Sunday Link Love

Here’s a big document of things you can do, places you can donate, etc. to help the kids in US concentration camps (h/t Delagar)

US journalist has his rights trampled at the US border because he was a journalist entering from Mexico.  Aka, this week in fascism.

How much the tent cities are costing US taxpayers in straight up $$, and a comparison of the much lower costs of the more humane Obama policies that didn’t violate US law.




Yes we do have concentration camps

This is a terrifying thread expounding upon the logical consequences of the previous tweet.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Tell your favorite democratic candidate that you want there to be discussion about climate change.  Call your senators and congresspeople to tell them you want action on climate change (here’s a script and phone numbers).  Find out what is happening in your state while we still have a democracy and lean hard on your elected officials.  Donate money to groups that help fight climate change from a political level– I don’t know which though– does anybody have suggestions?  If so I will link to them up hear and give $25 myself.  People who give us these doom and gloom climate scenarios (I’m looking at you first, Al Gore) need to follow up with “now that you’re fired up here’s what to do” and it needs to be political action, not just turning off lights and unplugging appliances.

Chuck Todd is debate’s biggest loser

and letting the women in the department do all that pesky service work

Pseudo science and rational woo

The credible hulk

France is bacon.

Ask the grumpies: Which is more important: Macro or Micro?

Leah asks:

Which is more important, macro or micro economics?

For most people, microeconomics is more important.  Both, however, are very important for the government, particularly the federal government.

Macroeconomics tells us about whether there should be a Fed, how should we peg the monetary system (if we should), when should the government spend and when should it pay back debt, how can the government lower unemployment and inflation using monetary policy, and so on.

Microeconomics tells us everything else.  How do we best invest in kids?  How to firms set prices?  How do we help marginalized groups?  How much should people save for retirement?  How do we best finance schools?  And on and on and on…

So… both are incredibly important, but there are a lot more microeconomists out there.

A few thoughts

You grow up learning about WWII and you wonder what you would have done if you had been in Germany as the Nazis come to power. Especially if you were a white skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed non-Jewish (thus privileged) kid. What would you do to stop the rise to power? What would you do when they started rounding people up and sending them to camps. And later, would you help people escape? Would you flee the country? Would you turn people in? How would you balance fear and your moral compass. Would you break unjust laws? Would you convince yourself that you were just following orders and obeying the law, or would you risk your freedom, your life, your family?

We’re not in the latter stage yet. But we do have concentration camps. The government is rounding up people. The conditions in the camps, even for children, are appalling. What can we do?

Turns out it is hard to do anything.

You try to do more within the system. But it seems like the system doesn’t care. It doesn’t respond.

(So many people give up. They do less. They stop protesting. Things are getting worse, but they don’t realize how much faster things would have gotten worse without those protests, calls, letters, canvassing.)

(note the date on this tweet)

But still, you try to do more within the system. It still seems like the system doesn’t care. It still seems like doesn’t respond to your individual efforts. It only responds to group efforts.

You can’t ignore injustices. You can’t ignore atrocities. Because if you ignore things, if you don’t do things, there is no group.

But it’s not just you. Each person does their bit. It’s the group effort that makes things happen.

You can’t do it alone, but if enough people do it alone, you have a group.

And if the group is large enough, it can’t be ignored.

Do something to fight US concentration camps — make it so we can’t be ignored.

Children’s lives and well-being depend on us speaking out and doing something.

Call (or fax)




Link love

What follows is a series of atrocities that the US has committed in US immigrant concentration camps.  Some of these are pretty awful, but they are things that we are doing to people within our borders.  We need to stop these atrocities.  I think it is difficult to read any one of these and not want to help, but it is quite possible that the series of them together are overwhelming.  So I am going to start with things we can do, and you can just skip over once you’ve hit your breaking point.  Please, if you are a US citizen, do one of these items– at the very least give an elected representative a call or give some money to Raices Texas.  Raices Texas can help individuals, calling can stop policies if enough people call.

  1. Call your MOC:  Demand congress act to end abuses of detained immigrants  You can do this even if you’ve already called before– news of abuses has been coming out pretty steadily as you can see below.  If you can’t get through via phone, here’s how you can send a fax for free.
  2. Call your state elected officials:  Demand sunshine on detention centers
  3. Donate to Raices Texas
  4. other places to donate:
  5. Call your elected officials about the upcoming ICE raids.
  6. attend (and/or organize) a protest/vigil on July 12.
  7. Subscribe to the Texas Tribune
  8. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper asking for more coverage and/or talking about how awful this all is.

