Sick of the phrase: “It is what it is”

Everyone keeps saying it, even when it doesn’t have to be.

I am a big fan of the serenity prayer, especially the version I learned that puts having the courage to change things that I can first.

God grant me the courage to change things that I can

The serenity to accept things I cannot

And the wisdom to know the difference

I think this was cross-stitched on a sampler at the house of one of my baby-sitters when I was a kid.

“It is what it is” keeps being used not for that second line, but to excuse not having the courage for the first.  And I hate it.  We can fight for injustice.  We can fight for equality.  We can keep calling our representatives and not just give up on them.  We are at a turning point in US history– we can get rid of the filibuster, grab DC state-hood, pass HR1 as new voting rights legislation, protect trans kids, pack the supreme court.  After 12 years of unconscionable changes by Republicans doing things never dreamed of in previous administrations in our memory– Merrick Garland, Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett, refusing to bring any legislature to a vote, removing the VRA, not doing anything on gun control after Sandy Hook, etc. etc. etc.– we can also do the unthinkable.

It doesn’t have to be.

But it will be if we don’t fight for it.  If we give up prematurely.

If we don’t have the wisdom to know the difference.

****************************************************************

Here’s a link to 5calls.  Demand Statehood for Washington DC.  Support Democracy Reform with H.R. 1.  Protect Dreamers.  And so much more.  But none of this will happen if we give up.  Because the bad guys aren’t giving up.

Ask the grumpies: gender and power

Rose asks:

What are the current trends with gender and race on corporate boards and what is having impact? What are current  trends of who is attending and graduating from college and salaries by gender and race? What about graduate school. Please include % of foreign students involved. Same question about med schools today versus 25 and 50 years ago. Are more/any med schools opening today? Same about Vet Schools.

Diversity improves board performance.  Here’s Catalyst with information on gender trends. Here’s the washington post.  They’re doing less well with minority groups.

Here are college enrollment rates by race and gender.  Here are college graduation rates from the same site, though they’re from 2017 which seems a bit outdated.

Here is information on graduate school enrollment.  It also includes information on international students.

This is the breakdown for medical schools graduates for 2019, and here is enrollment for 2018.  Here’s a report on gender.  Here’s an article that compares 1980 to 2016.

Yes, there have been new medical schools in the US.  There are fewer new veterinary schools, but there have been some.

 

Ask the grumpies: Recommendations for happy fun novels by underrepresented writers?

MSWR asks:

I’d love to know your recommendations for romance novels and other HEA novels written by BIPOC, especially women.

We both read a lot of books by BIPOC, especially women (maybe even only women in #1’s case?), so if you cruise our link love books tag you’ll find a lot of them.  They’re not all HEA romance novels (although all the books #1 contributes are…) and they’re generally not labeled as such.  So it’s good to have a collection here.  First, let’s see what I’ve been collecting here from internet sources since you first posted this question (every time I see a list, I think of you!).

Sadly the owner of this original tweet has gone private, but the replies have some suggestions.

Are you interested in Black Women Equestrians?  It is a genre!  And here are suggestions.

Here is a list of names of Steve Ammidown’s favorite Black romance novelists and editors from the 80s and 90s.

This gorgeous thread of book covers as donuts includes a lot of our favorite BIPOC romance novelists.

Here’s a list from SELF magazine.

This sad but sweet memorial thread includes lists of lists of HEA romance novels and novelists, not only of BIPOC, but also other under-represented groups.

I keep trying to find a post from a few years ago that had some HEA YA by Asian American authors, but I can’t.  (Apparently I didn’t list Jenny Han or To all the Boys I’ve Ever Loved before even though we both read it before it was a major motion picture!  And I cannot remember the name of the JV author who inspired it– not Grace Lin though DC2 is LOVING her books right now.)  A blog gets really dense after 10 years, eh?

In any case:  Must buy favs of ours that are also HEA Romances:

Courtney Milan.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  They are ALL good.  Even the bad ones are good.  Many of them have White protagonists and her early books when they do have BIPOC or non-CIS/hetero people, they’re side characters or only get novellas instead of full books.  BUT.  That’s changing.  If you want to start with a short novel/long novella with BIPOC protagonists, her latest, The Duke Who Didn’t, is like a burst of happiness.

