SL 850

There’s a lot on my plate this week, so just some links today.

Derek Thompson at the Atlantic talks about why young men are giving up on college. Lots going on here and will have to write about it. But will say that there are a lot of things going on, including the issue that young men have a much harder time graduating at all or on time than girls.

You know you have OCD when you spend the first 30 minutes in a beach rental decluttering the space. (I’m at the beach part time this week.)

Loved this essay by Caitlin Flanagan about how she told her young children about her cancer.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. I usually love looking at the fancy dresses at fancy events, like the Met Gala and the VMA awards. But today I kinda just hate all of them and their face fillers.

Sunday’s Education edition of the New York Times Magazine was pretty much all about how kids are totally screwed over after missing 18 months of school. This should be a front page story, every day.

Shopping: I need a really sharp blazer for the fall. Also, a pair of chunky hoop earrings.

Picture: Got some new shrubbery today.

21 thoughts on “SL 850

  1. We have some new neighbors who have taken a not-very-pretty mid-century modernish red brick house and are giving it the full Fixer Upper treatment: bumping out the small upper story, painting the bricks white, and painting the trim black. It looks very clean and pretty.

    I caught some HGTV this week (opthalmologist’s waiting room) and I saw a renovation that took stark white too far–some designer did a bright white living room and dining room. It looked really antiseptic. I give it 15 minutes before the new residents warm it up.


    1. I look at all white interiors and think the designers have neither children nor pets – nor do they drink red wine or eat chocolate!

      In the real world (AKA chez moi) – we have polished floors with Turkish rugs and red leather couches – because I have all of the above in my life


  2. I think the college gender gap is very scary. I’m taken aback by people who don’t find it to be a terrible trend. As it is, in 2015 Brookings researchers found that there was a shortage of marriageable men for the most highly educated women (college educated, that is).

    When there are 60 college educated women for every 40 college educated men, there’s a lot of heartbreak ahead.


    1. Perhaps things are a bit different here (as in social or academic ‘classes’) – but I know 4 or 5 couples in my age range where the woman is the highly educated one, and the man is a high-school graduate. In some, the woman is the higher earner (lawyer, marketer, research analyst, etc) and in some the man is (tradie, who now owns his own business, entrepreneur, or property developer – that’s a biggie here in NZ). Most of them seem well-matched from the outside – 1 marriage breakup, but there are breakups in the double-degree couples as well.

      I do think that the modern world, especially the world of entrepreneurs and business development, doesn’t want or need a higher degree – and often sees it as a mental straitjacket – constraining creativity rather than fostering it.

      And, personally, I don’t think that possessing a degree necessarily makes you a more interesting or informed person. Some of the sales guys and entrepreneurs I know are great company, and foster really interesting discussions; while some of the doctors/lawyers/accountants/scientists/engineers are deadly dull within their subject and virtually ignorant outside it.

      If Ms PHd needs to look outside the tiny pool of male PHd candidates for a life partner – I don’t see that as a tragedy.


      1. It may be a difference in educational systems, but someone with a new BA would be around 22 or so in the American system. The “most highly educated women” in this research have finished college.

        Here’s a link to the research, from 2015:

        To quote from the summary: Breaking down marriage markets by education tells a somewhat surprising story: it is the group of women who have the highest marriage rates — college-educated women — who are facing the greatest “shortage” of men. In fact, using the conventional measure of marriageability — the ratio of employed men to all women — there are only 85 men for every 100 women among 25- to 35-year-old college-educated adults. In contrast, for every employed, childless woman with a high school diploma, there are over 2.5 comparable men. These disparities are the result of women’s rising education levels. Women are now more educated than men, meaning that they will necessarily face a shortage of marriage partners with the same level of education. What
        we are likely to see in the future, then, is either women marrying “down” educationally, or not marrying at all.

        Now, this is only 5 years ago. With 60 female college graduates for every 40 male college graduates, that means for every 100 women with college degrees there are 66 men. The trend is catastrophic.

        The census estimated this year that about a third of the population achieves a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is anything but a tiny pool.


      2. At one time, nearly all college-educated men married women without college educations. It didn’t seem to cause anyone a problem.


      3. Even if there’s an often unstated assumption about social suitability in marriage, I don’t see that there’s necessarily a problem. Lots of lower-middle andmiddle class jobs that are still pink-collar-ish (nurse, teacher) require a BA while many of those that are mostly male (plumber, electrician, bowling-ball return machine repairman) don’t.


