Monday, January 14, 2013

Decision Fatigue: Snaps Edition

I had a breakdown yesterday after spending half an hour in a fabric store trying to decide whether to buy snaps.

We're living on a ridiculously low income right now, while Bad Cohen is in grad school. This is compounded by the fact that I haven't found steady work in the hellish economy that is Cleveland and our spaz of a kid is in an expensive private school because we didn't want to let his tiny spirit be crushed until he reaches middle school, like everyone else.

So my days are an unending barrage of decisions about making trade-offs in which I end up feeling guilty and besieged no matter what I choose: I can buy unethical, factory farmed, cheap food and worry that I'm poisoning my family, or outrageously expensive organic food and worry that we'll use up all our money and be out on the streets; I can spend the next hour trolling for jobs that have over 200 applicants and low wages and won't meet our schedule or building my freelance website for work that people need but don't want to pay for, or goof off by doing fun design work that builds my portfolio but that I can't sell because everyone's getting similar stuff for cheap on Etsy.

Enter the jeans.

The Kid is growing all the time. Growing means new clothes. Clothes are freaking expensive, especially given that he'll tear through the knees of a new pair of pants within about a month. So we put out the call to relatives for bargain-hunting on used clothes in his sizes. One great-aunt came through with an awesome stash that included jeans he loved.

Now, The Kid is a sweatpants kind of guy. Part of his MO has always been refusal to wear anything the slightest bit form-fitting or complicated. Finding jeans he likes is only slightly less amazing than wondering how Superman gets into a skin-tight suit in the confines of a phone booth.

The jeans he loves are missing one part of the snaps.

(Head, meet wall.)

At this point, I can either find a matching snap (nearly impossible) or remove the remaining old one (which idea makes the fabric store personnel raise their eyebrows and start backing slowly away). Also, they don't sell a pair of snaps (the two parts that go together); they sell multiples. Plus the special "snap tools" you need to install them.

After 10 minutes, I calculate that replacing the snaps on these jeans will cost upwards of $15 and require Herculean effort. It takes another 20 minutes of back and forth on the merits of this particular pair of (free but useless) jeans for me to completely lose it and end up sobbing in the car.

I'm an editor. I'm used to making tough decisions on a tight deadline with high stakes. But I was reduced to a puddle over a pair of used jeans. And then what I really wanted was to go buy and eat an entire pint of Haagen Dazs (@cost = 1/4 of a pair of new jeans).

It seems that my 2013 insight is into what keeps the poor entrenched in poverty. It's not pretty.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Fisking the gun argument

A friend who keeps a gun at home "for safety" posted a link to Sam Harris' blog about why he likes his guns and thinks it's silly to give them up. It is, in short, asinine. I'll summarize the first bit for you:
  1. People worry that having guns in the home increases their risk for gun violence, instead of decreasing it. Although that’s actually true, I don’t care, because I’m special.
  2. If someone wants, for some inexplicable reason, to break into my home specifically to hurt me, the police can’t help in time, so I have to be my own police.
  3. Although it’s perfectly reasonable to keep a gun right next to the people you care most about, carrying a gun around in public is crazy because it will escalate problems just like a knife. In fact, knives and guns are pretty much equivalent in terms of the damage they can cause, except where they aren’t.
  4. Gun violence is going down, but everyone’s got guns, so it’s getting safer and safer to have or be near a gun. Especially in the countryside. And the safest guns of all are assault rifles because they’re involved in such a small percentage of the thousands of gun deaths we see each year. Really what’s dangerous is urban (black) people. They’re really scary, man.
  5. And who cares about deadly weapons that are designed only to kill people when so many people die from other accidents? We all get more upset when children are being shot, but that’s so unusual, which is why we’re more upset, but damn, it’s really upsetting, isn’t it. What was I saying?
 One of his main points seems to be that crazy and evil people will always be able to find a gun, so why bother trying to limit them? It's just too hard. It's sort of like trying to explain politics to women, which is why only men are allowed to vote, right Sam?