January 27th, 2015

Juno Update

It looks a lot like Nemo, basically.

My son wanted to go out in it, but complained that suiting up was a lot of work. I said, hey, you can go out however you want, but you'll get wet and really cold and you'll be back inside in a minute, maybe two. He decided he'd give the new snow pants a try. I'm now thinking I'm probably going to have to order him the next size up snow boots soon.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/92195888@N06/sets/72157650500516341/

ETA: The two dark to see my face selfies are taken in the middle of the road in front of my house facing one way then the other. Nope. Nobody out there. I walked the loop; I've got a picture of J.'s husband and one of their sons on top of their house, clearing snow off the roof. Lots of people out clearing their driveways. I was the only idiot out just for a walk. I saw neighbors coming back from clearing out a path for Mr. B. I live in a really pleasant neighborhood. In the summer, everyone is out doing yard work. And in the dead of winter, during a state of emergency, at dusk, you can walk around and say hi to about a third of the homeowners, because they are all outside working on the drive.

Will probably update this post.

ETA: If you want to compare some of the exact same locations -- garage, covered porch, porch -- to Nemo, here are my photos from that storm:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/92195888@N06/sets/72157632723086771/

Battle Road Brewing may move to Maynard, other local restaurants on their way

A new Walgreen's opened up in Maynard, and didn't last long. Now, it may become a brewery for Battle Road (our New Favorite Beer, maybe -- it's really good), with a restaurant. The zoning change requires a change to Maynard's by-laws, and Town Meeting isn't until May. So, not immediately.

http://www.beeradvocate.com/community/threads/battle-road-brewing-company-to-re-launch-in-2015-with-new-look-format-distribution-brewery.239239/

We like 29 Sudbury (altho it had a slow start), so we are feeling optimistic.

We were wondering if perhaps the rumored West Concord Beef Company mentioned in that article might be going into the old West Concord Supermarket. It will not. That is going to be Woods Hill Table, a farm to table operation that owns its own farm up in New Hampshire. Looks scrumptious. Very exciting.

https://www.facebook.com/woodshilltable

In the meantime, if you are in the area and drooling for upscale gastropub, try the excellent Red Raven (we luuuurrrrvvve it). If, on the other hand, exquisitely detailed descriptions of locally sourced, seasonal, artisanal etc., try Bondir in Concord. I would never have expected, in the former case, Scupperjack's to be replaced by something so fantastic or, in the latter case, the Walden Grille, likewise. Both have fantastic bars; Bondir specializes in classic cocktails you've never heard of (Seelbach, Giuseppe Goes to the Beach [ETA: my husband tells me this should be Giuseppe Goes to Trinidad], to mention two. He also reminds me how could Vieux Carre was.). Red Raven has the good cherries, so you can order their Manhattan variants fearlessly.

A Question about "Savings"

I was having a conversation recently with someone who was complaining about a country with a tax on money in savings accounts above a certain amount -- he thought it discouraged savings. Since the country in question is part of the euro zone, I pointed out that there was a much bigger VAT tax, that acts as a brake on consumption. He then noted that people in that country have much less savings than in the US, which made me go, wha? Neither of us had data.

Let's find some data!

First thing to note. NATIONAL SAVINGS RATE WILL NOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION. We want to know about families/households, and the national savings rate includes businesses and governments along with ordinary people, so we don't want that.

Second thing. Typical household net worth data will not answer this question, because typical household net worth data is dominated by home equity. And we are not interested in that. We could argue about whether investment accounts should be included (I would argue not stocks, and not all bonds, but probably money funds and probably Treasuries, T-bills etc., but we could argue about that and I'd stick around and listen). I'm also uncertain whether things like 401K, IRA, etc. should be included. On the one hand, a lot of people borrow against or cash out 401K money. On the other hand, they shouldn't.

Here's my theory. I think that very, very, very tiny numbers of people at any income level in this country could actually lay hands immediately (like with a check or debit card) on a significant fraction (like, 20%) of their annual take home pay -- which in theory, they should be able to do because that's the scale of cash cushion you are supposed to have for emergencies, job loss, etc. I further believe that virtually everyone who cannot do so BELIEVES THEY ARE RARE. That is, 90%+ of the country doesn't have the cash cushion recommended by the financial planning industry, but they _BELIEVE_ that they are some tiny fraction (like 1%) of the country that has failed to prepare for a rainy day. And this "shame" factor is one of the things which impedes tax and transfer programs in the United States.

