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Guest Post - Differential Self Delusion

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.23.16

Dairy Queen writes: The couple in this article creep me out. Way too far out on the children-as-instruments-of-parental-self-expression spectrum. But conceiving your own children is actually pure parental self expression. It isn't possible to parent selflessly and wouldn't be good for the children if achieved, and yet ... the religiously inspired adoption types seem remarkably susceptible to losing the individual child's well being in their pursuit of otherworldly perfection.

Heebie's take: I was living-and-let-live with them, through the smarminess of the last sentence of this paragraph:

This past Sunday, my gorgeous wife - a white evangelical, like me -- gave birth to our beautiful African-American triplet daughters whom we adopted as embryos. These sweet girls will hopefully soon be coming home to meet their 3-year-old African-American brother and 2-year-old biracial sister, both of whom we adopted as infants. The normalcy of this paragraph is something I have come to take for granted.

and only rolled my eyes a little at this:

[W]e visited an adoption agency in Mississippi, where we were living at the time. We were also trying at the time to conceive naturally. Knowing that it is often more challenging to find adoptive homes in the United States for non-Caucasian children we informed the agency that we were willing to accept any child except a fully Caucasian child. We did this with the deeply held conviction that if the Lord wanted us to have a fully Caucasian child my wife would conceive naturally.

which is when they adopted their first two kids. But then I rolled my eyes a lot more at the part when God called them to save some embryos.

In their defense, it is really enormously ethically consistent with being pro-life, and being non-destructive and not-hurtful about it. Also I'm not worried about them losing sight of their children's well-being. Unfortunately for them, though, their dad mostly just sounds like a giant tool.


 

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Guest Post - Reading Group

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.22.16

Mossy Character writes: This came up in comments: who's interested in a reading group for Adam Tooze? Tooze has written two popular books, The Wages of Destruction, about the Nazi war economy, and The Deluge, about America's role in the world political economy 1916-31. Both are long, dense, and revelatory; Wages is the better book, but Deluge is probably more reading-group friendly. As Tigre puts it: "the Nazi economy book is better and a mind-altering masterpiece. OTOH I think the Deluge would be a better reading group book - more to argue about, less need to be a specialist to offer interesting critiques, more direct relevance to today."
Myself, ajay, Tigre, and lw are in, and Thorn will submit to peer pressure.

Heebie's take: It does feel like summer is the right time for a reading group. When it's all year round, it feels like a bit of a grind.


 

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Aren't we fancy.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.22.16

I bought a vintage purse off ebay and I quite like it. I started using it, and lots of people (who know me) were like, "Oh, a Coach purse! My my! I remember when my mom bought me my first Coach purse in high school!"

I'd known that it was nice quality and would last well, but I hadn't realized it was quite so distinctive and recognizable. Now I'm slightly self-conscious. (In case you're curious. (Scroll down.) They accepted a cheaper bid than the listed price, though.)


 

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Out of Left Field

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.21.16

We could have a Prince thread.


 

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Guest Post - farm fresh

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.21.16

Ydnew writes: I tripped over this article and thought it might be good for Unfogged. A food writer for the Tampa Bay Times wrote an exposé on farm to table restaurants. She found menus (and, of course, chalkboards) misrepresenting both the type of food and its source. Highly respected vendors are often listed on menus where they haven't sold produce in years, if ever.

So, no problem, right? Self-respecting SWPL can just head to their local farmers market to stock up on farm fresh produce. Or not. Part 2 focuses on how farmers markets are dominated by resellers and food manufactured by contract producers (eg a jam factory that will prepare and bottle 400 jars of a single-run jam then sold by the person who contracted the manufacture), not farmers and home cooks.

The crux of the problem is profitability. Locally grown, organic food is expensive when its price reflects the actual costs of production, which makes it tempting to cheat.

Quotes on eggs:

Arlene Horak rounds up about 375 eggs a day, fewer when the birds are molting. She has heard of market vendors rubbing the Eggland's Best "EB" stamp off the delicate orbs and selling them as their own.

