Hi all. Working on a grant today, and forcing myself to go outside for some exercise. Overwhelmed with life, I shutdown for a couple of days and re-read the whole Hunger Games series for the probably the seventh time. I needed some good escapist fun. But now it’s time to return to reality.
In Anne Helen Peterson’s newsletter, she interviews Meg Conley, who specializes in writing about home-stuff (I think) about the mom-fluencer, Hannah Neeleman, better known by her family’s Instagram handle, Ballerinafarm. Neeleman is a Julliard trained dancer, mother of six or seven, Mormon, living on a fabulous ranch in Utah with her husband whose family formerly owned Jet Blue. So, yeah, just like you and me. Anyway, I’m fascinated by Neeleman and am now following her on Instagram.
“A painting worth £740,000 has been destroyed after a ‘bored’ security guard drew eyes on faceless figures depicted in the artwork at a Russian gallery.”
I’m fascinated with social programs lately. Said no one ever. Except for me. I think it’s the natural progression from education writing. After all, most people who leave the K-12 system don’t ever graduate from college. What happens to them after that? Some get jobs. Others don’t. Anyway, I’m reading articles like this profile of the guy who heads New York City’s Department of Social Services.
I thrilled that fine china is back in style. If you love it, too, go to your local estate sales. They are giving it away.
“Why Liberal Suburbs Face a New Round of School Mask Battles” Yeah, I’ve told you guys all this weeks ago.
I’m going to paint my basement ceiling black.
Picture: Bookstores are my happy place. This is a little one in the West Village, New York City, Three Lives and Company.
Viral Tweet of the Week:
43 thoughts on “SLS 868”
Re: School mask mandates – my (UMC NJ) town’s main Facebook group had an interesting post the other day, commenting on the Governor’s plan to repeal the mask mandate. A couple people voiced strong opinions, but for a group that last year was overwhelmingly pro-mask, it was suddenly very quiet. My personal interpretation was that support for in-school masking has largely evaporated but that it happened recently enough that hardly anyone wants to say it out loud.
I guess we will see, the local school board will have to make their decision soon enough. I don’t envy them for how they will get yelled at, no matter what they decide.
Jay Varma had an opinion piece in the NY Times that I thought acknowledged the difficulty of making public health decisions in the context of constantly changing science: When Do Masks Come Off? The Hard Truth About Lifting Covid Restrictions. It starts with “Policymakers need to be humble about what we don’t know, especially with Covid-19” and acknowledges that in the beginning, some policy makers (our governor, for example) relied heavily on public health expertise + metrics. Their goal was to rely on the science and also offer guidelines rather than reacting to public opinion. Varma writes that though he helped develop the 3% positivity threshold for New York Public Schools, that in November 2020, when the mayor used it to close schools, he no longer felt that it was a reliable metric, that schools (and hospitals) could open safely when community levels were higher because of appropriate mitigation measures. He acknowledges the same concerns about masks, that though we know that masks *can* decrease transmission, that the degree to which they do so in schools needs to be balanced against other factors, which, at this point, includes the willingness of the population to mask.
I suspect we will not stop masking in our schools unless the CDC guidelines change or cases become much lower than they are now.
Some masking works very well, but it’s the kind done by motivated, trained people with high-quality masks–not the kind done by people who are not motivated, not trained, and using masks with 0-10% effectiveness. The thing is–you can’t force unwilling people to do a good job wearing an N95. If they want to wear it gappy, they can wear it gappy. So why not do a better job making sure that people who do want high-quality masks can get them and leave other people alone?
Even if gappy, N95/KN95 masks provide some reduction in viral transmission – maybe a sliding scale between none at all and almost as much as a properly fitted one. Discarding a preventive measure because it’s not 100% is bad science.
gelasticjew wrote, “Even if gappy, N95/KN95 masks provide some reduction in viral transmission – maybe a sliding scale between none at all and almost as much as a properly fitted one. Discarding a preventive measure because it’s not 100% is bad science.”
I can’t speak to KN95s, but that’s definitely not true for N95s. They work well when there’s a good seal and it’s effortful to use them. I probably can’t find it now, but I remember seeing one study that said that a gappy N95 was less effective than just a surgical mask. The number I remember seeing was 3% effectiveness.
