Category Archives: News

Harvard admissions

I have to say that reading about the Harvard admissions process makes me sick.  First, it’s important to establish whether it matters or not.  I would argue that it absolutely does.  I have never heard someone who attended a top-tier school – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, Stanford – argue that it doesn’t matter.  I’d say I was a good ten years into my career before the fact that I attended Stanford stopped being significant to people inside and outside the company.  And an engineering MS at Stanford is nothing like an undergrad degree at the top Ivy Leagues in terms of connections and opportunities.

My sister got her first job at Bain Boston.  From there she went on to venture capital and is now a VERY successful VP at a startup.  Bain Boston ONLY recruits from Ivy Leagues and UVA.  UVA is the ONLY non-Ivy League school Bain recruits at (or recruited at in 2003 – I can’t say if things have changed.)  (You can go to their second tier offices from  other schools, like the Atlanta office from GT, but if you want the direct path to opportunity my sister had, you need to be at a very select list of schools.  I had an offer after grad school and the manager didn’t recruit at public schools like GT.  This is very obviously stupid on his part, but it is real.  And obviously, connections are huge.

This article is about the opportunity afforded to those at the tippety top of the money spectrum.  Incredibly, these people apparently make up 10% of the Harvard class with a more than 40% admit rate.  That’s mind-boggling!  But it’s only the tip of the iceberg.  My husband went to an elite private school in Manhattan, probably the most elite in NYC.  He had decent SATs but not exceptional (1400s), good grades but was not valedictorian, and participated in extracurriculars but really didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.  (For the record, I do think my husband is one of the most overachieving people on the planet, but it’s not clear to me that that would have come through on a college app all those years ago.)   He applied to multiple Ivy League schools, including Harvard and Yale, got into all of them, and chose Harvard – a daring move since he comes from a Yale family.  (Father, brother and sister all went to Yale.)  His family was nowhere near rich enough to buy a building, but they didn’t need to apply for financial aid.  What percent of the admit class goes to these applicants – the well-off graduates of prep schools all over the country?  And while these prep schools may have a scholarship student or two, my husband, child of a Manhattan doctor, said he thought he was poor in high school because most of the other kids at his school were so much better off than him!  It boggles the mind.  It truly does.

Ironically, my children are Harvard legacies.  And Stanford legacies.  Apparently Harvard’s class is typically one third legacy!   And we live in a big city and are solid earners, so if we wanted to, we could try to get the girls into one of the more prestigious private schools in the area.  Even if we sent them to public school in, say, Bellevue, I’m pretty sure Harvard admissions is familiar with the top public schools in the area.  I’m 100% sure schools in Roanoke are NOT on their recruiting list, or any other elite school’s for that matter.

When 40%+ of the class goes to the rich kids, and probably another 10 or 20% to athletic or musical or other types of prodigies, that leaves about 40% of the class for the rest of the country to fight over the scraps.  Into those few remaining seats, you have to fit middle class overachievers, the economically deprived, and racial minorities.  And I guess that’s probably part of the reason affirmative action is so controversial.  There’s all this affirmative action going on to help the rich and connected that’s rarely talked about.  Is racial affirmative action any more or less fair?  Why do we have a court case about racial discrimination but no court case about the economic discrimination?  Why is it not OK for Harvard to discriminate based on race, but it’s OK for them to give seats to people whose parents might buy a library?  If we want this opportunity for L, should my husband join the alumni association? So. lame.

What I find fascinating is how much Harvard wants to hide their admissions process and criteria from public scrutiny.  To me, that’s a tell.  If you’re frightened and embarrassed to share publicly how you choose to admit students, that probably indicates there’s something unsavory about it.

Trump went to an Ivy League school.  I’ll leave it to you to decide if he earned it:

“He was a transfer student who arrived at Wharton after two years at Fordham University, which U.S. News & World Report currently ranks 66th among national universities,” the Post explains. Trump reportedly had “respectable” grades at Fordham, but got into Wharton as a transfer student mainly because of an admissions officer who had gone to high school with his older brother.

serena

I am a big fan of Serena.  However, when I was reading an article about what went down at her match yesterday, I literally had to stop reading.  I was cringing too badly, and I don’t like reading about people I like doing stupid things.

I think I stopped when I read that her coach had acknowledged coaching Serena but excused it by saying “everyone does it.”  (I’m inclined to believe him.)  The problem is that Serena swore up and down that he wasn’t coaching her, going so far as to invoke her daughter.  So there are only two scenarios in which Serena wasn’t lying.  (a) Her coach lied when he admitted coaching her.  This seems extraordinarily unlikely.  (b) He was coaching her, but she didn’t realize it.  It seems unlikely this is the only time he’s done this, so we’d have to believe that he’d been up there waving his hands around and she’s just been completely oblivious.  Possible.  But unlikely.

Was the umpire’s handling of the coaching unfair?  Given that Serena’s coach was in fact apparently was coaching, it doesn’t seem like it, though if it is extremely common for coaches to do this, then perhaps it was.  This is a really important point because this is what kicked off the whole thing and set the tone for the match.