Eggland's Best aren't cheap: A dozen cage-free AA large brown eggs right now at Publix in St. Petersburg runs $3.89. "Farm fresh eggs" at the outdoor markets? Often more than double that. Circle 6 charges $5 per dozen.

About pork:
Her cost to raise a pig to slaughter weight is $240 to $300, plus $50 to slaughter it and $50 to transport it. So, let's say her total cost is $400. That whole pig, minus entrails and hair, will weigh 192 pounds. If she sells it at $3 per pound, that's a sale price of $576.

"I make $200 if everything goes well," she said. "That's on a perfect day. On average, I'm lucky if I make $100 on a pig and maybe I raise 100 pigs in a year."

Ten thousand dollars a year is not a living, she said, but "nobody wants to pay $6 per pound for pork." Most restaurants can't, or won't, pay her what she needs to live.


"I can't think of a time when my chops have been served at a restaurant on a daily basis," she said. "I think a lot of times farmers with a good story are used as a billboard."

Heebie's take: Everything is the worst! It reminds me of when they tested all the vitamins and supplements and found that they were all faked. Or that whenever you get fish in a restaurant, you're eating tilapia, regardless of what is claimed.


 

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Googling Homework Problems

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.20.16

How do kids force themselves to work problem sets outside of class when the internet exists? Would I have cheated under those circumstances? Occasionally or frequently? Depending on the class?

If the instructor made the exams worth 80% of the semester grade and the homework, say, 5-10%, would I have concluded that I could skip out on the homework more? Or would I have still plodded through as I would in a class where it was worth 30%?

Kids These Days honestly have to master certain self-discipline things that I got to skip, and I'm grateful I did.


 

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Guest Post - Mutual fund migration

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.20.16

Minivet writes: It looks like people are slowly listening to the advice to get out of actively managed mutual funds - $250 billion transfer to passively-managed since the beginning of 2015. FWICT this is no more than a couple percent of the total US mutual net assets, and that's if the figure in the article is US-only to begin with, but it's still pretty big on its own - over a billion dollars less in fees paid. And the new hard-fought fiduciary rules could prompt a true exodus - although I can't tell how many trucks can be driven through the final changes made.

Heebie's take
: I have no take!


 

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Mallory Ortberg Has A Flaw

Posted by LizardBreath
on 04.20.16

I mean, a small one. Mostly she's great. But I was reading her Dear Prudence column yesterday, and one of her answers rubbed me the wrong way. The letter writer said that his wife is a better cook than he is, but that she works too late to cook some nights. So he makes dinner on those nights, which he enjoys doing. The problem is that she won't eat anything he cooks, and instead eats leftovers out of the fridge, which hurts his feelings:

After a couple weeks of this, I asked if I was doing something wrong. She said she appreciated the gesture and knew that I was trying, but my stuff wasn't the way she'd have made it, and she prefers her way--hence eating the leftovers. Life's too short to eat food you don't like, but I'm kind of hurt and don't know how to make this better. I want her to have a nice dinner to look forward to when she comes home late, but I also know that no matter how hard I try, I'm never going to be as good at this as she is, and I'm destined to fail if she's using herself as the standard. Thoughts?

Ortberg's take was that he shouldn't be hurt, and should just quit trying to feed his wife:
Don't take it personally if she'd rather throw together some leftovers for herself after a long day of work. You've just gotten out of kitchen duty a few nights a week. Make something for yourself the nights she comes home late, and enjoy the extra free time.

Not that I have better advice, and on most things I'm in the "relax, don't take it personally" camp. But for this? Something about consistently refusing to eat food that someone else has made you seems incredibly rude? hostile? unpleasant? to me. It's a combination of insulting their competence and being unwilling to accept caretaking from them: if I heard that story from a friend, I don't know what I'd say or suggest, but I'd think the wife didn't like her husband very much. And if I heard it from the wife, I'd tell her she owed him an apology and a change in her behavior.

I mean, there are possible good reasons -- he's a genuinely terrible cook, to the point that eating is food is actively a hardship. At which point that should probably be explicit: "Clarence, I love you, but I can't eat anything that's mostly charcoal by weight. And the last time you made stew I got food poisoning." Or she's mentally ill in some kind of food-related OCD way that means she can't comfortably eat food she didn't prepare, at which point also that should be explicit between them. But barring that sort of thing, this seems like a letter where the writer is genuinely being badly treated, and I'm surprised at Ortberg for blowing him off.


