Hurricane panic reaches new levels of insanity!

OMG am I frustrated today.

First, the background.  Here in the Wake County/Raleigh area, we were very much spared the worst of the hurricane.  4-6 inches of rain and wind gusts in the 40’s for periods on Friday and Saturday.  At one point, 10% of the county was without power, but as of this writing, we are at .1%.  There’s been Flash Flood warnings, but no serious flooding in this area that I can find in the news anywhere (or flood maps).  I would say the local situation is pretty equivalent to serious thunderstorms moving through on Friday night.

And yet, NC State has canceled class tomorrow and Wake County public schools have canceled school (and added to the totally un-needed Saturday make-up for last Thursday with a day before Thanksgiving make-up– my kids will be attending neither of those make-up days).  “Ongoing effects of the hurricane” my ass!  The ongoing effects for Wake County are pretty much non-existent.  I swear you would think whoever is in charge gets a bonus for each day of canceled school.  If this exact same weather had been caused by unusually violent thunderstorms, there’s no way school would be canceled tomorrow (or, that all local government operations like weekend classes, museums, libraries, etc., would be closed today, as they are), but “hurricane!” and it seems like anything goes.  And, yes, literal disaster conditions exist in many parts of NC.  But not here!!  It’s like saying, well, how can we have school while kids are dying in the Syrian civil war.

NC State should be super-accommodating of students whose homes were flooded out, of course, but why does that mean the rest of us shouldn’t, you know, actually have an education tomorrow. Meanwhile my son’s classes at Wake Tech were canceled, too.  Presumably they say NCSU and UNC’s over-reaction and said, “hey, no school for us, too!”  At least the former have the excuse of many students who live in affected areas.  Wake Tech is a non-residential community college in a county largely unaffected.  What the hell?!

Sometimes I feel like the only sane person around here.  Except for the positive feedback from my readers– thanks!

Oh, and while I am at it, those Amazon Logistics deliveries are such a joke! (as Nicole pointed out in earlier comments).  I had two packages finally show up, in theory, this morning marked delivered “handed to resident” while the whole family was actually at Krispy Kreme.  What the hell I’ve never had an Amazon package from USPS or UPS mis-delivered (highly unlikely some nefarious neighbor claimed my package in-person).  I’ve already gotten my refund, but what an awful experience.

Damn is it all frustrating, but feels good to get it out.

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Quick hits (part I)

1) Social science says you should try and get along with your siblings.  I get along well with my siblings, but undoubtedly, could do significantly better:

The quality of sibling relationships is one of the most important predictors of mental health in old age, according to The American Journal of PsychiatryResearch shows that people who are emotionally close to their siblings have higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression later in life. In times of stress or trauma, siblings can provide essential emotional and monetary support.

2) A couple days ago, everybody was all like, “read Julia Azari on norms versus values.”  They were right.

3) Jay Willis has a terrific deconstruction of how a conservative conspiracy (spygate!) comes into being and then is zealously embraced by the president.

4) So, what I really found interesting about this is that the NBA actually has a strict national anthem policy, but everybody is okay with it because the league really is with the players.

5) And, you gotta love Steve Kerr on the matter:

“It’s just typical of the NFL,” Kerr said, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “They’re just playing to their fanbase. Basically just trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people. It’s idiotic. But thats how the NFL has conducted their business. I’m proud to be in a league that understands patriotism in America is about free speech and peacfully protesting. Our leadership in the NBA understands when the NFL players were kneeling, they were kneeling to protest police brutality, to protest racial inequality. They weren’t disrespecting the flag or military. But our president decided to make it about that and the NFL followed suit, pandered to their fanbase, created this hysteria. It’s kind of what’s wrong with our country right now – people in high places are trying to divide us, divide loyalties, make this about the flag as if the flag is something other than it really is – which is a representation of what we’re about, which is diversity, peaceful protests, right to free speech. It’s ironic actually.”

6) This teacher’s stop bullying strategy really does sound like a great idea.

7) Sure, we should let it go, but still, a good argument, “Why Comey’s October Surprise Was Pointless and Wrong.”