      4. Cranberry wrote, ” In contrast, for every employed, childless woman with a high school diploma, there are over 2.5 comparable men.”

        “Childless” is the sticky point, which is why our theoretical employed, childless high school graduate is so outnumbered.


      5. MH said, “Lots of lower-middle andmiddle class jobs that are still pink-collar-ish (nurse, teacher) require a BA while many of those that are mostly male (plumber, electrician, bowling-ball return machine repairman) don’t.”

        I’d quibble at calling nurse or teacher “lower-middle class,” but yeah.

        The female social and economic equivalents of plumber require a degree…which means that more women are going to go to college.


      6. I agree that ‘vocational’ degrees will be adding to this imbalance.
        Here are the 6 I know in my friendship group (there may be more, these are the ones which sprang to mind)
        Women lawyer (law degree) + Male electrician
        Woman market researcher – really high-powered director of a market research firm (BA/Comms) + Male entrepreneur.
        Woman librarian (masters in library science) + Male sales exec (range of jobs in food technology/production)
        Woman IT (BSci) + male soldier (you might come down on the side of education within his profession – but he doesn’t have a university qualification)
        Woman teacher (BA) + Male builder
        Woman insurance (BCom) + Male property developer (in this case, she no longer works – full-time at home with kids – while he makes a huge amount of money. He dropped out of uni – it wasn’t for him – though the rest of his family have law & medical degrees)

        All of these guys are smart/interesting – just not particularly suited to formal education. Some have (this is me looking from the outside) signs of some undiagnosed learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia, or ADHD) – though nothing actually disabling. Some have just realized that a strong talent for sales, or entrepreneurship or property development – is simply not served by a university degree; for them it’s a waste of 3 years and a whole lot of money.

        2 of them have the woman as the main economic partner, and 2 are roughly 50/50, while 2 have the man as the main economic partner.

        It’s really rare for young professionals in NZ to marry straight out of university. Mostly they find partners once they are working – either through their jobs, or friendship groups. Most women will have friendship groups which include those who went to uni, and those who didn’t – so will be ‘exposed’ to a wider range of choice in partner.

        And, a rough estimate of the highest income people I know, includes mostly people without degrees – who have become successful entrepreneurs or business owners.


  3. The university gap is interesting. I hire a lot of young people, often men, who are either in university/college (they are different things here) or didn’t make it to tertiary education or dropped out. Sometimes these are for really dumb reasons – for example one that opted into business/co-op programs, transferred high schools and did it again, and managed to graduate without the required classes to actually be admitted to higher education. He was told. He was sure he knew better. I know this is 100% sexist but I honestly think a girl would have listened.

    I’m liberal/progressive and I don’t really believe in ‘snowflakes.’ But I do think…in an age where being a YouTube star is a career path and everyone is expert on social media that some people, slanted towards young males, have trouble either getting to or succeeding in environments kind of designed to help them understand what they *don’t* know.

    That said, I agree with the article that the reasons are probably suuuuper complex.

    I also see in our after-school program and with my kids that if you are an active, wriggly, messy boy with bad handwriting, you may get mostly negative feedback all day, every day. The teachers are not like, terrible people…but, frankly, a lot of female elementary teachers are there because they loved school. They loved the rules and the work and being right. They are sometimes completely at sea, despite their own B.Eds., for how to handle boys who don’t sit and do their work. I’ve read notes from teachers in agendas (we check our students’ agendas and help them get their homework done) that were so cruel it made my face red. Often, too, harsher towards young Black men.

    And I mean, I have 30 of them at each location for 3-4 hrs a day. I have boys that if you ask them to write their pen pals (which we do! writing!) about their days they will lie on the floor or break their pencil 8 times or whatever it takes to avoid it. But if you ask them to write instructions on how to drift in Roblox or whatever (vague example taken from one of my 20-something staff) or draw a comic and write dialogue in the style of that great literary giant, Dogman, they are on it man. But their handwriting is still awful. I don’t know, I have empathy for everyone. But man, I see the trainwreck. And because the girls are succeeding — and YAY THEM — there’s no huge drop in enrolment and so no alarm bells/resources/etc.


    1. Jenn said, “He was sure he knew better. I know this is 100% sexist but I honestly think a girl would have listened.”

      I think I have seen a girl version of this, which is EVERYBODY TOLD ME TO GO TO STATE U. BUT I WENT TO NYU INSTEAD AND FOLLOWED MY DREAMS!

