News

Soon We Will All Enter Through The Poor Door

Separate but equal, right? What could possibly go wrong? According to the Daily Mail, NYC has given a thumbs up to the Poor Door:

Extell’s proposal allows them to force affordable housing tenants to walk through an entrance located in a back alley behind the building to enter, leaving the more prominent front entrance for tenants paying for nicer apartments. … some developers dismiss the outcry over the ‘poor door’ concept.

‘No one ever said that the goal was full integration of these populations,’ David Von Spreckelsen, senior vice president at Toll Brothers, another developer specializing in luxury residencies, told The Real Deal in 2013. ‘So now you have politicians talking about that, saying how horrible those back doors are. I think it’s unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in their building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters, who are very fortunate to live in a new building in a great neighborhood.’

The great David Von Spreckelsen has spoken. Gross trash-people living in affordable housing should be grateful they get a door at all and don’t have to shimmy in through air vents or come in on their knees, flagellating themselves for not working harder in elementary school to prepare themselves for the marketplace. Count your blessings, human rats! If you can count, which we doubt.

Related: Have you watched Snowpiercer yet? Anne Helen Petersen says: “Snowpiercer is the first film I’ve seen since District 9 that takes the tropes of the blockbuster and transforms them into something so compelling that days after seeing it, you stop can’t thinking about it. It turns moviegoers into proselytizers: Once you’ve seen it, you can’t shut the fuck up.”

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“Money Can’t Buy Happiness; It is Happiness”: A State-By-State Analysis

As Jack Donaghy summarized for us a couple of years ago, “Money can’t buy happiness; it is happiness!” But the amount of money that equals happiness — the salary point at which happiness plateaus, and earning more no longer makes you proportionally more satisfied or excited — varies from state to state. The Huffington Post has helpfully eaten this information, digested it, and excreted it in colorful map form, and also as a chart. You’re welcome!

Not surprisingly, in New York, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, an income of $75,000 won’t cut it. You don’t reach a happiness plateau in Hawaii until you make a whopping $122,000 a year. Isolation is expensive, I guess. DC comes in second at $104,000, meaning there are lots of grasping, unhappy strivers in the nation’s capital. I guess we knew that already. It’s not entirely a fair comparison, though, since DC is all city; if you judged California, New York, Illinois, Georgia, or even Texas entirely by their cities, their numbers would go way up too. Still, good to know if you’re thinking of working in government.

A mere $65,000 will buy you happiness in Mississippi, where plateaus come cheapest. Presumably though such a sum is harder to earn. (There’s the rub. There is always the rub.) New Mexico, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and Louisiana all essentially tie, coming in at $70,000, so if you have to choose among those vastly different states, just roll a five-sided dice! Or figure out which state offers the most well-paying jobs.

Some surprises: Oregon is in the top 10, above Massachusetts. What’s up, Portlandia? How do you all get by slinging coffee, pickling things, and growing beards if you’re secretly such malcontents that your happiness doesn’t plateau until $91,000? By comparison, Washington State is a bargain at $76,900. If you’re choosing between Portland and Seattle, well, go Seahawks! And in Alaska happiness plateaus come very dear. Jeez. Who even makes $98,800 a year up there?

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Millennials All For Socialism, Don’t Know What It Means

According to new research, millennials like, dislike everything. Some of the things they think they like, they simply don’t understand, like socialism: “Only 16% of millennials can accurately define socialism, making it less surprising that up to 42% prefer socialism and 52% favor capitalism.”

Possible definitions of socialism, according to the millennials surveyed: 1) soft-serve ice cream; 2) kittens playing in a box; 3) rain that only falls at night; 4) small, affordable cities with good weather, a cultural scene, public transportation, and available jobs; 5) teleportation.

Anyway, who really knows how to define socialism vs. capitalism? If we pop quizzed you, would you satisfy the test-takers? What’d you get on your Socialism AP Test, huh, smart guy?

Here are some more awesome results

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America Arrests Working Mom. Good Job, America!

Welcome to the US of A, where you can get arrested for letting your nine-year-old play in the park while you go to work at McDonald’s. Spluttering with indignation? Let Conor Friederdorf of the Atlantic articulate your outrage for you. His skills are well-honed.

By arresting this mom (presumably causing her to lose her job) and putting the child in foster care, the state has caused the child far more trauma than she was ever likely to suffer in the park, whatever one thinks of the decision to leave her there. Even if the state felt it had the right to declare this parenting decision impermissible, couldn’t they have given this woman a simple warning before taking custody?

