Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dubious Investment Advice for Women**

**I am so going to get spam based on the post title alone. So comments stay open only for a week so I don't spend the rest of my life deleting posts by bots.

I love a good shoe. Truly, I do. In fact, today, I was walking -- nay, strutting -- through the library at Hogwarts, and in no small part because of the pair of boots I am wearing. They are comfortable yet stylish. They work with skirts and jeans. They are perfect, and I will cry when I inevitably wear them out and can't find another pair like them.

But today, in my social media account, one of those ads popped up. It was from a women's magazine, and it was promoting what its editors thought (or had been paid to think) were the shoes to have this season (Yes, some people buy shoes by season. We call them "wealthy people"). I clicked on it, and found what I anticipated: there was one pair that was reasonably attractive; the others seemed designed to scream out YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE ME BEFORE I AM TOTALLY UNIQUE NO NOT UGLY HOW COULD YOU THINK THAT YOU SHOULD BUY ME RIGHT NOW FOR $800 SO YOU CAN WEAR ME FOR EIGHT WEEKS BEFORE THE INEVITABLE KNOCK-OFFS HAPPEN AND EVERYBODY HAS A PAIR AND YOU HAVE TO DISOWN ME AND BURN EVERY PICTURE YOU HAVE WITH YOU WEARING ME.

For $990 this (and its mate) can be yours.

But it's not that -- the inevitable disposable fashion -- that caught my eye. That's a given, as is the eyeroll that is my standard response. It was the title of the post. Usually, it's something like "18 handbags you can't live without" or "12 smoothies that will change your life" or something equally hyperbolic. This one, however, was called "Sixteen Shoes You'll Want to Invest In This Spring."  And that title raised a few questions for me:
  • What is the projected rate of return on my shoe investment?
  • Is my shoe-investment tax-deferred?
  • Can I roll it over into an IRA?
  • What are the investment manager fees for my shoe purchase?
  • Will my employer match my contributions?
Oh, wait: by "invest", you mean "Spend the equivalent of 2.5 months' retirement contributions on a pair of shoes that will be fashionable for about the next 5 minutes because poverty in old age only happens to ugly people." Got it.

As the inimitable Twisty Faster used to say, this chaps my spinster hide. First, women are marketed beauty products with food to put on their faces to replace the food that they're not supposed to put in their faces; now, "investment" means "spend money on something whose value depreciates to zero in less time than it takes you to pay off the charge on your credit card."

What. The. HELL.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The University of All Our Besties

I just found out that a good friend of mine is going to be in Blerg City this summer. We were supposed to be there together last summer, but she had to cut her trip short for very good reasons. So: she will be there, and will need a pseudonym. And Osito, another one of my favorite folks, will also be there for a couple days. And a couple other folks just up the road.

And I thought about something that occurs to me quite frequently: as academics, we move around a lot. If we are lucky, every place we land we have some good colleagues, and at least one friend who truly "gets" us. And then we get thrown into other professional situations -- seminars, conferences, even blogospheres -- and we meet other people who get us, on a real, deep level. People who you can make up silly songs about washing underwear for, and who will sing along. People who will suggest ice cream for dinner. People (in my case) who think it's perfectly appropriate for a middle-aged spinster auntie to swear like a sailor.

BFFs. Your Tribe. Besties.

Wouldn't it be nice, then, if we could just found our own university, and pack it with our besties. Jesus, we'd never get anything done for all the giggling and eye-rolling. But it would be a whole hill of fun.