Facts and Opinions are not the same thing: Part 2

Part one from five years ago at the private school where they do not teach untruths about the civil war but still do not understand the difference between objective statements and opinions.

As promised, DC1 ended the semester being tested on the idea that the cause of the civil war was not reaaaaalllly slavery, but state rights.

I read out the reasons for the civil war given by the southerners who withdrew from the union.  They are PRETTY CLEAR that it was about slavery.  On top of that, South Carolina was pretty pissed off about NY getting to keep its state right of not allowing people to be property in its borders so that Southerners couldn’t take slaves with them to do business in NY.

Then DC1 said, “people have a lot of different opinions”.

And that led to a really lengthy discussion about what is an opinion and what is an untrue statement of fact.  DH and I threw around a lot of terms like “subjective” and “objective”.  Also “hypothesis”.  We talked about climate change.

It drives me nuts that people label incorrect statements as “opinions” and don’t seem to understand the difference between objective truths (which are true no matter what we believe, but sadly cannot always be tested) and subjective opinions.  (“Can an opinion ever be wrong?” DC1 asked. “Sure,” I said, “Saying ‘Eggnog is the best drink in the world’ is an example of a wrong opinion.”)  And this is codified in the South through the K-12 system and reinforced by Fox News.  It is in the airwaves.  I hate it.  And I don’t want to have to add it to my stats class, but maybe I should.

Last year I asked my grad students if we should spend some time on what is “fake news” and they all said no, they understood.  This year they’re not as sure.  Last year “fake news” really was fake– spewed out by what we now know were Russian bots.  This year Republicans have labeled reputable news organizations as “fake news” so it’s more confusing.  On top of that, even formerly reputable news organizations like WSJ have been taken over by ideologues so there’s a lot of crud coming out.  (NYTimes has always had a contingent of crud, and NPR started to kind of suck a couple of years ago.)

How do you all deal with the difference?

Advertisements

On knowing what’s out there: loosely connected thoughts from vacation with the relatives

Over the holidays, DH’s newly retired parents kept talking about how truly blessed they are.  None of their kids are in jail.  All are gainfully employed.  They themselves have more money than they ever dreamed and will actually be able to increase their quality of life in retirement (or rather, FIL now has both time and money for all those hunting trips he’s been wanting to do), at least while the stock market is booming.  (A couple of weeks ago, FIL called up to ask DH to ask me whether or not it was ok to have 90% stocks/10% bonds…)

DH’s relative that we’ve talked about before is not doing so well.  He’s got arthritis, which makes being a construction worker difficult.  His oldest two both had children as teenagers (the oldest is living at home with her toddler, the second moved West with her two kids to live with the biological mother who abandoned her as a baby).  His wife is recovering from brain cancer.  His third attempted suicide via electricity socket recently and is depressed because he’s too blind to legally drive.  His fourth has gotten in with a bad crowd and started stealing from family and was recently on suicide watch at a hospital.  We didn’t hear much about the fifth this time around except that she was driving the oldest’s car when it got totaled by an uninsured driver (which means the relative is now chauffeuring everybody around).  Also one of his two much younger brothers (his brothers are the same age as his oldest daughters) has been jailed for possession of stolen materials.

Focusing a bit on that third kid– he graduated from high school last year and the plan was to take the year off working (he’s washing dishes at a restaurant) and then spend the next year at community college.  Community college is about an hour away, so he would have to be driven.  He’s really depressed that he will never be able to drive and it’s not clear that he’s actually going to do community college next year, or ever.  He’s smart and has the grades and GPA to go to the flagship school or one of the closer regionals.  The flagship’s admission deadline has come and gone and the closer regionals have passed their priority deadlines but still have rolling admissions.  Over break, he and DH talked about careers and DH tried to convince him to just fill out one of the two page regional applications for either of the closest schools (while DH was there to pay the $40 admission fee), but no luck.

