SL 835

So many things are interesting to me today. I’m not sure why.

I’m halfway through Nomadland. I’m not skimming parts of it, like I do other nonfiction; I’m reading every word. More on this book a little later. But in the meantime, read about what happens in Amazon Warehouses. Bezos just bought a $500 million yacht.

Schools are still in chaos. I’m almost nihilistic about the whole business now. I just can’t get people to care about this. Kids are screwed and nobody gives a shit. Not even their parents. It’s going to have permanent economic issues, but nobody cares.

Ian and I were roaming around Manhattan on Saturday. I’ll show pictures tomorrow. A little north of us, three tourists were shot. Gun violence has doubled. New Yorkers are moving into their RVs. Check out the homeless in Venice Beach.

Quiche recipe:

Urged to write about growing up poor and black for his college essay, one student says no. When I advised Jonah to write about having an autistic brother for his college essay, he said no, because that experience was only a positive in his life. Refused to say anything negative about his brother. Instead, he wrote a lovely essay (with zero help from me) about his experiences living with a German family during a trip with his German class.

18 thoughts on “SL 835

  1. “Urged to write about growing up poor and black for his college essay, one student says no.”

    I got paywalled out of that piece once I got past the first paragraph, but I’ve had a lot of concerns about that whole deal. Aside from the grossness of asking people to package and commodify their hardships for profit, you just don’t have the perspective at that age. You don’t know what you don’t have, because you don’t have it–if that makes any sense–and they won’t really know until they are much older. Maybe that would be less true for a poorer kid who went to a richer school, but then they wouldn’t be as disadvantaged, would they?

    I was noting when working with our oldest on her college essays that while she did have the personal life ingredients to write a personal essay (not the poor black kind), she really struggled with writing about herself, even when it was blindingly obvious to me how she should write it and describe herself. On average, any kid who doesn’t have an educated, middle-aged adult hovering somewhere in the background is going to be disadvantaged by an admissions system that overweights personal essays.

    There ought to be an essay option that isn’t 100 proof narcissism. Give kids the option of writing about something that isn’t themselves.


    1. As someone who frequently teaches English comp, I refuse to assign any essay that requires a student to mine their personal experience. Ugh.


      1. Thank you! If they want to mine their personal experience, fine (although they get far too much of that in HS). But they should never be required to do that, and at least some of the time they should be steered away from it.


      2. I remember that I used an editorial I wrote for our high school newspaper as my essay for at least one college app. But that was over 30 years ago and admissions just weren’t as fraught as they are now.
        I actually photocopied it from the paper and sent it that way. They loved it.


      3. My son used a paper he wrote on “The Grapes of Wrath.” No way was he going to reveal his inner self to an anonymous admissions officer.


    2. Wendy said, “As someone who frequently teaches English comp, I refuse to assign any essay that requires a student to mine their personal experience. Ugh.”



    3. Makes me think of this savaging of new politicians by Robert Jones (a successful businessman, iconoclast and regular stirrer up of controversy) -here in NZ

      “Hitherto unknown new MPs carry on as if they’ve just been elected Secretary General of the United Nations; ritually outline their difficult upbringings, then move on to their saving-the-world intentions now they’ve arrived at the seat of power.

      History tells a different story. At least three will become embroiled in career-destroying scandals while half or more will return to their former obscurity, never to be heard of again, following the next election.”


  2. I still use the Moosewood quiche recipe! I have The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, too, which I assume uses the same baseline. One of my pandemic baking adventures was the chocolate babka from Still Life With Menu (though I think I combined that recipe with the one from the NYT). It was time consuming but delicious.


  3. New Jersey is looking fantastic: 10 new COVID cases per 100k, cases down 67% over the past 14 days, hospitalizations down 31%, deaths down 15%. I think deaths are going to fall a bunch more very soon.


  4. When I was pregnant with my second, I was at a conference looking pregnant and as though a 2nd child would be a big deal (many of the women and even men had only one). Another woman, who had two young children, said to me that one of the delights she’d realized is how much her second child was a gift to her first. The sentiment was enlightening to me, because I was still very focused on how my eldest wouldn’t be the center of the universe anymore. My older kiddo definitely thinks the younger one was a gift. I love that J feels the same way about his little brother.


    1. Very sweet. My oldest two are also very good buds. (Not that everybody doesn’t love the 2nd grader, but she’s much younger than her older siblings, so it’s not a peer relationship.)

      Now that our college student is done with exams but her siblings are still in school, she and I have entered into a really unique time. We’ve been going to the grocery, browsing World Market, going to the mall together, etc. She’s had a younger sibling since she was 2.5, so it’s a very new experience to do so many things together without a younger sibling around. Today, her dad and I were going to go to a new Indian lunch buffet (it opened during the pandemic and we want it to stay afloat), but it was closed on Monday, so we wound up going downtown to a new sort of hipster food court that I’ve been wanting to go to. The college student got bao with brisket (they looked like puffy tacos) and I got miso ramen with brisket (!) on the side. (They have a mushroom version that I need to try someday.) We also got fried Brusells sprouts from the ramen place, which was way better than it sounds. The college student finished up with a “dirty horchata,” which is a combination of horchata (a rice-based milk-and-cinnamon Mexican beverage) with espresso and ice. I had some and it was great. The hipster food court was HOPPING, even on a Monday, but husband and I are both fully vaccinated, and the college student is 75% vaccinated.


  5. I was meaning to mention–yesterday was officially the first day that I heard a CDC COVID vaccine PSA on the radio. There wasn’t much to it and weirdly, I think it started out addressing teachers specifically? This is the first CDC COVID vaccine ad I’ve heard on the radio. The only other vaccine ad I hear is the one for the COVID vaccine benefit concert.

    I continue to be flummoxed by what exactly the CDC is doing with their ad budget, because earlier this spring, they were dumping mask-and-distance ads on the radio non-stop (even when vaccines were becoming available), but up to now, there has been no pro-vaccine campaign. And of course the ad I heard had few details and certainly no local details–they just said to go to I’m not even sure that they said that it’s free. Also, I have not encountered any official state of Texas vaccine advertising.

    We talk about vaccine hesitancy a lot, but man oh man, the powers that be make some really weird decisions with regard to public messaging.

    On a happier note, I was just calling my HEB pharmacy on other business, and they said that they now have walk-in COVID vaccine availability if you come between 3PM and 5PM. If you make an appointment, you can come in at other times.

    I feel like it should be much easier to find yourself getting that kind of specific information without looking for it.


  6. Laura had mentioned cheating during remote learning. I just heard of a local example–apparently some kids were cutting corners last spring by using an equation-balancing app for chemistry. I’m not sure if this was homework or tests or both.

    Lots of luck with the STEM majors, kids!


  7. Dartmouth Medical School just had a big kerfuffle over cheating detection and consequences:

    They used access to “Canvas” during a test as a sign of cheating, but people say that the app/web site seems to engage in activity even when not being used, so that in some cases the detected cheating might have been wrong. Then, added in is the reports that students were told that “things would go easier for them if they admitted to cheating.”But, also, people cheated.

    That second is a complaint I’ve heard more than once in school cheating scandals (and, for other offenses). Kids have to be advised not to admit to anything in those private conversations.

    Not just because people do get flustered or pressured and confess to things they didn’t do, but because if you do confess you should confess specifically to what you did do, not non-specifically, to “cheating”.

    (I like to site the Asch experiments, in which experimental groups would wrongly rank the length of lines based on peer pressure, but I am sure there is plenty of data showing that authoritarian pressure can result in false confessions).


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