 

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Streaming Live

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.19.16

They were talking about this on NPR this morning, the girl who live-streamed a man raping her friend. The video is apparently ten minutes long, the victim is actively protesting the whole time, and the live-streamer girl is giggling. So it sounds about as awful as possible.

It is a funny feeling to be more appalled by the videographer than the actual rapist. The rape is clearly the bigger problem and crime, but causes me less cognitive dissonance.


 

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Guest post - The Obama Doctrine

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.19.16

Mossy Character writes: Has the blog discussed The Obama Doctrine? I've never been a big fan of his, but I confess on reading I do love me some aloof technocracy. Especially,

"You know, the notion that diplomacy and technocrats and bureaucrats somehow are helping to keep America safe and secure, most people think, Eh, that's nonsense. But it's true. And by the way, it's the element of American power that the rest of the world appreciates unambiguously. When we deploy troops, there's always a sense on the part of other countries that, even where necessary, sovereignty is being violated."

Heebie's take: There's longform, and then there's loooooooooooongfooooooooorm. Foreign policy is hard. For me.


 

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The great tragedy of my life

Posted by Ben
on 04.18.16

There are so many people who will never know how much I disdain them.


 

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Unfogged Commenter in Biennale Stunner!!!

Posted by Ben
on 04.18.16

Top modern kicker and former unfogged commenter JL, whom some may remember, has informed me that Mark Bradford, and his museum for some sense of the word 'his', will be representing the US at the Venice Biennale, where, if Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi has not led me astray, he will be very sweaty, do a lot of cocaine, and hook up with a free-spirited American. Proof that you too, reader of unfogged, can succeed, if only you stopped commenting here.


 

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Guest post: Theranos

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.18.16

Witt writes: Yahoo News headlined this article "How to Blow $9 billion in 6 months," but here's my question: Why did anybody give them billions in the first place? Since the very first article I read about this company two or three years ago, my baloney detector has been going off like a smoke alarm during a forest fire.

Seriously, I am a layperson with exactly zero expertise in any relevant area. How can so many investors get hoodwinked by such a blatant scam? Don't they do any due diligence?

Heebie's take: We discussed these guys here, back in 2014. You may remember the comely Elizabeth Holmes. We had a super obnoxious conversation about whether she was flaunting her good looks by putting photos of herself all over the place in order to woo investors. I would like to assert that the following two statements are compatible:
1. she was dressed professionally and putting the normal amount of Glamour Shots on the web page as any other start up would.
2. venture capitalists are dumb and her prettiness may still answer Witt's question.


 

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Empty Nose Syndrome

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.18.16

J, Robot writes: I read this feeling a lot of compassion for the featured patients, but I'm also someone who's mother has/had claimed to have fibromyalgia, Morgellons, and severe mental health problems. What are doctors and patients to do?

Heebie's take
: Empty Nose Syndrome compelling to read about the way Morgellon's is compelling, but framed (in this article at least) as being grounded in reality. It's also like Morgellon's (and fibromyalgia and other diseases) in that it's not really yet accepted by the medical establishment and the sufferers keep getting told that they are crazy.

Recently, I have observed the following: It's not that E. Messily has bad luck getting asshole doctors. It's that regular, nice doctors turn into gigantic assholes when confronted with a patient that reveals the limits of their knowledge. A very high rate choose not to be collaborative and honest - "I don't know much about this, but let's figure out together how to get you connected to the right people!" - and instead turn combative - "I don't know much about this and don't feel comfortable helping you. I don't know who can help you and you'll have to figure it out on your own. Maybe your insurance company will help? Why don't you leave my office, now, and call them and then don't come back?"

I am predisposed towards siding with the ENS sufferers. (As is the author of the linked article.) But maybe not ALL of them.


 

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Aesthetic progress

Posted by Ben
on 04.17.16

There was a time when I found Merzbow's 1930 unlistenably harsh, but now it seems p good to me.


 

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