Talia Hibbert.  She does a lot of biracial romances, often with neuro-diverse heroines, set in England.  I don’t like her newer stuff as much as her older stuff, but she’s still a must buy.  For an inexpensive dip in, start with A Girl Like Her.  (Not all her books are great though– I thought Merry Inkmas was kind of messed up with what we would now call workplace harassment.)

Rebekah Weatherspoon  is another must buy.  Her heroes and heroines are always so *mature* and their problems are external problems that are real.  The beta heroes are wonderfully supportive (because they are secure in their manliness given their physical attributes!).  Start with RAFE, the buff male nanny, which somehow manages to make the falling in love with the nanny trope not squicky by addressing it head-on at the beginning of the book.

Jackie Lau writes light little novellas about Asian romances that often hit my favorite tropes.  Her Holidays with the Wongs series is probably a good place to start.  You can get the entire series for $5.99!  The nice thing about novellas is that they’re not larded down with stupid misunderstandings in order to get to novel length.

I liked the Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon so much I bought it after reading the library copy and definitely intend to buy the next one when it comes out.

I’m mentally going through some of the library books we’ve read.  Slay by Brittney Morris was fantastic, but it’s the opposite of a romance.  There was a series about football players and their girlfriends but it was uneven and one of the “heroes” had anger issues that were totally glossed over.  Beverly Jenkins is uneven just like famous white romance novelists that have similar length careers– I need to do a better job reading her newer work because she has the same problems with consent in her earlier works that the entire industry had.  I couldn’t really get into Alyssa Cole because even before Meghan and Harry I just wasn’t into modern day royalty as romance heroes.  I should probably try a different series.  Maybe the AI who loved me (only $2.99!).  The Crazy Rich Asians series has a pretty satisfying final ending, but you have to get through all the books to get to it, so it is HEA, but not necessarily at the end of each book for everyone.   DC2 has been LOVING all the Rick Riordin presents series and the other books by the authors highlighted, and similarly books by Sayantani Dasgupta and Grace Lin, but those are more about children saving the universe than romance, though they do have HEA.  Also, not for romance, but I recommend going through the last 10 years of Newberry winners– they are diverse and DC2 has been LOVING them (going backwards in time they don’t start getting into the “my best friend died/tragedy is the only thing that makes books about minorities worthy” tropes until 2005ish– newer stuff allows winning the award even without tropey heartbreak!).  Then of course there’s so many great Spec Fic books with/by minorities, but none of those are romances and they don’t always have HEA, so I won’t link here, but Octavia Butler, NK Jemison, Nnedi Okorafor, Tomi Adeyemi, and so on.  DC1 is a big fan of these.  (Still not *enough* spec fic by minorities– there will be enough when published books by minorities are allowed to be as mediocre as those by white dudes.  There’s a LONG way to go before that happens.)

Grumpy Nation, Who are we forgetting!?!?  What amazing recommendations do you have for us?