My theory is probably All Wrong. But I'm gonna go dig around for data before I concede.

http://www.census.gov/people/wealth/files/Wealth%20Highlights%202011%20Revised%207-3-14.pdf

"With the exception of the Midwest, all regions experienced decreases in median net worth excluding home equity between 2005 and 2011. For example, in the Northeast, median net worth excluding home equity decreased from $24,658 in 2005 to $20,020 in 2011 (by 19 percent). In the South, it decreased from $14,811 in 2005 to $13,000 in 2011 (by 12 percent). In the West, median net worth excluding home equity decreased from $26,510 in 2005 to $18,518 in 2011 (by 30 percent). Overall, median net worth excluding home equity decreased by 7 percent between 2000 and 2011. However, median net worth excluding home equity increased from $15,546 to $16,942 between 2010 and 2011."

(Everything is in 2011 dollars at that source.)

Assuming that median income is fifty mumble thousand dollars, then this first cut indicates that I am completely wrong! Half the country has half one year's income. On the other hand, these numbers DEFINITELY include 401K, IRA, etc. Basically, the cash cushion is large enough -- but it is _also_ the entire household's retirement savings and, possibly, college savings as well.

ETA: Here's a pretty typical example of the sort of financial advice that is out there.

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T037-C000-S002-how-much-cash-you-really-need.html

I _still_ suspect that only a tiny fraction of the population has attained this goal.

An argument that you may not need an emergency savings fund separate from other savings:

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2013/04/01/is-it-possible-you-dont-need-an-emergency-fund/

The comments thread is, whether they know it or not, arguing about what fraction of their portfolio should be in cash.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/how-much-cash-should-you-hold-in-your-portfolio/2013/12/12/cd98315a-61ef-11e3-8beb-3f9a9942850f_story.html

"Much of the traditional thinking about cash is well intentioned but unrealistic. Should you have six months of living expenses in the bank for emergencies? Sure. Do you? Probably not. In over 20 years of working in finance, I simply never see that sort of cash cushion among average investors of ordinary means. It is a luxury that only the wealthiest can afford."

That occurs in the context of an explicit discussion of portfolio allocation.

He then goes on to note that very high net worth people are very heavily in cash, still. Dunno what percentages he intends.

"Why the ultra-wealthy have decided to sit in an asset class that loses value by the second with even modest inflation can most likely be explained by psychology."

We don't _have_ modest inflation. We have historically low inflation, bordering on disinflation and deflation with the drop in commodities across the board. Sitting on cash in that environment isn't so crazy, especially if you suck at stock picking, are diversified globally (and thus suffer from actual deflation, not to mention the Cray Cray that has been Russia), or tend towards a sectoral approach that underweights what is currently growing, and won't really show a good return until we are much further along in this cycle. The author, like PUA guys, negs at the rich investors and says it's cuz they are chicken. Bock bock bock.

Then, some data! Which I will be digging down into. But percentages, anyway:

""BlackRock President Rob Kapito noted in a Wall Street Journal interview last month that “on average, more than half of portfolios are in cash, earning negative real returns . . . 48 percent of U.S. respondents’ investible assets are in cash deposit and savings accounts, and an additional 12 percent are in money-market accounts and certificates of deposit.”" Don't know the universe of portfolios in question, but this is BlackRock, so probably not talking about median income people here.

He suggests a bond ladder instead, 3-5 year maturities. In his favor, this dates from 2013. You'd have to be a loon to do that now.

I haven't bothered to check in on what people have to say about cash in a portfolio question in ... a really long time. (For the record, I'm of the opinion that if you _need_ to spend that money in the next 3ish years, it should be in cash. And be careful of the "cash equivalent" you pick. But "need" is obviously negotiable. Do you need to pay your kids college tuition? Probably. Are you retired and do you "need" to eat? Definitely. Do you "need" to buy a house in the next three years? That is tricky. The point where you probably should sell out and go to cash -- a raging bull market, so you are in cash when the housing market crashes and you can buy for cheap -- is not, psychologically, a point where most people can sell. If you owe taxes on a taxable event which has already occurred, you should have paid the taxes already.)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324744104578471740280677464

"Cash outside an emergency fund is useful if you have a large liability coming up. For example, your high-school senior is heading off to college and you're footing the bill. Personally, I'm stashing cash this year to pay higher taxes next April."

