Friday, September 21, 2018

Factoid -- September 21, 2018

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site.

But this is an open-book test.

From twitter today:

The Book Page

I just finished reading an essay in the current issue of The London Review of Books, "Get A Brazilian" in which Maggie Doherty reviewed seven "memoirs" by seven self-absorbed millennials. Five of the seven were written by women, I believe. Six of the seven sound like unsuccessful, privileged (mostly women) who went to Ivy League colleges with no idea what they wanted to do in life. One memoir was written by a "hillbilly" male from Appalachia who went on to become a wealthy lawyer or partner at a venture capital firm, or something of that ilk. The latter, unlike the six others, could not afford college, so he joined the US Marine Corps for a four-year enlistment and then completed Yale Law School on the GI bill. He is living the American dream. The other six are still in a dream-like state, with at least one using amphetamines to maintain the dream. Maggie was able to identify with the six losers; she couldn't identify with the US Marine. Reading between the lines, I think Maggie was vicariously living her dream when she read about the six losers -- young, privileged, unrestrained sex, drugs, booze, and money from a dad they probably never knew.

Unfortunately the article is behind an impenetrable firewall but since I subscribe I can read and re-read the article. Which I have. It took two readings to "understand." What a lot of drivel.

These two paragraphs summed up the three-page essay:
And yet students in the US continue to go to college in record numbers, taking out loans that they will spend years, even decades, paying off. Realising that the debt he would incur would be enough to buy a house in his Ohio hometown, Vance joined the marines instead. After his tour of duty, he went to college on the G.I. Bill. Like the welfare recipients he disdains, he too relied on the largesse of the state
Students like Vance invest an astounding amount of time, labour and money in their education. This is all the more striking when you consider the necessity yet declining value of a degree: since 2008, unemployment and underemployment rates for recent US graduates have nearly doubled. Long hailed as the engine of social mobility, college no longer fulfills this promise: 38 per cent of students from low-income families will stay poor, even if they graduate.  
So, that was Vance, the incredibly impoverished Appalachian hillbilly who joins the US Marines to qualify for the GI Bill to get his Yale law degree.

Meanwhile, one of the seven women with whom Maggie could identify, the only one of the seven who attended a British university:
Alderton might be dismissive of her time at Exeter University – ‘from September 2006 to July 2009 – all I did was drink and shag’ – but young Americans must justify their investment.
For US readers not in the know, "shagging" is simply the British way of saying "sleeping around." I had multiple tours in England. It really was interesting the way British women, ages 17 - 39 engaged in intense short-lived mating exercises. "Mayflies" come to mind. But I digress.

Maggie needs to broaden her reading.

She might start with Ravensbrueck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women, Sarah Helm, c. 2014. Link here for my notes.

Or she could start with Lessons from the Lobster: Eve Marder's Work in Neuroscience (The MIT Press), Charlotte Nassim, c. 2018.

I no longer have any book space on or off my book shelves in our small apartment; I doubt I will be of sound mind much longer to read many more books; and, so I've quit buying books. I resist all I can. I occasionally fail.

Yesterday, I saw a Nassim's book on "lobsters" at Barnes and Noble. Or as Sophia says, "Barnes and Nobles." I just ordered it from Amazon. I have so many "points" with Amazon ... wow, and here I digress ... here's another "scam." If Medicare eligible, find a great clinic that doesn't take Medicare. Pay your bill with an Amazon Prime credit card. The clinic will submit your bill to Medicare and you will be reimbursed -- not all but enough. The rest will be reimbursed by your secondary insurer. And that expensive clinic visit -- much of it paid for by Medicare -- will give you so many points, you can buy anything you need want on Amazon. But I digress.

Nassim's book on Eve Marder is not going to be an easy book. And I can't recommend it to anybody.

But I'm fascinated by lobsters. I have probably read more books on lobsters than anyone reading this blog. I've read two. Two lobster books. Nassim's book will be the third. I think it will be a bit like James Watson's The Double Helix, still in print, current edition, 2001, but originally published in 1968, regarding "their" discovery in 1953.

The six losers with whom Maggie could identify should read Nassim's book but I doubt they have the attention span to get through the introduction. It was all I could do to get through the introduction, and the first chapter ... way too much ... but I couldn't put it down. It was the same reason I can't put down a crossword puzzle once I get started -- no matter how few answers I know, I keep hoping I will find one more.

But, wow, what a great book for a nerdy, high school, girl who wants to go into biological research. This book I would recommend for the young high school woman who is far beyond her peers in reading and science, who loves biology, and wants to become a famous researcher living the good life in San Diego or Boston.

For those who want the short (and readable) version of Eve Marder:


  1. Re: Amazon credit card. I just gave my kids a lecture on beating the credit cards at their own game. Use a credit card that has cash rewards to pay for everything, pay off your balance each month, and let the CC send you cash. A new passive income stream.

    1. I do think I spend more because I have the reward card, but in the big scheme of things, if used judiciously, it's a great perk.

  2. Food for thought.... I too took advantage of the GI bill. The 3 1/2 years I spent as a lowly AF clerk simply delayed my entrance into my final career. In the last years of my chosen profession I (modestly) earned a low to mid six digit annual income. What I gave up by enlisting was not the front end of earnings, but the last 3 1/2 years of earnings. While I've never, ever regretted it for a single day, the GI bill was a bargain for the government compared to my sacrificed earnings at the end. As I recall, I received less than $200/month for two years of educational assistance and forewent over 1/2 a million on the back side. Such a deal.... A lot of folk have no concept of this cost/benefit. Count me thrice-blessed!

    1. I have nothing but good things to say about the GI bill. My obligation to the US Air Force was four years, but I enjoyed it so much, I stayed for 30 years and a day. My compensation was well below what I would earned in the "real world," but not one bit of regret. The whole package -- including job satisfaction -- made it the best decision I ever made.