The racket penalty was caused by the coaching thing; because there’d already been a warning, that turned into a penalty.  In and of itself, it wasn’t unfair.  The controversy arises from Serena calling the umpire a “thief” and he giving a penalty as a result.  I’d love to see some data on whether this is in fact irregular or not.  From what I’ve read, it seems that it may in fact have been, but I haven’t seen anyone actually compile data.  Even if it was irregular, it seems a little over-the-top to attribute it to sexism.  Maybe it was racism.  Or maybe he was just mad because she was so aggressive.  It would be really useful to see data on this particular umpire.  Honestly, if I were an umpire, I’d be very disinclined to take that kind of hostility.  But I don’t follow tennis, so I don’t know what’s normal and acceptable.

Maybe Serena was so angry because she’s witnessed this ump behave in a sexist manner before, or something he’d done led her to believe that he was in fact sexist.  Sometimes you just get that sense from people.

Honestly, though, I found the French Open’s comments and policy change based on Serena’s attire far more sexist.  I thought that was egregious.  In that instance, Serena responded very politely; to me, that was blatant sexism and I wish she’d called them out on it and not been so polite.

There is a great deal of sexism in the world, but I think it’s important to be careful about calling out people for sexism when it’s not clear that it actually exists.

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Update – Doesn’t sound to me like the umpire is sexist.  Possibly an overly strict (bad?) umpire, but not sexist.  “No sexist issue there,” said Chris Evert, the former world No. 1, on Sunday. “His history with men players shows that.”  Interestingly, the umpire also gave Venus a coaching penalty.  She stated at the time, that at age 36 it was the first and only penalty of that nature that she’d received (and disputed it).  Same coach?  Legit?

yet another

When I “opened” the local newspaper this morning, I came across yet another #metoo case.  I find it extraordinary how in almost all of these cases, there are many many women who have come forward.  I can’t decide if this is because these guys always are abusive or obnoxious to many women, or if if no one listens until 10 or 12 people have come forward, at least in the case of someone prominent.  This particular guy, David Meinert, has been accused to “misconduct” by 11 women, including assault and rape between 2001 and 2015.  (Meinert is a “prominent business man and activist” in Seattle.)  Two of them filed police reports, but apparently nothing happened until now, when the local NPR station published reports highlighting the accusations.  What if NPR hadn’t published those reports?  Might this guy have continued on without issue for another few years?

(Is it really appropriate to lump RAPE in the category of #metoo?  The ST categorized their story as a subset of that broader movement / “discussion”.  But to me, rape is a crime on par with murder that should stand on its own, apart from other types of harassment.)

“Whether at a bar or in a boardroom, Meinert had a reputation for aggressive-bordering-on-inappropriate behavior, according to seven people who worked with him in a variety of capacities.  Those interviewed described instances of Meinert hitting on employees at his businesses, making sexually charged comments and not backing down when rebuffed.”  Why are people like this tolerated?  I can’t think of anyone I interact with at work that behaves like this.  I guess I’m not sure what I’d if there was someone; if someone doesn’t cross the line in public, and they are good at what they do, it’s hard to get rid of them.

St. Brigid

I’ve picked up my knitting again.  St. Brigid is a bucket list knit, and I knew it was going to take forever . . . and it is living up to billing.  It’s not really particularly hard, but the pattern is sufficiently complex that I haven’t been able to memorize it, which means knitting it always requires a certain amount of concentration.  In any case, the back is done (one mistake, which I think is not noticeable to the layman), and I’m determined to finish the front sometime in the not too distant future.  Which means in the next month or two.  As always, I’m eager to take on something new and lazy about finishing the old.  I’ve been obsessed with running and the like lately, but I’m feeling my interests circle back to crafting, just a little bit.

In other news, like half of the world, I can’t stop thinking about the Thai soccer players.  Of course there are people dying right and left all over the world, but everyone is coming together to save these people, and it’s sort of a failure of humanity if they can’t manage it.  So, I’ve checked CNN more in the last couple days than in the previous couple months.  Hopefully there will be good news in the morning.

their hair is falling out

Love this quote from Obama:

“All these people are out here kvetching and wringing their hands and stressed and anxious and, you know, constantly watching cable TV and howling at the moon, ‘What are we going to do?’ Their hair is falling out,” said Obama, arguing for a reasoned response. “The good news is that if you act, if we act, then the majority of the American people prefer a story of hope.”

Yes, yes and yes.  The Dems have been overwhelmingly running on a message of anti-Trump.  Where is the positive message?  The belief that they can do something and a description of what that something is?

It’s amazing how much more I like Obama when he’s not standing between me and my dream of a woman president.  Where is the next Obama?

democracy and burying one’s head in the sand

We owe 25K in taxes this year.  I don’t mean that we owe 25K in total.  (Obviously, we pay a lot more than that.)  I mean we will be writing a check for 25K in a few days.  Typically, it’s been between 10 and 20, so this is a new high.  No interest, no penalties.  H pays estimated tax three or four times a year (whatever you’re supposed to; he deals with this all on his own.  I’m not sure I appreciate him as much as I should).  Anyway, I’m just curious if my friends write huge checks in April, or if you have your withholdings set such that you break even or get a refund, or at least pay a lot less.  I kind of like the annual reminder that I pay the federal government a hell of a lot in taxes.

