General

Don’t Keep Your Donations to Yourself

Growing up, I absorbed the Sunday school lesson that “when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”1 In other words, charitable giving doesn’t count in your favor if you seek recognition for it. Don’t brag and don’t be smug.

Fair point. Nobody likes a braggart, and I don’t intend to suggest that you ought to become one.

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  1. Matthew 6:3. 

Evictions Used to Attract Crowds. Now they Affect Poor Black Women.

This is an extraordinary quote from an article in the New Yorker:

In February, 1932, the Times published an account of community resistance to the eviction of three families in the Bronx, observing, “Probably because of the cold, the crowd numbered only 1,000.”

Now, evictions rarely attract crowds. According to the same article, “the majority of poor renting families spend more than half their income on housing,” with the predictable result that millions of Americans are evicted every year. Evictions are no longer unusual. They are so common the idea of a crowd showing up for every single one is inconceivable.

This is another profound quote from that article:

If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.

The consequences overlap. Both convictions and evictions land on records, and both make it harder to get a job, credit, rent an apartment, and ultimately get out of poverty.

I don’t mean to suggest that it is wrong to evict people who aren’t paying their rent. What’s wrong is that so many Americans can’t pay rent, and that so many of the Americans who can’t pay rent are black. Those are complicated problems. Criminal justice reform is finally getting some attention, but we really need to work on both issues.

Comments Disabled

I just disabled comments on this website. I figure I should take a moment to explain why.

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Comcast Won’t Let You Go [UPDATED]

Warning: listening to this phone call may make you want to throw your Comcast modem through the front window of your local Comcast service center.

This tracks pretty closely with my own experience. It took me over six months and multiple phone calls and transfer/disconnection requests to get Comcast to stop charging me for my business Internet connection after I moved out of my office.

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H&R Block Cosplay

It’s getting close to tax time, and the H&R Block down the street from my house has one of those crazy-wavy-tube-guy things out front. It always reminds me of this video, which makes me crack up:

Speaking of tax preparers, you might be tempted to get your “refund” early by getting a refund anticipation loan. Don’t. As I have written before, refund anticipation loans are basically a payday loan in disguise (i.e., a really bad deal). Skip it, and file your tax return earlier next year if you want to get your refund faster.

Thanks to Tim Hwang for reminding me of the video.

The Growth of Walmart

Watch Walmart take the United States by swarm.

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Created by Daniel Ferry.

Prince Sues His Fans for $1 Million Each [UPDATED]

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Update: TMZ says Prince has withdrawn the lawsuit. According to his lawyer, “Because of the recent pressure, the bootleggers have now taken down the illegal downloads and are no longer engaging in piracy.” So all he wanted was the injunction, not the damages, apparently.

Prince is well-known for aggressively enforcing his copyright, so this is no surprise. This time, the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Know As Prince has sued 22 Facebook users for posting links to bootlegs of his concerts on Facebook, blogs, and elsewhere. (Here is the complaint.) The defendants have usernames like PurpleHouse2, PurpleKissTwo, and FunkyExperienceFour, making it look like Prince is suing some of his biggest fans.

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Wealth Redistribution is for the Rich

All this time you though the poor were the ones benefiting from wealth redistribution. Suckers!

(Via Jay Fleischman, who got it from Sabeena LoBello.)

Honest Slogans

From Lisa Hanawalt’s sketchbook: honest slogans for familiar brands.

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More on her blog.

Why the Rich Have Too Much of The Economic Pie

How much of the pie do the rich have? The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson explains with real pies.