8) Really good Vox interview on marriage:

Sean Illing

I’ve always objected to this idea that the best wife or husband is the one who helps you become the best version of yourself. I think the best partner is the one who helps you transcend yourself, who draws you out of yourself. I guess that’s why I always hated that line from Jerry Maguire, “You complete me.” To me that’s narcissism, not love.

Eli Finkel

I agree! I would say that the Maslovian perspective isn’t the Jerry Maguire perspective because “you complete me” suggests that there is a void that has to be filled — that I have a void in me and that I need somebody else to fill it. I actually think that is sometimes the opposite of what I’m talking about or what Maslow might be talking about.

We have goals, we have aspirations. We’re reasonably proud of who we are, but we can think of ways that we can be better, more ambitious, more energetic, or maybe better at relaxing. We’re trying to achieve those goals, and the reality is that humans aren’t individual, isolated goal-pursuers. Our social relationships have profound influence on the extent to which we get closer to versus further from our ideal self.

The best marriages these days take that seriously. They take the responsibility for trying to help each other grow and live authentic lives to an extent that would have seemed bizarre in 1950.

Sean Illing

I like the idea of love as a practice that takes our attention away from ourselves — away from our needs, away from our petty desires, away from our impulses. I understand the egoistic accounts of love, but I think they’re describing something other than love, and hopefully something other than marriage.

Eli Finkel

I love that. Remember that the modern marriage is not just about what I get; it’s also, and more importantly, about what I give. We’re looking for a marriage to help us with our self-expression and personal growth. I believe that the majority of us have an understanding that that’s a two-way street.

9) Drum and NBC with a nice chart on gender and political candidates:

10) Dahlia Lithwick on the moral dilemma for conscientious Republicans in the age of Trump.

11) How to overcome your hidden weaknesses. Of course, you don’t get published without regular feedback or teach college classes with student evaluations, so that should help in my case. Also, my kids are not shy about feedback on my parenting ;-).  So, how am I doing as a blogger?

First, ask for feedback. It’s not easy, and it can sometimes be tough to hear, but outside input is crucial to shining a light on your blind spots. Here are some tips for getting and giving better feedback.

Second, keep learning. The more knowledgeable you are about something, the more you’re able to identify the gaps in your own understanding of it.

12) How to accept a compliment?  Don’t just say “thank you.”

In other words, in the United States, the compliment is a coded invitation to chitchat, and simply saying, “Thank you” linguistically slams the door in the complimenter’s face.

13) The case for treating addiction like cancer:

The surgeon general’s report defines it as a “chronic neurological disorder” and outlines evidence-based treatments. These include drugs like methadone and buprenorphine; individual and group counseling; step-down services after residential treatment; mutual aid groups like Alcoholics Anonymous; and long-term, coordinated care that includes recovery coaches.

Unfortunately, much of this knowledge isn’t being applied in doctors’ offices or even many treatment centers. “There’s a wealth of literature collected over many decades, along with a robust medical evidence base, showing what works and what doesn’t,” Dr. Anna Lembke, chief of the Stanford University Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, told me. “Treatment for addiction works, on par with treatment for other chronic relapsing disorders. So, it’s not really that there’s no road map. It’s that the road map has not been recognized or embraced by the house of medicine.”

14) The NYT asks, “Is Joe Bryan an innocent man, wrongfully imprisoned for the past 30 years on the basis of faulty forensic science?”  Ummm, this is America, I’m pretty sure we know the answer.  Ugh.  Story after story after story after story like this.  Damn I wish “beyond a reasonable doubt” actually meant something in murder trials.  Unfortunately, our societal thirst for vengeance means that’s not the case.  How many innocent people are in prison for crimes they did not commit.  Almost surely thousands and thousands.  And don’t get me started on forensic “science” that’s not.

15) How asking about previous salary helps fuel the gender pay gap.  In Britain they are trying to use transparency and shame to improve the gap.

16) Of all the stuff I’ve read this week, the Vox article on why human feet keeping washing ashore has stuck with me the most.