Again, if you’re right and masks reduce viral transmission, why did the NE have 400 cases per 100k per day during Omicron? There wasn’t a region that did worse in terms of cases than the NE during Omicron. Maybe some less strict states approached that, but nobody was worse than the NE.
Another thing–I’ve had three Moderna shots. When am I supposed to stop masking, if that’s not good enough?
Empirically, in real world studies, masks appear to help slow spread (which takes conditions of use into account). That data might change, with new variants, with different masks, or less compliance. Gappy masks might not stop spread (which is the goal when they are used in essential medical settings), but might still decrease spread.
Indeed masks worn on a chin or taken off to “eat & drink” (in planes, for example) don’t do anything. And, if the cost of getting people to wear them in a way that mitigates spread at all is too high (and that cost will vary, depending on the community) communities might have to accept the higher rates of spread and live with them. And, as you suggest, people will react even in those communities to especially high rates of spread.
That’s the kind of balancing public health officials have to do, and what Verma was supporting.
bj said, “Empirically, in real world studies, masks appear to help slow spread (which takes conditions of use into account).”
Did masks slow transmission during Omicron? There were very strict parts of the US clocking 400 cases per 100k per day.
I think the “real world” evidence that masking didn’t slow spread in strict regions during Omicron is a big part of why a number of blue states are dropping or easing their masking rules right now.
I think we don’t know yet whether the omicron surge was mitigated by masks; even the most recent studies included data only through December. This is the nature of the challenges we’ll face into the future with pandemics and plague, exponential growth means that we are always making decisions in fast changing situations (and fast evolving viruses). We will get data, but we have to make decisions on our best estimate of what the data might be.
WA governor just announced he’d release the outdoor mask mandate on Feb 18th, so I think WA will be masking for a while, officially, and, in my neck of the woods, actually. The powers that be passed out N95 masks in schools and to community organizations and in my kid’s HS, folks had already switched to KN95s and the like. The state superintendent wants the governor to withdraw the school mask mandate, and he might, but my guess is my school district will continue to mask. So, we’ll get the data.
Also crystal is ridiculously good prices at estate sales (at least here in NZ). No one wants to have to hand-wash crystal glasses and bowls – they want everything to go in the dishwasher.
I’ve bought some ridiculously priced trifle bowls and G&T (or water) glasses – just because the dealers aren’t interested.
I’m kicking myself for not having snatched up a set of vintage cocktail ware (love craft cocktails and have taken over some cupboards in the kitchen with supplies – wife is very patient with me as we don’t actually drink that often but when we do I want to make it special).
Love cocktail ware and wish I had someone who fussed over cocktails for me. I rarely drink and want my drinks to be really special when I do. Missing the fancy dancy cocktails at bars.
At the beginning of the pandemic I thought I’d have the energy to acquire the skills. And I collected supplies, but wasn’t willing to make the investment.
Also not willing to hand wash glasses. I am enjoying my North Drinkware mountain glasses from an Oregon company (3D cast topography of mountains like Rainier and St. Helens). They have been surviving the dishwasher.
Hey! En Zed Ann! How about Barry Manilow CDs??? https://www.chardandilminsternews.co.uk/news/national/19919844.barry-manilow-hits-deployed-flush-vaccine-protesters-new-zealand/
I like re-reading Hunger Games style works, though I will often re-listen, rather than re-read. If you haven’t read, I first was introduced to Suzanne Collins through the Overlander series, which I enjoyed. I also enjoy Guy Gavriel Kaye’s Fionaver Tapestry & Tigana and am now listening to Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series (which is complete — Butcher is one of those who has stopped writing new series midway). I also like all of Brandon Sanderson’s work (he finished the Wheel of Time series). All, for me, escapist fiction.
A college student I know is doing an honors project on democracy in fantasy/science fiction (which, in my series, is pretty much non-existent. There’s a council in Codex Alera, but a Lords who wield most of the power and limited enfranchisement). I’m intrigued by the topic.
My comfort series read is Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion series, particularly the first two (I think it’s been renamed Five Gods but I don’t love the Penric books as much.) I haven’t read the Fionavar Tapestry in a long time, but when I had to set the Toronto portal location for the fantasy series I’m writing, I picked Philosopher’s Walk. I figured I might as well line the portals up, plus I was working next door when I started it. 🙂
Agree about Guy Gavriel Kay – the books set in an almost historical period are little gems.
