Link love

Ten Recommendations to Increase College Student Voting and Improve Political Learning and Engagement in Democracy

A rundown of automatic voter registration and modernization by state.

This week in fascism

If you’re on twitter, use block together to add yourself to this blocklist in order to fight Alex Jones (the guy who uses his twitter platform to harass Sandy Hook families who lost their children in the Sandy Hook mass shooting).  Twitter has refused to ban him and only suspended him briefly at all after this blocklist was started.

How to discuss the far right without empowering it  (Answer:  treat it like any other political party and show that there’s no there there.)

Reminder to check your voter registration and why you may have been pruned

Green Party Candidate was on state GOP payroll

Bait truck filled with Nikes in black Chicago neighborhood was part of railroad sting.  Favorite quote:  “In the Bait Car episode that took place in Englewood, the car itself was the bait, but the thieves ended up taking the police surveillance equipment in the trunk rather than the vehicle. They managed to escape before the authorities could apprehend them.”

Average salaries haven’t gone up much in the last 40 years

This is a splendid rage

Why so-called formerly “progressive” white men turned to Trump (hint:  they’re sexist racist douches)

This cold-diarrhea take is getting old

Why the use of the phrase “friend zone” needs to die  I have been noticing a shift in its usage more recently to be a bit more empowering for women– I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than stopping the use of the phrase.  I think maybe better?  Because people really like the phrase, and it’s going to get used, so it’s better without the connotations of it being a bad thing.

What is a collider variable?

Does television kill your sex life?  The answer may not surprise you.

Travel tips for people who don’t want to travel hack

How a Hugo nominated song inspired a book by Campbell award nominee

Best and worst instant ramen

Woman takes nap




Ask the grumpies: Why don’t you speculate?

Jjiraffe asks:

What do you think about cyber currency/bitcoin? Are you investing? Why or why not?

Short answer:  I think it’s a speculative bubble and I’m not into either gambling or effort.  I’m not into gambling because I’m risk averse.  I’m not into effort in terms of stock picking of any kind because I’d rather keep my time and match the market (plus on average people who try to pick individual stocks on average do worse than people who just match the market).  So there’s a lot of things I could do that I don’t– I don’t try to time the market, I don’t try to pick the next hot thing, I don’t try to tax harvest, I don’t set up my portfolio in order to sell losers for tax purposes.  I’m only just now starting to think about which kinds of investments should go in tax-advantaged vs. taxable funds.  I don’t get any joy from gambling and I don’t think I’d get enough additional happiness from being a big winner (given the probability of winning) to justify the additional sadness from losing money which I would inevitably do because I tend to buy and hold until there’s nothing left to hold just because dealing with taxes is such a pain.  Set and forget is ideal for me.

So… I think cyber currency is not a long-term investment, it’s more gambling than investing.  I’m not a gambler, so I’m not “investing”.  What other people do with their money is their business.  Some people will win big and lots of people will lose their shirts.  I don’t need to be in either category.

There’s a lot more stuff across the internets on bitcoin and why it’s not a great idea to invest.  (And lots of stuff from people caught up in the hype.)  Here’s Mr. Money Mustache on the topic.  He has an excellent economic and cyber analysis of it– it really isn’t a good currency.  He also has some good links on his post if you want to read more about the details.

Something I’m doing: Registering students to vote

The 2018 elections are in less than 100 days.  In most states, voter registration has to be done sometime in October in order to allow voting in November.

Back in 2016, a number of my out-of-state or just out-of-town students didn’t get their absentee ballots until after Trump had already been elected (I would not actually be surprised if there’s something fishy going on at our post office).  And a lot of students just don’t vote because they don’t think of it until it’s too late to get an absentee ballot.  If they’re registered locally, then they can vote on election day when they notice what is going on, even though it’s midterms.

Last Spring I did an hour or so training to become a deputy voter registrar.  I’ve registered one voter so far last semester, but I’ve also taken a bunch of forms to the registration office for one of the pro-active student workers in my building who is also a deputy registrar.  (I’ve also watched the kids so that DH could register folks at a few events.)

This year we decided to be more proactive.  We requested a table at student orientation for our major.  The request was granted.

