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Dreary and sleepy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.16.18

I'm on a committee that involves reading long, tedious files. We discussed this year experimenting with printing some of them out and keeping them in the central admin office - reduces eye strain, etc, but you have to make a special trip to go sit down and read them.

I tried it out yesterday, and it was weird, because I realized it was giving me an experience that I used to have all the time and now I pretty much never have it: being so goddamned bored that you're falling asleep. Trying to power through while you doze off and getting weird microhallucinations in with what you're reading. When you finally take a break, being so dazed and out of it that you can't function properly. (I tried to go straight to teaching a class, and the first twenty minutes of teaching were deeply not right. It was fine - an easygoing class and I gave them a problem to work on - but I felt heavily medicated.)

I used to fall asleep during class pretty much every single class during undergrad. There was just a short stretch where I'd be overcome, and often after five or ten minutes, I'd snap out of it and could resume paying attention. Titrating a slow drip of sugar was the only thing that I ever found that could stave it off (and I love coffee, but nope) and I saved that for my hardest math classes where a five minute snooze was catastrophic.

Now the only time I fight sleepiness is either when I'm driving (especially if I'm listening to talk radio), or sometimes during a boring meeting. But neither of those require sustained attention - I can mess with the radio or put something on that I can sing along with. I can tune out the meeting and sneak peaks at my phone and think about something else. It's the forced concentration that I find so lethal for sleepiness.

Lastly: so why doesn't this happen over the past two years, when I've been reading these tedious files online? It certainly hasn't gone well. I get so bored that I basically grind to a stop and realize I haven't absorbed anything I've read, or I keep re-reading the same passage. The key difference is that I click away and temper it with looking and reading other things. So the reading is still slow af because it's so dull. The whole thing probably goes slower online, but I'm spared the experience of trying to fight through drowning in sleepiness.

(and yes, I probably should have just put my head down on the files and slept for five minutes, but I wasn't thinking straight.)


 

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FB

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.15.18

NYT FB expose about what they knew and when about Russian interference.

On the one hand, it's completely predictable that FB would act like any other capitalist industry and cover up, lie, and obfuscate what they knew and when. What's new is that instead of ruining people's health or environment or livelihood or communities, the externalities were electing the worst possible president. It's a trade-off.


 

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All the private parts

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.14.18

Here's your sex article. It's really long! (I know, that's what she said.) I didn't finish yet! (I know.)

This article, via Lurid in the comments, is insane and fascinating, about the dismal failure of period tracking apps and how completely bro-projections they are.

Also, what the hell, let's throw Michelle Obama opening up about infertility, miscarriages, and IVF in the mix. That's really a generous thing for her to open up about.


 

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Placebos

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.14.18

On placebos. Honestly, I think the topic is fascinating but this article is super long, so I'm sort of guessing as to what it's about. Basically: hey, there are biological pathways that show why placebos work. It's not just wishful thinking your way to health, except really that is what it is, and of course there is biological evidence because how could there not be, unless you think everyone is making it up? Basically the more caring and ceremony and theatrics accompany a treatment, the more effective it is, and we can see it work in the brain with our newfangled not-wishful-thinking science.

Years ago, I remember reading an article about how placebos have been growing stronger over the decades, which is such a delightful premise. How various drugs that had a decent response in clinical trials still weren't clearing the bar, because the placebo was producing such a strong response that it competed favorably with the drug. It also talked at length about nocebos, which was getting bad effects if they've been suggested to you, IIRC.


 

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Lanes

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.13.18

The whole doctor vs NRA #thisismylane thing is totally heartbreaking. I am really glad to see doctors enter the political conversation as a united group with a vested interest in gun regulations.


