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It Depends on What the Definition of “Unlimited” Is

Were you recently screwed by AT&T? You may have been and don’t even know it; or maybe you noticed that slight burning, achy feeling, but didn’t think there was anything you could do about it. Don’t worry, the FTC has got your back.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced it is suing AT&T. The commission is charging the carrier for allegedly misleading millions of its smartphone customers by changing the terms while customers were still under contract for “unlimited” data plans that were, well, limited.

“AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. “The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited.”

In a federal court complaint filing, the FTC says AT&T reduced the data speeds on “unlimited” accounts. The carrier did so by 80 to 90 percent for affected users, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. … The FTC says AT&T began reducing data speeds in 2011 for its unlimited data plan customers. Although the carrier no longer offers unlimited data plans, the FTC estimates AT&T throttled at least 3.5 million unique customers a total of more than 25 million times.

That’s a lot of throttling. No wonder my neck hurts. OK, so maybe AT&T sucks to the point of fraud and deceit. Is it time to switch or are all carriers terrible? As CNET puts it, more tactfully, “there are no guarantees. So all you can do is make your choice, hope for the best, and be your own advocate if you aren’t pleased.” Uh huh. T-Mobile apparently doesn’t do contracts anymore and Sprint has “Framily” plans. Pick your poison.

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Broke Young People Will Always Have Paris

Paris has the highest minimum wage of any metropolis considered, the equivalent of $12.84 an hour. Berlin is in 2nd place with a minimum wage of $11.86 and Rome is third.

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Is There a Class Component to Catcalls

By now you’ve surely read about, if not watched, the Hollaback video footage of a normal, 30-something woman walking around NYC for ten hours getting catcalled by men. The unwanted attention is astounding, despite the fact that she’s dressed in regular clothes and neither speaking nor smiling.

It brings back all sorts of memories for me, especially one awful pre-ear-bud summer when I was a self-conscious teenager working at a non-profit in DC. I got catcalled every day. All I wanted was to be invisible and instead guys shouted things out of their cars about how they wanted me to “Lewinsky” them, or walked by and said something savvy and sophisticated like, “Tits!”

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Link Roundup! Fee-less Banks; Bankable Stars; When Success Isn’t a Straight Line

Success is not a straight line; success is a sine curve, even for the Internet famous. That can be really, really hard to remember, and harder still to admit.

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M4F: Married Mormon Dad Seeks Companionship, Pays Price

A married Mormon dad with money and secret poly impulses started paying women to pay attention to him because the Internet.

Boston began soliciting dates with women aged 31 to 63, stating in his profile that he was married. “Winks” from women showing their interest in his profile—some of them alarmingly attractive in a blow-dried Laguna Beach way—started rolling in at the rate of three to four a week. And so Boston became a dating machine, landing rendezvous with about 30 women so far. The leggy brunette in hot-pink stilettos. The busty artist. The therapist. The real estate agent. The UC Berkeley student.

Boston makes a $40 bid for an initial coffee date or dinner to vet a woman for compatibility. His date may then design a fantasy night out—for which he handles all expenses. He also compensates the date for her time if she asks, matching what he calculates as her overtime wages, sometimes $25 to $50 an hour. The woman can choose—and Boston emphasizes in his profile that he respects her choice—either “good clean fun,” like hand-holding and small kisses, or “friends with benefits.”

Beyond the costs of the dates, Boston has helped with other expenses: an Ikea bed, a transmission, a Tiffany bracelet. “Some people spend money on cars or a vacation,” Boston says. “I prefer to spend it on people I have a crush on.”

He calls this a kind of “philanthropy.” (?!) Not everyone agrees. His decisions have cost him his wife and his church: one divorced him, the other ex-communicated him. Now he lives in a trailer. Worth it? Je ne regret rien, says he.

he evinces no regrets when he talks about his new life: booking as many as three dates a week and nurturing three to four ongoing liaisons, including one with a dominatrix from Oakland to whom he pays $1,000 for four dates monthly. He even seems excited about a date who pickpocketed him.

We are all about self-actualization around these parts, whether or not it takes the form of a typical male midlife crisis. Still, it sucks for your self-actualization to come at the emotional and financial expense of your family.

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In Search of Lost Money and How it Just Got Easier

your money could be waiting for you right now, like little orphan Annie in the window of Miss Hannigan’s singing the wistful song, “Maybe.”

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Heartbreaking Story About Homelessness in San Francisco

The myth of the “good poor” kills me, the idea that people should have to point to their accomplishments and credentials to make clear that they don’t deserve to have to live on the street. No one should have to live on the street.

