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Meet up - Pittsburgh!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.23.13

Sir Kraab writes: Any Pittsburghians free for a meet-up on Monday, November 25? I'm making a quick overnight trip in pursuit of a short-term work gig that would get me out of my current job for a few months.

Bumpity-bumpity-bump.


 

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Raising goyim

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.22.13

It occurred to me yesterday that next week at Thanksgiving, my kids were going to come off as total goys and I'd be embarrassed that they had no idea what a menorah is. (I ordered an Elmo Does Hanukkah book off Amazon to cover the basics.)

I'm conflicted on the amount of Judaica to incorporate into the household. I feel equally fraudulent purchasing a Christmas tree as I would a mezuzah, but I'd like my kids to know the basics (to balance out the Christmania that they feel right at home with, if nothing else) and possibly not feel as fraudulent about every last thing as I do.

(Reading that, it seems like a reasonable response is "Heebie, it sounds like you're simply not Jewish anymore and you should quit trying." The explanation to that delves into how, basically, the only person who seems to have adopted my grandmother's self-hating Jewness/assimilationism is my mom, and so the conflict has landed on my shoulders alone of anyone in the extended family. Everyone else (on both sides) is perfectly content to say they are Jew-ish (or very Jewish) and go through some occasional motions, and I sort of wish I did, too.)


 

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Guest Post - Udacity

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.22.13

W. Breeze writes: This article, which lays into MOOCs and particular Udacity's experiment at San Jose State will I expect be popular with the Unfogged crowd.

Not a very satisfying article for me, though. Poking holes in other's work is the easiest thing in the world. MOOCs are a thing and educational institutions needs to grapple with them, which this article doesn't do in any way.

Heebie's takeaway: You don't need IRB approval to experiment on college students if a private company is conducting the study.


 

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HDBS

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.21.13

All people at Heebie U have to enroll for new health care plans. (Enrollment period ends tomorrow and I was totally caught off-guard.) There's a brand new exciting concept called HDHP - high deductible healthcare plan. Basically, you can opt for low monthly premiums, and then a super high deductible, if that's right for you. Awesome!

ACA has limits on deductibles and regulates HDHPs. To be an HDHP, the minimum annual deductible is $1250/indiv or $2500/family. Plus some caps on out-of-pocket spending.

At Heebie U, plan 1 and plan 2 have the same monthly premium, and it's the same as our old premium. Except now dental isn't included. The low-deductible plan has a deductible of $1000/indiv or $2000/family. The old deductible was $500. The high-deductible plan has a deductible of $2000/indiv or $4000/family. Under the HDHP, you get more coverage once you piss your savings away on the deductible.

First, I'm irritated that my deductible is doubling or quadrupling. Second, do they not understand the premise of the HDHPs? The premiums are the same, and the "low-deductible" is super close to the cut-off. They both function as catastrophic plans. I don't want a catastrophic plan! I want good coverage with reasonable deductibles!

My theory is this: the mucky-mucks at the top think that Obamacare is going to drive prices through the roof, and so they've projected costs accordingly, and are raising premiums accordingly. That's all I can figure out.

I realize this is an exceedingly boring post which is awfully specific to me, right now. Off to play soccer.


 

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Girls and World-class Sports

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.21.13

X. Trapnel sends in Bridie Farrell, Sexual Abuse, and Sports:

While actual data on athlete abuse is scant, a 2002 Australian study found that 31 percent of that country's female athletes had been sexually abused--the more accomplished they were, the more likely they were to have been victimized by someone linked to their sport.

Knowing nothing about professional ice skating, or tennis, or gymnastics, it seems like individual sports where teenagers are training for world competition is ripe for sexual abuse. All rules of normal life are already broken, you must cultivate obedience and discipline and your coach has a wild amount of power over you, and everything is tinged with importance and secrecy and the idea that the stakes are very, very high.

(It occurs to me that music has some of those features, too, at the most competitive level. But while playing an instrument is physical, it's not quite so body-basic as sports. I've never heard of violin prodigies suffering from an epidemic of sexual abuse, but who knows.)


