Ask the grumpies: Can I really recommend accept with minor revisions in the first round?

Lucy asks:

I am trying to write a referee report on a paper and other than things I know are minutiae I have no comments!  Other than not showing anything causal (which the authors readily admit and isn’t really necessary for their question), I have no major criticism of anything they have done. The outlet is probably appropriate. So…do I seriously recommend publish as-is? Have you ever done that? It seems like such a cop out.

I think I have recommended some things be published with only minor revisions.  I know I’ve typed out under the Major section:  “I have no major concerns.”  And as an editor I’ve definitely gotten people making that recommendation, “Accept with only minor revisions”, even in the first round.  I just did one, in fact, that came back with “accept with minor revisions” from two reviewers in the first round.  And then I read it and was like, yeah, they should cut out that one section and see a copy-editor, but this is definitely an accept with minor revisions.

What you need to do so that the editor believes you (IMHO on the receiving end of these reports) is to explain in the cover letter why you think it doesn’t need revising.  So you say what you told me.  It exhaustively documents info, it doesn’t show anything causal but the authors are upfront about that and you don’t think it is necessary for them to show causation given the topic, the outlet is appropriate, etc.  The authors should be commended, etc.

It’s not enough to say, “accept with minor revisions” because then I’m all… should I trust you, or are you just lazy?  But if you can say why the paper is interesting and important/appropriate and anticipate problems that you don’t think are problems, then your letter is really helpful when I have to compare it to someone who, say, believes the paper should be rejected because it isn’t causal.  I had a situation like that once with two extremely enthusiastic reviewers and two who wanted to reject the paper outright and one of the rejects and one of the minor revisions were useless because they didn’t tell me anything useful.  If the second accept with minor revisions had told me why to accept, then the decision would have been a lot easier for me.  (Or if the other reject had said something other than, “this paper doesn’t cite [my papers]” even though it cited a literature review that contained said papers.)

What should we listen to during a long upcoming road trip?

So far our best listening experience has been To Say Nothing of the Dog.  It’s unlikely we’ll find something else as amazing as that.  We also enjoy Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and The Splendid Table, but in short doses.  DH listened to Lincoln: Team of Rivals during one trip, but I found it mildly annoying.  DC1 liked Alcatraz books by Brandon Sanderson, and they’re ok, but not that compelling.  The first Iron Druid was pretty interesting, but they’re getting too dark for me and also there’s way too much sex for comfortable listening with the kids in the back.

Rules:

  1. It doesn’t have to be interesting to children, but it does have to be appropriate for children listening (age 4 and age 9).
  2. We don’t really want tragedy or senseless violence etc.  Something upbeat or uplifting or funny would be better.

Any recommendations?  What do you listen to on long drives?

Update on missing check

Yeah, I know this should probably wait for a Monday, but we’re a bit light on posts (in fact, if there isn’t one tomorrow, we’re ok, we’re just busy)…

Anyhow, emailed the landlord and zie said that yeah, zie had gotten the missing February check but had then lost it.  So I guess we’re going to write a new check and subtract out the $15 check cancellation fee (as the landlord suggested).  I wonder what would have happened if we’d never said anything.  (Though to be completely fair, this person is probably still coping with hir partner’s death.)

Who treats whom when family comes to visit?

#1:

When DH’s parents (who are comfortably middle class with excess income that they funnel into 6 grandkids) come to visit, we’ve settled into a habit of mostly going places where we order at the counter and buy our own stuff, they pick up a meal or two that’s sit-down or take-out, and we pick up a meal or two especially if we go someplace expensive.  It used to be that they paid for everything.  For a while it was awkward with DH having to be aggressive about taking the check (and me having to remind him to be aggressive because he didn’t think about money), but we’re now at a place where the money is trivial for all of us so it’s no big deal who pays.

With my parents, we just buy everything because by myself I make 2x what my mom makes.  My mom occasionally treats for coffee or hot chocolate.  Again, it used to be that she’d pay or we’d take turns.

My sister and I tend to take turns treating (with 1 time for her for every 3-4 times for us), or we’ll buy her dinner and she’ll buy coffee or ice cream after.  She makes about my salary.

I just noticed a weird gendered thing– with DH’s family DH is the one who needs to whip out the credit card.  With my family it doesn’t matter if it is me or DH.  Generally I let DH pay for everything because I’m lazy but I feel especially awkward whipping out my card for DH’s parents.  When DH doesn’t get his card out quickly enough, I’m happy to get mine out.  (Our finances are 100% joint, so it doesn’t actually matter who gets the card out.)

#2

Usually whoever has more money pays.  So my partner will take us all out to dinner if it’s me and my siblings and my mom.  My dad will take us all out to dinner if he’s with us/my siblings.

I usually won’t let my mom pay for dinner. I will occasionally let my sis & her husband pay for ONE of my meals, or infinite coffee, but I won’t let them pay for all of my meals.  Usually I might pay for them or we might all pitch in.  Sometimes one of us would pay for everyone’s lunch and the other would pay for everyone’s dinner.