Cannot read the Lions of al Rassan (Reconquista Spain), Tigana (Renaissance Italy) or A Song for Arbonne (Medieval Provence), without crying – powerful writing which invests you in the characters and their tragedies. They’re some of my ‘go to’ reads for taking a mental break from life.
And Chalion is awesome! LMB is a hugely talented writer. The series numbering is slightly odd. The curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls are direct sequels, while Hallowed Hunt, which is set in the same ‘universe’ is set apart both in time and space – and can really be read as a stand-alone. The Penric novellas are their own tight sequence.
Kay also has two books set in fictionalized China, Under Heaven & River of Stars that I enjoyed (listening to, they’re a bit repetitive for me for reading). I like my story arcs a bit more curved towards justice in those books (as in Fionaver & Tigana, but not in Kay’s more historical works).
Checking out the Bujold work, which I’ve never encountered!
I read the AHP interview with Meg Conley (you’re how I found the kitchen article, right)?. Definitely an interesting read, though the MLM community is not something I understand at all. Good link that touches on some of the politics around caregiving that you talk about in a less revolutionary (and, by that I mean actual you have nothing to lose but your chains revolution) way (Conley seems to touch at advocating for real revolution at times).
Freelance (which I think Conley cites as her work) isn’t multilevel marketing, but one does have to wonder how freelance work (writing, photography, . . . ) plays into the same exploitative market of those whose work is primarily caregiving. Writing doesn’t exploit personal mom/caregiver networks, but photography (family, baby, senior) does.
“I thrilled that fine china is back in style. If you love it, too, go to your local estate sales.”
I’m a blue-and-white china gal. I own a lot of blue-and-white Japanese rice and noodle bowls and we use those for everyday. The blue-and-white Spode comes out for holidays. The thing I like about blue-and-white is that it’s very easy to match sets that come from different places.
I have it on my to-do list to acquire some Spode serving pieces down the road…
What is the fascination with Ballerinafarm? Watching the meat farm/mother/pageant queen/influencer/mormon dream? Those picts on Insta didn’t work for me.
But then, I realized that I have a fascination with the PNW version, which is the flower farm/attractive blonde mom/influencer/crafter dream: https://www.instagram.com/floretflower/
I don’t know floret farms (Erin Benzakein) culture/religious background, but she has leveraged the flower/flower arranging business into deals with Magnolia network.
There are copies now in PNW, with variations (some aren’t mothers, some aren’t blonde), @thefarmhouseflowerfarm, @floratacoma, @growgirlseattle.
I know there are versions around the country, too, but these are people I can actually buy from.
The one thing I really hate is when those influencers don’t share the people who work for them. Floret Flower Farm is a business now, with a number of employees.
I think thefarmhouseflowerfarm is still being run as a two person family business, with occasional barn raising help (I’ve seen the farm, and it’s something like an acre, which can be farmed by one person).
Ballerina mom must have employees, right?
Late to the party, but the pic of the table of books with a Sigrid Nunez book reminds me how much I loved her book A Feather on the Breath of God. (Yes, I do read books other than romance novels!)
This is an interesting piece talking about the disappointing results of a study on public pre-K in Tennessee:
Some possible conclusions:
–Worksheet-y public pre-k is bad.
–Existing public school buildings may not be suitable for public preschool.
–Maybe smaller classes are better than certified teachers?
–Maybe kids burned out from having spent so many years in formal education?
Also, the NPR article doesn’t mention this, but a typical public pre-K schedule is pretty long compared to a lot of private preschool/pre-k programs that aren’t daycares.
We did 1 year in public pre-K in DC with our oldest. We had a very nice teacher BUT a) it was a long day b) it was very academic-focused and c) the reading program was not very science-y. I recall watching kids more or less reciting written sentences on the board as opposed to learning to sound them out.. If that was the reading method taught in Tennessee, I can easily see how the kids’ academics would have steadily deteriorated over time, as they came in contact with more and more words that they hadn’t memorized by sight, and were provided with fewer visual cues (like illustrations).