      She somehow accrued $182k for undergraduate at NYU, a school which frequently figures in this kind of story. And yes, people did tell her not to do it.

      “At 18, I saw two paths for myself: the girl who went to Italy [for her freshman year at NYU] and the girl who never left Florida. There was no price too high that could make the second option more appealing.”

      “In my four years at NYU, I spent 10 months in Italy, eight weeks in Crete, eight weeks in Ghana, and five months in Argentina. I saw natural wonders of the world and dozens of other countries. Back in New York, I landed dream internships and met the people I want to work for one day. I went to documentary film screenings and art shows, protests and marches. Those experiences were priceless.”

      “Opheli Garcia Lawler graduated with degrees in Global Liberal Studies and Journalism at New York University. After graduation she plans to begin graduate school at NYU in the Fall.”

      What could possibly go wrong?


      1. If she were here, she’d probably declare bankruptcy and begin over with a clean financial slate.
        Yes, it wrecks your credit rating and ability to borrow for 5 years – but, realistically, so does a 200K loan which you have no ability to pay back.
        The only issue is if you have other assets (family money/property/inheritance) which would also go – but it sounds unlikely.


      2. Yeah, it seems like one of the clearer cases where “student loans” were actually lifestyle spending–which we allow people to declare bankruptcy on.

        Historically, NYU has been like flypaper for this kind of 18-year-old.

        I’m like, YOU CAN GO OVERSEAS AND WORK AFTER GRADUATION AND THEY WILL PAY YOU! But no, obviously, the only way for a Floridian to ever go overseas is via an NYU study abroad program.

        Oh, crud, I just realized that part of the flaw in that story is that literally EVERY big US university does some sort of study abroad program, so there wasn’t any specific need to go to NYU. Also, as I have discovered while doing research on Polish language programs in Poland, you can do very inexpensive study abroad programs, just so long as you are not expecting US college credit for it.


      3. Taking this back to the original topic (the mismatch between the number of male and female college graduates), a few years back, I either saw or participated in online conversations where there was a lot of resentment from the male side about the idea of marrying a woman who had (in their view) partied her way into substantial college debt.

        I think that that scenario is still unusual (if we’re talking north of $50k for undergraduate), but truth be told, I wouldn’t be thrilled if my son showed up with a version of Miss NYU.


      4. But, they haven’t gone wrong yet. And, this might have been a dream she couldn’t have without the unwise loans. That’s what gets to me — it’s obviously foolish to take on that kind of debt. But there might also be opportunities that will be unavailable to those who can’t afford the cost.

        Also can’t tell how she’s reached this level of debt, since student loans for undergraduate do have caps. Personal debt? Parent loans?


      5. bj said, “But, they haven’t gone wrong yet. And, this might have been a dream she couldn’t have without the unwise loans. That’s what gets to me — it’s obviously foolish to take on that kind of debt. But there might also be opportunities that will be unavailable to those who can’t afford the cost.”

        It’s already gone wrong, because the kind of media jobs that she would want to pursue are very modestly paid, with very high cost of living, and doing a graduate (!) degree at NYU just compounds the problem. But it is a way to kick the problem down the road…

        Some sort of income-based repayment plan is probably the only way out.

        I think what has happened here (and I think this has happened to a lot of NYU graduates) is that a person from a middling income home has glommed onto a dream and a lifestyle that are really only workable for a trustfund kid.

        I’m open to bankruptcy protection for people like this but not forgiveness.


    2. From volunteering in school when my children were young, little boys would do much better if you allowed them to use shades of black and gray, and were ok with the concepts of cars and explosions. If you wanted them to add color, they were likely to shut down.

      Whereas, I recently had to declutter to prepare for moving. I scanned all my children’s artwork. My daughter’s drawings were, like, 90% rainbows and princesses, with the occasional castle thrown in.

      A very good book that a local private boys school uses for writing is _Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices_, by Ralph Fletcher.


  4. In happier news, my husband just got a fresh pack of N95s for a business trip in a model we haven’t seen before. 3M’s Aura model is really comfy, with foam padding around the nose and no valves.

    I don’t know if it’s suitable for medical use, but we are really impressed with the engineering of it and think that it’s probably a good pick for personal use. I suspect that it would work really well for high schoolers.


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