Here, would be an example of, don't hold that cash. Send it off to the US Treasury (or whichever taxing authority you owe it to). Honestly, I cannot tell you how many people I've known over the years who have gotten confused about whose money it is. If it isn't in your account, it's much less confusing.

Anyway, the experts cover the usual ground: my theory (if you're gonna "need" it in 3-5 years), no cash, so you can buy on dips/because unexpected opportunities come along. A bunch of the advisors think that "opportunities" = "market timing". I'm not sure when stock picking got such a bad rep. It makes me sad. Lots of account specific (is this in a 401K, IRA, or what) advice.

WSJ summarized the results, along with the BlackRock reference, in this article a few months later:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303482504579177651252217192

Interestingly: "But BlackRock's survey hinted at another reason for clinging to cash. Among U.S. respondents, the percentage of take-home pay devoted to living costs, bills and debts is particularly high, 49% versus the global average of 40%. Asked what would induce them to invest more of their cash, nearly a third of respondents said "less personal debt."

Oooh, maybe it does have median income people in it. Their second version of this survey claims:

"nationally representative sample of 4,000 Americans, ages 25 to 74"

http://www.blackrock.com/investing/literature/brochure/investor-pulse-brochure-va-us.pdf

Worth reading that pdf. Interesting stuff in there, because BlackRock did surveys in 20 countries so they can do meaningful international comparisons on things like costs of daily life.

"This concern is widespread but more acutely felt by women
and Americans in their middle-years (ages 45–54), those who are at the critical
pre-retirement juncture and should be placing the greatest focus on saving
aggressively for their retirement."

So I'm pretty suspicious of the idea that people are really saving or investing 30% of their take home pay. Maybe I just know a lot of spend thrifts. (But I don't think so, because I know a range of people, and 30% is a non-trivial goal to hit.) More worrisome is that the "good saving for retirement" frame leads to statements like 45-54 year olds "are at the critical pre-retirement junction and should be placing the greatest focus on saving aggressively for their retirment". This would seem to completely ignore that a typical person in that age range may well also have to focus on (1) child care costs, (2) saving for kids' education, (3) their own medical issues, (4) the medical issues of parents.

It's easy, once your kids (if any) are launched, to look back and go, gee, I should have saved more for my retirement, and then pass out that advice to young people in your environment. But it has always been an incredibly stupid, short sighted and insulting remark to make. My father focused a lot on his retirement savings -- and my parents choices regarding education, child care, etc. were absolutely reprehensible.

But, hey, at least I don't have to worry about paying for them now, so, yay?

So it turns out that all that massive amount of cash is sitting in checking accounts. Why is this being considered part of anyone's portfolio? I'm now super confused.

http://www.bankrate.com/financing/banking/12k-in-checking-youre-lemon-ing/

I guess if you are making median income, 12K in your checking account _is_ a large fraction of your "portfolio"? Weird place to keep it. . . Altho maybe not. It's insured -- it's not going anywhere. That's not really enough to invest in anything except maybe an index fund. And maybe that _is_ the emergency fund, which is just about right for median income.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/09/one-way-to-make-money-with-a-stash-of-cash/index.htm

So this describes an automated system of moving up to the insured amount around various online accounts based on the current offered interest rate. I _definitely_ remember a financial guy telling me that he and his partner did this kind of thing as a service for some very, very paranoid, old, Asian clients back in the 1990s. I'm pretty sure he charged more than 2 beeps for the service, so, hey, the costs have gone way down! Yay?

The rationale for keeping money in checking (altho not as much as people are accused of keeping):

http://www.moneyunder30.com/bank-account-buffer

Liveblogging _The Science of Happily Ever After_

Liveblogging a book is often, for me, the first step in deciding the book is unmitigated crap and should not be read. So, let's see how this goes.

So far, Tashiro has told some goofily worrisome stories about helping undergraduates date. Then he summarized "being in love" as feeling a combination of liking and lust. Liking was further broken down into: fairness, kindness and loyalty (that is, we like people who have those qualities). Many of my friends have already decided Tashiro is full of it. But let's forge ahead to location 238, give or take.

