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Meets up!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.15.15

Clew writes: I now know where I'll be between family things and am hoping I can see some of you -- but there's hardly any time left in NYC. I arrive at LaGuardia at 6pm on the 25th, and have that evening free. And that's almost it. (Breakfast the 27th?)

Lots of unscheduled time in Boston the 27-28-29th. Possibly the morning of the 30th as I'll be just over the NH border.

**ALSO**: NYC locals, what is Delmonico's currently like? The Dwarf Lord and I kind of want to go, but we know this is probably because Bertie Wooster eats there. Is it still actual proper food, if passé?


 

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Beaky

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.15.15

Chicken grows face of dinosaur.

To begin to understand this, the team trawled though changes in the ways genes are expressed in the embryos of chickens and several other animals. They looked at the embryos of mice, emus, alligators, lizards and turtles, representing many of the major animal groups. They found that birds have a unique cluster of genes related to facial development, which the non-beaked creatures lacked. Then they silenced these genes, the beak structure reverted back to its ancestral state. So too did the palatal bone in the roof of the mouth.

For some reason there seems to only be one single photo of this chicken on the internet.


 

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Help me understand economics

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.14.15

My brother made a case to me that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac basically just drove up housing prices over the four decades that they existed. (I'm sure you all are aware of this argument, but I am naive of economics and weak of fortitude when talking about these things.) I was basically convinced (weak of fortitude) and then he wanted to extend this principle - that government subsides cause inflated bubbles - to medicine and student loans. Student loans I can believe, medicine I don't really understand.

My hackles are up in these conversations that I'm agreeing on a course to libertarianism, and so I need help articulating the defining feature between Good Government Economic Intervention and Bad Government Economic Intervention.

Is it something along the lines of whether you're subsidizing private markets versus creating a public option to compete? It seems like creating public housing for middle and upper class homes wouldn't cause a bubble the way subsidizing 30 year loans did. Having affordable public colleges doesn't drive up prices the way subsidizing student loans does. Is that the principle that's operating?


 

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Guest Post: "The Long Drive To End A Pregnancy"

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.14.15

Nick S. writes: Very well-written story in the Washington Post. It's about the problems created by lack of access to abortion, of course, but it's also about the process of finding courage and strength to make it through. I'd say that it's hard to imagine what it would take emotionally to make that drive, but the article presents it very effectively.

Emily sat in front of her house in Wyoming and made a final preparation, picking up her phone and typing in an address for an abortion clinic in Montana, 407 miles away, where she would drive and then no longer be pregnant.
...
This was a drive Emily had never taken for a procedure she hadn't imagined needing, in a time when fewer clinics and tougher laws were making the geography of abortion more complex . . . [I]n Wyoming, where there is one private provider and no clinics in all the state's 98,000 square miles, and where the nearest facility Emily could find an appointment was six hours away.
She reached for her iPod, which contained another part of the plan: radio shows she'd been saving, podcasts that friends had recommended, an arsenal of distraction to be dispensed along the route. She'd called her mother a few days before in a moment of second-guessing, and her mother said, "Stick with the plan, Emily," and the plan was to drive forward and never be left alone with her thoughts.
So she pressed play and tried not to think about the long weekend getaway when she took a pregnancy test and showed her husband the results, and they were both so excited.
She tried not to think about the night seven weeks later when her husband came home and said he'd done something stupid, and the police came and arrested him while she went to a friend's house and sobbed.
...
Her phone rang. "I'm in Montana now," she told the friend who had called to check in. "I started driving at 3:30, I've been driving for a while now."
A few minutes later, her mother called. "I'm 60 miles away from Missoula," she said. "It was dark most of the time .?.?. I know .?.?. I know .?.?. I love you, too."
A gas station stop. A can of Coke. Another fig bar from the snack bag in the back seat. Another podcast.

 

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Let Us Hate

Posted by Ogged
on 05.13.15

Too easy, but irresistible.


 

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Guest Post - emoji

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.13.15

Lw writes:I have gotten kind of interested in emoji, both as a writing technology and as a technical artifact. Here is a website that allows browsing of glyph usage on twitter.