RBOC

  • The fabric I ordered from Spoonflower for my MIL said it would come in over a month, but then when that time period passed it added another month delay.  Good thing she’s not expecting an order!  Update:  The internet says it was delivered late June.  Update:  When we talked to her, she said she was wondering if she’d ordered it herself and had just forgotten, so we must have done a good job picking out fabrics she’d like!
  • I also ordered a case of hand sanitizer from Office Depot that was supposed to come May 22nd (many weeks after I’d ordered), but by May 30th it still hadn’t come, so I went and ordered more of the overpriced scented glittery tiny hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works because they had some that were clear (DC2 is allergic to red dye) and I am fairly sure they will actually come because my previous two orders came.  Update:  It came.  My glittery stinky hand sanitizer army grows.  Even the “for men” has glitter in it and smells like horrifically strong aftershave.  (Update:  not all of the little dots inside are glitter– some of them are little black dots that just dissolve on your hands.)
  • My Office Depot hand sanitizer order came deep into June.  I am now SET for hand sanitizer and may even be able to give some of the larger bottles away.  The kids have been having fun reorganizing the bottles into different configurations.  Currently it’s definitely set up like an army from a battle game like Shogun Total War.
  • I ordered a bunch of Statistics related face masks from redbubble.  I hope they come before school starts.  Update:  They came and they’re adorable, but I would not recommend because they’re only 2-layers and they don’t have nose stuff so they want to slip down.  I will probably wear them in conjunction with my single-layer math balaclava.  It is going to be SO HOT teaching.
  • I just realized I know wikipedia brown’s husband.  I wanna be like all fangirly next time I see him but I will try to control myself and not be like, did you know you’re married to Wikipedia Brown??  Because I’m fairly sure he is aware.
  • It’s crazy to me how many people go to all the effort of going to a protest but then just aren’t registered to vote.  This means that protests are an excellent place to get people registered to vote.  But then there’s the problem of folks actually voting.  Usually I see this with college students, probably because they don’t quite know how to register and my state does not make it easy (and they don’t know that they’re allowed to register where we live and their home high school didn’t follow state law about registering seniors), but this time around there were quite a few adults (including minorities) whose registration had lapsed because they didn’t vote in the last local election.  That was astonishing to me.
  • I wish that more of these housewives of doctors blogs that seem to be popping up on blogrolls would say something about doing activism things instead of just talking about decluttering and being socially isolated.
  • I have heard from several of my students (minority and non-minority activist) talking through processing this moment in history and specifically our school’s response.  At our weekly research meeting I brought this up, and not surprisingly, only the women and minority faculty have heard from students, and none of the white men.  I know that white women should be doing more, but I HATE that white men are never expected to do anything.  They do not shoulder emotional burdens.  They do not brainstorm to come up with ways to make things better.  They get to say yes or no, but they don’t actually make things happen.  They’re given a pass for being clueless.  I’m especially not happy that this burden is falling to our untenured junior female faculty much moreso than our tenured white dood faculty.  But also the tenured white dood faculty haven’t done the basic work to have the most basic of conversations.  They want to be good people and they don’t get in the way (which is a step up from many departments), but they don’t want it enough to actually do anything that isn’t super easy.  I told them they should all get a copy of So you want to talk about race or White fragility.  Paper copies may be unavailable some places, but electronic versions are not.  But I don’t think that they will.
  • To fix systemic racism, it’s really mostly white people who need to be fixed.  So all these seminars and so on that are mostly minority students in attendance teaching them about how they’re discriminated against… not so useful.  Seminars teaching them mentory stuff would be more useful, but it is not enough to teach people how to swim, as the NSF says, we must instead drain the pool.  It’s so easy to have fun programs that teach people how to swim, but the hard work comes in draining the pool.  And there are a lot of white people who are full of water.  (Maybe that’s pushing the analogy too far.)
  • After a couple weeks of dealing with the stupid ways my department is dealing with BLM, I now understand what it means when people are upset about a white woman (well-meaning or not) making it all about her.  I want to reiterate that this is NOT the same as white women listing out places to donate/protest/call/etc.  What this looks like is either a well-meaning white woman with little actual knowledge talking about her very recent journey to wokeness in the context of how it makes her feel as a seminar (see above bullet) and then taking questions as an expert, or WORSE a “victimized conservative Christian White lady” who wants to be the “voice of victimized white Christian conservatives” (her words– we LIVE IN THE SOUTH, she is part of the majority) going on paragraph long screeds about what her very narrow definition of racism is and how no other kind of racism other than the overt calling people the n-word exists.  Please, bloggers, keep with your lists and publicizing your actions.  You are not these ladies.
  • Our black students have been very clear on what they want, and continued “conversations” in which white people with no actual knowledge talk at them is not it.  So very much not it.
  • My RA’s husband got Covid and then her entire family (parents, brother, herself) caught it from him.  One of my free summer RAs has gone MIA (they have an internship requirement).  I can’t blame him because he was free, but also I wish he’d said something instead of just disappearing.
  • … One of my senior colleagues died suddenly of a heart attack.  Completely unexpected and he was so healthy (not to mention supportive and productive and just an all around good person).  I’m still in shock.

Things I want at work to better help with the BLM movement

I’m a university professor.  Here’s places I think the university should be throwing resources.