Also, even though it is against the law for your boss to tell you not to discuss your salary with your coworkers, odds are your boss will either not know that or not care. For that matter, you may well not know your rights, either. Let’s go over them, shall we? 

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Are You as Financially Literate as an American Teenager?

The Organization For Economic Cooperation put together a survey and assessed the financial literacy of 15-year-old across the globe. American teens tested in the middle (China placed first, but, hey, we beat Russia and France [just barely]).

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Who Lives In All Those Fancy Condos? Human Props & Nobody

One of the fun things about living in New York City is peering into the faces of the people you pass and asking yourself, “Are you a millionaire? Are you, sir, with the mustache and tattoos and mustache tattoos? Are you, angry biking lady?” It’s sort of like the grown-up version of Are You My Mother? but whereas the little bird in that famous children’s book has only one mother, NYC overflows with rich people. They’re everywhere, hiding among us. They have to be. After all, who else could afford to buy those massive luxury condos growing up everywhere like weeds?

Well, turns out that the secret ingredient is salt foreign capital.

According to data compiled by the firm PropertyShark, since 2008, roughly 30 percent of condo sales in large-scale Manhattan developments have been to purchasers who either listed an overseas address or bought through an entity like a limited-liability corporation, a tactic rarely employed by local homebuyers but favored by foreign investors. Similarly, the firm Corcoran Sunshine, which markets luxury buildings, estimates that 35 percent of its sales since 2013 have been to international buyers, half from Asia, with the remainder roughly evenly split among Latin America, Europe, and the rest of the world. “The global elite,” says developer Michael Stern, “is basically looking for a safe-deposit box.” … But much of the foreign money is coming in at lower price points, closer to the median for a Manhattan condo ($1.3 million and rising). In fact, if you’ve recently been outdone by an outrageous all-cash bid for an apartment, there’s a decent chance that, behind a generic corporate name, there’s a foreign buyer and an offshore bank account.

Don’t sweat it, normal Americans! We still have options. We can be HUMAN PROPS

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“Poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgment.”

Solidly middle-class, white collar, and college educated, Darlena Cunha never expected to need to rely on the social safety net. But when confronted by unexpected, high-needs twins, a laid-off husband, and the reality that the house she had just bought had already lost the entirety of its value (and yet still needed to be paid off), she found herself driving a Mercedes to pick up food stamps. Please tamp down your knee-jerk reaction to yell “Sell the Mercedes!” at the screen, at least until you read the article.

In just two months, we’d gone from making a combined $120,000 a year to making just $25,000 and leeching out funds to a mortgage we couldn’t afford. Our savings dwindled, then disappeared. So I did what I had to do. I signed up for Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Before she knows it, she becomes “you people,” someone trying to buy inessentials with food stamps and enduring the scorn of know-it-alls.

Once, a girl at the register actually stood up for me when an older mother of three saw the coupons and started chastising my purchase of root beer. They were “buy two, get one free” at a dollar a pop. “Surely, you don’t need those,” she said. “WIC pays for juice for you people.” The girl, who couldn’t have been more than 19, flashed her eyes up to my face and saw my grimace as I white-knuckled the counter in front of me, preparing my cold shoulder.

“Who are you, the soda police?” she asked loudly. “Anyone bother you about the pound of candy you’re buying?”

The woman huffed off to another register, and I’m sure she complained about that girl. I, meanwhile, thanked her profusely.

“I’ve got a son,” she said, softly. “I know what it’s like.”

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Would You Pay $375 for A Night at the Museum? ANY Museum?

Having refused to subject myself to Ben Stiller’s particularly noxious brand of simian energy, I know very little about Night at the Museum or its sequels. [Sidebar: actors we'd pay money to never see again in movies. Go!] From the trailers and the reviews though, heck even from the poster, I’ve gotten a pretty decent idea: it’s like Toy Story, only instead of toys coming to life, it’s dinosaurs, right? Less charm, more rampaging?

Ever since the movie drew more children’s attention to the American Museum of Natural History, the AMNH has been hosting family sleepovers; and now, for the first time, the museum is hosting one for adults. For $375 per person ($325 if you’re a member), you can get a once-in-a-lifetime taste of Nerd Nirvana.