And the thing is, this kid has never been anywhere with public transportation (or even taxis!).  He has no idea what it’s like to be someplace where you can take yourself where you need to go without having to depend on the kindness of someone else to drive you.  It would be best for him to skip community college and to just go straight to a 4 year college with an extensive bus system and counselors.   He should be eligible for plenty of need-based financial aid and what’s left we can pay.  But… he doesn’t know that’s best.  He doesn’t know what is best and his parents don’t have 4-year college degrees (his mom never finished high school) and his dad has been on his own since 16, so they’re letting him do what he wants since he’s officially an adult.

Growing up I knew I wanted to be upper-middle-class because I knew people whose parents were upper-middle-class and I had an aunt and uncle who were judges, and I thought, I want that.  I want to not have to worry about money and to have the temperature always set to something comfortable.  DH never had those thoughts, but his parents were doing pretty well compared to everyone else in his family, and at boarding school he learned a lot about what all was out there.  And his mother had a wide variety of experiences growing up and she told me this most recent trip that she always thought it important to make sure her kids saw places outside the small town, so they went to camps (or in DH’s case, boarding school) and visited relatives (from her side of the family) up north and so on.  She also took them to get professional career testing before college and told them not going was not an option (for DH she also controlled where he was allowed to apply), just as her father had told her that not going to college was not an option.

Going back to DH’s family’s place at Christmas does tend to make one feel #blessed because it reminds us how well we’re doing and how well DH’s immediate family is doing.  It also forces the comparison of how hard it is for so much of America to get ahead outside of our highly educated McMansion-owning bubble.  DH’s relative is plenty smart, but his life diverged dramatically from DH’s at 16 when he got married and left home and had two kids.  But there were also a lot of factors that led up to that point and after– his parents also had two kids by age 18.  Our kids’ lives will diverge even more dramatically.  His kids are not our kids, and we don’t know how to help, or if we even can help.   So, we will continue to feel #blessed and to keep things in perspective while doing what we can to make it easier for poor kids more generally to get ahead.  We have our oxygen masks on, but there are still a lot of people out there who need assistance with theirs, and even more who don’t have access to oxygen masks at all.

A Little Link Love

US revokes citizenship from naturalized citizens for clerical errors made by the US government.

Serena Williams illustrates some of why black women are more likely to die in childbirth than white women.

Disabled parents face an uphill battle to keep their children

Female professors experience more work demands and special favor requests, especially from entitled students.

What really put Sleeping Beauty in a coma.

Inside the deadly world of garbage collection. Or: should we privatize public services?

The false promises of worker retraining

Turns out those apology cinnamon rolls were pretty terrible.

A thing of beauty .  As is this.

Should students use laptops to take notes in class? Research says no. (With exceptions for disabilities etc.)

Our Next Life signs up for the ACA

Frighteningly smart dolphins

quiltimation

This was really tasty and good for if you’re sick!

Look at this potato puppeh

Ask the grumpies: Worthwhile renovations?

Chacha1 asks:

Well, I am deep in the throes of remodeling angst so this is a house-and-home but also finance-related topic that people might like to discuss:

What do people think was the BEST money they spent on home improvement, and what do they wish they had left alone?

This is partially a cost/benefit question, because a lot of people think of owning a home as an investment (I think of it as a forced savings plan with really high barriers to entry), but also a Greatest Domestic Happiness question. e.g. I read anecdotally that people love the idea of a huge multi-stage bathroom (separate tub & shower, toilet in a little room with door, double sinks) but personally I see that as a gigantic waste of space. And from a ROI perspective it is also, not anecdotally, a waste of money. So has anyone done such a thing, are they happy about it a few years down the line, etc.

Note, as renters we are not considering any such thing. For us it’s more “do we get the entry door with sidelight that requires reframing or do we choose a standard door with half glass which would mean we can replace BOTH entry doors.” (You can probably guess which way I’m leaning.) :-)

This is definitely a personal question for each homeowning (or formerly home improving) individual of Grumpy Nation to weigh in on.  We have done remarkably little home improvement other than replacing things when they break or when feral kittens or toddlers destroy them past the point of regular aesthetics.  I guess our kitchen looks nicer without gingham wallpaper and our window dressings look better with new blinds.