  • Bystander training both for general situations for everybody and for what the professor can do in class.  I would very much like to expand my tool-box about what I can say when a student says something racist.  Especially when it’s something racist out of the blue.  I’m generally better at dealing with racist comments when I can guess what they’re going to be and am expecting them (like when I’m teaching something with common misconceptions that I can treat as such), but in the past I’ve been shocked at students out of the blue denying the fundamental humanity of immigrants, or interrupting a statistics lecture to go on a racist screed about Hispanic-Americans (that last guy has a restraining order against him and was escorted out by police the last time he visited the department and thankfully dropped my class before the midterm after not doing any of the homework meant he could not pass mechanically).
  • I want my colleagues to get training on how to make a comfortable environment for underrepresented people to speak.  Things like allowing time to write down the answer to a question before cold-calling.  How to sure cold-calls are evenly distributed, etc.
  • Another student climate survey.  The last one was done 4 years ago, generally every 5 years seems reasonable for these kinds of surveys, but so much has changed since then, it makes sense to do this one early.  Maybe even annually for a while.
  • A major problem is that there are a small number of faculty, mostly contract or untenured (but also me and one of my white male colleagues who just got tenured this year) who are getting the bulk of the emotional pressure from when our underrepresented students are treated poorly.  It is hard and we don’t get service credit for it and the contract and untenured folks are endangered by it.  I’m brainstorming with my chair and another chair they’re bringing in about this problem later this week, but either we need to spread this out somehow or we need to concentrate it into an ombuds-type position and give the faculty member service credit for it.
  • Before the Corona virus we’d had reports of several students across several sub-fields in several classes say horrific things that denied non-white-non-US-non-etc. their basic humanity.  (Things like, if it’s in the US’s best interests, shouldn’t the US government encourage dictators to genocide?  Also basic Fox news talking points about why children deserve to be in cages because their parents “broke the law” [sic].  )  When it gets to this level, it needs to be addressed somehow from a department-wide basis in order to show support for underrepresented students and to show bigoted students that their behavior is really not acceptable across the board (and not just in one class from one teacher).  But how?
  • Bringing in outside people as consultants who are not horrible, preferably minorities with consulting businesses who are probably going to (and should) be terribly expensive this coming year.  But it can’t just be “we brought in a consultant for a 3 hour training”– the training has to actually be more helpful than harmful.  And it shouldn’t just be an implicit bias training– our leaders need training on how to make systemic change, and we need advice on things like how to shut up white conservative Christians who have joined the student diversity committee to “provide the voice of victimized white conservative Christians” (have I mentioned again that we live in the heavily white Evangelical South?).  Given the Corona situation, I’m hopeful that some of these expensive consultants will make video trainings available, but we probably also need to have leadership talk with an expert about our specific situation.  And we need someone to tell the dean that having agendaless “conversations” to which everyone is invited (including white police officers?!) and given equal time is going to shut out underrepresented groups.
  • Getting rid of that last bigoted statue on campus and replacing it with the prominent black alum one they’ve been talking about since the 1990s WITHOUT requiring private donations to do it.  Come ON.  One of my colleagues just donated $500 for it and my dean wanted to make a big fundraiser among our faculty, but this is something the University should be doing.  I know we’re getting budget cuts and no raises for the foreseeable future, but this should have institutional weight behind it.  (That said, if an outside private donor wants to give the university a restricted donation, I’m aok with that.)

 

What else should I be suggesting?  What would help you at work to help your marginalized students/coworkers/etc.?

I don’t just seem like I’m perfect on the internet: Why being a crab in a bucket is really not the way to help your self-esteem

Grumpy Readers,

I am amazing. I truly am.  I have achieved more than I ever could have dreamed of as a child.  I try to make the world a better place.  I am continually living and growing and working and doing what I can to make my utility curve hit my budget constraint, wherever that is at the time.

YOU are amazing too.  I mean, assuming you don’t post racist memes or put kids in cages or donate to anti-LGBT causes because you don’t want people who are different to be happy.  (One would think that would be a pretty low bar, but hey, it’s 2020 and Trump is president.)  But there are other things about you that make you amazing, not just the absence of being a horrible person (horrible people sometimes hate-read, but they don’t tend to stick around, so we’re fairly confident in assuming you’re not one of them– if you are, maybe stop being horrible?).

Think on some of the ways in which you are amazing for a moment, and while you do it, pretend that the patriarchy doesn’t exist so when you start on the, “but..” part after the amazing part just shut that down and end it with a period.  There are so many ways– and they are all valid (unless they include hurting vulnerable people).

There’s research that shows that people are, on average, happier when they’re off Facebook, and that the reason they’re happier is because they’re not comparing themselves to other people as much.  But something hidden in that research is that it’s only true on average, and only true for a certain kind of people.  Some people are VERY affected by comparing themselves to others and some people are not affected at all.  And that difference has to do with personality traits, not things like income or types of friends (probably– there’s still more research to be done in this area).

