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Shop Local, Bank Local: How Small Business Owners Benefit From Partnering With A Local Bank

by Taylor Marcucci @ USB

What’s your biggest concern as a business owner? If it’s related to managing your finances, then rest assured you’re not alone. The Allstate/USA Today Small Business Barometer, a survey issued to small business owners across the country, found that almost 50% of small business owners have sacrificed their own salary for the good of their business in recent months. As a business owner, you’re an ex...

The post Shop Local, Bank Local: How Small Business Owners Benefit From Partnering With A Local Bank appeared first on USB.

BBVA Compass Bank Checking, Savings, CD Account Promotions

by Tony Phan @ MoneysMyLife

Find the latest BBVA Compass bank promotions, bonuses and offers here for Checking and Savings accounts. Typical bonus amounts are $25, $50, $100, $125, $250, etc. Sometimes there will also gift bonuses, such as tablets and other electronics. BBVA Compass was established in 1964 and is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. They have over 650 branches […]

Business vs. Personal Online and Mobile Banking

by Melina Delis @ Bank of Southern California N.A.

One of the perks of being a member of Bank of Southern California is the ability to use our online and mobile banking features. With both online and mobile banking, you receive 24/7 access to your accounts and the ability to perform a variety of banking transactions anytime, anywhere. We do not charge a monthlyRead more

The post Business vs. Personal Online and Mobile Banking appeared first on Bank of Southern California N.A..

WEEK 4: Best Credit Cards and Churning

by Chad @ Wall Street Minimalist

How to Churn Credit Cards Churning is quite simple. You open a new credit card, spend enough money to activate the signup bonus, and then cancel/downgrade the credit card after redeeming your reward points. Many people who find themselves on this website might be aspiring credit churners. My advice to […]

The post WEEK 4: Best Credit Cards and Churning appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

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Very Suggestive Texts

Very Suggestive Texts

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. Schoolgirl crush—but I’m 37 and married: I’ve made a terrible mistake. I flirted heavily with a co-worker at our holiday party, much more so than a married woman should flirt. Lots of touching, and there was a moment where we almost kissed but held back. Afterward we exchanged very suggestive texts for a day or two. If I’m totally honest I really enjoyed the tension and thrill of it, and I definitely did more than my part to start and keep the situation going.

Now I feel extremely guilty and ashamed, but do not plan to burden my husband by telling him what happened—it would devastate him and destroy the trust in our relationship. My dilemma is that I genuinely like this co-worker and now realize I am also really attracted to him. I don’t want to have these feelings. I am married and too old to have a crush. I’ll be more cautious about spending time with him alone now that these unexpected feelings have surfaced, but what else should I do to protect my marriage?

A: I don’t think “trying very hard not to have feelings” and telling yourself that 37 is “too old” to be swept away by a powerful crush is going to be a useful strategy. You may not want to experience these feelings, but that’s the trouble with feelings. They don’t come based on whether or not we want them, and they don’t vanish just because they make us feel uncomfortable.

I think your plan to limit your time with this co-worker is a good one. But when those feelings resurface, don’t try to deny or negate them—that will only make them feel all the more forbidden and exciting. Just say to yourself, “Yeah, I have a crush on this man, and I want to find excuses to flirt with him and get his attention.” That doesn’t mean you have to do those things, but it may help to acknowledge your attraction in the moment, rather than try desperately to convince yourself you’re too old to feel this way—you’re demonstrably not, by dint of, you know, feeling this way.

Q. Couch lover: This fall, I gained sole custody of my 11-year-old sister, “Ada,” from our mother. Ada is on the autism spectrum, which was “too much” for our mother to handle, and she took it out on my sister when she wasn’t abandoning her at home for days outright. Ada’s transitioned well to living in my apartment with me. One thing worries me though: She refuses to sleep in her bed.

Her room was previously used as a rec room, so across from her bed was a couch that I had planned to move as soon as I could. Somehow she decided that the couch was a much better place to sleep, and has completely abandoned her bed. Even if I put her to bed in her actual bed, by the time I go to sleep she’s curled up on her couch. When I ask her why she likes sleeping on the couch instead of her bed, she shrugs and says it’s comfier. She has limited communication skills, so that’s the most concrete answer I’ve gotten from her.

I don’t want to force Ada to sleep in her bed, or stress her out to the point of a meltdown by getting rid of the couch, but I’m also worried that people might think I’m neglecting her needs if I continue to let her sleep on the couch. Do you have any suggestions?

A: I’m glad to hear that Ada has you, and that she doesn’t have to deal with your mother’s neglect and dislike anymore. A lot of kids on the spectrum have sensory issues, and may feel marked discomfort at certain sensations—like a bed that’s too soft or otherwise uncomfortable. If she’s happy on the couch, then I think you should let her continue to sleep there. You might try putting a couch (or a futon) in her bedroom at some point, but if the couch is working for her now, then that’s all that matters. Hopefully no one will ask or judge you about where your sister is most comfortable sleeping, but if it comes up, you can just say that it’s what she wants, and leave it at that.

Q. Breaking up with my psychiatrist: I have been seeing the same psychiatrist for over 10 years for depression and anxiety. In some ways, he’s been great—accessible by phone when I’m in crisis, and seeing me on a cash basis when I haven’t had insurance. But it feels like our relationship has been deteriorating for months now. He is dismissive of how routine sexism and sexual harassment corrode my quality of life. He sometimes tells me my thoughts are “just crazy,” or accuses me of being irrational, which undermines my confidence in my own ability to make decisions without his help.

Most recently, I felt like he was gaslighting me in a session: first telling me I was being irrational, then denying he has ever called me irrational; treating me like I was acting out of control when I was trying to have a calm conversation; interrupting me and talking over me. After 15 minutes of this he basically said we would have to end the session if I couldn’t “calm down.” When I said I was calm, he interrupted me again and went back to barking at me that I needed to calm down. I told him I didn’t think we could continue the session and left. It felt really good to leave!

Since then I have used the holidays as a reason not to see him again and am in the process of finding help elsewhere. What, if any, responsibility do I have to “break up” with this psychiatrist? Do I owe him an explanation?

A: You don’t owe him an explanation. You don’t have to convince him that you have sufficient justification to look elsewhere for help with your mental health, especially since he has a history of ignoring you and speaking over you. If it feels important to you to say why you’re leaving, you can absolutely say, “I’m going to find a new psychiatrist; when you call me ‘crazy’ or ‘irrational,’ or dismiss my experience with sexual harassment, I don’t feel comfortable being honest and vulnerable with you. Last month was our last session.” Remember that he does not have to agree with you in order for you to move on. I think you’re making the right decision, and I wish you a lot of luck in finding a psychiatrist who doesn’t routinely bark at you.

Q. Re: Schoolgirl crush—but I’m 37 and married: I had been married for almost 15 years when I got an intense crush on someone I worked with. Unlike you, I told my husband. It was like popping a balloon. The words came out of my mouth, and the crush just evaporated.

I don’t necessarily recommend this for you, as your situation is different and involves heavy flirting and sexy texts. We never went there; though the attraction was pretty obviously mutual, we stayed friendly but professional. It depends on what kind of relationship you have with your husband. For me, telling him got rid of the whole feedback loop Mallory mentioned. It was no longer a shameful secret, but just some weird thing happening. I still have a great, friendly, professional relationship with the guy (and also kind of wonder what I saw in him).

A: I’m so glad to hear that was helpful! I agree it may not be right for the letter writer to share this with her husband—they may not have the kind of relationship you share with your husband, and there’s a difference between “I’m attracted to someone at work” and “I’m attracted to someone at work I almost kissed and sort-of sexted”—but even just saying it out loud, to herself if to no one else, may take some of the heavy, forbidden, secretive power out of their interactions. I’m so glad to hear from someone who felt a powerful attraction to someone who wasn’t their partner, acknowledged their feelings, and moved on. It’s a helpful reminder that feelings, while powerful, aren’t the only things in the world that can drive our behavior.

Q. Other kids: My marriage collapsed after my son was born. He was a miracle, but a costly one. Fertility treatments bankrupted our savings, my wife suffered from several miscarriages, and our son was born premature. When my son was 2, my wife told me she wanted another child. I refused. We fought. A lot. At the time I thought her to be selfish and shortsighted—we were tapped out financially and emotionally. I wanted to finally enjoy ourselves as a family. She filed for divorce.

My son is 9 now, and I have remarried a widow with a girl who I have adopted. My ex has never remarried. We have a good working relationship and she is an excellent mother to our son. My bitterness has faded. My new wife is pregnant. This is unexpected and everything seems to be going well. We have not told anyone. How do I tell my ex-wife? It feels like cheating to let the news come from social media or our son, but telling the news to her face feels like rubbing it in. I want to keep our good rapport, but I am afraid of bringing up bad blood.

A: It’s been seven years since your divorce, and the relationship you have with your ex-wife now sounds markedly different from the one you had back when you were fighting every day. I think there’s an excellent chance she’ll respond to the news gracefully, or at least politely. But even if she gets upset, she has to hear it from you—don’t let her find out from Facebook or her 9-year-old son. That almost guarantees a bitter reaction.

Be frank and friendly when you tell her—there’s no reason to go into detail about whether or not the baby was planned—and if it seems like she’s having a difficult time absorbing the news, find a way to keep the conversation relatively brief and let her go deal with whatever feelings may come up for her on her own. You shouldn’t apologize for having a child with your new wife seven years after your divorce—just because you didn’t want a child at that particular time, in that particular context, doesn’t mean that you are banned from ever changing your mind.

Q. Dominating sister: What is the best way to deal with an older sister (56) who treats me, her little brother (46), like a 3-year-old? She has never stopped talking about me in the third person when I’m standing next to her. When I’m working with subtitles for my job on my laptop, I’m playing a game. She claims I own many guns (I’ve never touched one), never knocks before entering my room or the bathroom, and if a fire starts anywhere in California, she asks if I started it, because I played with matches—once—40 years ago.

I have to spend a week with her for the holidays and I’m ready to block her number. We went to the same prep schools and were raised in the same house, yet I’m supposedly a sociopath who’s never been arrested or even been in a fight. How to handle this?

A: I think that blocking her number is certainly an option. It sounds like your sister is likely unwell if she’s experiencing delusions and/or compulsively lying, and while I don’t think she’s likely to respond well to the suggestion, I hope very much that someone in her life is able to tell her that she needs to seek professional treatment. That person probably shouldn’t be you, given that you seem to be a frequent target of her delusions. If you need to limit or even eliminate contact with her for your own well-being, then I think you should do so. If it helps to spend a few sessions with a therapist talking about how being targeted by your sister’s lies has affected you and what you need to do in order to protect yourself, I encourage you to find one. But you can—and absolutely should!—say, “I can’t spend time with you if you’re going to invade my privacy, lie about me, or suggest that I’m a danger to other people when I’m not.”

Q. Re: Couch lover: I really liked small spaces when I was a teen—it made me feel comforted to be surrounded on all sides. Let the kid have her couch. Tell anyone who doesn’t like it to take a flying leap.

A: I imagine some of the letter writer’s anxiety about being perceived as neglectful comes from the fact that their mother was, in fact, neglectful. But I don’t think other people would necessarily see the couch-bed setup and think, “Oh no, this kid is being neglected”—I think it’s not as unusual as the letter writer fears it might be.

Q. The constant whistler: My roommate and colleague of three months, “Lisa,” has a habit of humming and whistling quite constantly. Because we share the same living space, office space, and work schedule, this means I hear it quite a bit, and what I initially thought was a quirky habit is now extremely irritating to me. If we make the 15-minute walk to work together, she’ll begin to whistle three to four times during lulls in our conversation, for about 10–20 seconds each time. I’ve begun to head in to the office early to avoid walking with her, and make excuses to head back on my own when work is over. She hums or whistles relatively often in the office, and even more frequently in our small apartment, in buses, taxis, et cetera. She’s a nice girl, and by default my closest friend here (we are expats in a foreign country, in a city with few English speakers), but I find her lack of self-awareness so frustrating!

I know I need to do it, but I just can’t think of a polite yet firm way to ask her not to hum or whistle so frequently around me without upsetting her; it seems to be a habit that’s pretty ingrained in her. I would love to take bigger steps like moving apartments, but unfortunately that’s not an option for me at the moment.

A: “I don’t know if you’re conscious of this, but you whistle and hum a lot of the time when we’re at home together, and that makes it hard for me to concentrate if I’m working or relax if I’m trying to unwind. Do you mind keeping it to a minimum when we’re at home? I’m glad you enjoy it, and I don’t want you to feel like you have to be totally silent, but I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t whistle so often.” If she responds positively but occasionally forgets—after all, it sounds like a pretty unconscious habit, and it may take a while for her to become aware of how frequently she does it—just mention it casually. “Hey, you’re doing it again; do you mind stopping?” It’s a very gentle, very reasonable request, and if she’s otherwise a good roommate, I’m sure she’ll be happy to cut back.

Q. When do I tell girlfriend about sexual assault?: When I was in high school, I (a male) was repeatedly sexually assaulted and harassed by a female classmate for years. Some of my friends knew about it, but thought it was funny or that I was “lucky”. After high school, I never told a single person about it. The assault caused me to experience depression and a crisis of faith. It also made me afraid to become close to females, and to have physical interactions with them, thus damaging and dooming pretty much every romantic relationship I’ve had since.

Due to the #MeToo movement, I’ve started telling a few people about my assault. I recently started dating a great girl. It is still early in the relationship, and we haven’t kissed or anything due to my trauma, which she doesn’t know about. I’m starting to think she thinks there is something wrong or that I don’t like her. When and how should I tell her? I’m afraid that going too dark and serious too soon may damage the relationship. I really like her.

A: I’m so sorry that you were sexually assaulted, and I’m even sorrier that the people you trusted as your friends responded by dismissing and mocking the repeated violations you experienced. I hope that the friends you’ve started sharing your experience with recently have responded with compassion, belief, and support. If you’re anxious about talking to this girl about being assaulted and harassed, it may help to speak to your friends first about what you’re afraid of, and to enlist their support before and after you speak to her.

First, of course, it’s worth pointing out that you’re not obligated to disclose anything if you don’t want to. You can absolutely say, “I’d prefer to take our physical relationship slow, but I really like you and I want to keep seeing each other.” Or you can offer her a quick sketch of where you’re coming from without going into detail: “When I was younger, I was assaulted and harassed by a female classmate, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath. I don’t want to talk about it in detail right now, but I do want you to know where I’m coming from and what I’m dealing with.” Your reluctance is understandable, given how in the past you were met with dismissal and laughter when you tried to tell people you suffered sexual violence at the hands of a teenage girl. But if this woman you’re seeing now is a good person—and it sounds like she is—I think she’ll be understanding and respectful. Whenever you feel ready is the best time to tell her. I hope she responds with compassion.

Q. Re: Couch lover: My son is on the spectrum and has some very specific needs for sleep. The letter writer may not be aware of what routine Ada followed in her mother’s home, and that routine could help explain why she wants to sleep on the couch. It may be the place where she feels most comfortable. Also, it may provide the best source of sensory deprivation.

Sleeping on a couch is so far away from neglect, especially when the letter writer is providing his or her sister with a stable, loving home. There are a lot of organizations that can provide the letter writer with support as he or she starts navigating parenting a child with autism. Take care.

A: Thanks so much for this. The most important thing to remember, I think, is that the letter writer is doing what’s best for his or her sister. It’s much better to give Ada a place to sleep where she feels comfortable and relaxed than to try to get her to sleep in a bed because of what other people might think—the letter writer is doing the absolute best thing for Ada.

Ortberg: Thanks for stopping by during a quiet week! See you next time.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.
Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

WEEK 3: Maximize Your Credit Score

by Chad @ Wall Street Minimalist

Misconceptions of Credit Scores When it comes to credit scores, I usually hear one of the following three things: (1) your credit score isn’t very good because you don’t have a long credit history, (2) it hurts your credit score to close a credit card, and (3) your credit score […]

The post WEEK 3: Maximize Your Credit Score appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

Indelibly Om

Indelibly Om

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, everybody! Let’s get to chatting.

Q. I got an insensitive tattoo in a prominent area a long time ago: I am a white person who grew up without any faith and started practicing Buddhism during college. I attended a temple, studied the history, and genuinely followed it for 13 years. During that time I got a large om symbol tattooed on my hand, which admittedly was a fad. While Buddhism is still extremely near to my heart, I kind of let it go after having to move to an area with no temples. And as the conversation about cultural appropriation has developed, I’ve been feeling deep tattoo regret.

I’ve seen a few tattoo artists who have turned me away because any cover-up will likely only turn into a giant blob. I also sought laser removal but was told the color and placement of the tattoo will render treatment ineffective. Recently, an Asian friend of mine asked me to cover the tattoo around her family because it really bothers them. I feel like a total jerk. I’ve gotten several annoyed stares and I’m not sure how to make things right.

Appropriation was just something I was not aware of a decade ago when I got this tattoo. I try to keep it covered with sleeves or gloves, but I need a better long-term solution. What do you think is the best path here?

A: Since there are a lot of people with tattoos they now regret who can’t afford (or aren’t good candidates for) laser removal, there are a number of tattoo-specific concealers and foundations on the market that are waterproof, easy to apply, and relatively inexpensive—and a lot easier to put on every day than gloves. The newfound self-awareness and discomfort you’re experiencing now have spurred you to want to act differently and be more mindful of other people’s experiences, which is a good thing. Moreover, you’re aware that your own personal connection to Buddhism is not the same thing as this particular tattoo, and that covering up the latter doesn’t mean eradicating the former.

Q. 26-year-old virgin: I am a 26-year-old woman who is college-educated and makes a decent salary. I have a somewhat healthy social life, although, I wish I went out more on the weekends. I’m also the friend giving out advice on dating and men, but I’ve never been on a date, nor have I kissed a guy (I don’t count kissing boys when I was a kid). Most importantly, I’ve never had sex.

These facts didn’t bother me when I was in college, but now that I see more women my age and even some of my former high school and college classmates getting married, I feel uneasy. I was admittedly shy around guys I liked and really insecure back then. I was raised by an abusive family who convinced me I was unlovable, so I avoided men out of fear of rejection. I am more confident and secure with myself now. My problem is, I don’t know how to put myself out there. I feel all of the men in my age range are so experienced in dating that they’d be less interested in dating the “26-year-old virgin.”

A: I wish so much that I could put all of the people who write to me about feeling self-conscious about their virginity in their 20s, 30s, and beyond in touch with one another—not necessarily as a dating service, but at least so everyone could feel less alone. There’s a reason the old chestnut “don’t compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides,” while hoary, is true—not every guy in his 20s is a wildly confident, profoundly sexually experienced dating champion. Many guys in their 20s are also virgins. Many guys in their 20s have also never been on a date. Many guys in their 20s who have had sex/been on dates are not necessarily thrown by the prospect of going out with someone who hasn’t.

Your best bet, I think, is to be as honest as is comfortable about where you’re coming from, and to look specifically for the kind of guy who is interested in going out with you, with your particular history. That doesn’t mean you have to open first dates with a laminated sexual résumé—you’re not required to furnish a list of references to a prospective new partner, whether you’ve had a lot of romantic experience or none.

The best way to “put yourself out there” is to, I’m afraid, simply put yourself out there, and that’s going to entail a new sort of risk, whether that’s signing up for online dating, asking men out, going to singles events, or asking friends to set you up with prospective guys. Some guys will be interested; some won’t. You might go on a great date with someone and not hear from him again. You might go on a terrible date with someone who thought you had a great time and wants to go out again. That’s common to almost everyone who dates, so please don’t ascribe any discomfort or boredom or lack of mutual interest to your sexual status—it’s just part of the game. If a guy seems turned off by the fact that you’re a virgin, although it won’t feel good, it’s in fact a very good thing—you’ve just avoided getting involved with someone who wasn’t right for you. Don’t feel that you have to apologize for not having had sex before, and good luck! Dating is weird, and tricky, and sometimes really, really fun.

Q. Update—Dolls: I read your advice and a lot of your readers’ comments. Some of them were really hurtful and some helped me put my feelings in perspective. I had already sorted and given away everything I didn’t want before I left for college across the state. Other than my bed and a rocking chair, everything else—including my dolls—had been packed into 12 boxes and left in a corner of our basement. I wasn’t taking up a lot of room, I was never given a deadline, and I never thought my mother would steal from me or I would not have left my things there. I graduated in May and got my job and new apartment in September.

I am not going to take my mother to court or try to get the dolls back. I did, however, try to talk to my mother again. I told her how much those dolls meant to me and how much it upset me that she gave them away. She dismissed me again. I realized this wasn’t about the dolls—it was about my mother minimizing and interfering with my relationships. Everything is zero sum with her; if I give affection to my grandmother and father, then that is less for her. She’d rather keep up a competition with a dead woman in order to “win,” and in doing so, she lost me. I am not staying with her for Christmas. I have already volunteered to work the holidays and will be spending New Year’s with my father and his new girlfriend. I don’t know what I am going to do in the future, but right now, I need time and space away from my mother. You and your readers helped me in the end. Please thank them for me.

A: I’m so glad you found the feedback helpful, and I’m particularly glad you were able to figure out that there’s more behind your feelings about your mother than just the dolls. It sounds like the history between the two of you is fairly fraught, and it’s going to take some time for you to determine how much space you need from her. Congratulations on making Christmas plans that don’t involve being run through an emotional wringer—I hope you have a great time working and seeing your father, and that your future relationship with your mother will be one full of robustly maintained emotional boundaries.

Q. Do I give it back?: I discovered my boyfriend sleeping with my best friend/roommate. There was plenty of drama; she moved out, and I tried to pick up the pieces of my life. During the move, some of her expensive jewelry went missing. I was out of town at the time and she texted me asking me if I had seen it. I told her I hadn’t, and she insinuated I stole it. I was furious and shared the texts with our group of friends; it devolved into a mess where she got cut out completely. Even my ex-boyfriend came down on my side. This happened a year ago. Then, while getting a new fridge, I discovered some of the missing jewelry and a lot of junk. My cat had batted them off the table and under the fridge.

I feel awful, but I really don’t want to contact her again at all. I lost 15 pounds from stress during that time. I do not want to bring it up again or validate her delusions. I didn’t steal anything from her. What is the right thing to do? Donate it? Treat myself to a spa day? Mail it to a relative of hers from a different state and disguise my handwriting? Leave it in a drawer?

A: The right thing to do is to give her back her jewelry. You don’t have to talk to her, and you don’t have to listen if she doesn’t believe that the cat knocked it behind the fridge, but you’ll feel enormously better about yourself if you don’t carry out the crime she once wrongly accused you of committing. Mail it to her with a brief note about finding it behind the fridge and be done with it. You don’t have to speak to her if she wants to reopen the conversation.

Q. Re: I got an insensitive tattoo in a prominent area a long time ago: I don’t think the letter writer should cover the tattoo. He or she got the tattoo during an important exploration of their spirituality, and while Buddhism did not end up as their spiritual path, they still consider it meaningful. This is not cultural appropriation, and any member of any religion should understand this kind of explanation.

A: There are a number of responses along this line, but it’s important to remember that the letter writer wants to cover the tattoo. Saying, “This isn’t cultural appropriation, and you should feel fine about it” when the letter writer does, in fact, consider this tattoo to have been a faddish sign of cultural appropriation suggests that this idea is somehow coming from the friend who had asked him or her to cover it up. It seems clear to me, from the letter writer’s letter, that while the request has highlighted some of their own feelings about that tattoo, that they had for a long time come to think of the tattoo as faddish and misguided, and to wish they had not gotten it in the first place.

Q. Re: 26-year-old virgin: This could have been me, down to the abusive family—and add 10 years. Now I’m in a stable, very sexually satisfying relationship. I realized I have to make myself happy. I let my family history and my insecurities get the better of me, and I realized that everyone is messed up in their own way. Putting yourself out there is step one. It may also help to talk to your gynecologist; she may have some suggestions on how to make things easier physically. By the time I lost mine, I was so terrified of the physical aspect I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it. And you don’t have to share your lack of history if you don’t want to.

A: I’m so glad to hear that you’re happy and healthy and doing well. For what it’s worth, while I think the letter writer’s anxieties about trying to seek out sexual/romantic relationships are completely understandable, I think it’s also helpful to remember that “losing” one’s virginity is a fairly arbitrary social construct. There are a lot of different ways to have sex. One doesn’t “lose” something after having sex for the first time any more than one “loses” something after roller-skating for the first time. That’s not to directly compare sex to roller-skating, obviously, but I think it’s better to frame your desire as “I’d like to start having sex” rather than “I’d like to lose my virginity.”

Q. My horrendous college roommate (and bully) is the mother of my child’s new best friend: I recently discovered that my 6-year-old daughter “Hannah” has a new best friend who is the daughter of my college freshman roommate “Lillian.” Lillian was exceedingly unkind to me when we lived together. She made fun of my weight, my lack of friends, my awkwardness. She and her friends would help themselves to my laundry detergent and food. My few attempts to address Lillian’s behavior and how much it upset me ended in tears (and Lillian telling me we were in college now so I should grow up). I still have difficulty talking about Lillian, to my husband or my counselor, because I’m ashamed that as an adult I allowed myself to be treated that way.

Hannah adores Lillian’s daughter Skyler, and until I met Skyler’s mom in person, I was thrilled that my daughter had made a new friend. Since I’ve lost weight and go by my married name, Lillian didn’t recognize me (or has chosen to pretend she doesn’t recognize me). She’s eager to arrange a play date (and possibly a sleepover) over Christmas break, and the very idea makes me want to vomit. I don’t feel comfortable allowing my daughter around Lillian until I’ve assured myself she isn’t still as cruel as she was in college (about 18 years ago). My husband supports whatever makes me feel comfortable, but in the end, I want what’s best for Hannah. How do I bring this up with Lillian—or am I being immature for wanting this assurance at all?

A: You’re not immature for not wanting to spend time with a woman who bullied you for your size and your emotional vulnerability, nor are you immature for feeling anxious at the thought of letting your little girl spend time with her.

First and foremost, I think you should speak more to your husband and counselor about your feelings, despite the obvious judgment you’ve been passing on yourself for “allowing” yourself to be bullied. I know it’s not as simple as to say “just don’t be ashamed of the thing you’re ashamed about,” but you should not fault yourself for Lillian’s behavior. You repeatedly attempted to tell her how her cruelty affected you and were dismissed every time. The fact that she is now pretending not to remember someone she lived with for a year is evidence that she has neither grown nor changed from the bully she was in college.

It would be sad, of course, if you said something to Lillian now and as a result your daughters did not get to spend as much time together. But how much worse would it be if Lillian focused her cruel barbs on your daughter? I think it’s worth speaking to her about it, although I think you should discuss with your husband and therapist first what exactly you’d like to say, and what you think you’ll do if Lillian declines to apologize (which seems likely). I’d suggest something like: “Lillian, when we were roommates in college you bullied me for my weight, my loneliness, and my emotional vulnerability, and it hurt me deeply. I tried to ask you to stop repeatedly, and you didn’t. Obviously I’m concerned at the thought of letting my daughter stay at your house. I don’t want to relitigate the past, but I don’t want you to treat her the way you treated me.”

Q. Crush: When I was 14, I babysat my brothers and our neighbors’ son “Danny.” Danny was going through a very hard time and basically lived with us for about a year, before moving in with his grandmother. I ended up going to college at 16 and moved across state. Danny has stayed close to my brothers and I saw him sometimes over the years. Now I am 30, have a great job, and own a house. Danny, who is now 23, moved to my city and recently came over to help me with some home repairs. Sparks flew: He is cute, charming, and funny. After the repairs were finished, he made me dinner. Then Danny confessed to me that he has always had a crush on me and still does. He wants to take me out. Seven years isn’t that big of an age gap. My dad is 14 years older than my mother. I am very tempted by this, but I am weirded out by the semifamilial dynamics. I also really disliked it back in college when I saw creepy older guys trolling for barely legal girls. I would never want to be like that. Can I get a blessing or back-off here? I don’t trust my own motivations.

A: I answered a similar question (with a few meaningful differences in terms of age) a week or so back, but I’m going to give you different advice. You say you’re anxious at the prospect of seeing yourself like these “creepy older guys,” but Danny is 23, not “barely legal,” and it’s been well over a decade since he lived with your family. In the time since, he’s grown up completely independent of you. The two of you have been reintroduced to each other as adults, and that meeting rekindled a childhood crush of his. Presumably, when he says he’s always had a crush on you, he doesn’t mean he’s been single-mindedly pining and refused to date people his own age, simply that he had a youthful infatuation that’s been reawakened by this second meeting. So there doesn’t seem to me to be an obvious imbalance of power, or that you’re contemplating going out with someone scarcely on the cusp of young adulthood. That doesn’t mean you should go full steam ahead if you feel anxious or uncomfortable, however—it’s important to pay attention to your concerns.

Spend some time thinking about the possible outcomes. What if you two date and it doesn’t work out? Are you more interested in preserving the friendship, or does the risk seem worth it? Could you find a way to maintain a friendly relationship after a breakup, given that your respective families are fairly close? Does Danny seem like a relatively well-adjusted adult with a dating history that includes people who aren’t you? Be honest about what you’re anxious about, but don’t feel like there’s something inherently predatory about your position. Danny lived with your family for a year as a child, then moved on—you didn’t raise him. He’s a 23-year-old adult who asked you out on a date.

Q. Re: My horrendous college roommate (and bully) is the mother of my child’s new best friend: Do not engage Lillian directly. She was a horrible person back then, and her current behavior is strong evidence that nothing has changed. There is no reason in the world to trust her with your child. Seriously. Never leave your child unsupervised with her. The good news is that 6-year-olds change best friends like the rest of us change socks. You don’t need to encourage or discourage anything. (Discouraging will just make Skyler that much more desirable as a playmate.) Just let the friendship run its course. But trust your gut on Lillian.

A: Here’s an alternative option if you don’t want to speak with Lillian directly (which would, frankly, make a lot of sense, given her past responses to your attempts to speak with her). There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Sorry, we’ve got plans over the break” and declining to let your daughter spend the night at her house without going into detail over your past history.

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A Radical Right to Happiness

A Radical Right to Happiness

by Amy Dru Stanley @ Slate Articles

This article supplements Reconstruction, a Slate Academy. To learn more and to enroll, visit Slate.com/Reconstruction.

Adapted from “Slave Emancipation and the Revolutionizing of Human Rights” by Amy Dru Stanley, originally published in The World the Civil War Made edited by Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur. Published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Did the abolition of slavery create a right to go to the theater? The question arose in the long debate over the Civil Rights Act of 1875, a measure enacted by Congress to sweep away the vestiges of chattel bondage.

The 1875 act was called the Supplementary Civil Rights Act because it was meant to supplement the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which entitled all citizens of the United States to rights of contract, property, security of the person, and equality before the law. Grounded in the 13th and 14th Amendments, the supplement was intended as a culminating decree of slave emancipation. Newly, it defined pleasurable liberties as affirmative rights. The act stated: “All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement.”1 Emancipation would bring a fundamental right to be an amusement seeker. This conception of freedom was both sensuous and steeped in the ways of the marketplace—and nowhere found in prior declarations of the rights of man.

Abolitionism had long held that slavery violated natural law. But in the supplement lay the unprecedented conception that being human—not chattel property—included the inherent right to pursue amusement, to experience rapture in public. A former slave named John Roy Lynch, who became a Mississippi congressman, put it simply. “This bill,” he told the United States House of Representatives, “has for its object the protection of human rights.”2

Across America, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, the races were kept separate at the theater. Black people sat apart in the upper galleries or were excluded entirely, by custom and, in some southern cities, by law. As hybrid places—private associations open to the public—theaters were subject to municipal authority, but property owners possessed the liberty to exclude or restrict at will. The common law recognized no right of amusement seeking.3 After emancipation, statehouses controlled by Radical Republicans banned distinctions of race and color in public conveyances and resorts. But the legislation was evaded simply by tickets stating that proprietors had discretion to exclude anyone. Nor did it carry a positive grant of rights; it regulated places rather than entitling persons.4

Appeals for guarantees of fundamental rights flooded into the Congress from both ex-slave and freeborn black petitioners. The supplement afforded those guarantees, vindicating amusement seeking as a right belonging to all persons by virtue of their humanity, while asserting the power of Congress to tap the ideals of the Declaration of Independence in enforcing the 13th and 14th Amendments. The legislation was “truly efficacious for human rights,” affirmed Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, the bill’s author, announcing the new proposition that seeking amusement at a theater was a human right grounded in the pursuit of happiness and owed to ex-slaves as an outcome of abolition.5 After emancipation, there was no auction block, no violation of the household, no sanctions against knowledge, no exclusion from the courtroom or the ballot box. “But this is not enough,” claimed Sumner. “The new-made citizen is called to travel for business, for health, or for pleasure … He longs, perhaps, for respite and relaxation, at some place of amusement … The denial of any right is wrong.”6

The supplement did not only efface the color line, including black persons within the community of citizens; nor did it afford simply the dignity of social exchange that money could buy. An anti-slavery amendment to the rights declarations of the Age of Revolution, it renovated the Rights of Man, codifying new freedoms defined by the destruction of chattel bondage. It would protect the volition of freed persons, whether acting out of desire or necessity, whether pursuing happiness or fulfilling duties. As a freedman named London Kurdle wrote, “I pay my money at place of public entertainment; it is as good as if a white man had paid his.”7 The ex-slave would be entitled to cross the threshold from a pain economy to a pleasure economy, from a cotton field to a city theater, a passage marking a new conception of innate rights.

Invoking The Merchant of Venice, a freeborn black anti-slavery leader named George Downing, who had been an operator of the Underground Railroad, wrote of wrongs to be eradicated by the supplement: “Shylock’s words depict the feelings that animate with great intensity the outraged colored man … I am not demanding a pound of human flesh; but I am demanding exact and even-handed justice.”8

The relation of freedom to amusement seeking had not always been a premise of anti-slavery doctrine. Indeed, in 1796, a convention of American Abolition Societies had issued an address “To the Free Africans and other free People of color” warning against vicious dissipation: “Avoid frolicking, and amusements which lead to expense and idleness.” That doctrine persisted, particularly shaping indictments of the theater as inimical to productive labor and generative of evil passions. According to an 1836 report of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, the playhouse was a place of “sin and misery.”9

But the deepening of sectional crisis gave new meaning to the theater as a public place. Abolitionists appreciatively noted its political influence. “The theater, bowing to its audience, has preached immediate emancipation,” declared Wendell Phillips at an 1853 meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. In a column entitled “Satan Transformed,” the Liberator affirmed that the evil of the playhouse had been “exorcized by the spirit of Anti-Slavery.”10

In the eyes of congressmen opposed to the supplement, the theater clause appeared as both tragedy and farce: tragedy in violating the constitutional limits set on the sovereignty of the nation-state, but farce in equating theatergoing with the rights of life, liberty, and property. Especially abhorrent to legislators from the old slave states was the prospect of persons who had been chattel property liberated from labor to

become theatergoers. Freed slaves should not be “associates in pleasure,” said a Georgia senator. As a former Confederate leader, congressman Hiram P. Bell of Georgia, objected, entitling former slaves to pursue amusement at a playhouse would “divert the negro from the pursuit of remunerative labor and honest industry.”11

Opposition came also from anti-slavery men, who argued that the theater guarantee lacked constitutional foundation and made a travesty of both abolition and natural rights principles. Denying the authority of Congress to reach public amusements staged on private property, a Maine senator argued that the anti-slavery amendments granted Congress no power “to open the doors of the theater, owned by a corporation … in order to perfect the freedom of the former slaves!”12

Defenders of states’ rights scoffed that playhouses were irrelevant to newfound entitlements of national citizenship: “A man’s life does not depend on whether he can go into a theater or not; his liberty does not depend on whether he can go into a theater or not; his property does not depend on whether he can go into a theater or not.”13 The very expansiveness of the protected rights and places evoked ridicule. Was the purpose to safeguard the pursuit of happiness as a human right at all forms of theater and all places of public amusement, no matter how base? Would the legislation govern a circus, a menagerie, or a Punch and Judy show? Such a project of emancipation was again and again said to demean Congress.

In the House of Representatives, abstract claims about the supplement became personal and palpable. For there black statesmen and former slaveholders argued as equals about the nature of human rights, turning the debate on emancipation into a form of revolutionary drama.

Consider the bitter exchange on the floor of the House between a black South Carolinian, Alonzo Ransier, and a white Virginian, John Harris:

Mr. Harris: What would the elder patriots of our country think if they could come on earth and find the American Congress legislating as to how persons … should sit in the theaters … There is not one gentleman upon this floor who can honestly say he really believes that the colored man is created his equal.
Mr. Ransier: I can.
Mr. Harris: It was born in the children of the South … that the colored man was inferior to the white.
Mr. Ransier: I deny that.
Mr. Harris: I do not allow you to interrupt me. Sit down. I am talking to white men. 14

A black congressman from Alabama, James Rapier, explained the threshold that had been crossed, using an allusion to the theater. “Most of us have seen the play of Rip Van Winkle, who was said to have slept twenty years.” That was the Southerner’s situation, said Rapier. “He seems not to know that the ideas which he so ably advanced for so many years were by the war swept away, along with the system of slavery … And worse to him than all, he finds the negro here, not only a listener but a participant in debate.”15

A decade after the end of the Civil War, Congress enacted the supplement. As the debate ended, some of the last words belonged to congressman Rapier. “This question resolves itself into this,” he said, “either I am a man or I am not a man.”16

* * *

The final act of the supplement is well-known. In 1883, in the Civil Rights Cases, the Supreme Court struck the legislation down as unconstitutional, without foundation in either the 13th Amendment or the 14th Amendment. Two of the cases before the court concerned the violation of the right to be a theatergoer. “Where does any slavery or servitude, or badge of either, arise from such an act of denial?” asked the court. “What has it to do with the question of slavery?”17

A century after the abolition of slavery, the ethos of the supplement was resurrected. Under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congress entitled all persons, irrespective of race, color, religion, or national origin, to the full and equal enjoyment of the theater as well as other places of public amusement—motion-picture houses, concert halls, stadiums, and arenas. Notably, the 1964 act was grounded not in the anti-slavery 13th Amendment but in the Commerce Clause, and, should state action be involved, in the 14th Amendment.18 Paradoxically, as America celebrated the centennial of slave emancipation, human rights newly came to amusement seekers by virtue of the untrammeled flow of commerce.

For the most part, the Supplementary Civil Rights Act of 1875 is remembered as a landmark defeat in the battle against Jim Crow—as evidence of the unfinished promise of Reconstruction and a lesson in the limits of the 13th Amendment and in the constraints of the state action requirement of the 14th Amendment.19

But the Supplementary Civil Rights Act of 1875 bears reconsidering as a turning point in both the death of slavery and the emergence of human rights. For a moment, until it was nullified, the act vindicated amusement seeking as a condition of free personhood, transforming the human rights tradition inherited from the Age of Revolution that associated liberty with proprietorship. The rights bearer did not figure as a possessive individual. From the revolution of slave emancipation emerged the idea of a sensuous, affective, and sociable entitlement, protected by the national state, for the purchase price of a ticket.20

Here was something new in the history of human rights: a public right to play, born of the transition from property to person—a right to nonacquisitive happiness as the negation of chattel slavery. In the next century, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would guarantee the freedom to partake of cultural life, including the arts. That cosmopolitan guarantee—the conversion of the vexed pleasure of theatergoing into a human right—arose as an anti-slavery invention, from the overthrow of America’s peculiar institution.21

Adapted from “Slave Emancipation and the Revolutionizing of Human Rights” by Amy Dru Stanley, originally published in The World the Civil War Made, edited by Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur. Copyright © 2015 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu.

1. “An Act to Protect All Citizens in Their Civil and Legal Rights,” U.S. Statutes at Large, vol. 18, part 3, chap. 114 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1875), 335–37. The 1875 act also entitled all citizens to serve on juries in all courts. It differed from early post-bellum state legislation that banned discrimination but created no positive right to seek amusement in public.

2. Congressional Record, 43rd Cong., 2nd sess., 1875, 947.

3. See Henry J. Leovy, The Laws and General Ordinances of the City of New Orleans (New Orleans: E.C. Wharton, 1857), 17; Arthur Hornblow, A History of Theatre in America From Its Beginnings to the Present Time, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1919), 343–44; McCrea v. Marsh, 78 Mass. 211 (1858); Burton v. Scherpf, 83 Mass. 133 (1861); “Places of Amusement—Rights of Ticket-Holders,” Albany Law Journal, April 12, 1873, 225–26; Rosemarie K. Bank, Theater Culture in America, 1825–1860 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 50, 96–98; Leonard Curry, The Free Black in Urban America: The Shadow of the Dream, 1800–1850 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981); Shane White, Stories of Freedom in Black New York (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), chap. 2; Ira Berlin, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (New York: Pantheon, 1974); August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, From Plantation to Ghetto: An Interpretive History of American Negroes (New York: Hill and Wang, 1966), 95; Max W. Turner and Frank R. Kennedy, “Exclusion and Segregation of Theater Patrons,” Iowa Law Review 32, no. 4, (1947): 625–58.

4. In declaring an affirmative entitlement, the supplement differed from state legislation that barred discrimination; see, for example, “An Act Forbidding Unjust Discrimination on Account of Color or Race,” Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court of Massachusetts, in the Year 1865 (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1865), chap., 277, 650; “An Act in Relation to Public Places of Amusement,” Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court of Massachusetts, in the Year 1866 (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1866), chap., 252, 242; “Civil Rights,” The Revised Statute Laws of the State of Louisiana (New Orleans: Republican Office, 1870), sec. 458, 93; “An Act to Enforce the Provisions of the Civil Rights Bill of the United States Congress, and to Secure to the People the Benefits of a Republican Government in this State,” Acts and Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, Part I (Columbia: John W. Denny, 1870), no. 279, 387; “An Act to Provide for the Protection of Citizens in Their Civil and Political Rights,” New York Statutes at Large, chapter 186, vol. 9 (1875), 583–84 (passed April 9, 1873). See also Rebecca J. Scott, “Public Rights and Private Commerce: A Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Creole Itinerary,” Current Anthropology 48, no. 2 (2007); Joseph William Singer, “No Right to Exclude: Public Accommodations and Private Property,” Northwestern University Law Review 90, no. 4 (1996); Kate Masur, An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

5. Congressional Globe, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1872, 383; Charles Sumner, The Works of Charles Sumner, vol. 14 (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1870–83), 385.

6. Globe, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1872, 381.

7. Letter of London Kurdle to Charles Sumner, Feb. 3, 1872, Papers of Charles Sumner. On the history of human rights, see Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Lynn Hunt, and Marilyn B. Young, eds., Human Rights and Revolutions (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000); Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2004); Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights: A History (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007); ); Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010); Robin Blackburn, The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation, and Human Rights (New York: Verso, 2011); Jenny S. Martinez, The Slave Trade and the Origins of International Human Rights Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

8. George T. Downing, “Christianity, Law, and Civil Rights,” Independent, Feb. 26, 1874.

9. The American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Minutes of the Proceedings of the Third Convention of Delegates From the Abolition Societies Established in Different Parts of the United States Assembled at Philadelphia, January 1, 1796 (Philadelphia: Zachariah Poulson, Jr., 1796 ), 14; Fourth Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society (Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1836), 31; Proceedings of the Fourth New-England Anti-Slavery Convention, Held in Boston, May 30, 31, and June 1 and 2, 1837 (Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1837), 46–48; Address to the Free Colored People of the United States (Philadelphia: Matthew and Gunn, 1838), 8.

10. Speech of Wendell Phillips, at the Melodeon, Thursday Evening, Jan. 27, 1853 (Boston: Printed for the American Anti-Slavery, 1853), 8, 17; “Satan Transformed,” Liberator, Nov. 4, 1853.

11. Record, 43rd Cong., 1st sess., 1874, appendix, 237; Globe, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1872, appendix, 217; Record, 43rd Cong., 1st sess., 1874, appendix, 3.

12. Globe, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1872, appendix, 4.

13. Globe, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1872, 430, 496; Record, 43rd Cong., 2nd sess., 1875, 1861, 1868–69.

14. Record, 43rd Cong.,1st sess., 1874, 376-377.

15. Record, 43rd Cong., 1st sess., 1874, 4783–84, 409.

16. Record, 43rd Cong., 2nd sess., 1875, 1001.

17. Civil Rights Cases, 21.

18. Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L. No. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, Title II, Sec. 201(a)(3). The United States Supreme Court upheld the 1964 act only under the Commerce Clause, without addressing the 14th Amendment grounds; see Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964).

19. On the supplement and the limits of Reconstruction, see C. Vann Woodward, The Burden of Southern History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993), 78–87; William Gillette, Retreat From Reconstruction, 1869-1879 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982), 259-79; Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), 553–56; John Hope Franklin, “The Enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875,” Prologue 6 (1974). My point is that expanding freedom’s scope to include amusement as a human right constituted a revolutionary redefinition of rights. On equal citizenship and public space, see Rebecca J. Scott, “Public Rights, Social Equality, and the Conceptual Roots of the Plessy Challenge,” Michigan Law Review 106, no. 6 (2008): 777–804; Rebecca J. Scott, Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba After Slavery (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), 43–45; Masur, An Example.

20. On aspirations of slaves and freedpeople to assert autonomy through pleasure and amusement, see Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Stephanie M. H. Camp, “The Pleasure of Resistance: Enslaved Women and Body Politics in the Plantation South, 1830–1861,” Journal of Southern History 68, no. 3 (2002): 533–72; Tera W. Hunter, To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the Civil War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997); Daphne A. Brooks, Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006); Bernard Camier and Laurent Dubois, “Voltaire, Zaïre, Dessalines: Le Théâtre des Lumières dans l’Atlantique franҫais,” Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 54, no.4 (2007).

21. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, in Article 27, “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts,” <http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/>.

Newtown Savings Bank $100 Checking Bonus [CT Residents]

by Tony Phan @ MoneysMyLife

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Fostering a Future

Fostering a Future

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, everybody! Let’s get involved in one another’s business, shall we?

Q: Foster parenting a dating dud?: I’m a 30-year-old single female. It’s always been an aspiration of mine to become a foster parent. There is a tremendous need for it in my county, and I want to help kids and their families. Another desire of mine is to get married and build a family with said husband. Most of my friends and family have been overwhelmingly supportive as I’ve been going through the necessary trainings and background checks to be a foster parent, and I anticipate having my first placement within six months.

However, one friend suggested that I’m setting myself up for old maid status by putting a “barrier between myself and a man who’s interested in me.” My initial response was “good, it’ll help weed out the men not cut out for me,” but upon further thought, perhaps I’m being cavalier? Anyone dating in 2018 knows it isn’t easy. I want love with a life partner, and I want to share love with kids in need—must it be mutually exclusive?

A: Is your friend Rachel Lynde? I’m not sure how helpful your friend is, but she certainly has a way with words. I certainly don’t encourage you to think of any children you might foster as tiny little engagement-ring-blockers. The idea, I suppose, is that it’s only possible to snag a husband if one is as commitment-free and unencumbered as possible, and your hypothetical future mate, who might have been interested in you had you two met at a coffee shop, is going to be scared off if he sees you’ve started parenting without him. There’s some truth to that, in the sense that single parents often have a more challenging time dating than the childless, whether that be arranging for child care in order to go on dates or figuring out how to broach the topic with a new boyfriend or girlfriend without making it sound like they’re looking for a just-add-water stepparent.

This is fairly common knowledge, but I think it bears repeating: Not everyone finds the love of their life, or even a middling-to-good love of their life. Some people are really lovable, really responsible, really earnest, and really want to settle down with someone, and it just doesn’t work out that way. I have no idea if you’ll meet a guy you want to marry, and who wants to marry you; much less whether or not it will happen if you start fostering children first. Probably starting to foster children will make it more challenging, not less, but it’s not the same thing as “setting up a barrier” against marriage. You’re not Sleeping Beauty trapped behind a marriage-repelling wall of briars. You’re saying that you’re ready to start being a foster parent, husband or no husband. You can either wait to find a husband and settle down together (which, as you well know, there’s no guarantee you will) before you do so, or you can start now; I think it makes a lot of sense that you’ve decided you’re ready to move ahead, with or without the husband. If he comes along, that’s great. I hope he does! But if he doesn’t, you won’t have put your life on hold for him.

Q: How do I politely turn down charity?: I’m a nearly 40-year-old single parent (by choice) to a delightful toddler. Last year I moved to a small town for a change of pace and a less expensive lifestyle. I invested a good deal of my savings into opening my own business. I’m by no means wealthy but live a happy, comfortable life.

Over the holidays I had some minor car trouble and asked some friends and family to help diagnose the problem via social media. I took their suggestions and did the repairs myself with very little effort or expense. A few days ago, I noticed the facilitator of a mom-child group I attend post on Facebook asking for donations for a “single mom” with a small child and a remarkably similar car problem in need in the community.

Mutual friends have confirmed this mom is me. It was my birthday and I was out for a drink with close friends when I learned about this and didn’t have an opportunity to respond. The next day I was out of town and again busy, but several people have contacted me to ask about my “car problems” and wondered if I “need anything.”

I find myself so angry and humiliated that I don’t know how to respond. This woman has always seemed like she feels bad for me for being a single mom, but we’re not personally close and I enjoy most aspects of the group she facilitates, so have never felt the need to go out of my way to correct her perception. I understand her intentions may have been good, but when other moms in the group have had similar problems, there was no hat passed around.

How do I politely say that just because I don’t have a husband doesn’t mean I am struggling financially or otherwise? I have a handle on my household finances and don’t appreciate her painting me as financially unstable in my new community as I’m establishing myself as a small-business owner.

A: “Hey, [mutual friend] mentioned that you had started a fundraiser on Facebook for my car problem. I’ve already done the repairs myself and don’t need anything beyond the help diagnosing the problem I’ve already gotten, so please don’t continue to raise money on my behalf. I’m sure you meant well, but in the future, I’m not comfortable having any fundraisers set up in my name when I haven’t specifically asked for help.”

Q: Not the same: My 20-year-old brother came out as gay last year; it wasn’t the biggest surprise and it didn’t bother anyone. His current relationship does. My brother is currently dating a man who is five years older than our own mother. He showers my brother with extremely expensive gifts, plies him with alcohol, and has taken him on spur-of-the-moment trips to Las Vegas.

All of this gives me the creeps and has the rest of our family very worried. My brother gets very defensive any time someone brings it up. My brother has missed school and family events because of this guy. Half the time, he doesn’t even tell anyone where he is going or what he is doing. My brother tries to deflect our concerns by making it about him being gay. When I point out that he called the thirtysomething guys crawling around the college bars for co-eds “creepy” and “pathetic,” he insists it is not the same.

I am really worried about my brother and something happening to him. I have met this guy twice and his behavior around my brother is more like how someone treats a pet rather than a partner (talks down to him, et cetera). What can I do? Is there any way to get through to him?

A: It’s so difficult to figure out how to offer support and also be honest with someone you love who’s in a damaging relationship without making them feel defensive and retreating even further into isolation. I think you should be judicious about expressing your concerns with your brother, since he’s already got his hackles up, and make it clear that you’re not trying to tell him what to do.

If something comes up that troubles you, whether that be the fact that he’s missing school or some aspect of the serious imbalance of power in their relationship, then I think you should raise it but be prepared to back off if necessary. “Hey, I’m worried about [X] and I haven’t seen you much lately. I miss talking to you. I don’t want you to feel like [terrible boyfriend] is an off-limits topic of conversation, or that every time we talk I’m going to try to convince you to leave your relationship, but I’m worried about how much school you’re missing, and I don’t like the way he talks down to you. How are you doing? I’m here to listen, and I promise I’ll drop the subject if you really don’t want to talk about it right now.” Then be as good as your word.

If your brother really doesn’t want to talk about his boyfriend, as painful as that might be for you right now, talk about something else. Keep the line of communication open between the two of you. This doesn’t mean you’ll be able to convince your brother this relationship is unhealthy overnight, but try to think of the work you’re doing now as laying a foundation for when your brother eventually does feel ready to leave.

Q. Difficult to endure: I’m a middle-aged woman with a genetic disorder that makes me very physically unattractive, and I’ve therefore never been able to date. I have managed to cultivate a few platonic friendships with men, however, which I value. But these friends have a habit of pulling back and limiting contact as soon as they’ve have their first experience of being ridiculed by other men for being seen with me in public.

I don’t know how to address this—these aren’t shallow people, and I understand it’s distressing for them when I’m mistaken for their date or partner. I’m used to being harassed just for existing, but this is new to them. Do I wear an “I’m not his girlfriend” T-shirt?

A: They are shallow people if their response to being ridiculed by other men for simply being seen next to you in public is to start acting like they don’t know you. The appropriate response to being harassed by another man (whether he’s a stranger or someone you know) for standing next to your friend is not to retreat in silent embarrassment, it’s to say, “What the hell made you decide to say such a vile thing out loud?”

I’m so sorry that you’re this used to being harassed in public, and that the kinds of men you’ve been able to establish meaningful friendships with have proved to be superficial cowards once they’ve gotten a small taste of what you experience on a daily basis. I understand that your last suggestion was made mostly in jest, but it’s absolutely heartbreaking that you feel on some level an implicit responsibility to tell strangers “Don’t worry, I know my place.” A good friend would rise immediately, publicly, loudly, and enthusiastically to your defense if someone tried to tell them they should be embarrassed for going out in public with you. Any friend whose response is to clam up and stop returning your calls doesn’t deserve the name.

Q: Cream cheese hero: While out of town with my boyfriend, we went to the breakfast buffet at our hotel. We were the only ones in the room of the help-yourself-style breakfast. They were out of cream cheese at the time and I found myself disappointed. Trying to be helpful, my boyfriend went into fixer mode and helped me look around the room to see if I’d missed it or if we could find a stash to replenish the supply, which included him quickly checking in what I’d assumed to be an unlocked closet/storage area. I’m the type of person who assumes that if a door is closed, the staff probably doesn’t want you in there, so I mildly protested to this. After the fact, he mentioned he’d actually jimmied the lock open rather easily with a credit card to get into that room.

The effort to solve my problem is sweet in spirit, but it makes me a little uncomfortable. It’s the most mild breaking and entering I’ve heard of, but it still sort of counts. He sees it as a pretty benign thing, somewhat akin to being resourceful and self-sufficient, and the worst that would have happened if he’d been caught is they would have asked him not to do that. He’s got a mild streak of “let’s toe the line when the stakes are super low and it wouldn’t really matter” attitude while I’m more of a “follow the rules because it’s polite and makes things run smoothly” person. I don’t think he’d do something like that again if I asked him not to, but the question is: Is this a red flag or a harmless, if mildly misguided, thing?

A: My money’s on charming, but charming doesn’t always mean harmless, and with the obvious caveat that I’d be totally embarrassed if someone I was dating broke into a storage closet at a hotel buffet. It’s not a red flag, I don’t think, but if he has a habit of cheerfully disregarding rules and locks (it’d certainly be different if there had been an employee working who could have been alarmed or confused by someone breaking into a storage closet), it might certainly turn yellow, especially if that disregard leads him to steamroll over other people. But on its own, this story doesn’t lead me to think you should be worried about your boyfriend.

That said! You are well within your rights to be a cautious person who does not break rules, and you do not have to keep quiet if he does things that bother you just because his way is more “fun.” If you don’t like something he says or does, if it embarrasses you or seems inconsiderate of others, then speak up, and have a good old-fashioned argument about it.

Q: Re: Turning down charity: You absolutely have to contact the mom soliciting donations and offer a donation! I would act oblivious as to where the money is going and enthusiastic about helping a neighbor in need. Don’t get sucked into small town drama and hold your head high.

A: Oh my god, that’s beautiful and petty, which is one of my favorite combinations. Thank you for this. (I still think your best bet is to be direct, but this is definitely my second choice.)

Q: The furious ex: I have reconnected with the man I would genuinely describe as the love of my life. We dated in high school and lost contact when we went off to college. He is divorced with two kids and fighting to get full custody of them. His ex has been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder and will alternate between cursing him out and begging to him to take her back (I have heard the voicemails). She consistently lies and tries to use the kids as a weapon against him. We have gone out on a few dates, mostly as friends, and I am falling in love with him again, but I don’t know if I can deal with all this. I think I would be a good stepmom, but their mother would go ballistic on me. What should I do? Hang back and wait? Be a friend despite my feelings?

A: I think you should try to get a sense of what your would-be boyfriend’s strategy is for dealing with his ex-wife. This isn’t a boundary that you’re solely responsible for setting—if he’s trying to date again, he should have at least some sense for how he manages his interactions with her and tries to ensure that she doesn’t harass anyone he’s seeing.

It’s great that you think you would be a good stepmom, but I worry that the fact that you guys dated in high school and you consider him “the love of your life” has pushed you eight or nine steps ahead of yourself. He has not asked you to help co-parent his children, and you’ve only been on a few friendly dates. If you want to go on another date, then go on another date—don’t emotionally go on the next 20 dates at once. Talk to him about your feelings, don’t rush into being his second wife before he’s even asked, and figure out how you two will deal with any possible interactions with his ex together.

Q: Re: Foster parenting a dating dud?: Never put your life on hold until you find a husband/wife. The best catches want to marry a whole person, not someone waiting for someone who will give them permission to become complete!

A: An enthusiastic and wholehearted recommendation for moving ahead! I think it’s often rare in life that we have a really clear sense of what we want, as well as a strategy for how to get it, and if you’ve got that right now when it comes to being a foster parent, then you should seize the opportunity.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

The Best Home Gym Equipment

The Best Home Gym Equipment

by Lauren Levy @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Remember that creaky stationary bike your grandma used to have in her basement? Well, forget about it. Today’s big-ticket home-gym equipment is nothing like that. The list of treadmills, bikes, and rowing machines below are so advanced that you can join live classes or work out with a virtual personal trainer right from the comfort of your own living room. It’s 2018, people, there’s no need to schlep all the way to the gym to have someone yell at you to work harder and run faster. And if you’d like to add some smaller items to round out the gym, we’ve written about a variety of those and gone deep on foam rollers before.

“NordicTrack makes a rower called the RW200. It’s super lightweight, and for the cost, it’s a really bare-bones approach to getting a piece of cardio equipment into your house. Rowing is a really efficient form of exercise. It works the upper and lower body, while also focusing on core strength. The machine itself completely folds up, too, so you don’t have to worry about keeping it in your living room all the time. For the price, it’s the most practical.” —Emily Abbate, fitness consultant and freelance editor

NordicTrack RW200 Rower
$675, Amazon

“A rower is hands down the best bang for your buck when it comes to investing in a big-ticket home-workout machine. Rowing is truly a full-body workout that uses almost every major muscle group in your body, including your legs, back, core, and arms. Engaging so many muscles simultaneously elevates your heart rate and burns a lot of calories. Even when your strength and endurance improve, rowing can be made more challenging, so this machine will never become obsolete as your fitness level increases. Challenging yourself is as simple as rowing harder or rowing faster, and as you push yourself on a rower, your cardiovascular health, endurance, and overall strength and power will continuously improve. Plus, rowing is a low-impact exercise and is a very safe form of cardio suitable for everyone.” —Eric Salvador, head trainer, Fhitting Room and certified indoor-rowing instructor

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine With PM5
$945, Amazon

“The NordicTrack X22i incline trainer is a treadmill that goes up to a 40 percent incline where most treadmills stop at 15. It has the greatest running deck because the motor is at the back, whereas most have that at the front where your impact zone is, so it has a much greater buffer. Along with all of this is a massive touch-operated screen console with iFit technology. Not only can you choose to work out with iFit pro trainers on the machine in real time at the greatest locations in the world, but it also automatically increases speed and incline for you as the trainer leading your workout accelerates or climbs. All stats are saved so you can monitor your results and gauge progress. New workouts and destinations are added all the time, too.” —Steve Uria, founder, Switch Playground

NordicTrack X22i Incline Trainer
$2,699, NordicTrack

Other (cheaper) versions of NordicTrack treadmills are available on Amazon here.

“I’m in love with the Octane Zero Runner. The company just released its first version to a residential market. The beauty of the machine is that it has a ‘knee joint,’ which enables you to use a much more natural running gait than a more traditional elliptical trainer, while still giving your body a break from the impact of treadmill or outdoor running. I actually trained for a 15k trail race this past year using the Zero Runner for the vast majority of my training. For someone like me, who often has to scale back running due to back issues, the Zero Runner gives me the chance to maximize indoor training with a natural running gait without killing my body in the process. Of course, it’s spendy, at around $3,000, so not something you’d want to purchase without trying it first. Also, it takes some getting used to. Getting the form right isn’t as intuitive as some machines. You have to be willing to work at it a little bit to master the movement. It took my husband about a week’s worth of workouts to feel comfortable.” —Laura Williams, author, fitness instructor and founder, Girls Gone Sporty

Octane Fitness ZR7 Zero Runner
$2,475, Amazon

“The Bodycraft allows you to work every muscle group in a variety of ways, and its exercises are strength-based to help you build muscle, boost metabolism, and burn fat. It’s also fun because two people can use this at once.” —Radan Sturm, founder, Liftonic

Bodycraft X2 Multi-Station Home Gym
$3,999, Amazon

“The Bandbell is a unique bar that’s unlike any other for injury-prevention, strength training and rehab, or pre-hab. It also challenges your core since it forces you to stabilize. I also recommend everyone having resistance bands at home, and the best brand out there is the SlingShot. They are easy to store, use, and travel with. Plus they can crush your glutes!” —Kirk Myers, founder, Dogpound

Bandbell Barbell
$326, Amazon

“Every single client that walks into the gym wants to reduce their body fat and lose weight, but doesn’t want to put in the time, or they lack time. So an at-home workout machine is perfect for fitting around busy schedules and making quick fat-loss gains. Bikes are the biggest bang for your buck. One of my favorites is the cutting-edge indoor bike from Peloton. Users can go in a live or taped stream and they’ll be in a workout-class setting. This increases the motivation they need to get the workout done. It’s a great way to burn fat, release endorphins, and overall feel fabulous.” —Harry Hanson, Hanson Fitness

Peloton Bike
$1,995, Peleton

“The Skillmill is by far one of the most innovative and effective exercise equipment I’ve seen in years. It allows the user to push their body to the limit by completely controlling the motion of the machine by human force instead of the motor (it has no motor). You can also adjust the resistance for power-development workouts to add variety to your workout routine. It’s excellent for short, high-intensity, metabolic-conditioning workouts rather than long, low-intensity workouts. You can achieve advanced cardiovascular and strength workouts in a short period of time while only needing minimal space for the machine itself. We use it at our Life Time clubs as a part of our training programs for our clients. It’s high-performance and ultracool.” —David Juhn, personal-training manager, Life Time Athletic Sky

Skillmill Connect
$9,740, Techno Gym

“If the sky’s the limit on budget, the CardioGym CG6 is everything you could ever need for an at-home workout with coached HITT programming while you cycle. If that’s too sky-high, the Peloton Bike is a great option. When I’m on the road, I always have my ‘I Get Around travel kit, complete with everything you need to work arms, abs, and booty on the go.” —Bec Donlan, curator of Hotel Americano’s #FitnessAmericano program

CardioGym CG6
$5,995, CardioGym

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Not an Act

Not an Act

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. Not faking it: I am currently disabled. I’ve worked my way up to being up and about for an hour to two each day. Whenever I go out, people say the oddest things to me. Today, when I parked my car, a man came up and said suspiciously, “You don’t look disabled.” I said I just had surgery and rushed away. This happens almost any time I use my handicapped tag. Friends will tell me that I don’t look sick, or that I look great, and then take it personally when I say that I can’t go out for long or go to events. One of my best friends today asked if I had just tried increasing my pain tolerance. I never know how to respond, and knowing that these interactions are coming makes me anxious about leaving my apartment. What can I say to strangers who confront me about my disability, and to friends who don’t get it?