"Sometimes I am asked why infatuation and the feelings that accompany it, such as butterflies in the stomach or a racing heart, cannot last. These visceral feelings are powerful feelings of lust, and they cannot lsat for a simple reason: you would die."

THAT is a strong statement. No supporting citation in sight. What's the rationale?

"Butterflies in the stomach are the result of a surge of endorphins"

Are we sure about this? Because other people are saying very different things. http://chemistry.about.com/od/valentinesdaychemistry/a/Love-Chemicals.htm

And what I understand about endorphins isn't very much like what I understand to be butterflies in the stomach.

Where were we?

"Butterflies in the stomach are the result of a surge of endorphins, but this also triggers the release of hormones, such as cortisol, that become toxic to your brain with years of chronic exposure."

_Really_?

Look, your brain absolutely _has_ to have glucose or you will die. But if your blood glucose gets really high and stays there, you will die. Cortisol going up and staying up is, indeed, a problem -- but there isn't anything obvious about being infatuated that has to go on 24x7. I feel like Tashiro answered this "lasting" question without getting into, what do you mean by last? The people asking wanted to know why they quit feeling powerful lust for someone after a few weeks/months years -- but Tashiro is answering a different question, which is, why powerful lust takes a break in any given multi-hour period (you may be just as infatuated tomorrow, but you'll sleep in between).

This argument against infatuation, honestly, could be used as an argument against running (elevates endorphins and cortisol, in some order). Now, I am opposed to both infatuation AND running (for very different reasons), but I also recognize that's just my personal opinion, and infatuation and running are really quite fun and safe for a lot of other people.

"Another term for a racing heart is high blood pressure."

And, if you take your blood pressure while you are running, you will notice that it is high. As long as you don't run 24/7 (okay, much lower than that), it'll be okay. "So, even though the lust component of being in love drives a very intense and visceral type of emotional experience, the intensity of passionate love is necessarily ephemeral."

I'm sticking to my, he answered the wrong question. Infatuation doesn't last, but this isn't why.

"Given our review of what happens to liking [3% annual depreciation] and lust [8% annual depreciation -- and I don't believe either of these. I think they both go up and down and sideways, rather than straight line trending down] over time, it seems that a completely rational person would invest disproportionately in liking versus lust from the start. So why is it the case that most people do the exact opposite?"

Well, here we have some evidence that in addition to failing to understand simple questions (what did the questioners mean by "last"?) and screwing up the science (butterflies != endorphins), Tashiro apparently -- and this is actually kinda shocking -- STILL BELIEVES PEOPLE ARE OR SHOULD BE RATIONAL according to his understanding of the world and a rational response to it.

That is like many, many levels of delusion deep. But I'll keep playing, because the next subhead is: "How Tinker Bell and Twilight Influence Our Romantic Beliefs".

"Most people yearn for passionate love that lasts forever"

Support for this assertion? None Given. I do recognize that there are some VERY loud individuals who want this. But there are also some VERY loud individuals who want all kinds of cray cray. I'd like some kind of representative sample.

Next, a description of how Kids These Days spend their time and where they get romantic information and advice. "they found that 90 percent of these children reported looking to television shows and movies. Other seemingly good sources of advice lagged far behind, such as"

Want To Guess?

"participants' mothers (33 percent), and fathers (17 percent)."

Who thinks that a mother or father is a good source of romantic advice? I don't mean that when you are a kid you think your parents are idiots. I mean, once you are a parent yourself, once you are over 40, do you _really fucking think_ when you look back on what your 'rents had to say about romance, that they had ANY FUCKING CLUE AT ALL?

Because as I review my (fairly extensive) sample of parents (I've been married twice, so I've gotten an up close look at in-laws opinions, and I have long-term friendships that led to getting to know friends' parents, and I dated some people whose parents I got to know), they weren't any smarter than an average television show or movie. Quite the contrary, in fact, because their experiential knowledge was generally way out of date and so not relevant in my experience of dating.

BEFORE YOU ASK: I fully expect that I, too, will be a shitty source of advice to the next generation, for the same reason: small sample of experience and way out of date.