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Link Roundup! “Breaking Bad” Dolls, Men’s Watches, Last Call for Holiday Flights

+ Sorry, guys. Since a Florida mom complained, you can’t buy “Breaking Bad” action figures at Toys R Us anymore. Note: the NPR article about this story uses “dolls” and “action figures” interchangeably, but I feel like I read something in the New Yorker once delineating the subtle but fascinating distinctions between the categories — which matter a lot for import tax reasons. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Did I dream it, like I dreamed last night that I got mauled by someone’s pet tiger? (“He’s usually very friendly,” the person said, cleaning my wounds.)

+ Remember those happy days when there was a clear hierarchy to men’s watches?

If you’re scaling your way up the ladder of rich douchiness, you start with a middle-class-friendly Casio or Timex. After your first six figures in the finance industry, you move to an “entry-level” luxury watch, like a Rolex, by 30. Then, in your 40s, if you’re lucky, you park your annual bonus on a high-end Swiss number. And in your 50s, feeling both flush and the literal press of time, you rock the equivalent of a Porsche on your wrist, before passing it on to the next generation as a family heirloom.

But since 2007, the whole system has been disrupted by something called “the Ice-Watch” (??), at least in Europe, where everyone, even rich people, wants the cool fun watch that costs only $200. The best part of this article is that it says the Ice-Watch “cock-blocked Swatch.” Wow. Mike would wash our mouths out with soap if we talked like that.

+ Haven’t purchased your flights home for the holidays yet? There’s still time, maybe! A little time, not much. Some years the cheapest flights appear 10 days out, right before prices spike. And holiday flights are actually super expensive in July and August, to punish those of you who might otherwise feel good about being on the ball.

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“Is There Anything More Ironic Than Coming to Live in Des Moines”

“Is this Heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.” –Field of Dreams

We’ve mentioned it here before on the site, so we’re not too surprised, but Des Moines is getting a lot of love these days. According to the National Journal, only half-jokingly, we should all be moving to Iowa, or at least visiting and considering it:

It was a normal night at the Social Club when we visited. The art gallery was open, just next to Capes Kafe coffee shop and comic-book store; upstairs, nine people in a comic-book drawing class watched an eccentric, gray-haired instructor in skinny black jeans and thick-rimmed glasses draw a cartoon about a retired Elvis impersonator named “Sid.” Out on the purposely graffitied porch with rope-spool tables, dozens of members of the local Young Nonprofit Professionals Network chapter met to network, drink, and take professional head shots.

Looking out over the courtyard marked by an old telephone tower and murals, Brianne Sanchez and Danny Heggen, both 29, describe the chapter they founded in 2013 for monthly coffee meetings. It has turned into a group of more than 550 members that successfully draws millennials downtown to connect and help each other out. It’s a quintessentially Midwestern mix of selflessness in a deep pool of ambition and drive.

“We always joke that Des Moines is a big small town,” says Heggen, a project manager for a firm that transforms old art deco buildings into new apartments. “But really, Des Moines is a large living room. There’s this homey feel. What I most want is everybody around me to be successful. And I believe that everyone wants that for me, as well.”

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A Drunk Stole My Kale. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

Today’s Link of the Day, a gripping tale of tragedy, redemption, and kale, comes from the vibrant, increasingly yuppie Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC.

About two weeks ago, my Tuscan kale plant disappeared. … we wrote it off as lost, a casualty of the urban environment in which we knew fenceless gardening to be a risk. And then, over the weekend, we found this wet note sticking out from under a flowerpot. [Note reads: "To: Wonderful Gardener. From: A Remorseful Kale Thief (I was drunk & I'm very sorry."] Attached to the back was a $25 gift card to Ace Hardware, where we plan to restock our gardening supplies in the spring. Never has my faith in humanity been more emphatically restored. Kale thief, if you’re reading this, all is forgiven and then some.

Back in the early days of our relationship, Ben borrowed my laptop and left it attended for a moment in the law school library. Some other enterprising law student, no doubt bound to be one of those shysters who advertises on billboards using dollar signs, made off with it. Ben was devastated — so upset, in fact, that I ended up calming down so that I could calm him down. (Good trick, btw, if you can pull it off.)

What’s the most valuable thing anyone has ever stolen from you? Did the thief make recompense somehow? Or have you ever had to express your remorse for taking something that wasn’t yours?

Photo via Washington City Paper

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