I strongly believe that this need that some people have to feel better than others, high on the relative scale of worth rather than just high in terms of levels is one of the reasons that we have so many social ills today.  Some people are racist because they want to feel better than a group of people no matter how terrible things are for them.  They are sexist for the same reason.  They want to keep the poor from eating because people not like them are undeserving and shouldn’t eat.  Or from marrying because they themselves are not lgbt.  Or from being included because they consider themselves to be an exclusive sort of prosperity-gospel Christian and others are non-Christian.  From this viewpoint, there’s only so much awesome to go around and they need to keep other people from having it, particularly people who are different.

But that doesn’t have to be how it works.  Awesome grows more awesome.  Making the world a better place creates more benefits for everyone, except people who get off on being bigots.

And you, grumpy readers, are not those people.

You know that if you focus on relative awesomeness there will always be someone who appears to be better in one aspect or another.  That can’t be a healthy measure of one’s own worth.  It’s much better to plant your own garden and focus on your wants and your goals.  The argument that everybody has problems they’re hiding so you should feel good about yourself is a good way to keep people down.  The only way to win that game is to not care if other people don’t have problems, and instead to focus on yourself and make comparisons to yourself.  Learn from other people– don’t pull them down.

Grumpy nation, when someone on the internet or in real life seems pretty awesome, that doesn’t mean they have inner demons or a horrible family life or etc. etc. etc. that they’re just keeping hidden.  Maybe they’re just pretty awesome.  And maybe if you want to be like them, you can learn from what they do.  And if you don’t want to be like them, you can be secure in that choice.  Sometimes people have instagrammable holiday decorations because that’s what they value, and maybe that’s not what you value.

Where people end up is a combination of so many factors– structural advantages, luck, effort, preferences, and so on.  We can work to reduce structural disadvantages.  We can remember the importance of luck.  We can change our effort level, or remember why we don’t actually care enough to do so and be mindful of the things we do care about.  What we don’t need to do is pull someone down because they have something we wish we had.

So I’m not going to say that it only seems like I have a charmed life but in reality there’s things going on behind the scenes… because really there’s not.  Each day I think of my blessings with astonishment.  As a child, I never actually believed my life could be this comfortable.  Or maybe you don’t value the things I value and value other things and that’s fine too (assuming you don’t value bigotry– then that’s not fine)!  Remember that when someone else brings perfect Christmas cookies, you get to eat the cookies without having put forth any effort to make them.  And that’s much better than feeling threatened by someone else’s perfection.

In this New Year, if I have any hopes for the grumpy readership, it is that you will think upon how you can use your awesomeness to make the world a better place.  Because there are people with so many disadvantages who are under attack because bad people feel threatened by them.  We have the privilege and the power to fight.  Let’s make 2020 a year of action.

Happy New Year!

What is at least one way in which are you awesome?  (Warning:  NO but/although/even though/etc. allowed.  Just put a period without a disclaimer.)  What are your hopes for helping the world in this New Year?  What are some suggestions for what we can do?

Ask the Grumpies: How bad is Chick Fil A really?

Debbie M asks:

I would like to know more about the Chick-Fil-A controversy. Here is where my knowledge has been over the years.
* First – Wow, they are so dedicated to their religious morals that they are closed on Sundays. That’s got to be costing them money. So I respect that. Also, the secret to their lemonaid deliciousness is that it is made with lemon juice, water, and sugar. No garbage.
* Later – Yikes–they’re funding de-gayification torture. Okay screw that. I mean it’s one thing to have different beliefs from me (I’m an atheist-leaning agnostic), but quite another to torture people, even in a misguided attempt to help them get to heaven. Not something I want to help fund.
* Recently – they’ve decided to stop funding anti-gay charities, but one of them was the Salvation Army. Is there something I don’t know about the Salvation Army? (Of course they are claiming they actually help more gay folks than most other charities, if for no other reason than that they’re gigantic.) Neither of these seem like the de-gayification place. Then I heard they stopped funding that one already, years ago.
* Then a bunch of Christians decided to boycott them for stopping this funding.
* Now they’re backtracking.

So how bad are these charities? Do the anti-gay beliefs of these charities infiltrate their work? Also, is Chick-Fil-A a bad place for gay people to work? (I mean worse than for other people? Though at least they pay more than minimum wage.)