Tashiro mentions Bjarne Holmes and Kimberly Johnson.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/3776923/Romantic-comedies-make-us-unrealistic-about-relationships-claim-scientists.html

I feel like there is a causal arrow problem here. People with screwy ideas about relationships like romcoms. I am not sure that watching romcoms will give you screwy ideas. I think romcoms might just make people with reasonable (or no) ideas about relationships want to not watch those any more. Romcoms famously lack universal appeal, even among Women of the Target Audience Age Range.

"Importantly, consuming more television was also linked with less relationship satisfaction in the subjects' actual romantic relationships."

[Stunned silence.]

Okay, CAUSAL ARROW DIRECTIONALITY ISSUE. If you are unhappy with your (lack of a) relationship, OF COURSE YOU ARE GONNA WATCH MORE TV. Primary mechanism of avoidance in our society. Cheap. Easy. Pervasively available.

Well, at least he is now attacking the pervasiveness and wrongness of "one and only" soulmate thinking. Yay! I can get behind that.

Alas! Tashiro totes misrepresented the Gallup poll he used!

"In a 2010 Gallup survey of more than one thousand adults, respondents were asked if they believed there is a soul mate, which most people define as a "one and only" partner whom they are fated to be with forever and who is waiting for them."

2001, actually, and that's not how it was defined in the survey. It was actually about the depth and quality of the relationship, not the one-and-only-ness.

"Although there is nothing wrong with believing that a spiritual connection in love can be worked toward, counting on fate to magically provide the right partner and a relationship high in satisfaction and stability is a shot in the dark." People in the survey had confidence they would find a "soul mate" but they didn't (as near as I can tell) assume fate or magic would be involved.

I would argue there are some serious issues with putting this much weight on a romantic relationship. You like this person. You want to have sexy times with this person. Don't make them also be your connection to the goddess. You can go get a high priestess for that. Or whatever.

He has a great description of figure out what you want -- three wishes -- and then has a chart of "percentage of those who meet each criterion". It's sort of a big deal to me that I only want a partner on the left hand side of the political spectrum and the numbers for Republican/Democrat/Independent are roughly correct. But then I took a look at the religious affiliation line, and he lists Catholic 24%, Protestant 40%, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Other ALL < 5% individually. AND YET Pew lists "Nones" (no affiliation, including atheist and agnostic) as 20%, with 6% atheist/agnostic as of 2012.

The argument that "you only get 3 wishes" because each one reduces your pool also isn't entirely true, as should be fairly obvious in my example. Nones trend heavily left of center, making the left of center requirement sort of a freebie on top of the Nones requirement. It _is_ useful to think about one's criteria and observe their frequency in the population (and whether they cluster or are independent or, worse, basically incompatible) and factor that into one's search strategy for a partner.

In the "three wishes" example given, hot, athletic, Catholic, it isn't even three wishes. It's four: she wants a man [boy, technically]. And Tashiro doesn't figure that that merits comment? Okay. He does say, "This simplified example does not take into account at least three factors that are always in play during Partner Selection: (1) 3 to 6 percent of those boys are attracted to other boys, (2) 30 percent of those high school boys are already in relationships, and (3) it is unknown how many of the remaining heterosexual [what, cause bi guys don't exist?], single boys would be mutually attracted to Anna as a romantic partner". But she didn't want a romantic partner. She wanted to have sex.

I would also point out that Anna was 18 when she picked 15 year old Jake. I don't know Minnesota laws at the time, but this could have been some sort of problem for her. She's in the clear in 2014, because she's within 48 months of his age.

He then treats hot, athletic and Catholic as independent variables. THEY PROBABLY ARE NOT. The hot guys from Anna's perspective are probably disproportionately athletic and vice versa. Instead of multiplying Catholic by tenth percentile attractiveness and on a varsity sports team, he should have just identified the number of Catholics on varsity sports teams and figured that was the pool. And that pool was probably more than 1.2.

"I explored the following question, ... "how do so many people not find what they are looking for?"

Better question: why is it so hard to figure out what it is that people are ultimately going to pick? Why don't they know ahead of time? Why are they so bad at describing what will ultimately seal the deal?

"Choosing someone average (fiftieth percentile) on three different traits would narrow a field of one hundred potential mates down to thirteen potential mates." IF THEY WERE FULLY INDEPENDENT VARIABLES.

