Link love

Coachella is donating major cash to anti-abortion political organizations.

I had donated to this donors choose but it was cancelled! Censorship? I wonder what the story behind it is.

How and why to change your Linked In Privacy settings

Alexis Hall recommends romances.


Did another 10 postcards to voters

Called my senators to ask them to support the budget reconciliation bill because it has investments for carbon capture, which supports business and potentially reduces climate change.  I don’t have a link for this, but here’s a link to find phone numbers for your elected officials.

Ask the grumpies: Big controversial research questions in your field

CG asks:

Big research questions in your field that are controversial or have mixed evidence (thinking about the minimum wage issue, and there are plenty of examples in my field). Maybe we’ll get some good research ideas out of it.

Well, yeah, minimum wage is a big one.

What else do economists not agree on yet… hm….

We don’t know a whole lot about a lot of monetary policy.  I was trained in Keynesian stuff, but there’s disagreements there.

Structural models for labor economics and public finance.  There’s some other modeling things that are much smaller and tend not to actually matter (I was trained in Cambridge-school instead of Chicago-school beliefs about these, but I have colleagues who were the reverse).

There’s still a lot of old-school people who believe that women and minorities are doing poorly because they’re playing the game wrong, not because they’re playing a different game than white dudes are.  That’s beginning to change, but it’s an uphill battle.

#2 can’t really add to this because she’s keeping her social science secret and it would be obvious.

Grumpy Nation, what are the big controversies in your respective fields?

Following Rules

This is another post that was in drafts from 2011.

DC is a rules follower.  Ze trusts that the rules are there for a reason and are in hir best interest.

American cinema and television demonstrate that sometimes the rules are not good ones.  Why is there a rule against earth-bending?  <– I think this must have been a discussion with DC1, probably about Avatar?  I haven’t watched it, but maybe there was a rule against Earth bending that DC1 didn’t understand?

America loves a rebel.

These are the discussions we’ve been having.  Thankfully we’re too young to talk about the Holocaust.

What do you do with a child that is just a little bit too good?  Do you leave hir that way or explain that sometimes rules don’t make sense.  And when rules don’t make sense, there’s a need to rebel against them.  Hopefully through channels that follow the rules, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

Update 11 years later:  DC1 is pretty good at passive-aggressive resistance.  DC2 is more of an outspoken rebel.  Both are probably helpful in the future fight against fascism.  And they both know about the Holocaust.

Trying to become physically fit take number *mumblemumble*

It is unbearably hot this summer.  So hot that even walking across the parking lot is enervating.  Add to that the extremely high covid rates and the anti-masking feelings among my colleagues who actually go into work in the summer, I basically haven’t gone into work since getting back from Europe.  That means I haven’t been doing my daily walks around the pretty floral area with my friend.

I could, in theory, go to our HOA pool, which is outdoors, but I would have to drive *because it is so hot*, which seems silly, and we just have not done it.

If I walk around the house too much without being careful, I set off plantar fasciitis, so just idly walking while watching youtube isn’t going to work.  I can exercise bike, but I don’t keep it up.  I can calisthenics but I don’t keep it up, plus I sometimes hurt myself (ditto yoga).  And I got stuck on a squat task with the Ring Fit and just kind of gave up last summer.

So… this year I’m trying something drastic.  DH has really enjoyed co-Pilot (not sponsored), and it has made him more energetic, stronger, etc.  While it is really not my thing, I am at a stage where I need to do *something* and this is something I haven’t tried yet.

This was both kind of a spontaneous decision and the culmination of a year of pondering.  Spontaneous in that I found myself between work projects (waiting on coauthors etc.) and I suddenly had time to think about my long to-do list of neglected things, including my health, but also over the pandemic my physical health has measurably gotten worse– even my eye-sight has deteriorated!  But DH’s has gotten better, because he’s been doing these workouts with the help of co-Pilot.  This is probably not the best time since I’m recovering from Covid and I have some more work travel coming up, but if not now, then when?  I am so rarely spontaneous that I’ve learned to jump on the impulse because I almost never regret having done so.  I signed up for a full year (~$100/month with a free month from DH’s recommendation and a discount for paying for a year upfront).  We’ll see what happens.