People in our town like Chick Fil A because they don’t tend to screw up catering orders and they have playgrounds.  I have not eaten there in over 10 years because they taste like Hate and are also just super salty and greasy and once when one of our kids was still in diapers someone (I think my in-laws, see above re: playgrounds) fed hir chick fil a and I have never smelled a more disgusting poo.  We don’t eat at any national fast food chains (except occasionally Subway or similar regional chains), so our boycott really means nothing.

teresa says:

Chik fil a has been/still is openly opposed to marriage equality. As far as the organizations they are not contracting with anymore [ed:  actually, their “not contracting” lasted a day– they backtracked]:

The fellowship of christian athletes requires members to pledge that they will not “engage in homosexual activity.” Which is pretty openly discriminatory.

Salvation Army is openly a fairly conservative evangelical christian organization. They hold the position that it’s not sinful to *be* lqbtq+ but it is unacceptable to *act* on it (or have anything but heterosexual married sex) and also opposed marriage equality. Telling a group that they don’t deserve a full human life and basic civil rights is maybe not the same kind of overt torture as conversion therapy but it’s still not okay.
It seems like in recent years they took down the formal position page on their website that explicitly states this but have not made any statement about changing their beliefs. Their more recent statements are along the lines of “wellllll we love all sinners so we also provide charity to people even though they’re lgbtq+” and formal statements that they “don’t lobby to roll back marriage equality because we don’t employ lobbyists” and extend benefits to employees’ same sex spouses “because the law says we have to right now.” People have also still reported being turned away or discriminated against at Salvation Army facilities for being trans (apparently with the excuse that it makes other clients uncomfortable to have a trans person around).
It’s not the issue under discussion but they’re also still openly anti choice.
There’s probably more nuance I don’t know.

delagar adds:

They have also donate to Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and Exodus International, all of which are anti-LGBTQ groups. They’ve promised before to stop donating to anti-LGBTQ groups, and then backtracked and resumed donating.

Vox has a pretty good article, here: https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/5/29/18644354/chick-fil-a-anti-gay-donations-homophobia-dan-cathy

And an older one here: https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/3/21/18275850/chick-fil-a-anti-lgbtq-donations

Here’s what a recent (and well-worth reading) Forbes article says about being an LGBT patron at Chick Fil A (the article also has more detail about the organizations they fund):

I will admit I was once a patron of Chick-fil-A. And I have had earnest conversations with local franchisees about the company’s funding of anti-LGBTQ groups. Those conversations were a lot like the one I had with my local Roman Catholic church pastor, who assured me I was welcome, and that they would always welcome me, no matter what was said by the corporation (or in the church’s case, the bishop or pope).

She is now eating elsewhere and is no longer Catholic.

Back in 2012, Chick Fil A said they would stop donating to political causes… and they did, sort of.  They donated to organizations who had hate as only one of a few objectives, or that specifically excluded LGBTQ beneficiaries, rather than organizations whose only objective is to promote hate.  Of course, there’s some discussion in the twitterverse about whether or not the owners who are getting rich from Chick Fil A profits still donate to the hate-only causes with their own wealth.  I don’t know, but I would not be surprised.  I’d rather not have intolerant people getting rich and having all the political power that comes with wealth.

Even if they made the best chicken sandwich under the sun, I do not want money I’m giving a company to go towards funding anti-LGBTQ groups.  There is zero benefit to funding hate and so much harm.  So, no, don’t eat at Chick Fil A, and let people know why you don’t.

These white Christian people seem so nice.  So genuinely likeable.  And yet… they thinkingly or unthinkingly do these things that encourage hate on a large scale.  In person and individually they’re so nice.  But eating at an organization that sponsors hate is not a politically neutral act.