 

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Sports and Opportunity Hoarding

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.12.18

This is pretty much 100% right:

Among richer families, youth sports participation is actually rising. Among the poorest households, it's trending down. Just 34 percent of children from families earning less than $25,000 played a team sport at least one day in 2017, versus 69 percent from homes earning more than $100,000. In 2011, those numbers were roughly 42 percent and 66 percent, respectively.
This isn't a story about American childhood; it's about American inequality.
"Kids' sports has seen an explosion of travel-team culture, where rich parents are writing a $3,000 check to get their kids on super teams from two counties, or two states, away," said Tom Farrey, the executive director of Aspen's Sports & Society program. Expensive travel leagues siphon off talented young athletes from well-off families, leaving behind desiccated local leagues with fewer players, fewer involved parents, and fewer resources. "When these kids move to the travel team, you pull bodies out of the local town's recreation league, and it sends a message [to those] who didn't get onto that track that they don't really have a future in the sport." The result is a classist system: the travel-team talents and the local leftovers.

Travel teams are insane in the demands they place on families, and when they start in elementary school they can fuck right off. The leftover families are always strapped to staff the local volunteer league.

Also has anyone read this book?

Declining athletic participation is a prime example of how the choices even benevolent rich households make can hurt poorer families--especially their children....It's commendable for all parents--rich or poor--to love, and desperately want to help, their children. But not all expressions of love are harmless. In his 2017 book, Dream Hoarders, the economist Richard Reeves wrote that economic mobility in the U.S. has been declining in the past few decades in part because of "opportunity hoarding." For example, rich parents may pull special levers to get their kids into hyper-select schools, or elite internships, or exclusive entry-level jobs. In so doing, they--in effect-- snatch precious opportunities away from the less fortunate.

"Opportunity hoarding" is a good way to label that thing we've discussed here before. However, the Amazon description of the book leads off with the sentence "America is becoming a class-based society" which makes the book sound naive.


 

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Fires

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.12.18

The California fires are terrifying and I hope all of you and your loved ones are safe and sound.


 

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Breather

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.12.18

Psychologically, it's just going to be much easier to stomach the next two years compared to the last two years. It's by no means a happy place to be in, but it's familiar territory - more similar the existential despair of the Bush years, or perhaps the Reagan years, and less un-fucking-charted waters. Pelosi saying they're going to focus on strengthening democracy, subpoenaing Trump's tax records, starting investigations, shoring up the Mueller investigation - I'm not saying these things will truly turn any tides, but reading headlines in the morning feels slightly less harrowing.

I'm still scared as hell that Trump will be re-elected in 2020, and I think then we'd return to the vertiginous cliff of the past two years.


 

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Veterans Day

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.11.18

Hawaii won a poetry contest for Veterans Day, so we went to her elementary school's Veterans Day assembly this past week. The assembly included a short ceremony where six (adult) soldiers in their most formal of formalwear stood around a table on stage, and went through this POW-MIA honors ceremony.

The table is round - to show our everlasting concern.
The cloth is white - symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans....and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.
The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for their return and determination to account for them.
A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land.
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families - who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return - alive or dead.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

Each item is placed on the table by a different soldier who intones the line. (I couldn't quite figure out the right Passover-comparison joke, but there's something there.) Ours was slightly different - it had an empty chair as the first bullet point to symbolize those who never came home, and the Bible was placed on the chair. I don't think our table was round. The soldiers also named specific soldiers, and at the end they all held colored squares of paper over their faces while saying more ritualistic stuff.

I found the whole thing absurd for an elementary school, and then after one kid broke down crying, I got angry and pissed about the bombasticness. No one else seemed fussed over it, though the nature of the occasion demands that everyone must stay poker-faced. (The rest of the assembly was fine - kids read their poems, sang songs, and the high school drumline performed. This is the first kid's Veterans Day ceremony I've been to.)

Veterans Day is tricky, because the soldiers really are brave, and many did lose their lives, and many more had their bodies and brains permanently injured. They should absolutely be recognized and honored. On FB, when people post photos of their loved ones who served, it strikes the right note of appreciation and tribute.

The problem is, of course, the vast majority of the wars and the people making the decisions all seem to get off scott-free. It's not appropriate to bring that up on Veterans day (except here! hooray for Unfogged!) but since you can't say it on Veterans Day, the message often bleeds into a generic "all these wars are good! More heroes! Maybe you can be a hero when you grow up!" which is just so gross.


 

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