Sourdough review

SourdoughSourdough by Robin Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Similar in spirit to the author’s other book Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – there’s a whole hidden world among us, only this time it’s about food instead of books. I enjoyed it a lot but one of the computer-y parts stuck in my craw a little. Still, if you liked Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, you’ll like this!

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friday linked list: DIY factchecking, being the casino, electricity demand in the US is flat!

It Can Take As Little As Thirty Seconds, Seriously – these days we should do some very simple fact-checking on stuff we’re sharing. Also related:

Be the casino: rules for winning at finance in an uncertain world – this is really good advice from Britton, a friend of mine who runs Seaborn Financial. If you’re looking for a financial advisor, check him out!

After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out. – wow, great news! From squinting at the graph it looks like demand has been relatively flat since 2010 even as GDP has been increasing.

State Lawmakers Want to Block Pornography at the Expense of Your Free Speech, Privacy, and Hard-Earned Cash – yikes, what? Very clever to title the bill the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act”…

We need new ways of treating depression – an interesting longish read about depression (thanks David!)

A Political Dispute Puts A Wrinkle In Time, Slowing Millions Of European Clocks – um, weird!

My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy. – aaaaa gender roles

Experts Say Electronic Voting Machines Aren’t Secure. So Travis County Is Designing Its Own. – hey, that’s my county! And my CS prof from Rice!

A Quiet Exodus: Why Blacks Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches – yikes :-/

China’s Censors Ban Winnie the Pooh and the Letter ‘N’ After Xi’s Power Grab – ugh, this whole thing is not good

How Inmates Play Tabletop RPGs in Prisons Where Dice Are Contraband – interesting! Lots of ingenuity there…

– The article here is fine but it has a correction at the bottom to end all corrections 🙂

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind review

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing MindNo-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting book! It touches briefly on “natural consequences”, but here are some of the more interesting bits:
– The goal of discipline is to teach, not to punish. Which isn’t to say that you don’t have to punish ever (although natural consequence are best as opposed to punitive ones), but that shouldn’t be your first priority.
– When your kid is experiencing a strong emotion (including a tantrum), the first step should be to connect with them. Probably their “lower brain” is in control, which means being rational with them won’t work, but being firm/yelling at them is just going to scare them. Hold or touch your child, get below their eye level, and comfort them.
– Try not to invalidate their emotions – it’s not really their fault they have strong feelings, it’s where they are in development. (consider how irritating it is if you’re angry and someone says “Hey, there’s no reason to be angry!”) Acknowledge their feelings.
– But how they’re reacting to their emotions may not be OK – i.e. it’s OK to feel really mad, but don’t hit. Instead try to help them find ways of dealing with their anger.
– Talk less in the moment. Listen more to what your child is saying, and let them know that you’re listening by repeating things back to them.
– When your kid does something wrong, ask yourself three questions: Why did my child act this way? What lesson do I want to teach? and How can I best teach it?
– If you’re overly emotional it’s OK to stop the bad behavior but withdraw and collect yourself before going through those steps.
– It talks about being consistent but not rigid. You should set consistent rules but it’s OK to make exceptions for special occasions (especially when you’re traveling!) (this is a fine distinction that I’m not sure I 100% understand)
– The book has an interesting view on tantrums. The usual advice I’ve read is to not engage and just ignore the tantrum until it’s done. This book says that almost all tantrums are caused by emotions in the “lower brain” that kids can’t consciously control, and it’s important to show your child that you love and support them even when they do bad things, so still try to connect with them. But it’s OK to stop them from throwing things, etc. A useful phrase I saw is “I see you’re having trouble controlling your body, so I’ll help you with that”.
– For older kids, having a discussion about why they did what they did and how they can make things right is far superior to lecturing them. You want your kid to learn these skills for herself. Plus if you lecture/punish them the focus quickly becomes “My parents are the worst!” instead of “I feel bad because I did something wrong”. (and you want them to feel a little bad!)
– If kids are acting up, odds are it’s because they’re either Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (HALT!)

Thankfully the book acknowledges that it’s hard to take this approach, but the more you do it the more your child will learn to handle her emotions.

Anyway, it’s worth a shot. We’ve just started disciplining Vanessa a little bit. If this approach actually works I’ll come back in 3 years and update the review to 5 stars 🙂

(thanks to Patrice for lending it to us!)

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new house monday linked list: 17776 revisited, “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, Larry Nassar

We moved into the new house, and between that and Vanessa being sick the last few weeks have been craaaaazy. So here’s a bunch of links!

– I went back and re-read/re-experienced 17776 and it is still amazing. If you haven’t read/experienced it, I’d encourage you to give it a shot! Its subtitle is “What football will look like in the future”, but if you like sci-fi at all you’ll probably like it. (it’s set in the year 17776)

I had re-read it a month or so after it was published and was a little disappointed, but some time away (and remembering it less well) helped me appreciate it more.

If you liked it, you should check out more of Jon Bois’s stuff. He mostly does videos, like Jeff Francoeur, my favorite worst baseball player and Randall Cunningham Seizes the Means of Production. There’s also a 17776: questions and answers post, and if you want more weird stuff here’s What the heck is a catch in the NFL, anyway? An explainer

“Get Out of Jail Free” Cards – this is real? Why is this a thing?

In Larry Nassar’s Case, a Single Voice Eventually Raised an Army – very brave of her to be the first non-anonymous person to speak out about Larry Nassar! See also her Op-Ed.

Exclusive: Inside the Corrosive Workplace Culture of the Dallas Mavericks – glad this is getting rooted out. Also, from the article:

While sources referred to the Mavericks office as a “locker room culture,” the team’s actual locker room was a refuge. Says one female former senior staffer: “I dealt with players all the time. I had hundreds of interactions with players and never once had an issue…they always knew how to treat people. Then I’d go to the office and it was this zoo, this complete shitshow. My anxiety would go down dealing with players; it would go up when I got to my desk.”


How to Maintain Friendships – this is good advice. I’m bad at a lot of these and I’m going to try to do better.

It’s Time to End the Scam of Flying Pets – sigh. Like the article says, there are definitely people that need this, but other people have ruined it.

In Baltimore, Brazen Officers Took Every Chance to Rob and Cheat – yiiikes

Here’s Why Texans Can’t Use That Google Selfie App To Find Their Fine Art Facsimile – wow, Texas is surprisingly forward-thinking about this!

Preventive Care Saves Money? Sorry, It’s Too Good to Be True – surprising, but it still improves quality of life, which is worth it!

The Teens Will Save Us – this is inspiring!

Trump and Russia Both Seek to Exacerbate the Same Political Divisions – ugh, this is depressing.

Americans Are Rising to This Historic Moment – …but maybe things will be OK?

Why I don’t use my real photo when messaging with customers on my website – because people are terrible, is why.

A Carnival cruise in the South Pacific descended into violent anarchy – um, yikes!

The Follower Factory – interesting look at bots on Twitter.

Hard Choices review

Hard ChoicesHard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man, Hillary was busy as Secretary of State! The book is long and certainly interesting in parts, but it wasn’t really a page turner for me.

It is interesting reading about Hillary’s philosophy about American power – basically, that it can be a force of good in the world, and the various sections of the book do offer evidence for this.

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