RBOC

  • One of DC2’s extracurricular activities got bought by a creepy 20-something mega-Christian.  We didn’t find out until one of their events in which the new owner started by talking about how Jesus was more important than [extracurricular activity] and how they incorporate Jesus in every class and then we were asked to pray.  We asked DC2 and zie confirmed that zie had been asked to pray in class.  The place’s website has also been modernized since we signed DC2 up and talks about Jesus on a little text thing that comes and goes.  I was already pretty pissed off at this place because of the unannounced mommy participation day.  And it was fairly obvious from the older kids’ that this studio really isn’t focused on [extra-curricular activity] at all– I have been to so many of these events in my life and this one was easily the worst.  As soon as we got back home from said event we withdrew DC2 and looked for a studio that focuses on [extracurricular activity].  I really hate stealth proselytizing.  (I am also not a fan of [extracurricular activity] but DC2 is, so what can you do?)
  • The kids’ piano teacher also starts recitals with some musings about Christian religion, particularly the Christmas recital, but for some reason that doesn’t bother us as much.  It could be that since she was DC1’s music teacher when zie was at a religious school we were forewarned, but we think it’s more that she makes it clear that she’s talking about her personal faith and she doesn’t make everybody pray.  (The quote on the program this time was Isiah, “The people who walk in darkness shall see a great light,” and she talked about how every morning there is a sunrise and it seems like we’re living in dark times, but there will be light again, and the Christmas season reminds us of that… which I dunno, seems pretty accurate and not something that the person in the previous bullet is even aware of.) It is a Christmas recital, but non-Christians also play non-Christmas music (both of the holiday and non-holiday varieties).  So it seems more inclusive.
  • Some academic self-proclaimed feminists sound really transphobic on their twitter accounts these days.  I strongly suspect that this “problem” they talk about of people forcing kids to change their gender is not really a thing, but acting like it is probably does actual harm.  I don’t see how the existence of trans women who are attracted to women hurts other lesbians in any way. (And definitely not in any way that wouldn’t disappear if the patriarchy were dismantled!) These “feminists” seem to think that being trans is an act or a lie or something that people are tricking other people into doing. I will admit that I do not “get” gender identity at all– with respect to me, I only see gender as a way that the rest of the world categorizes and interacts with me, not the way I see myself (except as is reflected by the rest of the world). It is really easy for me to take the path of least resistance. Sure I’d rather be a guy just because the patriarchy means that guys have it easier, but being a trans guy, and being a trans guy who is attracted to my husband, that seems really hard. But I also understand that many people do have strong gender identities, and that gender identity doesn’t always match up with the sex they were assigned at birth and those people don’t need people like [insert “feminist” tweeter here] telling them that they’re being duped by society and hurting other LGB people… as if someone can be convinced by society to become trans in this culture. Really? Trans people are real people who are fully dimensional and have life stories and opinions and thoughts and histories and feelings just like everybody else. Excluding them, telling them they’re wrong… that is not what feminism should be about. That’s a pretty piss-poor feminism.
  • Speaking of the above bullet– I think it is easier to imagine people complexly (to paraphrase John Green) if you know a lot of different people and read/watch a lot of media in which people tell their stories and fictional people are drawn complexly.  Deirdre McCloskey was the first trans person that I ever really listened to on the topic (there were some trans folks at my high school, but they weren’t really in my social circle, though they may have been in #2’s)– I’d spent two semesters reading and loving her work published under the Donald name (economic history) and had heard stories about how horribly she’d been treated by her family from other professors whose own advisors had been involved in the march to get her out of the mental institution her relatives had committed her to (in IL you only needed 2 people to commit you!).  Then she gave a talk about being a woman in economics, “notes from a novice” and answered any and all questions we had (my question was, “should we cite your pre-transition work as Donald or Deirdre?”– she said Deirdre and that she hoped to get it all changed).  Deirdre McCloskey is a trans lesbian and a truly wonderful person.  Well loved and known to be a fantastic mentor.  She’s not harming anybody.  I also love the contrast of Claire in Questionable Content compared to Carla on Dumbing of Age.  (Claire is neurotic and wonderful and so much with the terrible puns, while Carla is kind of a jerk, but a jerk who generally does the right thing.  Completely different people.)  The trans students I’ve had in class have been, to my knowledge, trans men or trans gender neutral.  I don’t know much about their lives other than the standard student stuff because they’re also just people trying to learn statistics and economics like everybody else.  But they’re the reason I’ve spent so much time on the phone with legislative aides pleading and arguing about various bathroom bills over the past several years.  Bathroom bills are a genuine threat to people’s lives.  Not this fake garbage that creates some kind of LGBTQ hierarchy.  That’s BS.
  • Ok, maybe I do know a little bit more about my students than their statistics knowledge:  I recently learned a valuable lesson from one: never impulse buy flying squirrels on a road trip in an overcrowded car, even if they’re for sale at an open market you stop at.  One of my colleagues and I agree that they should sell the story to National Lampoon as a Christmas family road trip.
  • You can create new regency romance titles by switching out “Squirrel” with “Earl” in Squirrel Girl volume titles.  “Earl, You Really Got Me Now”
  • … thank you, Mint, I guess, for sending me an email the other week telling me I’d lost $30K in the previous week’s stock market crash.  I’m not sure how to feel about that.  Good, I guess?  I mean, that’s a lot of money.  (I didn’t check to see if that was actually accurate– sometimes Mint double counts one or more of my retirement accounts.)
  • I’m seeing a lot of New Years posts with people talking about how they’re going to ignore the news in 2019.  I hope that you all don’t do that– I know I’ve been feeling a lot of political fatigue especially since the last election, but we can’t give up now.  I don’t have time right now to do a super long pep-talk, but we have to keep pushing forward with activism.  We have to keep fighting.  Children’s lives are at stake… the environment, women’s rights, minority rights… so many things.  Rest and relax, but don’t stop moving forward.

