Vacation Plans

It’s summer, and we really should be on the road to the beach or drinking at a pub along the Hudson, but I went and got a damn head cold, so we’re wasting a great summer weekend night at home. Maybe we’ll crawl to the theater to see The Incredibles 2 tonight. Not sure yet.

I would have a glass of wine anyway, but we have none in the house, and I can’t send Jonah to store to get some, because he isn’t old enough yet, dammit, and Steve isn’t home yet and I’m too sick to drive. Sigh.

Where is everyone going on vacation this year?

We’re doing a simple week at the beach this year, because all the moneys have been diverted towards college and kitchen.

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Immigration Questions

Immigration isn’t a typical Apt. 11D topic. It wasn’t one of my policy areas, and it’s not a hot topic in my area of the country. But there is absolutely nothing else in the news today, so let’s talk about it.

Do you think that the United States should have completely free open borders? Do you think there should be numerical quotas on the number of people allowed in the country? What should be done with unaccompanied minors? Should there be background checks done on people coming over the border?

Should we allow entry to all people who are threatened with gang violence? With domestic violence? with rampant poverty?

Would you support an increase in taxes to support the education and support for new immigrants?

Tell me. I’m curious.

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I’ve been waaaayyyy busy the past few weeks. I’ve been retweeting things that I find interesting, but haven’t had a chance to do blog posts on all of them. Let me do a quick round up, and I’ll try to do a better blog post later today.

Of course, there’s parent separation on the border. I’m not sure what else to say about this horrific situation that hasn’t already been said. We live in sad, sad times.

Stanley Fish says that we should stop trying to sell the Humanities. But I was talking to a woman who works on Wall Street last month. She said that they are hiring people with political science majors, not business majors. So, I think Fish is wrong.

Will Asian-Americans undo Affirmative Action?

I have mixed feelings about work-based learning. Theoretically, it’s great. In practice, it might be another dumping grounds for special ed kids.

Schools are getting rid of GPAs, AP tests, SATs, and grades. What will fill their places?

There is no ‘Word Gap’ (Too bad that we created so many bad policies based on this study)

Back in the 1990s, a team of researchers spent two and a half years visiting the homes of close to four dozen families with young children, starting when the kids were 7 months old. Equipped with tape recorders and notebooks, the researchers—led by two Kansas psychologists named Betty Hart and Todd Risley—spent an hour per week in each home, recording every word a child’s primary caregiver said to the child during the sessions. After transcribing each conversation and then analyzing the exchanges as a whole, the researchers (who have both since passed away) discovered major differences in the number of words spoken in middle-class families and in lower-income ones.

The result of their research was a landmark study published in 1995, which maintained that a typical child whose parents are highly educated and working professionals is exposed to roughly 1,540 more spoken words per hour than a typical child on welfare. Over time, they concluded, this word gap snowballs so much that by age 4, children in rich families have been exposed to 32 million more words than children in poorer ones.

The study was a sensation, with the media and policymakers fixating on the so-called “word gap” as a key source of longer-term academic disparities between poor and rich kids. It was immediately embraced by academic researchers, and was cited in more than 7,000 academic publications. It influenced welfare initiatives, government pilot programs, and grant campaigns. The Obama administration championed efforts to close the “word gap,” organizing a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and to encourage parents to talk more to their children.

Now, a new study has failed to replicate Hart and Risley’s findings, further complicating the legacy of this body of research and renewing a long-standing debate among researchers about just how large disparities of language and vocabulary are among different social classes—and how much those differences matter, if at all.

More here

Spring Shots

I’m downloading my cameras and thought I would share. April and May were marvelous.

Jonah’s back, but only sort of. He’s taking a summer class at our state college, so he’s already moved into his off-campus housing, aka the disgusting, sticky, six guys/one shower, party palace. Oh, yay. Note to self — Bring some hand sanitizer next you visit.

In between work and the usual chores, we’ve found time for a concert, a get-away night in a hotel for our anniversary, celebrations, and laughter.

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Grabbing Life by the Balls

Like everyone else, I was crushed by Anthony Bourdain’s death this weekend. Here’s a blog post that I wrote about his book, Kitchen Confidential, back in 2003. (Gee, I’ve been blogging for a long time, haven’t I?)

I think that’s little that we can understand about his death. Everybody’s depression is unique; we can never understand the demons that lurk in someone else’s brain. But what we can take away from his story is the passion that he had for life. That curiosity. That drive to do something new, to meet new people, to go places, to speak out about wrongness in the world. Unbeknownst to his fans like me, he juggled passion and despair    until he couldn’t any longer.

RIP, Tony. He was a local guy who done good.

I’ve been going back and forth within my own brain this week about what my next move should be.

Last week, I did what I love doing. I wrote an article. I talked with really smart people who taught me new things. The fact-checking process was intense – every word, number, comma was questioned by more super smart people, but there is also something thrilling about making it through that clothes wringer and making it out alive. The next person who shouts “FAKE NEWS” should just bite me. Seriously.

So, I’m doing what I like. The article will come out at some point, maybe today or tomorrow. And I’m lucky enough to get published at a place that will make sure that lots of eyeballs will see it. I have two or three other topics in embryo and a book proposal that I’m shopping around. In between articles, I can sit on the sofa and read the pile of books on the coffee table and on the iPad that range in quality from mindless fun to inspiring.

And at the same time, I can do it from home. I can stop working at around 3:30 and take Ian to activities. I can make dinner. I can go for a run in the morning. If the car breaks down or Ian’s bus driver flames out, I am around to handle the crisis.

But all this flexibility comes with a cost. There’s not much money in freelance writing, and there’s a lot of hustling. Maybe it’s time to take a less interesting, but full-time job at a foundation or a think tank in Manhattan. Farming out my household and parenting chores to others would be a necessity. I would have an hour commute on a good day. I have no idea who would make dinner, if I didn’t get home until 7.

I’m going to give myself one more year of writing full time to see where things go. I’m shutting down some of the volunteer work that I do in the community, so I can devote more time towards that goal. I want to squeeze as much awesomeness out of the next year, before I do something simply for a more regular paycheck.

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I’m in that delightful phase of the writing process, where the first draft is done and is awaiting a red pen from the editor. The heavy lifting is finished, and I can still pretend that every word is brilliant and every point clear.  In this window of optimism and light, let me throw out some links to things I find interesting.

What was Bill thinking going into an interview completely unprepared for the MeToo question?

My favorite shoes du jour.

David Leonardt writes that colleges give discounts to the middle class, so you shouldn’t be afraid of the sticker price. Yeah. Lots of people have written that before. Steve and I got stuck on this chart where Leonardt defines who is low, middle, and affluent class. Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 1.13.33 PM.png

Those columns don’t work for this area of the country. Let’s take a hypothetical family of two school teachers and two kids. By most standards in this country, a two school teacher family is a middle class family. Here, the mean salary for teachers is about $95,000. With a extra money coming in from tutoring rich kids at $100 per hour, that family easily makes $200K. But they spend all that money on their homes (average home costs is about $600K) and local taxes, so they don’t have any cash or savings.

That two school teacher family cannot afford any of the college on Leonardt’s list.