Link love

Links are light this week for reasons that may become apparent in Monday’s post!  (If you note less variety and an even stronger economic slant than usual this week, that’s because #2 hasn’t had time or brain power to do much internet surfing this week.)

How to buy a gun in 15 countries

The myth of the male bumbler

Beautiful post from a gai shan life on moving forward after no longer financially supporting a father who stole over ten thousand dollars from her

Becoming accustomed to wealth

Here’s a post criticizing Bruno Mars.  The thing is, most white people (probably) think Bruno Mars is black and haven’t read the Wikipedia page that talks about his ancestry (Filipino, Puerto Riqueno, Ashkenazi Jewish)… if race is a construct, what is important, perception or reality? Probably a bit of both.  (And there’s also colorism no doubt at play.)  Like this author, I love Bruno Mars’ recent stuff because it’s an over the top throwback to the upbeat 1990s R&B I remember from growing up. (#2 is less nostalgic, but we both wish Salt and Pepa were played on the radio more)  He should definitely be more proactive about giving credit and royalties before the song becomes a hit (Taylor Swift is very good about doing this), but once the similarities are noticed, the original artists get a cut without fuss, probably a bigger one than they would have gotten a priori (which is probably why Taylor Swift is so good about buying rights beforehand!).

h/t delagar for this one– the payoff is at the end

A sweet throwback comment thread on what our readers call their grandparents

Volunteers thread together clues to uncover CSU collection’s mystery handkerchief owner


Ask the grumpies: How to teach a kid to code?

Sandy L asks:

How to teach a kid to code when you don’t know how? (And I don’t live in a big city and I also don’t want to spend $1000 on coding camp. There has got to be a better way.)

We don’t know the answer to this question.  Here’s what we had tried on this subject back in 2015.  DC2 did really enjoy the Python for Kids book and enjoyed modifying the programs in the book, but hasn’t really come up with any programs of hir own.  We did not try Teach your kids to code.

Last summer DC1 did a week long video game design daycamp.  That used a program called Unity.  Zie fiddled around on it for about a month after the camp and then accidentally deleted or broke hir game in a way that locked it and lost interest.  Next year there’s a middle-school class that *might* teach programming but it also might not.  If it’s taught by the same teacher as the gifted-only version of the class we’re definitely not interested [update:  because DC1 is gifted, zie is only allowed to take the gifted-only version].  But there will be programming classes once zie gets to high school which is pretty exciting.  (We don’t live in a big city either, but having the university here adds a lot.)

DC1 and DC2 have both done Hour of Code in school and have links to practicing outside of school.  There’s also Khan Academy.

I dunno, does your local community college offer an intro programming class?  If so, it will probably be in Java or Python.

Any better suggestions for Sandy L?


