Friday, April 07, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Trying Not to Hate Everything Edition

I'm super stressed out right now because I'm behind on everything. I'm behind on everything because I caught a little cold at the tail end of our vacation and have therefore been operating at low efficiency. Also, Wednesday was Pumpkin's birthday (OMG. She is 10. How did that happen?) AND she was in the 4th grade spelling bee (she came in 3rd!) AND we are having a party for her tomorrow. GAH. So much to do!

So, of course, I was thrilled to lose a couple of hours today to dealing with our taxes. First, the drive to our accountant's office took twice as long because I had to do it during the first part of rush hour. Before that, I was trapped at home waiting for a DHL delivery. On the bright side, the delivery was my kids' NZ passports and citizenship certificates.  It makes me happy to have those.

Then, I suffered extreme shock at the amount we owed. Some of that may turn out to be wrong. There is confusion about the retirement account I opened last year. So I spent almost an hour on the phone with Vanguard trying to understand that, then had to call my accountant back... and GAH. Why can't we make saving for retirement simpler?!?!?!

Anyhow, here I am, at the end of my workday, with several things I "had" to do today not done, but needing to go get the kids because they are going to a parent's night out thing so that Mr. Snarky and I can go finish the party shopping. GAH. Why must work and life always gang up on me?

So... here are the links.

This Noah Smith column kind of dovetails with my general crankiness about retirement savings. I know I'm doing a lot better than a lot of my fellow Gen-Xers, but honestly, I look ahead and don't see how we'll ever get to retire. (OK, that is mainly an emotional response. We're saving and doing what we're supposed to, but we have two kids who hit college when we're mid-50s, and what we most want to do in retirement is travel, and that is expensive. So... It just feels unattainable, even if maybe we will actually get to some place good. In fact, part of what I was trying to do by starting my own company was free up flexibility to travel more now, at the expense of probably working longer... This is getting too long for a parenthetical. Maybe it will be the topic of this month's Founding Chaos newsletter.)

Why the Gorsuch filibuster was worth it, even though Gorsuch is now confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. I know my Republican friends will disagree with a lot (or maybe all) of what E.J. Dionne wrote there, but I'd recommend reading it if for no other reason that to try to understand why Democrats are so very mad right now.

And while we're talking about things that make Democrats angry: The failure of the ACA repeal bill is good news, but also infuriating.

Rebecca Traister's article about Trump and O'Reilly captures a lot of what I'm feeling looking at the situation as a woman. Frankly, I feel like a really large chunk of Republican men don't view me as a full human being, with my own goals and desires. They only see me (and other women) in terms of how we impact men. (And to continue to be frank: I think there is a non-negligible group of Democrat men who basically have the same problem, but just express it in different ways.)

This is a really thought-provoking post about the problem with autodidacts. I'm still thinking about it, in fact, since I'm someone who believes in "never stop learning." I guess I also believe in the value of formal training to give that learning a solid foundation.

In happier news:

Matt Yglesias makes the case for immigration.

Giving out naloxone to let addicts live to have another chance.

Vaccinating pregnant women for pertussis (whooping cough) protects the baby. This is HUGE, because there have been some really heartbreaking stories of brand new babies getting infected and dying.

This story is part nice and part infuriating, and all the way interesting: what happened when two Lisa S. Davises got tangled up in the DMV records.



And in amongst that, there was a pause to go get my kids, and now it is time to take them to the parent's night out and go have our romantic grocery shopping date.

Happy weekend everyone! I hope your tax returns are coming together more easily than mine are.


  1. I feel ya. My eyebrow has a stress twitch and I still have the cold my kids brought back from visiting grandparents a couple of weeks ago.

  2. That article about autodidacts is interesting. While I believe in lifelong, constant learning, I also know that I like to periodically take a course in something that I've learned about, because the structure is helpful to me in organizing the information I already have.

    One thing I think many autodidacts miss is the idea of having your ideas and thinking challenged. There's this sense that all you need is information--but you need critical thinking skills to evaluate that information, and it's a lot harder to develop critical thinking skills when you think that what you've learned is inherently canonical. You need to have that learning challenged by people who know how to challenge ideas and thought processes so that you can develop the ability to effectively question yourself. That's not about self-doubt, that's about identifying your assumptions and biases and filters in order to make sure you've fully considered alternatives.

    That's one of the big problems I have with Kendall Hailey's The Day I Became an Autodidact. She took a path that she decided worked for her--and hopefully it did--but in doing so she overtly denied the validity of more traditional paths. She was young at the time, so she may have broadened that view, but I really can't stand the way that book is lauded. (There are more reasons for my dislike, but the others aren't directly relevant here.)

    It's also why, although I love the bar scene in Good Will Hunting, I ultimately don't agree with it. I'm all for independent learning, but if that's the only method you're using, you're probably not learning as much as you think.


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