Criticism

When Smartphone Insurance Isn’t Worth It

Despite being a frugal person who seeks out items that are built to last, and reads pages of reviews of products to make sure I don’t buy something shoddy, in this particular case my frugality didn’t translate to reading the fine print.

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Alumni Giving Season

It’s the holiday season again, which means it’s that time of year when universities try to raise more money from their alumni. Every year around this time, I start getting a call every day from an unknown number. At first, I ignore it, thinking it’s a wrong number. But I eventually realize that it’s someone calling from one of the universities I’ve attended and that they are not going to stop until they talk to an actual person.

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Forget The New Republic. What About Cat Fancy?

The outcry about The New Republic has all but drowned out the indignant squeals from lovers of Cat Fancy (RIP).

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On Creative Businesses That Sometimes Lose Money, or “The Pomplamoose Thing”

Last Monday, Jack Conte published a piece on Medium titled “Pomplamoose 2014 Tour Profits (Or Lack Thereof),” and a certain section of the internet got very angry.

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Experts Maybe Not So Expert-y After All

We talk a lot around here about the people who hold themselves out as financial experts, and how they’re mostly full of bologna. And while we’re on the topic: Donald Trump! Why does anyone think of that dope as a paragon of financial acumen? The dude was born rich and still managed to go bankrupt.

We also dispense a fair bit of advice, or, at least, ponderous suggestions and strongly held opinions, even though none of us is, in any way, a certified expert in matters fiscal. Luckily, that doesn’t matter, because, as a new study reveals, professional mutual fund managers, who presumably would know a thing or two about managing their own money, are just as profligate, impetuous, and generally pound-foolish as the rest of us.

One of the researchers involved suggests that the main takeaway is “average investors might be better off managing their own stock portfolios rather than paying a high-fee mutual-fund managers, because beating the market is rare and very difficult.” That is surely true, but doesn’t go far enough. Average people, who mostly don’t invest in anything beyond groceries, rent, and used cars, should take great solace in knowing that even to the experts, money is basically inscrutable and advantageous decisions are elusive. So go ahead and lace up your fancy sneakers, put your iPhone in your pocket, and go buy a latte. There is a reason they call economics “the dismal science.” There is also probably a reason they call boxing “the sweet science,” but let’s not worry about that just now.

Photo by the author.

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OK, Gentrification is Lousy. Now What?

The problem, ultimately, is capitalism. It is a system designed to channel goods to the people willing and able to pay the most for them, including real estate.

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“Behind Every Jane Jacobs Comes Giuliani with his Nightstick.”

Mueller’s painting with too broad a brush. Not so much a broad brush, even: a flamethrower.

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The Only Thing You Need to Read on National Coffee Day Is This ‘History of the Latte Factor’ by Helaine Olen

[View the story "Helaine Olen on 'The History of the Latte Factor'" on Storify]

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The Liberal Arts Are Not a Luxury: An ‘Excellent Sheep’ Responds to Deresiewicz

Filling our history and literature classes with only affluent students means that we will rarely again turn out a Junot Diaz, an Alice Walker, an Irving Howe or a Sherman Alexie.

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Paying for the Things You Never Fathomed You’d Pay For

I was at lunch with a friend a few months ago when he looked down at his watch and said, “Oh I just got a message from [so-and-so]—I’ll need to dash off in 15 minutes.”

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