  • DC1’s algebra teacher quit to join administration a couple of weeks after the second semester started (after a week long absence).  I guess we’ll have to keep a closer eye on the rest of the semester since algebra is so fundamental and I’m pretty sure zie doesn’t now how to factor polynomials even if zie does know how to multiply them.
  • Super bummed that Teen Vogue is no longer doing a print edition.  The last few issues were AMAZING, including one guest edited by HRC.  Irritatingly, they switched DC1’s subscription over to Allure magazine “the magazine for people who care about beauty” or something like that.  Full of “beauty tips.”  This month’s issue was on nudity and had a nearly naked airbrushed stereotypical model on the cover.  Completely not appropriate for an 11 year old or really anybody.  And very different from a magazine that features people like Malala Yousafzi on the cover.  I will be getting a check for $2 in the mail for my cancellation– Teen Vogue should have been charging more.  It’s a different market and was worth much more than the ridiculous $10 for 2 years or whatever it was I paid.
  • Forgive me, for I have referred to a paper about fertility as “seminal” in published work.  Next up:  referring to a paper about religion as “canonical”.  And a paper about building cities as, “ground-breaking” (or should I save that one for agriculture?).
  • it is weird to me that my kids have had macarons before having had macaroons.
  • DC2 has moved onto chapter books at school.  Zie is in love with the Geronimo Stilton that DC1 read maybe once or twice.  They have such different taste in books.  Really the only commonality is that they both love Jim Benton, author of Franny K Stein and Dear Dumb Diary.  I so wish we had Scholastic so I could indulge in buying sets of series we don’t have (like Thea Stilton!)
  • Preserved walnuts are really good.  If you ever get the opportunity to try/buy them, take it!
  • My cholesterol is fine this year (whew!), so maybe all that additional lunchtime walking did some good!  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have helped with my vitamin D levels (which may explain the fatigue I’ve been having), so my doctor wants me to go from 2000 iu to 5000 iu.  I’m going to compromise and do 4000 iu because that means I can have a 2000 iu when I brush my teeth and keep another bottle of 2000 iu in my office when I get my mid-day slump.
  • It isn’t a bargain if you can’t afford it.
  • We owed an additional $2846 in taxes this year, not counting the estimated taxes for this next year.  [Update:  We forgot a whole ton of donations– didn’t go through the school email folder or the check register, so it’s actually $100 less than that.  With the additional donations, we’re just a little over the standard deduction.  Also turns out there’s no point for us to declare a home office since we don’t get anywhere near the minimum for it to count for us– We make too much and our house is too big and too cheap.]
  • DC2’s school was having a performance for parents/relatives and one of their dances had them shooting with finger guns.  This disturbed DC2 enormously given that they started practicing right after the FL school shooting.  Thankfully someone decided to change that number to something in less bad taste.

How we bought a new car this time

This is pretty similar to a guest post we did on GRS like a decade ago.  One big difference is that it is very hard to find email addresses on dealership sites now.  Still, if you live near a city or two, even a couple of hours away, I strongly recommend using this method after you’ve decided on a car.

First:  I made a list of all the Honda dealerships in a 2.5 hour radius.  I then found the contact information page for each one.

Here’s what we emailed:

We are in the market for a 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Base Model, any trim.  We are not willing to pay extra for add-ons.

What is your walkaway price?

Usually this would start with a generic email that didn’t autopopulate asking if we were sure that we wanted a [blank].  Then we’d be invited for a test drive.  Next we’d get an email asking for a phone number or to come in for a test drive.  We’d reply that we weren’t interested in a test drive and preferred to do business via email.  And then we’d reiterate that we were looking for a walkaway price.  Enough iterations of this and someone would finally send a walkaway price.  Those started coming in:  $36,443.82; $36,771.90; $36,086; $36,059.63; $35,573.50… and a bunch in the 37K range.  Once we got the $35,573.50, we mailed back everyone who had given us a quote and asked if they could beat it.  Several dealerships offered $35,500, which we then emailed back to people as they sent in new $37K offers.  At that point everyone left converged on “we can beat $35,500 if you come in right now and talk to us in person”, at which point I went to the local dealer and said that if they could match or beat $35,500 then we’d buy from them.  After some confusion in which they thought they’d given us a walkaway price when in fact they had not, DH went to the local dealer and bought the car.

Sadly they only valued our trade-in at $1000, which was lower than the $1300 minimum that KBB suggested our car (in “fair” condition) was worth as a trade-in (it’s worth quite a bit more according to KBB as a purchase).  So DH didn’t trade in.  I’m not looking forward to selling on Cragislist, but DH says he’ll take care of it.  I suggested he add any amount he gets over 1K to his allowance.

Link love and some notes on February’s challenge

This February’s challenge was to not read social media first thing in the morning.  The first couple weeks were hard, but after that less so.  I did reset my going to work to before 8am rather than to around 9am (for the days I didn’t have to be at work until 9:30), which was good because the building is lovely and quiet in the morning and it’s easier to get work done.  I also slept a bit more, but if I’m waking up at 5 after getting to sleep at 9, that is 8 hours of sleep– I probably don’t need that extra hour (especially since some of that time with the ipad in bed had been spent checking my email).  Unfortunately, I started doing more social media checking on my desktop at home instead of just the ipad, which means I started associating my desktop with wasting time rather than just working (and uh, blog stuff).  I also spent longer in the bathroom with my phone…  Overall I do not think I actually saved much time during the day, just changed when I did things.  And I’m behind on my email again.  But I didn’t time track so I don’t know for sure.  Was this worth keeping up with?  Probably not.  I do like the break of the addiction and have been occasionally keeping the ipad out of reach so I have to get up to use it.  So, I dunno.