 

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Defensiveness

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.20.13

J Robot sends this link aong:

Recently Shannon Gibney, an instructor of English and African diaspora studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), received a formal reprimand. She was leading a discussion in a political science and communications course. During a discussion about structural racism, she was interrupted by two white male students. They were upset that this issue was being discussed, and felt that Gibney was personally attacking them. At the end of the debate Gibney informed them that if they were truly upset, they were able to file a racial harassment complaint. The two students did so, and Gibney received a formal reprimand, which will be placed into her file. After speaking about the issue to City College News, Gibney was informed that she violated the two students' rights to privacy (she did not mention any names, nor were any specific persons alluded to). She was threatened with potential further disciplinary action, including suspension or termination.

Aside from how appalling the reaction by the university is, I recognize the underlying phenomenon so well. It's staggering how defensive students feel about racism. And it's not strictly just white people, although when I've seen it in Hispanic students, they tend to be coming from a mainstream stance in the conversation, rather than identifying as minority students at that moment.

Students harbor a lot of shitty beliefs about poor people, but discussions don't trigger defensiveness in quite the same way as discussions about structural racism. (Although they are completely blind to how poverty might be structural, or at least in Texas they are.)

It's unbelievably frustrating that you have to have kid gloves on to get white kids to talk about being not-white, so I'm not blaming the instructor at all. But the way to circumvent such reactions is to go incredibly slowly, and build up your case - that structural forces are operating disproportionately against minorities - one atom at a time. Give the students time to digest and get used to each microscopic step before introducing the next one. Which of course is wildly time-consuming and maddening in its own right, and I'm not being prescriptive here. Just saying that's what it would take to lower white students' defenses.


 

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Pop, pop, pop music

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.19.13

I feel like I'm being trolled by these Lady Gaga lyrics, right? This is the chorus:

You can't have my heart and
You won't use my mind but
Do what you want with my body
Do what you want with my body
You can't stop my voice, cause
You don't own my life but
Do what you want with my body
Do what you want with my body

She means the industry can do what they want to her body. But seriously. She's really just trolling for feminists, though, right?

(This is going to be like Katy Perry all over again, and you all are going to say, "Well, the song is terrible but what exactly is your point?" My point is that as feminists, we're constantly trying to indoctrinate young girls with the idea that you own your body, and you alone, and other people actually do not have indiscriminate access to it. This is kind of obnoxious from the POV of messaging to young girls. OTOH, at least the body belongs to someone with a voice and opinions, unlike Robin Thicke's lithe nudies.)(Oh Heebie just post the stupid post and displace it with something better, later.)


 

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Round-Faced Dudes With Issues

Posted by Ogged
on 11.19.13

As I was fond of saying to no one in particular during the original trial, you commit three felonies a day, unless you carefully restrict yourself to shooting unarmed black teens. GZ, who is apparently just as feeble-minded as he looks, seems to have drawn the lesson that he can whip out a gun at the slightest provocation, and he'll get a bunch of attention, and strangers sending him money. Of course, he might be right.

But let's talk about Rob Ford. Not so much for his Rob Ford-ness, which seems to be summed up by "coked-out bullying buffoon," but for the undeniable comedy of Canadians stuck with "Gosh, we never contemplated a complete nutball coming to power," when, just a few miles south, dealing wtih nutball assholes in power is pretty much the organizing principle of our politics. We can recall you, we can impeach you, we're also happy to shoot you. These rights are enshrined in our constitution.

But now, unless the Toronto city council decides to commit mass political suicide, it seems there's literally nothing Ford can do to get thrown all the way out of office. I look forward to him beheading those impudent members of the public gallery, as the council makes it clear that they don't share his values. Where does this end? Does Ford

Spontaneously explode?
Go on a murderous rampage?
Get his own (better paying) reality TV show?
Become Prime Minister?
Or serve out his term with increasingly farcical theatricality?

