longer going to be so free with money– no more cosmetic car repair, for example.  We will, however, be upping our charitable donations including charities like the ACLU that aren’t tax exempt.  That’s because now that I have a saving plan and emergency escape plans (are your passports up to date?), it’s time to start thinking more about other people.

Are you changing your monetary plans?

How we cope: Donations

Some people be like “Come on, it’ll be fine” and the rest of us be like “Do you even history, brah?”

This is just a list of places we’ve donated to since November 9, 2016.  We don’t have energy for doing harder work right now.  We donated online.  It felt okay.  Please consider.

Going to protests is fine, and it is also important that people write letters.  But everyone copes in their own way, in their own time, with their own methods.

Blog posts may be spotty or missing while we figure out how to get our own oxygen masks on.  We have some stuff pre-scheduled.  I don’t have a question.

How we cope: An accurate picture of my to-read list

I’m bad at emotion regulation and the only way I’m coping is with books.

This blog has been (and is) a supporter of Hillary Clinton.  These books are on my to-be-read list, my amazon wishlist, or my library hold list RIGHT NOW:

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West

The Diary of Alice James

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

Bitch Planet Volume 2: President Bitch (preorder) (see what I did there)

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

How to Ruin Everything: Essays by Watsky

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay (preorder)

Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy by Erin Wunker

The latest volume of Lazarus by Greg Rucka

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (preorder)

***

Please donate to We Need Diverse Books .

What books help you cope?

What are we reading?

Fortune Hunter by Diane Farr– no sex scenes (not quite clean either) but still quite charming.  Not a perfect book, but I had given up hope of finding any more regencies worth reading, and this one has restored my faith a bit.

Three Men on a Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome (free from Gutenberg).  This is an example of the “potentially great work forgotten because of casual racism” problem.  This book would be perfectly lovely were it not for some pointless anecdote early on that uses the n-word and is probably even more racist than the n-word itself, but because it’s written in “dialect” it’s unreadable.  That entire bit could be cut out without any negative effect on the book and the rest of the book is clean.  Oh 19/20th century authors, why you gotta be so racist?  You will probably find some of the scenes familiar because they’ve been repurposed for comedy without attribution in later media.  (Similar to how you’ve probably seen the pineapple tin bit from Three men in a boat in cartoons.)  The first couple of chapters (before the n-word anecdote) were literally laugh out loud funny.

Falling for Chloe by Diane Farr isn’t as good as Fortune Hunter (main characters are silly and don’t talk to each other, though that may be part of the joke), but omg, it is such a love letter to Georgette Heyer.  Keep an eye out for your favorite Heyer characters from her Regency novels being mentioned throughout.  One of the scenes, for example, is set in the come-out ball for Frederica’s sister.

Duel of Hearts by Diane Farr was an interesting one.  Neither the hero nor the heroine is particularly likable.  They are self-centered, obnoxious, and ridiculous.  And yet, the story is very readable and pretty funny.  The book would have been better if the likable secondary characters had been more well-developed.  A quick library check-out read.

None of the rest of Diane Farr’s books have really been worth it.  Not bad, but more skimming than actual reading.  Reasonable library material if you’ve got extra time.

Tried Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston.  It started out promising but then lost believably and added an ick factor when the son-of-a-gypsy-horse-trader doctor forced an unexpected and unwanted kiss on the society miss who was unable to move because of the twisted ankle her family was employing him to treat… that would be their fourth short meeting, btw.  Huge Squick.  The rest of the book just kind of goes downhill from there.

Loved the second in Leonora Bell’s Disgraceful Dukes series, If Only I Had a Duke, even more than the first.  Again, she’s in the style of Sarah MacLean, not 100% historically accurate, but a lot of fun.  This one has more likable characters, a better plot, and is a bit more believable than the first.

At the library I found a fun little novella by a woman named Marguerite Butler.  It’s called Compromising Prudence.  I liked it enough to want to buy a copy but they cannot be had for love or money.  Nor do the remaining books in the “Mad Hatterly” series appear to be available anywhere.  The publishing company has disappeared and neither used nor electronic copies seem to exist in exchange for money.  If your library has a copy, it’s a fun (albeit too short) read.

What are you reading?