Karol Markowicz commented on her twitter:
“There’s a story to be told about how publicly funded pre-schools destroyed the kind of pre-schools that work, the sweet play-based kind that kids need at that age, and replaced it with the government mandated worksheet kind.”
“I saw the destruction of functional pre-schools happen in NYC but I was early in my career & didn’t know how to pursue it. People left the private, play-based, pre-Ks for the free option presented by the city. If the private one wanted public funds, they had to adjust curriculum.”
I can’t access the paper for free. I think there are important questions. First, the children who did not win the lottery weren’t forbidden to attend preschool. Their families might have found spaces in other programs, for example, church-based preschools or family cooperatives. Those programs were (at a guess), probably more traditional, enrolling smaller groups of children, and more likely to be close to home. So the children might have been attending with friends from their neighborhoods, rather than being bused across town.
Next, back when my children were attending preschool, the debate over full-day kindergarten was raging in our town. For some children, at 5 years old, a full day of school was exhausting. So, the assumption that more time in school is always better might be…not true for some children. The control group might have spent less time in a classroom setting.
Last, this is not a new debate. David Elkind wrote _The Hurried Child_ and _The Power of Play_ some time ago. There are many things little kids need to learn, before they start on abstract things. Sitting still is really difficult.
Then again, as my children got older, I became convinced that drama and theater are uniquely powerful educational experiences. It’s a shame they’re the first to be cut, and regarded with such suspicion. Pretend play is educational at all ages.
Cranberry said, “First, the children who did not win the lottery weren’t forbidden to attend preschool. Their families might have found spaces in other programs, for example, church-based preschools or family cooperatives.”
Right. It might be that what the study demonstrated is that academic long-day public pre-k is worse than traditional, informal, short-day private preschool. It would be interesting to see those two options explicitly compared.
“Next, back when my children were attending preschool, the debate over full-day kindergarten was raging in our town. For some children, at 5 years old, a full day of school was exhausting. So, the assumption that more time in school is always better might be…not true for some children.”
That’s also true. I know my youngest found 5-day kindergarten very demanding, after being thrilled with 3-day pre-K. She didn’t hate K, but she was less over-the-moon enthusiastic than she had been for pre-K.
The US has kind of a bad habit of dealing with school failure by moving “rigor” down to younger and younger ages, even when it’s not really age appropriate. In Russia, the younger preschool kids do do a bit of academic stuff, but traditionally real school begins with 1st grade. Also, a number of countries have shorter elementary school days than we do.
I agree that moving rigor down is counterproductive. I thought that sort of peaked in the days of “no excuses” mandated frequent testing? For example, in my book, making paper hand turkeys in kindergarten does not mean that the school system gets to claim that their graduates have learned about colonial America.
Part of the loss may well come from restricting children to a classroom during their early years. Later learning depends upon one’s spoken vocabulary. Once you’ve learned to read, you draw upon your knowledge of the world. If you tag along with family members on shopping trips, for example, you will have seen shopping carts, checkout registers, stores, roads, bus stops, loading and unloading groceries, waiting in line, etc. In the academic preschool, there may no longer be a “classroom play store” set up in the corner.
Cranberry said, ” I thought that sort of peaked in the days of “no excuses” mandated frequent testing?”
K is still waaay more academic than it was back in the early 1980s. Pre-K is the new K.
“Part of the loss may well come from restricting children to a classroom during their early years. Later learning depends upon one’s spoken vocabulary. Once you’ve learned to read, you draw upon your knowledge of the world. If you tag along with family members on shopping trips, for example, you will have seen shopping carts, checkout registers, stores, roads, bus stops, loading and unloading groceries, waiting in line, etc.”
That’s a fair point.
I know that in the early grades, they try to teach kids a lot about “our town,” but it’s not the same as actually being out there and seeing it.
I’ve told the story here before about how my youngest child (7 in March 2020) forgot about escalators during the course of the first pandemic year that she spent just at home or at school. I think she forgot some other real world stuff, too, but that’s the one I remember.
“Hey! En Zed Ann! How about Barry Manilow CDs??? https://www.chardandilminsternews.co.uk/news/national/19919844.barry-manilow-hits-deployed-flush-vaccine-protesters-new-zealand/”
For those wondering!!!