Facts and Opinions are not the same thing: Part 2

Part one from five years ago at the private school where they do not teach untruths about the civil war but still do not understand the difference between objective statements and opinions.

As promised, DC1 ended the semester being tested on the idea that the cause of the civil war was not reaaaaalllly slavery, but state rights.

I read out the reasons for the civil war given by the southerners who withdrew from the union.  They are PRETTY CLEAR that it was about slavery.  On top of that, South Carolina was pretty pissed off about NY getting to keep its state right of not allowing people to be property in its borders so that Southerners couldn’t take slaves with them to do business in NY.

Then DC1 said, “people have a lot of different opinions”.

And that led to a really lengthy discussion about what is an opinion and what is an untrue statement of fact.  DH and I threw around a lot of terms like “subjective” and “objective”.  Also “hypothesis”.  We talked about climate change.

It drives me nuts that people label incorrect statements as “opinions” and don’t seem to understand the difference between objective truths (which are true no matter what we believe, but sadly cannot always be tested) and subjective opinions.  (“Can an opinion ever be wrong?” DC1 asked. “Sure,” I said, “Saying ‘Eggnog is the best drink in the world’ is an example of a wrong opinion.”)  And this is codified in the South through the K-12 system and reinforced by Fox News.  It is in the airwaves.  I hate it.  And I don’t want to have to add it to my stats class, but maybe I should.

Last year I asked my grad students if we should spend some time on what is “fake news” and they all said no, they understood.  This year they’re not as sure.  Last year “fake news” really was fake– spewed out by what we now know were Russian bots.  This year Republicans have labeled reputable news organizations as “fake news” so it’s more confusing.  On top of that, even formerly reputable news organizations like WSJ have been taken over by ideologues so there’s a lot of crud coming out.  (NYTimes has always had a contingent of crud, and NPR started to kind of suck a couple of years ago.)

How do you all deal with the difference?

link love

One of us was gone this week, the other will be MIA next week (hopefully she’ll get to tune into the convention!).  But we’ll be back to usual come August.

His only demands were, “don’t shoot me or my unarmed client”  ICYMI.   I can’t even with the police.

These racist narratives MAKE NO SENSE.

On African American women’s voices and bodies

Why yes, I am sick and tired of it.  I’m also getting really sick of comedians and their lame and tired sexist narrative.  C’mon guys, stop being lazy.  (Here is Jimmy Kimmel not being lazy!  Kudos to Kimmel!)  There’s humor in the Clinton campaign that doesn’t rely on sexist tropes about powerful women.  Seriously.  That goes for you too, MSM.  Stop with the false equivalences and double standards.

Yes there is a difference.  We are better than Trump.

My jaw dropped a lot this past week.  Here was one of the first times.  Just… how… wha?

Leslie Jones twitter abuse.

Track whether or not men are talking too much.

This is also my story.  Next time they call I’m going to affect an accent and tell them they have the wrong number and I’m voting for Trump.  We will see if that works better than just asking them to take me off their damn list.  DO NOT give any political organizations your phone number EVER.

The choice is clear.

Historiann on menses and other wimmin things.   Also I’ve been debating calling up Pence‘s campaign to ask about whether it’s more immoral for me to use birth control or to allow fetuses to die given my higher chance of miscarriage.  Or you know, to just update him on the state of my cycle.

Thankfully my doctor knew what to do about granulation, but with my first baby I definitely did not mention it as early as I should have.

Personal finance tips from Ghostbusters

If you’re starting to phase out of itemizing and have 25K that you plan on spreading out in donations in the future (for however many years) apparently you can easily start your own charitable foundation with Vanguard for tax purposes.  This is AWESOME.  And we might do it next fiscal year when our tax situation will have settled and we’ll be back at full salary and no longer have any mortgage interest.

This was exactly what my DH said was the plot too!

The secret apartments of ny libraries.

Congratulations to evolving pf!

Baby sloth pictures.