Then the dean told the department heads that he’d signed us up for a competition with our counterparts at rival schools– which school can get the largest number of students registered.  Since I’d already requested the table, I got put on that initiative.  My hope is to get more of these kids to get deputy registrar training so they can go out and register people where they live and socialize.

Making it easy for people to vote when the bad guys are trying to make it hard is vitally important this election.  What can we do to help?  Here’s some links.

How to become a deputy registrar in your state

How people can check their own registration

Donate money to get people voter ids

Let us know in the comments your thoughts and ideas for helping people vote!

The perils of single stock investing in action: Or, #1 complains about PG&E

Back in the 1980s, from what I understand, Ronald Regan made it beneficial for investors to set up gift trusts for their children.  Apparently my father took advantage of this tax loophole and bought some PG&E stock.

Sometime in 2001, right before or shortly after PG&E had declared bankruptcy, he transferred that PG&E stock to me and I found out I would have to pay taxes on the dividends it had put out that year despite not having had the benefits of those dividends.  For Christmas that year I demanded at the very least the money to pay the taxes, because we didn’t have the money to pay them (note:  today that probably wouldn’t be an issue because we would have been in the 0% tax bracket for dividends, but taxes were different back then), and he handed over one of the final dividend checks.  PG&E would not spit out another dividend until 2005, at which point I was no longer on a graduate student salary.

Maybe I should have sold the stock the minute it was transferred, but it had lost so much value and I didn’t really know how to go about selling, that other than dealing with that year’s taxes, I pretty much just pretended that I’d never gotten the stock.

When it started throwing dividends again, it was a lovely surprise.  I have two types of stock:  regular stock and preferred stock.  I set up the preferred stock to drip into the regular stock and then the regular stock would deposit a few hundred dollars into my savings account every quarter.  By the end it had gotten up to around $800/quarter which was a nice treat.  I used to do mental calculations about how much we’d need to have invested in order for the quarterly dividends to pay all of our monthly expenses.

And then PG&E discovered it might be found liable for California wildfire damages and all dividends stopped.  Thankfully we don’t need the quarterly returns, and if I’m not going to be paying taxes to an administration, this is a good one to not be paying taxes to.  But imagine if I were fixed income and this were a large part of my portfolio?  Diversification of income streams is so important!

I’m not getting rid of this stock… all the online things say it’s a bargain right now for people who are willing to be patient.  And it never really felt like my money to begin with.  But we’re definitely keeping all our own invested money in broad-based low-cost index funds.

Do you own any single stocks, or are you sticking to index funds like a smart person?

Saturday morning link love

Link love is a bit late because last night after work I picked up the book I was reading, Stiletto, and didn’t finish until well past my bedtime.  If you haven’t read the first book in that series, The Rook, read that first.

Ok, now let’s see what kinds of activism, horror, and cute kitteny things #2 and I have collected this week…

Celeste P has some great suggestions about how and where you can help in the upcoming Senate elections.  If you’ve got money, there’s places to give it.  If you’ve got time, there’s suggestions where to spend it.  If you have a Platform, there’s suggestions on how to use it.  Let’s ALL start talking about what everyone can do.  The Blue Wave isn’t going to happen unless we make it happen, and it is vulnerable, very vulnerable.  We need to make it a tsunami in order to swamp the effects of gerrymandering, voter suppression, “lost” votes, hacked electronic voting, and so on.

If you have travel miles, you can donate them to help reunite separated families.

ICE crashed a van full of separated mothers, then denied it ever happened.

This article on the new version of Queer Eye says some really thought provoking stuff about gender roles and also has a bit about minority acceptance.  (H/T agaishanlife)

Looking for some short entertaining informative videos?  We found Matt Baume this week.  His culture cruise videos are fascinating, especially for generation Xers— I never knew that most of my core feelings about gay marriage and safe sex were taken from Golden Girls and Designing Women (h/t my mom for being hooked on those shows enough to let me watch them even as a little kid!).  The other popular videos are great too.  Learn some history and think about how media affected and continues to affect culture.

The conference childcare conundrum.