Sometimes, everything actually does work out perfectly

So, Mika was kind enough in comments to ask what happened in the soccer tournament this weekend.  We won, we won!  I was sooooo happy.  We last one this post-season tournament in 2013.  Despite having the best team in our league in the regular season every year but last year (2nd best), we fared no better than 2nd in 2014-2017.  Last year’s winners won all their spring games, then swept the tournament, then had a great party.  And that was it– they were almost all high school seniors.  I was actually pretty happy for them because we had shared a practice field with them for 4 years and knew them well.  And I so much wanted us to go out the same way.  And we did!  We lost to that team in the first game of the tournament last year, won our remaining three games, then had two perfect 8-0-0 seasons this year.  And, finally, followed it up with a first place in the tournament.

And the final was tough.  Due to lots of rain, games were shortened to 20-minutes halves, a much less reliable predictor of the better team than our usual 45 minute halves (which were supposed to be 35 for the tournament).  Anyway, we pulled it out 1-0, but it was actually the only game all year we won by a single goal (most every other we won by 3+).

After the game one of the player’s family’s with a lovely home hosted everybody for a season-ending pool party.  It was so great.  Especially enjoyed all the players saying a few words (and especially good words from my son and frequent blog reader, David) about what the team and the coaches (including my redoubtable assistant and some-time reader of this blog, Larry) meant to them.   And then kind of a receiving line at the end where I got to have a few words with each player, some of whom I’ve coached since they were 11 (and most through all of high school) and watched grow into young men.   It was honestly just perfect.  On the way home, my wife said something along the lines of, “I hope you appreciate just how perfectly this worked out.  Life rarely works out so nicely.”  I do, I do!

As many of you know I’m a pretty big Duke basketball fan.  I’ve always loved the way Coach K says what he really values most is not the winning, but the relationships.  I totally get what he means.  I’ll be honest, I actually like winning more than I should and am probably far more competitive as a Blasters coach than any other aspect of my life.  That said, I have loved, loved, loved watching these player grow and improve not just as soccer players, but as young men.  And I’ve had so much fun with them and will really, really miss it.

For now, the soccer journey continues with Sarah’s (soon-to-be) U8 Tornados.  And believe me, that team shows it is definitely not about the winning.  And you better believe as long as Sarah wants to play, I’ll be coach.

Anyway, this is the reason my Instagram profile says, “Dad, professor, soccer coach, blogger.”

Quick hits (part II)

Busy weekend of soccer coaching plus feeling like crap from a nasty cold equals really late quick hits.  On the bright side, I’ve got quotes for pretty much all of them.  Enjoy.

1a) South Carolina has under-funded and brutal prisons.  Yeah, they committed crimes, but they are still humans.  Many died needlessly in a recent riot.  John Pfaff:

Although the state is often held up as a criminal justice success story after a 2010 sentencing law reversed decades of rising incarceration rates, its system has faced legal challenges for years over how it is run. Only a few states spend less per prisoner than South Carolina, and while the national inmates-per-officer ratio is on the order of five to one (at least according to data from 2005, the most recent data we have), at Lee on the night of the violence the ratio was much, much higher. Initial reports said there two guards per housing block, with 250 men in each block. Later reports suggested that there may have been four guards per block, not two, but that wouldn’t really paint a better picture either: 63 to one is still an unacceptable ratio.What is clear is that South Carolina’s prisons are underfunded and understaffed — about 30 percent of all positions are vacant, and low pay and low morale have made it hard to retain corrections officers. The facilities are poorly maintained, and programming is inadequate for the size of the prison population. All these factors are policy choices driven by budgeting, and all of them contribute to prison violence.

 Prisons need not be like this. Facilities in countries like Germanylook almost nothing like prisons in the U.S., even though they often detain people convicted of serious violent crimes. The institutions are well-maintained, and correctional officials — who view their jobs more as social work than law enforcement — are well-paid and well-trained. While most correctional officers in the U.S. receive, at most, three months of training before being sent into a prison, in Germany the minimum is two years. Treated in a less adversarial manner in more humane settings, those held in European prisons tend to respond accordingly.