A: This will hopefully serve as a reminder to all readers that not every disability is immediately visible, and that it’s not the job of the general public to monitor people with handicapped placards for signs that they “really” need them. You don’t owe strangers a damn thing, much less an explanation, and I’m so sorry that so many people have taken it upon themselves to demand one of you. Feel enormously free to ignore them.

Getting this sort of treatment from your friends seems so much more painful. I cannot imagine why your friend would say something as amazingly stupid as, “Have you tried just feeling less pain?” That’s worth revisiting, especially since you say this person is one of your best friends. This is not something you can simply decide to ignore, and your friend should apologize for suggesting you just “get over” something like chronic pain. I hope there are people in your life who understand that you are dealing with a new reality, and who are looking for ways to demonstrate their care and support, rather than demand when you’re going to “get better.”

Q. How do I know if I want children?: I’m in my mid-20s and have been in a relationship with an amazing guy for a little over a year. He’s kind-hearted, funny, understanding, and just all-around great.

The one area where I see any potential conflict for our future is family planning: He doesn’t want any children, and I’m not sure. Most times, I find children noisy, annoying, and a financial and time burden. When I think of myself having children, it seems exhausting and terribly annoying, something that would prevent me from going ahead in life and living fully. But occasionally—generally when I see a cute baby or a well-behaved child—I feel almost a bit of a craving to hold one of my own in my arms, and think that I’d rather like to have a couple in the next 10 years.

How do I unpack my feelings, and know what I want? I love my boyfriend and want to build a future with him, but I’m scared that five or 10 years down the line I’ll suddenly want children and it’ll destroy our relationship.

A: I wish so much that I could promise you that there will come a day, sooner or later, when you will “know what you want” without reservation or doubt, but I can’t. You can spend more time searching your own feelings, you can come to a more thorough understanding of your desires and fears, you can even make decisions based on the strength of your self-knowledge, but you may very well feel unsure (or even change your mind) about any decision you make. There is likely a lovely, happy, meaningful version of your life where you do have children. There is likely a lovely, happy, meaningful version of your life where you don’t. Ask yourself the question independently of your boyfriend’s wishes. That’s not to say that your circumstances can’t or shouldn’t ever influence your decisions, but you need to answer for yourself what your feelings are about having children, not simply what your feelings are after taking his feelings into account first.

If someday you do decide you want to have children and your boyfriend doesn’t, it will not have “destroyed” your relationship—the end of that romantic relationship will be absolutely necessary for the two of you.

Q. Mother’s insensitivity: I have bipolar disorder and OCD. I live with my elderly mother and, for the most part, we get along well. My issue is that my mother is grossly insensitive to my need for her to not touch my food. She is not good about washing her hands after various personal activities. Last week, she started picking things off of my half of a pizza with her fingers, and I asked her to not touch my food for the umpteenth time. She claimed angrily, not for the first time, that I “play out the OCD thing to an extreme” on purpose. I do not, and I’ve worked hard to keep my OCD from being a problem for others.

How can I get my mother to grasp the fact that when anyone touches my food I am unable to eat that food? I do a great deal of work for her in this house, and I don’t think that it is too much to ask that she understand and accept my needs.

A: Tell her, “I’m not ‘playing out the OCD thing.’ I have OCD, which affects my life on a regular basis regardless of how much I might wish it didn’t. I’ve asked you not to touch my food, and you refuse to stop. It’s a simple request, but if you can’t honor it, then I won’t be able to eat with you.” If your mother attempts to do anything but stop touching your food—if she tries to turn this into an argument, if she tries to convince you that it’s fine for her to do this, if she tries to insist that she “just can’t remember” that you don’t want her putting her hands on your food, then simply say, “I’ve asked you not to do this. I’m going to go now,” and eat elsewhere. Either she’ll learn to do better, or you’ll eat more meals without her; either way, you do not have to put up with this rudeness, not even from your mother.

If any readers have particular experience trying to set boundaries with parents they live with, especially while dealing with a mental health diagnosis, please feel free to share anything that’s worked for you.

Q. Is there ever a point in asking “what happened?” about a romance that never was?: In the summer I’ll be visiting the country where I went to university. One of the friends I’ll be seeing is a guy with whom I had a rather flirty but platonic relationship. We really clicked and I liked him, but never made a move because he’d implied in passing that he was gay and/or asexual (I’m a woman). We had one encounter in summer 2016 where he was more flirty (verbally and physically) than usual, which I enjoyed and reciprocated, but the next time we met, he seemed to have lost romantic interest. I felt embarrassed and stopped contacting him, though we started to interact sporadically on Twitter months later. We’ve been in touch since I moved and it’s been flirting-free. When we meet, is there any point asking him about his change of heart, or should I let it go?

A: You can ask, I suppose, but it sounds like you already know the answer—he’s gay and/or asexual, and at some point he decided to change his behavior from “flirtatious” to merely “friendly.” You don’t say he grew cold or distant, merely that your interactions lost a certain potentially romantic charge, and that you pulled back as a result. The fact that you two have been reconnecting on friendly terms over the last few months seems like a very clear sign that he likes you as a friend and doesn’t want to reignite his old flirtatious behavior. I think your best next move is to be friendly in return, accept that your respective orientations are incompatible, and look for someone else to click with romantically.

Q. Not looking for a sister-in-law: I’m in my mid-20s and so is my boyfriend of about a year and a half. His sister just moved to our city to begin to college. At first I was excited to get to know her better, but now we see her every weekend. I don’t love hanging out with someone whose life is in such a different stage of mine so frequently and I feel like I have gained a sister-in-law I was not ready for. Is there a gentle way to bring up to my boyfriend that I don’t enjoy seeing his sister every weekend?

A: Yes, of course! “I like your sister, and I’m glad you two are so close, but I don’t want to spend every weekend with her. Next weekend, I’m going to [see a movie with friends/go dancing/check out a bookstore]. Do you want to come with me?”

Q. Disgraced professor: My son is in high school and has been being tutored by a college math associate professor for the past six months. My son has made fantastic progress and has overcome years of failing math grades.

The problem is that this professor was just fired for sexual harassment at his college. It was a big enough deal to make the local paper and everyone has backed away from him. He has been ejected from his other leadership positions in town and is now seen as a pariah. (The level of harassment was Louis C.K.-level, not Weinstein.)

I want to continue the tutoring as long as possible. I am concerned about the message my son gets in this, but at the same time, this tutoring is the only thing that has ever worked for my son in math. He has taken a child who may have not graduated high school and put him on track for college. What should I do?

A: Oh, I can think of a number of things you can do. Ask yourself, what sort of message will I be sending my high school–aged son about the seriousness of sexual harassment and assault if I encourage him to continue working with this man? How do I feel about myself when I say, “This man who was fired for sexual harassment ‘only’ did things like forcibly keep someone from leaving the room while he masturbated in front of them?” Do you feel honorable? Do you feel proud to pass this sort of mindset on to your child? Do you think your son’s math grade is worth this sort of compromise, this moral haziness, this minimization, this couching? Do you truly think there is no other tutor in your area who can help your son with his studies? Have you truly exhausted all of your other options? Have you even explored a single alternative, or have you already decided what you’re going to do, and are merely looking for reassurance that you can continue with this tutoring and think of yourself as a good person?

What on earth do you mean when you say you want this tutoring to continue for “as long as possible”? Do you mean until you get what you want—your son’s acceptance to a good college, at which point you’ll feel free to end the relationship? Do you mean until other people start asking you why you’re still working with this man as if nothing has happened?

I’m afraid at this point I’ve asked you more questions than you have asked me. My best advice for you is that you try to answer them as honestly as you can, and make your decision from there.

Q. Emotional affair: My husband barely talks to me anymore. Our conversations center on our sons, the dog, and our house. Anything intimate or emotional, he clams up and changes the subject.

My husband has a twin sister with whom he has always been close. She never liked me very much and discouraged my husband from dating me while we were in college. She has warmed up since we got married and is civil when I see her, but that is it.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I went through my husband’s email after a lot of “late nights” at work. He wasn’t having an affair, but instead I found email after email of my husband discussing everything with his sister. He was worried about losing his job, thinking about moving careers, and talking about our marriage. He told her that I was more concerned about “being near a farmer’s market” than helping out financially (I am a stay-at-home mom). It was nauseous to read about all the details he told her—like he felt pressured by me to have a third kid, that I wanted to be a mom more than a wife, how our finances were going, et cetera.

I confronted my husband and I didn’t do it calmly. I know it was wrong to snoop but I felt so betrayed and exposed then. I told him I saw him pulling away from me and I thought he was having an affair, so I looked for evidence and found he was having an emotional affair with his sister. He got so angry I thought he might hit me. He screamed that I was sick in the head to accuse him of screwing his sister. That isn’t what I said!

Since then, he won’t talk to me and can barely look at me. As soon as the boys are in bed, my husband goes into the guest room and locks the door. My husband grew up without a father and always said he would never leave any of his kids; I don’t think he will ask for a divorce, but I can’t stand the thought of this being my life until our children grow up. I don’t know what to do. He wouldn’t agree to counseling because he “didn’t do anything wrong.” I feel so alone now.  Can you help me?

A: Your marriage has suffered about as thorough a breakdown of mutual trust and respect as it is possible to suffer. Go to counseling without your husband (for what it’s worth, relationship counseling is not actually about finding out who “did something wrong” and assigning blame, but about identifying problems in the relationship and finding new ways to approach them). It’s worth trying to figure out how you got to a point in your marriage that you could not speak directly about your issues but felt you had to go through his email, as well as the fact that, rather than saying, “You’ve been talking to your sister about our marital problems and I feel hurt and betrayed,” you accused your husband of having romantic feelings for his own sister.

On some level, you must have known that saying that would cross a line you could not easily return from. Was part of you hoping you could blow up your marriage, that at last you’d have something the two of you would have to talk about, if only to say that you were going to divorce over it? It’s worth figuring out the answers to these questions even if your husband doesn’t accompany you. I can’t imagine it’s likely that the two of you will be able to stay together—it may be best for everyone involved if the two of you divorce—but you deserve the chance to work through this with a good therapist. Go tomorrow.

Q. Gay: My sister came out as a lesbian this summer and I came out as bisexual this Thanksgiving to our very moderate middle-class parents. There were tears and talking and more tears, but my parents are ultimately supportive—almost too much so.

My father brings up his “gay kids” in everyday conversations to complete strangers. An old high school friend who works as a barista mentioned it to me when my dad comes in for coffee. He says how proud he is of us, but he brings it up all the time! My mom has joined PFLAG and has taken to taking pictures of pretty girls and sending them to my sister and me in an effort to set us up. My sister finds it amusing and sweet, but she lives 300 miles away. I live 30 minutes from my parents. I know how lucky I am and how my parents are only acting out of love but it is very embarrassing. How do I tell my parents I appreciate their effort but lay off it?

A: Oh, this is extremely sweet and charming and I can completely appreciate your embarrassment. Some of this I think is worth letting go, like the fact that your mother is in PFLAG (that’s a great outlet for her newfound enthusiasm, frankly), but there’s other things I think you can address. Tell your mother, “Mom, I love how supportive you’ve been, but I don’t want you to set me up with anyone, and it makes me uncomfortable when you send me pictures of pretty girls asking if I’d like to go out with them. I know you’re just looking for ways to connect with me, so please don’t feel like I’m trying to shut you down, but I just don’t want to find prospective dates this way.”

For your father, I’d suggest this: “Dad, I appreciate how supportive you’ve been since we came out, and I don’t want you to feel like you can’t talk about our relationship with anyone, but I’d appreciate it if you were a little more restrained when you bring us up around strangers or acquaintances. The other day a barista at the coffee shop you go to told me that they’d heard I came out, and I’m not comfortable having that kind of conversation with someone I barely knew in high school. Does that make sense?” Your parents sound like great people who are trying as hard as they can to love and support you; my guess is that they’ll ultimately appreciate any direction you can give them.

Q. More than a “mentee”: I recently started my first year in a new job, and was assigned a tenured employee to be my mentor during our orientation program. “Jennifer” is very sweet, tries to be helpful as I learn the ropes, and we have developed a friendly working relationship.

However, she has a habit that has been driving me crazy. Ever since the first time we met during the new employee orientation, Jennifer has refused to call me by my first name, preferring to call me “mentee” every time she interacts with me. If I see her in the building in the morning, I am always greeted by “Good morning, mentee!” or “How are you today, mentee?” At first it was sweet, but now that I’ve worked here for five months, it’s become irritating, and it has even extended to how she addresses me on social media. I know she means well, but it makes me feel like I am a child, instead of an adult who is her equal in our line of work. My co-workers have even started teasing me about it, and although it might seem petty, it really bothers me. How do I approach Jennifer and ask her to call me by my actual name without offending her or making her feel bad? I have avoided addressing it for fear of hurting her feelings.

A: “Would you please call me by my first name when we’re at work? I’m enjoying our mentoring relationship, but I’d rather be addressed by my name than as ‘mentee.’ Thank you!”

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks, everybody! See you next week.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.
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Chase Coupon Promo Codes: $200, $300, $350, $500 (Feb 2018)

by Tony Phan @ MoneysMyLife

Chase Bank coupon codes, bonuses, and promotions for their Checking, Savings and Business accounts can all be found up-to-date here. Chase promotions are constantly updated throughout the year, so bookmark this page for updates. Many Chase coupon codes are periodically available. Current and past coupons include the following: $100, $150, $175, $200, $250, $300, $350, $400, $500, $600 and […]

How to Balance a Checkbook in 2018

by Jeff Gitlen @ LendEDU

After we entered the digital age of banking, many people felt comfortable giving up check registers and balancing checkbooks because they can monitor their checking account online. However, being able to balance a checkbook is still a useful skill to have in personal finance. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, then you might benefit […]

The post How to Balance a Checkbook in 2018 appeared first on LendEDU.

Gift Sets for Every Kind of Recipient

Gift Sets for Every Kind of Recipient

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

We set out to curate so many distinct, varied gift guides each year simply because gift-shopping is so specific to another person’s taste. Sure, when you’re down to the wire, you might consider just buying a gift card for that “impossible to shop for” person, but here are some gift sets we found on Amazon that might help to fill in the gaps: from a bounty of junk food to satisfy a college student to a best-selling baby gift set for new moms.

For a College Student Who Doesn’t Cook

An embarrassment of junk-food riches for someone surviving on Easy Mac and ramen.

Cravebox Deluxe Care Package Snack Box
$30, Amazon

For a Luxury–Skin Care Fiend

It includes their best-selling hand creams and some luxurious body oils and lotions that will make you smell like a rich person.

L’Occitane Gift Set
$154, Amazon

For a Person Who Loves Entertaining

Don’t miss the hidden pullout drawer that contains all the cheese knives and spreading tools.

Bamboo Cheeseboard and Charcuterie Set
$60, Amazon

For a Millennial

They’re not the Lush brand, or one of those unicorn bath bombs, but when they’re packaged like little Ladurée macarons, your giftee probably won’t even mind.

Bath Bomb Gift Set
$17, Amazon

For a Relative Who Loves Snacking

Sure, you’ll find many nutty gift baskets on Amazon, but this one’s exceptionally well-reviewed if you’re scrambling for last-minute gifts or just looking for a varied sampler plate to leave out for guests.

Holiday Gourmet Food Nuts Gift Basket
$28, Amazon

For a New Mom

Moms love Mustela’s sweet-smelling baby products (one told us recently that they are “the best-smelling baby products in the world”; writer Hillary Kelly is another big fan), so this starter pack of baby essentials is certain to be a hit.

Mustela Newborn Arrive Gift Set
$35, Amazon

For a Person Who’s As Serious About Exfoliating As Pharrell

A dermatologist-recommended facial-cleansing brush that will help keep your skin in pristine condition in between facials.

Clarisonic Perfecting Starter Holiday Gift Set
$129, Amazon

For a Seasonal Drink Enthusiast

A festive tea-sampler box that would please anyone who craves gingerbread lattes and spiced cider—with flavors ranging from Rum Raisin Biscotti to Spiced Ginger Rum.

Tea Forte Warming Joy Presentation Box
$20, Amazon

For a Person Who Would Enjoy a Meat-Lovers Pizza

So. Much. Jerky.

Buffalo Bills 12-Piece Jerky Set Gift Cooler
$50, Amazon

For a Boyfriend Who’s Trying to Get Into Skin Care

A very advanced skin care kit (a skin serum, an eye cream, and chemical resurfacing pads) that will help him upgrade his “Dr. Bronner’s soap and water” routine.

Jack Black Anti-Aging Triple Play Set
$100, Amazon

For a Coffee Snob

This coffee sampler is nothing to turn up your nose at: It’s sourced from 20 of Seattle’s award-winning, small-batch roasters.

Bean Box Gourmet Coffee Sampler
$24, Amazon

For a Creative Niece or Nephew

A giant coloring kit for an 8-year-old boy or girl stocked with crayons, colored pencils, and markers that they’ll have for years to come.

Crayola Inspiration Art Case
$17, Amazon

For a Person With a Sweet Tooth

They’re not exactly double-stuffed, but these cookies do come covered in a range of sweet gourmet toppings, from chocolate icing and sprinkles to nuts and crushed peppermint.

Barnett’s Chocolate Oreo Cookies Gift Box
$24, Amazon

For a Guy Who Wants to Optimize His Shaving Experience

A deluxe shaving kit (including an old-fashioned shaving brush) from culty men’s skin care line Baxter of California.

Baxter of California Shave 1-2-3 Kit
$72, Amazon

For a Wellness Enthusiast

Even though none of these wellness fanatics are asking for essential oils this year, they can still be a good source of relaxation for a yogi or chronically anxious person—make it a double-gift with an aroma-diffusing humidifier.

Essential Oils Gift Set
$13, Amazon

For an Aspiring Sommelier

A very sleek, all-black wine set that includes a nifty electric wine opener with a foil cutter and a cork dispenser.

Vremi 9-Piece Wine Gift Set
$30, Amazon

For a Burt’s Bees Devotee

For a true Burt’s Bees diehard who always has one of their creamy skin care products in their bag: Here, help them keep their supplies up with a travel-size selection of Burt’s best-sellers.

Burt’s Bees Essential Everyday Beauty Gift Set
$8, Amazon

For a Dad Who Loves to Grill Out

Stainless-steel everything for the guy who wants to round out his grilling collection.

BBQ Grills Tool Set
$27, Amazon

For an Outdoorsman

A very solid traveling flask set to bring on camping trips or on a hike.

Stanley Stainless Steel Shots and Flask Gift Set
$26, Amazon

For an Organic–Skin Care Absolutist

Filled with rich, skin-friendly ingredients like rice bran, coconut, chamomile, and Dead Sea clay.

Organic Homemade Soap Gift Set
$35, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Vermont Supreme Court Protects the Rights of Same-Sex Parents and Their Children

Vermont Supreme Court Protects the Rights of Same-Sex Parents and Their Children

by Anthony Michael Kreis @ Slate Articles

On Friday, the Vermont State Supreme Court handed down a significant decision in a child custody dispute between an estranged lesbian couple. The ruling in Sinnott v. Peck is one of many recent landmark state court decisions that protect same-sex parents’ rights and preserve the bonds between parents and their children.

Between 2003 and 2010, Sarah Sinnott and Jennifer Peck were in a healthy, loving relationship. The couple shared a home, cared for one another’s elderly parents, enjoyed vacations and meals with each other, and raised two children. Before their relationship began, Jennifer adopted a 1-year-old girl, G.P., from Guatemala. As soon as she could talk, G.P. called Sarah her mother. Jennifer encouraged G.P. to call Sarah as her mother and referred to Sarah as “mom,” as well.

A year later, Sarah and Jennifer decided to adopt another child together. The couple wanted to adopt a child from Guatemala so that both children shared a common cultural background. The adoption process was not smooth. Guatemala’s adoption system was riddled with mass corruption—indeed, the United Nations documented over 3,000 irregular adoptions— prompting the Guatemalan government to pursue legislative reforms. Those anti-corruption measures, however, threatened to shut off all international adoptions.

Further complicating matters, Sarah and Jennifer soon realized the adoption agency could only place an older child with them; the couple wanted to adopt a baby. With the window for adopting a Guatemalan baby closing fast, Sarah and Jennifer decided to return to the adoption agency that Jennifer used for G.P.’s adoption. The agency did not place children with same-sex couples, so Jennifer proceeded with the adoption process alone. Consequently, Sarah stayed home in Vermont to care for G.P. while Jennifer traveled twice to Guatemala to visit the child, M.P., whom the agency was attempting to place with Jennifer. All three members of the family went to Guatemala to visit with M.P. before M.P. was brought to Vermont. At the time of adoption, M.P. was 6 months old.

Once M.P. was in Vermont, Sarah and Jennifer cared for her together. Sarah took maternity leave to serve as the primary caretaker of M.P. once she was adopted. As she did with G.P., Jennifer regularly referred to Sarah as M.P.’s mother to their family and friends. Sarah and Jennifer jointly made medical decisions on M.P.’s behalf. Sarah saw to both children’s everyday needs because her work schedule permitted more flexibility than Jennifer’s.

Sarah and Jennifer planned to get a civil union and formalize a joint adoption process. Life got in the way, and it never came to be. One of Jennifer’s parents passed away. Sarah became ill with Lyme disease. When their relationship ended in 2010, they created a shared custody agreement and evenly divided time with the children between them. They shared financial responsibilities for the children. The children’s school was notified that Jennifer and Sarah shared custody and the two women went to family counseling to ensure a healthy, shared schedule.

That worked for three years until, according to Sarah, Jennifer started to throw a wrench into the arrangement. Sarah alleges Jennifer told the school to end all contact with Sarah about the children and refused to let Sarah see the children. Despite the interruptions in visitation, Sarah maintained what regular contact she could with the kids through emails, text messages, and phone calls. However, Sarah said that M.P. warned her Jennifer planned to call the police if the email communication continued.

In August 2015, Sarah filed a petition for parental rights as a de-facto parent. The judge denied her request—despite the fact that Sarah had cared for the children since they were infants, provided for their everyday needs, and formed strong emotional bonds with the girls. Because neither the Vermont Legislature nor Vermont courts ever recognized the rights of a person to secure parental rights over a child to whom that person had no biological relationship or raised in a marital household, the judge ruled Sarah had no standing to assert parental rights over the children under Vermont law. With the assistance of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Sarah and her attorney appealed to the state’s highest court.

The Vermont Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling, allowing Sarah to petition for rights over the two children. Following the lead of highest state courts in New York and Massachusetts, the court explained that “limiting parental status to individuals who are biologically linked to the child, have legally adopted, or are married or joined in civil union with the child’s legal parent at birth” could tear families apart even when two people agree ex-ante to raise a child together, the child forms a parental bond with both parents, and when the child and the outside world always believed both individuals to be the child’s parents. Instead of solely focusing on the adults’ legal relationship or their biological connection to the child, courts can examine the adults’ intentions to raise a child together and the relationship between the adults and the child. 

To ignore the realities of how modern families form in favor of narrow interpretation of what makes a family would only serve to harm children. Vermont’s justices acknowledged that rigid legal rules, which separate fit parental figures from their children, could have traumatic consequences for children. The court noted: “It is hard to imagine how … an approach that allows for a complete and involuntary severing of a lifelong parent-child relationship could possibly promote children’s welfare. In many cases, the consequences of such a rule would be nothing short of tragic.”

This ruling is an important move forward for families with children whose parents are unmarried or with whom they have no biological connection. It affirms and extends the dignity jurisprudence of Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized the loving families that same-sex couples create, often with children. The Vermont Supreme Court’s decision acknowledges the reality that modern families are not cookie cutter versions of one another. The court understood that families have evolved, and judges must fill in the gaps when the law hasn’t yet caught up to the best interests of children.

Avoid Being a Victim of These Five Top Reported Cyber Scams Part 1

by Melina Delis @ Bank of Southern California N.A.

All over the world, there are many victims of identity theft and cybercrime. Per the National Cyber Security Alliance, at least 720 new threats have emerged. If you want to avoid identity theft and cybercrime, you should be aware of these top five reported cyber scams: Fake Check Scams – This is when an authentic-lookingRead more

The post Avoid Being a Victim of These Five Top Reported Cyber Scams Part 1 appeared first on Bank of Southern California N.A..

PenFed Credit Union CD Rates, Checking, Savings, Money Market, and IRA Accounts

by Lindsay VanSomeren @ MagnifyMoney

PenFed Credit Union—also known as Pentagon Federal Credit Union—got its start in 1935. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest credit unions in the country, with over 1.6 million members and $24 billion in assets. While it does offer in-person branches, anyone can also access their accounts online. Like most credit … Continue reading PenFed Credit Union CD Rates, Checking, Savings, Money Market, and IRA Accounts

The post PenFed Credit Union CD Rates, Checking, Savings, Money Market, and IRA Accounts appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Different Strokes

Different Strokes

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week by signing up in the box below. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers each Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Dear Prudence,
Recently my friend Amy made a new friend, Mary. I’ve met her a few times, and while we were polite to each other, she isn’t someone I’d care to interact with more than necessary. I don’t seek her out, nor do I invite her to social events. Mary has slowly become part of my circle of friends. She has made a few comments intimating she’s upset that she hasn’t been invited to some of our get-togethers, but she is in a very different financial bracket than the rest of us. The restaurants and events we choose to go to are pricey. I recently hosted a dinner party for my friends and their plus ones, and Amy brought Mary. I didn’t want her at my house. We’re not friends, and I don’t enjoy her presence. I’m hosting another dinner party for the holidays, and I know Amy will bring Mary. I do not invite people I don’t want to be around to my parties. How do I politely tell Amy to stop bringing Mary?
—She’s Not Invited; She Comes Anyway

I certainly hope your dislike for Mary is rooted in something other than “she can’t afford to spend as much money on appetizers as I can,” because the only sin she appears to have committed is being less rich than the rest of your friends. While you’re certainly within your rights not to invite Mary to an event you’re hosting, sending dinner-party invitations with further instructions about who someone can invite as a plus one should be reserved for more extreme cases than this one.

I think your best option is to include Amy on the invitation and find a way to enjoy yourself despite Mary’s presence—surely at a dinner party full of guests you’ll find someone you want to talk to. It would be awkward and, I think, an overexertion of your rights as a host, to send Amy an invitation “plus one,” then add, “but not the one you’d like to bring.” It would be one thing if Mary had said something rude or offensive the last time you’d had her as a guest in your home. In that case you might say something like, “I would love for you to come but I have to ask you not to bring Mary, because she was so rude to Scorinthians last time she visited/monopolized the conversation/stole my dishwasher.” That said, if you simply can’t stand the thought of Mary as a guest in your home, then you should ask Amy not to bring her. If Amy decides not to attend, or is angry with you for asking, then that’s a risk you’re simply going to have to run.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I broke up with my boyfriend of a few years about three months ago. We’ve kept things cordial, and I’ve made it very clear that we are only going to be friends. Recently his mother contacted me and told me that I needed to stop speaking with her son because I was “stringing him along.” She also said that my mother should block him on her social media pages because he “obsesses” over glimpses into my life. I told her I didn’t want to discuss him with her and ended the conversation. She persisted in telling me that she felt I was dismissive of her. I think I should let him know about her meddling, as it has caused problems for him in the past (she was sneaking around buying him alcohol when he was supposed to be cleaning up his act). But I also don’t want to cause any drama. Should I spill the beans? Keep it to myself? Stop talking to him altogether?
—Trying to Keep an Even Keel

Stop talking to your ex and his mother. You were rightly dismissive of his mother! What she did was so bizarrely inappropriate that it merited a thorough and a frosty dismissal. Do not take any more of her calls. He’s your ex, and it’s not your responsibility to make sure he has a good relationship with his mother. Don’t get overly enmeshed in his life just because she is.

I’m not saying you have to block his number if you genuinely enjoy his friendship, but you don’t say anything about wanting to be friends with him, merely that you have had to communicate more than once that he needs to stop trying to reignite your romance. If you told him you were “only going to be friends” not because you actually want to stay in his life but because you were trying to soften the blow of your breakup, you’re not doing either of you any favors. You’re not dating this guy anymore, and his mother is no longer your problem. It sounds like you gave yourself a great gift in disentangling yourself from him. Keep up the good work, and keep up the distance.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’ve been with a man I love very much for 15 years, and I feel trapped. He is terrible with money and has lied to me a number of times to hide his shame at getting into yet another situation where bills got away from him. It seems that no matter how many times I tell him that it’s the lying that upsets me, not the money, nothing changes. I have more money than he does, so I can help him, but I think he feels inadequate because he’s not a “provider” even though he knows I don’t care about that. For obvious reasons, we have never commingled our finances. Between these money issues and some health issues, I feel that if we ever separated, he would be unable to make it on his own. And I don’t want to separate! But feeling like I can’t leave is a millstone around my neck.

Several years ago we did separate briefly, and he stayed with friends and never made progress toward living independently. We have what looks like an adult relationship; he does his share of the housework without being asked and is generally a good guy. But in the back of my mind I feel like I can never escape.

Is that crazy? If I don’t want to break up, why should the hypothetical consequences concern me? We’ve tried therapy, and while I thought at the time that it had helped us communicate, nothing has really changed, and neither he nor the therapist really ever understood why I feel so trapped. Am I not explaining it well, or am I looking at the situation the wrong way?
—Trapped

You feel trapped because you are trapped. You have not failed to explain why this dynamic is painful to you. Your boyfriend knows that it hurts and bewilders you when he lies to you about his finances, and he has decided not to do anything differently because this situation is working for him. You make so many excuses for him in your letter, saying that he lies to you “to hide his shame,” as if that justifies the fact that he regularly lies to you. He is not “terrible with money”—that phrase implies that it’s some innate, unchangeable part of his nature, rather than an active, continuous decision on his part. He makes bad choices with his money, and then he lies to you about those choices despite knowing that this makes you feel panicked, responsible for his survival, and as if you are going crazy, rather than having honest conversations and making difficult decisions. He has decided that letting you feel like you are going crazy and like you cannot leave him is worth not having those conversations. That’s wrong, and disrespectful, and cruel, full stop. If your definition of an “adult relationship” with a “good guy” is one where your partner does his share of the housework, but you still feel like you cannot leave him, please know, if nothing else, that that is not what an adult relationship with a good guy looks like. The 15 years you have spent in crisis and panic have steadily eroded your ability to see what healthy boundaries and expectations look like. I don’t say that to add to your burden, but it doesn’t sound like you have anyone in your life who can affirm what you already know to be true—that you’re in a damaging and an unsafe relationship. The need to convince yourself that things are mostly fine except for this one little thing—your sense of safety and freedom—is slowly destroying your sense of well-being.

Even if your boyfriend feels guilty about what he does, even if he feels shame or self-loathing, he has decided to continue doing it, regardless of the effect it has upon you. Set aside how you think your boyfriend feels about his choices, and look solely at his actions: They’re manipulative and controlling, and you don’t deserve to be treated that way. I encourage you to find a therapist you can see by yourself who can call this behavior what it is—abusive—and who can help you set up a plan for leaving him without getting sucked back into the cycle of manipulation, secrecy, and control.

Dear Prudence,
About three years ago I became friends with a guy in my grad program. (I’m a woman, and we’re both in our late 30s.) We’ve become close, and we talk about every aspect of our lives, including my dating life, but never his. In fact, he’s never mentioned any romantic prospects. I’ve long thought he might be gay, especially after I saw a couple of notifications pop up on his phone when he left it lying around that suggested he was interested in men. I know he goes to gay bars because he “likes the music.” We’ve even gone to some together, and he seems to know a lot of people there, although I’ve never seen him flirt or pick anyone up. I’ve brought up the topic in a general way, usually after we’ve had a few drinks, and he always laughs, deflects, and says he just “likes all people.”

We both come from somewhat conservative parts of the world, and I understand that this may be an issue with his parents, but we live in a big city and he’s an adult. In the last few months he’s become more moody, avoids me and other friends, and seems unhappy. He’s implied to one of his relatives that we had a romantic relationship in the past, which is not true. I want to help him, but I’m not sure how! Is there anything I can do or say?
—In the Closet

I’d encourage you not to frame your friend’s possibly being in the closet in terms of “being an adult.” Or, if you must, flip it on its head—if your friend is an adult, then respect his choice not to have an in-depth conversation with you about his sexual orientation when he deflects and offers you a polite nonanswer. It may be that he’s gay, or bisexual, or asexual, or aromantic; it may be that he faces more than simply “an issue” from his family. Whatever his situation, it won’t be helped by outside pressure. That doesn’t mean that your concern is misplaced or that you can’t offer your support. Tell him you’ve noticed that he’s seemed withdrawn and despondent lately and let him know that if he ever wants to talk, you’re available to listen without passing judgment. If he takes you up on your offer, that’s wonderful. If he doesn’t immediately respond, respect his wishes, but let him know that your door is always open if he ever changes his mind.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I was in an abusive relationship years ago. I’m now happily settled with a wonderful woman and am not affected in my everyday life by this abuse. But I wonder if I should go public with this, in order to warn other women in the queer community here, which is a very small world. By letting my friends know she was both emotionally and physically abusive to me, am I doing others a service or setting myself up for drama and retaliation? I’d kind of like to make it known, but I’m wary of any possible resulting conflict or negative effects on my life.
—Do I Out My Abuser?

It makes sense that you’re concerned about potential negative repercussions from speaking openly about your abuse. I wish I could tell you that you won’t experience any, but it’s entirely possible that you will. It may help to speak with a counselor or an advocate for victims of domestic violence first. They can help you clarify your goals, protect yourself from possible retaliation, and weigh the pros and cons as you see them when it comes to speaking up. Bear in mind that it is not your duty to make sure that your ex does not abuse anyone else—that responsibility is only theirs. You say that you’d “kind of like” to talk about your experience but that you have a number of concerns; my advice is to talk through your feelings with your partner, a counselor, or someone else you trust to have your best interests at heart first. Only you can decide whether or not the potential costs are worth it, and you can and should ask for support as you figure out what’s right for you.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
When I had my daughter a few years ago, I invited my mother to visit. She seemed excited to be a grandmother, and even though we’ve had a fraught relationship in the past, I trusted her to help me. She did not. She made very hurtful comments about my weight the day after I gave birth via an emergency C-section (it’s not the first time she’s said cruel things to me). I tried to let it go, but in the week she spent with us afterward, she just got worse. I was feeling emotional from the hormones and the painkillers, so I didn’t want to watch anything violent. She put on an episode of a horror show that showed a baby being dismembered and didn’t turn it off when I asked. We got into a fight, and I asked her to leave. Eventually, we found a way to make peace, but I’ve never really trusted her since. Her behavior since then has been ... OK. I’ve had to draw firm boundaries and vigorously enforce them to keep her from saying cruel things to me or doing things with my daughter that my husband and I do not want, such as getting her ears pierced or cutting her hair without our permission.

Now I’m pregnant again, and everyone, including my husband, expects that I’ll have my mother visit us again to help after the new baby is born. She seems excited to spend time with her grandchildren. But thinking about having her near me while I’m vulnerable makes me feel ill. My husband insists that she’s changed and I’m making a big deal over nothing, but her words hurt and I don’t want to have to defend myself while I’m trying to recover from having a baby. I don’t want her around me until I’ve had some time to recover. My husband thinks I’m being cruel or unfair to her, and that she doesn’t really mean the hurtful things she says. I just don’t trust her, and even if she says cruel things out of carelessness, I don’t think it’s so much to ask people to be kind to me while I’m recovering. I hate the idea of her being around me when I’m hurting and weak, but I don’t know how to say anything to her if my own husband won’t even back me up.
—No Grandma Visits

Generally speaking, if someone says hurtful things a lot, even after someone else points out, “Hey, what you said was hurtful, and I want you to stop,” they mean the hurtful things they say. Your mother hasn’t had a series of verbal accidents, and your decision not to have her visit while you’re in the hospital recovering or in the days after you give birth is completely reasonable. I’m sorry that your husband is trying to dismiss your feelings, but since you’ve already had practice vigorously enforcing boundaries with her, you’ve got a good foundation to start with: “I’m not being cruel. I’m making sure that I’m comfortable, safe, and relaxed after giving birth to our child. I’m going to invite my mother to visit [preferably for a shorter time than before] X weeks after the baby is born, and I expect your support in this.”

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

Toy Story: Prudie advises a letter writer who is considering legal action after her mother gave away a prized doll collection.

Relationship Unmoored: Prudie counsels a letter writer who is bothered by her boyfriend’s refusal to condemn Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Friendly Ghost: Why is my pal blowing me off?

That Magic Feeling: Prudie counsels a letter writer on whether you can feel when you’re with the right person.

Baby’s First Sermon: Prudie advises a couple who wants a grandmother to stop trying to convert their infant son into her faith.

Hurt Felines: My teenage neighbor ran over my cat while texting. Now her parents want me to help her with her guilt.

Singing Praise: Prudie counsels a letter writer who thinks her child can’t—and shouldn’t—sing.

Spectrum of Support: Prudie advises a letter writer whose sister refuses to make special accommodations for her son’s autism spectrum disorder.

How Saving the Stud Put Queer Politics Into Practice

How Saving the Stud Put Queer Politics Into Practice

by Ben Miller @ Slate Articles

Just after midnight, a woman in a blue gingham dress named Miss J grabs me on the shoulder.* The air in San Francisco smells like smoke; today, a Wednesday in early October, is the fourth day of some of the largest and most destructive fires north of the Bay anyone can remember. Around us, people dance; Luz, a DJ visiting from Berlin, is cuing up wailing divas that have a mix of San Franciscans—bears in red lycra bodysuits, lesbians in fedoras, people of all races and genders and classes—spinning in plumes of artificial fog outlined in lavender light. There is a feeling of freshness, of freedom, of something slightly undiscovered, that can be rare in more homogenous gay scenes. “I want to kick the DJ off the stage and sing sad songs about the fires,” Miss J, a trans-identified drag performer, says. “A friend of mine is fighting them, and it’s awful. But the music is so fucking good I can’t stop dancing.” She spins away.

We’re in the Stud, a gay club located in San Francisco’s South of Market area that’s been open since 1966. Last year, the bar was in danger of closing, its longtime owners preparing to sell and facing an almost-tripling of the monthly rent. Across San Francisco—across urban centers worldwide—gay bars, and especially bars catering to class- and race-diverse crowds, are shutting down due to reasons ranging from economic to cultural, as rents in urban areas rise and dating apps make some queer people (mostly men) feel the need for in-person connection less acutely. Marke Bieschke, a nightlife writer and alt-weekly veteran, called the bar “one of those spaces where I had a death watch. It was a place where I was thinking, ‘okay, when this goes it’s time to leave San Francisco.’” But instead of just watching, Bieschke joined a class-, gender-, and race-diverse group of 18 San Franciscans—people with varying levels of experience in nightlife, business, and community organizing—and formed a collective that bought the bar, negotiated a two-year continuation of its lease, and created one of the first worker-owned nightclubs in the world. They began operations on Jan. 1, 2017.

They didn’t want the reborn bar to cater only to rich white gay men or to collaborate with gentrification like some other new “queer” spaces in town, including the Peter Thiel-funded Yass social club. “We tried to be intentional about opening it up from being just a men’s space,” said Maria Davis, owner of another bar and collective member. “We have 1/3 of the coop as women, and a significant percentage are also people of color, people from different age groups, people from different class backgrounds.” Collective member Houston Gilbert described a system in which each member paid an equal base amount to join, with a few putting in additional funds to raise the full capital required to save the space. “This kept the cost of entry relatively low while also promoting diversity among the collective's founders and potential future members,” he said, noting that the group structured itself strictly around the equality of each collective member’s voice. “It’s crazy,” Gilbert said, “if you’d told me that I’d love going to two-hour collective meetings I might not have believed you, but now working on it with these people has become such an amazing part of my life.”

Everyone involved in the Stud tends to mention the first time they saw the building. It sits low and exposed, filling out the front of a low-lying industrial block on Harrison Street, all wild-west type and blinking neon. Davis remembers visiting San Francisco, “being 14 or 15, a little punk rock kid, and driving up with some older friends. We drove off the freeway and it was the first thing I saw. I had heard of it, being involved in queer culture and politics, and I thought, wow. There it is. I’m home.” “I grew up driving past it all the time,” said Honey Mahogany, drag queen, RuPaul girl, and Collective member. “If you’re coming from South or West of the city this is where you’ll get off to go to Civic Center. It was this bright and loud building in the middle of this industrial area and I remember seeing it and thinking it was somewhere a little dangerous, somewhere a little wild.”

Going to the bar in a Lyft or Uber, themselves symbols of a San Francisco defined by skyrocketing rents and tech fortunes, you run a gauntlet of brand-new shiny condo towers. Cheaply built, they look almost temporary, like stage sets. They’re forcing the Stud out of its current location within two years, and the collective is actively searching for new space. “In this climate it’s almost not a possibility to find space because landlords want fly-by-night tech companies that won’t do too much alteration,” says Bieschke. “There’s still a lingering feeling of homophobia. Not so much direct homophobia but there’s a narrative that queer bars are closing so landlords don’t want to rent to us, which makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy.” The night I visit the bar in October, someone recollects a sexual encounter in one of the condo towers’ construction sites with some “good trade” they met inside. Interrupted by police with flashlights, the pair had to run back into the bar in their underwear to call a cab home.

Back in the ‘70s, the Stud building was surrounded by warehouses and other industrial buildings; the bar itself began as part of a group of alternative and leather-leaning gay bars that defined and produced a particular kind of male sexuality. In December of 1970, pioneering gay liberation newspaper Gay Sunshine Journal published an article called “Showdown at the Stud.” It was “a heavy bar,” the paper said; “on a weekend night you’ll find it packed with cowboy-hip white and Black bodies pushing and rubbing against one another…the sexual tension is electric—exciting if you’re in the mood, depressing if you’re not.” One Friday night, the cops moved in on “about 75 people milling around … the pigs had decided to vamp on these long-haired white and Black Fags, and this was the appointed hour.” The cops beat up several men and arrested two for assault when they defended themselves and their friends. Slamming the apathetic response of the city’s more established gay networks, the article concluded that “the pigs have told us something. We had better get ourselves together. All the telegrams and meetings with important people aren’t shit. We have got to do it ourselves.”

37 years later, some collective members still feel this sense of going it on their own, of, as Bieschke says, “a lack of city will to take action” to defend queer communities and spaces. Nate Allbee, another collective member who has worked in the campaigns and offices of the City Board of Supervisors’ progressive faction, did, however, cite legislation about historic districts and the assistance of several Supervisors and city offices in facilitating the takeover last year.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Stud was a different but no less political bar. It served as home to Trannyshack, founded by drag queen Heklina in 1996, which Bieschke remembers as the time he first arrived in San Francisco. “That was back when there was a Black bar and an Asian bar and an old man bar and you were supposed to stay in your space. But the Trannyshack era was a groundbreaking moment, part of the homocore movement and tied into the zine moment, a moment of deconstructing mainstream gay culture and trying to produce something to go against it. The Stud was one of those places where the formulation of ‘queer’ as a category of difference was produced.” Mahogany recalls the Stud being “one of the places I felt I could fit in, perform, or just hang out in my body however I was dressed that day.”

The past year has been tough but successful. Gilbert tells me the bar is, in addition to being a “touchy-feely” collective, “relentlessly data-driven.” “That allows us to have a mix of parties,” he explained in an email. “We could fill the place up with cute boys with beards (who we love) every night but instead our programming committee combines parties that are going to do really well with parties that are going to bring in communities we really want to include or different kinds of events that are going to keep the space mixed and diverse.” None of the collective members had much experience working in such a non-hierarchical way; all of them spoke about needing to “evolve” towards ways of working that combined the idealism they felt when taking the space over with the often-unglamorous realities of running a club.

Changes in the city itself have made their task more challenging. Matthew Paul, one of the promoters of the Wednesday-night party I attended, said it’s harder and harder to work in nightlife in San Francisco. “During the week,” he says, “everyone has a job now. Not as many people who work irregular hours or in the service industry can afford to be here. It’s hard to get a crowd.” Nevertheless, business is up 70 percent over the same time last year, and the bar was full and raucous when I attended. And every collective member I interviewed raised, unprompted, the feelings of joy and purpose that taking over the space have filled them with, calling one another family and saying that this project was the most rewarding thing any of them had ever done.

The night of my visit, Miss J never makes it on stage, but the fires keep coming up. Before heading out, I have a last beer in the bar, talking with Bieschke and a couple of friends. Behind them, boxes are stacked to the ceiling, full of canned goods and supplies for people in the North Bay whose homes had burned down. A flyer announces that donations are being collected for post-hurricane Puerto Rico; another, faded one asks for supplies for Houston. “It feels like the apocalypse,” someone says. I make a joke about how the last two days of headlines in the San Francisco Chronicle—Disasters Relentless and Calamity Widening—would make perfect drag names. Everyone laughs. Suddenly the Stud feels like a bunker, a hideout. “We’re going to have to be a lot more like cockroaches,” someone says, and here, it feels like good news.

*Correction, Dec. 12, 2017: This post originally misstated Miss J's gender identity.

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Buy These for the Chefs on Your Gift List

Buy These for the Chefs on Your Gift List

by Ashley Mason @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that tween girl, or golf dad, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or at least a very helpful starting point. Today, 10 chefs on the gifts they want for the holidays.

“I’m obsessed with jadeite everything. I have a pitcher with juice glasses. I would love to add these gorgeous mixing bowls to my collection.” —Vivian Howard, chef and owner, Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, North Carolina

Mosser Glass Jadeite Milk Glass Mixing Bowl, Set of 3
$76, Amazon

“I love growing citrus at Olmsted, and I currently have a few citrus plants in my apartment. Surprisingly, they’re doing really well, but Meyer lemons are awesome, and I would love to have a small tree in my place.” —Greg Baxtrom, chef and owner, Olmsted, Brooklyn

Brighter Blooms Improved Meyer Lemon Tree, Up to 4 Feet Tall
$80, Amazon

“I look forward to receiving the Alma Kaiman Fish Bone Tweezer for the holidays because it’s the perfect kitchen tool for scaling all types of small fish, and it has curved handles with nonslip ridges that allow for the utmost precision.” —Eduardo Martinez, executive chef, Tiny’s & the Bar Upstairs

JB Prince Alma Kaiman Fish Bone Tweezer
$19, Amazon

“I’m really interested in pre-Hispanic cuisine, so any books about that realm of cooking, like Ana M. de Benitez’s Pre-Hispanic Cooking, would be on my list.” —Diana Davila, chef, Mi Tocaya Antojería

Pre-Hispanic Cooking (Biblioteca Interamericana Bilingüe)
$47, Amazon

“I was stupid to not put this on my wedding registry, so I’m deciding to put this on my holiday list. Everything from Skultuna is sleek and elegant. Our entire living room and open kitchen is white and natural wood, and the shiny pop of brass would bring a great complement of texture and another natural element to the design. This brass bottle opener is the sexiest bottle opener I have ever handled. It’s so heavy and makes even a bottle of Lone Star lager a polished drink.” —June Rodil, beverage director, master sommelier, June’s All Day, Austin, Texas

Skultuna Barbara Bottle Opener
$89, Amara

“Right now, I’m really into the new Vitamix Ascent. I like the blender’s timer, which is built right in. The auto functions are great, too.” —Brandon Jew, chef and owner, Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Blender
$550, Amazon

“I would like a DeLonghi convection oven this holiday season. I love them because they are great for cooking small birds and getting the skin crispy, especially this one with the rotisserie.” —Mashama Bailey, chef, the Grey, Savannah, Georgia

DeLonghi RO2058 6-Slice Convection Toaster Oven With Rotisserie
$220, Amazon

“For the holidays, I would like an oven with a pilot light that never goes out, a dripless saucing spoon, a Sharpie that doesn’t dry up the minute I really need it, and a pastry tip that has a GPS locator so it never gets misplaced. And Baccarat Harmonie Crystal Triple Old-Fashioned Glasses, because after a long day in the kitchen, my favorite thing is hanging out in comfy slippers and having a bourbon.” — Edward Lee, chef, Succotash, Washington

Baccarat Harmonie Crystal Triple Old-Fashioned Glasses, Set of Two
$350, Neiman Marcus

“I have some ideas I want to play around with on a home sous-vide machine, like a Nomiku Wi-Fi Immersion Circulator. I’m not big on modernist cuisine, but I do think a sous-vide machine’s interesting when it serves a purpose.” —Preeti Mistry, chef and owner, Navi Kitchen, Oakland, California

Nomiku Wi-Fi Immersion Circulator
$160, Amazon

“I would love a Paella Burner. It’s a very compact unit that’s lightweight, portable, and super easy to clean. If you want to have an impromptu dinner party, and you only have rice, vegetables, and some meat, you can easily impress a crowd.” —Mike Lata, chef and owner, Fig, the Ordinary

Paella Pan + Paella Burner and Stand Set
$138, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Banks for Checking

The Best Banks for Checking


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How Focusing on the Female Customers You Care About Can Be Good for Your Bottom Line (and the World)

by Eric Goldschein @ Fundera Ledger

When running a business, it’s tempting to want to be all things to all people. But there’s a reason why […]

The post How Focusing on the Female Customers You Care About Can Be Good for Your Bottom Line (and the World) appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

The Best Exercise Bikes

by Philip Palermo @ Reviews.com

The Best Internet Service Providers

by Amanda Cole @ Reviews.com

Enhance Your Business Strategy with a Community Relations Program

by Taylor Marcucci @ USB

As a community bank, our team at Union Savings Bank is a huge believer in giving back to our community, neighbors, and customers. Over the last 150 years, we’ve prioritized the donation of our time, resources and financial support to local causes and charities throughout Connecticut. Today, our community relations efforts support more than 300 non-profit organizations throughout the year.
Whether ...

The post Enhance Your Business Strategy with a Community Relations Program appeared first on USB.

The Best Checking Accounts of 2018 | Reviews.com

The Best Checking Accounts of 2018 | Reviews.com


Reviews.com

The best checking account lets you spend money on bills and transactions rather than extra costs like monthly maintenance or ATM surcharges.

That Magic Feeling

That Magic Feeling

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: I’m in a pretty serious relationship of a little over a year with a great partner. This is my first real long-term relationship. Sometimes when I’m with friends they talk about how they “know” the person they are with is who they want to spend their life with. I try to ask how they know, and they mostly say they “just feel it.” I don’t think I feel it, but I also have no idea what I’m supposed to feel. My partner is amazing and such a good match for me in so many ways. We’ve talked about marriage, but neither of us feel a rush.

Am I doing something wrong by staying in a relationship where I don’t necessarily feel this magical “it”? Or is there no such thing, and being happy is good enough?

A: One of the weird things about being a person is you don’t really have access to the inside of anybody else’s head. If people say something like they “just knew” they wanted to be with their partners for the rest of their lives but can’t offer much in the way of explaining what “just knowing” feels like, then you only speculate. Also, people often retroactively assign total confidence after the fact—if you’ve been happily married for a number of years, when you look back at the early days of your relationship together with the added benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to forget or dismiss moments of uncertainty. If you think your partner is an amazing person and that you two are a good match, and if you consider yourselves happy together, then I think you can safely say you’re in a good relationship.

Q. Do I give back the ring?: I lost my husband two years ago after we been married less than three months. He died in a motorcycle accident. I have had sporadic contact with his family since the funeral; they never really warmed up to me. There was also some ugliness when they realized that all my husband’s financials were put in my name after the wedding.

His younger sister is getting remarried and wants the wedding bands and engagement ring—they belonged to my husband’s grandparents. I still wear the wedding band. I am not 100 percent out there in the dating pool, but I have been trying to dip my toes. Should I give the rings back? Or maybe just the engagement ring? It hurts my heart to give up the signs of my marriage, but I don’t know if I have the right to hold on to them when I barely had him and they were family heirlooms.

A: You do have the right to your own wedding and engagement rings. The fact that your husband died unexpectedly shortly after you two were married is a tragedy, not evidence that you two weren’t “really” married or that you weren’t really his wife. If you would like to keep both rings, then don’t allow your husband’s family to pressure you into giving them up just because you were widowed. If you would like to offer one but not the other as a gesture of goodwill, then I think that would be extremely kind of you, but you’re under no obligation to do so. If nothing else, know that you have every right to keep anything your husband ever gave you—“family heirlooms” include you, as you became a part of your husband’s family the day you married him.

Q. Re: What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: Just “knowing” is silly. People change a lot over the course of a lifetime. You can’t really know; you just take a leap of faith and roll the dice. Lots of arranged marriages work out great! And lots of people who “just knew” end up in a messy divorce 10 years later. If you’re truly happy and like to do stuff together, then you’re doing great. What you’re taking for granted right now is actually not easy to find.

A: Another vote for not feeling down about your own relationship just because you don’t have a magical, hazy, indefinable sense of “just knowing” about one another.

Q. Beauty is only skin deep: My 12-year-old daughter is not a pretty child. I know that makes me sound like a terrible parent, but it’s relevant to the question. I love her, and that makes her beautiful to me, but she doesn’t hit a lot of aesthetic markers for beauty. She has lots of other good qualities—academically, she is well ahead of the curve, she’s very compassionate, and she’s really a very sweet girl.

Her schoolmates, however, prefer to focus on her physical appearance, and there’s been some bullying this year. My wife always reassures her that the girls are just jealous, that she’s going to be more beautiful than any of them—the whole ugly duckling skit. However, I was an ugly little kid—there was a lot going on—and I knew it; I had a mirror. The lies my parents told me to comfort me just made me feel worse, because how terrible must it be to ugly that they’d lie to me about it? And every day I’d look to see if I’d finally grown out of it. Never did, but learned to work with it.

I want to start a new script, where we say it’s OK not to be fairy-princess beautiful at 12, that fashion and confidence can be more appealing than perfect hair, that she’s smart as a whip, and one day she can be pretty or not if she wants, but she’ll always be awesome. My wife hears that as “let’s just tell her she’s ugly and see what happens.” She thinks that our daughter believes she’s beautiful, and we just have to continue to repeat it.

Maybe she’s right? I know it’s harder for girls and women to be nonaesthetically pleasing in society. She could need us to tell her she’s beautiful and the other girls are just intimidated. It probably doesn’t help that my daughter looks a lot like a less-weird version of me at that age, so I might be projecting my needs at the time onto hers now.

A: I can cheerfully sign off on about 80 percent of what you’re proposing saying to your daughter. Tell her that she’s an awesome kid, that there are a number of qualities more important than perfect hair, that her confidence and sense of style are appealing and will serve her well in life, and that being super-gorgeous isn’t a sign of anyone’s intrinsic value or character. I don’t think you should speculate as to whether one day she may or may not be pretty; I understand what you’re trying to say there, but I don’t think it will do her much good to hear that from you. Your daughter already hears that she’s not attractive and that that’s not OK from her peers. What she needs from you is an alternative worldview—that while we live in a frequently image-obsessed society, it’s not the end-all and be-all of happiness and worth—as well as affirmation that she’s not an outcast or terrible to look at.

Q. Re: What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: I “just knew” with my ex-husband. In retrospect, I should have “just thought about it a bit longer.”

A: It is interesting how often people will point to a vague, hazy feeling of “just knowing” when they talk about wanting to marry someone, but have no trouble getting specific and facts-based when they talk about wanting to get divorced.

Q. He told me I could look at his phone anytime: Then I did. There was a text from his sister that said, “Heidi x you = bad idea. She is a terrible person and you’ll get your heart broken.”

His sister barely knows me. She and I have met literally a total of about 12 hours. He and I have been together for five years, and yes, we have had some trouble, but we’ve had a lot of great times too. Both of us are in therapy. The texts, the phone—what is appropriate? I never want to see his phone again, but like a trainwreck, I’m finding myself drawn to it, wondering if there’s more toxicity about me on there. Will he defend me? He didn't that time. Is that his job? I want it to be.

A: I have so many follow-up questions, but I’ll do my best to answer your question with the limited information I’ve been given. The fact that you’ve spent a cumulative 12 hours with your boyfriend’s sister over the past five years, as well as the fact that you vaguely allude to “some trouble” between the two of you, suggests to me that there’s at least possible grounds for concern about your relationship. That doesn’t mean you have to agree that you’re a “terrible person,” but it’s worth investigating, as neutrally as possible, what’s happened between the two of you over the last five years that might give an outside observer pause.

Talk to your boyfriend about what you saw. What was the context for his sister’s warnings? What reason did he have for not defending you or your relationship? Do you think he agrees, in full or in part, that you are a “terrible person,” and if so, why are you two still together? Leave aside the fact that you two have had “a lot of great times.” That’s besides the point—the point is, do the two of you respect one another, can you communicate directly, and do you trust him? If the answer is no, then all the good times in the world won’t save your relationship.

Q. I don’t care!: A newish friend of mine used to work in an industry with a really strong macho culture, and now he often finds ways to shoehorn anecdotes from that time in his life into conversations about anything else. It’s his way of bragging. Is there a nice way of telling him I’m not impressed nor terribly interested in his hijinks one-upping the bros? And that he’s much more pleasant and interesting when he talks about his other interests and the rest of his life? We have a pretty snarky repartee, so I think if I were to be straightforward, he’d interpret it as sarcasm and maybe encouragement.

A: “You may not have noticed this, but when you bring up stories about your time working at [Boat Shoes and Toxic Masculinity, Incorporated], it feels like you’re bragging about a macho work culture that feels alienating and off-putting, and that doesn’t really represent the person I know you as now.” It would be hard, I think, to interpret that sort of observation as “sarcastic encouragement,” but if he meets you with a joke, I think you can make it plain that you’re not looking to wind him up but to talk honestly and openly about a certain form of exclusionary, performatively macho masculinity and how it affects people who don’t fit into its confines at work.

Q. Bathroom: My work station is right near the bathroom. The regular sounds of flushing and hand-washing don’t bother me, but I have two workers who are very loud. One is an old lady who just moans and groans like she is passing a kidney stone or giving birth. She is so loud that I have had clients on the phone comment about it. The second takes her cellphone into the bathroom and has private conversations all the time. She is extremely loud, and I can hear every detail—like her daughter cheated on her boyfriend and thinks she might be pregnant. It is embarrassing. I have told her she might want to go outside if she wants to call someone, as sound carries pretty well out here. She told me to mind my own business and no one likes an eavesdropper. I sit 3 feet away and can hear it through a closed door, and she screeches like a banshee.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but they do this every day rather than using the regular bathrooms downstairs. I feel I should record the noise from my desk and go to their supervisor, but I don’t know him well, and mine is useless. We don’t have an HR onsite here. Can you give me some advice?

A: Sometimes it can seem gentler to offer an indirect suggestion to someone at work rather than a direct request, but I think you’re experiencing firsthand the downsides to soft-pedaling. “I’m not trying to overhear any of your conversations, but I sit 3 feet away from the bathroom and can’t help but hear every word you say when you talk on the phone in the bathroom. It makes it difficult to speak to clients. Please take your personal calls where they won’t disrupt other people’s work.” If she dismisses you again, there’s no need to try to record her conversations—that’s not an appropriate response and, depending upon what state you’re in, may land you in trouble. Just take your concerns to your own supervisor (“useless” or not, he or she is part of the chain of command) before speaking to hers.

As for the older co-worker, I think you should take seriously the possibility that she does have kidney stones or is dealing with some sort of medical condition; there’s a world of difference between vocalizing involuntarily while in pain versus taking a phone call about your daughter’s love life in the bathroom at work.

Q. Girlfriend’s son age shock: I’m 24 and have been dating a girl, “Emily,” for about four months now, and I’ve never been more in love with a woman. I know it’s early, but I really think she is “the one.” Emily is 26 and was always upfront that she is a single mom with a young son. I haven’t met him yet, which seemed OK; I understood her taking time for us to meet. She talked about him a little bit, but I guess I wasn’t really paying that much attention when she did.

Emily lives with her mom, and I’ve been invited over for Christmas dinner. I wanted to get gifts for both her mom and son, and that’s when it came out that her son is 11 years old! I assumed that he was much younger than that, since Emily has a successful career and never mentioned that she’d been pregnant in high school. I’m not judgmental about that, but I never pictured being a dad to a kid this old. His biological dad is not part of his life, so I’d be his only father figure even though I’m only 13 years older than him. I don’t want to lose Emily, but I’m not sure about this. How can I become more comfortable with this idea? Is it possible that I will feel more enthusiastic after I meet him?

