February 27th, 2015

Things You Can Learn From Trashy Novels

For about as long as I've been reading and talking, I've been defending my reading preferences. Over the last decade, I've started openly attacking people who believe there is any merit in one choice of reading material over another, in general, especially if they think they are able to judge that in some objective manner. Those who reference a received list or canon, I try to more gently bring along to being more open minded. I know it's a work in progress -- I will never succeed in this. That's okay. Call me quixotic, if it makes you feel better, but don't say it out loud because I find the accepted pronunciation of that word in English absolutely vile.

In trashy historic romance novels, there are often characters from aristocratic or at least historically wealthy families who seem determined to spend every last dinar or centime or shilling they can lay hands upon and then borrow more to spend that as well. If the family is sufficiently wealthy, and insufficiently able to control the male heir, he quickly discovers that just drinking and betting on the horses occasionally is not going to waste the fortune fast enough. Further, his family often figures out how to limit his cash allowance at some point in his destructive path downwards. Spending money on his own clothes, on clothes for women, on jewels all round, more betting, etc. all figure in the destruction of the carefully built edifice of wealth and eventually, the bankrupt scion is forced to flee to The Continent or wherever as the family attempt to fend off IOUs he has signed and bills he has at all the places he bought things.

In the world of the trashy novel, the wastrel thinks the gambling debts are the most important ones, while the family is terrified of what merchants are going to come forward with bills. And this is a point which I have found somewhat confusing. I mean, it's not like they had MasterCard or Visa back in those days. Were merchants really letting the goods out "on account"? Diamonds and shit?

Apparently, not just back then.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/documents-show-the-expensive-tastes-of-jeb-bushs-low-key-wife/2015/02/22/5bb480da-b9f4-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html

""That there is a paper trail of some of Columba Bush’s purchases reflects a practice that is not unusual in cases where a person obtains expensive goods without paying cash for them, said Charles W. Mooney Jr., a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor who specializes in commercial law.

The seller often files a “financing statement” under the Uniform Commercial Code to make sure he or she has the right to reclaim the goods if the debtor goes bankrupt or sells the items to another party without paying off the loan.

“Even prominent people go broke. They don’t want to extend unsecured credit,” Mooney said.

Guindon, the Mayors spokesman, added: “Many of our customers choose to take advantage of our various credit offerings. We offer competitive rates and terms which often outperform that of credit card companies, for example, interest-free plans. Customers are subject to credit approval, of course.”"

The road to hell, apparently, is paved with financing statements. Who knew?

ETA: I think the most surprising thing about this story is what a large fraction of the couple's annual income -- that year on the order of 200K -- was spent in a couple weeks on account on a few pieces of jewelry. If you really think that's a good idea, wouldn't you write a check for it and experience the pain in the moment? Obvs, that's not the thought process at the time, and elsewhere in the article is the story about misrepresenting the amount of shopping done while out of the country, failing to pay duty on it upon re-entry, and then generating a fine and bad publicity, all in the name of not wanting the hubster to know. Having been on at least one side of a spouse (not the current one) concealing purchases, and having carefully answered questions asked at the border regarding what I had bought ("I bought some used books. Oh, and this t-shirt!" These are not the droids you are looking for), I have some pretty strong, albeit mixed, feelings about that part of the story. But the confusing part _to me_ is the relationship between merchants of luxury goods and the wealthy families who wish those merchants wouldn't be so easy with the credit to their less responsible family members. Reminds me of the legislation in the run-up to Prohibition that was gonna let wives tell bars not to serve their husbands.

Year Round schools, including connections to snow days (link-fu)

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/my-kid-my-school/days-off-show-what-yearround-school-would-be-like_85432250

Online course assignments, social media, adapting curriculum, concern about those students whose motivational/attentional issues make it much harder for them to participate. It's all there.

http://www.livingstondaily.com/story/news/education/howell/2015/02/24/howell-scraps-year-round-school/23956731/

An elementary school contemplated it, 500 families supporting, 100 threatening to leave. Major complaint: different calendar for elementary vs. junior high/high school.

http://www.8newsnow.com/story/28186199/ccsd-to-make-decision-on-year-round-schools

Clark County is contemplating year round, despite high cost of AC during Nevada summers, with a complex tracking system (6 weeks on, 2 off, if I understood it correctly), with a goal of reducing overcrowding/improving capacity utilization. Schools, they really are factories for learning. ;-)

http://www.carymagazine.com/features/ins-and-out-year-round-schools

Wake County already has a similar set up in place, for similar reasons.

http://www.fdlreporter.com/story/news/local/2015/02/18/proposed-budget-cuts-put-brakes-year-round-school/23623009/

Rosendale-Brandon was considering year round to deal with summer learning loss, but tabled it after they saw the state's proposed budget and decided they couldn't afford to experiment.

Interested in opinion and experience, if anyone has any. This has all the indications of one of those topics that people have generally not thought about, and then as soon as they do, the lack of concrete answers to important questions results in a lot of FUD.

Something or other works in mysterious ways

My husband and I file jointly. He had to amend, because he left something out. This is finally resolved, and the IRS has concluded (I in no way disagree) that we owe them $41.70. At least, I _think_ they concluded that, altho they sent us each separately a notice, so perhaps they mean $83.40 instead. Assuming I can add, which is, at this point, a big assumption.