1b) And Historian Heather Ann Thompson:

Today, seven young men — men who were someone’s child, father, sibling or partner — are dead because we allow our nation’s correctional facilities to be run brutally. But, thanks to their cellphone keyboards and cameras, those who live in this terrible place can tell us what really goes on, and how we might change it.

They are desperate for state senators to pass new laws so that South Carolina prisoners have “an incentive to get out in society and live life again.” They argue that officials could eliminate the contraband problem simply by allowing cigarettes and cellphones to be sold in the canteen (instead of sold to them by guards, who can get upward of $1,700 for a phone). They would be less hungry if state officials would simply allow their families “to send inmates packages of food” and they’d be more productive and better able to re-enter society, they tell us, if prisons simply reinstated classes in “life skills and trades.”

2) Nice article about Pope Francis.  The key paragraph as far as I’m concerned:

But it is Francis’ prioritizing of social justice over culture-war issues [emphasis mine] such as abortion that has caused the sharpest internal divisions, with a small but committed group of conservative cardinals publicly suggesting that he is a heretical autocrat leading the faithful toward confusion and schism.

You know what Jesus talked about pretty much all the time?  What we now call “social justice issues.”  Culture war issues, not so much.

3) On how Charleston, WV is giving up its needle-exchange program despite all the evidence that these programs work:

The research is unambiguous: Needle exchanges reduce the spread of bloodborne diseases like hepatitis C and H.I.V. and do not increase drug use. They’ve been shown to reduce overdose deaths, decrease the number of needles discarded in public places and make it more likely that drug users enter treatment. They also save money: One recent study estimated that $10 million spent on needle exchanges might save more than $70 million in averted H.I.V. treatment costs alone.

Health experts say the programs create relationships between deeply addicted people and the health care system, an essential step if they are to be reintegrated into society. “It’s the most low-threshold way for people who use drugs to have contact with any kind of public health professional,” said Alex H. Kral, an epidemiologist with RTI International, a nonprofit research organization. “And that’s a powerful intervention.”

4) I am emphatically in favor of joint bank accounts and not separate accounts for married couples.  Kim and I do not to even the tiniest degree have my money and her money.  It’s all “our money” damnit.  The sub-head–“It doesn’t signal a lack of trust—to some, it’s a way for spouses to show they trust each other more”  of this Atlantic article strikes me as far as rationalization far more than reality.

A joint bank account has, traditionally, been a sign of commitment. As newlyweds start their lives together, it is perhaps the clearest way for them to say, to each other and to the world, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.”

But these days, some young couples are skeptical. “There has been a generational change,” said Joanna Pepin, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland who studies the organization of money in romantic relationships. “The research we have shows that, cross-culturally, more people are keeping money separate.” Indeed, a Bank of America study published earlier this year seemed to suggest that Millennial married and cohabitating couples were more likely to hold separate accounts than previous generations were.

Pepin says this trend is particularly pronounced among low-income couples, who are likelier to value access to their own earnings over the show of commitment and loyalty that comes with the decision to merge finances, a quality often prioritized by higher-earners.

Some of this has to do with Millennial marriage trends more generally. Compared to previous generations, Millennials get married later in life, and thus significantly more of them live together before marriage. Because cohabiting couples are far more likely than married couples to keep finances separate, a certain inertia develops. “Once you’ve established your relationship norms,” Pepin asked, “why would you change them?”