A: Emily is not asking you to become a father figure to her son after four months of dating. She is asking you to meet her son. It’s perfectly fine for you to feel anxious at the prospect of meeting him, especially when you pictured someone much younger but don’t feel like your next move has to be either “get ready to be a father to an 11-year-old” or “end your previously wonderful relationship.” The only task ahead of you is to spend a holiday meal together and to be friendly and welcoming. (Also, if you have a habit of “not paying that much attention” when your girlfriend talks about the age of her child, amend that habit as quickly as possible and work on your active listening skills.)

If you’re nervous or concerned, that’s completely understandable. If you have some questions for Emily, ask them, bearing in mind that she may not want to go into every single detail of her life as a single mother. You can share your fears with her. Don’t dump every thought that comes into your head upon her, but tell her that you’ve never done this before, that you’re not sure what to do, and that you want to be able to talk about what you want Christmas to look like as a couple. Be patient with yourself, keep an open mind, don’t make assumptions about what is and isn’t being asked of you, and talk honestly with your partner, and I think odds are good that you’ll have a lovely time together.

Q. My friend, the robot: I have been friends with “Clarissa” for 11 years. We currently live together with another roommate. For as long as I remember, Clarissa has been as empathetic as a rock—as in, not at all. She’s very pragmatic and logical, and while she tries very hard to be comforting, she sucks at it.

Our other roommate recently went through a breakup. After a few days, Clarissa attempted to comfort our roomie by saying, “He was a jerk anyway. I’m glad he won’t be around to use our bathroom anymore, ha ha!” Our roommate was upset by this, and it was cringe-inducing to watch.

Clarissa grew up as a child of (a nasty) divorce. She usually keeps her emotions to herself. I’m a very emotional person, and there are many things she does that concern me (for example, she won’t react to her feelings or if she does, later denies she ever acted emotionally). She’s a really warm person, but sometimes when trying to comfort or relate to people, she just seems cold. Is there anything I can say to her to help her?

A: If your roommate was hurt by what Clarissa said, then your roommate should say something to Clarissa about it. If you sometimes feel hurt by something Clarissa says or does, then you should say something to her about it, bearing in mind that your goal should not be “make sure Clarissa experiences emotions in the same way that I do,” but to honestly communicate what you’re feeling and what you need from her.

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks, everyone! May all of your camping trips this week be with willing companions.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.

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Survey Finds Many Harassers Are Under 40. We Shouldn’t Be Surprised.

Survey Finds Many Harassers Are Under 40. We Shouldn’t Be Surprised.

by Rebecca Gale @ Slate Articles

Alicia thought she was just being friendly. She’d stopped by the desk of another co-worker at the startup she worked at—an “oddball.” She’d thought to say hello and get to know him. He was a subject expert she needed to interview as part of her job.

But soon, the “oddball” started stopping by her desk often, suggesting they go to Paris together, making romantically suggestive comments, and inviting her to lunch, even though Alicia repeatedly turned down his invitations. “I figured I could ignore it,” she said. But then he started sending her sexually explicit poems, followed later by apologies over Gchat.

“He knew it was inappropriate,” said Alicia, who asked that her last name not be used for the story. She knew she should probably report him, but she didn’t. “I remember thinking, I don’t want to be the person that has to teach him a lesson.” She was new, she wanted to be liked, she worked predominantly with guys, and she wasn’t sure that sexually explicit poems rose to the level of harassment. This guy wasn’t a superior, and he wasn’t in a position of power over her or her career. He was no Matt Lauer or Harvey Weinstein. He was only a few years older than she was, somewhere in his mid-30s.

Though we simply don’t have big data on who harrasses most, a new online survey from Fairygodboss, a website offering job and company reviews directed at women, found that it’s not just the men in positions of power who harass women but oftentimes younger men who are colleagues and not bosses or supervisors.

From a pool of its members, Fairygodboss surveyed over 500 women employed in a variety of different industries and job types and found that nearly 43 percent of the women who responded have experienced harassment at work, and over 70 percent of those they describe as their perpetrators are reported to be 40 or younger. Only 7 percent of harassers were over the age of 60.

The survey also found that the women who reported being harassed were more likely to experience harassment from a colleague rather than a direct boss or management, and about 50 percent of women said they did not report the harassment when it occurred because they did not want to be perceived as a “troublemaker.”

The results were surprising, said Mary Pharris, director of business development and partnerships at Fairygodboss, both in that the harassers were colleagues, not bosses, and younger. “Perhaps it’s because of the narrative you’re seeing play out in the media, particularly among older men who occupy positions of power,” said Pharris. “It creates the perception that harassers would be older, and their direct bosses.”

These findings suggest it is not simply a generational problem that we should expect to decline as baby boomers retire. “Harassment isn’t exclusive to one age bracket or where you rank in a company. I think it just means that harassment can be more pervasive than some of us originally thought,” said Pharris.

“We know sexual harassment does happen to all generations, and it does happen a lot with colleagues as well,” said Brenda Russell, a professor of applied psychology at Pennsylvania State University at Berks who studies tolerance of harassment.

And despite the hopes of many that the #MeToo moment reflects a changing of the guard and a last gasp of the gender dynamics that were permitted in the workplaces of yesterday, there’s good reason to think our culture is producing future harassers even before they start their professional lives.

Vanessa Grigoriadis, author of Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus, believes that the American college campus has become a breeding ground for the misogyny that runs rampant in certain workplace cultures. A lot has been said about the high rates of sexual assault on campuses, but this trend reflects a more general culture of misogyny and toxic masculinity in college life.

“We don’t know exactly what leads some men to harass or assault,” said Grigoriadis in an interview with Slate. But two of the factors, Grigoriadis said, are the feeling of entitlement and misogyny. And colleges, specifically the four-year residential colleges attended by many affluent Americans, are perpetuating this culture.

Universities, said Grigoriadis, have become nervous about litigation around drinking, and binge drinking numbers have been high, so they feel “legally covered” if students go off campus to drink in fraternity houses rather than dorm rooms. “Fraternities control the social scene in colleges,” she said, with misogynistic themed parties such as “pimps and hos,” where women are encouraged to show up in scantily clad attire for heavy drinking in an unsupervised environment.

“It’s not a surprise that kids who come out of normal American pop culture and this skewed college system that reinforces these beliefs—they get to professional life, and they don’t know where the normal boundaries are,” said Grigoriadis.

Age may also be a factor in how women react to sexual harassment. Russell points to research from the ’90s that shows younger and older women were both less tolerant of sexual harassment by men, but current research shows that it’s younger women who are more tolerant than the older women. “[The older women] have more job security, experience, and confidence. They may be in supervisory experience. It’s hard to look at age. There is so much more with regard to sexism, confidence, and maturity that plays a role that we have to statistically try and control for to get to specific generational differences. That is why there is not a lot of research on the topic,” said Russell.

Proposals to institute mandatory sexual harassment training, like the program the U.S. Congress has implemented in the wake of allegations of leniency, show that workplace cultural change is possible. Colleges are encouraging more affirmative-consent practices, replacing the no means no slogan with yes means yes, and Grigoriadis believes such affirmative-consent practices could be good in the workplace too. “We know that guys aren’t always the greatest at reading signals,” she said. And when there’s a culture of fear, women aren’t always great at speaking up.

The Fairygodboss report included suggestions for fixing the problems too, including encouraging women to speak up, instituting protections for those who do, and creating the option for anonymous reporting. Nearly half the women polled also thought the increased media attention on sexual harassers would help reduce the number of future incidents.

Grigoriadis agrees. “Things like what is happening right now are going to be what is making a difference: speaking out, bringing it into the light. This boldness has gotten a lot of guys’ attentions.” Whether men are finally understanding why harassment is wrong or they’re just newly afraid of the repercussions is a different question. “Whether they are afraid or empathetic people, I don’t know, but it’s got their attention. That is for sure.”

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By Supporting Roy Moore, Evangelicals Exposed the Hollow Bigotry of Their Homophobia

By Supporting Roy Moore, Evangelicals Exposed the Hollow Bigotry of Their Homophobia

by Daniel Summers @ Slate Articles

Watching the religious community from your childhood make a bonfire of its moral authority is a sight to see.

In my case, the community in question was made up of evangelical Christians. I was raised in a deeply conservative church smack in the middle of Missouri. All through the 1980s, I was as active a member as you were likely to find. If the doors were open, chances are good I was there with my family. I attended the vacation Bible school, Christian youth conferences, and I was Camper of the Week at church camp two years running. I memorized all the Bible verses, learned all the hymns, and was a shepherd one year in the live Nativity scene out front.

I was also gay—though I wouldn’t have an understanding of why I felt different from the other boys until I hit puberty. The realization struck me with horrible, nauseating weight.

There was no clearer social message that I absorbed during my time in that church than its opinion of gays, with the exception of its unwavering opposition to abortion. The hatred of gays had its own special heat. Gays were out to deliberately spread disease, I was taught. (This lie still has purchase in the minds of certain famous Christian leaders, lest you think it an unfortunate historical vestige.) Gays belonged on a desert island. Gays were “faggots,” a term I heard used for us in front of a cheering, laughing crowd of evangelical teenagers.

All of those messages I heard at church events, over and over. Eventually, frightened of his possible response but frightened even more for my soul, I confessed my emerging feelings to my youth minister. He was gentle but unambiguous in his reply that this was something I’d need to turn over to God to change. (In the same conversation, he also told me I needed to “stop swishing.”)

When, for the sake of own happiness or mental health, I finally stopped praying to change and accepted that I was a gay man, it meant finding a different religious community. But I could still look back at those people who taught me the Bible verses and brought cakes for the potlucks and believe in the sincerity of their faith. I could recall moments of kindness or good cheer and ascribe them to a commitment to their own genuine spirituality, even if I’d come to understand it as braided tightly with a poisonous bigotry.

Not any longer. I cannot look at their faith as the basis for their beliefs. I see it now as mere window dressing.

Why? Because in service to opposing full equality for LGBTQ people, many evangelicals are casting their lot with a man who, in his 30s, allegedly preyed on teenage girls. Conformity to their particular demands for sexual morality is something they expect of me, but they’ll waive it for Roy Moore.

In an article for the Atlantic, McKay Coppins lays out how Evangelical Christians are more tolerant of personal moral failings in politicians they support than the average voter, not less. The ascent of Donald Trump, the personification of every single deadly sin, to the highest office in the land made that plain. (Hearing candidate Trump refer to the book of “Two Corinthians” at Liberty University brought a bitter smile to my lips. I could name the books of the Bible in order by the time I was six.) Trump’s capacity for deceit is so limitless that it beggars the need for citation. His venality is a source of personal pride, and his jocular response to being described as a sexual predator is a matter of public record.

Evangelical voters still supported Trump overwhelmingly. That Moore remains a strong contender to win a Senate seat confirms their indifference toward the sexual immorality of political allies.

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham condemns as hypocrites those who criticize Moore. (To brother Franklin, I would commend him to attend to his own plank.) An official in Alabama has had the astonishing gall to compare Moore’s predations to the parents of Jesus. An associate professor of philosophy at Ouachita Baptist University has taken to the pages of the Federalist to supply the rationale voters in Alabama can mutter to themselves as they pull the lever for Moore, even accepting the likelihood that the accusations against him are true. (To their credit, there are voices within the Evangelical community who have risen against Moore, and their efforts deserve acknowledgement.)

But when a county clerk in Kentucky abuses her authority and refuses people like me the marriage license they are due, she is feted as a hero. Why? Because hatred of people like me is the point. It is hatred of people like me that Moore continues to leverage in this pursuit of a Senate seat.

With this, the evangelical community relinquishes all claim to moral leadership. By supporting a man who targeted girls less than half his age for sex, they render absurd all arguments that they have standing to comment on the sexual ethics of anyone. They expose as hollow the beams supporting the edifice of my religious upbringing, and forever rip away the gauze around the real reason they told me gays were perverted and evil. Whatever the reason they have for hating LGBTQ people, they have blasted to smithereens any pretense that it’s because they care about personal sexual probity.

Of course, I cannot go back to the late ’80s and tell sad, scared teenage me not to worry—the people making him hate himself don’t know what they’re talking about. That boy had to do the hard work of getting out from under all that guilt, shame, and pain on his own. But the grown-up I’ve become can look at the same people who made me feel that way, and watch as they reveal who they really are. And I can refuse to listen to another word they will ever say again.

Help! My Soon-to-Be Ex-Husband Cares More About His Dogs Than His Kids.

Help! My Soon-to-Be Ex-Husband Cares More About His Dogs Than His Kids.

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. Taking the dog, abandoning the kids: My husband and I are divorcing. When we first got together, we argued a bit over the amount of kids we wanted to have—I wanted five, he wanted one or two—but we compromised. After the first was born, though, he said he didn’t want any more kids and started collecting dogs.

As now, he has four dogs versus our two children—and he wants nothing to do with the kids. He is actually suing me for custody of one of the dogs, a beagle the kids want to keep, but he is balking at paying alimony or taking the kids on his designated day. I have a lawyer and we are trying to work this out, but I need advice on what to tell the kids when Daddy would rather see Mr. Beagle instead of them.

A: The only upside I can see to this letter is that at least you get to divorce this guy and will be able to limit your future contact with him. There’s a limit to how much you can protect your children from the truth, which is that they seem to have a largely indifferent father who’s not especially interested in sharing custody or spending time with them. Hopefully you and your lawyer can make the case that it’s in your children’s best interest to keep their beloved beagle with them, but in the meantime, I think it’s best not to tell them too many details about the nature of your divorce proceedings. Something along the lines of “Your father and I are both working hard to figure out who gets what, and we’re working with lawyers to make sure that everything is fair and that you both get taken care of” would fit the bill, because it neither makes promises you can’t keep nor assigns benevolent intent on your ex’s part where none may exist. I hope you get to keep the beagle, and that the court ensures you get the alimony you’re entitled to.

The Price of Admission

The Price of Admission

by Aaron Mak @ Slate Articles

In November 2016, I made a nervous visit to Yale University’s office of admissions. An assistant led me past the lobby, filled with antsy high schoolers awaiting their interviews, and into a side room. She handed me a slim, three-ring binder holding a paper copy of the college application I’d submitted years ago. As I leafed through the pages, she sat on the couch behind me to make sure that I didn’t take any pictures.

I’d hoped to find an answer to a question that had been nagging at the back of my mind during my five years at college: Had hiding my Chinese American identity, to avoid the prohibitively high bar that Asian applicants allegedly face due to affirmative action, helped me get into Yale? I was a senior at that point, so my window for viewing my file while at school, through a loophole made possible by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, was quickly closing. I wrote up my findings for a nonfiction course but on later reflection worried I was dredging up a controversy that was already resolved—the Supreme Court had a few months earlier upheld affirmative action in Fisher v. University of Texas. So I shelved the essay, thinking that any need for me to divulge my experience had passed.

I was wrong, of course, to think the foes of affirmative action had thrown in the towel. The Justice Department announced in August that it would be investigating a university’s affirmative action policies for discrimination against Asians—according to CNN, the DOJ subsequently found Harvard “out of compliance” with federal law last month. The government inquiry has breathed new life into a suit from rejected Asian applicants against Harvard orchestrated by Edward Blum—the same man who recruited Abigail Fisher to accuse the University of Texas of discriminating against white Americans and who has made it his mission to bring an end to affirmative action. Blum is now framing race-based diversity considerations as harming a minority group rather than whites.

This new legal assault taps into allegations of anti-Asian discrimination that opponents of affirmative action have cited for decades. The contentious theory is that we Asians are too dominant in academics and test taking, so colleges have to cap the number of us they would otherwise accept in the interest of diversity. By evoking the Asian American experience, and implicitly alluding to the pernicious model-minority myth, Blum may have finally found the straw that will break the camel’s back.

If this latest attempt to dismantle affirmative action is successful, it will be in part because of a portion of Asians (particularly East Asians) who have real fears that these policies treat them unfairly. Even though a survey last year found that 52 percent of Asian Americans think policies “designed to increase the number of black and minority students on college campuses” are a “good thing,” there is a vocal faction that has been speaking out in opposition. The numbers I hear most often from friends and family are from a Princeton study by Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, who found that Asians must score 450 more points on the SAT than black applicants and 140 more than white ones to be admitted to a given school. (Espenshade himself, though, has said the findings are not a “smoking gun.”)

I believe affirmative action is a necessary policy to counter systemic racism and provide students with a diverse set of peers. But after seeing Asians take center stage in the debate in the months since I’ve graduated, I can’t stop thinking about the disquieting incentives that the college application process is creating for Asian students in America, as it once did for me.

* * *

Looking over my admissions file that day last year, I was reminded of just how much I’d internalized warnings about the “Asian penalty.” Like many other high school seniors, I carefully manicured my identity to cater to the admissions committee. But that effort also involved erasing it in order to appear white, or at least less Asian. I chose to leave the optional race and ethnicity section of the form blank, a practice common among Asian applicants. I assumed “Mak” isn’t a popularly known Chinese surname in the U.S.; my dad used to jokingly point out that it’s one letter off from the Gaelic surname “Mack.” Maybe an oblivious admissions officer would mistake me for Scottish. (I didn’t tell my father how much I’d hoped our family name would be misread.) I marked my intended major as philosophy, thinking this was one of those impractical fields that most sensible Asian parents would not allow their children to pursue. I had no intention of actually following through. The response boxes under the questions inquiring what postgraduate degree and career I desired were left blank. I wanted a J.D. and planned to become a lawyer, but I felt that admitting such a goal would conform to the stereotype that Asians are particularly obsessed with a narrow range of prestigious professional careers.

In my Ivy League essays, I made sure not to mention anything about my heritage. The personal statement I submitted for the University of California applications about my immigrant grandfather was the most emotionally honest one I wrote that year—I knew the UC system had discontinued race-conscious affirmative action, so the essay wouldn’t hurt me.

But while reviewing my application reminded me of the decisions I’d made, it did not explain Yale’s. The only notes I found from the admissions officers were a series of inscrutable numerical ratings: I apparently scored a 5 out of 9 for my “personality.” I’ll never know if I was able to effectively pull off the façade or if it had even been necessary to whitewash my application in the first place. In 2015, Yale destroyed the records containing admissions officers’ comments on applicants after students discovered the FERPA loophole I was exploiting. (But it seems that most everything else is generally still stored. I received an email in 2016 from Harvard, which rejected me, noting that the court in Blum’s suit had ordered the university to provide data on all applicants from 2009–2015. The legal notice further indicated that “academic, extracurricular, demographic, and other information” from my application will be provided to the plaintiffs.)

I had hoped to find some stray markings during my visit indicating that my effort to pass had worked, but the evidence was elusive. And I was still stumped on how to feel about the broader debate. Was I a hypocrite for supporting affirmative action despite my attempts to dodge it during my own application season? Was I also Blum’s patsy for worrying that the admissions process was unfair to Asians? In the following weeks, I sought out people with firmer points of view, hoping they could convince me one way or another on the matter.

A week after the election, I took a train from New Haven, Connecticut, to New York City to meet Brian Taylor, the managing director of an elite college counseling service called Ivy Coach. Taylor’s company explicitly advises Asian applicants to work against racial stereotypes as part of a college-prep sector that presumes anti-Asian discrimination in the admissions process to be a fact. There is a contingent of college consultancy firms and advice books, including one by the Princeton Review, that discourages Asians from spending too much time on violin, math, chess, or computers. I didn’t know if Taylor had any inside knowledge about college admissions, but he wouldn’t have been successful selling this strategy if there weren’t a market for it.

“It’s a moneymaker,” Taylor said of Ivy Coach when I met him at the swanky Soho House, a private six-story club that appeared to be constructed almost entirely out of wood, velvet, green plush, and red leather. If I were still an applicant, I would have had no doubt that a member of this club could finagle an Ivy League acceptance letter for me. When I asked Taylor how much Ivy Coach’s most expensive package cost, he wouldn’t give me an exact figure but said it was more than double what had been reported on CNBC. The number CNBC estimated was $100,000.

“Asian applicants in particular have difficulty standing out. Perhaps it’s ingrained in them to do these same activities that so many other Asian applicants are doing,” he told me. “Admissions officers make rapid-fire decisions, and when they see that it’s an Asian applicant, another one that plays the violin, it inspires a yawn.” Interviews also get some Asian candidates tripped up, Taylor said, because their body language confirms stereotypes of submissiveness. To better illustrate, he leaned forward, bringing his elbows inward toward his stomach, bowed his head, and avoided eye contact. He was essentially mimicking the way I usually sit, though I wasn’t sitting that way at that moment.

I was offended at his notion that we Asians are monolithic and uniformly prepackaged, but then again, I have known a lot of Asians who like math and play the piano—often, ironically, at the behest of immigrant parents who think it will improve admission chances. It was infuriating to admit that there was some small kernel of truth to the way he had characterized us and to discover that he was exploiting that stereotype for personal gain. So had I.

But maybe he just wasn’t attuned to the differences between Asian candidates, because the American mainstream likes to assign minorities to a certain mold. There’s a systemic perception that we Asians are all alike, but what about, say, white applicants who play lacrosse? Are they all cookie-cutter too?

Taylor left me wondering if his racialized admissions strategy was secretly a blessing. The typical image of an Asian Poindexter is harmful, isn’t it? I considered whether it might be good for Asians to discover that mastering classical music or becoming a doctor are not the only prerequisites to making it in America.

Then again, what about those Asian teens who genuinely love the timbre of a violin or want to dedicate their lives to oncology? A cottage industry of college consultants who deter Asian applicants from those pursuits, or at least from acknowledging them on a form, is not the sign of a healthy admissions environment.

A couple of weeks after speaking to Taylor, I drove to the campus of Williams College in Massachusetts to meet Michael Wang, a student there, at a café near the main student center. Over the past several years, Wang has served as a vocal poster child for alleged discrimination against Asians in college admissions. He scored a perfect 36 on the ACT entrance exam, placed third in a national piano contest and first in California for a math competition, competed in national debate tournaments as a finalist, graduated second in a class of more than 1,000 students, and sang in the choir at Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Yet out of the seven Ivy League schools to which he applied, only the University of Pennsylvania accepted him, which he holds as proof of rampant racism in the admissions process. (Even though most students would be happy to get into UPenn.)

Sitting across from him in the back of the coffee shop, I was unsettled, as if I were meeting a doppelgänger. We both had wide faces, unkempt black hair, a propensity for mumbling, and a similar taste in loose-fitting jeans and earth-toned hoodies. We were both Chinese college seniors reflecting with unease on our application seasons.

How could two people so similar have such different acceptance outcomes? The only pertinent distinction I could think of was that he had openly embraced the “Asian” extracurriculars I’d pushed away out of fear of typecasting. It was as if the deciding factor in our admissions fortunes had been his honesty and my cynicism. I asked him if he thought as a high schooler that his passions would put him at a disadvantage.

“I knew I was a very stereotypical Asian American student applying for college,” he told me. “But in my essays, one difference I wanted to really say was that not many Asian Americans pursue a career in politics.” He wanted to convey in his application a desire to “break through this bamboo ceiling that says Asian Americans aren’t able to speak out.”

To Wang, this complex self-portrait didn’t mean he needed to shun math and piano, passions he pursued in high school and marked as extracurricular activities on his application. He wrote his personal essay about how his political aspirations stem from learning of the Japanese war crimes committed in WWII during a visit to his homeland, China. He checked “Asian” in the optional “race and ethnicity” section.

And now he was speaking out—doing an unstereotypically Asian thing in response to being (allegedly) stereotyped. When I asked him about this decision to bring his qualms to the public, he told me, “If we as a minority are having our rights sacrificed for the majority, or other minorities, that’s not OK. We’re not a majority. We’re still a minority.”

Later, I Skyped with Wang to press him on the negative impact that outlawing affirmative action would have on other minorities. “It’s not that we’re trying to steal their spots,” he said. “It’s that we want equal and fair treatment.” He didn’t think we should abolish affirmative action but that we should perhaps consider economic over racial diversity. He primarily wanted to highlight the injustice and encourage tweaks to the system, though he was unsure what those tweaks might be.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Wang. I worried he was helping to force a wedge between Asians and other minorities, preventing the cooperation necessary between people of color to overcome systemic racism. Yet I also sympathized with his desire to relieve future Asian applicants of the same pressures that we’d had. I’d won the admissions lottery to the school of my dreams by trying to pass myself off as someone else. He hadn’t—he had the courage to present himself honestly, to acknowledge the side of himself that fits into the “Asian” mold along with the side that resists the stereotypes. I admired him for it.

* * *

It’s been a year since I looked at my admissions file and asked the questions I had gone so long avoiding. With Asians and affirmative action back in the news, now feels like the moment for me to resolve my own ambivalence. But it’s turned out to be harder than I’d thought.

While I don’t believe we should abolish or radically change affirmative action, I’m also hesitant to accuse Asians of betraying other people of color just because they’re questioning the admissions system. As Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote in the New Yorker, perhaps it is not contradictory to support race-conscious affirmative action that bolsters black and Latino representation while still seeking changes to ensure that the deck isn’t stacked against Asian applicants in favor of white Americans, who benefit the most from soft preferences like legacy admissions and political clout. I believe in affirmative action, but I also can’t accept other aspects of the admissions process as good enough when it comes to Asian Americans. It’s hard to say just how much of a role bias plays when the process is so opaque.

There are multiple ways to interpret my college application experience, all of which hinge on whether you believe the allegations of anti-Asian discrimination in college admissions. If you believe that the discrimination does exist, then my attempts at passing were a way to sidestep a policy that treats me unfairly. If you believe it doesn’t exist, then I bought into a myth designed to slander affirmative action for the benefit of a white majority, giving rise to an anxiety-ridden climate in which Asian applicants are constantly told that they need to take steps to hide their identities.

I recently reached out to Wang again to see if his feelings had changed given the DOJ’s new crusade. In a Facebook message, he replied, “Asian Americans are being used as a pawn,” but still thinks some good can come out of these challenges if they motivate colleges to reconsider how they look at Asians in the application process. He added, “I don’t believe affirmative action would be shut down that easily.”

I’m less confident and more afraid that the baby will be discarded with the bathwater. I worry that if affirmative action weakens further or is eliminated, and our universities become handcuffed in helping those for whom the scales of society are tipped drastically against, Asians will be the reason.

I’ve wondered if my wholehearted support for affirmative action has persisted because I am no longer facing the gantlet of college applications. But if I’m honest, I’ve already been deeply affected by it in ways that have made me who I am. It wasn’t just during the application process that I contorted myself to avoid Asian stereotypes. For nearly all of high school, I’d held in my mind an image of Asian American identity and then ran as far away from it as I could.

I avoided participating in the future doctors’ association, ping-pong club, the robotics team, and the Asian culture group. I quit piano, viewing the instrument as a totem of my race’s overeager striving in America. I opted to spend much of my time writing plays and film reviews—pursuits I genuinely did find rewarding but which I also chose so I wouldn’t be pigeonholed. I enrolled in a Mandarin course during my senior year of high school, never having learned a Chinese dialect as a kid, but I dropped it a few weeks in. I told people it was because I was too busy, but in actuality I didn’t want Mandarin on my transcript and as a second language on my application, which I feared could be a red flag for the admissions committee. There would be plenty of time to take Mandarin in college after my acceptance.

I often think about what I would say if I had a chance to speak to that teenage Aaron while he was plotting a course to gain admission to an elite college. I would sympathize with his calculus—a prestigious diploma can pay lifelong dividends that might outweigh the seemingly trivial choices of what classes to take and activities to pursue. But I’d also encourage him to consider the real weight of contorting his identity to win an Ivy League acceptance letter. I would warn him that his attempts to pass as white wouldn’t be just cynically checking boxes on an application—it would involve excising most anything he deemed as superficially “Asian” or meaningfully Chinese from his high school experience. I would give my teenage self a look into his future after college, proudly informing him that I’ve just graduated with a Yale diploma and a wealth of opportunities before me. But I’d also confess that I may never be able to shake the thought nagging at the back of my mind: I’m a sellout.

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The Best Exercise Bikes

The Best Exercise Bikes

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best exercise bikes determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike, Overall

4.2 stars, 2,274 reviews
“I love going to spin classes, but don’t have the ability to attend when classes are scheduled because of work and family. I bought this bike to add to my great gym in my basement—and I love it. It’s solid, heavyweight metal; the 40-pound flywheel and construction provide the right amount of tension and stability to do any kind of workout you wish—standing on the pedals with heavy tension or fast pedaling with light resistance. This bike was easy to assemble—took less than 15 minutes … Great purchase!”

Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike
$254, Amazon

Best Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike Less Than $150

4.2 stars, 113 reviews
“I started working out at home, so I decided to buy several things that would work and not take a lot of space. I went back and forth with deciding to buy this bike because I knew it would be a big purchase, and if it didn’t happen to work, I didn’t want to deal with the return and headache. Well, no need to return. It has been one of my favorite fitness-related purchases—aside from the Bosu Ball. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and definitely recommended to anyone who wants to get in shape and get a good cardiovascular and leg workout … It is big enough to feel comfortable, and steady and small enough to fit it nearly anywhere. I live in NYC and the apartments here aren’t huge, and it is perfect. The bike is also very beautiful, so it does not look bad if you just leave it out. The seat is comfortable, so I don’t think I would be buying cushions for it … So, in conclusion, if you’re thinking about buying it, definitely do so. It is 100 percent worthy and fantastic.”

Pro Gear 100S Exercise Bike/Indoor Training Cycle
$132, Amazon

Best Upright Exercise Bike

4.3 stars, 126 reviews
“I have been a ‘gym rat’ for decades and work out five [or] six times per week. I have used the best commercial upright bikes out there. This one, to my surprise, is every bit as good and even better than most of the commercial bikes you find in gyms. The seat is extraordinarily comfortable—the most comfortable of any stationary bike I have ridden. The programs are easy to use, and the pedaling and resistance are extremely smooth and fluid. I ride on level 20 (highest level is 25) for 40 minutes, and it is no problem for the machine at all. I get my heart rate going at the high rate I like for the duration of my workout. The heart-rate monitor sometimes gives erroneous readings, but I find that is the case on the best commercial machines as well. I put this bike together in 30 minutes by myself. A really outstanding piece of workout equipment!”

Nautilus U616 Upright Bike
$349, Amazon

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike, Overall

4.4 stars, 4,882 reviews
“I really wanted an exercise machine I could use at home for the days I don’t make it to the gym (which, I’ll admit, is most days). However, I also have a small apartment with limited floor and storage space. I love that this bike fits snugly against the wall when not in use without sacrificing comfort or sturdiness (even with my big booty) in order to be compact.

Bikes are not usually my go-to exercise equipment because they give me a sore butt and crotch when I push myself, and sometimes, even when I don’t. However, this bike doesn’t feel the same to use as a regular bike or the standard exercise bike you would find at the gym. The pedals are further forward and the seat is wider, and I actually find it to be more comfortable. I am still able to get my heart rate up and work my legs just as well as other bikes while sitting fully back on the seat. I have not noticed any aches or pains indicating the positioning is problematic, but I have noticed considerably less pain caused by the seat than I usually experience using exercise bikes.

It is quiet, smooth, tracks everything I want to track, has appropriate resistance, and still works great six months later. I am very happy with my purchase!”

Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike With Pulse
$130, Amazon

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike With 400-Pound Weight Capacity

4.3 stars, 505 reviews
“I’ve had this for about two weeks now. It has been wonderful and convenient! I needed some lower-impact cardio exercise to incorporate into my regime (jogging was taking its toll on my knees and ankles), and I am so glad I came across this. The seat takes some getting used to, but it supports my six-foot, 320-pound self in my journey to weight loss. The reviews are somewhat correct about the resistance levels being a little weak. I have pretty strong legs (from lugging around this weight most of my life) and levels four to seven work just fine for me. I only, however, use this machine for moderate exercise in 20- to 40-minute periods. The setup is very easy. Took me about 30 minutes to do alone, and all the necessary equipment is included. Highly recommended.”

Exerpeutic Gold 500 XLS Foldable Upright Bike, 400 Lbs
$165, Amazon

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike Less Than $100

4.5 stars, 116 reviews
“I can’t believe what a good product this is, especially for the price! The ride is comfortable, smooth and quiet. It barely makes any noise at all. It is much more comfortable, smooth, and quiet than the expensive models I use at my gym and at physical therapy. You would be able to use this in front of the TV without disturbing anyone else in the room … I only weigh 125 pounds, but it is big enough to feel sturdy [and] small enough to fold up to put away and save space. I am very happy with this purchase.”

ProGear Foldable Magnetic Upright Bike
$85, Amazon

Best Upright Exercise Bike With Fan-Resistance

4.1 stars, 496 reviews
“This bike is a BEAST. It’s really heavy and structurally sound, and definitely gives a full-body workout. The adjustable seat makes it comfortable for taller people—both my five-eight self and six-one-or-so boyfriend have no problem, but it might be a bit of a reach (literally) for shorter folks. Since it’s so substantial, it really kicks your ass when you’re first getting used to it, but the hard work pays off: Between diet and using this bike regularly, I’ve lost almost 40 pounds and my boyfriend has lost around 50. I absolutely love this bike and would definitely recommend it!”

Schwinn AD6 Airdyne Exercise Bike
$500, Amazon

Best Recumbent Exercise Bike

4.1 stars, 4,797 reviews
“I’ve been using this bike for about two years, and I absolutely love it. I turn on the television and watch a movie or play video games and the time flies by! I honestly forget I’m riding it sometimes, though that depends how good the movie or video game is! I have to get up every 30 minutes to stretch and give my buttocks a break, but it’s a very comfortable seat overall. I keep a pillow stashed between the seat and backrest for even more comfort. When I started, I was 400 pounds, so there’s no weight limit that I’m aware of. Easy to assemble, and you can adjust the tension from one to eight to make your workout easier or harder. Plus, the legs rotate forward or backward, so you can ride in any direction you please. It also allows you to adjust the length from the seat to the pedals, so if you’re short or tall, you can adjust it to fit your needs … The unit is magnetic, so it’s very quiet—can’t hear a thing when you’re riding. The digital screen tracks time elapsed, calories burned, distance traveled, and current speed; you can set it to rotate between these display options or set it to stick to a single option (for instance, if you only want to see time elapsed). I haven’t replaced the batteries yet (I think they’re two AA), so they seem to last forever … I lost 60 pounds over the course of a few months doing no other exercise other than riding this recumbent bike in my room. Yeah, it’s THAT good. Great exercise bike that’s well worth the price!”

Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike With Resistance ME-709
$122, Amazon

Best Folding Recumbent Exercise Bike

4.4 stars, 2,400 reviews
“This is perhaps the nicest gift I’ve ever treated myself to. My ideal piece of exercise equipment would have been a treadmill (I LOVE TO RUN), but it simply wasn’t an option—they cost too much, take up too much space and require a lot of maintenance. This handy-dandy little exercise bike, however, takes up very little space and is quite affordable (compared to, say, my old gym membership or a treadmill) … Love the tension control—I can definitely break a sweat on this bike and get a good burn in my legs. Computer function is nice, but I don’t buy that I burn nearly as many calories as it claims I do. The heart-rate monitor was surprisingly accurate for me (I have my own heart-rate monitor I use on runs to compare it to), and I like that I can see how long I’ve been working out for—in reality, though, I almost never pay attention to the display … Very happy with this bike, love the space-saving design, and I find it to be a very comfortable, ‘semi-recumbent’-style bike.”

Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike
$97, Amazon

Best Upright Exercise Bike With Desk

4.2 stars, 1,443 reviews
“I haven’t been this delighted with a product in a long time. As a college professor, I can’t avoid sedentary evenings. Or rather, I couldn’t. That all changed last week when I assembled this bike and begin clocking 20 miles per day while doing a few hours of research. The design is ingenious—I especially like the drawer for my phone, as well as the strap securing my laptop … It took just under two hours to assemble, and I agree with the other reviewers that a ratchet set is handy if you have it, but not essential. You should also tighten the bolts once a week or so, which isn’t hard. As for usability, you’re not going to want to spend a full day on this, but you won’t have to. I find that reading, emailing, note-taking, web-surfing, and movies work best on the Fitdesk; intensive writing might be better saved for a desk on which you don’t have to expend a few brain waves to keep the pedals moving. That said, if you pedal at light resistance, you’ll barely be aware that you’re doing it, and I do think the process keeps me more alert, even if it divides my attention a hair. I don’t know how these guys keep the prices so low, and they even donate some of the desks [to] schools! I’ll check back in if I have troubles with it down the road, but if I get a year out of this, it will have paid itself off many times. I don’t use the phrase ‘life-changing’ lightly, but it just may fit here.”

FitDesk Desk Exercise Bike With Message Bar
$265, Amazon

Best Recumbent Exercise Bike With Desk

4.2 stars, 381 reviews
“I love this bike! I am able to type on my MacBook Pro (15-inch) without any shaking or discomfort. I set the tension to about six (out of eight) and end up getting a pretty good workout while also getting my work done. This bike is really changing my sedentary work lifestyle; I recommend it to anyone who wants to stay active throughout the day. Easy to put together and fold and store. I’m really surprised by how awesome this bike is—wish I could have it at work, too!”

Exerpeutic Workfit 1000 Desk Station Folding Semi-Recumbent Exercise Bike
$200, Amazon

Best Under-Desk Exercise Bike, Overall

4.7 stars, 1,716 reviews
“I LOVE this exerciser! I have a typical desk job and used to struggle to fit exercise into busy work days and even busier evenings with family commitments. I now exercise an average of 1.5 hours a day—riding 25 to 35 miles—while I’m working. I tend to use it while I’m on calls and don’t have to do heavy typing. It’s low, but still would not allow me to pedal under my keyboard tray, so I have it under another part of my desk where it works just fine while I’m on the phone. The machine is heavy, well-made, and virtually silent. My workspace is carpeted and I have a rolling chair, but I find that on tension-setting three I’m still able to pedal without the chair moving much, and haven’t had to use the included strap. I use my abdominals to help hold the chair in place for added exercise benefits. Also, I’m a fidgeter, and a surprise bonus of this machine is that the pedaling takes care of my need to fidget, so my concentration and focus on work is actually greater while I pedal. Who knew? … Overall, it’s a life changer! I highly recommend this gizmo for people with sedentary jobs.”

DeskCycle Desk Exercise Bike Pedal Exerciser, White
$159, Amazon

Best Under-Desk Exercise Bike Less Than $100

4.3 stars, 630 reviews
“I seriously wish I found this five years ago. I am pretty active but work a lot, sitting at a desk 10 hours a day at a pretty stressful job. My legs get achy from sitting; I just feel lethargic and have gained a couple pounds I’m not happy about over the last couple years … Long story short—this is a life changer. I received it over the weekend, it’s super easy to assemble, and did a quick trial run watching TV. It’s a very smooth ride, and completely SILENT, which is perfect for the office. First day taking it to work, I biked 13 miles throughout the day—AT MY DESK … I feel more energized and not like a worthless sloth sitting all day. As far as resistance goes, there are adjustable settings, so you can go as light or heavy as you want, digital monitor showing calories and distance, and it’s small enough to fit right under your desk. I am using the fourth out of eight on the difficulty level, and it’s just enough to not get super sweaty at work, but still get a good work out. I have zero complaints and can’t wait to get back in shape!”

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B0418 Magnetic Mini Exercise Bike, Gray
$101, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Ally Bank Online Checking, Savings, CD, Investing Promotions

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The Problem With Calling 2017 “the Deadliest Year for Transgender Americans”

The Problem With Calling 2017 “the Deadliest Year for Transgender Americans”

by Evan Urquhart @ Slate Articles

At least 28 trans people were killed in 2017, according to a list compiled by the Human Rights Campaign. But, does that mean 2017 has been the deadliest year for transgender Americans to date? Publications including Mother Jones and HuffPost as well as many smaller LGBTQ media outlets have cited HRC’s report on trans deaths as evidence for that claim. There’s just one problem: It has no clear basis in evidence. While it’s laudable to raise awareness about the very real violence that trans people (particularly trans women of color) face, the number itself does nothing to elucidate the prevalence or longer-term trends in violent transgender deaths. To understand either prevalence or trends, it would be necessary to have either a complete count of all trans people who died in America in 2017, or some sort of statistical sampling that allowed an accurate estimate to be made. We don’t have that, so we don’t know how many trans people died violently in 2017, or if that number is higher or lower than the number who died in 2016 or any other given year. We just don’t know.

Of course, the Human Rights Campaign’s list is much more than a single number that goes up or down from year to year. The organization does an excellent job of humanizing trans people who have been victims of violence, speaking to friends or family members of each victim they record, including a photograph of them and a small blurb that gives a window into the lives of those lost. It’s important advocacy work, and by all accounts the risk of violence against trans people is very real. However, the actual number of victims HRC finds each year is evidence of little more than HRC’s ability to compile a list of violent trans deaths. It makes perfect sense for it to have gone up year after year as the list gained publicity and those compiling the list grew better at the job. Whether the real number of deaths has increased, decreased, or remained the same is unconnected to the list.

That’s because the list is undoubtedly incomplete, as HRC itself acknowledges. With such small numbers, even a small undercounting could make the difference between an increase or a decrease in the trend in overall deaths. But there’s reason to think the undercounting is not that small. Transgender people are estimated to be about 0.6 percent of the population. In 2016 the FBI reported 17,250 Americans were victims of homicide. If trans people were as likely as any other American to be victims of homicide, then we’d expect to find about 103 trans people murdered that year. The Human Rights Campaign reported 23 murders.

If the HRC list really was comprehensive, or close to it, it would mean that trans people are actually much safer from violence than other Americans are. But there are many reasons to believe that trans people are more at risk of violence, not less. More than 1 in 4 transgender people surveyed by the National Center for Trans Equality reported having experienced physical assault as a result of anti-trans bias. The same survey found that trans people are twice as likely as other Americans to experience homelessness and twice as likely to be unemployed. They’re also far more likely to live in poverty, to go to prison, and to participate in sex work or the drug trade. These factors build a strong circumstantial case that trans people are probably more likely to be victims of violent homicides, not less.

If trans people really are more likely to be victims of violent homicides, then the reported list of trans deaths most likely includes less than one-quarter of total trans deaths each year. This should not be taken as a criticism of the list itself, because reporting on trans deaths when police and governmental authorities make minimal effort to track these numbers is incredibly hard. Moreover, the families of trans people often seek to hide their loved one’s gender identities out of embarrassment, and even supportive family and friends may not know enough to reach out to HRC after a loved one has died.

But HRC and others need to be candid with the public about what this list does and does not represent. It represents a small, imperfect window into the lives of trans people who are threatened by violence every single day. It does not represent the number of trans people who died to violence, or tell us if that number is rising or falling year to year. In order to learn that information, we’d need local, state, and federal governments to track gender identity consistently in their homicide date. If HRC succeeds in drawing attention to the urgent issue of violence against trans people through this anecdotal list, then perhaps one day we’ll have some numbers that tell us the whole story.

Experts Reveal What Makes for a Happier Holiday. Hint: It’s Not More Stuff.

Experts Reveal What Makes for a Happier Holiday. Hint: It’s Not More Stuff.

by Brigid Schulte @ Slate Articles

The holidays, it can seem, are all about time and money: Spending too much money. Never having enough time. All of which can cause so much stress and unhappiness that the American Psychological Association has actually set up an online Holiday Stress Resource Center to help us cope.

It doesn’t take a survey to know that most people want to be happy and not stressed out at the holidays. We look forward to heightened feelings of happiness, love, high spirits and connectedness. But we so often get caught up in all the extra work it takes to create all that good cheer that Christmas and the winter holidays instead can come to feel like a dreaded, gigantic to-do list. Tree? Check. Lights that work? Run to the store. Cards? Ordered, stamped, and mailed. Gifts?

I knew I was in need of a serious holiday attitude adjustment when my neighbor came over with a freshly baked plate of cookies. My first instinct, I’m ashamed to say, rather than gratitude for this selfless and delicious gift, was annoyance. I’d have to reciprocate, dang it. Like Santa, it was just one more thing to put on the list.

So I turned to a couple of happiness experts, Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, and Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, who specialize in studying the choices we make around time, money, and drudge work.

Here are their five top strategies that social science research suggests will help us all have a happier holiday:

1. Be in the moment: We live in an era of intense time pressure, when most people feel there simply isn’t enough time in their lives and stress is at an all-time high. That can make us feel out of control and always behind, and unhappy, especially at the holidays. So give some thought to how you really want to spend your time.

Dunn makes it a practice to think about what will make the time she spends over the holidays most enjoyable and enable her to be fully present. Not surprisingly, she said, happiness research shows that when we can be present in the moment, we enjoy it more. “If you’re doing one thing and thinking about another, that undermines your ability to reap enjoyment in whatever you’re doing,” Dunn said.

So she made some decisions that, to an economist, may seem irrational, but make perfect sense to a happiness researcher. She has a flexible schedule, so she was thinking she and her husband and son could visit her family in San Francisco in early December, when the flights are dramatically cheaper. But while that makes more economic sense, she knew she’d also be juggling and worrying about work, like writing final exams and grading papers, which would be distracting and make the time feel more stressful. “So we’ll spend a little more money going over Christmas, but that will help me get more enjoyment out of the experience.”

2. Prioritize quality time: Guided by the research that, when it comes to happiness, time matters more than money, when Whillans took her new job at Harvard, she and her husband decided to pay more in rent so she could walk to work, rather than pay less and have a big, time-sucking commute. They consciously chose to spend more money to buy themselves more time.

Whillans takes the same approach to the holidays. She and her husband have a no-gift rule. They instead try to spend time with each other over the holidays. “We give ourselves the gift of uninterrupted time. We focus on prioritizing time with each other, rather than what we’re going to give to each other.”

And as for using your time for meaningful things rather than cooking, cleaning, and all the exhausting work it can take to create holiday magic? If you can afford it, buy your way out of the drudge work you dread, they said. If you can’t, share the load, or do less of it.

Dunn and Whillans recently published research that found that people are happier when they use money to buy their way out of drudgery. In one of their studies, they gave people $40 and had one group buy stuff, and another group buy their way out of unenjoyable chores with cleaning, lawn or errand services, or take-out food. That opened up the possibility of spending time differently.

People reported feeling more in control of their time, Whillans said, and less overwhelmed by their daily lives. So taking a page from their own research, Dunn, who doesn’t love wrapping presents, prioritizes shopping at stores that do the wrapping for her, even if it costs a bit more.

3. Buy experiences, not things: Other happiness researchers have found that spending money on positive experiences, rather than stuff, makes us happier and increases our sense of well-being. And, Whillans said, both the anticipation of the experience and savoring the memory of it afterward can extend those feelings of happiness.

In their study, people who bought their way out of drudge work and had more time, tended to choose to spend it with family and friends and socialized more and enjoyed their time more. That certainly reinforces research that found people who focus on family and spirituality at the holidays are happier than those who are wrapped up in spending money and getting gifts.

4. Maximize the impact of your generosity: “We see in our research that giving promotes happiness to the extent that you can really see, understand, or envision the benefit it will have to the people you’re giving to,” Dunn said. “If I get my dad some random cuff links, I know it’s not going to change anything about his life. The same thing applies to a lot of charitable giving. We just don't get much of an emotional return on it if it’s too diffuse, or if we don’t know how would make a difference.”

So this year, after running around all day in the rain buying Christmas presents and feeling mildly irritated with the world, Dunn came home and donated to an organization that helps pay for operations to repair clubfoot. “I know, if I give this gift, a kid on the other side of the world will have a totally different life,” she said. “The more you can understand the generosity of your gift, the better you’re going to feel. It was a nice way to end the day.”

5. Less is more: Sometimes, what makes us unhappy, especially around the holidays, is simply the too muchness of it all: too much food and drink, too much to do, too much to buy, too many holiday parties at the same time. All of that can add to an intensified sense of time pressure, stress, and unhappiness. So think about doing less. “People are bad at making goals around subtraction,” Whillans said. “We fail to think about removing experiences from our lives as a path to greater happiness.”

Prioritize the kinds of experiences you really want to have. Think about what’s necessary, and drop the expectation that everything must be perfect. “Figure out what to not do,” Dunn said. Go to one fewer party or event. Say no. Focus less on consumption and more on positive experiences, or helping others, Whillans said. “Those are things we know are better for happiness.”

And maybe find time to do a little something nice for your cookie-baking neighbor, not because it’s just one more thing to cross off your to-do list, or because the research shows doing something nice for someone else really does make us happy, but because this is what a truly joyful holiday season is all about.

Alternative exchanges and sites like Gemini

by beauvetch @ finder US

Find the best alternatives to Gemini. See 7+ sites and exchanges where you can trade cryptocurrency like Gemini.

Help! Everyone Keeps Telling Me to Go to Therapy—Please Make It Stop!

Help! Everyone Keeps Telling Me to Go to Therapy—Please Make It Stop!

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. Sick of being told to see a therapist: My fiancé has a brain cancer with horrible survival statistics. He is fighting it masterfully with an indomitable spirit and attitude. I am helping with everything and attending all of his doctor’s appointments and scans. We live far from our families and are generally each other’s only support. I am a reticent person and do not talk about my feelings on a good day. This situation is unusual, so occasionally I will mention some emotional difficulty I am having, but my basic nature has not changed—quite simply, I do not want to discuss it. Yet everyone I know has determined I need help and should talk to a therapist. I say I do not want it and end up embroiled in a conversation about how it will be good for me. “Sally’s husband did that when she got sick with ____ disease, and it helped them so much.”

I appreciate other peoples’ experiences, and I may someday decide to talk this out, but for now I just want to be left alone to deal with it myself. I’m not some wilting flower—I’m a 40-year-old woman who has lived independently since age 17, until I met this wonderful man. I know how to take care of myself. What do I say to get people to drop the subject without shouting, “Leave me alone!” after they get started on their nonhelpful spiel?

A: I’m so sorry about your fiancé’s diagnosis, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have the same conversation about grief counseling multiple times a week with everyone from family members to well-meaning co-workers. I do want to point out that living independently, being 40, and not being a wilting flower have absolutely nothing to do with whether someone finds therapy helpful; it’s not an indicator of weakness or failure to be fully self-sufficient. That said, it’s not for everyone, and you’re well within your rights not to want to discuss it with everyone you meet. The next time someone starts to go in on how much therapy helped Sally’s husband, feel free to interrupt them and say, “Thanks, but I really don’t want to discuss it. I’ve been getting a lot of plugs for therapy lately, and I’m ready to drop that subject for now. I’d consider it a favor if you didn’t bring it up again.”

Student Checking Account Comparisons | MyBankTracker

Student Checking Account Comparisons | MyBankTracker


MyBankTracker

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Marcus by Goldman Sachs Review: GS Bank Takes on Online Savings, CDs, and Personal Loans

by Lindsay VanSomeren @ MagnifyMoney

Most Americans probably think of fancy white-collar stock traders on Wall Street when they think of Goldman Sachs, a global investment firm that’s been around since the late 19th century. In recent years, Goldman made a major pivot, launching a new arm of the company called GS Bank, which would provide internet-only savings accounts to … Continue reading Marcus by Goldman Sachs Review: GS Bank Takes on Online Savings, CDs, and Personal Loans

The post Marcus by Goldman Sachs Review: GS Bank Takes on Online Savings, CDs, and Personal Loans appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Speak Now

Speak Now

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week by signing up in the box below. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers each Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’m in a six-month relationship with an amazing guy. He’s kind, generous, funny, and supportive, and we click on all levels. He treats me better than any man who ever said he loved me—but he’s not ready to say it yet. I’ve said it already, and I don’t regret saying it because I know I mean it. He says he feels the same thing I do but isn’t ready to call it love—he wants to wait until we’re further down the line toward commitment before saying it. His only other relationship lasted for six years and ended badly, so he’s very cautious this time around. He also wants to wait until he knows where his job will be and where he’ll be living.

I know this is something you can’t force, but it’s really bothering me. I have absolutely no complaints about how he treats me. That’s why I want to tell him I love him practically all the time! But I have to hold back because I know not hearing it back will hurt. I also don’t understand why outside factors like where he’ll be living would influence how he feels about me in the first place. How do I process this and not fixate on it but allow myself to be happy with someone who clearly cares deeply about me, even if he can’t say the same words I do? And is there a time limit by which he should say it? I’m just so worried he’ll never say it at all.
—Three Little Words

This is such an individual thing that I’m almost reluctant to give you any advice more specific than “Do what you think is right for you.” Your boyfriend has made it clear that he’s not ready to say he loves you and he’s given you a number of reasons for that decision. Whether or not you think those reasons make sense, whether or not his decision can work for you, whether or not there’s a point at which you would need to hear “I love you” in return in order to continue your relationship, those are questions that only you can answer. There’s no one-size-fits-all time limit, no date by which all boyfriends have to say, “I love you,” or become loveless monsters.

I can say a few things with relative authority. I think your best way forward is to share your fears with your boyfriend. I think that “having no complaints” about how he treats you is not necessarily a reason to stay in a relationship if you decide it’s not working for you. I think that his previous romantic relationship may provide useful context for where he’s coming from but is ultimately irrelevant to how the two of you relate to one another. If you think it’s odd that he’s willing to say he all-but-loves you unless and until he gets a job lined up, then I don’t think you should try to convince yourself to stop “fixating” on it. I think you should pay attention to your own feelings, which matter every bit as much as his. That doesn’t mean you have to offer him an ultimatum tomorrow, but don’t spend too much time trying to convince yourself that it’s silly to care about hearing “I love you” in response. It matters to you. That’s important, and you should be honest about it, and see whether the two of you can work through this together. If you can’t, it doesn’t mean you threw away a good relationship for frivolous reasons.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I own a rental house down the street from my own residence. I rent it a bit below market with the understanding that tenants will be “easy.” The current tenants (a couple and their 8-year old) have been generally OK, if not the best I’ve ever had. However, I’ve recently heard from a few neighbors that “Tommy” is a terror at school and has bullied several neighborhood kids. They’ve hinted that I might do our local elementary school a favor if I didn’t renew their lease. (I am within my rights to do so; it ends in May, and I would give 60 days’ notice.) There are very few rentals in the local elementary school catchment area, so “Tommy” would likely end up at a different school next year were his family to move. My neighbors are nice people, and I doubt they are exaggerating—and they have always been welcoming to my tenants in the past. Any advice on how to handle this?
—Playground-Tenant Dispute

You have an opportunity here to not get involved in someone else’s parenting challenges, and I suggest you take it. If Tommy is causing problems at school with someone else’s children, then it’s up to the school and Tommy’s parents to address it. As long as Tommy’s parents are living up to their half of the rental agreement, there’s no reason for you to evict them based on secondhand information that their kid is a bully. Even if Tommy is in need of serious discipline, he’s also 8 years old.
Not to mention the fact that simply sending him to another school would do nothing to address his behavior! This is a situation that calls for some classic, old-fashioned butting out.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
About two years ago my parents separated and are now divorced. They both had affairs, and my dad left my mother for the woman he had an affair with. We’re still working on blending the families, but two of my siblings, one in particular, have refused to accept my dad’s fiancée. My brother has said that he will not budge until they break up. My dad says that he’s done appeasing my brother and has to stand up for his relationship. I’m worried that he’s about to torpedo his relationship with my brother, but I can hardly expect him to end his engagement. My brother steadfastly refused to go to my dad’s for Christmas and continues to reject any of my dad’s attempts to get them in the same room together. I don’t know how to talk to either of them anymore. How do I help keep my family from falling completely to pieces?
—Family Breakup

I know this isn’t the answer you were hoping to hear, and I know you’ve already had to deal with a lot of destabilizing new developments over the last couple of years, but your first and most important task is to resign from the job of “person responsible for keeping the family together.” Your family is still your family even if your parents get divorced, even if your brother and your father keep fighting, even if your brother and your father stop speaking to one another. I imagine that lately it feels like everything is out of your control and that your family is disintegrating, but as long as you make yourself responsible for keeping everyone together, you’re going to drive yourself crazy—not to mention set yourself up for failure.

Encourage your brother and your father to talk to one another, then let the subject drop. After that: Talk to your brother about any subject that isn’t your father. Talk to your father about any subject that isn’t your brother. Remind yourself, whenever the little anxiety engine in the back of your mind that whispers, “This family is dissolving into pieces and if you don’t do something right now, we’ll never be able to be a family again” starts to fire up again, that you cannot manage your father’s and your brother’s relationship for them, and that you will be OK no matter what happens between them.

Dear Prudence LIVE in San Francisco! See Mallory Ortberg and special guests on Jan. 25.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I grew up in far-from-privileged circumstances, but I typically got what I wanted, particularly away from home. Maybe I just had a way with the adults in my life, but I considered myself a hard worker who demonstrated persistence and determination. Yet, now that I’m a sophomore in college, I’ve been forced to reckon with the fact that my peers—who, in this setting, have more influence—aren’t as easily persuaded by my own persistent efforts to achieve a goal. Over the past year and a half, there have been a number of setbacks where I’ve felt powerless to alter the outcome, which I’m not used to. Could you give some advice on how a college student could adjust to this change and leverage it for future success?
—How to Adjust to Not Getting Your Way?

I think it’s probably worth developing a more nuanced attitude to failure for its own sake, not merely because you think it might result in future success. Part of the college experience—part of being a young adult regardless of whether you go to college or not—has to do with experiencing failures and setbacks, sometimes for the first time without familial aid. They’re often surprising, they’re generally unlooked-for, and they usually hurt. That’s not to say that you have to resign yourself to every failure that comes your way, or that there’s no value in persistence and determination—simply that figuring out how to deal with disappointments is an important component of becoming a well-rounded adult. I can’t promise you that learning to lose gracefully will ultimately become part of a strategy for future success. Silicon Valley promulgates a belief in eternally transformative failure, that every single failure brings one closer to a more thoroughly optimized outcome, and I don’t think that’s true. On any given day, in any given circumstance, there will be a number of things that are totally outside your control, and any number of outcomes you will be absolutely powerless to alter. Failure is inevitable, and therefore it’s important to figure out how to respond to each individual failure with relative equanimity—whether that leads to a later success or not. You can be a persistent, determined person, a hard worker, and any number of other positive attributes and still fail; it’s not a reckoning on your individual worth. Consider these current failures as good training for the rest of your life.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I have reconnected on social media with a former girlfriend, and she has become a very close friend. We dated briefly in our early 20s. It was an intense relationship that fell apart because we were both young and immature. I am now a middle-aged, divorced single dad; she is happily married with two daughters and lives several states away. The chemistry between us is unmistakable. She even came back to my area (alone) several months ago to visit family, and she invited me out for dinner and mentioned that her husband was in poor health. The remark about her husband’s health was only in passing. We didn’t have a whole conversation about that. But as you can tell, I put a whole lot of meaning into it. I can tell she has feelings for me. How strong, I don’t know, but she clearly loves her husband and their kids.

I am absolutely smitten with her. I think about her every day. We talk on social media maybe once a week or so. I don’t want to break up her family or even sow any hint of trouble there, so I haven’t told her how I feel. On the other hand, it is hard to think seriously of anyone else romantically—just in case something happens in her husband’s life. And I feel like total shit for even thinking that. If I break off contact with her, I lose a good friend. And how do I do that? And what do I say to our mutual friends? I know I am in a destructive pattern, but I don’t know what to do.
—Can’t Extinguish Old Flame

This is the sort of thinking that can quickly spiral out of control in a closed environment like the inside of your own head. The next time you find yourself obsessing over your ex, I think it might be helpful to counter some of your fantasies with reality.

Fantasy: She mentioned that her husband’s health isn’t great! Maybe he’s going to die soon, and the two of us can get back together, and I’ll be 22 again.

Reality: My ex clearly loves her husband and her kids. I know that she’s happily married. I will never be 22 again. I am middle-aged and divorced and have to deal with the complicated feelings that engenders within me. We had dinner once a few months ago. Now we talk about once a week and there seems to be some sort of charge between us that, while pleasant, does not incline her to express a wish to leave her family to be with me. The fact that I think about her every day has more to do with me than it does with her.

You don’t have to say anything to your mutual friends, because there’s nothing going on, aside from a rekindled friendship that may or may not carry a slightly flirtatious vibe. (I’m inclined to take your claim that you “can tell” she has feelings for you with a grain of salt, not because I don’t think she likes you, but because you’re clearly bringing a lot more intensity to the table than she is.) I get where you’re coming from! This is a woman you have an intense, albeit brief, romantic history with, who’s re-entered your life during a time when you’ve been feeling a little adrift, and you’ve been reminded of all the reasons you connected with her in the first place. But if you’re having trouble putting her out of your mind to such an extent that you’re not able to go on dates or focus on your own life, then I recommend you see a counselor and spend some time figuring out why you’re so fixated on this ex in particular. That’s a healthier and more productive strategy than hoping your ex’s husband dies in the next year or two, then feeling guilty about it.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I recently decided to try a little light bondage with my boyfriend of just over a year. I stripped down, put on a blindfold, and let him tie me to the bed. Then I waited. And waited. Finally, I pushed off the blindfold (it was very light bondage!) and saw that I was all alone. I found him in the living room and asked what was wrong. He said nothing was wrong—he just wanted to see how long I would lie there. I called him a jerk, and we got into an argument. He said it was just a joke and that I should lighten up, but I’m still angry. Am I making too big a deal out of this?
—Unbound in New York

That move goes in the Bad (Ex-)Boyfriend Hall of Fame. The fact that he wants to call it a joke doesn’t mean you don’t get to feel angry and hurt about it, or ask him why he decided to make a joke out of your sex life or why he thought it would be funny to leave you alone, confused, bound, and vulnerable. Calling something “just a joke” is not the get-out-of-jail-free card some people think it is. The fact that he hasn’t apologized and doesn’t seem especially interested in how it made you feel says a lot about what you can expect from him in the future.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

Net Neutered: Prudie counsels a couple who don’t allow their guests to access Facebook while staying in their vacation home.