You may not think this is a big deal, but even on something as simple as height and income (his next table in the book), THEY ARE HIGHLY CORRELATED IN MEN. And this has been known for a while. (Also, intelligence may be correlated to height and income, but I'd be a little suspicious of that since it's wicked hard to measure in a meaningful way.)

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/Careers/02/02/cb.tall.people/

Also, I keep waiting for any indication that Ty Tashiro has heard of bounded rationality. Any. Indication. At. All.

Back to Jake and Anna. Anna, the 18 year old and thus the adult and def the instigator in this scenario, forgot to use contraception (and since she totes got on board with contraception later, we can't completely blame her religion for this, as much as I might like to). She tells Jake she might be pregnant; he starts avoiding her. Tashiro summarizes this as follows:

"She also learned that Jake could not be relied upon during times of stress."

Reification much? HE WAS 15!! 3 year age difference. Etc. "Although nothing would excuse Jake's behavior" WHAT THE BEING 15 DOES NOT COUNT? I feel bad for Jake, but Tashiro goes on to gleefully document how he folded on his football team also. WHICH HAD ZIP TO DO WITH WORRYING ABOUT WHETHER HE HAD A SPROUT ON THE WAY AND WHEN THE RENTS WOULD FIND OUT. I do not disagree with Tashiro's conclusion that Anna and Jake were not compatible (yeah, but duh. They didn't need to be. She just wanted to have sex). I will also note that she was smart to start dating non-Catholics, once she figured out what a good idea contraception was.

Stupendously bizarre description of Sand/Chopin, which completely leaves out all the drama.

Overselling the idea that romantic love as a reason to marry is Brand Spanking New Never Before Seen in the History of Whatever the Fuck.

Terrible summary of how horrible it used to be, trying to get enough food to eat. Nasty, brutish, short. Here's his list of the kind of partner you should look for: above average height, as a marker for health. Dude, that's a dumb criteria. Tall people eat more. You are better off using much more detailed knowledge. Like, is this one of your cousins or not, and if so, how close of a cousin are they. You also want to know what kind of assistance their family can provide -- not just what kind of work your mate can do. Wouldn't you rather have a short, healthy person with a bunch of short, healthy siblings who all traded work -- over some lone wolf tall guy who can work hard but has no relatives?

About reality shows: "they put small groups of horny singles into tight spaces. Then they wait for the inevitable and delicious growth of interpersonal drama that unfolds as sexual tensions give rise to spectacular collisions of romantic self-interests". D'oh. They withhold food and oversupply alcohol. They don't just wait, cause they'd be waiting forever. He thinks this is why arranged marriages happened. I have an alternative theory. Nasty, brutish and short tends to really make for reduced libido. So the biddies (that would be: women like me) sit around and watch the kids and hatch plans for who goes well together (because that's what middle-aged women like to do, "they'd make such pretty babies!!!"). And then they maneuver to make sure they spend extra time together and assuming they don't bounce off, they pair up. I like my theory better. Also, while he quotes Coontz, he apparently has completely failed to internalize how wildly different marriage looks across time and space, at least according to her (I mean, not really a one man one woman thing).

"Although both sexes view kindness as desirable women [wow, commas, they are helpful], who are faced with the "burden" of pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing, would be more inclined to select kind mates who are more likely to form an emotional interest in their well-being and the well-being of their children."

So, so, so many problems here. Let's start with, there really are circumstances where "kindness" is a handicap, and a physically insecure environment is pretty high on the list. Tashiro has been focused on food scarcity as a historical issue and a problem for raising the kiddos, but violence is right up there, too. Loyalty might look _way_ more important in a physically insecure environment, vs. kindness.

"Choosing a mate primarily based on reproductive fitness does not sound very romantic"

Okay, there is something seriously wrong with the entire publishing team that no one called a halt and said, uh, _I_ think that's kinda hot, actually.

CURRENT pop culture is larded with references to reproductive fitness being appealing/romantic/wtf. "I want to have your baby" as a way of telling someone how wonderful they are (ah, ukeleles).