Personally, I'm interested in the way these things are something between a word and an image in written communication, and in how popular they are in trite messages.

The medium of exchange between sender and recipient is Unicode. It's a standard for representing lots of symbols as sets of bits-- an extension of ASCII well past the Roman alphabet plus accented characters and punctuation. For instance, Unicode currently has a way to represent Akkadian.

Klingon got rejected, but the equally popular Deseret alphabet is in. Emoji support for Japanese snacks, but no tacos.

Heebie's take: I feel...indulgently perplexed by the popularity of emojis. Do you all actually use them?

Anyway, here's your taco emoji.


 

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Uh oh.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.12.15

Oudemia sends in:

Dear Prudence: My husband and I, both in our early 30s, have what I always thought was a perfect marriage. I could easily make a long list of his great traits and our great chemistry. However, when my computer broke recently and I went to use his, I discovered that he chats online to strangers about himself and me. This includes even personal information about our sex life, my looks, etc. As far as I can tell, it's all anonymous online chat, but I still feel like this is a major violation of our trust. Plus, while what he says about me is all positive (from what I saw), it does make me think I'm not satisfying him completely if he needs to be talking about such sexual topics with strangers. Should I confront him about this? Is this a big issue for our marriage or am I overreacting?

Not really. Really? Who knows. Probably not.

Heebie's take: 'Fess up.


 

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ATM: Aging Parents

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.12.15

John Quincy Adams writes: Parents and in-laws are getting on. They all want to see us regularly, and have very different strategies for asking.

I automatically want to not reward anyone who tries to guilt me into attendance; I hear it as whining and I try to avoid rewarding that in dogs and children, too. But (as with dogs and children) sometimes the one making the most noise is the most in need, internally if not objectively. Perhaps letting kids cry it out toughens them up, but I don't think there's time for the strategy to work on 80 year olds.

Tales, tactics, mantras?

Heebie's take: I would not punish whining or guilt-intending comments. Super obnoxious, but just hear it for the underlying loneliness. I would recommend that you filter those (annoying) comments into the category of straight-forward invitations, to accept or decline as your schedule permits. I'm assuming here they're not generally annoying people - you like them, but this one thing gets on your nerves.

The second question is how to evaluate if the two sets of parents have different needs, and whether or not visit more or less, accordingly. I agree that squeakiness is not the same as being the most in need. It is worth it to evaluate the support systems and loneliness of each set, in my opinion, and then try to support in proportion to their emotional needs, assuming the stronger set won't get their feelings hurt.

Pure speculation: the underlying problem is that you and spouse don't enjoy one set very much. That the lonelier set is also less pleasant, and possibly more convenient, and the emotionally stronger set is more fun and less convenient, and the reasonable outcome just involves a lot of enduring annoying people.

It is ok to moderately limit time with the more annoying set - especially more frequent, 30 minute visits - if this is the case. Stop in, share some cookies, and have an appointment you must get to at once.


 

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Food Deserts

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.11.15

It would be nice if the solution to unhealthy eating habits was just to put grocery stores in food deserts, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

It's possible that poverty itself explains a lot of the shopping variation. In general, fresher, healthier food is more expensive to buy than less healthy processed food. It also takes more time and resources to cook, and keeps for fewer days.
If people can't afford healthier foods, then it would be reasonable to think that just giving them a better store wouldn't solve their problems. But Ms. Handbury's paper found that the education of the shoppers was much more predictive than their incomes. Poorer families bought less healthy food than richer ones. But a bigger gap was found between families with and without a college education. Those results, Ms. Handbury said, suggest that improving people's diets will require both making food accessible and affordable and also changing people's perceptions and habits about diet and health.

I know we've discussed this here plenty of times, but it is really time-consuming and tiring to feed one's family home-cooked meals every night. I wouldn't say my meals are healthy exactly, but we're at least cultivating the notion that regular meals shouldn't taste as good as processed food. (You know what I mean.)

From you all, at the other place.


 

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Econ

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.11.15

Economists still think economics is the best. I mostly just like the headline and the sentiment.


 

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