Singular Assault: Prudie advises a letter writer who was once sexually assaulted by their current partner.

Due Date: My roommate’s jobless sister can’t keep sleeping on the couch after her baby is born.

Very Suggestive Texts: Prudie counsels a letter writer who is trying to protect her marriage after acting on a crush at a company holiday party.

In Love With a Truther: Prudie advises a letter writer who’s dating “a really great guy” who happens to think 9/11 was an inside job.

Fear in the Family: I’m afraid of my teenage stepson.

Not an Act: Prudie advises a letter writer who constantly gets questioned about her disability.

Indelibly Om: Prudie counsels a letter writer who regrets getting a tattoo she now regards as culturally insensitive.

Kirk Bevan Joins HomeTrust as Branch Manager

by Scott Fahy @ HomeTrust Banking

Greenville, SC – HomeTrust Bank is pleased to announce Kirk Bevan has joined the Bank’s leadership team as Branch Manager of a Greenville, SC banking office. Bevan will manage the retail operations and sales & service staff of the office located at 499 Woodruff Road. “We’re thrilled to have Kirk at HomeTrust,” commented HomeTrust Market President […]

The post Kirk Bevan Joins HomeTrust as Branch Manager appeared first on HomeTrust Banking.

An In-Depth Review of Ally Bank’s Rates

by Sarah Li Cain @ MagnifyMoney

Since it spun off from General Motors auto financing in , Ally Bank has proved to be one of the best online-only banks in the industry. Like most online-only banks, Ally charges minimal fees for deposit accounts and requires low or no minimum balances. Rates on Ally’s checking, savings, CD and money market accounts are … Continue reading An In-Depth Review of Ally Bank’s Rates

The post An In-Depth Review of Ally Bank’s Rates appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

HTB Endows Scholarship at Davidson County Community College

by Scott Fahy @ HomeTrust Banking

This scholarship fund will support students who show academic leadership and/or extracurricular excellence, with awards based strictly on merit. When asked about the scholarship, HomeTrust Market President, Bob Callicutt, said “We look forward to seeing the good this scholarship does in our community. Enabling a gifted student to get an education and give back helps […]

The post HTB Endows Scholarship at Davidson County Community College appeared first on HomeTrust Banking.

HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc. Reports Financial Results For The Second Quarter Of Fiscal 2018

by Scott Fahy @ HomeTrust Banking

ASHEVILLE, N.C., Jan. 29, 2018 — HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:HTBI) (“Company”), the holding company of HomeTrust Bank (“Bank”), today announced a preliminary net loss of $10.7 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2017, driven by an estimated $17.7 million deferred tax revaluation resulting from enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax […]

The post HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc. Reports Financial Results For The Second Quarter Of Fiscal 2018 appeared first on HomeTrust Banking.

Going Part Time May Not Be the Fix Working Mothers Need

Going Part Time May Not Be the Fix Working Mothers Need

by Olga Mecking @ Slate Articles

Americans work more than workers in any other nation in the industrialized world. And American mothers spend more time with their children than ever before. As a result, many are stressed out, exhausted, and at the end of their tether.

It is with envy and admiration that American mothers often look over the Atlantic toward Europe, especially toward welfare-state Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands.* The Dutch have one of the shortest average working weeks in the world (36 hours), and approximately 75 percent of Dutch women work even less than that average. Many of them go part time, especially after they have children. They have the freedom to choose to work fewer hours, which gives them more time to spend with their families or on leisure activities.

On the surface, the Dutch may have it all figured out: 16 weeks of maternity leave, an elaborate network of day cares, and a culture that allows them to be imperfect mothers, thanks to a mentality that encourages moderation in all things. Working part time, something that is seen as a cure for all problems in the U.S., is actually the norm in the Netherlands. But look closer and you will see that the work-life balance paradise is not without its own gender-equality shortcomings.

“In the Netherlands, the division of labor is influenced by the so-called 1.5 breadwinner or provider model. Men tend to work full time and women part time,” explained Esther de Jong, senior policy officer at Atria, an institute committed to gender equality. This is powered by two assumptions the Dutch have about men, women, children, and families. In the Netherlands, 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women believe that mothers are more suitable for raising young children, and 60–70 percent of both men and women believe it is bad for children under 2 to attend day care. “The pressure for women to combine both care and work activities often makes them opt for part-time employment,” said de Jong.

While it is illegal to discriminate against part-time workers in the Netherlands, people who worked less than full time were still extremely vulnerable to downturns, unexpected financial costs, or job loss. These jobs also have less prestige and recognition. Worst of all, the rise of part-time jobs could actively contribute to the rising inequality because women are overrepresented in nonstandard work arrangements in jobs that offer lower hourly wages, for example. Workers who had part-time contracts also felt the flexibility they desired cost them potential career advancement opportunities and better pay.

A recent study showed that women in the Netherlands first started working part time in their 20s, right out of college, often before having children was even an issue. As a result, women were less qualified for top positions later on, even after having children who were grown. Sectors that traditionally employed them, like health care or child care, didn’t always have full-time positions available. Moreover, women were more likely to have flexible contracts than men and were, therefore, easier to be let go. In November 2017, the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant reported that the number of people affected by work-related burnout has risen in recent years and can be explained with the rise of part-time jobs, which offer much less financial security than full-time contracts and are therefore more stressful. Employees with stable positions were also able to take more sick days without worrying about the consequences and could avoid burnout by resting more.

According to the Dutch statistic office CBS, women who had flexible contracts were less likely to be mothers. And, according to the most recent survey by the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, the Netherlands has dropped 16 places when it comes to gender equality due to the low political participation of women and their low economic independence. That has to do with the large share of women in part-time work: Only 59 percent of Dutch women are economically independent.

Moreover, even as Dutch men work less than their counterparts in other countries, women still do the majority of house- and child-related tasks. According to recent studies, mothers spend 2½ times less time on paid labor than fathers. This is especially visible in the discussions about paternity leave. Women get 16 weeks of paid parental leave in the Netherlands. Dutch men? Two days. While this is better than the zero days American dads get, in nearby Sweden, fathers have 90 days.

Of course, there are benefits to part-time work. Part-timers in the Netherlands are free to divide their time between work, child care, and leisure as they see fit. And even though many Dutch women work part time, their participation in the labor market is still high: 74.2 percent of women are employed compared with 84.6 percent of men. Moreover, the Netherlands scores consistently high in terms of gender equality, especially when it comes to the education of women. But one can’t overstate the importance of financial independence for women, and that comes not just from working but working in positions of power. “There is a link between the low share of women in leadership positions and the division of care and work between men and women,” said de Jong.

De Jong’s solution? “An equal division of parental leave is important in breaking the pattern of women working part time and men working full time. It provides fathers with the opportunity to spend more time with their newborn children and enables women to return to employment more easily.” But it’s important for the leave to not be interchangeable, where married parents can choose who should take what proportion of the leave between the two of them. In countries where that is the case, women usually take additional time off instead of the fathers taking their paid leave.

For real gender equality on the labor market, two things need to happen: policies that make it possible for women and men to combine paid work and care and a public discussion on existing stereotypes about the proper division of labor between men and women. “It is important to keep aiming for gender equality on the labor market and to break stereotypes on the division of care and work so that both women and men are free to choose what they would like to do; work, take care of children, or a combination of the two,” said de Jong. In that sense, the discussions about gender equality in the Netherlands aren’t so different from those in the U.S.

*Correction, Jan. 10, 2018: Due to an editing error, this post originally misstated that the Netherlands is in Scandinavia.

WEEK 14: Maintenance, You’ve Done All the Hard Work

by Chad @ Wall Street Minimalist

Almost Done Welcome back! By this point in the Bootcamp Series, your financial system is completely up and running. You’ve got all of the best accounts set up and you’ve automated them to work seamlessly with each other. You’ve figured out how to integrate your personal minimalism with your finances […]

The post WEEK 14: Maintenance, You’ve Done All the Hard Work appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

Masterpiece Cakeshop’s Defenders Are Reviving Arguments Used to Justify Racial Apartheid

Masterpiece Cakeshop’s Defenders Are Reviving Arguments Used to Justify Racial Apartheid

by Aderson Bellegarde Francois @ Slate Articles

Even if the United States Supreme Court does the right thing in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and comes to the doctrinally easy conclusion that it is not a violation of the First Amendment for government to require places of public accommodation to provide services without discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, it will remain unfortunate that by agreeing to hear the case in the first place, the court provided a prominent public platform to arguments that have as much moral foundation as racial apartheid and less intellectual depth than phrenology.

From the earliest days of marriage equality litigation, opponents argued in court that equal marriage rights for same-sex couples would harm three constituencies: society at large, the individuals involved in same-sex unions, and children raised in these households. The argument that same-sex marriage posed a threat to social order rested on the notion that same-sex married couples would weaken one of the most important social tools for transmitting community values and promoting public good, thereby deinstitutionalizing marriage and stripping it of all intrinsic worth. The claim that same-sex relationships were damaging to the individuals depended on the commonly held belief that same-sex relationships are by their very nature purely sexual, and consecrating them with marriage rights would give individuals free reign to indulge in their base instincts and worst appetites. The proposition that same-sex unions were harmful to children raised the specter that these children would be ostracized by the outside world for belonging to a homosexual household and would be pressured inside the home to develop putatively homosexual interests and behaviors, resulting in all manner of calamities, including, among other things, mental illness, criminal behavior, substance abuse, promiscuity, depression, and suicide.

If these arguments seemed tiresome in their repetitiveness, it was in part because in court after court the same cadre of lawyers and organizations filed the very same briefs. But their appalling familiarity was also due to their ancient provenance: They had first been rehearsed at the end of the Civil War, when the taboo of sex between black men and white women could no longer be effectively policed by the institution of slavery, and had been rehashed over generations until the United States Supreme Court finally put an end to them in Loving v. Virginia. So, beginning with one of the early marriage cases in California Supreme Court, through the Iowa litigation, and subsequent federal cases, a number of amicus briefs—most prominently from the Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of law—showed in exhausting detail that the very same arguments that were raised against interracial sex, marriage, and parenting, had been dug up, dusted off, and were now being revived against same-sex marriage.

Indeed, so clear were the parallels that in many instances, anti-marriage equality briefs relied on the very same biblical verses, the very same sexualized images, and virtually the very same eugenics theories as had first been used in anti-miscegenation cases. But perhaps no brief made the point more succinctly than the one the California NAACP filed in 2007, in which they simply cut and pasted virtually verbatim the words of the majority and dissenting opinions in Perez v. Sharp, the 1948 California case that preceded Loving by nearly two decades in outlawing a ban against interracial marriage. The only change the brief made was to replace words and phrases such as “race,” “different races,” “ancestry,” and “intermarriage” with “same-sex,” “gender,” and “sexual orientation.”

So it didn’t come as a surprise that in Masterpiece Cakeshop, opponents of equal public accommodation rights for same-sex couples returned to the same racist well from which they drew throughout the course of marriage equality litigation. Others have pointed out—and correctly so—that the basic logic of affording equal public accommodation seemed indistinguishable from two Supreme Court decisions—Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States and Katzenbach v. McClung—in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by rejecting claims that private owners of hotels, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation had a constitutional right to deny service to black patrons. But the freedom of religion and free speech origins of the arguments on behalf of the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop go much further back than the challenges to the Civil Rights of 1964; those arguments were first articulated against passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 less than ten years after the Civil War ended.

The 1875 Civil Rights Act required all inns, public conveyances, theaters, and other places of public amusement to open their accommodations without regard to race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The act was the last major piece of civil rights legislation passed during Reconstruction and indeed the last significant civil rights statute Congress would adopt for almost the next century. Charles Sumner, a principal architect of the Fourteenth Amendment, had first introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate in May 1870 and envisioned it as the final legislative piece to enforce the equality commands of the Fourteenth Amendment. Over the next two years, Sumner reintroduced the bill on at least three occasions and each time the bill failed—either in the Senate Judiciary Committee, or on the Senate floor, where Democrats filibustered it. Sumner died in March 1874, shortly after reintroducing his bill in January 1874 and before substantial debate could begin on it. When Democrats won a majority in the House in the 1874 elections, effectively ending Reconstruction in the South, Republicans facing reelection in 1876 at first declined to continue their support for the bill but managed to revive it in a lame duck session. In January 1875 the bill, now known as the Civil Rights Act of 1875, passed both houses and was signed into law by President Ulysses Grant.

Between 1870 when the bill was first introduced and 1875 when it was finally enacted, its provisions engendered a great deal of debate, during which opponents of the act insisted that to require private business owners to provide services to blacks would violates both God’s law, which commands separation of the races, and their constitutional right to free speech and free association, which provides that the government lacks the power to compel them to associate with anyone whose social company or presence they found odious. In other words, appeals to God and free speech were at the heart of opposition to the equal public accommodation bill at the conclusion of the Civil War, just as they are now in opposition to equal public accommodation for LGBTQ people nearly one hundred and fifty years later.

And just as the idea of providing equal rights to gay couples seem to conjure up in some minds all sorts of bizarre hypotheticals about, say, Jewish bakers being forced to design Nazi cakes, so too in 1875 there was an awful lot of sloppy slippery-slope arguments about government eventually forcing whites to invite blacks into their homes. As one democratic representative argued on the floor of the House:

If Congress has the power to pass this bill and make it a law it has the power to enact laws to regulate the minutest social observances of domestic or fashionable life. If it has the right to say to my neighbor, ‘You must ride in the same car, eat at the same table, and lodge in the same room with a negro,’ it can also say that you must not interpose an objection on account of his color to any advances he may make toward your children or family.

The 1875 act was a short-lived victory. A mere eight years later, in an 1883 decision, the Court, without even the benefit of oral arguments, ruled in a series of consolidated cases captioned The Civil Rights Cases that Congress lacked authority under the Fourteenth Amendment to prohibit racial discrimination by private actors. That decision, as much as Plessy v. Ferguson issued thirteen years later in 1896, established the foundation of an American racial apartheid system that would remain firmly in place in both the North and the South for almost a century.

In the days and weeks following the Supreme Court decision in The Civil Rights Cases, virtually every single white-owned newspaper in the country heralded it as both constitutionally correct and socially wise, while every black-owned newspaper decried it as both a betrayal of Reconstruction and a harbinger of the Jim Crow society to come. In countless editorials, white newspapers lectured black audiences against making what these newspapers insisted were hysterical claims about how the decision would pave the way for Jim Crow. White newspapers also raised the point that blacks had a misplaced sense of priority in focusing on public accommodation when there were so many other more important rights for which they should devote their energies fighting.

To these newspapers, the case itself was a tempest in a teacup: of the three sets of plaintiffs suing to enforce the 1875 act, one had been denied his seat at the Maguire theater in San Francisco, while the other had been refused admission at New York’s Grand Opera House. But what blacks intuitively and deeply understood then is what LGBTQ people understand now: The Civil Rights Cases was no more about the theater than Masterpiece Cakeshop is about wedding cakes; both cases are about public respect for an individual’s humanity. And if the Supreme Court rules against the gay couple as it ruled against the black plaintiffs, it will in effect say to LGBTQ people in 2017, as it said to black people in 1883, that theirs is a lesser form of constitutional personhood deserving of a lesser measure of public respect.

Report: Here are the cities with the most credit card debt

Report: Here are the cities with the most credit card debt

by Craig Johnson @ clark.com

Most people do all they can to pay their bills on time and be good stewards of their financial lives, but even with the best-made plans, setbacks sometimes occur. So it is with credit card debt, which, as we’ve written

The Best Cookware Sets

The Best Cookware Sets

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you're searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best cookware sets determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Three-Piece Set of Nonstick Pans

4.3 stars, 1,675 reviews
“First of all, I cook constantly and really appreciate … having the different sizes for preparation. The smaller is great for omelettes and scrambled eggs. The other two are most helpful in food cooking without [using] any heavy nonstick products. The large pan is great for frittata recipes that I love to make because you can flip it without it falling apart [or] being stuck to the pan. Recommend it highly for anyone making dinner in a timely way, without the worry of sticking and burning. Great product!!”

T-fal B363S3 Specialty Nonstick Cookware Set, 3-Piece Gray
$21, Amazon

Best Five-Piece Cast-Iron Cookware Set

4.7 stars, 1,177 reviews
“I decided to try out cooking on cast iron a while back, and my mom sent me one of her old, well-seasoned ones. After reading up on how to take care of it, I was a little intimidated. Once I actually dove in and tried it, though, I loved it. I’m never going back to supposedly nonstick pans again. This Lodge set is a great deal if you’re wanting to get started with cast iron because you get several essential pieces for many uses. They come preseasoned, but I went ahead and reseasoned them anyway. It’s easy to do and gives a better start. These are more nonstick than my nonstick pans ever were, and they hold heat remarkably well. I even gave one of the skillets to my mom (in exchange for the one she had lent me previously).”

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle
$115, Amazon

Best Seven-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set

4.3 stars, 11,273 reviews
“This set is a great deal. They have a good weight to them, heat fast, and cook evenly. Whenever anyone sees them, they’re surprised at the quality of them—especially considering the price. Never having personally owned anything other than nonstick pans, this was a real upgrade for me. I felt like I was cooking in the commercial kitchen again. I love to cook, was a cook in college [and] during the recession, and cook at my friends and family’s houses a lot when I visit. Honestly, I know people who have heavier cookware that costs more than twice this much that doesn’t handle as well as this set … All that being said, if you already have owned stainless cookware, it may not be such an upgrade. Still, a great option for the person who loves to cook but isn’t up to spending hundreds of dollars on cookware yet.”

Cuisinart 77-7 Chef’s Classic Stainless 7-Piece Cookware Set
$68, Amazon

Best 10-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Steamer Insert

4.6 stars, 1,091 reviews
“The best part of this set (in my opinion) is the vegetable steamer! It’s such an AMAZING little attachment. It fits into any of the pots and is to be used in conjunction with all of them. I can boil pasta, put the veggies in the steamer, overtop the pasta with a lid, and steam veggies while cooking pasta—I LOVE it! … All in all, we LOVE this set and are so glad we didn’t spend the money for the more expensive ‘name-brand’ sets we looked at. These are a great value and if taken care of will last a LONG time! Enjoy!”

Cooks Standard 10-Piece Multi-Ply Clad Cookware Set, Stainless Steel
$138, Amazon

Best 10-Piece Ceramic, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.1 stars, 2,297 reviews
“So far, love these pots and pans! I wanted something nonstick (not Teflon) that would match my kitchen and stand up to regular daily use. These fit the bill well so far. They are stylish to look at, lids fit well, generously sized, materials feel nice to the touch. Grip handles feel good in the hand. They are super efficient and conduct heat much more quickly than my previous pots and pans, so I do have to be mindful of adjusting cook time and temps until I get used to them. (We have a gas stove, so I can only imagine how efficient they would be on electric.) … This set cleans up easily and is just darn pretty to look at in the cabinet. VERY pleased!”

Cook N Home NC-00358 Nonstick Ceramic Coating 10-Piece Cookware Set, Green
$56, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Porcelain, Enamel, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 1,319 reviews
“I absolutely LOVE this cookware set!!! The color is so beautiful and looks so pretty in the kitchen. This set includes pretty much everything you need to cook with. I’ve made some nice soups with the stewpot, cooked lots of eggs and omelettes with the frying pan, and some nice stir-frys in the larger pan with the lid. Heating up sauce in the saucepan has been so easy and heats up so fast. I love the nonstick pans as [they make] cleanup time so much faster with a rinse in the sink and a quick wash. Unfortunately, my spatula broke this summer, but it did come in handy on the outside griddle for breakfast! I recommend this cooking set, as it’s been a year and I am still happily using mine!”

Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Porcelain Enamel Nonstick Cookware Set, 12-Piece, Agave Blue
$92, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Dishwasher-Safe, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.3 stars, 1,247 reviews
“My wife and I love to cook and are fairly rough on cookware. Our last set of pots and pans looked like they had barely made it out of the Battle of the Bulge. So we started looking for something that would be tough, look good, have nonstick surfaces, and last a long time … So far, with about a year on this cookware set, it is holding up excellently. No problems with the Teflon coatings and no problems with wear or tear. This set can also be used in the dishwasher, and so far, the finish on these items is still excellent. They are easy to use and easy to clean, and the set still looks brand-new. What more can we ask for? This cookware set easily beats other sets costing 10 or 20 times as much money. Highly recommend and five stars!”

T-fal C530SC Signature Nonstick Expert Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Safe Cookware Set, 12-Piece, Black
$63, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Glass Lids

4.2 stars, 2,057 reviews
“I love this set. [The pots and pans] are solid and durable. While this set is inexpensive, it is not a cheap, thin set. They are very well-made and cook evenly on a gas-range stove. You can also bake in any of the pots and pans because they are metal all the way through. The only issue I have with the set is, the handles are metal and can get very hot … I keep pot holders and oven mitts on hand at all times. I would absolutely buy this set again and recommend it to others who want a good, solid set that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
$52, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Stainless-Steel Lids

4.5 stars, 3,523 reviews
“I love these pans. Fantastic buy for the money! My favorite part is the MultiClad not only on the bottom of the pans, but on the sides. The pans heat so evenly, and that makes a difference in the food. It is a superior-quality stainless-steel pan set. Pans all weighted really good, the lids fit perfect[ly] … Food cooks wonderfully both on stove top and in the oven. They clean very easily—if food sticks a bit, or more than a sponge removes in a wipe, soak a bit in plain water then wash, super easy. I immediately ordered a set for my daughter and her family for Christmas.”

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
$197, Amazon

Best 15-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 1,990 reviews
“This cookware set is really amazing, each piece heats evenly and they are so convenient to use and clean. They have even created fewer dishes in the sink because I am now able to cook more in one pot or pan when I used to have to use multiples at one time. I did not realize how much easier cooking could be with the right cookware. They are also very cute, bright colors and cool shapes to them. Beware of the ones without rubber handles; always use a pot holder as the heat conducts to the ceramic handholds.”

Vremi 15 Piece Nonstick Cookware Set - Multicolor
$46, Amazon

Best 17-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 4,161 reviews
“I purchased this set after buying several sets of cheaper cookware over a few years. I’ve had this set for over a year, and I still love it! So worth the money! First off all, they feel heavy-duty without being too heavy! The coating is great, and even stands up to the few times my husband or son have used them, which says enough right there! My eggs cook like a dream! No sticking, even without adding oil! I love that I can stick them in the oven, makes it so much easier when I want to sprinkle a topping on a skillet dish and still cook it. These are so easy to clean! Just a sponge and hot, soapy water. No need for soaking!”

Cuisinart 66-17N Chef’s Classic Non-Stick Hard Anodized, 17-Piece Set, Black
$161, Amazon

Best 18-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.1 stars, 1,899 reviews
“I loveeeee these pans! … The nonstick is no joke. I’m not the best chef out there, I haven’t burned anything on these pans yet, but seriously, nothing sticks on these pans. Everything slides off so easily — it makes for a simple happiness in life. I loathe washing pans because food gets stuck to them, and it takes muscle and willpower to scrub them off. With these, I just wait for the pans to cool, soak them in warm water (if tidbits of food [or] grease are really stuck), and just wash no problem, no ridiculous amount of effort exerted. With proper care, I can see these lasting a long while. So happy to have them! And they make learning how to cook more enjoyable.”

T-fal B165SI Initiatives Nonstick Inside and Out Dishwasher Safe 18-Piece Cookware Set, Red
$83, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

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The Tax Plan May Keep This Deduction for Teachers, but Their Financial Woes Continue

The Tax Plan May Keep This Deduction for Teachers, but Their Financial Woes Continue

by Jenny Muniz @ Slate Articles

In Eliza Harris’ seventh-grade classroom, one can hardly tell that it resides within the poorest ZIP code in San Antonio, Texas—a city with one of the largest income inequality problems in the country.

A large poster hangs above the whiteboard with the words “Growth Mindset” boldly stamped in silver bubble letters. A cursory glance to the right reveals an aged shelf jam-packed with books—among them, countless volumes of the much-requested tween comedy novel Diary of A Wimpy Kid. And on her desk, there is a predictable assortment of goods: pencils, markers, a pack of Elmer’s glue, a foot-high stack of lined paper.

Like many other teachers across the country, Eliza spends a significant amount of money every year preparing her classroom to meet her students’ needs. In addition to what is visible within the room, she also pays out-of-pocket for afterschool tutoring snacks, instructional materials to compensate for outdated textbooks, and tissues and Lysol wipes to keep widescale contagion at-bay. She estimates that the sum of her yearly personal expenses is a whopping $800.

When asked why she chooses to personally finance her classroom, Eliza is frank: “I do it because it’s my job. Without essential items like pencils, pens, notebooks, glue, and books, learning wouldn’t happen. It’s my job is to ensure learning happens.” She is not alone; 99 percent of teachers do the same, according to a nationwide Scholastic survey.

The same survey estimated that teachers spend an average of $530 out-of-pocket for classroom supplies per year. Teachers who work in high poverty areas shoulder a larger burden—spending about 40 percent more than their peers in wealthier areas. This comes as no surprise when per-student spending has dropped steadily in the last decade and in some states has slid below the amount spent before the Great Depression.

For their sacrifice, our current tax code allows teachers a $250 deduction. Teachers can deduct this amount from their total earned income for covering necessary materials regardless of whether they itemize their deductions. The fate of teachers like Eliza who take advantage of this tax deduction year after year were recently put on the chopping block in the GOP tax bill.

The tax bill House Republicans passed last month eliminated this small tax break for teachers completely. The Senate version of the bill, by contrast, expanded the teacher tax deduction to $500—an amount more in line with teachers’ real out-of-pocket spending.

When asked how she felt about the potential elimination of the tax break she uses every year, Eliza put her reaction simply: “I’m angry.” We all should be too. That House Republicans chose to include teachers in their ensuing tug-of-war between Senate Republicans reached a new level of moral turpitude.

On Wednesday, House and Senate Republicans reached an agreement a consensus tax bill they hope to send to the president’s desk by next week. The official text of the final bill has not been released yet, but sources have reported Republican lawmakers chose to keep the $250 deduction for teachers.

Such a decision is a small victory for teachers and female teachers especially, who would have borne the greatest negative impact had the tax deduction been scrapped. Currently, women comprise 76 percent of teachers in K-12, and 80 percent in elementary and middle schools. Of female teachers, women of color would have likely been hit the hardest, as they are more likely to work in the most needy and hard-to-staff schools.

But this victory will be short-lived for many teachers who still face a host of other challenges. With an average salary of $58,000 per year, teaching is not paid nearly as well as professions that require similar schooling or professions more populated by men. Moreover, statistics show that teacher wages are actually decreasing, even as cost of living continues to rise. Across all states, teachers earned 1.6 percent less on average in 2015 than they did in 2005, after adjusting for inflation. In some states, the drop was even more pronounced: Illinois teachers made 13.5 percent less in 2015 than they did a decade earlier.

It’s no surprise then, that the nation is facing a serious staffing crisis. In 2017 alone, thousands of positions went unfilled across the country according to a list compiled by the U.S. Education Department. In Arizona, the number of unfilled position was as high as 1 in 5. The profession is also experiencing a high level of attrition, with 8 percent of teachers leaving every year, according to a 2016 Learning Policy Institute report. And our ability to recruit and keep more teacher candidates is severely compromised by efforts to take away already-scarce benefits.

Our task now should be to elevate both the status and compensation of the teaching profession so that we can recruit good teachers that are a critical investment in our country’s future and who are educating the students who need good teachers the most.

The 23 Best Free Business Checking Accounts

The 23 Best Free Business Checking Accounts


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The Best VR Headset to Buy If You Don’t Want an HTC Vive

The Best VR Headset to Buy If You Don’t Want an HTC Vive

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

The one item you can find on the wish lists of 8-year-old boys, teenage boys, college students, and gamers alike this holiday season is a virtual-reality headset—and one of this year’s most popular and requested VR headsets is the HTC Vive. That’s for good reason. As Austin Evans, a tech reviewer with over 2.6 million followers on his eponymous YouTube channel, explains, “If you’re just straight-up going for ‘I want the best VR headset that money can buy,’ I would say the Vive is the way to go.” But the HTC Vive, and its closest competitor, the Oculus Rift, are both quite expensive ($599 and $399, respectively, and that doesn’t include the cost of the high-powered gaming PC required to run either system).

So which VR headset should you buy for your child (or much-loved adult) this holiday season if you don’t want to drop $599 on an HTC Vive? To help demystify the difference between HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR and any of the number of VR-headset options out there, I spoke to Evans and Judner Aura, another YouTuber and tech reviewer with 1.5 million subscribers on his channel UrAvgConsumer, about their favorite VR headsets for 2017 and the best VR alternatives to the HTC Vive.

Best Cheaper Alternative to the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, Overall

The affordable alternative to the Vive or Oculus—especially if you don’t already have a full gaming PC setup—is PlayStation’s VR headset. This device runs off of a PlayStation 4, which costs less than $300, so as Evans notes, “It’s possible to get an entire setup for $500-ish. And, of course, if you already have a PS4, it makes it just that much easier.”

The main drawback of the PSVR when compared to the Oculus or Vive is the quality. “The screens aren’t quite as clear; it’s not quite as high-performance,” says Evans, but what you lose in performance, you more than make up for in simplicity. That’s because all you have to do to make PSVR work is plug the headset into the gaming console. Plus, many of the PlayStation 4 games you may have already purchased, like Gran Turismo, support PSVR out of the box. That’s a huge advantage over the other tethered VR systems, because as Evans notes, “With pretty much all these other things, if you’re wanting to play a bunch of games, you’re generally going to have to rebuy them.”

So if you’re looking for a pretty-good VR headset for gaming that’s versatile, doesn’t require a ton of computer knowledge, and isn’t going to blow your budget, the PSVR is probably your best bet.

PlayStation VR
$309, Amazon

Best Mobile VR Headset, Overall

Mobile VR headsets, like the Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream View, differ from the Vive or Oculus because they “have a much smaller focus, so the idea is that it’s more about enjoying content versus playing games,” adds Evans. Of the two, both tech reviewers agree that the Samsung Gear slightly outperforms the Google Daydream. “I do think the Gear VR is a bit more robust and a bit more comfortable,” Aura says. The main drawback is that this headset is only compatible with Samsung Galaxy phones, so if you don’t already own one of those smartphones, it’s really not an option for you.

Samsung Gear VR With Controller (2017)
$124, Amazon

Best Mobile VR Headset Less Than $100, Overall

Even though Samsung Gear VR is more full-featured than Google Daydream, the main advantage of the latter is that it supports many different brands of Android phones, including models from LG, Motorola, Huawei, and of course, Google Pixel. The Google headset also works with Samsung Galaxy phones, but as Aura notes, “If you have a Galaxy device and you’re picking, you’re probably going to want to go with the Gear VR.” But if you’re looking for an option under $100, Google Daydream View is definitely where it’s at.

Google Daydream View
$79, Amazon

Best Mobile VR Headset for iPhone Owners

Though your kid might be able to turn their face into a giant poop emoji with the iPhone X, they won’t really be able to use it in a mobile VR headset. “The issue is, just because you can get VR capability doesn’t mean it’s going to be very good. And generally speaking, the iPhones aren’t really that great at VR,” explains Evans. “There’s a lot of optimizations on the hardware level and the software level that—even though it works on iPhone, and you could try it—typically speaking, I don’t like to recommend it, because it’s kind of not a great experience.”

That doesn’t mean that you can’t try if you’re really dedicated. There are some VR-compatible apps in the App Store that can be used with a generic VR headset; Evans recommends the Zeiss VR One Plus for an aftermarket VR headset that’ll help make the most of a less-than-ideal VR situation, and it’s cheaper than either the Gear VR or the Daydream View.

Zeiss VR One Plus Virtual Reality Smartphone Headset
$50, Amazon

Best Mobile VR Headset for the Fickle

“I would avoid the cheap sets. It’s just not a great experience, and I just feel like it sort of taints people’s perspective on what VR should be,” says Evans, and for the most part, Aura agrees. The one exception is, if you want to test the VR waters. “I think if you’re not looking to make a serious investment, those could be some decent options, just to kind of try it out and understand what it is,” Aura recommends, adding, “Google kind of did this approach with the Google Cardboard, where it was a very inexpensive headset that allowed you to try out VR and kind of get an understanding of what it is and how it functions.” It’s an inexpensive way to dip a toe into the VR waters. Just be warned that if you’re prone to motion sickness from VR, using one of these cheaper headsets, which are less calibrated than the more expensive ones, might exacerbate that issue.

Google Cardboard
$15, Amazon

Best VR Headset If Your Kid Doesn’t Have a PC, a PS4, or a Smartphone

Unfortunately, there is none, because there’s no way for you to use VR in 2017 unless you have a PC, phone, or PlayStation 4 to power it. But Google is currently working on a stand-alone VR headset, as is Facebook—so maybe 2018 is going to be your year.

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

A Case in Mississippi Raises Questions About the Legal Security of Nontraditional Families

A Case in Mississippi Raises Questions About the Legal Security of Nontraditional Families

by John Culhane @ Slate Articles

Hey, Daddy! is a monthly column exploring the joys and struggles of parenting from a gay father’s perspective. Got a topic idea or question for Daddy? Send your letter along to johnculhane19104@gmail.com.

Are our same-sex-parented families as legally secure today as we imagine them to be? Sadly, no. The 2015 marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges hasn’t stopped some courts and policymakers from trying to diminish the impact of that case, often by trying to fence the nonbiological parent off from any children the couple might have. The situation is sadder—and unforgiveable—when gay and lesbian former spouses try to exploit these outdated views against each other. A case currently before the Mississippi Supreme Court is the latest example of this damnable tactic, which diminishes every nontraditional family—straight and gay alike.

First, a little background: Before gay and lesbian couples could marry, their relationships to any children they raised were legally tenuous—especially for the nonbiological parent. Married couples were presumed to be the legal parents of any children born during the marriage, so same-sex couples faced a double whammy. First, without marriage, it was often difficult or impossible for the nonbio parent to gain parenting rights. That’s because, in many states, the nonbiological parent couldn’t adopt the couple’s child. Second, parent-child bonds were too often tragically sundered when the couple split up because many state courts held that the nonbio partner had no legal rights to the child. Although some courts developed theories, such as de facto parenting (which is just what it sounds like), to protect children’s interests by allowing the exiled ex some contact with the child, the law was wobbly and inconsistent.

Once marriage equality was achieved, it was reasonable to think that this terrible situation would quickly disappear. The law presumes that a child born during a marriage is the child of both the mother who gives birth and the person to whom she’s married. Many courts have decided that this presumption of paternity can easily be applied to a same-sex couple even if the pater is, in a lesbian couple, a mater. (It’s a bit more complicated, but the presumption can also work with a gay male couple.) Marriage equality should have taken care of both of the obstacles gay and lesbian couples have faced: singleness itself, and, as a consequence, the problems with adoption.

It hasn’t always worked that way, though, because courts and even bureaucrats in some states have resisted the implications of Obergefell. So, smart lawyers encourage the nonbiological parent even in married couples to adopt any children the couple might be raising—whether that child is adopted or conceived through assisted reproductive technologies. It’s also important to have the birth certificate reflect the names of the two married people who are going to be raising the child. Last year, the Supreme Court had to compel the Arkansas Department of Health to list both same-sex and married parents on their child’s birth certificate.

The latest challenge comes from Mississippi. At the end of November, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in Strickland v. Day, a case pitting two divorced women, Christian Strickland and Kimberly Day, against each other, with their child the worse for the dispute. The couple married in Massachusetts in 2009. In 2010, the couple decided to have a child, and it was decided that Day would be both the genetic and the gestational mother, and the father would be an anonymous sperm donor. Then, in 2011, Kimberly Day gave birth to a boy (known as “Z.S.” in the judicial proceedings). The women agreed that they were both to be full parents and acted that way from the beginning.

The couple split up in 2014, and at some point thereafter, Day moved to cut off Strickland’s access to their son. Strickland took her to court, where the trial judge tried to split the baby, as it were. He found that Strickland’s relationship with their son gave her a quasi-parental status (called in loco parentis), and therefore visitation rights—but no more. Day is the “real” parent, said the judge. Why? Because even though Z.S. was born during the marriage, he wasn’t of the marriage, since same-sex couples can’t conceive a child without a third party. The judge suggested that Strickland somehow find the anonymous sperm donor—the “natural father,” according to the judge—and have his rights terminated. (Even though the judge also noted that this mystery man “may never be known, and probably won’t be.”)

This “during the marriage”/“of the marriage” distinction isn’t a thing, though. If it were, then any kids born to married couples as the result of assisted reproductive technologies (whether sperm or egg donation, or possibly even in vitro fertilization) would be at risk of losing one of their parents. It’s not only gay- and lesbian-headed families that are made contingent by such inanity, which finds no support in the case law.

What will the Mississippi Supreme Court do? I wish I could write with certainty that the justices would simply overrule the lower court’s decision, allowing Strickland to enjoy full parental status in her relationship with Z.S. That’s probably what will happen, but two of the justices have gone on record with excoriating denouncements of the Obergefell decision. In 2015, the court upheld the issuance of a divorce decree to a lesbian couple over the strong objection of two of the justices who questioned the legitimacy of their marriage. Seizing on language from Chief Justice Roberts’ dissenting opinion in Obergefell, the Mississippi justices declared the decision “illegitimate” and therefore properly ignored it. This was predictable, because, as I wrote soon after the decision, the dissenting opinions “brim with the kind of intemperate language that seems calculated to foster disrespect for the rule of law.” So now Christina Strickland has to hope that these two radical justices don’t manage to cobble together a majority of four, using the marginally less crazy “during the marriage/of the marriage” contraption the trial judge made up.

Cases like this are a sharp reminder that our families are still less secure than traditional ones. That’s true for any family created through adoption or assisted-reproductive technologies—the judge’s decision in Strickland v. Day applies not only to same-sex couples but, in principle, to any couple needing outside assistance to create a family. It’s especially true for gay- and lesbian-headed families, though, because we’re also dealing with thick layers of discriminatory assumptions.

My family is as secure as it’s possible to be: We jointly adopted our children, and, though we couldn’t be married at the time, we are now. For a few reasons, there’s no realistic possibility that any third party could barge in and sunder our relationship to our daughters. For many thousands of queer families, though, the combination of biological preference and anti-LGBTQ prejudice means a family still under threat. Kimberly Day is now married to a man. Is that what triggered her attempt to exclude Christiana Strickland from her child’s life? Whatever the reason, it’s hard for our families to avoid worrying that some people still think our families are second-best placeholders until a traditional family appears. It’s up to courts and policymakers to underscore that our kids—and we—deserve better.

Advocates Have Found Five Qualities Associated With Sexual Violence. The Classical Music World Hits Four of Them.

Advocates Have Found Five Qualities Associated With Sexual Violence. The Classical Music World Hits Four of Them.

by Ellen McSweeney @ Slate Articles

Last week, the American sex abuse crisis reached the most elite and rarefied echelon of “entertainment”: the opera house. And while most Americans may never have seen The Marriage of Figaro, the classical music field is a surprisingly tidy case study in the environmental factors that make sexual abuse—and its cover-up—possible.

The conductor James Levine—who for four decades was the principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera—has been accused of sexual abuse by four different men, whose claims date as far back as the 1960s. Levine has denied the accusations, calling them "unfounded." Within the tightknit professional music community, rumors of Levine’s alleged behavior had long been an “open secret.” Now, it appears the lives of at least four young musicians may have been permanently altered by his alleged abuse of power.

Although the stories about Levine’s alleged abuse are heart-wrenching, he’s not a figure that means much to most Americans. The average person isn’t wringing her hands about whether she can still ethically enjoy Levine’s recordings. But mainstream society, now awash in tarnished names much more famous than Levine’s, can learn something from the #MeToo moment at the opera.

Classical music institutions like the Met don’t have to dig very deep in order to understand where things went wrong. Through decades of research, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center—which rose out of the feminist rape crisis movement of the 1970s—has identified five problematic norms that contribute to an environment in which sexual violence takes place. As a workplace and as an art form, classical music is at risk in four of them. (The fifth one, normalizing violence, is less applicable—but tolerance of aggression and victim blaming make it a harder one to eliminate than you might think.)

Norms about women. Oppression, objectification, and limited roles for women are all markers of an environment where people of all genders could become victimized. While women have been winning orchestra jobs in increasing numbers (particularly since the advent of the blind audition), the most revered roles in the industry—composer and conductor—are still largely reserved for men. Of 103 high-budget orchestras in the United States, just 12 have female conductors at the helm. And when the Baltimore Symphony surveyed the 2016–17 programming of American orchestras, it found that just 1.3 percent of the selected music had been written by women. Classical music still hasn’t placed enough women in positions of true power, and that means all of its workplaces are at risk.

Norms about power. Where unequal power dynamics live, sexual abuse can thrive. Unequal power relations and strict hierarchies are deeply ingrained into the functioning of almost every symphony orchestra. In a typical rehearsal, the power of the conductor is absolute: He makes every artistic decision, is the only person who speaks, and in many organizations is still referred to as “maestro” (which translates roughly to “master”).

Michael Lewanski, a conductor and assistant professor of music at DePaul University in Chicago, has experienced firsthand the tremendous power and reverence given to conductors. “The concentration of power in the classical music industry serves everyone poorly,” he said. “It puts many musicians and students in positions where they are powerless—or rather, positions where they have given away the power they have as humans. That’s how a well-meaning, hard-working teenager [like Levine’s accusers] ends up in a position to be exploited, sexually or otherwise, by a figure they’ve been trained to deify. And the conductor’s training is very much the opposite. His worst behaviors are enabled and excused.”

Norms about masculinity. Traditional constructs of manhood are another risk factor for a culture of sexual violence. And perhaps the most significant trope in professional classical music is that of the genius—the male genius. Using data gathered from more than 14 millions reviews on RateMyProfessor.com, professor Ben Schmidt of Northeastern University found that students in music were more than twice as likely to use the word genius about a male professor than a female one. (Music students were also more likely to use the word genius than students from any other discipline.)

The trope of the genius conductor remains persistent—even in coverage of his demise. On Dec. 6, as readers began to respond to the Levine accusations, the New York Times printed some letters to the editor under the exasperating headline: “Artistic genius and sexual misconduct.” Continuing to use this language is a perpetuation of the problem: It was precisely this insistence on male hero-worship that led to Levine’s impunity in the first place.

Norms about privacy. Overvaluing individual privacy fosters a climate of secrecy in which abuse can take place undetected—and a great deal of classical music training takes place in an extraordinarily private setting.

“Musicians choose a conservatory based almost entirely on a mentorship with one teacher,” said Patti Niemi, longtime percussionist of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. “We spend an hour a week behind a closed door. This teacher then has the opportunity to tell you he’s fallen in love with you, that you’re the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up, and to kiss you. With these powerful mentors, we have no options once the abuse begins.” Niemi’s book, Sticking It Out, chronicles the harassment and abuse she endured at the hands of her percussion teacher—and her ultimately triumphant struggle to continue her career.

Throughout his career, Levine too has appealed to the notion of privacy, deflecting questions about what he called his “private life.” In a 1998 interview with the Times, Levine said: “When you do your work in public, your biggest responsibility to that public is to do what is necessary to protect and develop your talent.” The idea here is that Levine’s talent—his genius—is a precious commodity that must be given quiet room to rest. But it was within this proverbial private space that Levine likely would have conducted his alleged abuse. By nurturing his and others’ right to privacy above security and scrutiny, classical music has likely lost a great deal of genius to unseen abuse.

The conductor of the Boston Symphony, Andris Nelsons, recently put his foot in his mouth when he asserted that sexual misconduct wasn’t a serious problem for classical music. Later, in some backpedaling remarks, he said: “Though involvement in music … can’t cure all the ills of society, I do believe [it] has the potential to help us reflect ... on the better angels of our natures. Or more simply put by Beethoven—the genius composer of the ‘Ode to Joy’ symphony, considered the universal anthem of brotherly/sisterly love—‘Music can change the world.’ ”

It would be nice to pretend that musicians worked in the same utopia Beethoven imagined centuries ago. But the workplace is not yet as beautiful as the art. Making the concert hall a more humane place will require a particular kind of creative work: the work of culture change. This is a task not for a lone genius, but for a symphony of ordinary human beings who choose not to avert their eyes or their ears.

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The Best Gifts for Music Lovers

The Best Gifts for Music Lovers

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that hard-core traveler, beauty junkie, or new mom in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or at least a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we asked 10 music lovers about the tiny noise-canceling headphones, covetable new records, and music books they want this year.

“This might be too obvious, but it’s true: For the past few years, I’ve asked for whatever new Kendrick Lamar album is out, on vinyl. I would like DAMN. this year, please. I can’t imagine a more foolproof gift for the young music lover in your life.” —Jenn Pelly, associate reviews editor at Pitchfork and author of The Raincoats’ The Raincoats

DAMN. Vinyl Record
$27, Amazon

“I want someone to get me Lizzy Goodman’s book Meet Me in the Bathroom. I’ve had an inside joke with myself ever since it came out, because everyone was like, ‘Have you read it yet? Have you read it yet?’ and I kept saying, ‘No, I’m going to wait for someone to buy it for me’ because it’s the most ‘me’ present ever. My bosses are quoted in the book, and it’s all about Interpol and the Strokes and all these bands that I love, and a scene that I care about. And I’ve bought it for a ton of my friends, and I think it’s funny that I haven’t read it yet. I’m just waiting for it to fall in my lap.” —Shira Knishkowy, music publicist at Matador Records

Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City
$18, Amazon

“One thing I always want for Christmas but never get is the 69 Love Songs album by the Magnetic Fields. I’ve never bought it for myself because I can never justify spending $100 on a box set for myself, but I keep hoping that I’ll someday get it for Christmas. It’s a pretty large accomplishment to make this sprawling album of 69 different styles and genres, with the one through line being that they’re all love songs. I think it’s the best indie-rock album of the ’90s, one of the best albums ever made actually, and I would love it on vinyl.” —Philip Cosores, deputy music editor at Uproxx

69 Love Songs Box Set
$85, Amazon

“This is on my ‘to read’ list. I love everything Murakami does, and this especially looks great. The first book of Murakami’s that drew me in was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, meditations on running and life, wrapped in a memoir. Before devoting his life to writing, he ran a jazz bar in Tokyo, and the influence of music runs through his novels. Here in Absolutely on Music, he’s in conversation with his friend and conductor, Seiji Ozawa, of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I’m no runner, nor particular fan of classical music, but I’ll happily go on this excursion with him.” —Karl Henkell, editor-in-chief of Record

Absolutely on Music: Conversations
$19, Amazon

“This pocket operator is made by Teenage Engineering and comes in many forms. I already have the PO-12, which is a drum machine, but would love to expand my collection. The PO-14 is a great bass-line synthesizer with a sequencer and much more. What’s great about the pocket operators is, you can chain them together and sync them up to play music.” —Demo Taped, musician and producer

Teenage Engineering Sub Bass Synthesizer
$50, Amazon

“Brian Eno recently remastered a bunch of his solo records, the ones that are more pop-leaning. And they’re mastered at half-speed, so you play them at 45 rpm instead of 33 rpm, which is better for audio. They’re all records that I’ve wanted to own for a while and haven’t been able to track down a good copy. They don’t sell it in my local record shop, but they released Taking Tiger Mountain and Another Green World (which is one of my favorite records of all time), and I would love to get my hands on those.” —Caroline Marchildon, music publicist at Secretly Group

Taking Tiger Mountain LP
$31, Amazon

“This book is a collection of solutions for when you are stuck creatively. It offers different approaches to making music and finding inspiration. I think it would be a very useful tool to any producer. Feeling stuck happens to every artist at some point no matter the medium. This book would be a great way to get the ball rolling creatively.” —Demo Taped

Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers E-book
$10, Amazon

“I don’t have a Bluetooth speaker, so this is something that I’ve been wanting for a minute, but I was kind of overwhelmed by the choices. I feel like it’s such a convenient thing to have, even at home if you’re hanging out in the kitchen, for parties, or even for travel. I found one from Bang & Olufsen that’s not that expensive. It’s oval-shaped, it’s a really nice color, and is a nice, sleek size, so you could easily stow it away if you wanted. I feel like some of them are bulky or don’t look that great, but this one is a pretty reasonable price and it looks really nice.” —Caroline Marchildon

B&O Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker
$132, Amazon

“I wear these at every show we play and every show I attend. They’re perfect for a music lover who would like to continue listening to music for a long time.” —Lucy Dacus, musician

Pro 17 Hearing Protection
$185, Amazon

“This is an awesome, futuristic voice-controlled speaker, so it’s kind of like Alexa mixed with a speaker, which I really like. Instead of using a remote, it’s easier to just communicate with it. And Sonos is a really good product, so I’m excited to use it.” —Ilana Kaplan, freelance music writer and editor

Sonos One: The Smart Speaker for Music Lovers
$199, Amazon

“I used to have a pair of Bose headphones that an ex-boyfriend bought me, and they were amazing because I travel all the time. I’m on planes every other week, and they come in a really nice case that I can leave in my purse so I don’t forget them, and they don’t get lost or tangled in my bag. But then, of course, I did lose them about a year ago, and I’ve been missing them ever since. They’re so amazing: They’re really small and comfortable, but the sound quality’s amazing.” —Shira Knishkowy

Bose Quiet Comfort Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones
$249, Amazon

“After having kids, I’ve had to get rid of my sprawling turntable setup and record collection. This turntable stand centralizes all the gear plus record storage into a neatly organized space with a minimal footprint. It prevents the hobby from taking over your life.” —Peter Hahn, co-founder of Turntable Lab

Line Phono Turntable Station
$499, Amazon

“Ableton is one of our favorite DAWs (digital audio workstations) because of its user-friendly flow. The capabilities are endless with sound-engineering, and it’s also perfect to use on the go. Because we are traveling so much and always on airplanes, this DAW allows us to pull ideas from our head and build out demos super fast while we’re on the go.” —Trevor Dahl, Kevin Ford, and Matthew Russell of electronic music trio Cheat Codes

Ableton Live 9-Suite Multi-Track Audio
$639, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

How Much Interest Would You Earn on a Million Dollars?

by Jeff Gitlen @ LendEDU

“If only I had a million dollars in the bank.” Who hasn’t pondered that at one time or another? But have you ever wondered how much interest one million dollars earns per year? Interest rates on savings vehicles are currently still pretty low – ranging from a paltry 0.01 percent in a bank savings account […]

The post How Much Interest Would You Earn on a Million Dollars? appeared first on LendEDU.

The 8 Best Bank Promotions (Checking and Savings) in 2018

The 8 Best Bank Promotions (Checking and Savings) in 2018


The Dough Roller

Looking for the best checking accounts or savings accounts? These bank promotions can get you cash back when you open a new account and a top APR.

The Best Extended Car Warranty

by Philip Palermo @ Reviews.com

The Best Foundation

by Amanda Cole @ Reviews.com

WEEK 13: Automate Your System. Simplify Life, Experience More.

by Chad @ Wall Street Minimalist

Complete Financial System Your financial system is almost entirely set up. You have the best credit cards, checking account, savings account, “budgeting” software, and investing accounts. With so many moving parts, you can quickly become overwhelmed with staying on top of your finances. Today, we’ll show you how to automate […]

The post WEEK 13: Automate Your System. Simplify Life, Experience More. appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

How I Saved the Christmas Pageant

How I Saved the Christmas Pageant

by Catherine Trieschmann @ Slate Articles

It is an unspoken ecumenical truth that all Christmas pageants suck. That’s why, for many years, I avoided any involvement in the pageant at the Methodist church we attend in our small Kansas town. I can pinpoint the exact moment when that changed. It was when a bathrobed third-grader recited the worst line in the history of theater.

Five years ago, during a particularly uninspired pageant, we reached the scene in which the Angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, announcing, “Greetings! I bring you tidings of good news!”

In response, a shepherd replied, “Good news? You want some good news? My dad just saved money on his car insurance!”

The offense did not end there. To make matters worse, the congregation laughed. The third-grade shepherd grinned a sly grin and stuck that good feeling in his back pocket. Now, for the rest of his sweet life, he would never know the difference between a cheap laugh and a real one. It would have been unethical of me not to take action.

I’m a playwright. Not a famous one, but a working one, with productions in theaters around the country. When I try to explain my career to people in town, they usually think I’m making it up—the idea of someone working in professional theater seems as unlikely as voting for a Democrat. So it hasn’t been difficult to hide my bona fides from the school- and church-theater contingent who will eat your time like piranhas if you hint at any experience hanging lights. It’s hard enough to hustle up paid work in the theater; the last thing I wanted to do was give it away for free. But this car-insurance quip crossed a line for me. Clearly, I had a moral duty to teach the children of my town how to cross stage left, speak into a microphone, and land a joke that wouldn’t make them feel dirty in the morning.

The next December, I took full responsibility for the Christmas play: writing, direction, and design. First, I threw out the script. I kept the main players—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—but axed the shepherds and wise men. Little boys and girls dressed as shepherds look ridiculous, and while the wise men do have an interesting story, the subplot about Herod murdering all the babies in Bethlehem would entail too much bloodwork for my first year.

I also nixed the “Biblical times” costumes the church stores in the basement. I know the women who made these costumes in the 1970s spent a lot of time on them, but I wanted an aesthetic that was a little more symbolic—Godspell, not Jesus Christ Superstar. Mary would look like a modern preteen with patched-up jeans and Taylor Swift T-shirt, someone wholly unprepared to give birth. I wanted Joseph to look like a drummer in a band, a little stoned but accepting of the unexpected, like Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s.

I kept the story simple yet tried to make it feel a little surprising: The kids would try to retell the story of the birth of Jesus but would keep getting the details wrong and have to go back to the beginning. They’d argue the finer points and re-enact the story as they went along—Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf meets A Charlie Brown Christmas. Postmodern, but orthodox.

Creative differences emerged immediately. The director of children’s ministry had this notion that we should cast children based on age and participation rather than talent. Given that most of the kids couldn’t sing, dance, act, project, or enunciate, it was imperative that we showcase those who possessed one (or, dare I hope, more?) of these skills. Our biggest fight occurred over the preschoolers. As soon as one peed his pants at the first rehearsal, I wanted to fire them en masse. Mrs. Children’s Ministry insisted they were too cute to fire. I told her that I, as auteur, had final veto power. That’s how it works in professional theater! Mrs. Children’s Ministry informed me things work differently in church.

I rewrote the play so the preschoolers only appeared in the first scene.

Staging was difficult, as each one of the under-rehearsed and hyperactive kids had to deliver her lines into one of four standing microphones because a local radio station broadcasts our church’s services for the infirm, the elderly, and truck drivers passing through on I-70. Precious rehearsal time was spent on these mikes: getting them to work, adjusting them for actor height, and, most of all, instructing the kids never to lick them under any circumstances. It didn’t help that the experienced broadcaster who ran the soundboard for the church could no longer hear very well.

We didn’t have much rehearsal time to spare, because none of the actors could ever find an hour free in their busy schedules. What happened to all the stage mothers? Aren’t there still women who want to vicariously luxuriate in the limelight through their children? Give me Mama Rose any day of the week! These parents just didn’t care. They excused their children from rehearsal for visiting grandparents, for a worrisome cough—but mainly for sports. We had six rehearsals. Six! For a play meant to be an offering to God, the creator of the universe! And you want Jalen to miss dress rehearsal for basketball practice?

Practice. Not even a game.

On the day of the show, the kids, giddy with excitement, blew their entrance. They ran to the altar in one big jumble. They settled down after “Rudolph”—which has no place in a Christmas pageant but was one of the few songs all the kids knew—and once the dialogue kicked in, they really found their groove. My child’s lines went over like gangbusters—giving your kid the biggest laughs is the best perk of the job—and I was starting to feel pretty smug about professionalizing this little community venture. Until Molly took her turn at the microphone.

Dressed to the nines as an angel, pigtailed, chubby-cheeked Molly stepped forward, shaking with a bad case of stage fright. Her face flushed, her chest heaved, and with tears streaming down her face, she quickly muttered her line: “For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a savior who will be Christ the Lord.” Then she let out a huge sigh of relief into the microphone, like a balloon slowly deflating but loudly amplified throughout the sanctuary by the hard-of-hearing sound engineer.

And in that moment, my inner Corky St. Clair melted away and gratitude rushed in: gratitude for Molly and how she rose to the occasion; for all the parents who schlepped their kids to play practice; even for the director of children’s ministry who put the kids and their needs first. And yes, for theater—because even when it’s bad, it can be so good for those doing it.

Since then, we’ve told the story of the Nativity from the perspective of the wise men and the stars in the sky over Bethlehem. I’ve dressed my kid in drag to play King Herod; I’ve even put the third-graders back into the shepherds’ bathrobes as a nod to pageants past. This year, the pageant’s central character was the innkeeper who turned Mary and Joseph away. I highlighted this moment in the story to explore how we treat immigrants and refugees, people who don’t look like us or talk like us, but whom Jesus tells us to welcome anyway.

Every one of the 46 kids got a moment to shine, and they all truly understood the play’s message. Maybe some members of the congregation did, too.

Best Bank Account Interest Rates - Summary for February 6, 2018

Best Bank Account Interest Rates - Summary for February 6, 2018


Deposit Accounts

These are the days when deposit accounts can be very appealing. When stock markets are tanking, it’s nice to know that nothing is dropping in your savings...

Project Potential Students Start 9th Grade with $13,000 Donation from HTB

by Scott Fahy @ HomeTrust Banking

Lexington, NC – HomeTrust Bank is pleased to be supporting the 2021 class of Project Potential. Entering 9th grade this month, a group of talented students are now back to school, and on the path to higher education thanks to a $13,000 donation from HomeTrust Bank. With much excitement, students and bankers celebrated this donation […]

The post Project Potential Students Start 9th Grade with $13,000 Donation from HTB appeared first on HomeTrust Banking.

How to Find the Best Checking Account for You - Bank of Southern California N.A.

How to Find the Best Checking Account for You - Bank of Southern California N.A.


Bank of Southern California N.A.

You may wonder how to find the best checking account for you and your needs. In general, checking accounts are some of the simplest and nicest financial products for using and spending money. Because of their typical low interest rates, it is recommended to use your checking account for money that you can easily accessRead more

Looking for Credit Union Student Loans? Here’s How to Find and Apply for Them

by Christy Rakoczy @ Student Loan Hero

Do you need private student loans to cover the cost of your education? Though many prospective borrowers head straight to a big bank or online lender for a student loan, these aren’t your only options. Consider student loans from credit unions, too. Like banks and online lenders, credit unions are financial institutions that lend money. […]

The post Looking for Credit Union Student Loans? Here’s How to Find and Apply for Them appeared first on Student Loan Hero.

New report names best wireless network for video streaming

New report names best wireless network for video streaming

by Mike Timmermann @ clark.com

Which of the major wireless providers gives you the best mobile video experience? A new study ranks them from best to worst!

Too good to be true? Discover Bank online savings account Review

Too good to be true? Discover Bank online savings account Review


finder US

Discover’s savings accounts offer a high 1.10% APY, $0 monthly fees and banking on the go. What else do you need to know?

American Express Personal Savings Account Review

by Jim Wang @ Wallet Hacks

American Express (AMEX) is best known for their credit cards but they do much much more. Credit cards is where they started, many years ago, but now they offer bank accounts too. We know they have great perks on their credit cards, but what about their bank products? Their high yield savings account is called […]

The post American Express Personal Savings Account Review appeared first on Wallet Hacks.

Five Good Things That Happened to American Workplaces in 2017

Five Good Things That Happened to American Workplaces in 2017

by Slate Staff @ Slate Articles

The past year brought us many reasons to worry about our chances of achieving that happy work-life balance we dream about—given the seemingly endless number of regulations and worker protections the Trump administration has cut, the major changes to the National Labor Relations Board, and now many questions about what the largest piece of tax reform legislation in history will do to our economy. Still, it’s worth remembering that even a tough year has a silver lining, and there is hope that our best work-lives are still ahead of us. From a national movement to snuff out toxic work cultures to state and local innovations for balancing work and family, 2017 offered some good with the bad.

Here, members of the Better Life Lab team at New America highlight five seriously good things that happened for American workplaces in 2017:

1. #MeToo

In September, the courageous voices of a few women set off a tsunami of disclosures of widespread workplace sexual harassment across sectors as varied as movie-making, news media, politics, and academia. Amplified by social media and the #MeToo hashtag that allowed women from all walks of life to share their experiences with harassment and make the case for its pervasiveness, the groundswell removed prominent men from their positions of power. More importantly, #MeToo and the surrounding disclosures, while horrifying, spurred a broader conversation about behavior in the workplace and sex and gender and power dynamics. Men and women are re-examining their workplace interactions and employers are thinking anew about how they create structures and processes to allow for victims to tell their stories and end these all-too-common abuses. —Amanda Lenhart

2. Schedule stability in Oregon

In August, Oregon became the first state in the country to pass a law ensuring schedule predictability and stability to the hourly workers of large employers. The law, which goes into effect in July, requires employers with more than 500 workers to give their employees advance notice of schedules (one week in 2018, two weeks in 2020), adequate rest (10 hours) between shifts, and the right to request certain shifts or workplaces—or pay a “predictability” premium. The law, which passed with solid bipartisan support, is designed to both put an end to the erratic and unpredictable schedules that wreak havoc on the lives, health, and livelihoods of hourly workers and to help businesses by creating a healthier environment for workers that will reduce costly absenteeism and turnover.