I’ve got a different trainer from DH since his is booked. From the options they gave me, I picked one who works with people with immune disorders and meets people at their level over the one who helps people with marathon training and pushes people to strength.

I also told DH to get a new Apple watch and I would use his old one.  You don’t need an Apple watch to do co-Pilot, but it helps.  DH’s trainer does use the info it gives her to adjust his workouts.  I will not be using the Apple watch for anything but this since I prefer my decades old Casio for telling time.  #wealth  (Actually, the whole spending ~$1K/year on an online personal trainer is also kind of insane #wealth.)

I’ll let you know how it is going!

Link love

Chinese Investors illegally funneled money into the Trump campaign.


Congrats to something-remarkable!

Super useful heuristics for sample size calculations for interactions.


Another 10 postcards to voters to ask people in KS to vote NO on August 2nd against the constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions (including those that would save the life of the mother, rape, incest, etc.)  If you’re in KS, be sure to vote!  Make a plan to vote.  And if you’re voting by mail, get that sent in!  (Also got an email Friday saying they still need people to write post-cards on this topic and according to a poll, if only likely voters show up to vote on it, this will pass by 3 percentage points.  The silent majority needs to be reminded to get out and vote during this off-season election.)

$75 to support books for Trans kids in red/purple states via donors choose.

Ask the grumpies: Mystery novel recommendations?

CG says:

I am ALWAYS up for another post with reader book recommendations. I mostly read mysteries, so selfishly I’d like that.

Dame Eleanor Hull adds:

I’ve been sampling cozy mysteries but haven’t found anything as much like what I feel like reading as Agatha Raisin.

#2 and I have different preferences.  I tend towards cozy, where the mystery is kind of incidental and nothing particularly sordid happens.  #2 likes darker stuff– very similar to my mom’s preferences.  All amazon links are affiliate.

Let’s see…


The Countess of Harleigh mysteries by Dianne Freeman are must reads for me.

I liked the Lady Hardcastle mysteries by T E Kinsey, which are kind of amusing farces and you don’t particularly care about anybody, but the other series by the author kills off someone you are made to care about in the first book which was really unexpected given the Hardcastle books.

Agatha Christie

Some of Amanda Quick/Jayne Krentz’s books are actually mysteries (though shelved under romantic suspense)

Shinigami detective series by Honor Raconteur

Inspector Dimm series by Barbara Metzger (these are shelved under romance– they don’t all come up when you search on amazon though)

Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen (also shelved as a romance)

The suck fairy has visited a lot of Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels books since they came out, but the Jacqueline Kirby series books are still pretty good, especially Naked Once More.

KJ Charles read a bunch of Patricia Wentworth novels and liked them– I haven’t tried any yet, but it’s on my to-read list.  Maybe worth trying if your library has some?  Update:  Really enjoying the first one.  Better than a lot of early Agatha Christie, and so far no racism!


Anything by Deanna Raybourne

Dorothy L Sayers

Patricia Ryan’s Nell Sweeney series.

Cas Russell series by S. L. Huang

Death Below Stairs series by Jennifer Ashley

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty.

Amanda Cross’s Kate Fansler mysteries

Dee Goong An (Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee)

Agatha Raisin

Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley

Grumpy Nation– what are we missing?  What are your mystery recommendations?