It is so weird that he doesn't mention the reduction in the number of kids per reproductive pair. Because that's what you do when kids all survive reliably: you have fewer of them. And I would argue that it's a lot more likely that you'll back off on trying to control your kids' marriages after the first or second one, so letting the next generation pick their own spouse was probably an artifact of families with 4+ kids who made it to adulthood.

A promising heading! "What People Say They Want and What They Actually Do"

"At a buffet, patrons are guaranteed to get everything they want" Wha-? Guaranteed to get as much of whatever there is at the buffet that they can stand, YES. What they want? Hardly. What buffet is this guy going to?

"so they are not forced to think about what they put on their plates"

Wow. It's like he's from another planet. Also, putting salad on the plate to look good? No. And he has failed to factor in social repercussions associated with too many return trips, leading to massive plate overloading. I could go on.

His example of what happens when you give someone a chart to pick a mate's attributes from (yeah, that's realistic) with a lot of buying power, you get different results from when you have little buying power, is just comparing two different versions of What People Say They Want. And then some idiot with Sexual Strategies Theory (idiot's name: David Buss, UT evolutionary psychologist) draws a line between women picking mate money and men picking mate attractiveness has something to do with sperm and eggs. BECAUSE CULTURE IS IRRELEVANT. I know why women pick mate's with money -- that's because women make seventy odd cents on the male dollar. I'm less clear on why men pick hot women. My guess is that all the participants' in this game are in college and don't know shit, and the boys are all obsessed with physical attractiveness and at some point it is going to dawn on them that it helps if she has a check coming in every coupla weeks, too, and if you used 30ish people to play the game you'd get slightly different results.

But that's pure speculation.

I do sort of wonder what would happen if you had some forty or fifty something year olds -- raising kids -- play this game. Would all the people worried about paying for their kids' college result in both sides picking money first?

Breathtaking reification of monogamy

From Tashiro's book, obvs. This one gets its own post because, the fuck you say.

"the reality is"

Any sentence with this phrase in it. . .

"the reality is that any species needs to accomplish the following goals to avoid extinction:"

"1. Live to an age when you can mate."

Um.

"2. Attract a partner and have offspring."

Tashiro gets huge points for taking the female perspective. He could have said, "Find a partner and knock her up." So, yay, Tashiro. Didn't default to the male perspective.

"3. Nurture those offspring to a reproductive age."

Apparently, there are NO asexually reproducing species on our planet.

Also, there aren't any parthenogenetic lizards or things like that.

And, this being the VERY VERY BEST PART, all species raise their offspring to reproduction.

No frogs out there. No amoebas. No parthenogenetic lizards.

Really, this shouldn't be so difficult. But points for taking the female perspective. Really.

No school tomorrow, either

I walked around the loop on snow shoes. I think someone before me went around on skis. I thought about it, but then I thought, I would have to go uphill on skis. And I would also have to go downhill on skis. Maybe tomorrow.

ETA: Travel ban ends at midnight. Snow supposed to end at 8 around here.

Socializing across the kid boundary

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/carolyn-hax-childless-and-wanting-to-find-a-way-to-connect-with-kid-centered-friends/2015/01/26/0be3e876-9c0c-11e4-96cc-e858eba91ced_story.html

h/t ethelmay

"Is it normal that friends with kids, once they have kids, become harder to feel connected to? ... I don't know how to relate to their primary focus, and it's so much harder to find time to just get together. It's even harder to say, "Hey, it'd be great if we could get together without your kids," just so that we're not being interrupted every few minutes by a needy child. I love their kids, but don't want those to be the only get-togethers we have."

Carolyn Hax runs through the usual suspects: are you being judgy (your parent-friends are gonna notice). Are you being helpful (like, are you just another person demanding their attention or do you really help out with the kids). She quotes from an online discussion where someone suggest bringing ingredients to cook dinner after the kids go to bed.

I have a few things to add to this. The vast majority of my friends-who-have-kids had their kids before I had mine (I'm a late bloomer; okay, fine, I just never really grew up), so I was actually in this position for quite a while. I did, actually spend some time with a friend when her kids weren't around, but that was maybe a third of the time we hung out. The rest of the time, one or more kids was present. And she had, comparatively speaking, a ton of help: her mom was available, she had amazing sitters, etc.

