SL 854

Ian made me a lovely new logo for my old book shop.

Fun convo on Twitter this morning about 70s v. modern parenting practices:

The college kid needs a recommendation from a professor for a study abroad program. It’s not easy when half of his professors are temporary adjuncts and are no longer employed by his college. He has no idea where they went. We gave him a little lesson on how you write a request for a recommendation letter, but he’ll never need to know how to do that anymore. In the private sector, prospective employers can’t ask for recommendations anymore.

The college kid might use his political science degree with tons of environmental science and policy classes to get involved in the wind farm energy field after graduation. Lots of potential there.

“Overselling danger seemed, in other words, to have the opposite of the intended effect.” Alec MacGillis on mask policy and Germany.

The suburbs are being redrawn right now. Change is happening faster than anyone realizes. And because journalists and academics don’t live in the suburbs, few are seeing the big picture.

The college graduation rate is so pitiful that the government considers taking six years to graduate a success story.

Should billionaires spend their money blasting former television stars into space, rather than focusing climate change? Prince William says no. Well, they are businessmen, and space is good business. Plus, William Shatner gave Jeff Bezos a billion dollar of free advertising yesterday.

Picture: I bought out a hoarder’s collection of encyclopedias last week. Thank God, Steve and Ian were with me that day to help me get all the books to the car. We filled up the Subaru station wagon from that one house. I’m slowly taking pictures of them all. Here’s a set rare leather Encyclopedia Brittanica from the 1920’s. I have no idea how much to charge and whether to sell them in sets of three’s or as one huge set.

13 thoughts on “SL 854

  1. I am pretty confident that my mom just plopped me in a pack and play all day which meant she didn’t have to watch me. Not 100% sure of that though because I was a middle child, so there are few pictures of me as a baby – I wasn’t a novelty and film was expensive and time consuming to develop. In other words, my parents did NOT spend all their time entertaining me as a child and then documenting my life, so that’s definitely MANY hours save from today’s parental expectations.

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  2. We gave him a little lesson on how you write a request for a recommendation letter, but he’ll never need to know how to do that anymore. In the private sector, prospective employers can’t ask for recommendations anymore.

    I don’t know where this comes from. Just before covid I wrote a letter of recommendation for a mid-career applicant at another employer. And at least up until recently my job area required letters of recommendation as well, although TBH I do not know if we still do. It’s true that both we and the place I wrote for have fairly boutique hiring processes but that is the case for most semi-unique non-run-of-the-mill employers.

    It is a myth being propagated in the media that employers are no longer allowed to check references. This is most certainly not the case. It is true that many places will not provide useful information in a reference check (for fear of lawsuit) but it is most definitely not the case that the hiring side can’t ask and, in fact, a quick Google search will lead to advice on how to elicit useful information in a reference check if you are disposed to conduct one.

    And graduate schools, of course, still require them.

    Learning how to ask for such letters is very much not a wasted effort. In fact, I am surprised it did not come up until now. We started teaching our HS senior how to do this last year.

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    1. Yes, Jonah must have gotten letters of recommendation to apply to college, but that was so long ago that I can’t remember how he did it.

      Graduate school?!!! Hahshahaha We have taught our kids from an early age to never go to graduate school.

      But seriously, letters of recommendation do not happen anymore. When my husband is hiring workers for his very serious job, he isn’t allowed to even call a former employer of an applicant. It’s an HR legal thing.

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      1. Graduate school?!!! Hahshahaha We have taught our kids from an early age to never go to graduate school.

        Yes, well. For many environmental policy jobs you are at a competitive disadvantage without a graduate degree, so he may well change his tune.

        But seriously, letters of recommendation do not happen anymore. When my husband is hiring workers for his very serious job, he isn’t allowed to even call a former employer of an applicant. It’s an HR legal thing.

        So the letters I have written and read just didn’t happen? They were a figment of my imagination? The HR legal thing is a company by company policy. The risk/reward calculus is different for each employer. But they most certainly do exist.

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      2. https://www.chronicle.com/article/is-it-time-to-eliminate-recommendation-letters-hint-yes

        There’s a move to get rid of them from academia, too.

        Seriously, nobody in any serious job in NYC is allowed to call to ask for references anymore, Nevermind requesting a formal letter. It’s an HR/legal thing. If some local businesses still ask for them, they’ll stop very soon.

        No, there will be no issues in the private sector without a worthless MA, especially if he plans to work in the sales or policy side of things.

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      3. I have a friend who’s the head of HR for a Fortune 500 insurance company. She said the same thing. There are massive legal issues around letters of recommendation. OK., I’ll turn this into the Friday newsletter. Gotta scram to the newsletter platform and write for two hours. Be back later.

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      4. I should note the firm I work for is large and has an up to date HR. We get memos and training on what can and can’t be asked etc routinely. It does change frequently. For example, we cannot ask about hobbies because it could be discriminatory (like skiing codes for white). No one has ever said we couldn’t ask for references, or call them.

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  3. I think the difference in child care is more to do with self-reporting and self-perception of what the parent (in the 70s mostly the mum) was doing.
    As a kid in the 70s myself – I know that mostly my Mum and my Nana were doing childcare *in addition to* other work. So if asked, they’d have said they were cooking, or cleaning, or shopping or sewing – but they were doing all of those things while *also* minding children.
    The specific childcare time is likely to be specific child-centred activities (like kindy or Playcentre) or trips to the park or the library; and on the weekend, family outings with Dad.

    Modern parenting has the perception of childcare activities first – so parents would say they were looking after children, even though they were also washing dishes, or doing the laundry or cleaning (the endless cleaning of having a toddler!).

    Reality is, if you’re a SAHM with a pre-schooler – you’ll be spending at least 10-12 hours a day doing childcare – with other activities sandwiched in. Depending on the …. co-operativeness … of your toddler, you *may* get a window during naptime to actually concentrate on something [I never did – 1 hour naptime was a rare luxury – I only got to actually concentrate after 7 when he was asleep]

    Of course, for older children, there really *was* a lot more freedom from supervised activities than we have now. I remember the days when my mum would ring the cowbell from the deck (we were in the suburbs – not rural) for us to come home for dinner – and she’d have had no idea exactly where the pack of neighbourhood kids actually were.

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  4. I just called references hiring an attorney for a government job in NYS — that may be outside the realm of what you’re calling a serious job, but it’s indoor work with no heavy lifting.

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  5. I work at a Fortune 500 company in NY and we routinely ask for references. It’s true that many companies will only verify dates of employment, but most candidates get references from individuals who they worked with.

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  6. Steve said that he hasn’t asked for references over ten years, at least. When he was laid off ten years ago, he took two or three different temporary positions before taking the permanent position that he’s in now. No one called his former employer. And no one even asked him why he left. Not once. And he went on a ton of interviews.

    He said that he’s gotten two phone calls from HR people from former employees in recent memory, but they were very, very specific to only ask about dates of employment.

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    1. We still have referees (perhaps well behind the international HR trends – and a very different legal environment).

      In the days when I was calling referees (thankfully, hiring is not part of my current job) – you learned to listen for the silences.

      “What would you describe as X’s strengths” (and if good staff relations or teamwork isn’t mentioned, this is a significant red flag in most roles).

      “Would you hire X again?” (Best answer to this, was: Yes. X is leaving a giant hole in our company (X was shifting countries for family reasons), and we’re having to hire 2 people to replace her).

      “Anything else about X that we haven’t covered?” (Amazingly good answers to this one – and one that I *wasn’t* asked when I was managing a staff member out of our organization)

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