Now links!

Georgia lawmakers pass bill that punishes Delta Air Lines for cutting ties with NRA

Florida lawmakers approve $67 million program to give teachers guns and training.

House committee passes resolution letting members pay for bullet-proof vets with taxpayer dollars

Reduction in firearm injuries during NRA annual conventions

In England, parents can tell their kids that these school mass shootings only happen in America.  Meanwhile my DC2 (and the rest of hir class) is scared because the lock-down drills they’re doing are legitimately terrifying.  And I can tell hir nothing to protect hir.

Info on kids’ rights to walk out of school for protests.

Fascism update

Do not engage with Nazis.  Just don’t.

Feminist analysis of 1990’s A little princess movie

Crumbs from the tax scam for lower income folks

Hey high income readers: are you wondering what to do with the surplus in your paycheck this month? Here are schools that need copies of “The Hate U Give”  (Or find another project you’d like to support– I donated to two classrooms in the low income town next to ours so they could get literally the same books that my kids already have in their classrooms).

Trolling mansplainers

TV series and emotional buy-in

I would totally watch this if I had it all subbed.

Ask the grumpies: Private vs. public colleges

Sandy L. asks

Cost benefit of public vs private college. What is the value of the network, etc.

The question isn’t really about public vs. private.  Berkeley is going to open a lot more doors and have a much more impressive network than the expensive small regional private liberal arts college one of my sisters-in-law went to.  The question is really about the prestige of the school.  There’s a lot of interesting new research on that topic.  And the answer is that, first off, we don’t really know, and second off, it is nuanced.

In general, for your white upper-class/upper-middle-class kid, it doesn’t really matter where they go.  Harvard, top flagship, regional state school– it just doesn’t matter.

For your lower income family, minority, etc. etc. etc. student, it can matter quite a bit.

But even with that mattering, some schools are better than others at elevating kids into higher socioeconomic status.  And some schools (like Harvey Mudd) are phenomenal at elevating low SES kids, but don’t actually admit very many of them (that $72K/year sticker fee and all).

I’m too lazy to source and cite this, but if you’re interested in finding out more, flip through the NBER working papers abstracts for the education group.  If you need to narrow your search window down, Carolyn Hoxby is a good place to start– she’s written extensively on this topic and cites a lot of the other work that has been and is being done.

“Pretending” to be a Darth Vader husband is not cool or funny.

There’s this personal finance blogger who often “pretends” to be a jerk to his wife.  It’s a running gag with him and he puts in her commentary as editors notes.

For one of these he spent the entire post complaining about how much laundry she does.  It read very much like a painful other side of a captain awkward post.  So in the comments I told him it wasn’t funny, and explained why.

Two days later we got a bunch of blog hits from him mocking me for calling him Darth Vader (which I didn’t—I was explaining why that humor isn’t funny in the context of Captain Awkward).  Turns out he elevated my comment to a post, twisted it, and accused me of reading incomprehension because he didn’t understand I was complaining about his failed attempt at humor.

So, in short, “pretending” to be a jerk to your wife in a public forum isn’t funny.  Back in the day more people probably thought Ralph Cramden’s  repeated line from the honeymooners about sending his wife Alice to the moon with a punch right in the kisser was funny.  Now we are less likely to laugh about threatened spousal abuse.  I hope that one day doods like this guy will stop their controlling husband shtick because nobody finds controlling husbands acceptable anymore.  Until then, these kinds of posts further the patriarchy by making the unacceptable seem acceptable.  And that’s really not funny at all.

Scalzi says the failure mode of clever is asshole, and misogynistic humor fits right in there.  Even if the woman is “in” on the joke.