In recent years, increasingly erratic schedules have become the norm for the hourly workforce through a combination of new scheduling software and the pressure to cut labor costs. With behemoths like Walmart, McDonald’s, Home Depot, and Kroger, the retail and fast food sectors are by far the largest civilian employment areas in the United States. Pressure from online competitors like Amazon has forced what some call a retail jobs “apocalypse,” with, for instance, more department store jobs lost in the past 15 years than coal mining or factory jobs. The Oregon predictable scheduling law follows city ordinances in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York and is seen a model for legislation that lawmakers from both parties can support. —Brigid Schulte

3. Hawaii’s solution to the elder care crisis

In July, Hawaii passed the Kupuna Caregiver Assistance Act, ensuring that senior citizens in the state and their working family members have access to the elder care they need. The act grants primary caregivers who work at least 30 hours a week with up to $70 a day in assistance from professional home aides. Hawaii rose to face the challenges presented by an aging population and an extremely high cost of living, a challenge that the rest of the United States faces or will soon face. Working family members who also perform unpaid elder care, a role primarily held by women, can now remain in the workforce. The benefits of the Kupuna Caregiver Assistance Act extend beyond the family and into local businesses as employers can now retain valuable skilled workers.

The passing of this landmark legislation carries implications for the future of elder care in the United States. Hawaii’s program serves as a potential inspiration and a data source for how other states could enact similar legislation. For American workers increasingly sandwiched between their careers and the need to provide care to kids and their aging parents, Kapuna represents a badly needed path forward. —Roselyn Miller

4. Paid parental leave in San Francisco

Life got a lot easier for many working parents in San Francisco this year. That’s because the city passed a new paid parental leave law and became the first city in the country to offer six weeks of fully paid parental leave. It officially went into effect in January. Even before that, California was already a good place (compared with other states) to have a kid: It pays 55 percent of a worker’s salary for up to six weeks. This new city law requires that employers pay the 45 percent difference, and it was expected to raise the average weekly salary from $743 to $1,351. It could make an especially big difference for low-income populations that don’t work for big tech giants and don’t have access to generous leave policies.

Unsurprisingly, the business community’s reaction to the new law has been mixed, and some economic analysis has suggested it could slow hiring and job creation. But right now, it’s impossible to predict the ultimate outcome and impact on families and on business at large. And it’s impossible to know whether it could or should be a model for other cities. But it is possible to applaud San Francisco’s spirit of experimentation—of trying something rather than nothing and for giving the rest of the country a starting point for action. —Elizabeth Weingarten

5. The rise of remote work

As one of only two countries in the world offering zero weeks of guaranteed paid leave to workers for family or health crises (alongside Papua New Guinea), the U.S. workforce is desperate for more jobs that don’t require onsite, regularly set shifts. And 2017 seems to have made even more managers and workers converts to the glories of flexible working than ever before. According to a 2017 report from FlexJobs, a service that helps companies recruit flexible workers, remote working has increased by 115 percent in the past decade. With the uptake of new technologies like Zoom, for all your video conferencing needs; Slack, for regular interoffice chatting and info-sharing; and seemingly endless options for finding pop-in co-working spaces in your own neighborhood, the reasons for employers not to accommodate teleworking are fewer than ever.

To help meet these needs, a new job board, Werk, exclusively connects job-seekers with companies that want to attract remote and flexible workers. The demand for setups that allow Americans to both live and work at the same time is here. Here’s to hoping 2018 is the year more workplaces step up to meet it. —Haley Swenson

Avoid Being a Victim of These Five Top Reported Cyber Scams Part 2

by Melina Delis @ Bank of Southern California N.A.

To continue with Avoid Being a Victim of These Five Top Reported Cyber Scams Part 1, below are the remaining cyber scams: 4. Advance Fee Loans and Credit Arrangers – These loans or credit are offered in exchange for an upfront fee. Realize that any reputable lender will ask you to provide your credit history beforeRead more

The post Avoid Being a Victim of These Five Top Reported Cyber Scams Part 2 appeared first on Bank of Southern California N.A..

The Best Wedding Insurance

by Philip Palermo @ Reviews.com

The Best Credit Cards for Luxury Hotel Stays

The Best Credit Cards for Luxury Hotel Stays

by Nick Ewen @ The Points Guy

One of the most exciting developments in the hotel loyalty industry in early 2018 came via Hotels.com and Capital One, announcing a new partnership whereby cardholders of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card will earn 10x miles on purchases made at Hotels.com/venture. This catapults these two cards …

Three Companies That Show Taking the Benefits High Road Is Good for Business

Three Companies That Show Taking the Benefits High Road Is Good for Business

by Julia Beck @ Slate Articles

Not a day goes by where we aren’t hearing more about difficult and toxic workplaces. But what about the companies that are trying to get it right? During the Obama administration, the notion of improving America’s work culture as a means to higher profits generated a great deal of excitement at the Department of Labor and beyond. The DOL laid out the concept of “High Road Employers,” a 2013 white paper which outlined how companies can focus on people, the planet and profits as part of a successful business strategy. Under the current administration, the concept of High Road Employer hasn’t been front and center, and the American Sustainable Business Council has been one of the organizations left to carry the mantle of this work.

In October 2017, the ASBC came out with their own research showing that companies who invested in promoting family-friendly benefits, flexibility, fair living wages, cultivated inclusion, engaged with communities, for example, could improve retention of quality employees, earn better results from contractors and vendors, and attract fast-growing numbers of consumers who want to buy from values-based organizations.

Former Secretary of Labor Christopher Lu says, “The executives of these companies understand that their most asset is their workforce, so they’re rejecting the false choice between treating their employees with dignity and improving their company’s bottom line.”

Here are three examples of very diverse companies who are embodying some of these principles and reaping the benefits:

Badger Balm: “More than a dozen babies have come to work here.”

Founded in 1995, Badger Balm is a family business that employs 100 individuals (125 during peak sunscreen season) in their headquarters nestled in the woods of rural New Hampshire. Their earth-friendly products were born with a focus on environmental sustainability. The company is known for high standards through their entire process of product development, production, and distribution. They apply the same quality-focus on those who work with them.

Their daily organic lunch, for example, came about when the company was just a few years old. Back then, co-founder Bill Schwerin made soup for lunch for everyone on Fridays. The soup-making still happens, but now two professional cooks feed about 100 team members five days a week.

The whole of Badger Balm operation strives to create a supportive and family-friendly workplace where all employees are treated as valuable members of the community. Employees are encouraged to voice their opinions and make suggestions. Their production and shipping areas, are in light-filled, wood-beamed rooms: not the usual dark and dirty warehouse one might imagine. There, employees benefit from supports and policies including 40 hours of paid health time for themselves or to care for a family member, flexibility programs (think sick child or school conferences), paid leave for primary and secondary caregivers (applies to adoption or foster parenting as well), extended parental leave (where someone’s job is held for up to six months), $800 in annual wellness funds, and child care reimbursements.

Their “Babies-at-Work” program allows employees to bring their babies to work after their family leave for the first six months of life and care for them while doing their jobs that gets the most attention. Deirdre Fitzgerald, marketing and PR manager shares, “more than a dozen babies have come to work here.”

Badger is located in rural New Hampshire, so the area doesn’t have a huge pool of potential employees to pull from, making retention a crucial part of the company’s success. When asked how these commitments have played and paid off, Deirdre said, “Badger has always been a family-friendly workplace, and our policies around flexibility play a big role in how people feel about working for the company and how long they stay. This has led to virtually zero recruitment costs, and in a recent employee survey, 100 percent surveyed felt their manager respected their work-life balance, 82 percent reported feeling highly engaged, and more than half plan to stay at Badger for more than five years. People seek us out, and once they join the team, they remain because of our unique culture and approach to business.”

TCG, Inc.: “The cost of not doing something is bigger than the cost of doing something.”

Daniel Turner, father of four, runs the Washington, D.C.–based TCG, a 23-year-old Federal IT services company with nearly 150 employees. He participates in ASBC events and is active in the local and national fight for Paid Family Medical Leave. Why? His “do the right thing” attempt to cover leave for his employees out-of-pocket several years ago nearly destroyed his small business. Out of his 28 employees at the time, 12 took the 6-week parental leave TCG offered, at a cost to the business of hundreds of thousands of dollars - well more than TCG’s profit for the year. Turner took took a step back and recalibrated. Instead of six weeks of leave, TCG now offers three. He is hoping the government will provide the support needed so he can offer a good amount of paid parental leave. “This is what my organization stands for, caring for the team we have built. Not being able to offer what I know is right is extraordinarily frustrating,” says Turner.

Over the years, while TCG has not been able to increase the parental leave amount for fear of a similarly fertile year, Turner has been able to add other benefits. Ultimately, Turner shares, “It’s an economic challenge. Happy employees are more engaged, more committed, and that results in a higher level of work output and loyalty.” TCG now offers a wide range of “soft” benefits like tickets to the Kennedy Center or to Washington Nationals games, fitness contests and gym reimbursement, and even financial education. The workplace is highly flexible, which can increase worker happiness and productivity and costs the company nothing—and more than half of employees work from home. Those who do come to the office, are reimbursed for paid metro passes, bikes or even walking shoes. ($75 two times a year!) New employee integration is another commitment Turner takes quite seriously. “I will lose them quickly,” he notes, “if I don’t take the care necessary to integrate them well.” That translates into a three-month program to on-board including items to be completed three weeks prior to the employee’s start date. And for Turner, the payoff is in finding and retaining outstanding, committed talent.

TCG has won numerous awards for being a great place to work. What else is TCG good at? Per Turner, he’s also proud of winning and retaining contracts.

“Our reputation is what propels us forward and that is all about our people, I believe that the people part of equation, the whole person, is not only what differentiates us. It is what keeps us successful—being recommended over and again,” he says.

Levi Strauss & Co: “Profit through principals is in the company’s DNA.”

Levi Strauss launched his business in 1853, that year he donated a percentage of his first-year profits to a local orphanage. The company’s commitment to community and the greater society has continued since.“A profits through principals approach to doing business is in the company’s DNA” boasted Amber McCasland, Senior Director, Corporate Affairs. They are proud of the ways they regularly step-up long before they are mandated. For example, Levi Strauss & Co. desegregated all factories in the 1940’s long before any laws were passed, developed an HIV/AIDS education program to help avoid stigma and prejudice as early as 1983, and even offered domestic partner benefits starting in 1991.

In 2011, The company saw an opportunity to go beyond compliance and invest in programs that focused on improving the lives of supply chain workers through their ground-breaking Worker Well-Being Initiative. The program which applies to factory workers all over the world, like India and Egypt, focuses on financial literacy, health education and services, and has even piloted childcare programs. Its goal is for the education they are providing to also be spread through the larger community where their garments are made. “Worker Well-being was created as a proprietary program but we quickly realized that we could have greater social impact through transparency,” McCasland says. An ongoing research program in conjunction with Harvard School of Public Health has been measuring the impact of the program. It’s been successful at decreasing turnover and absenteeism while increasing engagement and productivity among workers. Factories are seeing up to a 4:1 ROI on worker well-being programs, meaning, for every dollar a factory owner puts into these programs they see up to a $4 return on the above metrics.

As for their supply chain, Target was influenced by LS&Co.’s Workers Well-being approach and has since set its own goals related to improving worker well-being for the people who manufacture products sold in Target stores.

LS&Co. is engaging with other brands as well—there is a collaborative effort to create a common roadmap for efforts to improve the well-being and engagement of factory workers.

Learning about the success of these employers makes taking the high road seem like an obvious, practical and simply smart business decision. These principles can clearly come through to employees, clients and consumers, and can define a company’s brand and future. And though the Obama-era culture of promoting high road businesses has past, luckily for us, these companies are still in business.

Requirements to Get Your Personal Loan Approved

by Marty Minchin @ MagnifyMoney

For the right consumers, personal loans can be a quick way to get much-needed cash for anything from a home repair to a college tuition. With the right qualifications, you can be approved for a personal loan in the morning and have the cash deposited into your account in as little as one day depending … Continue reading Requirements to Get Your Personal Loan Approved

The post Requirements to Get Your Personal Loan Approved appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

David Harris Joins HomeTrust as County Executive

by Scott Fahy @ HomeTrust Banking

Asheville, NC   – HomeTrust Bank is pleased to announce that David Harris has joined HomeTrust Bank as Vice President and County Executive for the bank’s Cleveland, Gaston, Polk and Rutherford County Markets in North Carolina.  Jonathan Jobe, Senior Vice President, and Regional President, commented, “David is a proven banker and experienced leader.  He brings a […]

The post David Harris Joins HomeTrust as County Executive appeared first on HomeTrust Banking.

The Best Gifts for Every Type of Boss

The Best Gifts for Every Type of Boss

by Strategist Editors @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Buying a gift for your boss can be a potential minefield. Spend too much and you risk making her feel uncomfortable. Spend too little and you might as well not get anything at all. We went and found gifts for every type of boss there is, all of which hit that perfect sweet spot between too personal and just personal enough.

For the Frazzled Boss

Don’t try to get them to bullet journal (not happening). Instead, try a productivity planner with inspirational mantras and proven organizational techniques.

Productivity Planner
$25, Amazon

For the Frazzled Boss Into Florals

If your boss needs a reason to get into a 17-month planner, what better one than this gorgeous illustrated version from Florida company Rifle Paper Co.?

Rifle Paper Co. 17-Month Planner
$34, Amazon

For the Boss With a Sad Office Desk

Zhuzh it up with an optimistic succulent in a neat, clean-lined terrarium.

Tabletop Succulent Planter
$23, Amazon

For the Boss With Office-Chair Posture

Those cheap desk chairs do a number on your back, but the BackJoy forces you to sit better (here’s another chair add-on we love for better chair posture, too).

BackJoy SitSmart Posture Plus
$40, Amazon

For the .0001 Percent Boss

If your boss is megarich (and has a sense of humor), a tongue-in-cheek take on the very moneyed class, in the vein of The Official Preppy Handbook.

The Official Filthy Rich Handbook
$10, Amazon

For the Thirsty Boss

Our very favorite water bottle—and coffee thermos and beach beverage holder—is something your boss won’t even know they needed.

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Water Bottle
$24, Amazon

For the Extra Thirsty Boss

When your boss needs something a little stronger than coffee, you can’t beat the original Stanley flask (throw in a mini bottle of bourbon for good measure).

Stanley Classic Flask
$12, Amazon

For the Boss Who’d Rather Be Golfing

We get it—something about the back nine and par and a birdie or whatever. Now they can putt in the office.

Putt-A-Bout Par 3
$34, Amazon

For the Fit Boss

The new super-slim Fitbit tracks steps and sleep patterns but is also swim-proof—for the triathletes who have to clock in.

Fitbit Flex 2
$60, Amazon

For the Youth-Obsessed Boss

Save this for a boss you’re chummy with (it can come off as, um, insulting), but the power of retinols for reducing fine lines and wrinkles is undeniable.

Radha Beauty Retinol Moisturizer
$19, Amazon

For the First-In, Last-Out Boss

Not subtle by any means, but gifting them Arianna’s book on the importance of work-life balance may be the best gift they (and you) every get.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington
$12, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Obsessed With Luke

A lot of Stars Hollow–themed gifts are too cheesy to use in real life—this mug is actually cute, even if you’re not a Gilmore fan.

Gilmore Girls Luke’s Mug
$15, Amazon

For the Boss With Low Blood Sugar

Healthy(ish) snacks from Today show health expert Joy Bauer.

Nourish Snacks Monkey Love
$19, Amazon

For the Yoga-at-Lunch Boss

A gym bag doesn’t have to look like a gym bag—this one from Baggu’s cool enough for work, weekend, and even a night out.

Baggu Basic Tote
$180, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Always Cold

Help them regulate the temperature with a cozy Pendleton wool blanket.

Pendleton Eco-Wise Washable Throw
$119, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Stressed

Our favorite stress-relief toy: a rubbery sand mixture that’s a tactile delight. Just squeezing and releasing the sand clears the tension.

Kinetic Sand
$20, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Really Stressed

When Kinetic Sand just won’t cut it, a Shiatsu kneading massager for head, back, and feet may be the big-ticket item that does the trick.

Gideon Shiatsu Kneading Massage Pillow
$35, Amazon

For the Boss Who Packs a Lunch

Make it fun and stackable with a dishwasher- and microwave-safe set of bento boxes.

Monbento Boxes
$33, Amazon

For the Boss Who Needs a Reading Light

A desk lamp that doesn’t look like a desk lamp, this Scandinavian mixed-media version could belong in a museum.

Tomons Scandinavian Reading Light
$35, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Better Than the Supply Closet

No generic No. 2’s for them! The Japanese-made Midori brass pencil case gives everything they write extra gravitas—it saves pencils that are down to their last nubs, too.

Midori Brass Pencil Case
$28, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The 6 Best Small Business Checking Accounts for 2018

The 6 Best Small Business Checking Accounts for 2018


Fit Small Business

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best small business checking account, including costs, terms, and physical locations. Take a look at how the best checking accounts compare for small businesses.

#MeToo Is a National Security Issue

#MeToo Is a National Security Issue

by Elizabeth Weingarten @ Slate Articles

On Tuesday, a group of 223 women—former and current ambassadors, diplomats, and other ranking national security officials—became the latest group to shine light on an industry where sexual harassment and assault have been normalized and perpetuated for decades: the field of national security.

“Many women are held back or driven from this field by men who use their power to assault at one end of the spectrum and perpetuate—sometimes unconsciously—environments that silence, demean, belittle or neglect women at the other,” they wrote in an open letter to the national security industry that they titled #metoonatsec. “Assault is the progression of the same behaviors that permit us to be denigrated, interrupted, shut out, and shut up.”

Though this kind of abuse is destructive in any industry, these behaviors in the national security industry in particular could also make all of us less safe.

We know from research that women’s inclusion at all levels of national security policy and practice—as peacekeepers, in post-conflict reconstruction, as policy officers and policymakers—and their overall safety are linked to the security and stability of states. We also know that diverse teams make better decisions and function more effectively than homogenous ones and that male-dominated teams can make riskier decisions and may be more susceptible to abuses of power. And yet, while women enter many national security institutions at near parity with men, they hover at about 34 percent of senior leadership positions at many agencies. It seems pretty obvious that if we want to make smarter and more effective national security policy and decisions, encouraging more gender diversity—and figuring out why women leave—is a good place to start.

Jenna Ben-Yehuda, who co-authored the #metoonatsec letter with Ambassador Nina Hachigian, recalls a moment a number of years ago when she shortlisted for a role in the National Security Council. Ben-Yehuda, who spent more than a decade as a State Department official, came in to interview for the NSC role prepared to answer questions about her background on multilateral negotiations and human rights. “Among the first questions I was asked was, ‘What are your child care arrangements?’ ” said Ben-Yehuda. “I was flabbergasted, and mumbled some semicoherent response, that I had really excellent child care and it wasn’t going to be an issue. They said they heard I had children. And I said, yeah, I’d love to tell you what I’ve done on human rights.”

Later, the interviewers told Ben-Yehuda they didn’t think the position would be a good fit because the hours were so long, and they didn’t want to put her in that position. To her, it felt like an abrupt 180-degree attitudinal shift. It was hard not to question how and whether Ben-Yehuda’s role as a mother—and the assumptions the interviewers carried about what that meant—factored into the decision.

And then there were the mornings earlier in her career as an intelligence briefer. Ben-Yehuda would come into the office at 6 a.m. and prepare briefs for the senior State Department officials, all of whom were male. As the men strolled in at 7 a.m., they’d start to discuss who they found most attractive in the office and who they most wanted to pursue, treating Ben-Yehuda to a dialogue of salacious, obscene comments about her colleagues.

“That kind of workplace behavior creates a permissive environment for more severe and inappropriate behaviors to take hold,” Ben-Yehuda said. “People don’t wake up one day and decide to assault people. They’re constantly looking for what would be tolerated within a context. In an environment where people bring the personal to the professional, it erodes those lines.”

Which is in part why she and the other letter authors explicitly called out toothless policies and the cultures that erode their power. “The institutions to which we belong or have served all have sexual harassment policies in place,” they wrote. “Yet, these policies are weak, under enforced, and can favor perpetrators. The existence of policies, even good ones, is not enough.”

And because sexual harassment policies are severely under-resourced, there’s an extensive backlog of pending cases, which can mean that victims work alongside their abusers for months, said Ben-Yehuda.

That seemed to be the case for one midlevel female foreign service officer, who shared her story with me recently. This woman, who preferred to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of her current post, was sexually harassed twice while on overseas tours and sexually assaulted a third time when she was forcibly kissed by a man who played a key role at a Middle Eastern embassy. She decided to formally report that third incident. About two months later, the State Department’s Office of Civil Rights deposed her and her assailant. Months went by. She assiduously steered clear of the places where she knew her assailant would be present—the cafeteria, social gathering spots—but it was impossible to avoid him entirely.

Six months later, she finally had a verdict: The case was inconclusive. Her assailant claimed that she’d kissed him, and there was no proof to suggest otherwise. The outcome of the case was one reason that she left the post shortly thereafter, deeply disappointed by a group of people who she had trusted. “The State Department didn’t protect me when I was trying to protect the American people,” she told me.

And so she and the other #metoonatsec authors are pushing for a conversation shift away from outcomes to prevention and constructive solutions. They suggest, for instance, multiple channels for women to report incidences without retribution, mandatory exit interviews for all women leaving federal service, and a clear message from leadership that these behaviors won’t be tolerated.

The attrition of women due to sexual harassment represents “a loss to our ability to craft thoughtful, creative, comprehensive solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems,” said Ben-Yehuda.

To a casual observer, it may have looked like the national security industry was starting to take these issues seriously earlier this fall. Indeed, research about gender inclusion and security underpinned the bipartisan Women, Peace, and Security Act, which President Trump signed into law on Oct. 6. Among many of its objectives, it mandates that the Department of Defense, the State Department, and U.S. Agency for International Development all prioritize women’s inclusion in overseas conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict recovery efforts, and to ensure incoming diplomats are trained in the research on why inclusion is an issue not just of social justice but of national security and policy effectiveness.

But what the #metoonatsec letter makes clear is that policy change without accompanying cultural change doesn’t drive real, sustainable change. How can the U.S. become “a global leader in promoting the meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention, management, and resolution,” as stated in the act, if it’s failing to promote and respect women inside its own institutions?

“This nation’s ability to solve hard problems rests on bringing all of the talent that we have to bear. Understanding harassment and assault as being a part of why women leave is really important,” said Ben-Yehuda.

After all, national security is just an illusion if half the population is unsafe.

The Oppressor’s Bookshelf

The Oppressor’s Bookshelf

by Heather Andrea Williams @ Slate Articles

This article supplements Reconstruction, a Slate Academy. To learn more and to enroll, visit Slate.com/Reconstruction

Adapted from Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom by Heather Andrea Williams. Published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Books were of course essential to teaching, but they were also scarce commodities within freed communities. In response to the Freedmen’s Bureau question, “What books do you use?” one Georgia teacher replied, “Any I can get.”1

His response underscored the overwhelming poverty of freedpeople and the challenge involved in establishing effective schools. In many freedpeople classrooms, student progress was hindered by a lack of books and other classroom necessities. Reverend Joseph Warren, the Freedmen’s Bureau Superintendent of Education for Mississippi, echoed teachers’ concerns in an 1866 report: “Not more than two of the school-houses have been properly fitted up with writing-desks, even of the most primitive kind. Some others have very little accommodation for writing; most of them none at all. This is owing to the poverty of the people, and to the large demands upon the funds of the benevolent societies.” Warren concluded, “unless better apparatus can be provided in our schools, justice cannot be done to the pupils.”2

Some teachers were fortunate enough to receive donations of one or two types of books from northern organizations, but the tool that African Americans used most frequently to decode written English was Noah Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book, popularly called “the blue-back speller.” This book, which insisted on an American pronunciation distinct from the English, was Webster’s contribution to the American Revolution. Having “thrown off the shackles” of English rule, Americans, Webster believed, should also renounce the language. Instead of “honour,” Americans would spell “honor”; instead of “publick,” “public.” By 1818, Webster’s book had sold 5 million copies.3 It was this little book that Frederick Douglass and countless other enslaved people used in their first steps toward literacy.4 And when slavery ended, adults and children, many of whom could not attend school, got hold of the blue-back speller and slowly taught themselves to read. The speller accrued emotional significance as the guide that helped individuals to decipher written language. At 87 years of age, John Walton expressed his sentimental attachment when he told an interviewer, “I learned to read and write a little just since freedom Us used Websters old blue back speller and I has one in de house to dis day and I wouldn’t take nothing for it.”5

At the same time, books with competing ideologies floated around the South: those that supporters of the Confederacy designed to inculcate values such as the morality of slavery and the inferiority of African Americans and those that white abolitionists produced to advise black people how to carry out their new roles as free people. African American teachers’ scramble to obtain even the most elementary spelling books to teach the most rudimentary lessons took place within a broader contest for control over what stories textbooks would tell and who would tell them. Both northern and southern white politicians and educators realized that even simple statements inserted into elementary spelling lessons could influence a new generation of readers and thinkers.6

In the late 1850s, as regional tensions heightened, southern white politicians and educators moved to take control of what their children learned in school. Long dependent on northern teachers and texts, they began a campaign to remove both from the schools of the coming Confederacy. White southerners began publishing books that would introduce into the classroom values that they held dear, interposing lessons deemed appropriate for a slave society into elementary reading and spelling books. In addition to the values of politeness, honesty, and hard work that northern spelling books included, the elementary texts set out to convince young, white, southern readers that black slaves were better off than poor whites, that slavery was a biblically approved institution, and that northerners, including the despot Abraham Lincoln, sought to deprive white southerners of their God-given rights.6

Marinda Branson Moore, one of the more prolific authors of Confederate textbooks, was intent on conveying to her young readers that preserving the status quo would be the best option for black people. In a book that began its lessons with the spellings of monosyllabic words such as cat and bat, Moore introduced reading lessons like this one to support her philosophy that freedom was worse than slavery:

1. Here comes old aunt Ann. She is quite old. See how she leans on her stick.
2. When she was young she did good work, but now she can not work much. But she is not like a poor white woman.
3. Aunt Ann knows that her young Miss, as she calls her, will take care as long as she lives.
4. Many poor white folks would be glad to live in her house and eat what Miss Kate sends out for dinner. 7

Moore also spiced her elementary geographical reader with judgments of black inferiority.8 Moore denoted clear distinctions among the “Races of men.” Europeans and Americans, mostly white or Caucasian, were more civilized and ranked far above the rest. They had churches, schools, and systems of government, and they treated women with respect. For Moore, the African or Negro race from Africa had no redeeming qualities. They were slothful, vicious, dull, and cruel to each other, selling their prisoners to white people as slaves. In Africa, they knew nothing of Jesus, and the climate was so unhealthy that white men could not go there to convert them. As a result, “the slaves who are found in America are in much better condition.” This is what the white children in the new schools of the southern Confederacy learned—lessons well-designed to perpetuate slavery and white supremacy.

With freedpeople’s schools opening just as these books reached the market, one can well imagine them falling into the hands of eager new black readers, transmitting the very lessons that the existence of freedpeople’s schools meant to counteract. However, not one African American teacher in post-emancipation Georgia reported using a recognized Confederate textbook. Even though they were desperate for books, black teachers, too, may have made political choices about what they would use in the classroom.

Following emancipation, abolitionists undertook a corresponding enterprise to produce textbooks for the freedpeople. Several northern whites produced books aimed at inculcating “northern values” into freed African Americans. In 1865 and 1866, the American Tract Society, a Boston-based Congregational Church affiliate, published The Freedman’s Spelling Book. The book aimed to explain rules very simply and to introduce words that related to “important practical subjects; as occupations, domestic life, civil institutions, morals, education, and natural science.” While teaching spelling and reading were of utmost priority, the publishers also wanted to impart practical information that would be of use to the freedpeople “in the new condition into which Providence has raised them.”

Aside from its name, at first glance, the Freedman’s Spelling Book did not appear to be so different from other contemporary northern spelling books. It presented lessons of etiquette and morality among the vocabulary words. Occasionally it was explicit, as in lesson 173, where it urged freedpeople to be economical: “A freedman should be provident; that is, he should provide for the future, and not be negligent.” Other messages tended to be more subtle and could be read to have mass appeal. However, when read simultaneously with another publication by the American Tract Society, Isaac W. Brinckerhoff ’s Advice to Freedmen, published in 1864 or 1865, it is easy to see how teachers with similar sensibilities and beliefs would have amplified the spelling books’ lessons in the classroom.9

Brinckerhoff, a white Baptist minister from Ithaca, New York, served as a plantation superintendent and teacher in the South Carolina Sea Islands from 1862–63. In his book, he addressed freedpeople directly, always with the condescending tone of a wise elder, introducing himself to them “as a friend who is doing all that he can to promote your welfare and the welfare of your people.” Brinckerhoff assured those who would read the book as well as those who would hear it read by literate friends that he saw human qualities in them. “Though you have for generations been a dependent and enslaved race, yet with many visible marks of degradation still upon you,” he told them, “there is evidence of a God-given manhood within, which only needs to be properly developed and rightly cultivated to make you happy, prosperous, and useful.”10

Both the Freedman’s Spelling Book and Brinckerhoff ’s Advice to Freedmen sought to instill African Americans with a sense of obligation and loyalty to northern white men. The spelling book paired an illustration of a white soldier being greeted by a small white girl with a story of five sentences. The man had just returned home from the war. He was glad to see his little daughter. “Let us be joyful that the war is at an end,” the story continued. “It was sad to see men die in battle, but it was to make us free. We will not forget all that God did for us.” This insistence to African Americans that white men had died to make them free neglected any mention that black men had also fought for their freedom. Brinckerhoff joined in this omission when he wrote, under the heading “How You Became Free”: “Many thousand households at the north are clothed in mourning, and many tears are shed for the dead who have been slain. With treasure and precious blood your freedom has been purchased. Let these sufferings and sacrifices never be forgotten when you remember that you are not now a slave, but a freedman.”11

In her lessons to white southern children, Marinda Moore reinforced a pro-slavery ideology that insisted African Americans were contented slaves who, even after being lured away by northern whites, returned to serve their former masters as loyal servants. Brinckerhoff, the white northerner, also represented himself as paternalistic caretaker, handing out advice to a benighted people. As Moore did, he too made claims on African American loyalty. While Moore’s textbooks influenced white boys and girls to believe that blacks belonged in slavery, Brinckerhoff’s book surely made it into freedpeople’s classrooms and into the spaces where freedpeople gathered to listen to the readers in their communities.

As African Americans announced to the world that they wanted to be literate, they found an odd collection of books in the libraries of their oppressors. Noah Webster created a book that renounced British conventions. Secessionist southerners declared their separateness from the rest of the nation with separate texts to indoctrinate their children. And white abolitionists celebrated the end of slavery while attempting to instill a sense of obligation in African Americans. Each of these actions signaled radical changes and underscored the political work that textbooks do. In the aftermath of slavery, African Americans were in no position to create their own textbooks to promote a worldview.

From Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom by Heather Andrea Williams. Copyright © 2005 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

1. School report of Tunis Campbell, Jan. 1, 1866, M799, roll 20, FBR.

2. Statement of Joseph Warren quoted in John W. Alvord, Second Semi-Annual Report on Schools and Finances, July 1, 1866 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1868), 7, reprinted in John W. Alvord, Semi-Annual Reports on Schools for Freedmen: Numbers 1–10, January 1866–July 1870 (New York: AMS Press, 1980).

3. Harry R. Warfel, Noah Webster: Schoolmaster to America (New York: Macmillan, 1936), 76; Paul Leicester Ford, “Webster’s Spelling-Book: Early American Text-Books Noah Webster’s Great Enterprise,” reprinted from the New York Evening Post, n.d., Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

4. Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, ed. David W. Blight (New York: Bedford Books, 1993), 63.

5. George P. Rawick, ed., The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, 19 vols. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972), vol. 5, pt. 4, p. 149.

6. Proceedings of the Convention of Teachers of the Confederate States, Assembled at Columbia, South Carolina, April 28th, 1863 (Macon, Ga.: Burke, Boykin, and Company), 18, in Confederate Imprints, 143 reels (microfilm; New Haven, Conn.: Research Publications, 1972), reel 113, no. 4009.

7. Marinda Branson Moore, The First Dixie Reader: Designed to Follow the Dixie Primer (Raleigh, N.C.: Branson, Farrar, and Company, 1863), 14.

8. Marinda Branson Moore, The Geographical Reader, for the Dixie Children (Raleigh: Branson, Farrar, and Company, 1863), 9–10.

9. American Tract Society, Freedman’s Spelling Book, 79; Isaac W. Brinckerhoff, Advice to Freedmen, vol. 4 of Freedmen’s Schools and Textbooks, ed. Morris.

10. Brinckerhoff, Advice to Freedmen, 16.

11. American Tract Society, Freedman’s Spelling Book, 22; Brinckerhoff, Advice to Freedmen, 6–7.

The Best Personal Finance Software for Taming Your Budget (In 2018)

by Emily Guy Birken @ PT Money

Pluto LogoManaging your money is a complex skill, especially now that you no longer have to leave the house or even pull out your wallet in order to spend money. That’s why it is more important than ever for you to track spending and stick to a budget. But the old school methods of budgeting […]

The post The Best Personal Finance Software for Taming Your Budget (In 2018) appeared first on PT Money.

The 7 Best Online Checking Accounts to Open in 2018

The 7 Best Online Checking Accounts to Open in 2018


The Balance

Read reviews and open the best online checking accounts companies including Capital One, Ally Bank, Schwab Bank and more.

How Two Bagels Earned Us $1,800

by Chad @ Wall Street Minimalist

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red A few weeks ago, we let you know about one of the biggest, most flexible and time-sensitive deals in the credit card game. The Southwest Companion Pass. Well this time around, we’re pretty excited to highlight another one of the best deals currently on the market: […]

The post How Two Bagels Earned Us $1,800 appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

Best Free Checking Accounts in Canada

Best Free Checking Accounts in Canada


Personal Finance Made Easy - Banking, Loans, Credit Card Advice | echeck.org

We cover some of the free checking accounts in Canada. They don't give much away for free in the North by the looks of these banks.

The Best Gifts for Gamers

The Best Gifts for Gamers

by Liz Stinson @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening (is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?), but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that college student, or serious home cook, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we found 10 gamers to tell us what they want for the holidays, from wireless earbuds to vintage-ish Tamagotchis.

“I had a chance to play around with the new, super-tiny rereleased Tamagotchi virtual pets at New York Comic Con, and its simple charm gave me a lot of nostalgia of owning one of those devices back in middle school. I think I still have an Angel Tamagotchi lying around in my apartment, but the brightly-colored mini ones have a lot of retro style.” —Amanda Cosmos, QA lead at Dots

20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Device
$12, Amazon

“The Mario Odyssey Switch is a perfect gift for nostalgia’s sake alone. We peaked early, when Super Mario 64 was at the top of everyone’s holiday wish lists, and Mario’s return brings us right back to fighting with our siblings over who got to jump into the castle paintings next (not to mention that the Switch is still cool, and we should get our own instead of demanding to borrow our one very annoyed friend’s own every week).” —Emily Sheehan and Claire Manganiello, creative team at Mother New York

Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo Switch
$55, Amazon

“Unlike the Apple AirPods, most people won’t notice you’re wearing Rowkin earbuds at all, and you’ll no longer accidentally rip your headphones out of your ears every single morning while frantically scrambling around for your MetroCard. They may be the earbuds that make a functioning adult out of you.” —Sheehan and Manganiello

Rowkin Bit Stereo: True Wireless Earbuds
$90, Amazon

“When I started playing this game, I thought I had it figured out after the first 15 minutes. I was completely wrong. The game took a completely unexpected turn early on, and from there on out, it continued to surprise and delight. Seemingly effortlessly, Edith Finch deals with some very powerful themes, driving them with an incredible marriage of story, dialogue, imagery, and kinetics. The game reminded me that perhaps we can form the shape of our future out of more than just the contours of our past.” —Ryan Cash, co-founder of Snowman and co-creator of Alto’s Adventure

What Remains of Edith Finch – Xbox One
$20, Amazon

“In a subtle but powerful way, I’ve actually found that Apple’s AirPods have changed the way I experience mobile gaming. In the past, I’d very rarely play games with headphones. As an audiophile, I’d only take them out under the perfect circumstances: if I was sitting at home, free of distractions, with dedicated time to spare. Cut to owning AirPods. Sure, they’re ultimately just wireless headphones. But it’s little flourishes like the case acting as a charger, the effort spent to reduce syncing speed, and automatic pausing as you remove them from your ear that make using them not just easy, but joyful. That consideration for making the mundane magical has led me to use headphones more often each day — listening to more podcasts, more music, and best of all, experiencing games with the quality of sound their developers intended.” —Cash

Apple Airpods
$172, Amazon

“This mid-priced, top-rated GPS unit is easy to use, lightweight, and is perfect for all outdoor geocaching (and archaeological!) action. It comes preloaded with topographic data, so you know your exact elevation.” —Sarah Parcak, TED Prize winner and creator of GlobalXplorer

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K With High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
$247, Amazon

“Connectivity is a constant at this point, but we all feel guilt around screen time. Toymail is a means by which adults can communicate with kids and have shared connectivity time. And the stuffed animals are really cute.” —Matt Harrigan, co-founder and managing director, Grand Central Tech

Talkie by Toymail: Hank a Dino
$40, Amazon

“I love horror games, and this one’s art and gameplay seem particularly interesting. It just came out this year, too.” —Laura Gatti, technical artist at Dots

Little Nightmares – PlayStation 4 Complete Edition
$34, Amazon

“It’s the perfect device for playing games on the go. Not only does it easily dock to your television, there are lots of great new games on it, such as Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. For those who are looking for something really versatile and social, it’s a perfect device.” —Jamin Warren, founder and CEO of Kill Screen

Nintendo Switch – Gray Joy-Con
$299, Amazon

“I’ve been surprised at how quickly mobile VR has advanced over the last couple years, and the Google Daydream View is a great upgrade if you’re an Android user looking to make the jump to one of Google’s new phones. It’s only $99, and unlike the more traditional black plastic design, a soft fabric cover might be a better fit for your personal style.” —Warren

Google Daydream View – VR Headset (Slate)
$86, Amazon

“We have a couple Sonos speakers at the office and we love them. The new Alexa integration for Sonos is a nice touch, but specifically, you can play some old-time adventure games from the early days of the PC, such as Zork. There’s a big opportunity to play games with voice commands, so I hope to see more in the future.” —Warren

Sonos Play:1 Compact Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music
$149, Amazon

“I’m also always on the lookout for gadgets and accessories that allow me to capture moments with my friends and family in new and fun ways. For all the holiday parties this season, I’ve got my eye on the Prynt Pocket, a portable photo printer that allows you to instantly print pictures from Facebook, Instagram, and your phone. I also love that there’s an option to add video inside your photo, taking the photo experience to a whole new level.” —Michelle David, lead designer at Zynga for Words With Friends

Prynt Pocket Instant Photo Printer for iPhone
$150, Amazon

“There’s a chance you may have to head to eBay for this one, as it’s been sold out at most retail and online locations. It’s a miniature Super Nintendo with 21 classic games already installed and ready to play … and yes, it does have the original Mario Kart.” —Justine Ezarik, iJustine

Super Nintendo Entertainment System SNES Classic Edition
$114, Amazon

“The newest iPhones (and most Android phones) have wireless charging capabilities. This is the one that I have been using since I got my new iPhone, and I absolutely love it.” —Ezarik

Mophie Wireless Charging Base
$60, Amazon

“The Spark is my favorite tiny, portable drone. It’s perfect for anyone who has never had a drone before. It can take off and land from the palm of your hand, and you can even fly it right from your iPhone without a controller.” —Ezarik

SSE DJI Spark Portable Mini Drone Quadcopter Starters Bundle (Alpine White)
$399, Amazon

“One of the coolest games out there is NHL 18. I love wearing my Vesey Rangers jersey, and the graphics are the sickest. Skating is so cool.” —Cassidy Berger, fourth-grade student

NHL 18 – PlayStation 4
$50, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Friendly Ghost

Friendly Ghost

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week by signing up in the box below. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers each Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

I have a friend, or maybe I had a friend, who I saw at least once a week all summer, but who I have only seen a few times since the school year started. At first I chalked this up to being busy: I’m a teacher; she is the mother of two middle schoolers and is going through a divorce. Whenever I see her (we share a hobby) she no longer initiates conversation and offers minimal replies to my questions. She doesn’t reply to text messages about getting together or asking how she’s doing, although she does eventually respond to logistical questions. She seems to speak to other people normally and responds to our mutual friends in a way she no longer does to me. I feel singled out, and I’m not sure what’s changed between us. I finally wrote her an email saying I miss our friendship and that if I’ve done anything to offend her, I’d like to know what it was so I can make amends. She never wrote back, and I know the healthy thing to do is let it go and accept that she doesn’t want to be friends anymore. But I don’t know what letting go looks like, given that we share a small, tight-knit group of friends, and I still feel hurt and confused by her sudden change in behavior.

—Haunted After Being Ghosted

Uncertainty and ambiguity can make an already difficult situation all the more painful. Knowing a friend has ghosted you, and coming to terms with the fact that, for whatever reason, they’re not going to tell you why things have changed, can be maddening. You’re right, though, in realizing that the answer to “But I’ve got to find out why or I’ll lose it” is not, and can never be, “I’m going to keep pushing until I get a satisfying answer.” Letting it go, in this context, does not mean that you feel great every time you run into her with mutual friends, and feel total lightness and neutrality when you say, “Great to see you, gotta run” while gliding past her in a new peacoat that screams I’m Doing Great, the Loss of Our Friendship Hasn’t Bewildered Me or Crushed My Heart in Any Way. It means you keep feeling hurt and confused, probably for a long while, and it will take a certain amount of effort to keep yourself from trying to pump your mutual friends for information or sending another follow-up email. That’s to be expected. You won’t get over this in a few weeks or even a few months. You may often feel a pang, even years from now, when you think of her or run into her unexpectedly. All that “letting go” has to look like is respecting the fact that, for whatever reason, she doesn’t want to talk right now, and finding an appropriate time and place to let out your grief, confusion, and frustration on your own.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

I’m trying to recover from a bad breakup. It happened quickly and without warning. I had already purchased Christmas gifts for my then-boyfriend and some of his family members. I’m struggling to decide if I’m obligated to give these gifts to them or send them back. Giving them to him wouldn’t help with my healing process, but his family was incredibly kind to me. What should I do?

—Heartbroken

No, you are not obligated to give a present to your ex. It would not help you get over him, and he likely wouldn’t welcome it, given that he just ended your relationship. And as kind as his family may have been, I don’t think it will do you any good to put yourself in the position of giving them presents and revisiting your breakup just a few weeks after the fact. It’d be one thing if you two had been together for years and you considered his family your own, but unless your relationship was unique, the odds are that you are not going to be spending a lot more time with them now that you’re no longer dating your ex. Return the gifts, or find someone else who might enjoy them, and focus on getting through the holidays.

Dear Prudence,

I’m unsure about what to do with my current relationship. I’m 23, he’s 28, and we’ve been dating for about five months. He’s an incredibly sweet, fun-loving, and compassionate guy, so I have nothing negative to say about his character. However, there are a few reasons why I don’t see us having a real future together.

He doesn’t want kids and never has, whereas I’ve always wanted to be a mom. The last time the subject came up, he said he would “let our relationship grow until I genuinely want to have children with you,” but that for now, the thought of having kids scares him. He has a history of depression, and sometimes hypochondria. For the past few months, he’s been experiencing a lot of symptoms that he thinks could be indicative of multiple sclerosis, cancer, or other diseases, and it’s been causing him a lot of stress. I’ve tried my best to be supportive—after all, some of the symptoms could be cause for concern—but after several visits to the doctor, he has acknowledged his hypochondria and resolved to treat it. I respect him a lot for that.

I’m ashamed to say this, but I often find myself fantasizing about past lovers. I know that to a certain degree this is normal, but I feel like I’ve gone way past normal at this point. It’s probably around 80 percent of the time. He frequently tells me how much he loves me, and how much he wants to be with me. I love him too, but when he said that he wants to “spend the rest of [his] life with” me, I told him that it was too early for such a profound statement.

—Stay or Go

Break up with him. It’s wonderful that you respect his recent decision to take better care of his mental health and seek help for his hypochondria, and it’s great that you don’t have anything negative to say about his character, but neither of those are reasons to stay in a relationship with him. He doesn’t want kids, and you do. Presumably you don’t want kids with someone who says “I’m willing to force myself to want them for your sake, if you can get me to love you enough in the future”—you’d like to have kids with someone who actually wants to have kids. Moreover, you’re not enjoying the sex the two of you have together (or at the very least, you’re finding yourself fantasizing to a degree you’re not comfortable with and in a way you haven’t done in previous relationships), and you’re feeling rushed into a form of emotional intimacy and commitment that you’re not ready for. Those are fantastic reasons to break up with someone.

I don’t think you’re unsure at all. You seem pretty clear that you don’t see a future with this guy. Implicit in your letter are two fears: One, that if you break up with him as he’s dealing with a possible health crisis, that makes you a bad person; and two, that he’ll try to talk you out of breaking up with him by minimizing your incompatibility and emphasizing how much he loves you. When it comes to the first fear, I think you can absolve yourself of any guilt. What’s not working in your relationship has nothing to do with his health status, and he’s already seeing a doctor and seeking further treatment—you’re hardly leaving him to languish. When it comes to the second, I think you’re right to anticipate at least the possibility of emotional manipulation when you break up with him. Remind yourself that breaking up does not have to pass by a unanimous vote, and that it’s not a referendum on how much he loves you. It’s simply a question of, “Is this relationship working for me?” Based on your letter, the answer seems like a pretty clear no.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

I’m really struggling with the idea of telling my parents about my girlfriend. They’ve known I’m bisexual for about five years, but it wasn’t by choice, as my mother cyberstalked and subsequently outed me. They’re very homophobic and self-righteous, and after that breach of trust, I’ve taken the stance that they don’t have a right to know about my romantic life. I haven’t cut them off completely, though, and I don’t think I want to, but my good old Catholic guilt complex is making me feel like I can’t tell the rest of my extended family about my relationship, or consider proposing to her, before I tell my parents. That prospect scares me: I’m afraid they’ll yell about my selfishness or tell me I’m going to hell, that they’ll try to manipulate me with suicide threats, that their negative views will taint my relationship and make me second-guess myself, or that my mom might try to take her anger out on my sister, who still lives with them.

I’ve set deadlines for myself to tell them multiple times and have always chickened out. It’s easy to keep a secret since I live halfway across the country and we don’t talk often. But we’ve been dating more than two years and I know that this is weighing on my girlfriend. My sister is the only relative who knows about her, and I go home for the holidays by myself. The last time I went home I was so anxious that it made me physically ill. I know I need to get my butt to therapy because this is a lot, but in the short term, I’ve set my next deadline for after my sister finally moves out of my parents’ house mid-December. Prudie, how do I screw my courage together and actually tell them this time? Would it be horrible of me to just make a Facebook announcement and turn off my phone?

—Coming Out Again

I can feel the panic and pressure you’ve been dealing with for years radiating off the screen. You’ve been almost as hard on yourself as your family has been on you, and it seems like you’ve unintentionally internalized a lot of your parents’ ideas. You seem to think that coming out about your relationship on Facebook in a way that would maximize efficiency and minimize the opportunity for a homophobic backlash is “horrible”—like you’d be getting away with something, or somehow avoiding a more painful conversation that you think you should be having with them instead. I don’t think that’s the case. You do not have to engage with manipulative threats of suicide, the promise of hell, or violent homophobia, whether it comes from your parents or from anyone else. That’s not something you have to meet with grace or understanding, or patiently endure, or calmly offer counterarguments against. They’re not trying to have a conversation with you—they’re trying to abuse you back into the closet using whatever tools they can find. I’m glad to hear you’re planning on starting therapy soon, and I hope it proves helpful as you continue to find ways to set boundaries with your parents—Huge boundaries! Firm boundaries! Boundaries that can be seen from space!—and you have my full permission and approval to come out on Facebook, and subsequently delete or ignore abusive messages.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have been together for over a decade, and we both have children from our first marriages. He has a son who is now 14 and lives with his mother in another state. My husband’s relationship with his first wife is extremely strained, and they don’t speak. I know that a few months into the move his son contemplated suicide, and I reached out to my stepson’s mother back in August to try to bridge the gap between them. Things have been changing for the better. My husband and his ex still don’t talk, but I’m hoping that will change soon, and in the meantime I still talk to her for their son’s sake.

Now that we’re communicating with his son more via the phone, his social media profiles have been automatically “suggested” to me as a contact. Everything I have seen so far is “gay” this and “gay” that, and as I looked further I noticed that he has a few gay friends. I’m wondering if I should ask my husband’s first wife if she is aware of his social media. On one of his profile pics there is a quote which states, “I don’t want to live.” But I don’t know how to ask. I’m not even sure if she knows. I don’t know if I should leave it alone because I don’t want to offend anyone, or not be able to communicate with my husband’s son anymore. Please help!

—Reaching Out

Please don’t run the risk of outing your husband’s vulnerable young son to his parents. What you’re doing right now—offering your support from a distance, communicating regularly with your stepson’s mother, doing your best to establish a rapport between your husband and his ex—is helpful, compassionate, and the most you can do in your current situation. Your stepson can talk to his parents about being gay when and if he’s ready; having that conversation on his behalf, especially when you know he’s struggling with suicidal thoughts, would be counterproductive. The question to ask yourself is, “Have I learned anything from this accidental social media connection that could help my husband’s son?” Your husband and his ex-wife both already know their son is struggling with depression, so there’s no new information there. Outing a young, vulnerable teenager without his knowledge or consent will not help him either. Keep doing what you’re doing. You can certainly ask your husband’s ex-wife how her son is doing and encourage her to make sure he’s receiving adequate support and treatment for his depression, but beyond that, you haven’t learned anything that you have an obligation to disclose.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

My brother and his wife have been married over 10 years and have a son, 9, and a daughter, 7. Over the last five years my sister-in-law has become, in my opinion, obsessed with her looks. She’s a stay-at-home parent in name only who spends hours (and sometimes overnight trips) at the gym every day, constantly enters beauty pageants/fitness competitions, and seems to spend close to no time with her children. At best she ignores them and at worst she treats them with contempt. My brother is paying for several of her plastic surgery procedures. Even when she is at home, she listens to music with her earbuds in so it is very difficult for any of them to initiate an interaction with her. My brother works full time and takes care of the children and the household—paying bills, laundry, cooking, cleaning, yardwork, helping with homework, getting the kids to and from their activities, etc. It has become obvious to my husband and I, as well as others in our family, that the kids need attention and are suffering. I have repeatedly expressed my concerns to my brother and told him that no matter what he decides I am here for them. He is not willing to make moves toward a divorce or go to counseling. He says if he divorces her, he will have “failed.”

At Thanksgiving, I was saying goodbye to my niece and nephew while my brother was saying goodbye to relatives in the other room. My sister-in-law was sitting nearby. During this exchange, my niece told me, loudly, Auntie, I love you more than I love my mom,” then looked very pointedly at her mom and hugged me again. It was obviously a very awkward moment. I said something to the effect of, “Now, now, I’m sure you don’t mean that.” My sister-in-law feigned surprise and then just laughed. I realize a holiday dinner with a house full of people is not the appropriate time to ask my 7-year-old niece about her feelings. I still feel bad. I feel like I failed my niece by contradicting her feelings, and I also feel like I unwittingly condoned my sister-in-law’s behavior. Is there something else I could have said or done in that moment?

—Acquiescing Aunt

I’m afraid this may be another unfortunate instance where you, the letter writer, are doing as much as you possibly can in the interest of furthering the greatest possible good, and that doesn’t really fix the situation. You can’t do much more than you already have to encourage your brother to consider counseling or addressing the problems in his marriage. What you can do, in the meantime, is to continue to spend time with your niece and nephew and offer them as much love and support as you can. That doesn’t mean you’re single-handedly responsible for making up for the fact that their mother treats them with indifference and contempt, while their father is so overwhelmed by working full time and keeping the household running that he can’t attend to their emotional needs. But these kids need all the love and attention they can get right now, and they’re already close to you, which puts you in a position where you can at least be helpful.

Beyond that, don’t beat yourself up too much for trying to defuse the situation over Thanksgiving. How terribly sad that your sister-in-law’s only response to hearing what was obviously a plea for affection was to laugh and do nothing. If you want to bring it up with your brother and reiterate that you don’t think your niece was just joking around, but that she was desperately trying to get her mom’s attention, and encourage him once again to seek counseling either singly or as a couple, I think you should. Whether or not he chooses to take your advice or continues to bury his head in the sand is ultimately up to him.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

That Magic Feeling: Prudie counsels a letter writer on whether you can feel when you’re with the right person.

Baby’s First Sermon: Prudie advises a couple who wants a grandmother to stop trying to convert their infant son into her faith.

Hurt Felines: My teenage neighbor ran over my cat while texting. Now her parents want me to help her with her guilt.

Singing Praise: Prudie counsels a letter writer who thinks her child can’t—and shouldn’t—sing.

Spectrum of Support: Prudie advises a letter writer whose sister refuses to make special accommodations for her son’s autism spectrum disorder.

He’s Mine Now: My fiancé’s ex-wife calls us her “gay husbands.”

Not Her Only Mom: Prudie advises a mother who wants her adopted daughter to learn the truth about the tragic deaths of her birth parents.

Sexy Claus: Prudie counsels a father who walked in on his daughter while she was having sex with her costumed boyfriend.

Bless His Heart

Bless His Heart

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Two days before Sean Spicer abruptly resigned as White House press secretary in July, he beamed into a Christian Broadcasting Network studio for what turned out to be his last on-camera interview in the job. The spokesman was sweating profusely in the midday heat of the White House lawn, but the conversation itself must have felt like a cool breeze to him. Faith Nation hosts David Brody and Jenna Browder nodded encouragingly as Spicer made his way through White House talking points on health care legislation and tax reform, with Browder lamenting that the mainstream media wants “to talk about Russia all day long.” At the end of the interview, Brody passed along a question from CBN’s viewers. “We get a question all the time on Facebook to you specifically,” he said. “They want to know how they can pray for you.”

The hapless Spicer somehow fumbled the answer, stammering about how “some people like to say a rosary or recite a prayer and some people want to talk in their own personal way.” But the appearance overall was a rare success for Spicer, a chance to portray the White House as stable and policy-oriented, and to bring that message to the conservative evangelicals who form a core element of Trump’s base. It was a win for the then-brand-new program Faith Nation, too, which got to boast a top White House staffer as its first-ever guest. “We’ve got tremendous access at the White House,” Brody had told CBN founder Pat Robertson earlier in a promotional interview for Faith Nation on the Christian talk show The 700 Club. “It is a new day in D.C.”

Brody is CBN’s chief political correspondent, and for the past year he has been doing his best to take advantage of every hour of this “new day.” Trump granted the correspondent one of his first sit-down interviews at the White House, just days after the inauguration. Soon afterward, the president called on Brody first during a White House press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ruffling feathers among mainstream reporters. In April, Adweek named him one of 15 influential “political power players” in the media, along with Maggie Haberman, David Fahrenthold, and Tucker Carlson. Now, Brody is co-writing a “spiritual biography” of Trump that will be published in February by an imprint of HarperCollins.

Brody’s rising profile is a reflection of President Trump’s uncannily successful courting of white evangelicals, and also of Brody’s own foresight. Early in primary season, when many pastors and other evangelical leaders were still deeply wary of the thrice-married casino mogul, Brody was gushing about Trump’s “common bond” with ordinary Christians. “David Brody had a read on evangelicals in this election,” Michael Wear, director of faith outreach for Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, told me. “If mainstream reporters, and even evangelicals who were more skeptical, listened to David, they would have had a much better read on how this election turned out.” Understanding David Brody feels like a way into understanding Trump’s strangely chameleonic appeal—specifically, the pull he exerts on some of his most devoted and unlikely supporters.

Brody grew up on the Upper West Side of New York City in a family of Reformed Jews, studying Hebrew to prepare for his bar mitzvah and celebrating the High Holy Days every year. He converted to Christianity in his 20s thanks to the patient evangelism of his now-wife, Lisette. Shortly after they started dating, she invited him to a large church that met in a former Broadway theater near Times Square. Brody soaked up the preaching of the church’s founder, David Wilkerson, a charismatic evangelist known for The Cross and the Switchblade, a best-selling 1962 memoir-turned-movie about his ministry to young gang members. These days, “my liberal Jewish mother watches The 700 Club so she can see her son on television,” Brody told me recently. “I figure God must have a sense of humor.”

David and Lisette married in 1988 and moved to Colorado and then to Washington, pursuing his career as a local television news producer. They had three children, and Lisette worked in the public school system and later pursued a master’s degree from a seminary affiliated with a D.C.-area Bible college. The family now attends McLean Bible Church, a large nondenominational church with five locations in the D.C. area. Like Brody, the church’s senior pastor, Lon Solomon, also converted to evangelicalism from Judaism in his early 20s. Brody likes that; he calls himself “a completed Jew,” alluding to the Christian principle that Jesus’ life fulfilled the messianic prophesies of Jewish scriptures. Jesus, Brody said, is “the ultimate Jew, so I’m just following the ultimate.”

After a stint at Focus on the Family Radio, Brody joined CBN in 2003, reporting on the Capitol Hill beat. He’s been at CBN ever since, covering the 2008 presidential campaign and serving as White House correspondent for the first two years of the Obama presidency. At 52, Brody’s on-camera vibe could be described as “grandmother-approved nice young man”: earnest, friendly, quick to flash an encouraging smile. His interlocutory approach is gentle, meandering, even bumbling. He often throws out multiple broad questions at a time, like a tennis ball machine spewing pompoms. Interviewing Pence recently about sexual harassment for The 700 Club, his first question was actually six: “So many people want to know, what’s the solution? What’s the answer? Where’s the morality in all of this in terms of what can be done? Do you legislate it? Is it a cultural issue? Can you help folks with some answers here about what’s been—a light has been shined on this topic, on this very important issue.”

Brody is proud of the fact that he has interviewed many Democrats for CBN over the years, including several interviews with Obama during the 2008 campaign. Josh Earnest, the former White House press secretary (currently an analyst for NBC News), said Brody aggressively pursued the first interview, explaining that he wanted to give Obama a chance to talk about his personal faith and his views on issues important to evangelicals. “He was true to his word,” Earnest told me by email. “It wasn’t a groundbreaking interview as I recall, but David gave then–Sen. Obama a fair venue for a discussion like this, something few conservative outlets would have done.” Earnest himself has appeared as a guest on Faith Nation.

CBN is still best known for The 700 Club, its flagship talk show hosted by the 87-year Robertson from a studio in his home base of Virginia Beach, Virginia. But the network opened up a Washington bureau in the 1980s and has been steadily expanding its newsgathering capabilities. After Obama took office, CBN was granted a seat in the White House briefing room for the first time.

Brody’s journalistic tactics seemed to shift in parallel. “I saw a major in change in David after Sarah Palin was nominated as VP, and the treatment she received,” said Wear, an evangelical who worked for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during Obama’s first term. Palin attended a Pentecostal church for many years, and her “persecution” by the mainstream media became a major theme in conservative Christian circles. “I think David saw a cultural divide emerging, and seemed to decide he needed to take sides,” Wear added. He explained that as a political strategist, he would find it difficult to advise a Democratic politician to sit down with Brody these days. Brody denies letting political bias affect his work, but said he starting making an effort to be “a little bit more bold” in his analysis around that time.

Meanwhile, Brody’s style has remained corny and avuncular; he always seems to be having fun. When Republican politicians want to reach a conservative Christian audience, they go to Brody knowing they will find a cheerful, sympathetic ear. Gearing up for a primary campaign in 2011, thrice-married Newt Gingrich told Brody that he had sought forgiveness from God for things in his life that “were not appropriate.” Herman Cain’s notorious “Uzbeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” moment came in response to a Brody softball that used “Uzbekistan” as a stand-in for “crazy things the unreasonable media might expect you to know about”: “Are you ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions that are coming from the media and others on foreign policy?” Brody asked the then-candidate. “Like, who’s the president of Uzbekistan?” Brody calls his interlocutory approach “ ‘Bless your heart’ style.” “If you give them a little bit more ‘bless your heart,’ they’re going to talk more,” he said.

Brody first interviewed Trump in 2011, when the businessman was toying with a run for president. That interview ended up playing a role in the 2016 campaign, because it included Trump’s clearest articulation of why he’d changed his mind on the abortion issue. Brody remembers that first conversation fondly. He was waiting in an office in Trump Tower, and Trump came in carrying a photograph of his childhood confirmation at a Presbyterian church in Queens. “David, take a look at this,” he said. “You might want to use this for your story.” The anecdote struck me as meaningless at best, and unflattering to both of them at worst; committed believers don’t tend to walk around bragging that they attended church one time many decades ago, but Brody was clearly charmed by the interaction. “That was so Trump,” he told me with a fond chuckle. “He’s like, ‘Take a look, I’ve got photo evidence here of me in church.’ ”

At their first meeting, Brody recalls that Trump seemed like a “genuine, no-nonsense, throw-political-correctness-out-the-window guy.” Trump, meanwhile, clearly trusts Brody, and is drawn to the Pentecostal strain of evangelicalism that CBN represents, which tends toward flashy aesthetics, blunt rhetorical style, and easy forgiveness of leaders who “stumble.” Faith Nation, which he co-hosts on Facebook Live with news correspondent Browder, was designed to take advantage of CBN’s new status in the Washington in-crowd. The weekly Faith Nation is in every way a splashier production than Brody’s previous news show, The Brody File, which broadcast its last episode almost a year ago. The light-filled Faith Nation studio near Dupont Circle is all glossy surfaces and screens, with a social-media correspondent monitoring viewer feedback in real time. Since its launch in July, Brody and Browder have interviewed Spicer, Mike Pence, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sebastian Gorka, and Jeff Sessions.