A lot of people who have never encountered a Trump supporter IRL talk about how we need to be nice to them so we can convince them to somehow become good people.  Delagar explains how that goes down.

The McMansion Hell lady discusses Betsy DeVos’s monstrous summer home.

Russian trolls on twitter are identity fishing, and we don’t know why.

Why Becca picked the wrong guy.  Personally, I think it’s just that she has terrible taste in men.  (See:  Arie.)

Why banning Muslim veils backfires and why countries keep doing it anyway

Miser Mom discusses the need to reduce and reuse.

Dr. Jen Gunter discusses where the science is on menopause treatments

Need help with your syllabus dates?

College level math with exotic cats

Dame Eleanor discusses stuff in this poignant post.

I totally get this movie, especially the mouseover.

Drunk Austen sorts Jane Austen characters into Harry Potter houses.

I wonder if we should do this to our shower

Eating down food at home (and decluttering the pantry) is in!  We recently did the Frugal Girl’s freezer challenge so I can fit more TJ’s meals into the freezer for the start of the school year…

This looks delicious

Curiosity got Fontina

Ask the grumpies: An Ethical Life Question (family divorce drama)

Sister-in-Law asks:

My brother in law and his ex are going through an icky divorce in state X. She took the kids and fled to state Y then filed a restraining order against him. She did this in my father in law’s spare car (so, technically stolen, but my BIL’s lawyer advised them not to report the car stolen/get it back until after the divorce is final because she has to get to court hearings). He got temporary emergency custody, but then a judge here in Y split the custody 50/50 until they can have a hearing in state X. He had them for a week in state X, then she brought them back up to state Y to stay with a friend. She got kicked out of that house and dumped the kids on her mom for the rest of the week. As far as I know, she is homeless, but she hasn’t contacted me.

They have a custody hearing soon. Afterwards . . . should I stay 100% out of this? Or should I contact her and suggest she go to a women’s shelter to get on her feet?

I think my BIL should have custody. She’s always been a bit of a hot mess, and this is just the last straw. He’s a great dad (attentive, loving, engaged) whereas she doesn’t do a lot with them as far as I can see. Every time we’ve hung out as a family (including multiple week long vacations), other people do the majority of caring for her kids. I do a lot of crafts and activities with them. She wants to, but she’s had a rough life (raised in poverty, learned helplessness, etc) and doesn’t know well how to take care of herself much less the kids.

So . . . I’m nervous that if I suggest something it will lead to her getting custody. But I also feel bad for her and want to see her somewhere safe.

Is it worth mentioning that I think she’s with her boyfriend? He lost custody of his kids due to his drug use, and I think he has a bench warrant for missing a court appearance due to drug use. His kids live with his mom.

What do I do?


#1 says: This is a question for a real advice columnist. That sounds really hard for everyone involved.

It probably doesn’t matter if you reach out to her with your women’s shelter suggestion or not. She will most likely not take your advice if you reach out. So if it makes you feel better, reach out with your suggestion. If it seems like too much effort, don’t.

#2 says: Stay entirely out of anything legal, or who’s where in what situation. That’s not for you.

What *is* for you is to reach out to BIL’s wife, if you have a good relationship with her. Say something like “I heard you’re having a rough time. If you need some help, please let me know what I can do for you and the kids. I’d be happy to take them for an afternoon if you need a break [if this is true], or just listen if you want to talk.” That’s about it. You can offer to help, but her business is her own.

Obligatory plug for reading Captain Awkward, who often answers questions similar to this.

Who has better advice for Sister-in-Law?

How do you get enough fruits and veggies?

Our local CSA went out of business about a year ago.  That was great for getting more veggies in our diet because we’d get a box of mostly veggies that we would have to use up, so we’d plan recipes around what was in the box.

It’s harder to go the other direction.  We were brought up to plan meals around a meat, so when things get busy that’s the easiest thing to do.  We do pretty well on bananas and apples and whatever fruit is in season because those all make great snacks, but our veggie consumption is way down without the weekly box.

#2 has a subscription to Purple Carrot.  That’s really not a fit for our life since it’s optimized for 2 people and at $12/plate we could get pretty fancy take-out around here.

How do you get fruits and veggies into your diet?