We have a rather disorganized, though surprisingly persistent protest group occupying the grounds outside parliament. They’re not impeding access for MPs (who simply go in the back way – ribald comment aside), though are frustrating others who want to access parliament or the surrounding streets.
They are non-violent in action – though there are nutters among them with some pretty violent rhetoric. Attempts to get into Parliament on the first day weren’t serious, and have been frustrated by police line and a fairly elementary set of roading barricades.
The overarching ’cause’ is the vaccine mandates (you have to be vaccinated to do certain jobs – and will be fired, if you’re not; can’t access facilities like public libraries, not allowed to eat out anywhere, etc.) – but it’s a broad church, and they encompass everything from anti-vax to conspiracy theory. But do have a strong core of non-protesting support across NZ – from people who think the vaccine mandate is incredibly divisive and has had its day (especially with Omicron infecting even the fully vaccinated). Non-protestors in Wellington are providing food supplies, tents, straw (the lawn is largely a bog – see below), and general aid and assistance. They are now being reinforced by people travelling from the rest of NZ.
Our parliamentary Speaker, Trevor Mallard (officially responsible for parliament and the grounds) has trespassed them – and ‘officially’ handed the situation over to the police – who’ve been not very effective.
However, Trev can’t stop meddling in the situation. He turned the lawn sprinklers on overnight – total failure – this is Wellington (think of a climate like Seattle – but a lot warmer, and it’s the middle of summer) – rain is not likely to frighten them off; and the forecast was for torrential downpours – so they were prepared. They put road cones over the sprinkler outlets, and dug channels through the lawn to the gutters.
Next in his armoury was sound. He piped official Covid alert announcements, interspersed with Barry Manilow & the Macarena (cue a dance party), he’s now moved on to ‘Let it go’ from Frozen (don’t know if Disney are demanding their cut), Baby shark and James Blunt.
It seems as though the Speaker’s actions have been a total failure – and simply opened him up to ridicule (not for the first time, this was the MP who proposed bringing back the extinct Moa as a tourist attraction; and engaged in a punch up with another MP in parliament – though not actually in the debating chamber).
Even the police are getting frustrated with him “Corrie Parnell, the Wellington police commander overseeing the operation, last night, he said Mallard’s sprinkler-and-music offensive was “certainly not a tactic we would encourage [or] endorse but it is what it is”. Translated from superintendent-speak, I think what he’s saying is: For Christ’s sake, Trevor, you’re not helping, will you bloody well give it a rest.”
It seems, at the moment, as though our ‘Capitol’ moment is a good deal more humorous than your one.
Sorry, zooming back in time here – to find an appropriate place to link this:
NZ has been experiencing a huge rise in self-harm incidents from children/teens – incidents serious enough to require hospitalization.
This is against a backdrop of severe underfunding in mental health provision for children/teens – to the point where it’s almost impossible to get a referral unless you’ve actually self-harmed or harmed others (just threats aren’t sufficient).
Incidents were up by almost 1/3 since Covid. And the damage seems to be accelerating.
We need to have a fence at the top of the cliff, not just an ambulance at the bottom.
Los Angeles Unified School District has just dropped their OUTDOOR masking requirement for kids.
Marshmallow test debunked?
Interesting if true. Just think of all the child torment that was unleashed by the idea that passing the marshmallow test is essential for success.
True story: With my oldest child I was having a bout of raised-by-hippies-induced orthorexia, so he hadn’t had too much sugary stuff. He was presented with the marshmallow test and didn’t know what a marshmallow was and wouldn’t eat one.
My second child failed asap, especially since we had all been eating s’mores on the regular all through his toddler and early childhood. Then he found the bag of marshmallows, smuggled them into their room, ate them all, and threw up. (I have to say I think this reflects late-stage capitalism well. As well as my lax parenting after about 2009.)
As the mother of a child who disliked marshmallows – I was never convinced in any case!
For my son, impulse control has been a hard-won battle (and the fight is still ongoing).
I often think that, because of this, he has better tools in his armoury to deal with the teenage temptations. Because he’s had to learn to consciously *think* about consequences – rather than just operating in a gestalt – he’s more aware that the impulse control area (pre-frontal cortex) is offline in puberty – and he needs to stop and think through the outcomes of actions.
