linked list friday: lots of Amazon products are unsafe, Mayor Pete and religion, Google’s excuses on tracking protection

  • Amazon Has Ceded Control of Its Site. The Result: Thousands of Banned, Unsafe or Mislabeled Products – This is a pretty damning article. (and good investigative journalism by the Wall Street Journal!) Having shopped on Amazon, it is really not obvious that a lot of their products are from third-party sellers. It makes me happy that we’ve been trying to avoid Amazon when we can. Also, this is really bad:
    At one point in 2013, some Amazon employees began scanning randomly selected third-party products in Amazon warehouses for lead content, say people familiar with the tests. Around 10% of the products tested failed, one says. The failed products were purged, but higher-level employees decided not to expand the testing, fearing it would be unmanageable if applied to the entire marketplace, the people familiar with the tests say. Amazon declined to comment on the episode.
    I would have really liked to see the results for Target and Walmart’s websites, but it sounds like they keep a much tighter rein on things.
  • How Pete Buttigieg found God – good article, and I’m happy to see Democrats not shying away from religion. We gay Episcopal Democrats exist, you know!
  • Deconstructing Google’s excuses on tracking protection – I’m glad to see tracking protection taking off. And this is another good reason to switch from Chrome to Firefox! (or Safari, I guess…)
  • The Man Who Couldn’t Take It Anymore – a look at General James Mattis (former Secretary of Defense), who sounds like a pretty stand-up guy. Hopefully he’ll tell the world what he thinks of Trump before the 2020 election. This is a nice thing he told some soldiers in 2017: “Our country right now, it’s got problems we don’t have in the military. You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.”
  • Many Genes Influence Same-Sex Sexuality, Not a Single ‘Gay Gene’ – not a surprise that something like human sexuality is complicated!
  • Those Hurricane Maps Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean – helpful guide for “reading” hurricane maps

Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges review

Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children's Behavioral Challenges

Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges by Mona Delahooke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The main idea of this book is that when kids are having behavioral issues, adults tend to see them as “top-down” where the child is choosing to misbehave for some reason. But often, what’s happening is “bottom-up”: the child has something deeper going on and it comes out via misbehavior, and to really fix the bad behavior you need to address the underlying problem. Just trying to give stickers for good behavior and punishing bad behavior isn’t going to help anything! (this is also not a huge surprise given the rewards book)

He uses a color shorthand to categorize a child’s state of arousal: green means the child feels safe and connected and able to learn; red means the child is like the “fight” in “fight or flight”, often with a rapid heartbeat, sweating, etc.; blue means the child feels in extreme danger and may have a slow heart rate and breathing rate.

There’s a lot of useful stuff if you have a child with a problem – since I was reading it just for information it was a bit tedious to get through. I think the main takeaway is that kids (especially young ones) just don’t have much control over their emotions and actions, and you have to help them by making them feel safe instead of expecting them to be able to do something they just can’t. Which is valuable!

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Stories of Your Life and Others review

Stories of Your Life and Others

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got clued in to Ted Chiang’s work by watching the movie Arrival, which is an amazing(*) movie based on the titular short story in this collection. And these are quite good sci-fi stories of just the kind I like – what if was true, how would it change the world? How would we react and adapt to it?

Quick rundown of some “awards”:
– Best world-building: Tower of Babylon
– Weirdest: Seventy-Two Letters (Part of the premise was neat and the other part was, umm, pretty weird!)
– Most thought-provoking: Liking What You See: A Documentary

*) – full disclosure, I watched it a few months after the birth of my daughter so I was pretty sleep-deprived, but I’m pretty sure it’s still very good!

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vacationing with two kids!