I also spent time with a friend more or less exclusively as part of the whole family group. I spent a bunch of time babysitting both her kids (like, full time for a week or so at one point because of job stuff). And I still got canceled on because of kid issues. They couldn't afford a sitter. I was always wishing I had more time alone with her (we walked and swim together on and off as exercise buddies), but I never had trouble connecting across that kid boundary. I love those kids. They're like my other niece and nephew.

I also have a walking partner who does not have kids. She likes to think of herself as an auntie to my kids, and she buys them small presents when she travels or for Christmas and various other occasions. In practice, however, kids drive her binky bonkers. And that's okay, too. She's the best walking partner ever: 100% reliable and endlessly forgiving of my schedule.

On the one hand, I recognize needing to have things explained to one (I need to have a lot of stuff explained to me. Repeatedly. At volume. Despite my arguments that that doesn't make any sense at all). On the other hand, I am not sure I have ever met anyone who talked about the difficulty of relating to people who had kids (while being childless themselves) who was not, in general, a completely self-centered pain in the ass.

And I thought that _before_ I had kids. It was one of the reasons I made a point of figuring out how to maintain friendships after my friends had kids. I didn't want to be That Person, and at the time, I was by no means certain I would ever have kids of my own.

Don't be That Person. If you're thinking, gosh, my friend just doesn't have time for me since she had kids! you might want to engage in a little perspective taking. What would you have thought of that sentiment if you heard it from one of your own parents' friends. When you were in diapers, or an anxious 8 year old, or a constantly in trouble teen. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have liked that adult much at all.

Kool Aid! Fed Rate revisited

I have no idea why people have become so convinced that the Fed is going to raise rates, probably this summer. Just a couple months ago, I thought we were all pretty on board with the no, not until the fall. AND THEN the Swiss Franc dropped its peg and the ECB declared QE and we're now engaging in an international round of Let's Lower Interest Rates to make our currency weaker so our export sector can make more money and we can stimulate our economy. IF YOU HAVE NOT FIGURED IT OUT YET that means disinflation at best and deflation at worst.

That is, NOT time to raise rates. Okay, fine. Let's look at CPI:

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUUR0000SA0L1E?output_view=pct_12mths

Does that look like a scary chart, inflation about to go out of control NO IT FUCKING DOES NOT. Quite the contrary.

So let's think this through. Do we need to raise rates because our economy is dangerously overheated? CPI ex food and fuel is under the target rate and dropping. Commodities are crashing. Unemployment is running above 5% (which is, under current thinking, full employment). There is no indication of wage pressure and, in fact, there are a lot of people worrying about the LACK of wage pressure and the implications of that for companies being able to sell crap to people.

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

Why would we want to raise rates in this environment? Oh, right: we might raise rates in this environment if our currency was dangerously weak -- raising rates will attract investment strengthening the currency (sometimes I get this backwards -- speak up if I have!). Lowering rates will discourage investment, weakening the currency (but maybe strengthening the economy through stimulus, or by making the export sector more attractive).

Do we want to have a strong currency in the United States? Officially, the policy is a bit weaselly. Unofficially, the answer is unambiguously NO FUCKING WAY do we want a strong currency. We spend a good chunk of time jawing about how other people are artificially holding their currency down so they can sell us crap (YES I MEAN CHINA).

Explain to me again why the Fed would raise rates this summer. As near as I can tell, the assumption is that Janet Yellen is a fool leading a pack of fools. Which reflects more accurately on anyone who believes that.

Here's my evidence that people are being silly:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-26/fed-to-raise-rates-midyear-even-with-low-inflation-survey-shows.html

I sort of suspect that part of what's driving this believe is that over half the respondents are discounting the exchange rate/currency strength issue entirely.

ETA: Here is Bill McBride on the subject -- he's so much more restrained than I am.

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2015/01/duy-while-we-wait-for-yet-another-fomc.html

I've been thinking about the psychology of this a little bit, because it is at least as confusing to me as the OH NOES INFLATION of 2011 and thereabouts. And I think I have an idea about what is going on here.

ETAYA: I'm still puzzling over not wanting to overshoot the 2% target. I'm fairly certain if you are going to "tune" into a given number, you have to alternate between under and over shooting until you land on it. If you don't alternate, you'll never hit it -- your defacto target is in fact something else at the midpoint of your swings.