  • Really enjoying this leftover roasted sweet potato and broccoli (roasted in olive oil with salt and pepper).  Sometimes simple meals are the best.
  • At the last minute, DC1’s unpaid internship for 20hrs/week became a paid internship for 30hrs/week.  We will have to get hir a bank account.  Also at the end of the summer we will have to get hir started on an IRA Roth, which is pretty exciting.
  • If taking fancy vacations stresses you out and you can’t handle everything you need to do both at work and outside of work, why not take some of your paid time off as one day increments instead of big vacations that include lots of travel?
  • DC2 is so excited about learning vibrato and shifting this summer.  Turns out there are a lot of small arm muscles that need to get built up.  We have an amazing violin teacher and I’m so grateful she was willing to take DC2 on– she usually only focuses on more advanced students (most of the high school students from here who qualify for state are hers), but she likes DC1 enough that she was willing to take a chance even though DC2 has only been playing for a year.  (Though sadly, DC1 did not qualify even for region this year and the previous year, when we were virtual schooling, got top marks but was not allowed to qualify because zie couldn’t find an accompanist willing to wear a mask the year before and didn’t want to go with the school accompanist who refused to mask so only was able to enter the non-qualifying round with a recording.)
  • I went to the library and parked next two two cars (technically a huge truck and an SUV) that had their a/c on even though nobody was in the car.  They were still going when DC2 and I got back with our library spoils.  Apparently the high cost of gas isn’t really a problem for some people.
  • It seems like the people with the nicest planner spreads have the least amount of stuff to actually plan.  Maybe I’m just jealous.
  • Our Ting total for last month (including our trip to Europe and two weeks not in Europe) was only $111.19, which is less than the set-up fee for some of the alternative overseas plans, so just being careful seems to have been the right choice.  Of course, part of that was DH accidentally not turning my overseas roaming on before we left and it taking Ting about a week to get that ironed out (at first they said I’d have to come back to the states for my SIM card to know, but then a few days later it started working on its own).  So I couldn’t actually spend for much of it.  We were also fortunate to have good wifi at our hotels.
  • With the exception of the conference hotel which had paper-thin walls and a really stupid setup (who puts the tv in one room against the bed headboard next door?  Bad designers!), all of our hotels were AMAZING.  We also paid for but did not eat breakfast at the conference hotel because they only had indoor breakfast, and by day two I was covid positive and we weren’t wanting to expose anybody.  The first hotel we were across the street from a bakery and the second hotel let us eat breakfast outside which was beautiful.
  • The Paris place was an apartment which I did not leave, but DH brought me amazing pastries every morning from one of the many nearby shops.  Only two euro each for the best croissant/pan au chocolate/baguette/etc.  We would spend $15 for much better versions of what would cost $80 at a fancy bakery in our closest city.
  • Even the hamburgers in Paris were better because the buns were amazing, even just the plain white bread bun.  I’d never given much thought to hamburger buns before (other than say, sesame seeds vs not), but it turns out they really do matter.
  • The brown bread in Paris… not as good as in Germany.  But cheap!
  • Breathing is amazing.  Just breathing in deep and filling your lungs.  It’s not something you really appreciate until your lungs get filled with gunk.  Not being sick is the best.

Getting DC2 a cellphone

DC2 is going into 6th grade and we think it’s time for a phone.

Ideally we would get hir a flip phone until zie showed that zie could be responsible with it.  But the only flip phone that works with Ting (not sponsored) gets 1 star reviews, most of which say it is terrible at being an actual phone.  Since the main purpose of getting a phone is for DC2 to be able to call us for pick-ups and things like that, not having that ability is probably worse than not having an actual phone.

The next cheapest phone is a $99 moto e, which gets decent reviews.  But… a refurbished iPhone 8 is only $169 and the rest of us have iPhones (also not sponsored) and we’d be able to track hir phone and be more likely to find it when it’s missing etc. etc. etc.

It seems a little unfair because DC1 currently has an iPhone 8 (a hand-me-down from DH when DH upgraded to a 13) and spent middle school losing/destroying flip phone after flip phone and complaining about not having a smart phone (though at any point zie could have saved up to buy one hirself, zie just didn’t want to).  But you couldn’t get a refurbished iphone 8 for $169 back then and there just aren’t great alternatives for DC2 like there were for DC1, and we didn’t want to spend $300 on a phone until zie could show zie would be unlikely to lose it.  DC1 will just have to deal with the unfairness of it all since I don’t particularly want to upgrade my phone 12 any time soon.  (And next year DC1 will be getting all sorts of electronics swag for college.)