Justice department argues against providing soap, toothpaste, beds, to detained children

An expert on concentration camps says that is exactly what the US is running at the border  A related article from Slate.

This lengthy thread from the Texas Tribune details the conditions and abuses at the concentration camps at our border

Joe Hill is running a fundraiser for refugees

Paired action:  donate to Doug Jones who is the Democratic candidate against Roy Moore

Mick Mulvaney fires all 25 members of consumer watchdog’s advisory board

Referees and editors in economics are not gender neutral

Socialists go back to the past!

Ruth Janetta Temple

Celebrate Juneteenth!

The Problem with Health Sharing Ministries

Yet another IBS experiment: Fermented food overload

We also just seasoned our cast iron with flaxseed oil using this technique and it is amazing!  Eggs!

The story behind old town road

Ask the grumpies: teens today

Anoninmass asks:

[T]een daughter wants birth control but refuses to learn how to drive, is this weird?

No… not weird.  Kids today are less likely to want a driver’s license right away.  We don’t really know why. But this is documented all over the place, even including cities with crappy public transportation.  My guess is that kids like being chauffeured and their parents are more willing to do it (and the current generation of dads are more involved with their kids) whereas boomer parents were less likely to drive kids places so they needed a car to get anywhere.  But that’s completely uneducated based on no real research.  Maybe it’s easier to walk places now and no reson to go to the mall.  Who knows!

Even though teens are not more promiscuous compared to recent generations, apparently they’re being much better about using birth control.  Long term birth control is also much better than it used to be.  I also do not know why teen sex hasn’t changed (maybe a combination of a more permissive society being balanced out by more attentive parenting) or why kids are more likely to actually use birth control than in the past.  My guess there would be a better job of culture making birth control seem normal (you can tell a hero is a good guy because he puts on a condom in romance novels and tv shows) although there is still an erosion of non-abstinence based education or planned parenthood in much of the country.

So… basically your teen daughter is completely normal for her generation!

In which the contractors came and went: Step 2 of the kitchen process

white kitchen with green gingham wallpaper, crappy countertops, and lots of green gigham accents

Where we started.  We did paint over the wallpaper many years ago.

The contractors came.

kitchen getting ready for countertop removal with tools

DH put the blue tape over the sink to remind himself that the water is off!

They took off the old ugly countertop.

The sink area sans countertops. Back of a gentleman working on a countertop removal.

One of our big hopes was that they’d be able to keep our fancy glass cabinet/tea nook (formerly microwave nook). They were.

drawers with counterop removed, showing green gingham shelf liner. Impressively the board for the tea nook remains unscathed.
Then the started putting the countertop on.  This was one piece with no seam.

Here you can see the other part of the countertop came in two pieces.  They matched up the seam really well and you honestly cannot tell here.

Here’s it all together with the sink put in.

There’s another seam in the middle of the stovetop, but you can only tell if you specifically know to look for it.  After the countertop, they moved onto the stovetop, though they did not actually connect it.

The next day the plumber (eventually) came back and hooked up the stovetop for us.  (Note in this picture and the next two that there is a drawer that no longer closes.)

He also put the faucets and garbage disposal in.  (I vetoed a soap dispenser because I hate not being able to see if something is empty and I also hate cleaning soap dispensers, so they didn’t drill a hole for it.)

  Here’s how it looks now.

We’re not done yet.  We need to shorten or replace that drawer so it closes.  We need to replace the gingham knobs and get new shelf liner.  If it were just me, I’d go with brushed metal knobs and plain white shelf liner, but DH wants to be more interesting in our middle age and so we’ve ordered 14 sample knobs of various dark blue on ceramic from home depot ($51, but I assume we’ll be able to return the ones we don’t use) and a bunch of one dollar shelf liner paper samples from Houzz.  There’s also some gold accents we’d like to replace with brushed metal.  And that little water tap is dangerously powerful– if we had a party, someone innocently eating cheese and crackers would get drenched when someone else tried to get some tap water.   I haven’t done a full accounting of how much all of this has cost, but for posterity’s sake, I need to note here that the plumber did $400 of additional work (on top of the turn-off/hook-up fees), adding and replacing valves before the countertop people came in.