When today’s young adults do decide to get married, many of them are further along in their careers, with a better sense of who they are and what they contribute to their workplace. One 29-year-old I talked to, a medical resident in San Francisco, told me that for those who believe one’s bank account offers a clear reflection of a person’s work ethic or success, it can be hard to cede control. “It’s about wanting to maintain one’s sense of identity, individuality, and autonomy,” said Fenaba Addo, an assistant professor of consumer science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

When I asked several married Millennial couples why they decided to keep their finances fully or partially separate, one reason came up more than any other: A joint bank account seemed to blur each individual’s financial contributions at a time when women are earning more than they used to. “If we just had a joint account, it would bring an uneasy feeling—a sense of inequality,” said Zack Pasillas, a 26-year-old office worker from Orange County, California. Zack’s wife, Karina, works in customer service at the local water company. She knows that, in the future, she’ll likely make less money than Zack, but that makes her even more eager to keep their finances separate. “When buying him gifts, when picking up the tab at dinner, I like knowing that I am also contributing to this relationship,” she said. “It’s my work—it’s my money.” Another Millennial I talked to worried that, if he and his wife merged bank accounts, their relationship might begin to conform to antiquated gender roles, with the man in charge of all the finances. The concept of a joint account, to him, felt dated…

Indeed, the 20- and 30-somethings I spoke with all felt strongly that separate bank accounts don’t signal a lack of trust—if anything, they said, it’s a sign that partners trust each other more. Zack and Karina Pasillas have a clear understanding that, if either of them needs money, they’ll help each other out. Their debts are due, and their salaries come in, at different times of the month, so sometimes one will cover the other. “It’s about having trust that, if needed, I can cover her end, and she can cover my end, too,” Zack Pasillas said.

No, no, no!  It’s a marriage, it’s not about “her end” or “my end” it all “our end”!  Of course, I expect my Millennial readers to disagree ;-).

5) Good stuff on why Trump supporters don’t mind his lies.  Like most everything else in politics, it comes down to motivated reasoning:

The results of the experiments, published recently in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, show that reflecting on how a falsehood could have been true did cause people to rate it as less unethical to tell — but only when the falsehoods seemed to confirm their political views. Trump supporters and opponents both showed this effect.

Again, the problem wasn’t that people confused fact and fiction; virtually everyone recognized the claims as false. But when a falsehood resonated with people’s politics, asking them to imagine counterfactual situations in which it could have been true softened their moral judgments. A little imagination can apparently make a lie feel “truthy” enough to give the liar a bit of a pass.

These results reveal a subtle hypocrisy in how we maintain our political views. We use different standards of honesty to judge falsehoods we find politically appealing versus unappealing. When judging a falsehood that maligns a favored politician, we ask, “Was it true?” and then condemn it if the answer is no.

In contrast, when judging a falsehood that makes a favored politician look good, we are willing to ask, “Could it have been true?” and then weaken our condemnation if we can imagine the answer is yes. By using a lower ethical standard for lies we like, we leave ourselves vulnerable to influence by pundits and spin doctors.

6) This amazing, prize-winning photo was disqualified for using a taxidermied anteater.

Marcio Cabral had faked The Night Raider with a taxidermy anteater — a charge he denies.

Marcio Cabral/Natural History Museum

7) Really interesting interview with Helen Fisher on sex and love.  Ends with her formula for a happy marriage:

You talk to a psychologist, and they’ll probably give you a different answer, but I can tell you what the brain says about happiness in a longterm partnership. There are three brain regions that become active when you are in a longterm, loving relationship.

A brain region linked with empathy, a brain region linked with controlling your own stress and your own emotions, and a brain region linked with what I call “positive illusion,” the ability to overlook what you don’t like about somebody and focus on what you do.

You want a happy marriage? Do all those things that psychologists and others might suggest, but this is what the brain says: Express empathy, control your own emotions, and overlook the negatives in your partner and focus on the positives.

8) As great as a college education is, it’s definitely not for everyone.  We need to do a better job teaching trades and getting the right people into them.  NPR:

While a shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades, the financial return from a bachelor’s degree is softening, even as the price — and the average debt into which it plunges students — keeps going up.

But high school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor’s that high-paid jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are going unfilled. This affects those students and also poses a real threat to the economy.

“Parents want success for their kids,” said Mike Clifton, who teaches machining at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, about 20 miles from Seattle. “They get stuck on [four-year bachelor’s degrees], and they’re not seeing the shortage there is in tradespeople until they hire a plumber and have to write a check.”

In a new report, the Washington State Auditor found that good jobs in the skilled trades are going begging because students are being almost universally steered to bachelor’s degrees.