This might not be an exhaustive list.


 

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Chopper Meetup in NY

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.18.13

Wednesday, after work, in your favorite bar in Midtown. Knife fight in the comments to determine which that is.


 

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Walmart et al

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.18.13

Wal-Mart holds a food drive so that some of their associates can donate food for other, poorer, associates.

In general, it feels like WalMart et al are furiously (and somewhat successfully) peddling the idea that wages are irrelevant to poverty, (and placing less emphasis on the part of the traditional argument that higher wages would drive Wal-Mart out of business. Just trying to disconnect their role in your poverty altogether.) It reminds me slightly about that guy who argues that the best way to lift people out of poverty is to just give them money. (The guy who says that charities ought to show that they are more productive with their dollars than if they simply gave the dollars to the charity recipients.) It's amazing that the disconnect between poverty and wages has taken hold (and I'm not claiming that the employees at that Wal-Mart believe it themselves) but that it's taken hold enough to undermine conversation.

Or maybe it's a million other things. A friend posed the question recently, excitedly, as though we'd have an answer, "What does it take to get young people to organize?" I have absolutely no idea. Everything I come up with boils down to requiring the federal government to pass legislation/fund/support organized labor. And I have no idea how to drum up enough enthusiasm among anyone to push for such things to happen at the federal or state level.


 

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Following up

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.18.13

1. Not very interesting Slate response to the nanny article, but does contain this:

According to the 2011 Park Slope Parents Nanny Compensation Survey--a comprehensive poll of more than 1,000 Brooklyn residents on how they find, pay, and treat their child care employees--84 percent of respondents expect their nannies to cook for their children. Of all the responsibilities of the job, from schlepping kids to extracurricular activities to folding laundry to giving baths, meal preparation is the most common duty a nanny must fulfill.

So now we know.

2. On the subject of bike safety, (remember the thread where I had a new topic for a change and within two comments it went to bikes) there is this technology I've never heard of that drastically cuts down on cyclist and pedestrian deaths:

Sideguards on trucks were made mandatory in the UK in 1986 and the European Union in 1989, resulting in a 61% drop of cyclists deaths in the UK, and a 20% drop in pedestrian fatalities in Germany;

Seems like a no-brainer? Not that having brains has anything to do with which legislation gets passed.



 

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Core temperature

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.18.13

(Oh god this is a boring thing to post, but barreling on) I run so much warmer than I used to, five years ago. (No mystery why.) Warm enough that on a particularly cold morning (probably 50°?) at Crossfit last week, the instructor even commented "Don't you ever get cold?!" and I explained about how much more insulation my core has, compared to his core.

It is striking, though, and I don't think the extra twenty pounds (which really is all core insulation - still two little chicken legs sticking out below) accounts for all the difference. I used to be chronically cold, and now I'm chronically hot.

(now I'll go rummage up something about the actual world instead of my state of being.)


 

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A survey

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.17.13

How sick do you have to be before you'll cancel a trip? (Say a trip that involves a flight, as opposed to delaying driving somewhere for a day.) (It probably seems like I'm trolling Ogged but) I'm just curious about the range of stoic-ness. What about if someone in your care (ie a child or perhaps an aging parent) - what standard would you apply to them?

My mom always made us go to school unless we had a fever over 100° or were throwing up. I don't think that's in line with community standards anymore (if it ever was) because now everyone wants you to stop the spread of the cold or flu. Plus there's no award for perfect attendance. Actually there was, and I got it sometimes.

But anyway, I'm curious about your personal standard to cancel a trip, because ostensibly the trip was something you were invested in taking, whereas school or work - maybe less so.

My answer: In general, I'm rigidly loathe to change plans and find contemplating last minute changes very stressful. So I'd probably figure: as long as I can tough it out on the plane, I can rest when I get there. Ie, I'd have to be considering the hospital to cancel the trip. But seriously, I don't consider this virtuous. It's borne of inflexibility, not toughness.


 

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