It’s “cheating week” at Pacific Standard, and they’ve got all kinds of pieces about how people cheat, including Jen Doll on the history of cheating, my pal Barry on the time he took the SATs for his high school classmates for cash (sometimes cheaters prosper), and if you’re not tired of me already, an essay that I wrote about the time I “quit smoking.”
Alert, alert! Jane Friedman and Manjula Martin, of beloved Who Pays Writers fame, have launched a magazine! It is called Scratch, as in money, and also as in writing, and it will be have interviews, reportage, and personal stories about the economics of being a writer.
A free preview of their first issue is online now, and it’s definitely worth checking out. My favorite part so far is their Transparency Index, which details not only how much everything that went into the magazine costs (hosting, design, contributor pay, et al), but all of the personal relationships that led to the different pieces in the magazine.
Serial pay-it-forward incidents involving between 4 and 24 cars have been reported at Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Del Taco, Taco Bell, KFC and Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Maryland, Florida, California, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, North Dakota, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington.
More typically, though, it’s one customer acting alone and perhaps routinely. “We have a lady who always pays it forward in the drive-through, every day,” said Aaron Quinton, co-owner of Old School Bagel Cafe, in Tulsa, Okla. “I point at the person behind and she just nods.”
The Times’s Sunday Review looked at how more people are “paying it forward” at the drive-through by picking up the tab for the car behind them. People say they do this because they feel blessed about their good fortune and want to share, survived cancer and want to celebrate life, and just want to do something nice in an anonymous way (it helps that you can drive away). This sounds nice! Now if only there were some kind of “pay it forward” movement for the workers at these drive-throughs.
Photo: Julie Jordan Scott
With the zeal of a motivational speaker, Behnke tells her clients they can buy in the District at a cost comparable to the pricey rents here if they take in roommates to help make the mortgage. Twenty-five-to-34-year-olds in the District might earn a median salary of $44,680 (nationally, the median income for millennials in metropolitan areas is $27,025). But rents in neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan and Logan Circle average $2,000 per bedroom — far above the generally recommended income-to-expense ratio of 30 percent. Why not pay yourself rather than a landlord, Behnke reasons.
Yet after a day of showings, the 29-year-old will trek up 11th Street NW to a Columbia Heights rowhouse she shares with three friends. With the city’s median home price at $460,000, the agent who sells the Washington dream is a renter.
This weekend’s Washington Post Magazine is all about millennials and though I generally can’t bring myself to read pieces about the youngs these days, I just couldn’t help myself. It’s not terrible? I did find the story about the millennial real estate agent trying to convince her peers to buy houses and then rent out the rooms so they can actually afford to live in them a little batty. Also, Georgetown is apparently trying to be cool with the young crowd again (what, was it not cool when I worked in that neighborhood nine years ago and went to piano-sing-alongs at Mr. Smiths?).
A shocking number of young people in Japan aren’t having sex, and have no desire to get married:
“Marriage has become a minefield of unattractive choices. Japanese men have become less career-driven, and less solvent, as lifetime job security has waned. Japanese women have become more independent and ambitious. Yet conservative attitudes in the home and workplace persist. Japan’s punishing corporate world makes it almost impossible for women to combine a career and family, while children are unaffordable unless both parents work. Cohabiting or unmarried parenthood is still unusual, dogged by bureaucratic disapproval.”
So the thing that happens to chickens living in cities with their urban owners after they stop laying eggs is that their owners often feel too attached to their chickens so they don’t, you know, *makes throat-cutting gesture*.
Add this to the list of things people think about doing when they’re down to nothing and figuring out how to make some money: Sell your hair, or breast milk, or even kidneys on the black market (“kidneys” is one of the autofill options that come up when you type “I want to sell my” into Google search). But really, don’t sell your kidneys. The teenager who sold his kidney for an iPhone and iPad really regrets it.
On Saturday, an old man set up a stall in Central Park near Fifth Avenue selling “spray art” for $60 per canvas. He was able to sell a few canvasses to three tourists for a total of $420—which isn’t so bad for someone selling street art. Graffiti artist Banksy revealed that the stall was actually a one-time pop-up shop that belonged to him, and the New York Post reports that the art could be worth as much as $31,000.
This photo is from German artist and photographer Michael Wolf, who I discovered via Tyler Cowen. It’s part of a series of photos of people crammed into crowded Tokyo subway trains. Also incredible is Wolf’s installation “The Real Toy Story,” which consists of 20,000 toys made in China and bought in California that Wolf attached to a wall with photos of the workers who made the toys. Really, all the photos in his portfolio are terrific.
When I attended a one-year-old’s birthday party a few weeks ago, some of the adults stood around the snack table and proposed the following game for when going out to dinner with friends: Everyone stacks their phones at the center of the table. The first person who reaches for their phone at any time during the meal pays for dinner. If no one reaches for their phone, everyone splits the meal.
Maybe you’ve heard the financial wisdom that cutting out buying coffee is a good way to save (e.g. yourlatte factor). Here are three economic concepts to remember when putting yourself through this, or similar mental anguish over how you spend your money.
This week’s NYT Magazine Lives essay comes from Caeli Wolfson Widger, who writes about not being busy at work (or really, anywhere), and ignoring phone calls and voicemails she receives on her cell because she prefers communicating via text messages and email. Communication in modern times, etc. Also, please answer your mother’s phone call, she misses you and doesn’t know how to text that well.
The TV version of Little House on the Prairie’s Laura Ingalls Wilder was earnest and cutesy, but a little bit more real than another farmer’s daughter, Daisy Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard who appeared as a one-dimensional sexualized character. Modern Farmer describes the image of the farmer’s daughter as either wholesome or tempting as the “Laura-Daisy Complex” and talked to some real farmer’s daughters beyond them being a male profession’s female relative.