So this is not the last post– a future post will have a final picture with better lighting and no green gingham in sight.

What do you think, grumpy nation?

Better than a Romance Hero

We did have a meet cute, though it wasn’t love at first sight, more a longer friends fall in love sequence.  Sometimes I play the montage in my mind.

But there are so many ways in which you are so much better than any romance hero.

You’re not a Brooding Duke with a Tragic Backstory with Breaks that only the Heroine can Heal.  You don’t need to be fixed because you’re not broken!

You don’t provide punishing kisses.  You’re all about Enthusiastic Consent, and you are very good at getting it!

You’re not a Reformed Rake.  But you are also not a misogynist!

I’m glad you’re not the villain in an earlier novel who has been put on the path to redemption by the Failed Abduction of that book’s heroine.   It’s also good that I’ve never felt the need to injure you to protect my honor.

I’m glad our story isn’t the kind that would have ended on the third page if we’d just talked to each other.  I’m glad our story is built on shared goals.  But also glad that it has been almost entirely free of human corpses.  Or espionage.

We’re more the couple from a previous novel who makes cameos in the current novel with kids in tow.  Who speak to each other with shared glances.  And sometimes disappear for a bit, returning a bit disheveled.  Perhaps we’re there to lend support to the stories of others.  Because we seem like we have things figured out.

And if we do have things figured out, it’s because of you.  You will always be my hero.  My strong, handsome (tall and dark, now with distinguished grey at the temples), respectful, responsible hero.  Who cooks and cleans and cares for the children and sees to my needs and puts up (even seems to appreciate) my quirks.  You couldn’t have been written better if you were in a Talia Hibbert book (especially since you’re free of tattoos and motorcycles and tragic backstory).

If any heroes are attractive to me, it is only because they remind me of you.

There’s not a single person real or fictional that I would change you for.

I love you with all my heart.  Every day I thank the powers that be that we’re together.

Here’s to showing up together in decades worth of future series.  (Preferably without murders to solve or spies to uncover.)

Happy anniversary!

Link love

Where to find an Impeachment protest on Saturday

Very important thread (includes actions) on why we need to keep protesting the ice concentration camps that are already killing children.

ICE and CBP abuse tracker

Kroger recalls frozen berries over Hep A contamination

Google News does not have an anti-conservative bias… but reality still does

Hackers stole traveler’s data from US Customs

There are eight Republican senators still running unopposed in the next election

Women have fought to legalize reproductive rights for at least two centuries.
What Naomi Wolf and Cokie Roberts teach us about the need for historians

Age discrimination in hiring

Phillis Wheatley

My little pony lesbian couple makes it on screen!

Tesla Report

What is and isn’t shiplap

…. this story…

Ask the grumpies: How do you approach diversification?

Ali asks:

We are good savers but I fear not great investors (i.e., I have a good bit just sitting in the bank now because I don’t know what to do). How do you approach diversification?

Disclaimer:  We are not professional anything except academics.  Consult with a fee-only financial planner with fiduciary responsibility and/or do your own research prior to making major decisions about your money.

If you don’t know what to do and your money is just sitting in savings, the easiest thing to do is to pick out a retirement date (or house purchase date or whatever) and buy some of Vanguard’s target date fund for that year.  It will take care of diversification for you both right now and over time and you’re done.  (You can also mimic it on your own by purchasing the major indices in it.  Mimicking it will save you some money early on (far from the target date) when there’s not much movement because you’re not actually doing much rebalancing early on– you’re mostly in stocks.  It is still better just to buy the target date than to leave it in the bank trying to figure out how to mimic.)

Here’s #1’s original post about how she decided on percents in her retirement account.  They’re probably a bit conservative (too bond-heavy) for when she was younger, but are more appropriate now.  But #1 wasn’t trying to optimize– diversification isn’t about optimization, it’s about getting decent returns while still staying safe.  In fact,  diversification will always return lower than some subset of undiversified portfolios (it will do better than another subset though!).

Let’s step back a little bit an think about why we diversify.