Among other things, the Washington auditor recommended that career guidance — including choices that require less than four years in college — start as early as the seventh grade.

“There is an emphasis on the four-year university track” in high schools, said Chris Cortines, who co-authored the report. Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven’t earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At four-year private colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5.

“Being more aware of other types of options may be exactly what they need,” Cortines said. In spite of a perception “that college is the sole path for everybody,” he said, “when you look at the types of wages that apprenticeships and other career areas pay and the fact that you do not pay four years of tuition and you’re paid while you learn, these other paths really need some additional consideration.”

9) Liked Brian Beutler on how journalists should deal with stolen/hacked information:

In the brave new world of mass hacking—and particularly of the kind of hack-and-dump tactics deployed against Clinton—the tradeoff is different, and in some ways should be less severe. Whatever we gleaned from the contents of Podesta’s emails or the DNC emails, reporters were aware of, and should have been able to incorporate, one cardinal fact: the source materials were the the spoils of an extremely serious crime.

That shouldn’t make stolen information off limits—a lot of great journalism is the fruit of crime—but it does make the information part of a larger story. In Clinton’s case, the larger story was that some entity (likely Russian intelligence, though the Trump campaign did its level best to muddy those waters) was trying to sabotage the campaign of one of America’s two major party presidential candidates, to tip the election to her opponent. That’s a huge deal, even if the “entity” is Trump’s fabled 400 pound man in New Jersey. Don’t believe me? Publish all of your emails online and see how it alters your horizons. Or tell Bob Woodward he should’ve been more interested in what the Watergate burglars stole than in why they stole it. The crime isn’t always as important as the loot, but it often is, and major media outlets have clearly struggled devising new editorial standards to account for that.

The main impediments to implementing such standards aren’t technical or even that subjective. They are hardwired professional incentives that reward reporting the latest news as quickly as possible in a competitive environment. Reporters and editors and anchors and producers make judgment calls about what’s important and what’s not all the time. They know how to use their platforms to emphasize some pieces of information over others, and present stories in ways that are proportionate to their news value. The problem is the economic pressures of journalism often force journalists to ask not “what will give consumers the clearest sense of what’s happening in the world?” but “what is the most recent thing I’ve learned?”—and then to report whatever the answer is.

That’s too bad, because a more considered approach to information dumps like the Podesta emails would address many of the concerns raised by critics of 2016 campaign coverage—or at least concerns about the stolen-email half of the media’s email fixation—and leave the public better informed than it is under the current paradigm. It would help protect American democracy against a repeat of the subversion we witnessed in 2016. And it would still leave plenty of room for people to argue on Twitter about Clinton’s private email server—the greatest political crime in the history of the world.

10) Bonus.  Finally got a somewhat decent video of one of my U18 players doing his awesome flip-throw throw-in.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fshgreene%2Fvideos%2F10105334870663339%2F&show_text=0&width=267

No, really, I am a good husband

So, interestingly, my wife took some exception to my “why I’m a great husband” post.  So, I’m clearing the record here.  I’m only a very good husband.  I falsely assumed that my wife could detect my tongue in my cheek in the the title, but, like emails, maybe everything is not entirely clear in a blog post.  Mostly, though, it was this that bugged her, “And, she does the substantial majority of the cooking.  But even when she doesn’t, dishes are mine. ”  So, in the interests of blogging accuracy and spousal harmony, I shall clarify.  I pretty much never cook.  It’s just that when nobody cooks (e.g., Wendy’s and Bojangles, etc.) I still do the dishes.  And when I go to Political Science conferences to learn about fascinating (and not) research and to hang out with old friends in cool cities, dishes are on her.  So, there you have it.

Why I never give up the internet

I was going to put this in quick hits, but I loved this New Yorker essay from Matthew J. X. Malady to make it share.  He “unplugged” for 72 hours and I totally love his response to it:

During the world’s longest weekend, it became clear to me that, when I’m using my phone or surfing the Internet, I am almost always learning something. I’m using Google to find out what types of plastic bottles are the worst for human health, or determining the home town of a certain actor, or looking up some N.B.A. player’s college stats. I’m trying to find out how many people work at Tesla, or getting the address for that brunch place, or checking out how in the world Sacramento came to be the capital of California.