Not saying it always works! He still screws up sometimes. But I’m seeing a lot of kids who were ‘good’ at this as children, having major difficulties in adolescence.
Ann said, “But I’m seeing a lot of kids who were ‘good’ at this as children, having major difficulties in adolescence.”
That is a very interesting point. I’ve noted with my teens that around 11th grade, some kids have weird transformations. For example, one kid is suddenly cheating or another kid is suddenly phoning it in with regard to school work. I feel like there can be a lot of discontinuity between who a kid was before their teens and how they act in their mid-teens.
I missed the chance to run the test on my in-home child subjects. If I had, I’d predict:
#1 would do the best, wanting to please the adults.
#2 would refuse to comply, coming up with a reason why this was an example of stupid parental fad-following
#3 would fail the test in world-record time. And ask for more.
I hope to live long enough to see their progress at 40. The change from college graduation to adulthood sinks a lot of previously successful kids, because suddenly, there’s no universal checklist for success.
“The change from college graduation to adulthood sinks a lot of previously successful kids, because suddenly, there’s no universal checklist for success.”
TELL ME ABOUT IT.
Weary Mom of a 22 year old
I love that there’s not a universal checklist for success. Life doesn’t have honors classes or special sashes for the winners. Winning doesn’t even mean a big salary or fancy house, because those things don’t make anyone happy. And one’s person’s happy life would be torture for another person. I really do think that young people need a while to recover from school/college.
That’s a good summary and review of the marshmallow study. But I’d say that it debunks the overblown value attached to it rather than the study itself, which made milder conclusions and did talk about the sample size, homogeneity of the population, and the problems of follow-up.
“[Mischel] also didn’t think that any simple measure of individual differences was going to be very good at predicting behavior,” Benjamin continues. “Despite the popular perception that the marshmallow test is a crystal ball,” he clearly expected only to see only weak correlations with marshmallow test results in the latest study, Benjamin says.”
I think the point is important because there are researchers who over sell their own research (the “Power posing” researcher (whose work has been withdrawn and who has left science) for example, and others who are somewhere in the middle (Duckworth), but others who try to walk the tightrope (say what they think they added but try to include the caveats) who get oversold by others.
bj said, “But I’d say that it debunks the overblown value attached to it rather than the study itself, which made milder conclusions and did talk about the sample size, homogeneity of the population, and the problems of follow-up.”
I was convinced by the argument I saw somewhere that part of what the test is measuring is the kid’s confidence in adult trustworthiness and follow-through.
One thing I can’t tell from the summary, and i think partly because the researchers are trying to be careful in how they describe their follow-up/replication efforts is whether they think the previously (younger ages effects) disappear with the new statistical corrections or just get smaller (and closer to the general premise that no one simple test or question can predict complex human behavior) or if there are differences with longer ages.
For example, I do think that as we age, the flexibility and resilience at figuring out how to win the game of life (a game without rules) to achieve our own personal goals and talents and limits and with the chalenges the world imposes is different than winning at school.
I’ve always said that the alumni articles that please me about the schools I’ve attended are the people who make their own paths (for example, a student who did a lot of things before being Bill Gate’s “curriculum” planner, or the student who became a working artist, . . . .) and why I believe so strongly in more on ramps.
Laura tweeted recently about how academia only has an off ramp (and, I largely agree). But, I do know someone who didn’t earn his PhD until he was 40+ who is now a faculty member (he worked as a printer before that, and didn’t have a college degree into his 30’s).
And, if they knew there were on ramps, 22 year olds could figure out what they want to do, not have to plan for medical school at the age of 12. Or ask, when chosing their 9th grade, in naivete and sincerity, whether they “could still be a lawyer if their high school didn’t have debate club?”
One of the reasons why I’d always wanted a placard that said, “What would you do if you knew you would ‘fail”” (Putting fail in quotes, because part of the exercise is developing your own definition of success and failure.
I say this to my kids a lot (they don’t particularly like it). Part of the exercise is also “What do you want and what are you willing to do to get it). Say, for example, I like having money, but I’m not willing to do much to get it (which, in turn, means I’d rather figure out ways to live without it, rather than do things I don’t want to do in order to get it).
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