  • The overnight adventure will begin with a champagne reception and music (courtesy of the 12th Night Jazz trio) in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall.
  • A three-course dinner will be served.
  • Explorers can roam through the nearly empty halls of the Museum (including the spiders). There will also be a flashlight tour.
  • Participants will be invited to attend a special presentation in The Power of Poison exhibition with Curator Mark Siddall.
  • There will be a midnight viewing of the Dark Universe Space Show, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
  • Participants will also be invited to “enjoy wild creatures up close during a live animal demonstration in the Kaufmann Theater”!
  • You will sleep in your sleeping bag… under the big blue (clean) whale! When you wake up there will be a breakfast snack.

I’m all for this, but personally, for $375, I’d like a bed. At least a cot, or an air mattress that slowly deflates over the course of the night. Flashlight tours are always tops, though. Like flashlight tours of old cemeteries? Worth every penny. Speaking of pennies, though, what is a “breakfast snack”? Is it more or less than an Egg McMuffin?

Do you think camping out near the Planetarium stars is worth $375? Or would you pay that amount cheerfully for a different institutional location: the Louvre, the Uffizi, the Confederate Museum?

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New “Harry Potter” Content Released, Free

The good news is, as of today you can read a new short story about Harry Potter on Pottermore, the obsessive fan fiction site. The bad news is, you have to jump through a series of hoops as long as a Quidditch field to get there. (Sign up required.) The good news is, it’s free! The bad news is, the story is written in the voice of Rita Skeeter. Here’s a snippet from the Vulture write-up:

… [Harry] Potter took his young songs James and Albus to visit the players’ compound, where he introduced them to Bulgarian Seeker Viktor Krum.

About to turn 34, there are a couple of threads of silver in the famous Auror’s black hair, but he continues to wear the distinctive round glasses that some might say are better suited to a style-deficient twelve-year-old. The famous lightning scar has company: Potter is sporting a nasty cut over his right cheekbone. Requests for information as to its provenance merely produced the usual response from the Ministry of Magic: ‘We do not comment on the top secret work of the Auror department, as we have told you no less than 514 times, Ms. Skeeter.’

I never bought that Harry would name one of his sons “Albus Severus,” if only because it sounds godawful, and I wished Hermione would have stayed single, become some kind of holy terror of a lawyer and brought lots of suits against the Ministry of Magic while having hot sex with Victor Krum and maybe also Ginny on the side. But I am a bit skeptical about this story, even as I dive into it. From Scarlet to Cosette, these kinds of things have a foul track record, though at least this extension was written by the brilliant, kindhearted quadrillionaire JK Rowling herself, who could have charged money for even a little wispy bit of whatever thrown to her masses of fans and didn’t. Bless her heart.

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Jane Hu’s First Jobs: Newsie; Hawker of Fish & Chips

Your first job: Paper girl, age 9 — because what else can you trust a 9-year-old to do?

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Let Google Send You To Tech School, Because Otherwise You’ll Starve

Noting a paucity of women and POC among their engineers, Uncle Google has decided to give us a boost.

Google is paying for three free months for any women and minorities interested in tech to expand their skills. While Google is also offering the same vouchers to the women in attendance at its annual I/O developers conference this week, the search giant has released an online application that’s available to women everywhere. Google says its available vouchers for women number in the “thousands.”

So, better odds than the #AmtrakResidency! Go ahead, ‘folders, apply and let us know what happens. Goodness knows, if you’re a woman or a POC, you’ll do better studying #STEM than moving to NYC to try to be an artist, according to the rabid attention paid to writers like Emily Gould, who have the temerity to publish books, and this sad, sobering analysis in HyperAllergic.

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Speaking of FitBits, Here’s One for Your Hoo-Hoo!

All of you data-lovers who are more moderate-minded than David Sedaris or I am and are hugging your FitBits close to your chests have an altogether new kind of tracker to consider: Minna Life’s k-Goal for your kegels, now available to fund on Kickstarter. (Nice alliteration there, right? Going with Indiegogo or something would have totally ruined the effect.)

“Pretty much everything else that’s out there right now is passive,” explains Jon Thomas, VP of manufacturing for Minna, the sexual health products company that designed kGoal. “You don’t have any feedback or any transparency into whether you’re doing the exercise correctly or how you’re actually progressing.”

The cheerful little device, which vibrates enthusiasm at you from inside, has raised over $38,000 of this writing and aims to reach $90,000 total. Other gadgets I expect to see soon: 

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