Link Roundup: Affluenza/Douchiness; Hospitals & Obamacare; Macy’s Settles with “Shoplifters”

+ Remember that Texas boy who killed a bunch of people and got off with a slap on the wrist because, his lawyers argued, his wealthy parents never taught him right from wrong? SHOCKER, his dad just got arrested. Not for never teaching his son “thou shalt not kill,” but for being a douche.

The father of the Texas teenager who killed four people while driving drunk and claimed his family’s wealth was partially to blame has been arrested for impersonating a police officer, legal documents showed. Frederick Anthony Couch was arrested on Tuesday for an incident that occurred on July 28 in the Fort Worth suburb of North Richland Hills. Couch is the father the then 16-year-old boy who was sentenced to probation for the deadly accident after his lawyers argued the enormous wealth of the youth’s family blinded him to responsibilities resulting from his actions.

+ Hospitals, Obamacare, and who qualifies for free emergency treatment.

While many charity care programs have been in place for decades, others were established following widespread complaints and lawsuits brought in the late 1990s over aggressive hospital collections tactics. Those included placing liens on patients’ homes and charging the uninsured the highest list prices, which were far more than what insurance companies paid on behalf of policyholders. Now, under the health law, nonprofit hospitals must make reasonable efforts to determine if patients qualify for help before taking tough collection tactics. And the law says the amount sought from the patient cannot be the hospitals’ list price, but an amount closer to what is generally billed to insured patients.

+ Macy’s pays $650,000 to settle with shoppers after acting like a shitty police state. Because America really needed another one of those. 

What Does Success Look Like?

Vulture compiled a list of the most successful graduates of Tyra Banks’s televised charm school, America’s Next Top Model. None has come close to dethroning Tyra herself; though most are, as you’d expect, tall and skinny and photogenic, they continue to do better on TV — the medium in which they broke through — than on the runway. First place finishers don’t seem to do better in life, ultimately, than their also-rans. Witness the top two, according to Vulture:

2. YaYa DaCosta (2nd Place, Cycle 3) Post-ANTMSmall roles in Ugly Betty and All My ChildrenTRON: Legacy, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and The Kids Are Alright; Garnier Fructis campaign; playing Whitney Houston in the upcoming Lifetime biopic I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story Power Points: YaYa’s photo critiques usually boiled down to her looking too much like a dancer. Opinionated but not a mean girl, she finished second behind Eva Pigford (the mean girl). YaYa won the war, though, spinning her silver medal into respectable acting gigs, including a potential breakthrough part playing Whitney Houston in a TV biopic. Tyra approvesBobbi Kristina does not.

1. Analeigh Tipton (3rd Place, Cycle 11) Post-ANTMRecurring role on Hung; roles in The Green Hornet, Crazy Stupid Love, Warm Bodies, and Lucy; starring in ABC’s Manhattan Love Story this fall Power Points: Analeigh — an adorable, figure-skating fan favorite — had a part in a Ryan Gosling movie. We repeat: She had a part in a Ryan Gosling movie, playing Steve Carrell’s kid’s babysitter. Her upcoming lead role in the primetime rom-com, Manhattan Love Story, secures her spot in the Top Model Hall of Fame.

It’s a good reminder that success doesn’t always look like the way we expect it to. So, btw, is this piece in Slate about an overachieving mom who freaks out about her developmentally-delayed daughter — both abstractly and sometimes at her daughter herself. If the essay weren’t candidly introspective about the mom’s faults, it would be a total hate-read. (Frankly, though I am also sympathetic, it still kind of is.)

Players on the Playa: The Economics of Burning Man

No vendors, no logos, and still, the annual anarchic festival that is Burning Man sure puts the green in Black Rock City.

“Every single seat we have coming into this airport the weekend before will be filled and every single seat we have leaving on the departure weekend will be filled,” Kulpin says. He estimates that the airport reaps $10 million a year from Burning Man-bound flyers. “How could we not embrace that?” he asks. …

These pit stops, hotel stays and last-minute purchases equal $35 million spent by Burning Man participants—“Burners,” for the uninitiated—in Nevada each year. Sixty-six percent of respondents in the 2013 Burning Man census (yes, it has a census) reported spending more than $250 in the state on their way to and from the event. Eighteen percent spent more than $1,000. In putting the event on, the Burning Man organization adds to this stream, from $301,660 given to local law enforcement agencies in 2013 to $4.5 million spent on Bureau of Land Management and other usage fees. “This event has a huge, month-long, positive impact on our local economy,” says John Slaughter, county manager for Washoe, which includes everything from Reno to the closest towns to the event, the 200-person-each desert settlements of Gerlach and Empire. “Our stores, restaurants, gas stations, and car washes see an incredible influx of traffic, providing a great boost to the Northern Nevada economy.”

My sister-in-law is on the Playa right now! She started saving at least six months ago while nannying for two separate families. That’s commitment. Back when I was at liberty, I was more of a folk festival person (Falcon Ridge, heyyyy) but I totally get the appeal of spending — even extreme spending — to be in isolation among like-minded companions.

“‘Burning Man is like a big family picnic,’ he told me. ‘Would you sell things to one another at a family picnic? No, you’d share things.’”

Can Feminism and Breastfeeding Coexist, Take 2

Babygirl is four months old. I buy my first can of formula from a small pharmacy in Guatemala and bottled water to mix it with.

