RBOC

  • Nice Kitty is really into pointing out anything that changes to us.  Since DH has moved into her bedroom, she keeps dragging us in there to point out that there’s a new screen (she’s in favor of it) and the chair is different and the 3D printer has moved and so on.  These are useful skills!
  • DC2 is really into juvenile fantasy.  Today zie noted that boys who save the world tend to make stupid decisions a lot of the time, but girls who save the world tend to make more sensible choices.  I wonder if that’s a gendered trope or if it is more a time thing (since girls who save the world books tend to be more modern).
  • The kids are doing a lot of baking this summer even though DH is not.
  • Bananas have been getting ripe very quickly these days so the baking DH does has been mostly things to get rid of super ripe bananas.  Turns out you can just throw them into sourdough to slightly sweeten it, or use them with leftover applesauce for a cranberry nut bread with slight banana flavor.  I don’t want to say we were getting tired of regular banana bread, but DH certainly was.
  • We did have an amazing pizza from Williams Sonoma that used bananas.  It’s literally just pizza dough, then ricotta cheese, then sliced bananas.  If you eat ham you can put ham on top.  Then bake!  That’s it!  It’s surprisingly delicious.  Even if your bananas were super ripe.  (Also: if you haven’t made a pizza with blue cheese and walnuts yet and you like those items, you are missing out!)
  • DC1 doesn’t like the way that hir current C++ teacher won’t let them use things that they haven’t “learned” yet.  Zie says hir previous Java teacher would say, “I won’t be using this as an example because it uses a concept you guys don’t know yet, but we will be learning X in the future” but the C++ teacher is like, “Don’t do that.”  Zie would be fine if the “Don’t do that” was upfront when the problem is assigned, but it’s difficult when you have a large knowledge base and can’t quite remember what has been taught in this class.  I had this problem in Number Theory, but the thing about Number Theory is that you’re not allowed to use, say, multiplication until you’ve defined/invented it, so the limitations make more sense (it is frustrating but really gets you to appreciate how little kids can understand the concept of counting).  Not being able to use an array or a loop seems less sensible.
  • When I teach Stata I’m very much, “there are a million ways to do the same thing, use what works for you” and I’ll talk about the pros and cons of different ways of putting in fixed effects, for example.  My junior colleague who thinks I’m not very bright doesn’t like the way that I often will officially teach them the most idiot-proof way of doing something even though it’s not the most up-to-date.  She doesn’t know that’s why I do things that way though– just thinks I’m out of touch.  I also spend a lot of time getting them to figure out how to find out how to do things using Stata help and the internet.  I’ve gotten pushback from students on that in the past because they think I should stand in front of the class and just write code. (The other professor does that, whereas I have in-class exercises instead.)
  • I made the mistake of wondering what was going on with John and Sherry Petersik of Young House Love (I’m on December of their last year of podcasts so only half a year left before I have to decide what to listen to on my commute instead unless they start up again.)  The amount of people attacking Sherry on the internet for not putting more of her life out there but simultaneously putting too much of her life out there… it was sickening.  Nobody attacks John.  Nobody ever attacks the guy.  Lots of speculation about her personal life too– did she have an eating disorder, did she have an affair with their contractor (extremely unlikely given she spends 24/7 with John so he’d have to be incredibly oblivious), does she have a mental illness, etc. etc. etc.  And how her son not having a closet in his bedroom is somehow child abuse (it’s not!).  I had forgotten how vicious the internet can be to women who try to make money from it.  Anyhow, my bottom line is that John and Sherry seem like nice people and their personal life that they haven’t shared is none of our business even if they’ve shared personal life things in the past.  And if you don’t like the ads on instagram stories there’s a simple solution for that– don’t go to instagram stories!  (Easy for me to say since not giving facebook my personal information means I can’t even see instagram stories.)  And OMG, mommy forums are cesspools!  Like, literally worse than GOMI (which also has a page).
  • I recently deleted a comment criticizing us for not putting more personal information out there.  I think there’s this belief that if a woman isn’t wearing a burka inside women’s quarters– if she ever ventures out, then somehow she’s completely available for public consumption.  Men, of course, get allowed privacy no matter what they put out there.  Nobody even polices their facial expressions.  And in reality, the women trapped inside aren’t safe either (obviously) because it really isn’t about what you wear or where you go.  It’s 100% about policing and keeping women down.  Stupid patriarchy.
  • Someone at the library has very similar book tastes to mine and extremely heavy perfume.  I had to let the new Farah Heron, Accidentally Engaged, air out on the air filter for about a week (with me fanning out the pages whenever I walked past) before I could read it without my nose dripping.  (Literally dripping.)

Ask the grumpies: Vaccine delayers… do they deserve our contempt (spoiler: yes, but not as much as deniers)

Jenny F. Scientist asks:

How to be less contemptuous of, say, vaccine delayers, or do they deserve it.

Vaccine delayers are an interesting group. They tend to argue that vaccines are given too early because doctors want to make sure kids get vaccines so they give them at the first chance or on rigid schedules that coincide with things like daycare or elementary school requirements.  The argument is that some vaccination is better than no vaccination, so doctors give them too early.  A conscientious parent who believes in vaccines and has the means to get them done will get them done but “optimally”.  Now… why is delaying optimal?  One (refuted) argument (made by a son of the original Dr. Sears who has since been censured –– the original Dr. Sears was very much in favor of the regular vaccination schedule) is that too many vaccines at once overtax a child’s system, which is silly because the vaccines don’t work that way and even if they did, kids are exposed to more taxing things just crawling around the house.  Similarly there’s an argument about metals, but most vaccines don’t have the metals/chemicals that parents are afraid of anymore, and the metals they do have are in low amounts (one study says babies get more aluminum from breastmilk than from a vaccine).  Then there’s the argument that babies do sometimes get reactions to vaccines, things like allergic reactions or swelling and redness around the injection site, and an older child might be better able to tolerate the side effects.  (Moms who subscribed to this philosophy just wanted to delay vaccines, not spread them out.)

Another argument is that some moms just want to feel special and working out a special snowflake schedule for their kid helps.  This argument is unlikely to make you feel less contemptuous.

A more likely argument is that a lot of white dude MD doctors are exploiting women’s fears for their children in order to sell them products.  There’s a lot of evidence for this latter argument.  When white dudes with medical degrees are pushing something and they’re put on talk shows, how is a parent without a science (or other advanced) degree supposed to know if she should listen to him or to her own pediatrician?  You know and I know how to read articles in PubMed and how to evaluate evidence and when correlation is not causation… but most people don’t.  I have graduate students I teach this stuff to.  Instead of feeling contemptuous of the vaccine delayer women, perhaps the contempt should be saved for the men who are exploiting them and their children to sell their stuff.

When I was on a mommy forum vaccine delayers tended to be less stupid (…and less narcissistic) than deniers– one was even a microbiology PhD student.  She would try to talk deniers into getting vaccines later.  I think it worked on some of the mommies, though I think she also convinced some mommies who would have gotten vaccines on schedule to delay, so I’m not sure that there was a net positive.

Usually delaying isn’t going to be a problem.  Except when it is.

What, of course, worked to get more moms on that forum to vaccinate on time was a measles outbreak nearby.  Terrifying!

In an ideal world, enough people would vaccinate their kids on schedule that people who didn’t get vaccinated would have herd immunity.  In an ideal world, many of these diseases would be completely eradicated.  But we don’t live in an ideal world, so delaying vaccines carries risks that it shouldn’t.  It’s still safest to vaccinate your kids on schedule unless there is evidence of a known allergy.