It’s been a while, but we went on a short vacation that required a plane trip. But this time with two kids! I’m too tired to come up with a clever way to say these things, so bullet points it is:

  • We went to Virginia Beach, which means flying into Norfolk, to which direct flights do not exist from Austin 😦 So layovers it was!
  • On the way there we went through Houston with an 1:10 layover. That is too short, but luckily our inbound flight was a bit early so we had enough time to grab some lunch to eat on the plane. For some reason we thought Nick would take his morning nap on the 45 minute flight to Houston; this did not happen, but both kids took decent naps on the second leg, so hooray!
  • We bought seats for the kids and so weren’t sure how to carry two carseats + all the other stuff through the airport. Luckily my sister recommended this carseat backpack which worked like a charm – I’m really not sure what we would have done without them! They are huge so you have a huge turning radius while wearing one, but they’re light and easy to open. (I was hoping we could somehow fit two carseats in one backpack, but sadly that wasn’t possible)
  • But I was proud of us for getting by with only two suitcases and two carryons (one of which was a diaper bag) for the four of us!
  • Perhaps because of the backpacks (or maybe just because we had two young kids in tow) we got several random compliments on having our act together. Yay, I think?
  • When we were driving from the airport to the beach house, everyone was a bit tired from the travel day. But Vanessa and Nick were closer together than they are in our car, and for a while they were sort of playing together and passing toys back and forth! It was so cute!
  • The beach was a big hit with Vanessa and Nick! Vanessa enjoyed playing in the sand but also went in the waves a little bit, which I was kinda surprised about. Nick enjoyed the sand (and didn’t eat too much…) but we did dip his toes in the water 🙂
  • Vanessa and Nick also had a good time playing with their cousins. (cute pictures coming soon!)
  • The first day I wore my shorts to the beach instead of my swimsuit, thinking I wasn’t going to get too wet. The waves had other ideas! I also brought my phone and was not too careful with it, and I got enough sand in its charging port to make it not charge. I was getting increasingly frantic until David reminded me that he had a similar (non-sand-related) problem and cleaning it out with a toothbrush had helped a lot. One toothbrush later and it would charge again!
  • The sand was pretty hot, so Vanessa wanted to be carried for most of the walk from the beachhouse to the ocean. Every time I would do this, she’d say “It’s hard to walk in the sand!” which I guess made me feel better 🙂 (it was hard!)
  • Vanessa got some kind of nasty bites on her feet that didn’t show up until the night before we left. This meant she basically didn’t want to walk the whole day we traveled back home, which made it kind of a rough day. Word to the wise: don’t leave shoes outside!
  • We had an 1:45 layover in Chicago (and we even arrived a bit early) so it seemed like plenty of time to eat lunch in the airport. It was not! We grabbed food quickly and ate, but Nick basically takes one person’s full attention to help him eat, and he’s a slow eater. We were one of the last people to board the plane, which was unfortunate because it takes a while to install both car seats while balancing kids :-/
  • The last flight was a bit of a debacle. Vanessa took a medium-length nap, but Nick refused to nap and instead screamed because he was tired. At home he almost always screams for 5 minutes before he falls asleep, but that’s in his crib in a dark room, alone. After a while a woman (who was a grandma) came by to help/check that Nick was OK (she told him that “people were worried about him”), which was kind of helpful and only a little insulting. I walked with him in the aisle for a few minutes which at least made him not scream, and a flight attendant gave me a free snack pack in case he was hungry. (we still had snacks in our bag but I accepted the gift) Eventually he calmed down enough to take a nap. I’m honestly not sure what we could have done differently. But I guess having a screaming kid on an airplane is a parental rite of passage?
  • We literally bought a “family iPad” with this trip in mind, and used it for a total of like 15 minutes on the last flight. Vanessa was surprisingly good about napping, but was also very into a book of 5 minute Peppa Pig stories, so we read a loooot of those 🙂 She also liked looking out the window (kid in a car seat = window seat!) for a little while on each flight. We had a ton of stuff for her to do that we never pulled out!

linked list friday: the Billy Graham rule, surprise medical billing, amazon bookstore shenanigans