Diversification is all about moderating risks.  We put some money in stocks, which are high risk/high return and some money in bonds which are lower risk/lower return because bonds keep their value in downturns while stocks are likely to lose value (but stocks shoot up high in up-turns while bonds… keep their value).  We keep some money in cash in the bank because it keeps its value and can be drawn on quickly in an emergency.  In general, we want money that we will draw on decades from now to be in stocks and money we will draw on within the next 5 years in something more accessible like cash or bonds.  The closer you get to your target date, be it retirement or buying a house or starting college payments, the more safe and accessible you want your money to be (with some disclaimers for college savings as where those are put can affect financial aid).

More advanced asset allocation will have you thinking about blue chips vs. tech stocks or emerging markets and international markets.  But the thing is, if you’re at the point where you’re not sure what to do with your money, you can just ignore these.  International stock indices tend to have higher fees.  If you get a broad-based index fund it will already include blue chips and tech stocks.  If you get a target-date fund, it will most likely include emerging markets and international markets in addition to bonds.

Diversification can also hide money from creditors like colleges or debt collectors.  Your primary residence has certain safety threshholds depending on where you live, but it can also be taken away if you use it to secure debt (as with a mortgage).  Your retirement savings is often protected.  Trusts and companies are other ways of protecting assets.

So… I recommend some thought exercises.

1.  Do you have an emergency fund that can cover reasonable emergencies (ex. water heater explosions, a delayed reimbursement, etc.) until your next paycheck?  That should be your first priority.

2.  Are you investing up to the match in your employment retirement account?  If you have low-fee options, put it in a target-date fund.  If you don’t, then compare the fees for the different index funds and pick a broad-based fund (if all things are equal, try to get one that matches the total market or the Russell 5000, but if the cheapest fund is the S&P 500 get that, and it’ll be ok).  For additional retirement savings it’s all about your employer fees and whether you qualify for an IRA and if you want to do a backdoor IRA.

3.  What are you doing about housing?  How much of your house is your net worth?  Do you want to buy a house in the future?  If you already own a house, how accessible is the money in case of an emergency (ex. having to move and the house not selling right away)?  For many people, the house is their main form of retirement saving besides Social Security, but in terms of diversification, this is not a great idea.  On average real estate goes up at the rate of the markets, but that’s the average– owning a single home doesn’t give you the average (it is the opposite of diversification).  If your housing market drops, you could lose a lot of savings (of course, it can go the other direction as well– we have friends in California who bought in 2008 and have gained a million dollars on paper since then).  So try not to invest so much in a house that having the market crash could devastate you.  Note though that whether or not you think it is ok to foreclose should also guide how much you’re willing to have in housing mortgage debt vs. equity (vs. renting).  In general, we do not recommend home-ownership unless you can put 20% down– yes lots of people manage ok putting less down, but lots of people were also put in bad situations having to short-sell or foreclose during the last housing crisis.  Basically, think about the worse case scenario and what would happen.

4.  When do you need the money that’s sitting in your bank account wanting to be invested?  If it’s less than 5 years, you can leave it there, or put it in cd ladders.  If it’s more than that, think about your time horizon–   are you investing for college?  Use a 529 (put it in one of their target-date funds).  Are you investing for retirement?  Use a target-date fund (or read some bogleheads forum about people in your situation).  Are you planning on buying a house in 8 years? Put it in a taxable mixture of stocks and bonds (what mix?  depends on how flexible your plans are given the vagaries of the market– to be honest, we just put it in the S&P 500 and cds as we got closer.)

Always do a mental run about what you expect on average to happen and what will happen in a reasonable worst case scenario (ex. 2008 stock market drop plus job loss, keeping in mind that the stock market increased before the drop, so it’s not like it’s 40% off what you put in, but 40% off what you put in plus your gains– the longer you’ve had it in the market, the more money you still have even after the drop).

Because a lot of diversification is about avoiding the low lows even if you miss out on the high highs.

And about acknowledging that long-run risk is different than short-run risk.  In the long-run, stocks will go up more than bonds or savings.  In the short-run, stocks are risky.

Satisficing will get you pretty close to optimizing risk vs. return.  A Vanguard target date fund is probably good enough, and it’s definitely better for long-term investing than just leaving money in a low interest savings account.

Here’s some next stage financial advice. Resources for asset allocation.

Grumpy Nation, how do you approach diversification?