Evangelical Christians did not initially seem like a natural constituency for a crude New Yorker who said on the campaign trail that he’s never asked for forgiveness from God. But white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump last fall, and although their support has slipped, 66 percent of them still approved of his job performance in late October, even as his popularity among the general public slumped to historic lows. Brody attributes the connection in part to a “psychological kinship”: Evangelicals see the world in terms of absolutes, he said, and so does Trump. Brody also sees a shared affinity for the politics of grievance, though he doesn’t phrase it that way. “A lot of people love to trash Trump for being so outspoken on certain issues,” he said. “Evangelicals are ridiculed all the time for their being outspoken about their faith in public. They felt a bond, a connection with Trump, that he was getting beat up by the media, and they’ve been beat up by the media.”

He also points out that older Christians in particular appreciate Trump’s nostalgia for the 1950s, “an America that had prayer in school and had Bible reading in school, where people actually dressed up and went to church and didn’t come to church in baggy pants and sandals,” as Brody puts it, taking care to emphasize that he’s not referring to the era’s “racial relations.” (CBN’s audience is racially mixed, per statistics provided by the network, and so is its roster of on-air hosts, reporters, and guests.) Wear agrees that capitalizing on nostalgia is one of the president’s strengths. Trump “isn’t able to quote from scripture and isn’t able to give a compelling testimony,” he said. “But he is able to tell stories of American values and how he’s going to fight for them and make sure they don’t have to be scared to live in their own country anymore.” The fact that this version of “American values” has been so widely embraced by religious Christians reflects the sprawling definition of contemporary American Christianity that CBN helped craft.

Brody has a special knack for channeling his base’s gut instincts about the state of the country. When I asked him what exactly evangelicals thought had gone so terribly for the country in the last four to eight years, one of the first things he mentioned was the White House having rainbow lights projected onto it after the Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage—something that never even would have occurred to me. As a journalist he doesn’t say “I’m personally outraged by this,” but he has an instinctual sense for the kinds of cultural moments that galvanize the people he’s speaking to.

And now his forthcoming book, The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography, will give him more room to square Trump’s version of Christianity with his own and his audience’s. The book will include new interviews with Trump, along with Vice President Pence, Kellyanne Conway, and others in the president’s inner circle. “David is a very friendly person who has developed deep networks,” said Brody’s co-author, Scott Lamb, a Baptist minister and Mike Huckabee biographer. “A real strength of the book is he can get just about anybody on the phone.” The first half of the book will focus on Trump’s religious influences and his “worldview,” and the second half will address his relationship with the faith community. (Brody’s wife, meanwhile, has a book due out the same month on “archeological discoveries that prove the Bible,” with blurbs from Huckabee and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow.)

Through a tumultuous year, Brody’s faith in the president has remained seemingly unwavering. After the violent weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, surrounding a white supremacist rally in August, he tweeted to “crazy white neo-Nazis” that Trump “has Jewish grandchildren,” and that the president “wants to ‘Make America Great Again’ not make America white again.” He opened the next Faith Nation with a sober statement about how white supremacy has “no place in true Biblical Christianity.” He sounded unusually shaken as he tried to square Trump’s disastrous “both sides” press conference with his own belief in the man’s essential goodness. “Trump is not a politician,” he said at one point. “It’s tough.”

When Brody and I last spoke near the end of the year, what I really wanted to know was whether he was concerned about the Trump administration’s apparent crisis point: indictments, internal chaos, plummeting approval ratings. He brushed the question off, and circled back to praising the way Trump has fulfilled his promises to evangelicals. Trump had delivered a Supreme Court justice and a booming economy, he said, and was about to declare Jerusalem the capitol of Israel. It was only later that I realized I’d asked him almost the exact same question in August, dozens of hypothetical “crisis points” ago.

The real chaos, as Brody and his viewers see it, is happening in the culture outside the walls of the White House. Brody might be right that most white evangelicals will remain loyal to Trump no matter what; he has certainly been right before. What he can’t bring himself to see, it seems to me, is the reality of where white evangelicals’ support of Trump has led them. In pursuit of an imagined 1950s gentility, they have allied themselves with a man who brags about grabbing women’s genitals, mocks the disabled, ridicules war heroes, and effectively endorses white supremacy. But Brody is willing to cheerfully overlook it all. The past year, for him, “has been an exciting whirlwind, a lot of perspiration on the forehead but a lot of smiles,” he said. “It’s nice to be respected.”

The Best Gadget Gifts if You Want to Splurge

The Best Gadget Gifts if You Want to Splurge

by Paris Martineau @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Looking for something really special for the tech-head in your life? Lucky enough to not need to worry too much about sticking to a budget? We’ve rounded up the best gifts, from video game consoles to headphones to a TV that’ll turn any room into a mini-IMAX theater.

Looking for a difference price range? We’ve got gifts for under $25, $50, $100, and $250, too.

Nintendo Switch

The video game console to get or give this year, the Switch is the perfect commute companion, and then slots in for big-screen playback at home. And the library of games already includes two insta-classics, if you’re feeling particularly generous and wanna toss them in: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.

Nintendo Switch Console
$299, Amazon

Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB

If you know someone limping along with a thrift-store record player—or just someone who might be into haunting stacks of vinyl—this is the turntable to get. (Bonus: USB compatibility means if you find that ultra-rare 7-inch among the stacks, you can convert it to an audio file.)

Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB
$279, Amazon

Apple Watch Series 3

The latest Apple Watch is by far one of the best wearables on the market right now. It’s waterproof, can work without a phone, and—if you’re an Apple user—will make you feel like you’re living in the future.

Related: You Should Get an Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 3
$383, Amazon

PS4 Pro

Sony’s powerhouse console continues to impress, and next year’s lineup of exclusives looks extremely enticing. With the PlayStation 4 currently outselling the Xbox One, it also means more players to get wrecked by in online gaming.

PlayStation 4 Pro
$399, Amazon

Sennheiser HD 1 Wireless

Last year, we picked the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 wireless headphone as the best wireless headphones you can get, and the market agreed—they were popular enough that Sennheiser reissued the Momentums as the HD 1s. Same great sound, same noise cancellation that makes the roar of the subway disappear, and the same beautiful retro styling. For the audiophile in your life.

Sennheiser HD 1 Wireless
$381, Amazon

Xbox One X

If you’re shopping for the gamer in your life, this is the most powerful console on the market that’ll really show off the power of a 4K TV and allows games like Gears of War 4 to run smooth as butter. (Also a damn fine 4K Blu-ray player.)

Related: The Xbox One X Is the Best Console You Can Own. Should You Get It?

Xbox One X
$499, Amazon

Pixel 2

For the nonstop smartphone shutterbug, the Pixel 2 has the best smartphone camera we’ve used and a beautifully stripped-down Android OS that’s (nearly) as slick as iOS. One caveat: Make sure to get the smaller, 5-inch Pixel 2—the Pixel 2 XL has had some issues with its OLED screens.

Related: Pixel 2 Review: The Best Smartphone Camera Got Even Better

Pixel 2
$783, Amazon

TCL P-Series 55-inch 4K HDR TV

Chinese panel manufacturer TCL’s biggest play for North American market share is your gain, as you get a beautiful 4K picture with Dolby HDR that’ll make any Netflix binge look fantastic (and Roku comes built right into the set for easy streaming). This TV looks just as good as others we’ve looked at that cost twice as much.

TCL P-Series 55-inch TV
$850, Amazon

iPhone 8 Plus

One of the best cameras Apple has ever put out combined with the most powerful processor on the smartphone market. The final and greatest version of the classic iPhone form, it also has the added benefit of being easily available.

Related: How to Look As Hot As Possible Using the New iPhone Camera

iPhone 8 Plus
$945, Amazon

iPhone X

The best smartphone released this year. Jaw-dropping screen, powerful camera, and small enough to remind you of the days when a phone could fit in a pocket without a couple extra shoves.

Related: The iPhone X Will Change Your Selfie Game Forever

iPhone X
$1,369, Amazon

LG C7 OLED 55-inch TV

The problem with watching an OLED TV is every other TV is gonna start looking crappy in comparison. While some competitors have come close, LG’s OLED screens are still the reigning champs—deep, inky blacks, eye-popping brights, and nothing on-screen either blown out or too murky to make out. For the pure videophile in your life.

LG C7 OLED 55-inch TV
$1,697, Amazon

Hisense 100-Inch 4K HDR Laser TV

Yes, this TV costs as much as a used Honda Civic, but man: what a TV. Place this system (about the size of a carry-on suitcase) near a wall and hang up a screen, and its short-throw projector will display 100 inches of 4K HDR gorgeousness. Combine that with a built-in booming Harman Kardon sound system, and you’ve got the ability to re-create a movie theater in nearly any room.

Hisense 100-inch 4K Laser TV
$10,000, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Travel Gadgets and Accessories

The Best Travel Gadgets and Accessories

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Every travel situation requires a different set of tools and knickknacks, whether you’re taking a road trip, a red-eye, or backpacking from hostel to hostel. That’s why we talked to eight different kinds of travelers who haven’t settled for the sedentary lifestyle—from professional travel writers and expedition leaders to hardcore nomads (one who’s already ticked 65 countries off of his bucket list) about the special travel accessories that have made their journeys that much easier.

They described in-flight necessities that make that cramped plane seat a little more bearable, functional gadgets that are small miracles in off-the-grid regions, and even a de-constructable suitcase that has earned many admirers abroad.

“Pacsafe makes all kinds of products geared toward travel experts looking to stay one step ahead of thieves, which are RFID-protected (meaning they keep people from swiping your credit-card information). I personally like the Pacsafe wallets because of their retro design, and the ability to chain the wallet to your belt or belt loop. This is essential not only when you are in a big group of people (like a train station in India or tourist area in China), but also when you have had too much to drink and might leave your valuables unattended and lost.” —J.R. Harrison III, nomadic traveler who has backpacked to over 65 countries and six continents, travel blogger at The Savvy Vagabond

Pacsafe Anti-Theft RFID Wallet
$24, Amazon

“I always have tons of gadgets when I travel: the Kindle Paperwhite, the GoPro Hero 5, the Sony A7 Mirrorless Camera, the MacBook Air, multiple USB power banks (all of which are Anker, by the way, the best company for this stuff), etc. When couch surfing—or staying in guest houses, especially hostels—around the world, plugs are few and far between. There are also times when you may be on the move for a few days and won’t have time to sit and charge all of your things for 12-plus hours. This is where this wall charger comes in handy: All you need is one outlet that you can reach with the extended cord, and voilà, plug six devices in all at once.” —J.R. Harrison III

Anker 6-Port USB Wall Charger
$21, Amazon

“It’s funny-looking, and before they were more prolific, I always worried people would think I was wearing a neck brace, but it’s the most practical neck pillow I’ve tried thus far. And I can sleep through an entire 15-hour flight, so clearly it’s working for me.” —Sarah Khan, travel writer

Trtl Pillow
$30, Amazon

“I take quite a few red-eyes, and it’s not uncommon for me to head straight to meetings from the airport, so I always have a great eye mask on hand to ensure I can get a good night’s sleep. Slip makes a fantastic one that we also carry in our stores.” —Jen Rubio, co-founder of Away

Slip Silk Sleep Mask
$45, Amazon

“This cap can turn any Nalgene water bottle into a pressurized shower. Just screw on the lid, pump up to pressure, and depress the button. Mist yourself off on a hot day, rinse your dishes, or even wash your hair while camping. It’s pressurized water, wherever you go. We already ordered ours!” —Megan and Michael of travel blog Fresh Off the Grid

Lunatec Aquabot Sport Water Bottle
$30, Amazon

“Small and portable, this tripod can be set up instantly. It’s not intrusive to your fellow travelers, easy to use, and compact enough to slip into a suitcase or even a day pack. Add an adapter to safely sync this sturdy little tripod with your smartphone.” —Jen Martin, director of expedition development, expedition leader, Lindblad Expeditions

JOBY Gorillapod Flexible Tripod
$58, Amazon

“This plasma arc lighter is hands down the coolest way to light a fire. Using a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it generates an electrical arc that is 100 percent windproof. It comes with an integrated flashlight and lantern, so you can offer somebody a ‘light’ in every sense of the word.” —Megan and Michael

Power Practical Sparkr
$60, Amazon

“Lightweight, compact, and easy to pack, this utensil set is great for camping trips or just having in the glove box of your car. Never use disposable plastic utensils again!” —Megan and Michael

To-Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils Set
$13, Amazon

“I like the Garmin eTrex—it’s rugged, waterproof, and small enough to hold in your hand or pocket. The latest updates have improved screens, resolution, graphics, and ease of use. Having a GPS can come in handy if you want to record where you’ve been or specific locations you’ve visited. (Did you propose on a trail hike? Want to geocache a message for future travelers?) We use them often to record good landing sites, hiking trails, and as an additional safety measure.” —Jen Martin

Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator
$182, Amazon

“I never really invested in quality headphones until now, and I’m so glad I did. Beats by Dre’s new Studio 3 headphones have advanced noise-canceling technology that can drown out everything. I take a lot of red-eyes, and have always found it nearly impossible to sleep with the constant buzz of the plane’s engine, so these headphones are game changers. They’re wireless, so I can connect them to my iPhone via Bluetooth or use the removable cord to plug them in when I want to watch a movie. They’re not cheap, but if you travel a lot, I think they’re worth it.” —Laura Itzkowitz, freelance travel writer and editor

Beats Studio 3 Wireless Headphones
$290, Amazon

“For a total gadgetry pick—more for fun than functionality—a range finder is high on my list. Tell your distance from a glacier face or know how far your ship is from shore or the nearest iceberg. It’s an interesting option—especially in cold climates, where the ‘white on white’ topography makes it impossible to tell distances. Small and portable, this is highly rated and comes from a company known for good optics.” —Jen Martin

Nikon Prostaff 7i Laser Range Finder
$285, Amazon

“These headphones block out all the noise in an airplane. The motors, but also crying children and snorting men. The sound is, of course, phenomenal—so perfect to watch a movie, listen to some music, or get into a meditation mode.” —Pauline Egge, travel blogger and creator of PetitePassport.com

Bose Quiet Comfort 35
$329, Amazon

“I always use the Pearl when I’m on a trip. It’s designed with the traveler in mind, so everything fits in it. That is, my camera, my phone, a charger, lipstick, my wallet, a small notebook, and a pen.” —Pauline Egge

Pearl Cross-Body Bag
$174, Lo & Sons

“I just got the carry-on suitcase by Away, which has a super-sleek design with a virtually indestructible shell, built-in USB charger, and clever internal compartments, including a waterproof laundry bag. Just make sure to remove the battery pack if you’re traveling through Asia! A friend got flagged at security because of it.” —Laura Itzkowitz

Carry-on Luggage
$225, Away

“I am absolutely in love with this backpack. It’s expensive, but I really couldn’t find a better option that’s both stylish and practical. If you are carrying anything nice as far as a laptop, gadgets, or a nice DSLR camera, these bags are the truth. It is padded in just about every area, provides easy side-pocket access, a padded slip for a laptop, a pouch for a tripod, and enough space for a Bluetooth speaker, hard drive, clothes, or whatever else you want. Extremely durable, sexy, stylish, comfortable, and practical.” —J.R. Harrison III

Yeti Backpack
$368, Zkin

“I took this suitcase with me to Asia, Europe, and the States. Everywhere I went, people reacted to the suitcase as if it were a Labrador pup. They wanted to touch it, use it, and basically wanted to take it with them immediately. The Bugaboo Boxer (yes, of the stroller company) is a suitcase you push instead of pull. It has four wheels you can easily fold and unfold. It makes traveling so much lighter. I’m a big fan.” —Pauline Egge

The Bugaboo Boxer Fully Loaded
$1,490, Bugaboo Boxer

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Baby’s First Sermon

Baby’s First Sermon

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, world! Let’s get to adjudicating.

Q. Grandma trying to convert grandchild: Grandma is very, very religious and has taken it upon herself to attempt to convert our new 2-month-old son. Every “conversation” with the infant includes God and every present is Christian-themed, from Christian picture frames to religious children’s books. Obviously the child still doesn’t grasp any of this.

The rub is my spouse and I aren’t religious, and agreed to raise our child in our (lack) of beliefs. We aren’t bothered by exposure, which can be great for learning, but this proselytizing isn’t OK. How do we get Grandma to stop, especially when the Christmas season is bound to kick this into overdrive? I am not optimistic that she will listen if we ask politely, and I would prefer to stop it before little Einstein is old enough to understand.

A: I’ve heard of religious family members trying to convert their relatives’ young children, but I’m almost impressed at how early your grandmother is trying to get God’s foot in the door (Almost. I am not, in fact, impressed with her behavior.). The good—and bad—news is that if your grandmother does not listen to your polite requests, you have the opportunity to establish appropriate consequences. “Grandma, I know your faith is important to you and that you love little Hanktimony here, but we’re not religious and don’t want you to proselytize to him.” If the religious gifts continue, you get to follow up with, “As we mentioned, we don’t want you to proselytize to our son; we’re going to donate this to an appropriate charity.” If she’s completely incapable of interacting with a baby without trying endlessly to espouse her religious beliefs, then you will get to limit the time she spends with her grandchild. That’s unfortunate, but it’s completely avoidable if she can behave appropriately. You’re not asking her to pretend she’s not religious, nor are you preventing her from expressing her faith, you’re simply asking her to refrain from trying to convert a 2-month-old baby with every breath.

Q. No way: My husband and I love the great outdoors and have taken our daughter to every national park in the state. She is 11. My two sisters have girls of their own. We took them all for a week this summer to a lake to see how a cousins camping trip would go.

It went great except for “Gracie.” Gracie was miserable. She could not do the simplest activities and didn’t want to do them at all. She would have panic attacks and cry if a bee got near her. My husband and I traded off doing activities with the other girls and staying in camp with Gracie.

Her mother adored having a kid-free week and wants to do this again for spring break. My husband and I want to do it with the other girls, but this time it would involve some actual deep woods experience. Gracie had a horrible time when we were at actual campsite with showers and toilets. Gracie says she wants to come, and I think it is mostly to please her mother. How do I tell my sister no way and still keep the peace? Gracie is a great girl and smart as a whip, but she is not the outdoors type at all.

A: Oh, this is tricky, especially because you’re not considering keeping it just in your nuclear family this year, but inviting all of the other cousins except for Gracie. It would be one thing if you just wanted to take your own girls, but I’m not sure how you could keep everyone on the roster but Gracie, especially if she still says she wants to go. My inclination is to say that you should just take your own children this year, but I’m open to hearing from other readers (especially parents!) who have other ideas on how to deal with this.

Q. Stuck: I adore “Dan.” He is everything I want in a man: sweet, funny, kind, and handsome. Dan lost his wife of four years to a drunk driver three years ago; he is still obsessively involved with her children. I wouldn’t think anything about it if Dan had raised these girls from birth, but they were 11 and 7 when Dan married their mother. Their biological father was not overly involved in their lives but not willing to sign away his paternal rights. His mother is the one with the day-to-day custody.

The 18-year-old moved in with Dan as soon as her birthday came. She has no plans for school as of now, does not have a full-time job, and calls Dan “Daddy.” I am very uncomfortable when I go over to Dan’s condo and she is there. I know she doesn’t like me, and while she hasn’t made any overtly hostile moves, she hugs Dan all the time and deliberately brings up her younger sister and interferes with any plans that we are making (“you can’t do anything Sunday, Daddy, Julie has a game,” et cetera!).

The entire situation makes me queasy. When the 14-year-old comes over, the three of them are this little impregnable unit, and I feel like the new kid in the lunchroom. They hang off Dan like limpets and ignore me entirely. The entire situation is ridiculous! I feel like the Evil Stepmother except they aren’t my stepkids! They aren’t even Dan’s anymore! Every time I bring up our relationship, Dan filters it through the kids’ angle (if we’d move in together, “where would the girls live?” If we sell our places and get a new one together, “it has to be near the girls!” If we go to Jamaica for Christmas, “what about the girls?”). I know I love Dan. I want to have a family with him, but he is stuck in the past. What can I do here?

A: Oh, man. I don’t often find myself wishing that a letter were fake, but I hope very much that this one is. The fact that you consider Dan’s relationship to his daughters temporary or easily dismissed because he has not raised them from birth is absolutely heartbreaking. Their mother is dead, their biological father is largely absent, and Dan has raised them since they were little girls—he’s their father, and any relationship you try to build with him that’s predicated on trying to diminish or mitigate that reality is doomed to fail. Your boyfriend’s daughter doesn’t like you because you have made it perfectly clear that you think it’s time for him to abandon his “old” daughters and start a new family with you. You feel like an Evil Stepmother because you are using some of the most classic moves out of the Evil Stepmother playbook! You are being an Evil Stepmother, full stop. If you can’t find a way to accept that Dan has two children and that any relationship you build together will have to rest upon that foundation, then the best thing you can do, for his sake as well as your own, is to break up now.

Q. Re: No way: Could they take all the girls except Gracie but offer a special trip (to the movies and a fun dinner locally, for example?) just to Gracie to make up for leaving her out of the dreaded camp out? I hated camping, and felt left out, myself!

A: That could be really sweet! Part of the implicit pressure is that the letter writer knows their sister wants another kid-free week, so it may be that the sister in question is less interested in making sure Gracie has a good time with her aunts/uncles/cousins and more interested in getting free child care. This won’t address that problem (although I think the letter writer should feel enormously free to make it clear that this trip is about really roughing it in the great outdoors, not about making sure their sisters get a week off of parenting), but it may go a long way toward making sure everyone actually enjoys the time they spend together.

Q. Family photos with dog: I’m recently engaged (within the last six months) to a wonderful dude with two equally wonderful children (7 and 10, who are with us about 60 percent of the time). We’ve recently adopted a puppy. I’m childless and have wanted a dog desperately for approximately 25 years. Based on a variety of factors, I’m probably not going to have my own biological children.

Am I allowed to have professional photos taken of the dog while he’s still a baby? There’s a giant part of me that says, “Yup—you’re childless and will remain so, sure you can get puppy photos done,” and there’s a big part of me that says, “Absolutely not, any professional photos need to include the kids and it’s not appropriate for you to do this/be in any of them without your fiancé and the kids.” Thoughts?

A: Never has the phrase “Others abide our question/ Thou art free” seemed quite so fitting. I think that you can get professional photos taken in whatever configuration you like! It doesn’t sound like these pictures are going on your engagement announcement or wedding invitations—you just want to spend some money on professional pictures with you and your new puppy. That is fine! It is your money, and your dog; if you want to wrangle a puppy into a photography studio and pose for pictures, then you have my blessing. If you also want to get professional photos with your fiancé and soon-to-be-stepchildren, too, you have my blessing there, too. There’s no reason you can’t do both.

Q. Re: Stuck: Your answer was spot on. Two weeks ago I married a wonderful, loving man who is still completely involved in the lives of his “former stepchildren”—he was married to their mom for 10 years before their divorce, and did most of the heavy lifting of raising them from grade school through high school graduation. The fact that he will always consider them “his kids” is, to me, just more evidence of what a great guy he is. They are now in college and basically have four parents—their biological ones and the two of us. So I would encourage the letter writer to take his devotion to the kids as living proof of what a loving and loyal person he is. If he were the kind of person who could just bail on them, as you clearly wish he would do, he would not be the “sweet” and “kind” person you describe.

A: There’s something especially jarring about wanting your boyfriend to ditch his own family in order to start a new one with you. What kind of father would he be to any children you’d have together, if he could be that easily talked into casting his other children aside? (I’m afraid I know the letter writer’s answer—any children they’d have together would be biologically his and therefore “more important,” which is a desperately sad worldview to hang on to.) I’m so glad to hear that your new husband is a good father and that you’ve been able to see your way through to becoming a part of his family, rather than trying to separate him from the rest of them.

Q. Family truth: Seven years ago, before my niece was born, my sister had an affair with a Colombian co-worker. Our family is white and so is my brother in-law’s family, though they claim to have some long-ago Native American ancestry. This is the excuse my sister seized on when my niece was born with brown eyes and brown hair despite everyone else being either blond or redheads. I don’t have physical proof beyond the timing of my niece’s birth and my sister confiding in me about the affair. My brother-in-law is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he loves his wife and his daughter. I brought up the issue once with my sister, and she shut me down—the affair was a “mistake,” but there is no way her baby could be anyone else’s but her husband’s. Her response was harsh enough that I have never brought it up since.

My niece has. She looks nothing like her brothers and younger sister. She has asked why she tans in the summer while everyone else gets red and if she was adopted like her friend in school. My sister freaks out over these questions and comes down harshly. I know that this is going to be an issue as my niece gets older. What can I do to prepare?

A: Not much, I think. You have a suspicion but little else, and it’s not impossible for two fair-haired people to have a dark-haired child. You can encourage your sister to respond more graciously when her daughter asks an innocent question, but if she’s completely unwilling to talk about the possibility of her former affair partner being the father of her child, then you can’t force her.

Q. Overeating brother-in-law: My brother-in-law has a serious problem with overeating. Yesterday, upon arriving at a family gathering at my home, he immediately made a beeline for the buffet table and loaded up his plate without even saying hello to anyone. He loaded it up several more times thereafter, eating while huddled in a corner without interacting much socially. Two hours later, he comes over and asks if there are any more bagels. He then ate three bagels in the span of 15 minutes, literally just shoving them in his face. He carries food around with him at all times. He’s gained at least 125 pounds since my eldest was born and the pictures of him holding my then-infant child seven years ago are startling (and he wasn’t thin then either).

Yet, I’m the only one who seems to care about this. My wife shrugs and says it’s a problem but there’s nothing for her to do; he’s an adult and not her child. She cares more that he eats the food she was planning on saving for the week. The rest of his immediate family either doesn’t see a problem or says he’s very sensitive and he’ll completely shut people out if it’s mentioned. He has a lot of other problems: He’s never had a girlfriend despite being in his mid-30s, and he’s never had full-time employment (just series of part-time gigs). Aside from being grossed out and worried about his health, I think he’s just given up on life (he makes no attempt to fix any problems in his life) and probably has deep, untreated depression. Is there anything to be done? I don’t think it’s my place to say anything, and no one else will.

A: I think the key part of your letter is the phrase “aside from being grossed out,” which suggests that your concern has less to do with spending more time with your brother-in-law and offering him emotional support, and more to do with trying to control his behavior.

Your wife is right—he is an adult, and you two aren’t especially close, so you have a limited ability to start raising intimately personal issues with him. You can’t go from “We speak every few months” to “Hey, I’ve identified your three biggest problems in life and think it’s time for you to address them” overnight. If nothing else, know that as a fat person, your brother-in-law has likely already gotten a great deal of advice and input about his eating habits from strangers, friends, and acquaintances, even if your family has refrained from commenting. That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s nothing you can do to help support someone you believe to be in visible emotional pain.

You say that the other day he didn’t say hello to anyone at the family dinner, then sat in a corner while eating. As an in-law who doesn’t have a solid friendship with him, it’s not your place to subsequently ask him about his relationship to food, but there was nothing keeping you from going over and saying hello, and engaging him socially. Your options are not restricted to either “Tell your grown in-law you think he’s eating emotionally/compulsively, that he needs a girlfriend, and he has a spotty employment history, and that you know how to fix it” or “ignore him completely.” If you think he seems lonely and isolated at family events, say hello. Draw him out. Tell him you’re happy to see him, and try to find something you’d both enjoy talking about, rather than keeping a mental scorecard of how much weight he’s gained in the last seven years. If you reframe your goal from “fixing” your brother-in-law to “seeking to better understand and support him,” then I think there’s plenty of scope for meaningful, helpful action.

Q. Re: Stuck: I’m not sure if your answer was completely spot-on. I agree that the letter writer seems to have Evil Stepmother tendencies, but there might also be something else going on that’s alerting her that something is weird. An 18-year-old girl calling her father figure “daddy” is disturbing. It may be that the letter writer is picking up on some weird nefarious thing that’s happening and she can’t quite figure out what it is.

A: Sure, I’m of the opinion that daddy is a term that should generally stay in childhood, but this absolutely pales in comparison to the letter writer’s expectation that her boyfriend should stop considering his daughters to be his daughters. If the letter writer had said, “I love my boyfriend and want to get to know his children better, and I’m a little concerned about some of their boundaries and whether or not I can expect to build a separate life with him as they continue to grow up,” we’d have plenty to work with. But the letter writer asked how she could convince her boyfriend to abandon his children, and that supersedes everything else, to my mind.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

How to Find the Best Checking Account for You

by Melina Delis @ Bank of Southern California N.A.

You may wonder how to find the best checking account for you and your needs. In general, checking accounts are some of the simplest and nicest financial products for using and spending money. Because of their typical low interest rates, it is recommended to use your checking account for money that you can easily accessRead more

The post How to Find the Best Checking Account for You appeared first on Bank of Southern California N.A..

How Apple Pay Works – A Guide To Apple Pay for Connecticut Businesses

by Taylor Marcucci @ USB

The digital revolution has touched nearly every aspect of business management, and that includes payment processing. Alternative payment options, including some that we at Union Savings Bank refer to as Digital Wallets, are becoming more and more popular among consumers. One of the most well-known Digital Wallets is Apple Pay, which allows consumers to connect their bank debit or credit card to an...

The post How Apple Pay Works – A Guide To Apple Pay for Connecticut Businesses appeared first on USB.

How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia

How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia

by Nathaniel Frank @ Slate Articles

Why does it seem that, every time a national debate erupts about the place of minorities in American life, a gaggle of Straight White Guys with little connection to or understanding of these minorities holds forth on how they should or shouldn’t resolve their grievance about unequal treatment? This week’s version came in response to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Division, the Supreme Court case of Jack Phillips, a Christian baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins. Phillips is seeking a license to discriminate based on artistic and religious freedom.

This week’s featured culprits: David Brooks writing in the New York Times, and George Will and political scientist Greg Weiner in the Washington Post. Each of their pieces made some reasonable points. But each betrayed a galling inability or unwillingness to truly consider what it might feel like to be a disfavored minority in modern America—to enter a store and be stamped for rejection based on a stigma you’ve already endured your entire life. In other words, they refused to let empathy shape their thinking.

If you write, opine, make policy or rulings or otherwise hold power over others, you can’t do your job well if you don’t practice empathy. This appeal to empathy is not a plea for powerful men to feel sorry for minorities; it’s about creating the moral habits of mind that involve putting yourself in others’ shoes so you can better understand the many sides of an issue that disproportionately affects people who aren’t you. If decent white men should have learned anything from the Trump election, Charlottesville, the police killings of unarmed black men, and the nationwide sexual harassment scandal, it’s that we have a special responsibility to better learn and practice empathy so we can make more informed decisions and wreak less havoc across the world.

With that in mind, I present five arguments advanced by Clueless Straight White Guys about religious-based anti-LGBTQ discrimination and explain why they’re clueless:

Argument No. 1: It’s just cake; buy it somewhere else.

Brooks: “It’s just a cake. It’s not like they were being denied a home or a job, or a wedding. A cake looks good in magazines, but it’s not an important thing in a marriage.”

Will: “Denver has many bakers who, not having Phillips’s scruples, would have unhesitatingly supplied the cake they desired.”

Weiner: “The most obvious option is for a couple to obtain their wedding cake from a baker who is happy to supply it and from whom they are pleased to purchase it. Masterpiece Cakeshop is outside Denver. The supply of bakers there is ample. Common sense—or common courtesy—provides supple tools to resolve the dispute.”

Why it’s clueless:

It’s really the essence of cluelessness to assume the rest of the world resembles the urban or suburban bubble you may inhabit. For millions of people, the next nearest vendor could be hours away, and many people have day jobs and family obligations that are more restrictive than penning columns from a Brooklyn brownstone (as I’m doing now).

Even more important, “go elsewhere” entirely misses the point of this case. The feeling seems to be that if a major material hardship is not at issue, LGBTQ people should just suck it up and not fuss about such ethereal things as seeking dignity and avoiding the humiliation of exclusion from the public realm. As I’ve argued, full access to both commercial accommodations and marital recognition is a basic matter of equal dignity. For black Americans, standing a few feet further back on an Alabama bus was, yes, a material hardship for toiling housecleaners and waitresses on their feet all day; but just as important, it was an affront to dignity and it was deemed, quite properly, a constitutional affront.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy asked this week in oral arguments, wouldn’t a sign announcing no “cakes for gay weddings” be an affront to gay people? Whether that sign is actually hung or not, knowing that’s a store’s policy would be badly wounding, as reams of research on the harms of discrimination show. This case is about equality, not shopping.

Argument No. 2: It’s not like we’re condoning something as bad as racial discrimination.

Brooks: “There are clearly many cases in which the legal course is the right response (Brown v. Board of Education). But the legal course has some disadvantages…”

Weiner: “There is a substantial difference between sincere religious objections to same-sex marriage and bogus objections to laws against racial discrimination. Most people can make that distinction intuitively.”

Why it’s clueless:

This is a fundamental failure of understanding history—itself a failure of empathy because history requires putting yourself in the worlds of others. The argument here is that when religion was used to justify slavery and racial discrimination in the past, those people were obviously being disingenuous. But today’s use of religion to defend other forms of prejudice is, just as obviously, sincere.

But the Christian explanations for segregation really were deeply felt. And the Supreme Court has repeatedly thrown this rationale out. In 1968, it ruled that a South Carolina barbecue chain could not refuse service to black Americans even though the owner claimed doing so “contravenes the will of God.” In the 1980s, Bob Jones University lost tax exemption because it barred students in interracial relationships—despite claims that it was acting on biblical prohibitions. The trial judge in the case that later outlawed bans on interracial marriage declared in his decision that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents … The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

These judges stated or conceded that the religious beliefs propping up racism were sincere. Fortunately, that didn’t hold up in court as a justification for segregation. Meanwhile, religious justifications for racial segregation are hardly a thing of the past, but have been bubbling up again for decades and have broken into the open as part of Donald Trump’s ennobling of white nationalism. Think the violent alt-right protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, will decline to invoke every last religious exemption a court might hand them?

Clueless Straight White Guys seem to feel at the end of the day that, while racism is bad, homophobia really just isn’t that awful and so religious conservatives should just get a pass.

Argument No. 3: It would have been so much kinder if the gays had just been neighborly and courteous about all this, even though the baker wasn’t. The gay couple acted like nasty bullies (while also being whiny, litigious victims).

Brooks: “The complex art of neighborliness is our best way forward. … The neighborly course would have been to use this situation as a community-building moment. … The legal course … was to take the problem out of the neighborhood and throw it into the court system. … This is modern America, so of course Craig and Mullins took the legal route [which is one reason] why we have such a polarized, angry and bitter society…”

Will: “Craig and Mullins, who have caused [the baker] serious financial loss and emotional distress, might be feeling virtuous for having done so. But siccing the government on him was nasty … Craig and Mullins, who sought his punishment, have behaved abominably … Their side’s sweeping victory in the struggle over gay rights has been decisive, and now less bullying and more magnanimity from the victors would be seemly.”

Weiner: “The object of the case is not to secure Masterpiece Cakeshop’s services. It is to dragoon its owner, Jack C. Phillips, into compliance with their views.”

Why it’s clueless:

Really? The gays behaved “abominably”? Dragging out the actual word the Bible uses to condemn gays as disgusting threats to civilization? Will berates a gay couple for having the audacity to ask the government to enforce the law, and derides them as essentially fetishizing their own rights. This can only be said by someone who has never had to defend his rights against those who would repeatedly trample them. I’ve no doubt it’s annoying for Will to hear black, brown, female, gay, and trans people always clamoring for their rights; imagine for a minute what it feels like for them.

Telling minorities who have suffered a history of discrimination that it’s unneighborly, unseemly, or discourteous to fight for rights that they’re being denied but you’re enjoying is shameless—ultimately just another mechanism for denying those rights in the first place. Do you actually think the minority members love always having to be the loudmouths reminding the world that they deserve the same rights as you already have? And to the extent that some activists become almost permanently wedded to the “angry activist” position, can you really blame them?

Finally, Brooks and Will have their facts wrong about the case, and their mistaken assumptions suggest a clear bias against minorities, whom they seem to view as inveterate whiners. The gay couple is not guilty of “siccing the government” on the baker, and they were not the ones who threw this issue into the courts or “took the legal route” and polarized the nation. Colorado law bans anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations. What the gay couple did was file an administrative complaint after Phillips violated this law. The state ordered Phillips to comply with the law, and he refused, asserting a First Amendment right to ignore it. And the Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative Christian group representing Phillips that spends $50 million a year on anti-LGBTQ and other religious exemptions lawsuits, is the one who has filed court cases all across the nation over this issue. Where’s the outrage directed at them?

Argument No. 4: Be patient and let the political process of persuasion and compromise run its course; the courts are the wrong place to go when your rights aren’t being protected, and it will only spur backlash.

Brooks: “The tide of opinion is quickly swinging in favor of gay marriage. Its advocates have every cause to feel confident, patient and secure … [Going to court] inevitably generates angry reactions and populist uprisings. … It takes what could be a conversation and turns it into a confrontation. It is dehumanizing. It ends persuasion and relies on the threat of state coercion.”

Weiner: “The court [is] too blunt an instrument for resolving many conflicts of rights … Left to the political process—or even better, to informal mechanisms of society—the conflict almost certainly could be resolved without forcing a choice between anti-discrimination laws and religious freedom … [The baker can] be made to deliver a cake, but that outcome would almost surely set the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement back by stoking resentment from its opponents. That is exactly what happened in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when court rulings sparked a wave of state constitutional amendments defining marriage heterosexually.”

Why it’s clueless:

Has anyone else noticed how well the “political process” has been functioning lately, particularly with protecting the rights of vulnerable minorities? And are Clueless Straight White Guys aware of the tens of millions being spent by conservative religious groups pushing hundreds of state bills and lawsuits seeking to undercut the reality of marriage equality and other gains toward LGBTQ equality?

Here’s the thing about patiently waiting for your rights to be handed to you and sparing the courts the need to do their job. It’s certainly correct that court fights alone can bring Pyrrhic victories when not accompanied by a broad base of public support. But political persuasion almost always works in tandem with courts—which are, after all, an equal branch of democratic governance. “Let the people decide” is the rallying cry of those enabling tyranny of the majority, secure in the knowledge that “the people” will not make the hard but just decisions that a court might.

The political process did not secure marriage equality; the courts did. And the brilliance of the LGBTQ movement, as those who aren’t clueless about LGBTQ history and the long struggle for marriage will tell you, was that its advocates did engage in persuasion, conversation, and appeals to the public—for decades. One result was that Colorado passed a duly enacted law through its democratically elected legislature banning anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations. This was the political process playing out, the product of years of compromise and persuasion. And that effort involved using lawsuits as a means to get the nation thinking and talking about their right to equality—as we’re doing right now around this lawsuit.

It also meant using courts to secure rights when, for too long, politics refused to deliver them. Only a few states legalized marriage through voter ballots or legislatures, and only after courts got the ball rolling. When “left to the political process,” most states passed laws barring same-sex marriage instead. Yes, pushing for LGBTQ equality in court spurred backlash, as Weiner notes. But it then generated a public dialogue around empathy and equality, and swept full marriage equality into being nationwide—including places like Alabama. If going to court for racial equality was the right course, it’s also the right course here.

Argument No. 5: The baker is only asking that his sincere religious beliefs and artistic freedom be respected; he is not harming anyone.

Brooks: “Phillips is a Christian and believes that the Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. Phillips is not trying to restrict gay marriage or gay rights; he’s simply asking not to be forced to take part.”

Will: “To make his vocation compatible with his convictions and Colorado law, Phillips has stopped making wedding cakes, which was his principal pleasure and 40 percent of his business… Phillips’s obedience to his religious convictions neither expressed animus toward [the gay couple] nor injured them nor seriously inconvenienced them.”

Why it’s clueless:

The prevalence and harms of discrimination are not abstractions, but have been extensively documented, including in this amicus brief signed by three dozens scholars. You could just spend some time speaking with LGBTQ people who have faced it, and you’d know this.

Most people seem to take Phillips at his word that, as a Christian, his opposition to participating in a same-sex marriage is a “sincere belief.” At first blush, this sounds reasonable, since we can’t get into his head. Yet while Phillips may experience his beliefs as sincere, it’s simultaneously possible—indeed likely—that bias and even animus are really at play. Consider this consistency test: The Bible clearly teaches not only that marriage is for straights, but that it’s for life and that divorce is a sin equivalent to adultery. Yet no one has sued for the right to refuse service to customers on their second or third marriage. Will accepts Phillips’ claim of religious belief on faith, as if the baker’s only choice is to stop selling his beloved wedding cakes entirely. But if that’s true, he would have made the same fuss over mounds of other Biblical transgressions. Courts can’t look into the minds of the parties to a case. But there is enough evidence that bias, often unconscious, is the overwhelming factor in anti-gay discrimination to take claims of religious sincerity with a grain of salt.

Even if we take religious-based anti-LGBTQ sentiment as sincere, there’s no question that refusing service to minorities causes harm. And where the wish to harm others by imposing your religion on them collides with the state’s interest in ensuring the dignity of access to public accommodations, the courts have already sided with the latter. The free exercise of religion, a federal court concluded, is “subject to regulation when religious acts require accommodation to a society.” The Constitution, said the Supreme Court in 1973, “places no value on discrimination,” and it “has never been accorded affirmative constitutional protections.” At the end of the day, two values are colliding: The freedom (religious-based or otherwise) to discriminate and the freedom to fully belong to the public. The public gets a say in which one prevails.

A final, neighborly note:

If you are a Clueless Straight White Guy, you are still lovable! You still deserve to be listened to. I am not arguing that only people directly affected by an issue have a right to speak about it. But you have a special obligation not to spew forth without doing your homework: Take the time to put yourself in others’ shoes; reach out to people who are differently situated than you and learn about their experience; open your own heart and mind before you tell others how to do same. Empathy is a job—and for those of us who have enjoyed a life of unearned privilege, it just got harder.

Our Aging Population Needs Workplace Adjustments. We Have to Find a Way to Provide Them.

Our Aging Population Needs Workplace Adjustments. We Have to Find a Way to Provide Them.

by Ally Day @ Slate Articles

Dolly, a 66-year-old resident of southern Maine, began working as a young teenager, eventually securing a job with her local public school system. She worked for 29 years as the administrative assistant for the district’s adult education program. After a surgery required to combat endometrial cancer, Dolly says she was “slammed into menopause,” and as a result, her memory and focus started faltering. “I would liked to have worked until I was 70, but I could see writing on the wall that my director was not happy; I was having a terrible time keeping up,” says Dolly. She felt “pushed out the door,” and she approached her boss about beginning to plan for retirement in a few years. A few weeks later, she was given a retirement date for the end of that school year. “I did feel definitely pressured to retire right then,” she says. Dolly, who asked that we use only her first name for fear of potential negative professional repercussions, and her husband were not sure they could manage on their pensions and Social Security and are both looking to find part-time jobs to stay afloat.

In the early 2000s, the forecasted disasterlike magnitude of the needs of the U.S.’s huge aging population earned them the nickname the “silver tsunami”—baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1963) who are approaching retirement and in increasing need of elder care services; some estimate that 1 in 5 Americans will be over 65 by the year 2030.

Of course, not all baby boomers will be retiring, and certainly not retiring at the rates of their parents. That’s because our economy is very different today, and many boomers either never had adequate retirement funds or had them wiped away in the Great Recession. According to one survey, two-thirds of baby boomers will continue to work after age 65.

Sue, a 60-year-old grandmother in Columbus, Ohio, who also wishes to use her first name in case of negative repercussions to her professional life, has been working for 35 years in various administrative capacities for a large church in the city. When she was raising her children, she did not work full time. “I was primarily a stay-at-home mom,” Sue says. Usually she worked for only a few hours on the weekend. But with a late-in-life divorce, her retirement became a pressing concern. After speaking with a financial adviser, Sue is hopeful to retire at 67 and spend more time with her family. But she is also keeping an open mind—she knows she may find herself working into her 70s if the government continues delaying the age she can access Social Security.

Sue is not alone. A 2016 retirement confidence survey cites several reasons for this: a poor economy, inadequate finances, and needing to pay for skyrocketing health care costs. According to this survey, 46 percent of retirees left the workforce before they planned to, with 55 percent of that number leaving because of a disability or health problem.

In an article in the University of Chicago Law Review, Michael Stein, visiting professor at Harvard Law School, and his co-authors argue that retaining older workers’ capabilities is in everyone’s interest, precisely because the financial costs of Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable, and pensions are dwindling as baby boomers are living longer. Thus, creating workplaces that effectively accommodate aging bodies is to the economic benefit of the country—and to the social benefit of those who want to continue to work. And as Stein and his colleagues suggest, this kind of flexibility can be considered a workplace enhancement tool—making workplaces more adaptable and allowing them to both retain employees and ensure productivity at the same time—that is best for the economy and for the worker.

The Americans With Disabilities Act, passed in 1990 and amended in 2008 to cover a wide array of age-related conditions, was designed to provide strategies and tools for people to continue working despite an impairment. It was developed as a result of decades of political activism, known as the disability rights movement, and, among other components, prohibits discrimination against disabled people in the workplace. No one can be fired or denied a promotion on the basis of a disability if a reasonable accommodation can be made to allow a person with a disability to perform the job. The problem with the ADA is that while it was intended to cover a large scope of human bodies, it has been interpreted in a very limited way by the courts.

According to Stein and his co-authors, before 2010, more than 97 percent of claimants in federal trial courts lost. The 2008 amendments were designed to make it easier to prove you qualify as disabled, but challenges remain. Stein and his colleagues write that one of the main barriers to claimant success is this balancing act in trying to prove that they are disabled enough but not too disabled, something that many older working Americans may have trouble balancing with gradually developing, age-related impairments such as muscular-skeletal pain; vision impairments; or, like Dolly, memory and focus problems. Statistically, even if Dolly had used the ADA to ask for accommodations, she’d have low odds of winning her case. And that’s if she can even find a lawyer who wants to get behind her in the first place.

AARP has a pledge program that works with employers to encourage the hiring and retention of older employees. According to Heather Tinsley-Fix, senior adviser for AARP, employers become aware of this program through active recruiting at various HR conferences and often voluntarily opt-in.

While AARP’s program is a start, not having official standards for hiring and retaining older workers leaves many businesses guessing at best practices; the work of Stein and his colleagues around universal design in the workplace is a helpful and strategic place to start.

Beth Loy, a principal consultant with the Job Accommodation Network, has several practical solutions for accommodations in the workplace, including moving work stations closer to restrooms and providing access to refrigerators, allowing personal attendants at work, and providing flexible schedules and self-paced workloads. According to Loy, the trade-offs for providing accommodations are invaluable, including providing long-term institutional knowledge, well-established workplace networks, and diversity of perspectives.

There are indeed ways in which older workers contribute invaluably to the workplace—their institutional memory and long-term commitment being just two examples. But in the absence of any effective way to require companies to accommodate their employees, these aging workers are at the mercy of the market.

Thanks to Nicole Buonocore Porter, professor of law at the University of Toledo, for her help with this post.

WEEK 10: A Life Worth Living

by Chad @ Wall Street Minimalist

Review The last several weeks of our Bootcamp Series have helped you get your financial system in place. By now, you should have a solid understanding of each component of your finances: credit cards, banks, conscious spending, investing, and paying down debt. At the beginning of the Bootcamp Series, we […]

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HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc. Reports Financial Results For The First Quarter Of Fiscal 2018

by Scott Fahy @ HomeTrust Banking

ASHEVILLE, N.C., Oct. 30, 2017  — HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:HTBI) (“Company”), the holding company of HomeTrust Bank (“Bank”), today announced preliminary net income of $5.6 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2017, a $1.7 million, or 45.6% increase over net income of $3.8 million for the same period a year ago. The Company’s diluted […]

The post HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc. Reports Financial Results For The First Quarter Of Fiscal 2018 appeared first on HomeTrust Banking.

Want to Be an Ally to Women at Work? Here Are Five Things Men in Tech Have Been Doing.

Want to Be an Ally to Women at Work? Here Are Five Things Men in Tech Have Been Doing.

by Sarah Granger @ Slate Articles

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, more women are coming forward with their stories of workplace harassment and inequality, and more men are hearing them. In the tech industry, where a significant disparity exists between men and women and a conversation about these problems has been happening for years already, male allies have begun to make a small dent in the imbalance. Below are the best practices for men who want to become allies to women in the tech industry and beyond.

1. Share the Research

After you’ve studied the issues and heard the stories of gender inequality and harassment in tech, expand your reach and talk with others in your workplace and community—colleagues, team members, friends. Share articles on your social channels and make the issue a part of your public identity. Prepare responses for those who disregard what you’ve learned. For those who believe the industry is an impartial meritocracy, arm yourself with data about the topic. Here are some stark statistics to get you started: Women hold 25 percent of computing jobs and 11 percent of executive positions in Silicon Valley companies, and 9 percent of tech board positions are filled by women, only 7 percent of partners at top VC firms are women, and only 5 percent of startups are owned by women.

Research from Catalyst Bottom Line also shows that the more diverse the leadership, the better the results. Identifying these problems is a good first step. Collecting resources and strategies to pass on to other men helps build momentum. Want more recommendations on where to start finding these resources? Check out AnitaB.org resources, Maleallies.com, the 3% Conference List of 100 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology guide for Male Allies and Advocates.

2. Open the Doors to More Participation From Women

Make sure women literally take seats at the table, rather than standing on the sidelines. David Hornik, a top venture capitalist who serves on the board of GLAAD, a leading nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy organization, says: “My objective as an ally of underrepresented folks in tech has been to do everything I can to give under-represented entrepreneurs access—access to opportunities, access to networking, access to the board room. At my conference, The Lobby, I have worked hard to rectify the gender imbalance in tech conferences. And then, with a more diverse audience, I have encouraged conversation about the challenges under-represented entrepreneurs face.”

Allison Fine, board member of Civic Hall Labs and author of multiple books on social media and social change, tells her story of meeting Micah Sifry, founder and executive director of Civic Hall, in 2000 when she knew nearly no one in this space. “We are most powerful when we speak and act together for the common good. Micah believes this, promotes it, and practices it every day.” She adds: “That’s how I started my second career. … He opened up the door for me.” Sifry not only shared where opportunities were, but he invited her over to be a part of them. “He’s amazing,” Fine said. “If you can hold your own, he’ll be there for you.”

Opening the door for more women includes virtual doors, like inclusion in email groups. Susan Scrupski, founder of Big Mountain Data, was the first woman invited to a group of enterprise tech bloggers. “The guy who put my name forward did it with some trepidation, but he did it nonetheless. It's a badge of honor we both wear to this day.” Stories like these show that even small, seemingly minor acts of inclusion can make a big difference down the road.

3. Amplify Women’s Voices

Unfortunately, many workplaces exude a culture where women are disinclined to speak up in meetings or in general. Data has shown men tend to dominate meeting discussions on average, speaking for 75 percent of the allotted time. When women do speak out, they can be ignored, passed off, ridiculed, shunned, or have their ideas taken. Male allies can prevent this by cutting it off at the pass. When you see it happen, don’t let it go. Turn to the woman and ask her: “What do you think?” Pull her aside after the meeting and let her know you’ve got her back. Another tip, from Christina Knight, creative director at UKnight: “By reiterating a thought shared and attributing it to the woman who offered it, you endorse worthy ideas and ensure the appropriate person is remembered for them.” If you’re active on social media, make sure to share, retweet, and comment on women’s accounts to assure they’re heard.

And when you have the chance to put more women on a physical stage, do it. Laura Klein, principal at Users Know, shared her story of how Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, was “one of the earliest people to put me on stage at his first conference (Startup Lessons Learned, which is now Lean Startup Week), long before I had any sort of an audience myself. … And the Lean Startup conference is dedicated to a 50% gender split in speakers every year—an initiative that was started by Sarah Milstein several years ago, but that Eric has continued.”

4. Mentor Women in Your Field

Either through organized mentoring programs or via informal mentoring, find ways to take time to mentor women in your field—of all ages, but particularly women early in their careers. If no suggested format exists, ask women what will help them most. Schedule phone appointments or find a coffee shop or office with other people around. Keep it professional. Ask good questions and prepare your advice. Don’t talk down to the women you mentor, even if they come across as naïve. Remember what you were like when you first got started. And recruit other men to become mentors for programs.

Mhaire Fraser, organizer of the Women in User Experience mentorship program every summer, calls the male mentors “rockstars for the program.” Men mentoring women in startup programs can also make a large impact. Sophia Yen, CEO & co-founder of Pandia Health, says, “All my mentors at StartX were male. Steve Atneoson and Pramod John were really helpful. Fellow StartX men (Alexandre Robicquet and Eric Hennings) also introduced me to investors.”

5. Advocate for Fair Workplace Policies

Workplace policies that support women and diversity in general can include small changes, like listing “salary negotiable” in job postings, so women will feel more comfortable negotiating, or they can be massive, like creating sophisticated maternity and paternity leave programs. Another strategy: blind résumé evaluation. Ries advocates for hiring processes that evaluate résumés without names attached in order to reduce potential gender bias. These policies will never be enacted without male allies. Women aren’t the only ones caring for family members. Advocating for flexible hours, working from home, on-site child care helps men and women. Observing how and when colleagues are evaluated and promoted can also be an important area where policies can be adjusted.

Becoming active in these conversations as an employee with a track record or as a decision-maker in an organization will solidify your standing as an ally long after you’re gone from that particular workplace. As Hornik says, “I think that anything we can do to give women a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation will profoundly benefit everyone.”

A Christmas Connection With Gay Culture Thanks to a Gay Men’s Chorus

A Christmas Connection With Gay Culture Thanks to a Gay Men’s Chorus

by John Culhane @ Slate Articles

Hey, Daddy! is a monthly column exploring the joys and struggles of parenting from a gay father’s perspective. Got a topic idea or question for Daddy? Send your letter along to johnculhane19104@gmail.com.

Within just a few minutes, the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus almost managed to redeem 2017.

Looking back over my columns since the 2016 election, I’ve been struck by how relentlessly despairing, or at least solemn, many of them are: concern about the sexual mistreatment of women and how to discuss the issue with teenaged daughters; the efforts at clawing back of LGBTQ rights we’d thought secured by marriage equality; the challenges faced by parents raising disabled kids; and, for good measure, the searing reminder of how we’d been forced to give up our beloved family dog.

Then, during our annual visit to that monolith of warm and fuzzy holiday cheer, Philly’s Comcast Center for the hologram-heavy Christmas show, our wait for the next performance was relieved by the sudden swell of male voices from a few yards to the west. David and I shepherded the kids toward the sound, and almost immediately figured out who was providing the stout, melodic cheer. About forty strong, the choristers tore through a bunch of holiday favorites, and closed with the feel-good chestnut, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” At some point, I found myself fighting back tears.

Maybe I was just tired, and less able to resist the emotional pull of music. And it certainly helped that the songs were issuing from actual people, working communally, rather than set among the exhausting, non-stop sludge of Christmas music blasting from every third radio station, and in every shopping center, that now begins its annual aural assault before Thanksgiving.

But whatever the reason, the event caused a rush of complicated emotions as I stood there with my family. A feeling of being connected to a gay community that provided me so much strength for so long, but that I now seldom engage with. The pride in hearing those beautiful voices with my daughters, who got to experience a moment of joy that perhaps deepened their appreciation for gay culture, or at least enkindled it. A familiar frisson of sadness as I surveyed the landscape of survivor-peers of the AIDS cataclysm. And then, unexpectedly, a memory of the post-Orlando massacre vigil we’d attended with the kids more than a year-and-a-half ago (and the subject of my first column.)

That Orlando recollection became Point Zero on a mental timeline, which then fast-forwarded through a jumbled, internal montage. I thought about the fear, anger, and resolve I carried forth from that event, through the dismal Fall 2016 campaign, its crescendo, and the ugly, crashing reality that has followed the election. I flipped through the Twitter train wreck of news and end times commentary that fills my time and my head every day, without pause or mercy. I cringed at the memory of all the fruitless Facebook arguments I’d had over issues ranging from gun control, to the Obamacare and tax bills to, most absurdly and most recently, whether “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is date-rape adjacent. It’s all too much.

Then, at least for a little while, I let it all go.

We were at the event with another (straight) family, and they didn’t even move closer to the singers. There was a practical reason for that—they have a much younger kid, and they wanted to make sure they held their ground where they’d have the best view of where the Christmas show was going to project. But it wasn’t just that: They could hear the music well enough from where we’d all been standing, and they didn’t feel any special connection to the chorus. It was a weighty moment for us, but not particularly significant to them.

Did our daughters have any of the same feeling we did? I don’t know. I recently did a few media things on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and was curious to see how they felt about the issues. I was surprised when one of them kind of shrugged off the discriminatory treatment that the gay couple had experienced: “I’d just go to another bakery!” she announced. “If they don’t want my business, too bad for them.” (For the record, her twin sister disagreed: “Why should they have to? And what if there are no other bakeries nearby?”) Probably because we’re so snugly ensconced in Straightville, they’re not generally too woke about the issues the LGBTQ community still faces. We do try to educate them, but they’re really not living any challenges because of their gay dads.

But maybe hearing the soaring voices of the gay chorus, and perhaps sensing how it affected their two dads, is the kind of thing that will seep into them. To what long-term result, I can’t now say. But given the challenges that these and other communities face with renewed urgency in 2017, we need to hope for the best—and to encourage them in actions that improve others’ lives and prospects.

Whatever our kids thought, David and I had a shared moment of pride in our people, reminding ourselves of something that’s become too easy to forget in our straight-seeming, mostly assimilated lives: The world would be a much less interesting or beautiful place without us.

TurboTax 2018 Review | Popular Online Tax Software

by Emily Guy Birken @ PT Money

TurboTax is one of the most popular tax preparation software programs out there and for very good reason. It offers a step-by-step process for preparing your taxes so you can rest assured that every I is dotted, every T is crossed, and every eligible deduction is taken. They take care of yearly tax updates, making […]

The post TurboTax 2018 Review | Popular Online Tax Software appeared first on PT Money.

The Best Gifts for a Star Wars Superfan

The Best Gifts for a Star Wars Superfan

by Leah Bhabha @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that serious cook, or golf dad, or picky tween in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or at least a very helpful starting point. Today, 12 Star Wars superfans on the gifts (from toys, to T-shirts, to action figures, to waffle makers) they want for the holidays.


“I enjoy a good whiskey, especially with cool ice-cube molds, so I would definitely want this ice-cube tray. Denying the Death Star floating in and keeping my whiskey cold would just be rude.” —Jackson Duncan, “I have a degree in culture and media studies, an excuse for and necessitating a knowledge of Star Wars and other ‘nerd’ phenomena.”

Star Wars Death Star Silicone Ice Molds, 2 Pack
$8, Amazon


“I like the old-school Empire aesthetic and imagine they had good house china in those battleships. It would fit right in in my New York City apartment—like the Titanic house china in first class, but with a mod edge.” —Schuyler Vreeland, “banker by day, Star Wars enthusiast also by day.”

Star Wars Death Star Serving Platter
$22, Amazon


Star Wars fans are busy people. Not only do we have to balance work or school and friends and family, we also have to spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet dissecting every frame of the new film’s trailer and reading every possible theory about Rey’s parentage. So as we hustle off to work in the morning after a late night bingeing episodes of Rebels, clutching our R2-D2 thermoses and slinging our Boba Fett backpacks over our shoulders, there is often a need for sunglasses to mask our bleary eyes. I covet the Darth Vader sunglasses gift set from BoxLunch, which includes not only a slick pair of shades styled to mimic the helmet eyeholes of everybody’s favorite Sith lord, but also a sweet branded, hard-shell case and vivid Vader-print bag.” —Jen Markham, “member of both the 501st Legion Empire City Garrison and the Rebel Legion Echo Base.”

Star Wars Boba Fett Sunglasses Gift Set
$8, Amazon



“Something new this year, for Episode VIII, is the new species of Porg characters. The internet seems to have given its seal of approval for this cute new character. It’s your cozy new friend all winter.” —Paul Crewdson, “skipped school senior year with friends to buy tickets for the new Episode I film, then engaged in a parking-lot lightsaber battle.”

Star Wars Porgs Plush
$25, Amazon


“I would wear this when my daughter wears her Daddy’s Little Princess Star Wars onesie.” —Neyah White, “bartender, and at the risk of sounding like a complete jerk, a ‘real Star Wars fan.’ ”

I Am Your Father Shirt
$20, Red Bubble


“Close to slipping over to the dark side of merchandising, but not quite.” —Neyah White

Star Wars R2-D2 Coffee Press
$40, Amazon



“No Star Wars collection would be complete without an adorable Funko Pop! of your favorite character. I love them. My personal favorite is, of course, the great Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s badass but lovable Padawan featured both in the canon TV series Clone Wars and (spoiler) others…” —Christian Karayannides, “attended the New York Philharmonic’s Star Wars Film Concert Series.”

Funko Pop! Star Wars Ahsoka Rebels
$23, Amazon



“I resent being told that I should ‘act like an adult’ all the time, so when I do have to do something very grown-up, like taking an investor meeting or doing a book signing, I find subtler ways to represent my fandoms. This blazer not only would do the trick, it would also go very well with my Darth Vader purse.” —Allison Robicelli, “chef, bon vivant, and Star Wars obsessive.”

Star Wars Symbols Ladies’ Blazer
$60, Think Geek


“Whether for Christmas Eve, or something very cool to do on Christmas morning through New Year’s, it would be an awesome family project.” —Caroline Choe, “longtime Star Wars enthusiast.”

LEGO Star Wars First Order Star Destroyer 75190
$160, Amazon


“I spent a lot of time feeding my children with the classic airplane-and-hangar strategy. I remember being jealous no one did that for me as an adult. This waffle iron would allow me to elevate the airplane-hangar game as I handle the waffle in mock flight and then devour it, playing the role of a space slug inhabiting an asteroid. Breakfast can be fun again.” —Stephen Hayford, “I create Star Wars diorama images—I turned a childhood of playing with Star Wars toys into an adult career playing with Star Wars toys.”

