On The Real World Cost of a $22 Gadget

@garli I read some of the comments on the NPR story, and there's one guy in there arguing VOCIFEROUSLY that you pay for your seat and your seat's space and that ABSOLUTELY does not include the few inches of space behind you that you take up when you recline. Which seems slightly insane. It's annoying, yes, but it's also... a thing the seats can do. If you were not considered to have paid for those few inches of space, I am 100% sure the airlines would not allow you to use them.

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 4:03 pm 0

On The Cost of Bringing a Person Into The World Via C-Section

@Oatmeal I think this is what's going on: the first column is the official, full-price billed cost. That total is what's broken down into the two rightmost columns, "not covered by plan" and "allowable," which are exactly what they sound like -- "we're not gonna pay this part" and "we are gonna pay this part." But, because the insurance company has previously negotiated with the hospital to pay less than the official full-price cost for everything, there's also the "plan savings" column -- "they don't expect us to pay this part." If the "not covered" total were higher than the "plan savings" total, Meaghan would presumably have to pay the difference, because that would mean there was some amount that the hospital expected to be paid but that the insurance company wasn't going to cover; since those two columns are equal, she's not on the hook for any of those charges, and just has to pay her standard co-pay. I think. I don't know, I am baffled by everything my insurance company sends me.

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 9:43 am 0

On No Progress on Poor Kids at Top Colleges

@Theestablishment The article says that "there are many high school seniors from low-income homes with top grades and scores: twice the percentage in the general population as at elite colleges," which suggests it's not a qualification problem. One part of the issue that's getting a lot of attention right now is that a lot of high-achieving, low-income students don't apply to elite schools at all -- lots of theories about why, including that they're scared off by the high sticker price -- or do apply to them but then end up going somewhere that's closer to home or less expensive (or that they perceive to be less expensive; this can be an issue of how financial aid packages are presented, etc.).

Posted on August 26, 2014 at 3:32 pm 0

On How Wizards Do Money: Sybill Trelawney

@Senna I can’t imagine she would fully retire — I see her as Professor Emeritus McGonagall, teaching, like, one NEWT-level class and taking lots of between-term vacations. (Incidentally, it just occurred to me that Hogwarts professors have an INTENSE teaching load, at least in the core curriculum. Students start picking electives at third year, but it seems like everyone is required to take the core classes through OWL level at least — so if you’re teaching one of those, you’re expected to teach 10 classes of first- through fifth-years, plus one or two NEWT-level classes, all meeting at least twice a week and doing homework that seems to mostly consist of long essay assignments? THAT IS NUTS. They ought to have, like, a Lower Potions professor for first through third year and an Upper Potions professor for fourth through seventh.)

Posted on August 26, 2014 at 10:23 am 0

On Your Waistline = Your Boss's Business

@A-M Quite a few of the things on that list are potentially free. I don't think there's really a cost argument to be made here.

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm 1

On Everyone's Born in the Summer Damn Them So What Do You Do?

@Wendy T My birthday is in the week before Christmas, too. I don't mind it so much as an adult, but as a kid it SUCKED -- all the weaknesses of a summer birthday (no in-school festivities, no one in town to attend a party, etc.), plus starting in high school half the time I would have a FINAL EXAM ON MY BIRTHDAY, which is clearly unfair.

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 12:32 pm 0

On How To Become a Math Person, Vol. 1

@Punk-assBookJockey Yeah, I think in other subjects there's often a clearer connection between the specific work you're doing ("Read The Scarlet Letter and write a paper explaining its themes") and the general skills you're practicing (reading for comprehension, academic writing), so you get less "UGH but when am I ever going to USE this, I'm not going to be a PROFESSIONAL SCARLET LETTER ANALYST when I grow up" -- everyone understands that The Scarlet Letter is just what you're practicing those skills on. But with math, that connection often isn't made explicit, so students focus more on the specific thing they're learning -- "When am I ever going to use the quadratic formula? Who cares!" -- than on the general skills of mathematical reasoning, data analysis, problem solving, etc.

Posted on August 19, 2014 at 9:16 am 1

On How To Become a Math Person, Vol. 1

I have always been a math person, in the sense that whatever math I was supposed to be doing in school always came easily to me; I was not a math person in the sense of liking math until high school, partly because I did well enough in math to be singled out by teachers, including a couple of total jerk teachers who would use my test score to shame kids (boys) who scored lower. I was eventually converted to liking math by a really, really great teacher in high school.

Posted on August 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm 0

On Equality /= Dystopia

@TheDoctorsCompanion Yes! I think what's really happening in a lot of these dystopias is a conflict of "sameness" vs. "fairness" as definitions of equality -- the authorities legislate sameness and think they're creating equality, but the protagonists see the enforced sameness as an enemy of fairness and rebel against it.

Posted on August 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm 0

On GOOD ENOUGH Homes & Destinations: What You Get For $490,000

They don't even have a picture of the drawbridge! You can't just CLAIM there's a drawbridge and not include a picture of it, NYT. Come on.

Posted on August 15, 2014 at 12:05 pm 1