Magic Words That Will Save You $$$

Jake Halpern’s noir-ish story in the NYT Magazine about debt collection is scarier than Sin City. Poor Theresa! (We are all Theresa.)

there was little that Theresa could do; she had paid off her debt to the wrong collectors and had fallen into the debt underworld. If anyone was going to help her, it wouldn’t be the state attorney general, or the Better Business Bureau, or the F.T.C., or even the police, but the former banker and the former armed-robber who bought her debt.

The most valuable takeaway from the piece, as underlined by an interview Halpern gives Ira Glass on “This American Life,” though, is that a few magic words can make the whole nightmare go away.

Jake Halpern: [The lawyer] said, oh, well, when a consumer actually shows up in court and says the magic words, then these cases basically evaporate. And I say, the magic words? He says, yeah. Show me the evidence.

Ira Glass: Show me the evidence. In other words, show me where you got this number, $3,762.20. The Georgia Legal Services lawyer told Jake that if you’re standing before a judge and you say, OK, I don’t recognize this amount that you say I owe, and I want to see some documentation, I want to see account statements or whatever, because I have no way to know with certainty that this debt is really mine, the judge will usually turn to the other side and ask for the evidence. And in all likelihood, they’ll have no documentation and they’ll drop the case. And this is true not just in Georgia, but elsewhere. Because the way this business works, Jake says, when credit card companies sell these IOUs to debt collection companies, they usually don’t give them any documentation. Usually they just give them a spreadsheet with a long list of people who owe money on their credit cards and their addresses and the last payment and how much they owe, and not a whole lot more than that.

Amazing!! You have the right to remain silent, America, or to use the magic words that will set you free. Think you’ve got it down? Test your skills by playing the game!

Let’s All Buy JD Salinger’s Old House, Have a Kegger

OK here’s a great idea: let’s all pitch in some cash, not too much, whatever we happen to have lying around, and buy the rural New Hampshire house where famous American hermit J.D. Salinger lived for a while. It’s for sale, according to Curbed, for less than $700,000, and it is super pretty.

As reported by the Valley News, Salinger purchased the place in 1953 after separating from his first wife, by which time he had achieved both critical and commercial success with the 1951 publication of The Catcher in the Rye. He made the move to Cornish from his apartment in Manhattan (300 57th Street), and it’s in the small New Hampshire town where his reputation as a recluse solidified, but according to a 2010 article in the New York Times, Salinger was a relatively active member of the community.

Salinger, who sold the house in the ’60s but stayed in town, is said to have voted in elections, attended town meetings at the Cornish Elementary School, and been a mainstay at $12 roast beef dinners at First Congregational Church in nearby Hartland, Vermont. Locals, embodying what one resident once described to the New York Times as “the code of the hills,” have boasted since his death in 2010 of misdirecting the throngs of eager English majors that came looking for their resident writer. According to the owner of a local general store, just how far these misdirections took Salinger pilgrims “depended on how arrogant they were.”

How To Become a Math Person, Vol. 1

The woman who just won a Fields Medal, Maryam Mirzakhani, did not initially conceive of herself as a math person; like so many of us, she wanted to be a writer.

Books That Are Worth The Money

1) Books you have read already, perhaps via the library, that you know that you will want to reread

2) Books that activate the release of serotonin in your brain simply by the sight of their spines because you love them so much

3) Books with pretty spines

4) Books with pretty titles

5) Books that help define your tastes, opinions, and proclivities to strangers who might be in your apartment and looking at your shelves

6) Children’s books, because you will read each of them ten zillion times until you have them memorized and can rattle them off while walking down the street. “Up! Up! The sun is getting up! The sun gets up, so up with you! Up ear #1, ear #2!”

7) Reference-y books that you can reach out for in times of need, like Bird by Bird

8) Anything by Anne Lamott, really

Saying “No I Can’t” Because of Money

It is so hard to say no! It is especially hard to say no to our friends, who we love, or who we like well enough but think for whatever reason that it is imperative that they love us. And it especially hard when the “no” is because of money. Or is it easier, money being an inarguable reality like the weather? “It’s raining / I’m broke.” No, it’s harder, because it is hard to acknowledge to our friends that we might be coming up short, that the thought of spending is making us hyperventilate, and that even though we love them maybe we don’t have or can’t afford to part with the $1,000+ their wedding will cost us.

WaPo advice columnist / demigod Carolyn Hax shows us the way:

Q. HOW TO DECLINE WEDDING INVITATIONS I’m getting many wedding invitations these days and unfortunately I just can’t afford to go to all of them. Some friends understand, but how do you explain that to the brides who just don’t seem to get it and keep pushing you on it?

A. CAROLYN HAX You don’t. You’re under no obligation to explain at all, though with a good friend you’ll want to say something, of course: “I would love to go but I can’t afford it.” Done. If pressed, you ask them please to respect you enough to accept that you’d go if you could. Beyond that, the couples’ behavior makes for a good sorting tool. Remember who was gracious and who was pushy, and then, as you continue to be called upon to invest more money and energy in your friends than you have to give, choose to give to the gracious ones.

GOOD ENOUGH Homes & Destinations: What You Get For $490,000

This week the NYT offers us glimpses of “What You Get For … $4,900,000,” including a five-bedroom townhouse in Old Town Alexandria with heart-pine floors, presumably made with real hearts.