Disney Star Wars Round Millennium Falcon Waffle Maker
$40, Amazon



“Who didn’t imagine how cozy Luke must have been, nestled inside his trusted steed while Han built a shelter? I want this, despite it not including warm cushy innards, just so I can crawl inside and say, ‘And I thought they smelled bad on the outside.’” —Stephen Hayford

Star Wars Tauntaun Sleeping Bag
$199, Amazon



“What makes this item special is that it simulates some of what you expect from really interacting with this beloved droid. Several details about this item put it over the top in that regard compared to standard RC toys: It’s 18 inches tall, so while not ‘full scale,’ it is hefty enough to really seem like a small droid, not just a ‘toy,’ while still compact enough to play with. The ‘Follow mode’ does just what it says, and suddenly you have the same reliable companion Rey had at her side. It’s like a droid puppy. Finally, the voice command with preprogrammed movement, light, and sound responses give you an interactive experience, as opposed to manually driving its movements via remote control.” —Mike Zhang, “Rogue Alliance NYC member.”

Star Wars Hero Droid BB-8
$190, Amazon



“I’ve fallen in love with the BB-8 high-top sneaker from Po-Zu. I had seen these pop up from time to time online, but I was able to see them in person at New York Comic Con, and it was love at first sight. I’m a member of the 501st Legion, so I tend to prefer Imperial, First Order, and dark-side merchandise, but who doesn’t love an adorable ball droid!? They are as beautiful in person as they are in the images—lightweight, bright colors with incredibly comfortable insoles. Po-Zu has many Star Wars styles to choose from, even screen accurate Rey boots and fun Wookiee shoes. The BB-8 ones stole my heart, though, and had to be at the top of my wish list.” —Alaric Hahn, “member of the 501st and Rebel Legion.”

BB-8 High-Tops
$118, Po-Zu

Bonus Gift Idea



“I am a Star Wars and science-fiction and fantasy fan, and also a big popcorn fan—we make it in my house a lot. I don’t like microwave popcorn, though. I prefer air-popped kernels. At Christmas, we were playing this game called the Minnesota Dice Game, although I think everyone just claims it’s their state’s dice game. Everyone brings a bunch of gifts and you throw them in the middle, and if you roll doubles, you get to choose a gift, but then in subsequent rounds you can steal—it’s a bit like a white elephant. Anyway, last year, I snatched this popcorn maker after fierce competition, and I love it because it’s the shape of a Death Star and makes air-popped popcorn.” —Unlikely Star Wars fan Gail Simmons.

Star Wars Rogue One Death Star Popcorn Maker – Hot Air Style with Removable Bowl
$50, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Cyber Security Awareness Month

by Scott Fahy @ HomeTrust Banking

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and HomeTrust wants to make sure you have all the resources you need to keep yourself protected.  As a HomeTrust customer, you may want to start by reviewing our privacy policy, security tips and other info publicly available on our website: Privacy Policy Bank Security Identify Theft and the […]

The post Cyber Security Awareness Month appeared first on HomeTrust Banking.

WEEK 8: Basic Investing, Superior Results

by Hannah @ Wall Street Minimalist

Learn to Invest Investing can be complex. Maybe you’ve read books on taking advantage of event-driven investing like IPOs, demergers,  bankruptcies, etc. Or maybe you’ve heard terms tossed around like put options and arbitrage. Or maybe you just understand the phrase, “buy low, sell high”. Whatever level you’re at, we’re […]

The post WEEK 8: Basic Investing, Superior Results appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

I’m a Gay Pediatrician. How Should I Deal With My Patients’ Homophobic Parents?

I’m a Gay Pediatrician. How Should I Deal With My Patients’ Homophobic Parents?

by Daniel Summers @ Slate Articles

When I got my first job after completing my training as a pediatrician, I stopped wearing earrings.

In my late teens, I got one piercing and then another in my left ear. I wore earrings all through medical school with nobody seeming to mind, and I did my residency and fellowship in New York City, where I presumed people scarcely noticed that kind of personal detail, much less cared anything about it.

But when it came time to leave New York for my first “real” job, I found one at a practice in a much smaller city in Maine. I presumed that people there might be much more likely to notice if their kid’s doctor was wearing earrings and be more inclined to care. Out they went.

As I had been all through medical school and thereafter, I was totally open as a gay man with all my co-workers in Maine. When it came to how I presented myself to my patients’ parents, however, that part of myself was something I simply never brought up. I wanted it to be a non-issue. I don’t recall any frank homophobia, and if any parents took issue with the idea of taking their children to a gay pediatrician, it was never brought to my attention. (The father who showed up wearing a T-shirt that read “Titties and Beer, Thank God I’m Not Queer” to the hospital where I was caring for his baby was the sole exception.)

When I reached out recently for other perspectives from LGBTQ medical providers, they uniformly shared a similar attitude. It’s not something they said they typically share with straight or cis patients, though a few said they were apt to be more open with those who were themselves gender or sexual minorities. But, in general, a non-issue.

Several years ago, a couple of big shifts occurred for me. I joined a new practice in the northern suburbs of Boston, and my husband and I adopted our first child. Even though the new location was no guarantee of a progressive viewpoint from any given parent, I found myself less concerned about encountering biases against LGBTQ people. And because so much of what I discuss during patient visits dealt with various aspects of childrearing that aren’t strictly “medical” in nature, I increasingly referenced my own experiences, frustrations, and ideas as a parent.

I remember the first time I used the word “husband” to describe the person raising kids with me, and the feeling of stepping off the high diving board that came with it. But each time I mentioned my own family’s makeup, that sense of trepidation lessened bit by bit. I can’t say I don’t feel any hesitation at all any longer, but it’s gotten pretty slight.

Similarly, I’ve gotten less concerned about whether or not I read as gay. I’ve relaxed in my gestures and inflections, though the change may be perceptible only to myself. It seems I’m still modulating the way I sound on the phone, as I was recently reminded. I took a call at the office from a fellow gay writer, who started laughing at the octave jump my voice took once I knew it was him on the other line. Clearly, I’m still doing a little bit of code switching.

All of this would remain safely in the non-issue territory, where I want to it stay, were it not for a few interactions I’ve had with parents.

In these cases, parents have expressed concerns about the possibility that their own children might end up being LGBTQ. It’s dawned on me as I listened that they probably wouldn’t be sharing their concerns so frankly if they’d realized they were talking with a gay man. In one case, a parent expressed dismay at the tolerant attitude about non-heterosexual identity their teenager encountered at school, and speculated that their child might identify that way, too. In another, a parent observed the gender non-conforming ways their child liked to play, and discussed how unhappy they would be (and their spouse even more so) if this was an indication the child would grow up to be gay or trans.

What matters to me about these interactions isn’t what they reveal about attitudes toward gay people like me—though it’s always disheartening to be reminded how far LGBTQ people have yet to go in even the most progressive corners of the country. What I care about as a physician is being able to advocate on behalf of my patients. As dismaying as the attitudes of some parents may be, I can’t address them if I never hear them to begin with. By coming across as a neutral audience for their worries, I can dissuade parents from trying to change their children, discuss the evidence of harm from trying to make LGBTQ kids deny who they are, and continue to be a resource for the family over time.

I’m loath to inch anywhere close to anything that feels like a closet, professional or otherwise. I won’t be playing evasive language games about my spouse or fretting about whether my inflections or mannerisms seem straight enough. Even if I never decide to start wear earrings at work again—and my husband’s gentle suggestion that the silver hoops I tend to favor date me by a couple of decades doesn’t help—I can’t abide the thought of pretending to be something I’m not.

But the goal of keeping my sexual orientation a non-issue seems as important as ever. Because of the dual nature of the care I deliver as a pediatrician, hearing the concerns of parents while keeping the best interests of my patients in mind, I have to be perceived as willing to listen to a wide range of beliefs about LGBTQ people, no matter how objectionable they may be to me personally. There’s no shame in the fact that I may serve some of my patients better by remaining a blank slate to their parents.

The Ins and Outs of Remote Deposit Capture

by Melina Delis @ Bank of Southern California N.A.

Remote Deposit Capture is defined as the ability to deposit a check into a bank account from a remote location without having to physically deliver the check to the bank. As a commercial business, you may have heard of or use Remote Deposit Capture. Here at Bank of Southern California, we provide you with aRead more

The post The Ins and Outs of Remote Deposit Capture appeared first on Bank of Southern California N.A..

WEEK 7: The Best Checking Account (Part 1)

by Chad @ Wall Street Minimalist

The Backbone of Your Financial System Your checking account is the backbone of your financial system. Every dollar you earn will go first into your checking account, and every dollar you put into savings/investing, write on a check, or use to cover your credit card expenses will come from… you […]

The post WEEK 7: The Best Checking Account (Part 1) appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

Best Checking Accounts For Small Businesses

Best Checking Accounts For Small Businesses


Investopedia

What you need to know to choose the best checking account for your small business – and where to look.

The Best Gifts You Can Have Delivered Same-Day With Amazon Prime Now

The Best Gifts You Can Have Delivered Same-Day With Amazon Prime Now

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

We’re less than two days away from Christmas, and if you haven’t started shopping for holiday gifts, you really are cutting it close. This is when you start looking at Amazon Prime Now, the retailer’s same-day delivery service, to see if there are any gifts you can have dropped off on your doorstep within hours of ordering it.

There are some caveats here. Amazon Prime Now delivery is only available in American cities—and in New York City, just Manhattan and Brooklyn. Plus, not all items are available in all cities or even zip codes. (We used the zip code for the New York office—10013—to determine prices and availability of these gifts.) But if you do live or work in a place that’s eligible for the service, here are some of the best gifts you can have delivered today, including some that are hard to find elsewhere, leaving you plenty of time to wrap them up and put them under the tree before Christmas Eve.

Yes, you can get an Instant Pot delivered to your home in under 24 hours.

Instant Pot DUO80 8-Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker
$130, Amazon

This retro video game console comes preloaded with 21 games.

Super NES Classic
$80, Amazon

Or, if you prefer a more analog holiday season, here’s a classic card game.

Uno Card Game
$5, Amazon

This Fitbit can track your steps and also notifies you when you get a text.

Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker, Silver/Black, Small (U.S. Version)
$129, Amazon

A basic cast-iron skillet is the best gift for a home cook who’s still learning their way around a kitchen.

Lodge L8SK3 10-1/4-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet
$15, Amazon

Of course you can get an Amazon Echo on Amazon Prime Now and have it delivered within hours of ordering.

Echo Dot (2nd Generation) — Black
$30, Amazon

The best gift for the home cook who has everything.

Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Bluetooth, Immersion Circulator, 800 Watts, Black
$100, Amazon

Straight from an 8-year-old boy’s wish list.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster
$14, Amazon

This hand blender might not be as powerful as a Vitamix, but it’s just as versatile (and takes up less cabinet space).

KitchenAid KHB2351CU 3-Speed Hand Blender — Contour Silver
$53, Amazon

A cheap, but relaxing, stocking stuffer.

Whole Foods Market, Lavender Vanilla Fizzing Bath Bomb, 2.3 oz
$3, Amazon

The best gift for a gym rat or the wellness-obsessed is this pair of workout-friendly headphones.

Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones, Black
$129, Amazon

Spend Christmas trading sheep for ore and building roads.

Catan 5th Edition
$43, Amazon

If you’re planning on gifting bottles of wine, at least get some gift bags so that it looks like you put in some effort.

Hallmark Bottle Gift Bag with Tissue Paper (Dots and Dashes)
$6, Amazon

This Zojirushi water bottle is a perennial Strategist favorite, because it keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.

Zojirushi SM-KHE48BA Stainless Steel Mug
$27, Amazon

For the vegetarian cook who’s still using their hand-me-down copy of the original Moosewood Restaurant cookbook from the 1970s.

The Moosewood Restaurant Table: 250 Brand-New Recipes From the Natural Foods Restaurant That Revolutionized Eating in America
$24, Amazon

This Bluetooth speaker is fairly compact, but it doesn’t sacrifice sound quality.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Super Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, Phantom Black
$75, Amazon

This mask from culty brand Mario Badescu will both clean pores and tighten skin—and makes a great stocking stuffer.

Mario Badescu Super Collagen Mask
$18, Amazon

These adorable bear mitts are a fun gift for a home cook with a sense of humor.

Fred Bear Hands Oven Mitts, Set of 2
$14, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

WEEK 7: The Best Bank Account (Part 2)

by Chad @ Wall Street Minimalist

Why a Separate Savings Account Is Important Last week, I helped you set up the best checking account to help you minimize banking fees and maximize your savings. This week, we’ll get you set up with the best savings account out there to maximize your earnings and improve your saving […]

The post WEEK 7: The Best Bank Account (Part 2) appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

3 Ways to Personalize Your Online Customer Experiences

by Taylor Marcucci @ USB

An outstanding customer experience is one of the pillars of small business success, and it’s a topic we cover often here on our business blog. When we last explored best practices for standing out with a killer customer experience, one of our tips was to put a personal touch on interactions with your customers. Whether you offer gift wrapping services during the holidays or include hand-written th...

The post 3 Ways to Personalize Your Online Customer Experiences appeared first on USB.

What Is a Savings Account — and Should You Open One?

by Andrew Pentis @ Student Loan Hero

Maybe your piggy bank is overflowing, or the space beneath your mattress is filling up. Wherever you’ve been putting your money, you’re now interested in storing it more safely. But if you’re new to saving with a brick-and-mortar or online bank, you could be stuck on a basic question: What is a savings account? What […]

The post What Is a Savings Account — and Should You Open One? appeared first on Student Loan Hero.

WEEK 7: The Best Checking Account (Part 1) - Wall Street Minimalist

WEEK 7: The Best Checking Account (Part 1) - Wall Street Minimalist


Wall Street Minimalist

Your checking account is the backbone of your financial system. Find out what type of account is best for you and your lifestyle.

Winning the Right to Ride

Winning the Right to Ride

by Kate Masur @ Slate Articles

This article supplements Reconstruction, a Slate Academy. To learn more and to enroll, visit Slate.com/Reconstruction.

Adapted from An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C. by Kate Masur. Published by the University of North Carolina Press.

At 2 p.m. on a late February day in 1868, Kate Brown, an employee in the Senate, left work in the U.S. Capitol and boarded a train for Alexandria, Virginia. She planned to visit a relative and return to work about an hour later. Brown chose a seat in the car reserved for white “ladies” and their white male traveling companions. But Brown, who was by most contemporary descriptions “mulatto,” had no illusions about whom the “ladies’ car” was meant for. As she later put it, she had boarded “what they call the white people ’s car.”1 The alternative was the car designated for black Americans and white men not in the company of ladies. Often known as the smoking car, that car was a more promiscuous space in which people mingled in an environment with no pretensions of refinement or protectiveness. Brown did not care to mingle with the unruly public in the smoking car, and she believed she was entitled to ride in the ladies’ car if she had a ticket. A man standing on the Washington platform advised her to change cars, but Brown remained in her seat and had no further trouble.2

Brown also had every intention of returning to Washington in the ladies’ car. But when she boarded the train at the Alexandria depot a short time later, a special policeman (likely a security guard hired by the railroad) indicated that she must leave the ladies’ car. She refused. As she later testified: “I told him I came down in that car, and in that car I intended to return … he said I could not go; I asked him why … he said that car was for ladies; I told him then that was the very car I wanted to go in.”3 Not interested in debating, the policeman grabbed Brown and tried to pull her from the car. She held fast

to the inside of the door and braced her foot against the seat. When the policeman threatened to beat her, she told him he could go ahead: “I had made up my mind not to leave the car, unless they brought me off dead,” she averred.4

The policeman pounded Brown’s knuckles, twisted her arms, and grabbed her collar. He was soon joined by a man who called himself a “sheriff,” who held her by the neck and helped drag her out of the car and onto the platform. Brown estimated that the struggle on the Alexandria platform had lasted about 11 minutes, and she believed several white men had watched the entire incident. She later testified: “I declare they could not have treated a dog worse than they tried to treat me. It was nothing but ‘damned nigger,’ and cursing and swearing all the time.”5

The assault on Kate Brown at the Alexandria railroad depot became something of a local cause célèbre. The radical Republican Daily Chronicle called the incident a “disgrace to this age of civilization.” The newspaper contrasted Brown’s impeccable comportment with the barbarism of the “several representatives of the ‘chivalry’ of the South” who had attacked her. Radical Republicans in the Senate, who knew Brown as an employee, brought the incident to the attention of the entire Senate and argued that it demonstrated the inadequacy of existing civil rights laws. Brown also filed suit against the railroad company for damages, a move one unsympathetic federal official considered “a purposely got up case for the sake of a judicial row between the colors.”6

Kate Brown’s refusal to leave the ladies’ car and the steps she and others took in search of redress are particularly dramatic examples of a broader culture of protest that developed in the national capital during the 1860s.7 During the war and immediately afterward, black Washingtonians sought access to a remarkable range of arenas previously understood as the domain of white people only. These were not meek or quiet gestures. Rather, black Washingtonians demanded that white locals and federal officials consider their claims and respond to them.

In the volatile 1860s, no one knew what kinds of laws and customs would replace the vanquished world of slavery and the black codes. Even among northerners, there was widespread disagreement about the meaning of civil rights and the domain of equality before the law. Most Republicans agreed that there should be no racial restrictions on a set of basic “civil” rights, including an individual’s right to move from one place to another, nor should there be racial discrimination in legal proceedings. That consensus vision of racial equality was manifest in Congress’ 1862 eradication of the District ’s black codes. Yet those advances nonetheless left many urgent questions unanswered. As black Washingtonians quickly surmised, the abolition of the black codes had no bearing on a range of arenas in which racial equality was up for debate—including trains, streetcars, and other public accommodations. Nor did the formal codification of “equality before the law” guarantee that police would put that principle into practice.

Public accommodations were services run by private individuals or corporations for the public benefit. In common law, proprietors of public accommodations had a duty to serve the public and could not deny service arbitrarily. Their policies must conform to the principle of “reasonable regulation,” which allowed them to establish rules to preserve the peace, protect travelers, and cultivate the business itself. Thus, for example, proprietors could refuse to serve people who were drunk or ill, as their conditions might negatively affect other patrons or be disruptive to business. Whether proprietors could refuse accommodation to black Americans, or insist that they use segregated services, was very much in question. Some argued that such discrimination was arbitrary and therefore impermissible; others insisted that racial discrimination was a form of reasonable regulation that business owners could use to protect their business and the public peace.8

In Washington and other postwar cities, streetcars became a focal point in the debate over black Americans’ access to public accommodations. Unlike other public accommodations that were also under debate, including restaurants and fancy theaters, streetcars were not meant as accommodations for the elite. Because tickets were relatively inexpensive, streetcar travel was within reach for many working people. Moreover, because streetcars were single cars drawn by teams of horses, they offered fewer options for segregated seating than railroads. Streetcar companies did not sell first-class tickets or operate separate ladies’ accommodations, as the train that Kate Brown boarded did. The interiors of streetcars were typically mixed-class spaces, where laborers and middle-class people, men and women, congressmen and laborers shared a single car. In this, streetcars were distinctly urban institutions, characteristic of life in the country’s increasingly dense, populous, and diverse cities.9

Black Washingtonians began demanding equal access to streetcars during the Civil War. When black soldiers protested exclusion as they were being recruited during the summer of 1863, the capital’s one streetcar line inaugurated separate cars for black riders. The New York–based Anglo-African at first applauded the separate cars as a mark of progress, but the paper soon complained that the cars were inadequate to meet the growing demand by black riders.10

That winter, army surgeon Alexander Augusta made a high-profile protest after he was refused a seat on a streetcar while traveling on official business. Augusta outlined the incident in a letter to the military judge advocate and forwarded a copy to Sen. Charles Sumner, who read Augusta’s complaint in the Senate and insisted that more be done to safeguard the rights of black Americans to ride the city’s streetcars. The cars for black people only came “now and then, once in a long interval of time,” he argued, creating particularly severe hardships for women. It was a “disgrace to this city” and a “disgrace to this Government.”11 Sumner introduced into the new charter for the Metropolitan Railroad, the city’s chief streetcar company, a clause prohibiting “exclusion of colored persons from the equal enjoyment of all railroad privileges in the District of Columbia.”12

In the Senate, opponents of integration made perhaps their strongest case by citing railroad companies’ widespread practice of running separate cars for separate classes of travel. Railroads often ran ladies’ cars to which men could be denied access as well as smoking cars and refreshment cars, all of which were understood to be permitted under the common law principle of reasonable regulation. As Wisconsin Sen. James R. Doolittle explained, “public carriers” must “furnish a seat to every man who purchases a ticket and asks for a seat … and that is all they are bound to do.” If company managers decided the public was best served, and the peace best administered, by providing separate cars for black people and white people, such was their prerogative.

Others, however, argued that race and color were not varieties of difference that could be used in making distinctions among paying customers. Maryland Sen. Reverdy Johnson, a widely respected legal thinker, argued that there was no doubt that companies were allowed to preserve order within the cars but that prerogative did not mean they could make distinctions among law-abiding men.13 Charles Sumner and his allies in the Senate further insisted that recourse to the common law was not sufficient to the challenges black Americans faced. Whereas opponents argued that most black Americans were content with the situation as it stood (and that Alexander Augusta was merely a rabble-rouser), Sumner said people brought examples of injustice on the streetcars to his attention “almost daily.”

The debate brought disagreements over slavery and the future of black Americans to the surface, giving it a highly emotional and sectional tinge that may ultimately have pushed a few Republican moderates into Sumner’s camp. Delaware Sen. Willard Saulsbury argued that attempts to “equalize with ourselves an inferior race” were “insane.” White people who refused to ride streetcars with black Americans showed “good sense and good taste,” he claimed, before lambasting the North as the source of every awful “ ‘ism’ of the modern day”: “Woman’s rightsism, spiritualism, and every other ism, together with abolitionism.”14 Such arguments grated on Republican moderate Lot Morrill of Maine, who joined Sumner in arguing for the anti-discrimination language, not because he considered it legally necessary but because he interpreted border state senators like Saulsbury as defending the system of racial domination that had underpinned slavery. Saulsbury and his ilk had no problem riding with “colored men and women,” provided they wore upon themselves “the badge of bondage and servitude.” “It is in good taste to do that!” Morrill exclaimed sarcastically.15

Republicans did not agree on the lengths to which the federal government could go to ameliorate problems resulting from slavery, but they did agree on the imperative of ending slavery itself. Morrill had emphasized the measure’s close association with the abolition of slavery, and this may have helped secure the Senate votes necessary to pass the Metropolitan Railroad incorporation act with Sumner’s clause included.

Congress’ codification of black Americans’ right to ride the District’s streetcars was a significant innovation, not just because it represented a willingness to undertake progressive policy experiments in the capital but also because the concept of an individual right to ride was, itself, very new. Black Washingtonians had insisted that, once free, they must be entitled to full membership in the traveling public and to the privilege of using ladies’ or first-class accommodations if they so desired and could afford it. Their claims had pushed Congress to discuss the meaning of common law principles and the necessity for declaratory legislation where the common law was violated, and Congress had created a “right” to ride as a result. Questions about the boundary between public and private, and about the legitimacy of various kinds of discrimination, would remain crucial as Americans continued to debate the question of where—literally in what spaces—people’s civil rights began and ended.

Adapted from An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C. by Kate Masur. Copyright © 2010 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press. www.uncpress.unc.edu.

1. Committee on the District of Columbia, Report. 40th Cong., 2nd sess., 1868, S. Rept. Com. 131, 12.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., 13.

6. Benjamin Brown French, Witness to the Young Republic: A Yankee’s Journal, 1828-1870, ed. Donald B. Cole and John J. McDonough (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1989), 613.

7. For the larger story of Kate Brown and her protest, see Kate Masur, “Patronage and Protest in Kate Brown’s Washington,” Journal of American History, 99 (March 2013), 1047–71.

8. The principle of “reasonable regulation” is clearly explained in Barbara Y. Welke, “When All the Women Were White, and All the Blacks Were Men: Gender, Class, Race, and the Road to Plessy, 1855-1914,” Law and History Review, 13 (Autumn 1995), 273–74. For black Americans’ antebellum demands for access to railroads and streetcars, see also Leslie M. Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 270–71; and Louis Ruchames, “Jim Crow Railroads in Massachusetts,” American Quarterly, 8 (spring 1956), 61–75.

9. In Washington in the spring of 1865, a ticket cost seven cents when purchased from the conductor and less than six cents if bought in advance as part of a book. At the federal government ’s daily laborers’ wage of $2, the 12 cents required for a round-trip commute was about 6 percent of a day’s wages. Washington Chronicle, March 29, 1865.

10. Anglo-African, Nov. 7, 1863, Nov. 28, 1863. See also Sojourner Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time, With a History of Her Labors and Correspondence Drawn From Her ‘Book of Life,’ edited by Olive Gilbert (Battle Creek, Mich., 1878), 184.

11. Congressional Globe, 38th Cong., 1st sess., 1864, 553–54.

12. Ibid., 553 (emphasis added).

13. Ibid., CG, 38th Cong., 1st sess., 1864, 1156.

14. Ibid., 1141, 1158.

15. Ibid., 1159.

The Best Foam Rollers

The Best Foam Rollers

by Lauren Schwartzberg @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

If you do it right, and with the right equipment, foam rolling is a deep-tissue massage you can give yourself at home, every single day, by rolling around on the floor. Here’s how it works: A cylinder of firm foam pushes up against sore muscles and fascia, the thin layer of tissue that surrounds muscles, to loosen targeted areas, prevent injuries, and just make you feel good both before and after working out (and when you’re just feeling like a good stretch while watching TV). Because of all that, fitness people love them. “I geek out with foam rollers because they’re so awesome,” says Alice Toyonaga who co-founded Modo Yoga. “They help improve the health of tissues—improving oxygen and blood flow through our fascia—help relieve muscles and joint pain, and increase mobility. What else can you want?”

But perhaps the better question is, which one should I get? Overall, trainers and instructors across the board suggest that you should be looking for something lightweight, compact enough for storing, and dense enough to dig into trigger points. Below, we’ve collected a selection of the best of the best that meet all those requirements. Five experts, from SLT instructors to yogis to CrossFit lovers, actually selected the same TriggerPoint model (the one you might’ve heard about; read more below), but three others voted for the most basic dense Amazon version, and we also heard rave reviews for all the collapsible, travel-size, and vibrating options in between. So let the trainers themselves convince you of what foam roller is the muscle massager you need most.

“The Vyper by HyperIce has three levels of penetrating vibration, so it gets deeper into muscles than any other foam roller I’ve used.” Danny Musico, celebrity personal trainer

HyperIce Vyper
$179, Amazon

“Maybe it’s from my ballet background, but even as I entered the fitness world, I still go traditional when it comes to foam rollers. I like something smooth, and fairly dense. Even the basic AmazonBasics High-Density Foam roller works great. I like the longer 36-inch rollers so that you can use it not only for self myofascial release in muscles, but also stability ab exercises. I prefer the smooth rollers over textured, to evenly massage out muscles, but I’m sure it’s a personal preference.” —Julie Cobble, master instructor, Physique 57

AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller
$19, Amazon

“I use the deep-tissue foam roller after any lengthy yoga practice. I love loosening up and relaxing the muscles I worked; it feels so incredible, almost like getting a massage. It helps to relieve tension, soothe aches, and work out any knots. It’s a great addition to any recovery routine after your workout. Another great thing is that it can also be used in a variety of yoga poses, like under the knees in savasana or in place of a block in other yoga poses.”Perry Kronfeld, yoga instructor

Gaiam Restore Deep Tissue Foam Roller
$35, Amazon

“After going through a wave of trials, I’ve found that a basic high-density foam roller is it for me. It’s firm, smooth, yet provides friction so that it can adhere to your skin, which helps to smooth out fascia (the connective outer layer of tissue that encases muscles). Most people don’t realize that they’re most likely in need of rolling out their fascia rather than their muscles. This classic tool is like a ‘dough roller’ for your connective tissues. Find a sensitive spot, hold there for about 30 seconds applying continuous pressure, and gradually make your way up the muscle.” —Lauren Bustos, Liftonic

Foam Roller, LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller
$5, Amazon

“I like Spri foam rollers because of their texture. The rollers have a bumpy surface, which allows for more mobility in the muscle during your workout.” —David Barton, founder, TMPL Gym

SPRI Deep Tissue Muscle Massage Roller
$60, Amazon

“I roll daily, and my favorite by far is the TriggerPoint. It’s just the right density to be effective without bruising. A lot of rollers are too hard and will bruise rather than release (but if you like something on the denser side, TriggerPoint has an option for that, too). It’s the perfect size that allows you to target all major parts of the body, while being compact enough to travel with. It won’t dent or lose its shape, therefore maintaining its effectiveness for a number of years.” —Radan Sturm, Liftonic

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
$37, Amazon

“I love the Morph collapsible foam roller because it’s portable and amazing to travel with.” —Gunnar Peterson, celebrity personal trainer

The Morph Collapsible Foam Roller
$150, Amazon

“I love the versatility of RolPal: You can either roll it on your body, place your body on it for active release, or use it to roll out a client. It’s made of 100 percent silicone, so it molds to your body, and the bumps feel like fingertips, giving you an extra-deep release without feeling abrasive.” —Anna Kaiser, founder, AKT

RolPal
$365, RolPal


This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Three Steps to a Holiday Without Work Email

Three Steps to a Holiday Without Work Email

by Cynthia Lawson @ Slate Articles

The holiday season is upon us and it will soon be time to turn on your out-of-office responder. Or, will you? Will you be one of the many Americans who checks their email while they’re on vacation, or will you be one of the few who turns on that auto-responder and doesn't look at your inbox again until your first day back? Will you spend most of your time stressing out about email, losing your rare holiday to the never-ending “ding” of your device?

A few years back, my wife and I spent winter break in a quaint Spanish colonial town in Colombia. We’d looked forward to the holidays, to catch up with one another, disconnect, and try to regain some of the work-life balance we craved in Manhattan. Then came the email: There was an urgent request for information from “higher ups,” and she needed to walk someone on her team through the details of how to find it. She considered ignoring the request but worried it might hurt the image she’d been trying to project of always-available employee. Instead of enjoying one of the afternoons of our vacation with a bite and stroll through town, I spent hours hanging out in the main square watching my spouse wave her phone around desperately trying to find a signal so that the email with the detailed instructions could go out.

I first started thinking about solutions to these holiday-ruining email nightmares 10 years ago when my work took me to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. I lived in a lakeside town in the Highlands, working with students and faculty teaching a group of indigenous artisans skills they may need to become independent social entrepreneurs. During this month, I was online and on email sporadically. If it rained, the networks would, for the most, part collapse, and when June happens to be hurricane season, well, you end up with a majority of your time involuntarily offline. I couldn’t believe how amazing it felt to be able to truly focus on the project I had there.

Though I did feel what may be best described as email withdrawal (with FOMO and all), it was a truly wonderful experience to know I could “survive” without that 24/7 connectivity. When I got back to the U.S., I resisted being sucked back into the churn, and became actively interested in email charters, technology diets, and ultimately reflective on how I could encourage healthier email practices in my own community of colleagues at Parsons School of Design.

Here are a few steps you can take now to help protect that precious holiday time you have ahead and bring better habits with you into the new year:

Step 1: Gain a really good understanding of your email habits—what they are now and what you would like them to be. Keep a log of how often and for how much time you check email every day. Do you allow yourself to have downtime, for example, when in line at the supermarket or subway platform, or are you always reaching for your phone to respond to the vibration notification (which I always suggest turning off) in case there’s a new message in your inbox? How will this look during the holidays? Do you want to give yourself half an hour each day to focus on email or not look at it at all until Jan. 2? What would your ideal email diet be, and how does it match up with your current reality?

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to change, explore your options. Are you able to try out technology diets that may include checking email once a day? Or, do you perhaps need apps like Self Control and time management methods like the Pomodoro Technique to regain focus and minimize distraction?

Step 2: Send email as you would want to receive it. Are you tired of getting email you don’t actually need at all hours of the night or morning or when you’re on vacation and trying to enjoy family time? Then try to put yourself in the shoes of the people receiving your messages. This is especially important if you’re a supervisor—do you need to email after hours and when out of the office, or could you instead install email scheduling tools like Boomerang or MailButler? Can this idea wait until after the holidays? If so, make a note to yourself and send it then. Your bad email habits aren’t just yours, but they could set the tone for email culture for your whole team at work.

And, most importantly, ponder whether email is the best way to communicate what you have in front of you. Instead, should you request a brief conference call with your team, or check on your work’s instant messaging platform to see if a colleague is available for a quick message during normal work hours? If you wouldn’t want to get that email in your inbox, keep it out of others’ too.

Step 3: Take your ideas to your whole workplace, and try to start some new habits before the holidays. No person is an island, and no true email solution will come from just one vigilant boundary-setter alone. Set expectations about holiday email with your co-workers and other frequent email exchangers now. Consider sharing this article with your colleagues to discuss over lunch. What are some small steps that you all agree could be taken now to make sure everyone has a happy holiday with minimal work stress?

And after the holidays? Start co-authoring a workplace email charter that can set the expectations for everyone from the start. The success of healthier email habits is highly dependent on those closest to your daily work being on the same page.

This holiday season, consider giving yourself, and your co-workers, the gift of email-free holidays. And come the new year, make a resolution to bring that holiday mindset to email year-round.

The Best Wireless Headphones

The Best Wireless Headphones

by Strategist Editors @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best wireless headphones determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Headphones Less Than $50

Best Workout Headphones

4.2 stars, 20,337 reviews
“I have yet to find a pair of earbuds that got it right, especially when exercising, UNTIL NOW!!! Yesterday, I ran my first 5K wearing these WITH sunglasses, and they were super comfortable and did not fall out. I have already recommended these to a couple friends. The sound is so good, too. It drowns out everything around you. The controls are easy to use on the move, changing tracks or adjusting volume. And pairing these to a phone is idiot-proof. Five stars all around. Well done!!!”

SENSO Bluetooth Wireless Sports Earphones
$30, Amazon

Best Foldable Over-Ear Headphones

4.6 stars, 7,541 reviews
“Go ahead and buy two pairs. Maybe three. I have to share mine with my wife. These are awesome! I bought these and a pair of Mpow Thor. These are much better. I wear them at work in my office job to drown out the distractions, as well as at my side job—my lawn-care business. They work very well to block out the loud engine noise and create a wonderful listening experience. I often listen to audiobooks, which are very easy to hear in a loud environment. These headphones have a rich and deep sound for music. As good as Beats, to me. A very long battery cycle is nice. I charge mine maybe once a week, if even that. And that’s listening for a couple hours at work, then two to four hours in the evenings. They adjust well and fit nicely. They don’t feel cheap.”

Mpow Over Ear Bluetooth Headphones
$37, Amazon

Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds

4.1 stars, 305 reviews
“Wow, these headphones are high-quality! They fit securely in the ears and don’t fall out. The cord doesn’t get tangled. They are Bluetooth and are supereasy to pair with your wireless device. On the cord, there are buttons that control the volume as well as changing between tracks. There is also a button for answering calls. You can also just say yes or no to choose to answer a phone call. I love that you can pair two devices at once with these headphones. The sound is amazing. It has a nice, crisp sound that can be adjusted as you wish. They do get pretty loud if you raise the volume up to the highest level. They are perfect for listening to while walking or exercising.”

LBell Wireless Headphones
$23, Amazon

Best Waterproof Sport Headphones

4.4 stars, 197 reviews
“I needed a pair of headphones that were sweat-proof and would stay on while jogging. I got these and they are absolutely amazing. Very comfortable, and exactly what I was looking for. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for headphones that fit great and stay on while running or working out.”

Sardonyx SX-918 Bluetooth Headphones
$30, Amazon

Best Over-Ear Headphones With Microphone

4.4 stars, 3,022 reviews
“Love these headphones! They are very comfortable. The Bluetooth has been pretty easy to pair with my phone every time I’ve used them. The included carrying case is huge, but well-made for protecting these things. The sound quality is spot on as well, with good clarity and range in highs and lows. I used them while mowing the grass two days ago, and they were awesome! The music drowned out the mower engine and gave me my zone to work. They were so good I was worried that I wouldn’t know what was around me if someone were to come up behind me.”

Avantree Bluetooth Headphones
$33, Amazon

Best Headphones Less Than $100

Best Cat-Ear Headphones

4.4 stars, 174 reviews
“OMFG it’s bloody amazing! I took it to Indiana Comic Con and it was the life of the party between cosplayers and noncosplayers alike. Even when I had no Wi-Fi to truly show it off, I was able to still get all the looks. Even a celebrity I was meeting liked it.”

Wireless Color Changing Cat Headphones
$70, Amazon

Best Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones

4.1 stars, 6,182 reviews
“Above and beyond, probably one of the best pair of headphones I have ever purchased. Not only well worth the money, but I’ve been converted from Beats to these. Absolutely would recommend these. The sound quality is crisp and enjoyable, trust me when I say the noise-canceling version is worth the extra money. If you’re a fan of softer music like scores or jazz and hate that you can’t listen to it well in public, that mode helps quite well with it. The design is comfortable and fits snugly on the head. The ear padding is fairly well-set and actually feels like it breathes a little, so not a lot of worry for sweat from that area. Headband is snug, and the entire structure of it feels sturdy.”

Cowin E-7 Active Noise Canceling Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Stereo Headphones
$70, Amazon

Best Headphones More Than $100

Best Around-Ear Headphones

4.4 stars, 1,1116 reviews
“I freaking love these. I was using Beats Solo Wireless (rose-gold ones), and they are good. But after hours of wearing them, my ears would start to hurt. These are like wearing baby kittens on my ears!!! So soft and comfortable, and the sounds is amazing.”

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II
$199, Amazon

Best Luxury Headphones

4.3 stars, 357 reviews
“These headphones exude pure luxury. They smell like a fine leather coat or the way an expensive pair of dress leather shoes smell when you open the box. Their craftsmanship is impeccable. No plastic or cheapness of any kind on these headphones. They are very comfortable. They are not as light as some headphones, but that is due to the use of metals instead of plastic. But that being said, they are still not heavy.”

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones
$400, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Best Savings and Checking Accounts for 2017 - Your Millennial Money

Best Savings and Checking Accounts for 2017 - Your Millennial Money


Your Millennial Money

You know what’s so great about the Internet? No, not that you can spy on all your friends on social media and then comment about their life. What’s great is that the Internet has allowed competition in the world of savings and checking accounts. Even just a few years ago, you applied for a bank … Read more...

For an Increasing Number of Youth in Juvenile Detention, Learning Is Possible

For an Increasing Number of Youth in Juvenile Detention, Learning Is Possible

by Francesca Berardi @ Slate Articles

Before Malik was locked away in a juvenile prison in Woodsbend, a small town tucked into Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains, he didn’t care much about school. No one in his immediate family has a high school diploma and his teachers, it seemed, only cared about the successful students.

Malik, who is 18, spent a year and a half at Woodsbend for burglary and robbery. His experience in juvenile detention completely shifted his perspective on education. The game changer was his encounter with Stephen McKenzie, a teacher who earned Malik’s trust by showing him that he wouldn’t give up on him during a course in chemistry. To help him get comfortable with the material, McKenzie set up a makeshift lab just for Malik: a project that requires extra imagination in a juvenile facility since many chemicals and objects are banned. “He showed me how to tell volumes using cups full of water and different weights,” Malik says.

The day Malik completed the chemistry course, McKenzie and other members of the staff borrowed a lab coat from the facility’s nurse and brought it to him. “He was holding a beaker and he was ... just smiling,” McKenzie recalls of the moment, which they photographed.

Malik’s academic turnaround is not an isolated story at Woodsbend or other juvenile facilities in Kentucky. In 2013, the state revamped its approach to education through a combination of new strategies: It expanded the use of online education without forgoing in-person instruction and shored up vocational programs. The budget remains the same, it’s just being used more creatively.

This is part of a national effort to transform schooling in juvenile education centers. Increasingly, officials are realizing that incarcerated youth are in a unique position to buckle down and focus on school—even if they’ve been wayward or absent students in their former lives. While incarcerated, students like Malik are, in effect, a captive audience with little else to occupy their time. Some of them experience an epiphany of sorts when, separated from past living conditions and habits, they can finally recognize and appreciate the importance of education in forging a different path.

For decades, incarcerated youth have been the forgotten students of American education. But they’re also the population where a few extra resources, creativity, and support can go the furthest. Slowly—too slowly, some say—that’s starting to change, in Kentucky and elsewhere.

The organization behind much of this work is the five-year-old Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, which has been helping Kentucky and 17 other states across the country rethink budgeting, teacher training, and educational programming for incarcerated youth. Specifically, the organization hosts training camps for teachers and administrators from juvenile facilities, where they gather to share ideas and brainstorm together. Over the past four years, educators from 70 facilities have taken part in these sessions.

The center has customized relationships with partner states and cities: Some just send teachers to the training, or rely on the group for help with specialized programming; in other cases, the center is much more involved, managing the day-to-day operations of the juvenile facility. Center founder David Domenici, who is a lawyer, says he hopes the work will help spark a broader “revolution” throughout the country. He was founding principal of the Maya Angelou Academy, a facility serving incarcerated youth in Washington. At Maya Angelou, Domenici test-drove his ideas, which he hoped would create a far more engaging and individualized approach for students.

In New Orleans, the school actually runs inside the city’s juvenile center, serving an average of 40 students. Over the summer, Domenici announced the results of their first year: Three students graduated, and overall the kids at the school passed 79 “end-of-course exams,” which are a requirement for graduation in Louisiana.

This year Kentucky paid the center a fee of $17,500 for technical support, advice in key areas, and teacher training. The person responsible for bringing the center’s approach to Kentucky is Sylvia Kuster, a former elementary teacher who now oversees the educational programs in six detention centers where youth wait for their trials, and eight more long-term facilities for juveniles convicted of crimes.

Kuster, who is 69, divides her time between her house in northeastern Kentucky, her office in Frankfurt, and her white Toyota, which she calls her second apartment. With a change of pressed clothes always hanging in the back of her car, she often travels from one youth facility to another.

She first reached out to Domenici’s organization in 2013 because she wanted support helping incarcerated students use the Internet more safely and effectively in their coursework. Domenici and his team showed teachers how to tightly monitor and control web use within their correctional centers, creating “blacklists” and “whitelists” of websites, and keeping track of the search histories on each device. Whereas inmates were previously forced to work on computer courses that were anything but interactive, the new protocol allows them to take more sophisticated courses like their peers on “the outside.”

The dividends of that outreach were clear one sunny morning in early May, when a dozen students sat in the math and science class at the Woodsbend facility, each of them focused on their own personalized program. One of them studied the effects of pollution on lungs, reading an article from a scientific magazine on an iPad. Every few minutes, he stopped to take notes in a notebook and to answer written questions provided by a teacher. A student named Chad, 18, sat at a computer designing a racing car with a 3-D design app called Tinker and an online tutorial opened in another window. “I enjoy doing this stuff,” said Chad. “All that I want now is a diploma,” he added, noting that online courses may help make that more feasible.

At Woodsbend, teachers and students communicate through an internal email server, and maintain a sharing platform through Edmodo, where educators can post links to YouTube videos thanks to a filter called Safeshare. Students can also use Chromebooks and work after school hours with an offline system. The software and Chromebooks were either provided by Domenici’s group or purchased with federal money from Title I funds.

In the Northern Kentucky Youth Development Center, Aaron, who is 16, said he’s able to “fly” through his courses thanks to the new online programming. In the first two weeks at the center he earned an entire credit in science, which usually takes a semester. He says the courses provide plenty of examples, videos, and lab lectures. Aaron dreams of attending college someday—he’s already compiled a list of ones that interest him—and wants to study either criminal justice or engineering.

One new initiative that makes Kuster feel especially proud is a partnership with the Department of Labor that grants certificates and trains kids for jobs in fields with the greatest number of openings. In Woodsbend, they offer carpentry and electricity. At the Northern Kentucky Youth Development Center, classes are offered in fiber-optic wiring and masonry, two growing sectors in the area.

There are a few reasons this effort is happening now.

The first is the national push to decrease the number of juvenile inmates. Over the past 10 years, the number of incarcerated youth has fallen from about 93,000 in 2006 to 48,000 in 2015. With less-crowded facilities, administrators have been able to start focusing on how to improve their services, rather than using all their energy to maintain order. “People started asking: Now that it is not terrible, can we actually make it good?” says Domenici.

In order to decrease the number of incarcerated youth, some states are attempting to create alternative community-based programs that keep kids monitored but out of jail-like settings. In Kentucky, there has also been a push to avoid incarcerating youth who commit “status offenses”—noncriminal acts such as running away from home or attempting to purchase tobacco or alcohol underage. It’s a challenging work in progress: In 2014 more than 1,000 juveniles in Kentucky were still detained for these more minor offenses.

The move to shrink and improve these places is responding to the growing recognition that juvenile facilities often exacerbate social inequality rather than rehabilitate wayward youth. A letter released by the federal departments of justice and education in 2014 reported that fewer than 50 percent of incarcerated youth were earning a diploma, and more than 70 percent had learning disabilities, prompting agitation and lawsuits from advocates, parents, and even governmental agencies across the country. The federal government urged local administrators to “be creative” and find a way to offer an education “comparable to offerings in traditional public schools.”

The needs of the remaining students is partly why states like Kentucky can’t rely on online courses alone to improve their educational offerings. They also need more dedicated and qualified teachers throughout their youth facilities.

“Our educational program has improved tremendously, but we need more teachers,” says Kuster, adding that they’re obliged to follow the student to teacher ratio set by the local school district. With the impossibility of hiring a range of specialist teachers, most educators at Woodsbend take on several roles. Last May, the principal was also teaching English and social studies. Stephen McKenzie taught math and science (he is licensed in both). Two vocational teachers offered training in carpentry and electricity. And another educator taught kids life and resume-building skills so they could apply for jobs and manage their personal finances. The majority of the youths who arrive at the facility are behind academically, sometimes unable even to read. And Kuster says the facility desperately needs a qualified special education instructor.

Because of fluctuations in the prison population and different agencies involved, the jobs aren’t always stable, which can be a deterrent to potential teachers. But those who work in juvenile facilities say there are other rewards apart from the pay. There’s no comparison to watching a formerly troubled student turn his life around. In the Northern Kentucky Youth Development Center—a facility where the majority of kids have been charged with sexual offenses—Dave Gideon, a former youth worker, finds the greatest remuneration in his students’ progress. He teaches a vocational course in fiber optic wiring and recalls one student named Jonathan, who was angry and disillusioned when he arrived at the detention center last fall. Jonathan had been living in a car with his father, and his mother was in jail; he had earned only seven high school credits.

Jonathan, who is 18, had become much more motivated and consistent with his schoolwork inside the facility. He took most of his courses online, but his favorite class was a hands-on course: the one in fiber-optic wiring taught by Gideon. “Thanks to people like David, something that I thought was impossible, now is very, very possible,” Jonathan said last May while sitting in his classroom. “Here they taught me to be honest and patient, something important for my future outside.” There are many things he dislikes about being incarcerated, but he appreciates the reliability. “I know that everything in that schedule is actually going to happen,” he says. “Before, I didn't even know when I would be eating my next meal—now I can make plans.” Jonathan graduated and was released over the summer. He is currently living in a group home and working on enrolling in a community college.

As the continued difficulty attracting and hiring enough qualified teachers shows, the new improvement efforts certainly haven’t solved all of the myriad problems facing juvenile inmates (and nor has the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings even reached a majority of states). Although the numbers of youth inmates are dropping, those kids who remain tend to have greater social problems and need much more intense care than some of their predecessors. Experts say that accountability is a thorny, and huge, challenge. Tracking results is particularly difficult at schools inside juvenile facilities: many kids spend only short stints there, and there’s often not a consistent enough number to make graduation rate data meaningful, for instance. According to Peter Leone, a professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Education, the federal government needs to issue much clearer guidelines to states on how schools inside juvenile facilities should be run, and how results should be tracked—and not hesitate to withhold federal funds from those states that don’t meet the standards.

In the meantime, there’s a new sense of optimism at least among some, including McKenzie, the math and science instructor at Woodsbend. He says that initially he felt frustrated and somewhat isolated when he began teaching there; even with 18 years of experience in public schools, he had no idea how to connect with teachers in other juvenile facilities. The meetings with staff from the Center for Educational Excellence helped change that. Now, he’s in touch with teachers working in similar settings from across the country and he’s confident he can make a difference, at least with some students.

In May, when I visited Woodsbend, Malik did not know whether he would soon be released or would have to transfer to an adult facility to finish his sentence. During his incarceration, he earned his high school diploma and even took some college courses; he dreams of finishing his college studies and becoming an industrial electrician. Malik felt an attachment—and appreciation—for the teachers at Woodsbend that’s unlike any connection he’s ever had with a school. He’s out now, but he knows one day he’ll return to Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains to revisit Woodsbend—this time of his own volition. “Whenever I graduate college, I’ll go to Woodsbend and thank my teachers,” he says.

How to Track Your Net Worth [+ My Net Worth]

by Philip Taylor @ PT Money

You're probably reading this site because you want to see your financial life improve? Maybe move toward financial independence? Good on you, my friend! A great way to get better at something is to start tracking it. Let's talk about measuring and tracking your net worth. Simply put, your personal net worth is equal to […]

The post How to Track Your Net Worth [+ My Net Worth] appeared first on PT Money.

Fear in the Family

Fear in the Family

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week by signing up in the box below. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers Wednesday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I am a stay-at-home mom with a 2-year-old toddler. My husband has a 13-year-old son with his ex. We have a restraining order against her after she threatened me while I was pregnant. Right now, my stepson lives with us full time and only has supervised visits with his mother. He used to be a sweet, shy kid, but now I am afraid of him. My stepson has anger issues and is 6 inches taller than me. He has cursed at me, broken plates, and left holes in walls. I don’t trust him near my daughter. My husband is trying, but he can’t be home until 7 most nights. I leave the house with my daughter until he gets home. I don’t want to be alone in the house with my stepson. We are paying out of pocket for weekly therapy, and it is not working. I am tired. I am afraid. I am out of options. My husband is a good man and a good father, but I feel he is failing us in favor of my stepson. I want to feel the love I had for the little boy at my wedding, but all I feel is fear that the next glass he throws will be at my daughter’s head instead of the wall. I don’t know what to do.
—Frightened Stepmom

If you’re at the point where you have to leave your own home with your daughter every day until your husband gets off work, you’re right that what you and your husband have tried thus far isn’t working, and something needs to change immediately. I have sympathy for your stepson, who is still a child in need of counseling and support. Your husband must find a therapeutic intervention that provides him with the help he needs to communicate nonviolently. If your stepson is seeing a regular talk therapist, and it’s not helping, your husband should consider finding someone who specializes in anger management, behavioral intervention, and preventing violence. But in the meantime, your priority needs to be your daughter’s safety. If you have to remove her from her home for hours every weekday, then you need to find somewhere else to live immediately. Your current situation is destabilizing and dangerous for her.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I have more than once had sex, or gone further than I was really comfortable going with men, for the sake of preserving their feelings, or because I felt I had already taken things too far to back out. Almost all of my female friends have a similar story. How do I convince myself that I don’t need to have sex with someone to protect their feelings? And how do I find the words to politely end a sexual encounter after I become uncomfortable?
—Opting Out

Unlearning the message that you are responsible, as a woman, for making a man feel always comfortable is the work of a lifetime! The language itself is fairly simple and straightforward. There are dozens of ways to politely stop a sexual encounter: “Thanks for a nice evening, but I’m not feeling a connection, so I’m going to go home”; “I’m not comfortable with this anymore; let’s stop”; “I’m not coming in, good night.” The bigger problem, which you’ve already identified, is overriding the voice in your brain that says Oh my God, I couldn’t possibly say that, even if it were true. He’d be so offended, and I’d hurt his pride, and what if he tried to point out that I seemed to be having a good time earlier? I don’t want to get into an argument over this; it’d be easier just to go along for now and then leave as soon as it’s over.

Think of it this way. You sound like a sensitive and empathetic person—you would presumably not want to have sex with a man who actually felt uncomfortable and disinterested in sleeping with you, who was simply going along with you because he was anxious about hurting your feelings. If you found out that a man you were about to sleep with felt this way, you would stop immediately, because you would be wholly uninterested in having sex with a partner who was not genuinely enthusiastic. You would not want him to put on a good show, grit his teeth, and get through it. So treat yourself with the same kindness and generosity. I hope you find partners who cheerfully and graciously accept “Hey, this isn’t working for me anymore—let’s stop” as a normal thing to hear on a date. I hope you’re able to give yourself permission to stop a sexual encounter without feeling like you need to apologize or that you’re trying to break a lease before your rental agreement is up. Going on a date, flirting with someone, kissing someone, testing your chemistry—these aren’t links in a chain of events that leads to an irreversible “We have to have sex now” contract that you’re obligated to uphold against your own wishes, inclinations, and desires.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’m recently getting back into dating after 11 years of marriage. The dating scene is very different than it used to be. I’ve been using an app to meet men because it seems like that’s what the kids are doing these days and I don’t have a lot of options to meet people in my everyday life. It just so happens that I’m really good at finding information about people, and as I get to know these men, I dig about to find out more. (My favorite is finding the DUI of a guy even though he’d never told me his name. I also discovered a guy was catfishing me.) I do it for a few reasons. First and foremost, it turns out that most men are full of it, at least those on dating apps. I want to weed out the people who aren’t worth my time. It’s also a challenge, and a delightful puzzle. Because I see it as a puzzle, I usually end up down a rabbit hole of information about these guys. I find their jobs, their homes, sometimes the homes they grew up in, Instagram accounts, Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, and on and on.

My friends think I’m a bit stalkerish and that I should just let things develop naturally. I’d rather know ahead of time if the guy I’m chatting with is actually married with a 6-week-old. (That really happened.) What say you? Am I intruding on their privacy? I never cross any legal lines to find these things out. It’s all right there on the internet for anyone who’s willing to look. But I usually end up with a hell of a lot more knowledge than they’d probably be willing to share with me.
—Harmless Stalking Is Fun

You don’t need my permission to spend your spare time obsessively researching a bunch of men you already dislike until you find something that confirms your initial mistrust, if that’s what you really want to do. It sounds like a deeply unpleasant use of leisure time to me, but not everyone enjoys the same hobbies. The question isn’t whether you’re doing something right or wrong, exactly; you’re technically right inasmuch as all of this information is freely available. But this goes well beyond a quick social media search before a first date. The important question is: What are you getting out of this? You say that it’s like solving a puzzle, which is fine, but you don’t seem to be going on many dates, you’re not seeking out men you like and trying to get to know them better, and you’re not letting anybody get to know you. You’re staying at home, prowling into the corners of strangers’ personal histories, and then feeling satisfied when you find a reason not to trust them.

If this is fun for you, then by all means, keep doing it; you’re not actively hurting anyone and the primary person whose time you’re wasting is you. But if your friends seem concerned, and if you sometimes catch yourself wondering, “Why can’t I stop doing this?” then it might be worth asking yourself what you’re getting out of this behavior, and what it stems from—whether that’s a fear of dating, a belief that every man who expresses romantic interest is actually out to get you, or a burgeoning interest in a criminal justice career.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I just married my husband this summer after five years together. I had noticed that his relationship with his mother was not healthy. She consistently makes poor decisions, then expects both of her sons to swoop in and fix things. Two days after our wedding, she had a full-on breakdown. She threatened suicide if we left the city (we live across the country from her). We took her to the hospital, and she was put on suicide watch for three days. Since then, she’s gone to therapy but doesn’t seem to be changing her behavior or really giving the process a shot. She badgers my husband and his brother every day and is unable to make any significant decision without spending hours on the phone with one of them first.

She now has to move out of her current housing but refuses to live anywhere that is “below her,” and she changes her mind about where she wants to live more than once a day. She texts or calls her sons incessantly. My husband is at his wit’s end. But he refuses to seek out counseling for himself because he “doesn’t have the time right now.” I have offered to research options, and he says I should focus my energy on helping him with his mother instead. I am exhausted, and I can’t stand watching him let her walk all over him. I don’t know how to move forward, or how to get him to set real boundaries. He has tried, but she eventually wears him down, and he is so afraid she will end up homeless or dead if he doesn’t help her, he won’t listen to reason. Our first year of marriage has turned into a nightmare, and I just don’t know how much longer we can take this. Should I intervene with his mother? Are there resources for how to help family members stuck in these situations? She is more than just depressed—I think she has some kind of social disorder—but I can’t get my husband to accept the facts.
—Distressed Daughter-in-Law

Oh, my friend. It’s painful that your husband “doesn’t have the time” to see a therapist because he’s currently spending all of his spare time talking his mother down through one crisis after another—he has plenty of time, it’s just a matter of how he chooses to spend it. You married him knowing that he had no healthy boundaries with his mother, and you’re starting to see how that’s going to cause problems for you if you stay married to him. You can’t control your mother-in-law, and you can’t control your husband; what you can do is look after yourself right now. If she won’t take therapy seriously, and your husband refuses to go, then you can still make an appointment and start seeing someone right away.

Without going into detail about potential mental health diagnoses for your mother-in-law, I’m fairly certain that the help she needs isn’t for her sons to be on the phone with her nine or 10 times a day. Whether or not you’re able to persuade your husband to try something different with her, you can at least decide for yourself that you’re not going to dedicate multiple hours of each day to managing your husband’s relationship with her. A therapist will be able to help you find ways to set and maintain limits with him—and determine whether it’s possible for your marriage to be anything other than a nightmare.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’ve recently become engaged. I’ve been a vegetarian for ethical reasons for more than 20 years, and my fiancé, while not a vegetarian himself, often eats vegetarian food with me. I’d like our wedding dinner to be meat-free, but my fiancé is very against this. He thinks most people will expect meat (his family is full of “meat-and-potatoes” types) and won’t enjoy the meal otherwise. I don’t want to serve meat at my wedding. I feel very strongly about this, but my fiancé thinks I’m forcing my beliefs on everyone and “taking away their choice.” It’s not like I want to pass out pamphlets or tell people what to eat at other meals—I’d just like to serve a meal that’s incidentally vegetarian and delicious. I’m not sure if it matters, but his parents are not helping pay for the wedding, it is mostly us and my parents. How do we resolve this?
—Animal Lover

I hope your fiancé isn’t normally this petulant, because asking your wedding guests to eat a single meal of lasagna (or pizza, or burritos, or any number of perfectly ordinary vegetarian dishes) is an awfully far cry from “taking away their choice” to eat as much meat as they like on any given day. You’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years; this long-standing conviction of yours should come as no surprise to him. It’s odd that on other occasions he’s eaten vegetarian meals with you without complaint or concern, but the idea of doing so on his wedding day feels like some sort of abnegation of his freedom. He (and any of your guests who wish it) can have bacon at breakfast, ham at lunch, and a vegetarian dinner in the evening without any harm to their constitution or serious restriction of their dietary choices. Yours is a very reasonable request, and your fiancé should let it go. There will be plenty of meat-filled meals in both his and your guests’ futures.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
My partner and I have been together for about two years now. In many ways, he’s everything I’ve ever wanted. He’s respectful, kind, artistic, and has a great sense of humor. About six months ago, we moved in together, and I’ve realized he’s lazy and irresponsible when it comes to household management. For the first few months, I did 90 percent of the housework. He had recently experienced an unexpected family loss, so I chalked it up to grief. However, things didn’t improve. I ended up making a chore chart to divvy up responsibilities, but I still find myself reminding him three or four times to do a task. And this isn’t minor stuff either. He sleeps in until 4 p.m. on the weekends (not due to staying up late), and often is late to work from oversleeping or misses work entirely. I worry that his forgiving employer will one day fire him on the spot, so I’m constantly urging him to get up and go to work. He is irresponsible with finances, purchasing parts and equipment for projects he never starts.

I’m tired of being his mother. In terms of chores, I either have to nag him incessantly or give in and do things myself. I don’t want to nag and intervene, but I feel compelled to since I care about him and want him to do well in life. I’ve tried talking with him about these things, and he genuinely seems to want to do better but says that disorganization and prioritization have always been issues for him. He says that his “brain doesn’t work” like mine does. If this is the case, I want to be sympathetic, but I still think he should seek help. His employer offers free therapy, and I’ve encouraged him to take advantage of that, since his problems are affecting his ability to achieve his own goals and not just my desire for a clean house. I really want things to work between us, since he’s so wonderful in other ways, but I’m tired of my efforts being unreciprocated. I don’t want to break up with the man I’m in love with over dirty dishes and an upswept floor.

My mom says that I should just deal with the chores myself, since I am the one with higher living standards. My friends say that I shouldn’t worry about his life being in disarray, since it’s his life to live and his mistakes to make. Are my concerns valid? Is this enough of a reason to break up with someone? I feel guilty since I advocated for the move, and I think our relationship would still be just fine if we hadn’t started living together. Furthermore, a breakup at this point would leave one of us without housing. Should I wait until the lease is almost up? Although I’ve brought up my frustrations numerous times, I don’t think he realizes how deeply this matters to me, and I think a breakup would catch him seriously off guard. I don’t want us to end up that way, but I’m running out of strategies and patience.
—Don’t Want to Be a Nag

It’s possible that your boyfriend is depressed—sleeping all hours of the day and having a hard time getting motivated even in the face of potentially serious consequences are certainly signs that he should speak to a doctor about depression. There are a number of other possible conditions that might cause your boyfriend to feel his “brain doesn’t work” like someone else’s, from ADHD to executive function disorder. I don’t mean to claim there’s definitely a diagnosis that “explains” your boyfriend’s behavior, merely that it’s worth speaking to a medical professional about in case there’s support or treatment he currently needs but isn’t receiving. Regardless of whether or not he has a diagnosis, however, you can still make decisions about whether or not you want to live with him. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break up, either—it may be that living together just isn’t possible, but that you still want to continue your relationship and figure out an arrangement that works better.