What about you?  Who pays and why?

Link Love

When you’re having a great day then #wellactually arrives

I don’t get this one, but #2 sent it.

She also thinks this is the best thing.

Endorse

It’s so great not to be teaching.

So sick of this trope

From someone who saw Trump’s tax returns.

free cat toy with every purchase!

Marriage

#removealetterspoilabook

news

Why people are angry

Why we thought trump would lose

Why Bernie lost and what to do about it

Ugh comments

Texas again

Minecraft

 

Ask the grumpies: Is a single house a good investment for retirement?

Amin asks:

My husband and I own a house in a city with a very high cost of living and expensive real estate. We bought the house at a very good price because while it was structurally sound it needed (still does) some aesthetic renovations. We currently have a lot of money saved up, and we’re debating what to do with it. My question is basically: are we naive to think that putting in new windows, finishing our basement, and upgrading some insulation would be good investments? We put money into TIAA-CREF every month and our universities match our contributions, but we’re hoping that in 20 years we could sell our home, buy something smaller or outside the city, and use our profit for retirement. Do you think real estate is a reliable investment? Homes in our neighborhood are currently in high demand and often sell within a few weeks (sometimes with cash offers!), but I worry that the real estate market is too fickle and unreliable for retirement plans. Any advice?

Investing in a single property is a high risk potentially high reward proposition.  No, it is not a reliable investment. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t.  In addition, everywhere outside of California, increasing home value leads to increasing property taxes which make the cost of ownership more expensive.  So no, don’t rely on a single house in a single real estate market as a big part of your retirement (most people who have retirement wealth have that from their house, but that’s because they don’t have any other wealth).  It might work out but it might not.  It is far more risky than a diversified portfolio of index stock and index bond funds.

If you’re talking 20 years time, then most of the renovations you’re talking about will be out of date and not worth as much in the market at that point anyway.  Possible exceptions for things that tend to have a high return, like adding a second bathroom.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t renovate if you can afford to do so and want to.  Insulation and new windows can cut your energy costs (which is a form of investment depending on the break-even point).  Finishing your basement can increase the usefulness of your house.  But you shouldn’t consider them investments in the same way that your 403b portfolio is invested.  For the most part, these renovations will be consumption.

In terms of how much should you save for retirement, you should aim for at least 15% of your income, and more if you have catch-up savings to do.

A village parenting story

The other weekend I was standing in a long long line for a bouncy slide with DC2.

There was a woman behind me.  After letting someone cut in line behind her, her daughters kept running in front and trying to get to the slide.  And she kept ineffectually calling her daughters’ names and making grabs for one of them.

When I got right at the front of the line, I stuck my arm out as one of the daughters made a break for it to run up the slide in front of DC2 who was waiting patiently until it the teenager in charge said it was safe to go up. The daughter ran into my arm instead of up the slide.

This is the kind of thing that parents around here do all the time, catch other people’s kids when they’re making a break for it, because the parents tend to be upper class and the streets are close by and dangerous so parents (right or wrong) tend to have more fear of their kid getting away than of other parents. (I don’t know if I mentioned that DH literally saved a kid’s life earlier this year.  A toddler had wandered from the playground into the parking lot to get something from his parent’s van and was about to get backed over by an SUV.  DH ran his bike in front of the SUV to stop it from backing up, which made the SUV driver upset until she realized what had almost happened.  DH returned the kid to a frantic parent who had been looking all over the playground for the kid.)

In any case, this horrible woman then chewed me out for touching her daughter and she had everything under control etc., but of course she didn’t.

Later that day I recounted this story to our friends out here, and they individually said, “were the daughters names Olivia and Isabella?”  And was the older one Isabella and the younger one Olivia and Olivia a year or two older than DC2?  Did the woman have brown hair?  And the answer is yes.  Apparently this woman has a reputation and it wasn’t me at all.  I imagine she thought my arm was some kind of comment on her parenting (which it wasn’t until she chewed me out about it!)

(After DC2 went down the slide I said no more fair activities because the horrible woman was going to the last thing DC2 hadn’t done, so I was like, let’s go to the library instead.  And so we did.  And I witnessed lots of village parenting and parents thanking other parents for helping out instead of chewing them out and it was nice.  And then we went to another event at DC2’s daycare and I was even more hands on with keeping other people’s preschoolers out of trouble since parents were busy volunteering and I ended up on kid duty somehow.  People seemed grateful.)

I think where we normally live there’s much less of an atmosphere of village parenting, but there’s usually hardly anyone at the park or playground because everyone has a play structure in their back-yard.  And disgruntled women like the one at the park are more likely to be carrying a concealed weapon.  I’m not sure I would have automatically prevented a kid from going up a slide back where we usually live, no matter how dangerous.  But the teenagers in charge of the event would also probably have been better at keeping things safe.

What’s it like where you live in terms of village parenting vs. minding your own business?  How do you feel about other people stopping your child when he or she is making a break for it?

 

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