We have one of those multi-stage bathrooms as our master bath.  The first few years it made me feel kind of dirty, since it literally is the same size as our first efficiency apartment (100 sq feet).  I’ve gotten used to it, but don’t get any additional happiness from it than we would get from a normal bathroom like we have in our MIL suite.  I don’t feel at all deprived at hotels or visiting relatives.  The water closet is one of DH’s favorite places to escape when the kids are going wild– if we can’t find him, chances are he’s in the water closet.  But I’m sure a normal-sized bathroom would function the same way so long as there’s a door to close!

So, grumpy nation, what home improvements have you felt were worth it?  What home improvements do you regret?

Little kitty was overgrooming because she had dual ear infections

The headline is basically the story.  Little kitty was basically giving herself a buzzcut through overgrooming.  She also kept avoiding us touching her ears.  We worried it was allergies (she’s already on prescription food for her ideopathic too-much-calcium) or anxiety (we already have one cat on Prozac).  But the vet cleaned out her ears and gave her ear goop to fight the infections.  Within two days her ears felt better and within a week it was noticeable that she was no longer over-grooming.  So, whew.

Have you had any experience with pet overgrooming or ear infections?

Complicating rather than simplifying our finances: Opening another savings account

We’ve been getting pretty regular ads to get a cash bonus for opening various checking accounts for a few years now, but so far we’ve ignored them because with our Credit Union account and our Wells Fargo account we’ve been pretty much getting what we need without a lot of hassle or spreading our emergency fund too thin.  Wells Fargo kind of sucks but it is very easy to deposit checks on the go, find an atm, keep track of deposits, and write checks with it.  It’s not the best, but so long as we keep $2,500 in savings and $7,500 in there overall we don’t have to pay any fees or set up any complicated deposit systems.  Our credit union also is less attractive than it used to be, but it provides free services whenever we need a notary or certified check and all of our automatic deposits are set up to go there.  And if we ever do need a car loan, it has some pretty amazing deals.

What changed?  We got an ad from Capitol One for a 1.3% APY savings rate (money market account, so FDIC insured).  Right now we’re getting 0.01% on our Wells Fargo account and 0.2% with our credit union account.  This didn’t matter so much when we just kept our summer emergency fund in there and the outside options were only a little bit better (so we were losing maybe $200/year), but with our income increases we’ve bulked up the emergency fund.  We don’t need all that emergency fund easily accessible, but we also don’t want to put it all in the overinflated stock market.  So I would like to put $50,000 into this online savings vehicle.  That will provide $650 in interest this year plus the $200 bonus (minus taxes, minus the APY opportunity cost from the credit union account).  And I no longer have to look at the savings account and see 80K in there when I know we really only need 30K for a short-term emergency.  So this may cut down on our spending too (maybe not though– it’s probably good that we’ve increased donations and we probably should do some renovating at some point).   There are also no fees ever and we don’t have to play stupid deposit games, just put money into the account and leave it there.

Will we ever close down our Wells Fargo or Credit Union accounts?  Maybe.  Right now they’re not causing any difficulties, but if they do (I’m looking at you, Wells Fargo), it will be easier to drop one or both of them.

Actually doing the opening of the account wasn’t too bad, though we did have to switch from Firefox to IE in order to add DH to the account because the box for confirming his email wouldn’t fill out (it did fill out in IE though).  And it took five days for the money that had left our credit union account to actually show up in the capital one account.  :/

I also have $600 in an Etrade account from back when they had high interest savings.  I’m just sort of letting it sit there doing nothing.  Let’s just pretend it isn’t there.

How many banking accounts do you have?  Why did you add/change banks the last time you did?

 

Link Love

I have the same thing that Kameron Hurley has which is irritating because this is the second one in like three months.

Let’s do it!

Hollywood women unveil anti-harassment action plan

Evidence from peer review that women are held to higher standards

Do you have a male or female brain?

Changing anti-vaxxers minds

A financial reckoning

Pros and cons of donor-advised funds

Do you want to take a survey about swear words in many languages? It’s fun, I promise.

WWII flight nurse poetry

ay, carumba

Damnit, Cheeto Satan.

memo to self: I want to keep this handy and re-read it frequently. It speaks to me.

This is cool

Remnant:  a short story