Adding another line for DC2 will be something like $7/mo plus whatever additional data zie uses.

Hopefully zie will use it responsibly!

When do you think kids should get their own phones?  What kind of phone would you start with?

link love

My lungs are *almost* clear and my cough is *almost* gone.  The world feels so amazing when you’re mostly no longer sick after having been sick.

There’s been a lot of horrible stuff going on, but I was out of the country and sick so I didn’t really engage with it, and then I spent a week digging out– there are other places to get links.  But if you just want to skip to action, is still great.

Notes from the fatosphere talks about weight loss as a misplaced desire to reinhabit the past.

Not of General Interest talks about an academic imposter she once worked with.

If you don’t want to sign up for twitter and have been having trouble reading tweets, you can use this website to read them.

Jliedl checks in.

There’s no such thing as not a math person, only incorrect and often biased beliefs causing math phobia.  (Disclaimer:  There are some disabilities that make learning math via conventional methods difficult– that’s not what this post is talking about.)


Donated $47.10 to Donors Choose ($25 for trans supporting stuff, $22.10 to finish up a DEI initiative that was being triple matched)
Thanked MOC(s) who (uncharacteristically) voted for gun control bill.  Did not call MOC(s) who opposed it but probably should have.  (Baby steps.)
Wrote 20 postcards to voters in Kansas to ask them to vote to keep abortion legal in KS.  (If you’re in Kansas, be sure to vote NO on the constitutional amendment August 2)


Ask the grumpies: Required Minimum Distributions? (RMD)

First Generation American asks:

Have you done the calculation yet of projected RMDs at 70.5? Conventional wisdom used to be to max out pre-tax income in your retirement accounts but now as we get closer to retirement, I am realizing my RMDs in my 70s may put me in the same tax bracket as I am in now. As a high earner, how do you decide your pre-tax vs after tax contributions into savings and has your opinion about it changed. Most early retirees in podcast interviews lately are talking about wishing they put more in roth when they were younger.

We are not professional financial planners.  Please talk with a fee-only certified planner and/or do your own research before making important financial decisions.

For us, the RMDs (Required minimum distributions, note that it may be 72 for us, not 70.5) seemed kind of irrelevant because academic economists never seem to stop working and they have high salaries so I just assumed that we’d be in the same or higher tax bracket later.  PLUS I’ve assumed that marginal tax rates will be higher because they’ve been historically low and we’ve been doing a lot of borrowing against our futures (and for us Gen Xers, Boomers will still be around much of our post-work lives, but not working themselves).

All of our IRA stuff is in Roth. We have it that way because we want to do backdoor Roth conversions (now, with the stock market down, is a good time to do that if it’s something you’ve been putting off), and the math is just way easier if you don’t have any IRA stuff in traditional accounts.

We do have some 401K stuff in traditional.  Looking at what we have in traditional using this calculator, RMDs don’t by themselves put us in the same tax bracket.  But.. we’ll have social security and probably dividends, and one or both of us may be working, who knows.

How do we decide which– well, at first we didn’t have Roth options, so we had to put $ in traditional.  Then Roth seemed like a good idea because I figured we’d be earning more later and tax rates were historically low.  Then Trump got elected and I switched everything to traditional in protest (pay taxes later).  Then Biden got elected and I can’t remember if we’re 50% Roth or 100% Roth in our 403b/401k.  I think my 457 only has traditional options. Obviously it’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about!

To be honest, I went to a lot of talks by economists who study these specific questions and realized that there’s just too much uncertainty about the future to make a 100% good decision (I had originally thought:  Oh everything should be in Roths! and then I went to a talk where an economist suggested that they could renege on the Roth promise(!)).  Having our IRAs completely Roth and our 401k/403b as a mix without worrying too much about it seems to be working for us.  Everything else is kind of second order tinkering (like:  you end up investing more with one than with the other because of pre-tax vs. post-tax) and trying to predict increasingly unknowable future political environments.

Grumpy Nation, what is your experience with required minimum distributions?  How do you decide between traditional and Roth accounts?