Friday, March 25, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Smorgasbord Edition

Here we are, at another Friday. I've almost caught up on my work after being sick a few weeks ago, so no doubt some surprise is lurking around the corner to put me behind again. I've been thinking about how I should arrange things so that my work schedule is a bit more robust to things like getting sick. I'll probably write about it over at my real name/work blog next week, so if that sounds like something you'd like to read about, keep an eye out over there.

I have a real smorgasbord of links for you today. I'm not even going to try to find a theme. Just pick and choose what looks interesting!

First up, if you follow any tech-type people on social media, you may have seen some whining and gnashing of teeth about something called NPM. Here's a story explaining what that was all about. The websites we rely on are so fragile, in so many ways. It is frustrating to me that no one seems to care. We'd rather push the limits of what we automate (see Microsoft's embarassment with its AI-bot Tay, for an example) than make the stuff we do now work better and more reliably. There's no glamour in that, I guess.

For instance, I refill my prescriptions through a website. For awhile now, it has been failing in what looked to me to be a random way. It would accept all my information, including the day and time I wanted to pick up, show it back to me (again with the day and time for pickup), and then fail when I clicked the final confirm and tell me the date field couldn't be null.  I finally figured out when it fails: it fails if I try to schedule a pick up for the following day. I see now place on the website where I could report this issue. So fine. I will just always schedule to pick up on the same day, even when I know I won't pick up until the following day.

Anyhow, Mr. Snarky sent me this chart about the best places to be a working woman. The story is more complicated than those metrics show, of course, but it is still interesting. You can play with how the various indicators are weighted, and the rankings change. Thinking about my own career path, the metric I think is missing is some sort of measure of how thick your skin has to be to random BS to make it to positions of leadership. I have no idea how you measure that, but I'd call it the BS factor.

There's a study showing that negative rumors take longer to debunk on Twitter than positive rumors take to resolve. This isn't surprising, I guess.

The PBS News Hour is hosting a quiz to find out how much of a bubble you live in with respect to "average Americans." If you are willing to get past the fact that it is based on Charles Murray's work, you can take it. I did, and it pegged me exactly: an upper middle class person who grew up middle class.

As I said on Twitter, I find it a bit ridiculous that I get to be considered middle class, even with the "upper" as a qualifier. My family income puts us in the top 5%. (Here's a calculator if you're curious about where you fall.) I don't see why that should be called middle. I wonder if we started calling families like ours "rich" or something like that if we'd be more open to sharing our wealth a bit more via taxes.

Of course, if you call me rich, you need a new term for people like the Zuckerbergs or the Gates. Super rich? Ultra rich? Mind-blowingly wealthy? I don't know.

Moving on again. Here's a story about how someone found out that their product name was offensive and just... fixed it. I know! You wouldn't think it was possible, but it is.

Did you catch the Twitter truth-telling from the San Francisco BART account? If not, here is a summary and some more explanation from the person who was running the account that day.

I did not know this, and it is super cool:

(UPDATE: My readers did the checking I should have done, and this is not actually true. I'll leave it here as an example of why false internet rumors are so hard to resolve...)

I guess too many people are donating Fifty Shades of Grey to charity shops in the UK:

That's all for this week. I have a couple other really interesting-looking things bookmarked as "to read," but I need to get dinner started... so those will have to wait.

Happy weekend all, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate!


  1. Sadly it does not appear to be true that Beverley cleary wrote the TV show leave it to beaver. But she did write tie in novels.

    1. I did not know there were tie in novels!

      Thanks for correcting me. I made a note in the main post.

  2. Poor capitalization is due to being on my phone, not lack of grammar skills. :)

  3. We have a lot of overlapping links this week. And ditto on Beverly cleary. She wrote tie in novels for money and made them less preachy than the show. (That's in our links.)

  4. I found the quiz interesting. It had me sorta categorized correctly: A second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class person who has made a point of getting out a lot.
    My parents were upper class but became upper-middle-class after immigrating to the US. We've been writing poetry and brush painting for 30+ generations, but I still know a little bit about football. ;-)

    RE the upper-middle-class label. I read that the most commonly used definition among economists (though there are still variations), is to define middle-class by 1/2 to 2x of the median income for your local area. Upper-middle-class is 2x-5x. Rich is above 5x (although some economists use a super-middle-class level from 5x to 10x.) This is super in the sense of above the middle class, but not quite rich.

    In NYC or SF-SV, you can make $300k/yr and still struggle to afford a family-sized home and a good school district or private school tuition or daycare for 2 kids.

    1. There is no most commonly used definition. Mostly we break people into income or education quantiles because those mean something. Plus most economists make so much money they're out of touch with ideas of class.

      Also even economists realize that you're still rich if you can afford the amenity of Manhattan or SF. (Also if you can't afford preschool and a house on 300k you are doing it wrong, even in SF. With 2 kids in preschool they usually go nanny option.)

    2. I can see how people making $200 or $300k in San Francisco or New York wouldn't feel rich. Heck, sometimes (a lot of the time) I don't feel rich here in San Diego.

      I just wonder if we might make better decisions about things like housing, etc., if we acknowledged that people like me ARE rich.

      It is just semantics, really. But I wonder if changing how we think about what class people like me are in would help us make things better for the truly middle class and the working class.

  5. The quiz was interesting. I got 21 and they say:

    11–80: A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents. Typical: 33.

    0–43: A second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class person who has made a point of getting out a lot. Typical: 9.

    I am also close to

    0–20: A second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class person with the television and movie going habits of the upper middle class. Typical: 2.

    It's true but the ranges are a bit ridiculous.

  6. She wrote tie in novels for money and made them less preachy than the show.

  7. Quiz was very interesting. I scored 32 which indicates I'm a first generation upper-middle class person but I'm actually 42–100: A first-generation middle-class person with working-class parents.


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