I’ve had three days of short, slow runs in a row.  Hopefully I can keep the streak going.  To get in my planned 4 mile run tomorrow, I’ll need to get up at around 5:30.  I am not morning person, but if you want to be a parent and a running person, there aren’t a lot of options.  At least it’s been beautifully light recently.  I love the spring and summer so much in Seattle.

I enjoyed this article from the NYT about a man who’s chosen to bow out of awareness.  The thing is, as a society, participating in our democracy is so critical.  Writing letters, discussing things with your friends, participating in demonstrations, donating to groups that represent your interests; I believe in all these things.  However, as an individual, the impact you can have is negligible and unlikely to impact your life.  The most liked comment said the following:

I’m jealous of Mr Hagerman because he can afford to ignore the news. It seems that he has accumulated enough wealth and does not have an immediate family to care for where any of the current decisions directly affect him. On the other hand I have to continue to work at my right to work (fire you for any reason) workplace, pray my 401k won’t take another 2008 hit because of regulation roll back, and hope I don’t die in an emergency room of a totally treatable disease because of American healthcare or af an AR-15 wound from an at school parent teacher meeting because of the NRA-GOP party policies.

The thing is, this one man’s choice to read the news, write letters, donate money, demonstrate, whatever, probably has zero impact on his 401K, healthcare, and gun rights.  He would probably be happier if he buried his head in the sand.  If EVERYONE did this, it would be catastrophic.  But for an individual, participating in the national “conversation” provides virtually zero benefit and for those of us who care, lots of tooth-gnashing.

I personally made a choice when our esteemed president was elected not to open articles with “Trump” in the title.  I’ve probably read fewer than ten articles since Trump was elected.  I’m not bragging.  I feel vaguely guilty, but not too much.  As someone who’s been struggling with anxiety, I view it as my prerogative to make choices that help me get through the day without panic attacks, and not thinking about what Trump has done today definitely helps.  The guy in the article takes it to an unreasonable extreme, but I think I can safely say that I’m happier not knowing what Mr. T is up to.   I think a lot of other people would probably happier if they spent less time reading the news, but I guess we’d be worse off as a democracy as a result.

I just finished reading (well, listening) to a fascinating book: Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets.  It’s all about the fall of the Soviet Union, with a significant secondary focus also on living under Stalin, or living having lived under Stalin.  I loved the way it made me reflect on the pros and cons of democracy and socialism and of course, communism.  It’s easy for us to be a bit laissez faire about the incredible gift we have to live in a free country, and I like to be reminded of that from time to time.  On the flip side, the chaos that occurred when the USSR fell was horrible for minority groups – Russians living outside Russia, Belarussians living in Russia, Chechens, etc.  When people took on national identities instead of Soviet identities, everything went to hell.  Reading about this made the appeal of Putin obvious.  I would want Putin in charge, too.  Trump or no, I feel we, as US citizens, are incredibly blessed to live where we do with the opportunities we have.

rape trial

A rape trial just concluded in Belfast with the accused being rugby players, more or less the brit equivalent of American football players.  I found it interesting to read the account.  Of course the young woman took actions that put her in the situation, and as always, it’s nearly impossible to prove rape. Personally, I don’t think men should be put away for rape unless the evidence is conclusive.  Since the evidence is rarely conclusive, this suggests that most men who date rape can get away with it.  The solution, in my mind, is to make the penalty so severe that no one wants to risk the unlikely chance they’ll get caught.  I propose life in prison for attempted rape.

There was an event in Seattle recently in which a man attempted to assault and rape a runner.  She fought him off, posted on insta, and became an internet celebrity.  He recently went on trial and is going to prison for less than 5 years.  Really???  Have we learned nothing from Brock?  Just because he’s not a young, handsome, privileged rich kid it’s ok for him to rape women?  There is a major differentiater between Brock and this rapist.  I can with 100% confidence avoid a brock rape by not drinking to the point of unconsciousness.  Perhaps because I run often, and run often in the dark, and always alone, I feel very angry that people don’t take this other type of rape equally seriously.  I feel it’s actually much worse.

Anyway, in terms of the Belfast incident, there are so many young women that take actions that put themselves in terribly vulnerable positions.  I always think about the many times I put myself in similar situations as a young woman – falling down drunk, sometimes with friends not around, strange men pawing at me.  So incredibly stupid!  I was lucky enough never to experience any kind of sexual assault.  But it really could happen to anyone.  One night, and only one, at GT, I drank until I passed out.  It wasn’t my intention.  I hadn’t drank all semester – literally at all – and I drank like I had the tolerance I’d had in Ireland when I drank all the time.  And I passed out and nothing happened to me.  The guy I was with took care of me.  Thank goodness there was no brock around.  Anyway, to me the formula for not getting date raped = no alcohol + no athletes.  Virtually all date rapes include at least one of the two and a huge percentage include both.  But everyone has to go through that phase where they throw caution to the winds, right?  It’s just a question of being lucky enough to get through (relatively) unscathed.