What I’m learning may not always be of great social value, but I’m at least gaining some new knowledge—by using devices in ways that, sure, also distract me from maintaining a singular focus on any one thing. I still read deeply, and study things closely, and get lost for hours at a time in sprawling, complicated pieces of literature. Since moving to California from Manhattan a couple of years ago, I’m almost certain I’ve paid attention to more sunsets and cloud configurations and blooming flowers than I had in the previous decade. But I also enjoy being able to find out what year Chinua Achebe published “Things Fall Apart” in roughly three seconds. And, while it is true that, as Nicholas Carr, Jaron Lanier, and others have pointed out, my desire to learn in this manner means that I am opening myself up more completely to advertising saturation and affronts to personal privacy, I’ve made the choice to live with and combat such vexations rather than proceed through life overrun with stagnating curiosity.

Yes, yes, yes!  My favorite thing about the internet.  I am always, always learning.  No way would I voluntarily give that up.  A couple times a year when we visit my grandmother-in-law I am without any internet for most of a day.  And it’s usually a lovely day, but I feel absolutely no need to voluntarily untether.  There’s too damn much to learn.

Everybody gets a car

Okay, not everybody, just me.  I’ve been driving a 1998 Toyota Corolla for my daily commute since 2002 and from 1994-2002 a Geo Prizm (Corolla by another name) was my primary car, so it’s been a long time in Corolla world.  The car still runs great, but the interior is ever more falling apart (literally, the cloth on the room falls in front of my daughter’s face in the back) in various ways so I decided that after all these years I’d buy another car to last the next 14 or so.

So, you wouldn’t think my minivan would be the key player in this, but it was.  For years I’ve driven the Corolla (120 hp) and a 2000 Maza MPV with a 4-cylinder engine.  Short version: most of my adult life driving underpowered cars.  Then, two summers ago we replaced the MPV with a 2012 Kia Sedona.  We were focused on the great value and not even thinking about power.  But, wow, do we love that 274hp engine.  My thinking was I wanted my daily car to be at least as much fun to drive as my minivan.

I started with the Mazda 3, as Mazdas are known for being sporty and this is a really well-reviewed car.  It was nice, but the 3i, with about 150hp while clearly better than the Corolla, was less peppy than I expected.  So, onto the 3s with a truly amazing engine that gets 184hp (and similar torque) while also averaging 28/39.  Wow.  Great car.  So, why didn’t I buy one?  Honestly, I love technology, but just give me a standard speedometer (that’s a tachometer dominating the instrument display below) rather than a pop-up digital display and so not a fan of what looks like an Ipad stuck on top of the dash.  Also, the better engine in the 3s only comes with all the bells and whistles when I mostly cared about the engine.

2016 Mazda Mazda3: Dashboard

Okay, sure, I could get past this, but thought I’d keep on looking.  Turns out, if you want a compact car with good MPG, and horsepower and torque in the 170-180 range, the only other real option is the Volkswagen Jetta.  It is also great fun to drive and it has a noticeably roomier back seat and trunk than the Mazda.  And here’s the look for the driver:

2016 Volkswagen Jetta: Dashboard

So much better.  And, that unobtrusive touchscreen in the middle perfectly syncs with your Iphone with Apple CarPlay.  Very, very cool.  So, put that all together, and, anyway, more than you wanted to know, but that’s how I ended up here.

Ironically, I ended up getting the SEL which has all the bells and whistles I wasn’t so concerned about, but it comes with the 1.8 turbo engine I love and my first ever sunroof, which I am very excited about.

Also, I tend to get obsessive over major purchases.  One of the reasons I try not to make them too often.  And there’s so much you can read about cars on-line.  Let’s just say dozens of blog posts could have been written in the time I was reading on-line about cars.  So, sorry for your lost posts, but it should be at least another decade before this happens again.

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