I do not endorse your mother’s advice to just do everything for him and ignore your own feelings. That’s a recipe for resentment and eventual estrangement. Since you’re worried this is going to come as a surprise to him, I think you should revisit the topic: “We’ve talked about chore management in a number of little ways, but I want to make it clear that living together is not working for me. I’m doing 90 percent of the housework, and I either have to remind you to do your share multiple times before you get to it, or just do it for you. That’s exhausting and frustrating and it’s not how I want to spend my time. When our lease is up, I’m going to look for somewhere else to live.” If he wants to talk about making changes, that’s great, but I don’t think you should frame the discussion as an ultimatum, because he’s likely to make promises he can’t keep if he thinks it’ll get you to stay. You’re making the choice that’s right for you, and you can encourage him to seek professional help for the difficulty he has functioning on a daily basis. Whether or not he chooses to seek that help is up to him. Your relationship may be able to continue, depending on how you two can set your expectations for one another, but you don’t have to keep living with him (or like this) when it’s causing you so much distress.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

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In the Age of Instagram Queens, Drag Artists Debate If Performance Is Necessary

In the Age of Instagram Queens, Drag Artists Debate If Performance Is Necessary

by Miz Cracker @ Slate Articles

There’s no question that social media platforms like Instagram are changing drag: If a queen can adorn herself beautifully and snap a breathtaking photo, she can win fame without even leaving the house. But is the rising popularity of social media queens—who often emphasize garments and makeup in their work—causing trouble for the larger drag community?

On one level, social media has created a new point of entry to the global drag scene, opening doors for a broad spectrum of talented visual artists who might otherwise be excluded—queens isolated in small towns, barred from clubs because of their age, or too shy or unwilling to navigate the jungle of nightlife.

But for some, the growing presence of Instagram queens seems to be skewing public expectations for drag toward looks and fashion, and away from rich traditions of performance (including lip-synching, stand-up comedy, and dance), activism, community building, and so on. And in an industry where low-pay and high-expenses renders money rarely the object, any threat to long-held tradition is deeply felt.

As a queen myself, I’ve defended both sides of the argument.

But with a new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars around the corner, the nightlife community is arguing more vehemently than ever about what makes a true queen. So I talked to some girls who made their names on stage, and some girls who made their careers online, searching for insight on drag’s new age of looks and likes.

Aleera Night is a testament to the power of social media in the contemporary drag world, not because Instagram made her famous, but because it gave her the strength to launch a career. A gifted makeup artist based in Montreal, Canada, Ms. Night never had the guts go out in drag—that is, until she began creating online content. “I started doing looks on Instagram because I didn’t have a lot of confidence, and I wanted to do something that would make me proud of myself,” she told me. “So I started studying and getting inspired by other queens that I saw on Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram—and my looks got really good feedback.” In a little over a year, Ms. Night amassed a collection of stunning visual creations that expressed her obsession with fantasy films, and won her a supportive pool of fans and friends.

Soon, positive online response gave Ms. Night the confidence she needed to step out. Battling anxiety and panic attacks that reduced her to vomiting, she started with a visit to New York City, where she drew inspiration from the swagger of the queens she met. When she returned home, she felt driven. “I told myself, ‘You can’t go on living like you are right now, doing drag for your cats at home,’” she told me. “I really wanted to express myself in the outside world.”

For over two months now, Ms. Night has been an enthusiastic participant in Montreal’s drag competitions, experiencing new confidence both in and out of drag. And yet without support from the growing community of—and audience for—social media look queens, she might never have had the strength to tell herself, in her words, “Listen, bitch. You can do this.”

But for many performing queens, the growing audience for “look queens” on Instagram is a point of contention. “For the most part, people that aren’t in nightlife only see Instagram queens,” Pixie Aventura, a top queen in New York City, told me. “And that may have given the general public, people who don’t have the chance to go out and about, the idea that that’s what drag is.”

As a performing queen myself, I know what Aventura is talking about. Sometimes people wander into drag bars expecting extravagant, polished looks, and if they don’t see something they like, they won’t wait around for a performance. They don’t understand that there’s much more to drag than image-making, and that sometimes an outfit has to be simple in order to survive the kicks and splits of a high energy show.

Yes, sometimes, a great performing queen can look a little “crunchy” in person—but that doesn’t mean she’s not a great queen. And, in any case, even Instagram queens fall short of the standards they set. “I see a lot of makeup transformation artists who do these amazing transformations on Instagram, but you find out that it only works in a picture,” Aventura told me. “Because you see them out and it doesn’t work in real life. They just angled themselves in the picture so that it looked just right.” In short, the doctored images produced by social media queens sometimes push images of drag that are impractical if not impossible.

Still, Aventura doesn’t have a problem with social media drag so long as audiences learn to remain open to “the total package” that exists beyond couture garments and high-end makeup, even beyond the queen herself. “I feel now that people are trying to make rules about what drag is supposed to be, but drag defies definition,” Aventura says, “It’s not just a look. It’s being out in that bar, at that moment, with the most random people, where the most random events occur. Live theater happens with the audience—and that moment is drag.”

But though drag has a rich history as an “in your face” performance art, as Aventura puts it, social media is clearly pushing the genre in new directions. Ellis Atlantis, a queen and makeup artist with a broad reaching influence on Instagram, suggests that drag now requires simply being true to your “drag life.” “If you want to be an all-rounder then you’re going to have to perform or have some sort of act,” she says, “But I don’t think you have to perform and I don’t think a queen who doesn’t perform is any less of a drag queen.

For Atlantis, drag has been important not because of her growing audience, but because of what she has discovered through her work. “Originally I thought I was transgender and that’s why I started drag and putting myself out into the social media world—to explore, gain an understanding of myself,” she says. “Now my Instagram is my portfolio of looks, my way of saying This is my style, this is my creation.” Today, Atlantis creates looks not so much to explore gender identity, but for the sake of artistic expression: “I do Instagram to show the world who I am and to leave my creative mark.”

For Chicago-based Soju, who thrives both online and on the ground, surviving contemporary drag is all about balancing two challenges: real-world skill and visual, social media prowess.

Queens who depend primarily on social media often meet with ugly practical problems. “Having a large amount of Instagram followers is not going to pay your bills,” Soju says, “Having followers can lead you to a booking, but when you get the gig, are you a good performer? Are you going to get asked back?” Every city and venue has its own expectations for nightlife queens—but no matter where you go, a look is rarely enough. In most New York City clubs, girls are expected to do stand-up, perform high energy lip-sync numbers and—for better or worse—dance. In Chicago, parties like Queen! at Smart Bar celebrate extravagant looks, but still require girls to mix and mingle skillfully, keeping guests entertained, tipsy, and coming back for more every week.

But queens who want to survive entirely on these kinds of performance and party-hosting gigs will also meet with challenges. “If you want to make it in this industry, and you’re not a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, you can’t just stay in one lane,” Soju says, “Even if a queen says she doesn’t care about social media, even if she says she’s not a look queen, she’ll inevitably try different looks and trends. Because social media drag has influenced all queens, forced them to try new things to be seen.”

I laughed with Soju about one of the ongoing beefs between our hometowns—Chicago girls hate when New York City queens step onto the stage without elegant nails on their fingertips. “For you New York girls it’s all about, ‘How can quickly can I change out of this outfit and get to my next gig? What’s going to be comfortable on the train?’” Soju laughs. “That’s what we think when we see you without nails.” I roll my eyes—it’s always a pain to figure out what audiences and fellow queens require when you perform in a new setting.

But talking with Soju made me realize that queens are in a constant state of adjustment—trying to read the room in a new bar or a new town, trying to watch their sisters for new makeup trends. Now that social media queens have changed the drag landscape when it comes to standards of style, beauty, and engagement, we’ll just have to adjust yet again.

Due Date

Due Date

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com.
(Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers Wednesday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I own my house but have roommates to help pay the bills. I haven’t had any problems with this arrangement and most of my roommates are old friends. Right now “Billy” has been letting his little sister, “Katy,” stay in our living room after she lost her job and apartment. Katy’s a good kid, and I don’t mind her sleeping on the sofa for a month or so until she gets back on her feet. Recently I learned that Katy is pregnant and plans on keeping the child. Since finding out, I haven’t really said anything to Katy and Billy because I don’t know how to tell them that I don’t want to have a newborn in the house. This is a line I am not willing to cross.

Katy is not on the lease and Billy only rents month to month. I know I can legally give them notice, but I don’t want to do that if I don’t have to. How do I toe the line of being helpful while also saying, Please get out of my home?
—No Kids

Right now, if you keep on with your strategy of not saying anything, you’re eventually going to put yourself in a situation where you have no other option besides serving Katy, and possibly Billy, with an eviction notice. The more advance warning and clarity you can offer Katy, the better off she’ll be in the long run. In general, it’s better for everyone involved to be clear about deadlines before inviting them to sleep on your couch “until they get back on their feet,” mostly because “until someone gets back on their feet” can take anywhere from a few weeks to, you know, forever. You don’t have to bring her pregnancy into it, because you haven’t formalized your living arrangement and it sounds like it was already understood that her staying with you was temporary from the start. Figure out how much time you’re willing to let Katy continue to spend on your couch (30 days, 45, 60, whatever) and let her know that’s her move-out date, and let her make her own arrangements. But you do have to say something now, because the longer you wait, the more Katy and Billy are likely to make unfounded assumptions about the length of her stay.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
How do you nicely turn someone down? I recently met a co-worker’s friend at a party who is apparently interested in me. She gave her number to my co-worker to pass on to me. People rarely hit on me, so I’m not used to turning down advances, but I’m not interested. Normally I think I could sort this out, but I have to worry about my co-worker asking constantly if I’ve contacted her yet and telling me how we’d be good together because we like the same stuff. I don’t want to disrupt our professional relationship.
—Just Not Interested

You definitely don’t have to contact your co-worker’s friend. You never asked for her number and didn’t offer her yours. All you have to say to your co-worker is, “Thanks for the offer, but I’m not interested in Iphigenia, so I’m not going to call her.” Lots of people like the same things, but that doesn’t mean there’s a mutual romantic connection. Hopefully your co-worker is just a little overzealous, if well-meaning. (Although it’s hard to imagine why they’d want their friend to go out with someone who had to be talked into the idea rather than someone who was genuinely excited, without prompting, to ask her out.) If they continue to press, just say, “I didn’t feel a romantic connection, and I’d appreciate it if you dropped the subject.” You’re not the one who’s disrupting your professional relationship, so you should feel no qualms about being polite but firm.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I have been dating “Sam” for three years. We both were theater kids and the odd one out in our rather conservative families. Now Sam has come out as trans and I feel overwhelmed. I want to be supportive. I want to be a good girlfriend. But I feel like I am drowning. Sam has transitioned and our love life is nonexistent.

I can’t take comfort in our social circle because they are behind Sam all the way. I tried once and got rejected brutally. There is no way I can confide in my family. If I break up now, I am afraid I am going to lose Sam and every one of my friends, because they will peg me as a bigot. On every level we click, but not sexually anymore. What do I do?
—Not a Lesbian

Ending a romantic relationship over incompatible sexual orientation does not make you a bad person, nor transphobic, nor unsupportive. You can love Sam, affirm their transition, and break up with them. Being there for Sam does not mean staying in a romantic relationship indefinitely. I’m so sorry that your friends have made you feel as if you have done something wrong by being honest about your own sexuality. If you’re in need of confidential support, try a local PFLAG meeting or contacting the Straight Spouses Network. (You don’t have to be married or planning on staying together in order to talk to someone or find an online support group.) It is possible for you to end your romantic relationship with Sam kindly and respectfully, while leaving the door open for a continued friendship. Whether Sam takes you up on that right away, or the two of you decide you need to take a little space after your breakup, please know that you are not doing anything wrong. Neither of you are!

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I am in my mid-40s and have a good job. I’m dating “Emily,” a single mother with one grown son and two teenagers. My wife died unexpectedly soon after we got married and I found myself responsible for her 13-year-old daughter, “Taylor.” Her biological father was dead and no one else was able to take her in. I adopted Taylor and raised her the best I could until she went off to college. She is a smart, funny, wonderful girl. I am very proud of her and want the best for her, but I don’t have the instinctive love of a parent. I took care of Taylor because it was my duty and there was no else to step up. Taylor calls me dad and I see her for holidays. I don’t ever want to be in the position of having to parent again. Taylor was a good kid and easy to raise, but I still resented being a father more often than not. I have never breathed a word of this to anyone.

I see Emily right now on the weekends and sometimes after work. We get along on every level, and I might even love her, but I do not want to be a stepdad again. Marriage is off the table for me. How do I tell Emily this? I know her kids are going to grow up and leave in the next few years, but her kids are not Taylor and consistently get into minor trouble or need Emily to bail them out. I couldn’t deal with them well.
—Not a Dad Again

It sounds like you know your own desires and limitations pretty well. It’s incumbent upon you, therefore, to communicate them clearly and effectively to your girlfriend so that she can make her own decisions. If you know you don’t want to get married, and that you’re not prepared to act as a stepparent in any way, then you should tell her so. Maybe Emily is perfectly happy with your current arrangement and will agree to keep seeing you on the weekends while keeping her family life separate. Maybe she’s looking for something more serious, and you two will break up. Either outcome is vastly preferable to keeping this to yourself and eventually getting roped into getting more involved in the lives of children you have no interest in getting to know better.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I had an affair with a lovely woman for more than four years. This was the greatest experience of my life. She is incredibly smart, affable, beautiful, and mature. We started off as friends—best friends. Our personalities matched almost perfectly; we had similar tastes and connected at a level that neither of us had experienced with someone else. Yet last year, I messed up and gradually drove her away from me. I take full responsibility for that. Because of the age difference between us, I wanted her to feel free to go and explore. I did not want to constrain her options as she was blossoming. The geographical distance did not help either.

Here’s my problem: I want my best friend back. As avid introverts, it is already incredibly difficult to find a friend, let alone a best friend. I am rueing the chain of events that led to this every single day without exception. It’s been over a year. I respect her decision to not go back to what it was between us, but can’t we be best friends again? She has declined to talk to me multiple times in the past year, and I don’t have the courage to ask again. I cannot seem to find closure on this. I want to laugh over Trump’s impulsiveness, discuss populism, and explore ’80s music again.
—Return to Me

No, you cannot be best friends with someone who doesn’t want to talk to you. Not even if you really, really miss them, not even if you’re both introverts, not even if you both dislike Trump, not even if you’re very sorry you hurt them, not even if you both like music from the 1980s. The most important criteria for whether two people are best friends is this: Do both parties want to be best friends? If the answer isn’t unanimous, then the answer is no. It’s not a question of “courage” when it comes to repeatedly contacting this woman to try to get her to change her mind. It’s a question of respect. She’s made it extremely clear that she does not want to be friends again, and if you really want to take “full responsibility” for having driven her away, then you need to accept that she’s gone away and deal with your feelings of regret and loss on your own, and let them inspire you to treat other friends differently in the future.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
My husband and I are friends with a couple who never reciprocate lunch and dinner invites. We see them every week when they come over for “family lunch.” We cook and they bring a purchased dessert, which is all fine, but they never help with the cleaning up. Sometimes the woman will come talk to me while I’m washing dishes, but it never occurs to her to get a tea towel and help dry. These people are like family; they’re not just friends we see occasionally.

They were just at our house for Christmas, and we provided a full holiday meal. We spent a lot of time making the table beautiful, cooking and serving multiple dishes, providing alcohol, and clearing the table. They brought a store-bought meringue and berries for dessert, then kept enjoying the food and conversation while we spent half an hour cleaning pots and pans. Never once did they get up and offer to help. They just sat there like it was a restaurant. Even after we had finished clearing up, they continued on to the living space, lingering for another 45 minutes, oblivious to our exhaustion and need to get some rest. This was Christmas Day, after all.

I was so angry after they left. My husband said, “Never again!” I wouldn’t mind if they reciprocated with a meal at their house, but they never do. She says he doesn’t like to have people around because their house is small. But to me that is a cop-out. And it’s not like we can say, “Hey, isn’t it your turn to have us for dinner?” Do I just suck it up and accept them for who they are? Or am I justified in being angry at their selfishness and laziness, and I should raise it with them? Unfortunately I know she would be offended.
—Never Heard of a Tea Towel

I’d be frustrated too if I had friends who never once thought to offer to help clean up after a meal I’d prepared, but I’m astonished that not once have either you or your husband said, Hey, can you give me a hand with these dishes? to friends you see every week and consider a part of your family. You don’t have to stand upon ceremony with friends you’ve been close with for years. If they don’t offer to help tidy up the kitchen after you’ve fed them, ask for their help: “Here, dry these plates while I soak the pans.” “Would you help bring some of the glasses into the kitchen?” “We’re not feeling up to hosting next weekend. Would you like to host, or would you rather meet at a restaurant?” “Guys, thank you so much for coming over. We’re absolutely wiped out, so we’re going to turn in. Can I help you grab your coats?” Nothing prevented you from saying those things, and had you said them you might have spared yourself years of pent-up resentment. But there’s also nothing to stop you from saying them now, so do yourself a favor and get started.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

Very Suggestive Texts: Prudie counsels a letter writer who is trying to protect her marriage after acting on a crush at a company holiday party.

In Love With a Truther: Prudie advises a letter writer who’s dating “a really great guy” who happens to think 9/11 was an inside job.

Not an Act: Prudie advises a letter writer who constantly gets questioned about her disability.

Indelibly Om: Prudie counsels a letter writer who regrets getting a tattoo she now regards as culturally insensitive.

Different Strokes: I don’t like the guest my friend has chosen to bring to my party. (She’s poor.)

Toy Story: Prudie advises a letter writer who is considering legal action after her mother gave away a prized doll collection.

Relationship Unmoored: Prudie counsels a letter writer who is bothered by her boyfriend’s refusal to condemn (former) Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Friendly Ghost: Why is my pal blowing me off?

Groundbreaking at Mountain Housing Opportunities New Development

by Scott Fahy @ HomeTrust Banking

Asheville, North Carolina – HomeTrust Bank was proud to participate in the ground breaking ceremony for Mountain Housing Opportunities (MHO) newest affordable housing development on September 27, 2017. The development is the Lillie Farm Cove Subdivision located in Weaverville. 46 affordable homes are planned for the subdivision, of which HomeTrust made a loan to build […]

The post Groundbreaking at Mountain Housing Opportunities New Development appeared first on HomeTrust Banking.

Five Best Banks for High-Interest Savings Accounts

Five Best Banks for High-Interest Savings Accounts


Lifehacker

Just because the banks are having a hard time handling their money doesn&#39;t mean you have to: you just have to pick the bank offering the best type of savings account to make your money work for you. Here&#39;s a look at five of the most popular banks with great high-interest savings options.

The Best Space Heaters

The Best Space Heaters

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best space heaters determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

The Best Electric Space Heater, Overall

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“I love this little heater. I have had it for almost two years now (I was impressed to see how long I have had it, using it every workday with no issues) to keep me warm in my freezing office, and it is a lifesaver. It does a great job warming up my cubicle, and my co-workers are always surprised at the temperature difference at my desk when I have it on. Some even come over to warm up on extra-cold days. It is very quiet, too—you can only hear some light airflow, no more noisy than an office printer, and I barely notice it. When I do, it just sounds like white noise. Ten out of 10 recommend!”

Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater With Adjustable Thermostat
$19, Amazon

The Best Personal Electric Space Heater

4.1 stars, 5,017 reviews
“Wow, this thing puts off a LOT of heat, for such a small heater! I was expecting some mild heat, but no, in only 30 seconds or so, this little guy really got toasty! I use it to keep my hands warm while using a keyboard or mouse, and I had to move it further away because it was making my hands too hot! Another thing I found neat is the fact that the sides of the heater don’t get hot. The sides, top, and bottom all stay perfectly cool, so you don’t have to worry about burning yourself if you want to pick it up or move it.

Forget heated keyboards or fingerless gloves, if you want to keep your hands warm while using a computer, get yourself one of these! VERY effective heating solution for a small price!”

Lasko #100 MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater
$20, Amazon

The Best Design-Friendly Ceramic Space Heater for Small Spaces

4.2 stars, 325 reviews
“I love this little heater! Firstly, it’s pretty adorable, and secondly, it heats up a room super quickly. I don’t find it to be overly loud, but if you’re comparing it to a radiant unit, there’s no contest. (Think fan, not hair-dryer volume.) I would add a thermostat to have it turn off at a particular temp, but not having one is normal on a heater in this price range. The mechanism to turn it off when tipped is super sensitive, in a good way—I won’t ever worry about a pet or someone’s kid knocking it over and burning everything I own. No hellfire equals five stars!”

Honeywell HCE200B Uberheat Ceramic Heater
$37, Amazon

The Best Ceramic Tower Space Heater

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“This tower heater has a small footprint but packs a lot of heat. When you turn it on, there is an almost instantaneous burst of hot air. I have found the thermostat settings to be quite accurate. The room it is used in is 12 feet by 10 feet. It will warm this room from 63 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 20 minutes. The oscillating feature spreads the hot air around the room efficiently and quickly. The sound it produces is quite tolerable, barely noticeable when watching TV.”

Lasko 751320 Ceramic Tower Heater With Remote Control
$47, Amazon

The Best Space Heater for Large Rooms

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“LOVE it … so much I’m considering getting a second one. It looks good, kind of retro like an old radio or receiver. It has temp control, so you only run it as hot as you wish. It produces enough heat to significantly warm up a room or area. It’s lightweight, so it is easy to move from place to place, and it has casters, so it can even just be rolled around. The small, rectangular size makes it easier to avoid having things too close to it, too.

Works perfectly, I couldn’t be happier, and it seems much safer than some of the older space heaters where you can really burn yourself by picking it up. This one has a nice power-off button and mode settings, so you can set it at, like, 70 degrees Fahrenheit and it will turn off when that temperature is reached. Perfect. Easy to shut off when you leave, too, because it shuts off immediately and begins cooling down, unlike older ones that stay hot for a while after, leaving you worried about fires.”

Dr. Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 1500-Watt
$103, Amazon

The Best Oil Space Heater

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“The bathroom in the house we moved to doesn’t have heat (makes sense in New England, right?). It does have one of those ceramic vanity heaters, but it doesn’t work, and it can get quite cold in that room. I settled on an oil-filled heater because they do not get superhot, so children and pets or you won’t get burned if they come in contact with it, which was an important consideration since we have cats. I also liked the fact that they run silent, this one has automatic shutoff in case it overheats or gets tipped over.

We generally keep it near the tiled corner of the bathroom far away from water and unplugged when not in use. Break-in period was a couple hours, as instructed, and after about three hours, the smell was completely gone. We use it a lot in the winters. It makes that cold bathroom feel nice and toasty within 30 minutes. Sometimes it gets left on for hours while we’re around, and I don’t have to worry about it, although it’s never left on at night or unsupervised. We liked it so much we just bought another as a gift for a relative.”

DeLonghi EW7707CB Safe Heat 1500W ComforTemp Portable Oil-Filled Radiator
$71, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Look Beyond the Numbers: How To Get Into Your Customers’ Heads With Consumer Insights

by Taylor Marcucci @ USB

What do you need to create a more effective business marketing plan? If you’re looking to grow grow your overall business or certain areas of your business, then you might consider how to answer this question. Refreshing your understanding of your customers and industry with market research is a good place to start. However, most traditional research focuses on the numbers to unearth generalities ...

The post Look Beyond the Numbers: How To Get Into Your Customers’ Heads With Consumer Insights appeared first on USB.

The Best Cookbooks to Give

The Best Cookbooks to Give

by Ashlea Halpern @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening (is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?), but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that college student, or golf-loving parent, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we asked a dozen prominent cookbook authors to tell us the cookbook they’d be most excited to get this holiday season. Below, the tomes (that cover everything from Cuban to Turkish to Thai to bread) that will appease the most discerning gourmands on your list. (For more giftable books we like, click here.)

“If someone gave me Kris Yenbamroong’s Night+Market cookbook, he or she would know me too well. I’ve been a fan of Kris’s since 2011, when I met him at a food event where he was serving small, housemade Thai sausages with whole bird’s-eye chiles and raw ginger. His boldness impressed me as much as his Thai-American-Angeleno story. He’s Thai-food royalty in Los Angeles, but that has been a plus and minus for his career. Young chefs like Kris are paving their own culinary paths while dealing with stereotypes that come from many directions. Kris succeeds because he’s generous, humble, soulful, and smart. His food is gutsy and fun, yet respectful. I’ve had so many chile-related endorphin rushes from eating at his restaurants and learning about the complex and vibrant foods of Thailand, all the while being surrounded by the sights and sounds of Los Angeles. I’ve lived in Northern California for nearly 20 years, but restaurants and chefs like him are why I still love L.A.! ” —Andrea Nguyen, author of The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles

Night+Market: Delicious Thai Food to Facilitate Drinking and Fun-Having Amongst Friends by Kris Yenbamroong
$22, Amazon

“Every time I visit my friend Andy Ricker in Portland, Oregon, we go to Kachka. The last time we ate there, we were also joined by chef David Thompson, who insisted we have a vodka competition. High jinks ensued! The Kachka style of eating is to me the perfect vibe: bold, vibrant flavors; serious attention to detail, but in a non-fussy setting; and based around the idea of sharing food and drink with friends and loved ones. I have never been to Russia, but if it’s anything like Kachka, sign me up.” —Kris Yenbamroong, chef-owner of the Night+Market restaurants in California and author of Night+Market: Delicious Thai Food to Facilitate Drinking and Fun-Having Amongst Friends

Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking by Bonnie Frumkin Morales
$27, Amazon

“This book intrigues me for several reasons. Chef Sean Sherman’s cookbook shares recipes that are a part of our country’s native cuisine and history, one that ironically is relatively undiscovered and seldom written about. His book offers a firsthand perspective on indigenous food traditions and ingredients specific to his tribe of Oglala Lakota, located on the plains of the Midwest. I admire Sherman’s dedication to continually learning, educating others, and innovating on native cuisine before it is lost to us.” —Chitra Agrawal, chef-owner of Brooklyn Delhi and author of Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes From Bangalore to Brooklyn

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley
$23, Amazon

“While this isn’t a traditional cookbook, I definitely want a copy of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty, under my Christmas tree. I can’t imagine a more important historical culinary book coming out this year than this. Southern food is such a crucial element of our culinary landscape in America, and understanding its rich history will better inform my recipe development and love of my culture and cooking all the way around.” —Jocelyn Delk Adams, author of Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty
$19, Amazon

“And of course, shameless plug, Feed the Resistance is the top cookbook gift I am giving this year. Contributing a recipe to this book by Julia Turshen was such an incredible experience. The forging of political activism and food is genius.” —Jocelyn Delk Adams

Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved by Julia Turshen
$10, Amazon

“Since I help write cookbooks and spend an enormous amount of time making sure recipes work, I probably shouldn’t admit that I rarely cook more than a recipe or two from the cookbooks I own. I do love reading recipes, though. And because I’m not cooking much, I especially love books and recipes that tell a story, especially about food linked to a place and culture. For years and years, I’ve been obsessively consuming Eating Asia, a blog (can I still call websites blogs?) by Robyn Eckhardt and her photographer husband, David Hagerman. A few years ago, she got obsessed with Turkey and spent years working on this cookbook. It’s one of those books that reminds you how much you don’t know about the world. I want!” —J.J. Goode, cookbook co-author of The Drinking Food of Thailand with Andy Ricker and State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook with Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski

Istanbul and Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey by Robyn Eckhardt
$24, Amazon

“I’m a carb enthusiast and love eating bread (no fear here!), but the act of baking it has always intimidated me. Alexandra Stafford’s book, Bread Toast Crumbs, promises to put cooks like myself at ease with approachable recipes for no-knead peasant bread and ways to work it into every meal. Yes, please! I’d like to be able to get my groove on churning out loaves and have the house smell like a boulangerie while I’m at it. I’m hopeful this book will help build my confidence in the baking department. Rise up!” —Colu Henry, author of Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly

Bread Toast Crumbs: Recipes for No-Knead Loaves & Meals to Savor Every Slice by Alexandra Stafford
$20, Amazon

“I’ve never been to Cuba, so I’ve always been curious about what the cuisine is like when you’re actually there. I know things are changing fast, but there’s still so much mystery, which is why I’ve been wanting to get my hands on Anya von Bremzen’s new book. Getting on the ground is exciting enough, but also gaining kitchen-door access to paladares, the privately owned restaurants that must navigate both the government and a crazy black market to survive, seems like a cheat code. It’s like discovering a secret passageway inside a secret passageway.” —Drew Lazor, co-author of New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited  and author of the forthcoming Session Cocktails: Low-Alcohol Drinks for Any Occasion

Paladares: Recipes Inspired by the Private Restaurants of Cuba by Anya von Bremzen
$25, Amazon

“I’d be delighted to receive a copy of David Tanis Market Cooking. David was one of the chefs who taught me to cook at Chez Panisse. Anytime I’m stuck in a rut, the first thing I do is refer back to my teachers and their teachers for ideas and inspiration. It’s sort of like being back in the kitchen with them. David is a genius with vegetables, always adding a little unexpected twist, a little something special. It’s been a long time since I cooked with David, but reading and cooking from his books never fails to make me feel like I’m right back in the kitchen alongside him.” —Samin Nosrat, EAT columnist at The New York Times Magazine and author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

David Tanis Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient by David Tanis
$23, Amazon

“I’m really looking forward to The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis. When it comes to cooking at home, I love to make things that fill in the gaps of our local restaurant scene, especially if it means working with recipes that let me take advantage of what Kentucky farmers do best (I think that includes the best lamb and poultry around, along with our fantastic dairy and produce). As a baker, I’m especially excited to tackle the section on regional breads and pastries.” —Stella Parks, senior editor at Serious Eats and author of BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts

The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis
$25, Amazon

“I love cookbooks that you can truly cook from—that are both inspiring but attainable. Downtime: Deliciousness at Home by Nadine Levy Redzepi (wife of renowned Noma chef René Redzepi) is a compilation of simple foods that are elevated with a bit of style and restaurant cooking. I am intrigued and would love to curl up with this one.” —Karen Mordechai, author of Simple Fare and Sunday Suppers: Recipes + Gatherings

Downtime: Deliciousness at Home by Nadine Levy Redzepi
$23, Amazon

“It’s been a real year for cookbooks, so this was an extremely hard choice. You’re all great! That said, I find myself really poring over books written on subjects I know the least about, and to say I know nothing about the food of Georgia or Azerbaijan (or beyond) would be a huge understatement. But, from the little I can gather, the food features lots of herbs, savory pies, and meaty vegetables drizzled with a thing called matsoni (maybe a new replacement for yogurt). Very much my speed. I’m excited to dive into Kaukasis and figure out what plov is, and then maybe even learn to make it.” —Alison Roman, author of Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes

Kaukasis: A Culinary Journey Through Georgia, Azerbaijan & Beyond by Olia Hercules
$19, Amazon

“I would love to receive Salvador Dalí’s Les Dîners de Gala. My father found an early edition of this incredible art/cookbook in a rare bookstore when I was a kid, and I have tried to steal it from him ever since (he has it on lockdown). It was just rereleased, and I covet it. It’s a Surrealist fantasy of a rolling dinner party, where the food is sculptural, abundant, and absurd. Cookbooks are always full of fantasy, but so rarely does an author own it as much as Dalí does here. Want to throw a dinner party? Just put together a seafood tower of giant lobsters and crawfish that levitate above the table! Voilà!” —Julia Sherman, author of blog turned book, Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists

Dalí: Les Dîners de Gala by Salvador Dalí
$39, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

All About Our Personal Checking Accounts

by Melina Delis @ Bank of Southern California N.A.

Last week, we told you about our business checking accounts. Now, we want to discuss the topic of our easy and convenient personal checking accounts because at Bank of Southern California, you can take care of all your business and personal banking needs in one place. Below are our four different personal checking accounts: WeRead more

The post All About Our Personal Checking Accounts appeared first on Bank of Southern California N.A..

The Best Tech-y Gifts for Less Than $50

The Best Tech-y Gifts for Less Than $50

by Strategist Editors @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

So net neutrality may be a thing of the past (or maybe not), but no matter what the internet situation looks like for the foreseeable future, even the least tech-savvy among us would appreciate gadgets and gizmos that make life easier (and are affordable to boot). You won’t find your drones or VR headsets here—these are the nuts and bolts of tech stuff: all manner of phone chargers (and cases and protectors) and other fun gizmos that cost under $50.

An iPhone X case that’s thin and matte and rose gold (though you can get plenty of other colors, like white or black or silver depending on what they like).

Spigen Thin Fit iPhone X Case With Premium Matte Finish Coating
$13, Amazon

For your iPhone X-less recipient, something a little splashier.

Kwmobile Hardcase Cover for Apple iPhone 7/8 with Liquid
$8, Amazon

Strategist editor Alexis Swerdloff’s very favorite white-noise machine isn’t the most high-tech thing in the world—just the most effective.

Marpac Dohm-DS All-Natural Sound Machine, White
$50, Amazon

Review after review on Amazon (verified purchases, mind you) will tell you how floored people are by the quality of these very affordable wireless headphones.

SENSO Bluetooth Wireless Sports Earphones
$30, Amazon

Ten-year-old girls know all about the beauty of the PopSocket, a retractable stick’em for the back of your phone that allows you to keep it secure while you’re taking selfies.

PopSocket
$16, Amazon

These ten-foot-long charging cables will (practically) free your giftee from the drama of being tethered to the outlet.

Anker PowerLine+ Lightning Cable (10ft) Charging Cable
$18, Amazon

Plug any old thing you want into these newfangled plugs, and you’ll be able to control the power from your phone. It’s magic.

Etekcity Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini Outlet With Energy Monitoring (2 Pack)
$27, Amazon

Turn that by-the-numbers MacBook into a marble-ized electronic.

iDOO Matte Rubber Coated Soft Touch Plastic Hard Case
$13, Amazon

Stick this well-reviewed humidifier in a glass of water, plug in the USB, and you’re breathing in hydrating (and hydrated) air.

Cool Mist Travel Humidifier Stick
$20, Amazon

Our writer and reviewer Kurt Soller called this among the best beard trimmers he’s tried.

Braun BT3040 Men’s Ultimate Hair Clipper
$35, Amazon

We first talked about this Champagne-colored mousepad in our guide to mom gifts, but it’d make a handsome present for just about anyone.

Elago Aluminum Mouse Pad for Computers and Laptops
$30, Amazon

As of now, the Amazon Echo Dot (an easy toe dip into the world of smart technology) is still 40 percent off.

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation)
$30, Amazon

Mood lights help mimic the sun’s rays when you’re living somewhere (like New York) that doesn’t get much sun in the winter—they’ve been shown to actually improve your mood, and even a portable one helps.

Verilux HappyLight Liberty Personal, Portable Light Therapy Energy Lamp
$30, Amazon

Writer Jinnie Lee told us about the best tablet accessory (or Switch accessory or phone accessory) we’ve ever seen—a twisty clip that lets you watch hands-free.

Tryone Gooseneck Mount Holder
$20, Amazon

Remember Tamagotchis—the electronic pets on keychains that needed to be fed and cared for and cherished? They’re back.

20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Device
$15, Amazon

This little $11 portable charger even comes with a flashlight.

Aibocn Power Bank 10,000mAh External Battery Charger With Backup Flashlight
$11, Amazon

If you’re sensing a dying-phone theme on this list, you’d be right. This one puts a lightning cable onto your keychain—simply plug the other end into a USB.

Nomad NomadKey Lightning Data Cable - Black
$25, Amazon

We’ve heard consistently good things about this shockingly affordable Bluetooth speaker.

Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker
$24, Amazon

Even with a good case, your screen can get scratched up. A few cheap screen protectors would make thoughtful stocking stuffers.

Tech Armor Apple iPhone 7, iPhone 6, iPhone 8 Ballistic Glass Screen Protector [2-Pack]
$8, Amazon

Wireless charging is the way of the future (see some other ones that our Select All colleagues loved) and the Belkin version lets iPhone X users join in on the fun.

Belkin Qi Wireless Charging Pad, Compatible With iPhone 8/8 Plus and iPhone X
$40, Amazon

Give your recipients the gift of simultaneous phone- and watch-charging, although, note: you still need to buy cables!

ZVE Universal 2-in-1 Aluminum Desktop Charging Stand for iWatch, Smartphone, and Tablets
$22, Amazon


This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Watch Out for This New Tax Scam

by KaToya Fleming @ MagnifyMoney

Tax season can be the most profitable time of year for savvy thieves. And just a week into filing season, the IRS has uncovered a new trick cybercriminals are using to scam you out of your money. The IRS warns tax preparers and consumers about a new scam in which criminals are using consumers’ account … Continue reading Watch Out for This New Tax Scam

The post Watch Out for This New Tax Scam appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Toy Story

Toy Story

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. Dolls: Before my paternal grandmother died, she would buy me an original American Girl doll every year for Christmas. I had the dolls, the books, and most of the accessories. My fondest memories of my time with my grandmother were playing with those dolls. I took very good care of them, and when I went off to college, I packed them up to be stored at my mother’s house. I have graduated and have my own place, so I went back to my mother’s to get my stored stuff. My mother gave away several of my dolls! A co-worker helped her out and mentioned her young daughter liked the dolls, so my mother just gave them to her! I was heartbroken, and we fought. My mother didn’t think it should matter since I had “so many.” I told her those dolls were worth a lot and she had no right to steal my things. I wanted her to tell me the name of her co-worker so I could get my dolls back. She refused and said that it was out of the question, that I would be embarrassing her.

My mother never liked my grandmother or how close I was to her or my father after the divorce. I can’t get over this. I took everything away from that house, and going through the boxes makes me cry. I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I think I should call up my mother’s office and figure out who has my dolls—there are only two or three women who have girls the right age. I could take my mother to small claims court, but that would ruin everything more. These dolls and a few pictures are all I have left of my grandmother. What should I do?

A: I’m glad to hear that you’ve already decided against taking this to small claims court. Whether or not you have grounds to extract a few hundred dollars from your mother there, it wouldn’t bring your dolls back, nor would it help the two of you repair your relationship. While I understand the strong attachment you had to these dolls, I can’t encourage you to find this little girl’s mother and demand she give them back, either. It’s certainly not this little girl’s fault. It would be wildly inappropriate for you to call your mother’s office and try to “find out” which of her co-workers has a daughter of doll-owning age. Please find a therapist who can help you work through these feelings of resentment and grief, and do not attempt to harass your mother’s co-workers.

I’m of the opinion that, post-college, if you’re living elsewhere, using your parents’ house as a storage unit with an open-ended, indefinite lease does not qualify as “taking good care” of something you don’t want to lose. That doesn’t mean your mother was right to give the dolls away, but it’s incumbent upon you, the owner, to take responsibility for where and how they are stored. It sounds like you’ve already removed the remaining dolls from your mother’s house; I encourage you to find a safe place to store them, along with the pictures of your grandmother, in your own home.

You have the right to be angry with your mother. You can have whatever conversations you need to with her about how her actions made you feel and how you’ve long believed she resented your closeness with your grandmother. If you cry when you go through the boxes of your few remaining heirlooms, go ahead and cry. All of those are appropriate responses to your situation. But taking your mother to court, or demanding a little girl give you her dolls, are not.

Q. Ungrateful child: I am 32 years old and a single mom to a 3-year-old daughter. I’m in graduate school and scheduled to graduate in May. I already have a job lined up after graduation. My daughter and I live rent-free with my parents, although I do pay a minimal amount for utilities and groceries, as well as take care of my other bills. Recently, my mother’s health has dramatically declined (debilitating arthritis, et cetera), and my father is not doing well either. They are only in their mid-50s. Rather than being grateful for what they’ve provided me with, I find myself resenting them. Whereas my mom and I used to be close, now we argue constantly. She thinks I’m ungrateful for the free child care and housing they’ve provided me. I think she uses it as a method of guilt-tripping me, and I wish she could recognize how hard I am trying. The stress of arguing can’t be good for her health, and it’s bad for my mental well-being. I should be more grateful, and I should be more understanding. What can I do to adjust my attitude and ensure we can live peaceably for the next six months until I can move out?

A: This is challenging! Six months is a short enough time that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and might not think finding temporary housing is worth the hassle, but it’s also long enough that you can’t just grit your teeth and muscle through it.

There are some pretty basic tools you can use when a conversation with your mother threatens to turn into a fight. You can say, “Hey, things are getting really heated, and I’m sorry I lost my temper. Let’s take a few minutes and talk about this later, when we’re both more settled.” You can take a walk and get some air when you find yourself getting stressed out. You can ask friends if they’re available for occasional child care—even a few times a month will help if your mother is feeling ill and overwhelmed running after a 3-year-old. I can’t promise this will make the next six months feel like a beautiful dream, but you’re coming from a good place to start with—you have sympathy and compassion for your mother’s situation, which does sound stressful, but you’re also clear on the fact that your parents’ generosity doesn’t entitle them to ask you for anything they want, at any time.

Q. “But what was she wearing?”: My lovely husband of 33 years has always supported me and our two grown daughters. He’s progressive politically, except for one bump in the road: He’s a “But what was she wearing?” kind of guy when it comes to rape and sexual assault. I’ve gone ballistic on the subject but to no avail. Now, because of the #MeToo stories, he wants to know if I was ever sexually harassed, and I told him about things that happened to me. His response is that it’s just because I was good-looking at the time. Yuck! Where is the responsibility on the male to just act like a decent person?

A: I mean, I’m right there with you—it is incumbent upon all adults to behave professionally at work, appropriately in public, and respectfully in private, regardless of what someone else is wearing or how good-looking (at the time!) she happens to be. Your husband ought to see that, and the fact that he doesn’t is frankly troubling. For him to push you to talk about your own experience with sexual harassment only to pull out the rug from under you by dismissing it immediately—and while getting in a nice little dig at your current appearance—suggests that he’s not interested in listening so much as he’s interested in shutting you down. If he thinks that “good-looking” women deserve to be sexually harassed by anyone who finds them attractive, that’s more than just a progressive bump in the road—that’s a significant red flag about his character.

Q. Finally figured out what annoys me about my friend: I have a longtime friend, since high school. We’re in our 60s. A group of seven of us from high school get together several times a month. This friend is generous and kind. She hosts or coordinates most of the events. However, she is pretty unyielding when others make suggestions about activities and doesn’t participate. The group frequently communicates in group texts and on Facebook. Whenever there’s a group conversation or a one-on-one conversation, she always brings the conversation around to her. Recently, we were chatting with a friend in the hospital following surgery. The spotlight hog interjected about how her Christmas decorations looked and, as an afterthought, asked the hospitalized friend how she’s doing.

I’ve gotten very frustrated with this friend but really enjoy my other friends in the group. How do I deal with her without blowing up?

A: You’ve known this woman for more than 40 years, so you should be able to have a difficult conversation about communication styles. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy—it sounds like part of your friendship’s longevity is due to not addressing difficult topics—but you have a solid foundation together, and you can do this. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but you often find ways to make a conversation come back to yourself before someone else has gotten the chance to speak. A specific example is when [mutual friend] was in the hospital recovering from surgery, and you started talking about your Christmas decorations. Later you asked how [mutual friend] was doing, but it was an afterthought. I find this frustrating and it makes me want to spend less time talking with you. If I were doing something like this, I’d want my friends to tell me so that I could make a change. I care about you and I know it’s not always easy to see patterns in our own behavior. I’ve been anxious to talk about this with you, because I don’t relish causing you pain, but this behavior is really limiting our friendship, and I don’t want that.”

Q. Re: Dolls: My parents did this as well. I had a collection of stuffed animals I adored and took a lot of emotional comfort in as a child. I came home for winter break and found my parents had donated them all—every single one—to the kids of their friends. I was heartbroken, and there was nothing I could do to get them back, and it felt incredibly cruel to me. I agree one shouldn’t use your parents’ home as a storage space indefinitely, but they should be courteous enough to give you a date by which to go through your stuff and move it yourself. More than that, parents, don’t assume because your kids are grown that they don’t still have attachments to their childhood toys.

Letter writer, I watched Toy Story 3 (particularly the bit at the end where Andy gives away his toys) over and over again to assure myself that the kids who now had my stuffed animals would give them a whole new lease on life. It still hurts that they’re gone. It’s OK to be angry at your mother.

A: Thanks for this—sometimes it can be difficult to know what to do with a powerful feeling of anger and hurt that’s not either “just get over it” or “lash out as quickly as possible against the person who hurt you.”

Q. Second date surgery: This is a fairly straightforward situation, but I’m not sure how to handle it. I’ve met a sweet guy, and we’ve exchanged numbers and have already gone on a first date. We have our second date tomorrow night, and three days after that, I’m having a laparoscopic (small incisions, in and out in a few hours) surgery. I’ll be on bed rest for a least a week, and since the surgery requires cutting into my abdominal muscles, it’ll be a while after the recovery before I’m able to sit up comfortably for a long period of time. I really don’t know how to explain all this on a second date without sounding like I have a weak constitution (I don’t—it’s gallbladder removal, which is one of the most common surgeries), or like I’m going to be incredibly needy for the next month or so after surgery. How should I broach this subject so the guy doesn’t think I’m not interested in seeing him again while I’m recovering, and so he doesn’t ghost me because he thinks I’m too much to handle?

A: If he thinks getting your gallbladder removed is too much to handle, then be grateful you’ve managed to weed him out early! Sure, the timing is weird, but reasonable adults generally understand that things like minor yet important surgery can’t always be planned around one’s future dating life. Just let him know, “Hey, in a couple of days I’m having my gallbladder removed, so I’ll be on bed rest for a while, but I’d love to go out again once I’m back on my feet.” Honestly, if you two really like each other, I think it will feel more fun and charming than anything else—for your third date, he might come by a week or two after your surgery date and bring tea and soup. Or, if that doesn’t appeal, you can stay connected over the phone or via text, and go out once you’re sufficiently recovered to visit a restaurant again.

Q. Not all in: I’m married with a child, and I’m not all in. I don’t want to move into a home I own and make it communal property. The marriage is fairly happy. We get along, and I love her, but I have my doubts to whether we’ll make it for the long-term. I have more than $100,000 in equity in the home and consider it part of my retirement plan. The home would be perfect for our family, but I don’t want to forfeit my sole ownership of the property. If we were to live there and separate, the property would be a communal asset, and she would get half. I would like her to sign a contract clarifying ownership of the property but am sure that it would be met with copious tears and as an acknowledgment that I think the marriage might not last forever. How might I proceed to move forward with the move, protect my assets, and not signify my belief that we might not be together forever?

A: If your wife were controlling or abusive or prone to extreme financial mismanagement, I could understand wanting to protect your assets before leaving, but you’re not currently contemplating divorce—you’re trying to figure out a way to hedge your bets in the middle of a marriage to a woman you’ve already had a child with. You could get a post-nup, but not every state enforces those, and you’ll of course have to deal with the possibility that your wife will be hurt and angry at the prospect.

I’m not sure what kind of contract your wife could sign, if you bought a house, that would clarify you owned it. Even if you purchase it individually and don’t put her name on the mortgage, she might still have a case for calling it community property if you two divorced, depending upon what state you lived in. I’d advise you to consult a lawyer if you want to know more about how your state might view a home purchased during your marriage. That said, I think your best bet is to identify, with your wife, what issues are causing your doubts about your marriage’s longevity and to invest in a marriage counselor right now rather than a divorce lawyer later.

Q. Dating a 30-year-old virgin: I just found out that the 30-year-old guy I’ve started seeing is still a virgin (and not by choice). This really surprised me, because he is nice and charming. Is it a red flag that none of his previous girlfriends have wanted to take him to bed?

A: No. It just means that he’s a virgin. If he hasn’t done or said anything that you consider a red flag, then you’re in the clear. Talk a lot, figure out what you both want, communicate your limits and interests and desires, and have fun!

Q. Name: I am getting married this spring. This winter I have tried very hard to integrate my 6-year-old daughter and myself into my fiancé’s family since we don’t have much of one (only my grandmother is alive on my side, and my ex is worthless). My fiancé loves my daughter and has plans to adopt her after the wedding. His parents are very accepting as well. My problem is my sister-in-law to be, who is pregnant and very self-involved. Beyond referring to her baby as the “first grandchild,” she is having a girl and chose a name very similar to my daughter’s and my own (think Eliza, Lisbeth, and Elizabeth). She wants to refer to her unborn baby by the common nickname that both I and my daughter use, and she wants us to change how we are addressed because it would be too “confusing for the baby.” I laughed it off when she first brought it up, but she has been unrelentingly insistent. It is annoying to be called by my full Christian name when I haven’t gone by that since Catholic school, but I would be OK to suck it up in the name of family harmony—but not my daughter. My fiancé and I left my daughter in the care of his parents and sister for a romantic weekend, only to get back and find my daughter in tears because she wasn’t allowed to be called by her name anymore. My future sister-in-law refused to address my daughter by her nickname, even when my daughter objected. She even told my daughter that it wasn’t her name anymore, as it belonged to the baby.

I am beyond furious. My fiancé wants to chalk it up to his sister’s hormones, but right now all I can think of are my daughter’s tears. How exactly are my in-laws going to react when their biological grandchild gets here? They just waved their hands while their daughter stole my 6-year-old’s identity! My fiancé thinks I am making a mountain out of a molehill. Am I crazy or is this out of line?

A: This is a very long letter about something very simple: “No, I’m not going to change my name, or my daughter’s name, because you want to name your child the same thing. This conversation is over.” You do not need to justify or explain your choice. The fact that your family has thrown their support behind your sister-in-law’s bizarre demand does not make them right; it merely makes them all equally deluded and manipulative. The fact that your fiancé thinks you are “making a mountain out of a molehill” for not wanting to change the name you’ve always had to humor his sister’s whim says something about how much time and energy he’s invested in giving in to her demands over the years—don’t join him.

Q. Re: Ungrateful child: Please also recognize that you’re grieving the early loss of your mom’s vigor and her ability to do and be everything you imagined (for herself, for you, for your child, et cetera). And she’s grieving the same things as well! By acknowledging this new factor, you can build a safe place for each of you to process your feelings. You may also benefit from a few counseling sessions (your campus may offer them for free), so you can gain guidance into how to more effectively channel your emotions and regain a healthier relationship with your mom.

A: That’s a great reminder of some other issues that may be at play. Take advantage of whatever resources your campus has to offer!

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks, everyone! See you next week.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Lost in Penn Station

Lost in Penn Station

by Julia Turner @ Slate Articles

This month, Slate is republishing some of our favorite stories. Here's today's selection: Julia Turner's entire series on signs, from 2010, taught me a lot about the ways that structural problems within and between organizations affect customers; take the signage at Penn Station, which is confusing and bizarre largely because three different railroads can't agree with each other. And the fact that Slate's then-deputy editor, now editor in chief, clearly spent weeks on a quixotic project about signage—something she cared about, but which wouldn't be an easy sell at other magazines—made me feel as though Slate was willing to take chances in assigning and thinking about the world. —Dan Kois

Penn Station is a confusing place. The bustling train terminal, located on the West Side of Manhattan, is a sprawling mass of tracks, corridors, and concourses spread across three levels. It's home to three different railroads—Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the LIRR—and two subway lines. It's the busiest train station in North America, crowded with around 200 million passengers a year. And there's a giant sports arena, Madison Square Garden, squatting on top of it, so much of this activity occurs underground, in low-ceilinged tunnels devoid of sunlight and fresh air. For visitors, it offers a disorienting welcome to the city. By and large, New Yorkers do not like it.

One reason they don't like it is that it has bad signs. On Yelp.com, where users have given Penn 2.5 stars out of 5, comments range from "How their signs do stymie!" to "Someone needs to put up some signs as to where the stuff is" to "Without a doubt, one of the poorest and most confusing arrangements for signage and passenger movement that I can imagine." (Grand Central, by comparison, rates 4.5 stars, and the only comment on its directional signage is: "Signs for different exits are really well posted so you never get turned around.")

Of course, it's not fair to compare Penn Station and Grand Central. Penn sees four times as much traffic and is much more complex. Still, Penn Station signage is confusing, and more confusing than it needs to be. Understanding why—and how it got that way—can teach us a lot about what makes good signage good.

* * *

Consider the case of one traveler and the ways in which Penn Station's signs might confuse her. She's a New Yorker who works downtown, and she needs to catch an Amtrak train to Washington, D.C. The slide show below tracks her journey through the station.

Our traveler made it to her train, thanks entirely to the signs pictured here. In that sense, the system worked just fine. But it also put her through unnecessary stress. During her long walk down the main corridor, she passed more than five signs that made no mention of Amtrak, causing her to doubt the route she was on, even though it was right. And when she reached the Amtrak concourse, there was no sign properly identifying that she'd arrived. She had to check the departures board—and see her train to Washington listed—to confirm that she was in the right place. If, at any point, she'd given up and doubled back to the beginning, she would have lost time and been even later for her train. How could these signs be improved?

* * *

When I first started interviewing sign designers for this series, I was surprised that they didn't talk much about signs. I'd expected to learn a lot about typeface and color selection. Maybe, if I were lucky, a revolutionary new arrow.

Instead, I learned there's a reason professionals call what they do not "sign-making" but "wayfinding." Their goal is to help users find their way through complicated environments. That requires a lot more than good-looking signs. To create a sign system that works, designers must first understand how people will use a space. When beginning a hospital project, they'll map out all the possible routes a visitor might take. How would a patient with an oncology appointment get to it? How about a visitor to the maternity ward? If they're designing new signage for an existing space, they often quiz the security guards. No one knows better what people find confusing.

As designers map out the main routes, they also pay attention to the architecture. When people find their way through buildings, they are often guided as much by the space itself as by any posted signs. Does the main lobby look like a lobby, with a front desk and a building directory? If not, visitors may think they have come in the wrong entrance. People are also more likely to get lost in a building without distinguishing features visible from the street. A hospital complex with two prominent towers may be easier to navigate than one situated in a giant boxy building. If the architecture is confusing, wayfinding designers may ask the architects to make changes, or they may devise sign systems that try to clarify the space. (A design team might use three main elevator banks as orienting landmarks, for example, or assign memorable names or different color schemes to distinct zones within the space.)

Next the wayfinding team will identify every key decision point—every place where a visitor might stop and think, Where do I go from here? Each one should get a sign; that way users never get confused. It's also important to decide what information will go on each sign, doling out directions only as needed. A woman getting out of a cab at the airport doesn't need to know where the gates are yet—she just needs to know where to check in.

Only then, once all this information has been determined, will the wayfinding team start thinking about the design of the signs.

* * *

The problem at Penn Station is not that designers skipped these steps. It's that three sets of designers did them three times. Penn Station is owned by Amtrak, which manages its concourse on the western side of the station. But Amtrak leases the rest of the station out to the two other tenants: New Jersey Transit has the southeast corner, and the LIRR the northeast. (The Metropolitan Transportation Authority oversees both the LIRR and New York City Transit, which manages the two adjacent subway stations; their sign systems are similar to the LIRR's.*) The fundamental wayfinding problem at Penn Station lies in the fact that each of these entities manages its own signs, usually without consulting the others. As a result, the station essentially has three different systems of signage.

This is a crazy way to manage information at the biggest railway station in the country. The user experiences Penn Station as one place. But the current system assumes that the user experiences the station as three distinct spaces. In truth, though, as we saw in the slide show above, many journeys require travelers to cross from zone to zone.

Within each of the station's three concourses, the various wayfinding designers direct users primarily to the tracks and amenities of whomever they're working for. At this, they've done a reasonably good job. It's in directing travelers to other parts of the station that Penn's sign systems often fail.

I asked David Gibson, a principal at the firm Two Twelve and the author of a recent book called TheWayfinding Handbook, to tour the station with me and examine its signage. (Gibson's firm has done some work for both N.J. Transit and the LIRR, but he didn't pull his punches.) The Long Island Rail Road concourse—which is where our beleaguered traveler spent most of her journey—is distinctive, awash in the yellowish light reflected on the ceiling of its main corridor and marked by its row of lively shops.* The signage often appears in a band above the retail signage. This gives travelers a consistent place to look, but it also means that directional signs compete with retail signs for attention.

The sign style here is derived from the MTA's subway signage system. The aesthetics of these signs are clear and strong. Gibson noted that the white Helvetica type is quite legible on the dark ground and that the type size is sufficient. He also pointed out that what wayfinders call the "information hierarchy"—the relative prominence of the elements on a sign—tends to be fairly good. The concourse managers even play the electronic sound of chirping birds near the track entrances to guide visually impaired travelers to a special kiosk that can help orient them. The key problem, however, is that signs to other parts of the station are sparse and inconsistently located.

The Amtrak concourse is abidingly blue, and marked by its higher ceilings. Its signs also use a sans-serif font, although one that's slenderer and more delicate than Helvetica. To Gibson, the style seemed retro; all that blue felt too much like "an old '50s bus station."

Because Amtrak dispatchers control N.J. Transit's trains, the Amtrak departures boards list N.J. Transit departures as well, a nice concession to another station tenant. But even that is slightly confusing: Why not list LIRR departures, too? Although one board is labeled "Amtrak Departures," the other just says "Departures." How is the first-time LIRR passenger to know she's in the wrong place?

Gibson was impressed by the feel of the New Jersey Transit Concourse, which is the most recently renovated. The architects created a pleasing environment with a pink-and-black-stone color scheme, and the piped-in classical music creates the sensation of a cultured commute.

The signs use a serif font—an unusual choice in transportation signage, where sans-serif typefaces have long been in vogue. But most designers agree that serif fonts can work for signage as long as the line spacing and type size is well handled. Here, Gibson felt the size was a little small. It's hard to read any signs but the ones immediately in front of us. This sign even directs N.J. Transit riders to Amtrak and the LIRR, although it might confuse a passenger looking for the subway lines. The low ceilings are probably to blame for the skinny signs and small type—any bigger, and taller passengers might have to duck. Unfortunately, however, given the hulk of Madison Square Garden upstairs, New Jersey Transit can't do much about them.

Watch a video tour of Penn Station's signage with David Gibson.

Each of these three sign systems has strengths and weaknesses. But the problems with Penn Station are not, fundamentally, design problems. They're power problems. If the authority in Penn Station were centralized—or if Amtrak stepped up to its role as landlord and decided to address the station's wayfinding problems with a unified sign system—the place could be made less confusing.

Mike Gallagher, Amtrak's Superintendent of Passenger Services for Penn, pointed out via e-mail that while each tenant manages its own signs, Penn has "ample signage throughout the station, directing passengers to the area of the station they are looking to travel from." But having lots of signs is a pale substitute for having signs that really speak to one another.

Lance Wyman, a pioneering wayfinding designer, recalls encountering this problem when doing some work for Amtrak at Penn in the 1990s. He told me that after a meeting, he once asked, " 'Who can I talk to to try to coordinate all of this working as one system?' And one guy said, 'Oh, we don't talk to each other.' He was joking but he wasn't joking, you know? I mean, it's the truth!" Penn's tenants do coordinate their efforts on occasion—as when the LIRR and N.J. Transit joined forces to promote trains to New Jersey's Meadowlands Stadium last fall—but such initiatives are sporadic and ad hoc.

Fixing Penn Station's wayfinding would be a challenge, primarily because the architectural structure of the place is not readily apparent to the traveler. (An irony, given that the original Penn Station, torn down in 1965, was literally transparent—topped with a glass atrium.)

The current space, a warren of underground bunkers, is difficult to visualize unless you've been there many times. But David Gibson pointed out that a wayfinding design team could take advantage of the distinct spaces the three tenants have already created. Passengers already sense that the station has different zones; the wayfinding team would need to work to heighten those contrasts, and strengthen the cues that help people identify where they are and where they need to go. Another challenge: The station has an enormous number of entrances. Passengers can enter from several portals to the street, or from scores of stairways from individual rail and subway tracks underground. It would be tricky to determine where to place orienting maps and other cues to welcome new arrivals. But it could be done.

Penn Station is a remarkably challenging environment for wayfinding. But it's a useful place to examine, because it highlights the single most crucial thing a wayfinding designer must do: think about the user and understand how he will perceive a space. When signs are good, and you pay attention to them, you can sense the level of thought that went into them. Someone, somewhere, anticipated the journey you are on, and the information you would need. At Penn Station as a whole, it's no one's job to think about how you'll get where you're going. And you can tell.

More from this series: Why signs are better now than they've ever been;  how smarter signs could make London easier to navigate; the international war over  the exit sign; how GPS could kill the sign. Plus: Send Slate your  hand-drawn maps. See more road signs in this Magnum Photos  gallery.

Correction, March 4, 2010: This piece originally misspelled the LIRR's full name—it's Rail Road, not Railroad. (Return to the corrected sentence.) It also incorrectly referred to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as the Metropolitan Transit Authority. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Why Do Some Trans Men Freak Out When Other Trans Men Wear Makeup?

Why Do Some Trans Men Freak Out When Other Trans Men Wear Makeup?

by Evan Urquhart @ Slate Articles

Is a man wearing makeup still really a man? While it seems irrational to think a bit of face goo would negate someone’s manhood, no other question is as contentious in the community of trans men. It’s gotten to be such a problem that some Facebook groups for trans men address it directly in their rules for membership. “If a man is wearing makeup, LEAVE HIM BE” is the third rule for one such group with over 15,000 members. Other FTM groups, particularly those with very few rules, host near-daily flame wars between makeup-wearers and trans guys who attempt to enforce a masculine aesthetic through insults and mockery. Dyed hair and feminine clothing can sometimes prompt a similar reaction, but nothing seems to trigger a backlash to the same extent as trans guys who wear makeup.

Lukas Pareika is one of the transgender men who has posted pictures of himself in makeup. When I asked him to describe his makeup wearing, and if he’d been hassled for it online he wrote:

I tend to mainly go for eye and lip makeup when I’m just doing it regularly, nothing too intense. Off the clock, I’ll throw on some foundation and contour if I feel like, and on special occasions I do a full face/get a full face done. I never realized what an art makeup was and being an artistic type, I was instantly drawn to it. I love everything about it, from the application, to the end result, to the occasional compliment. It just feels good to do. In my life outside of the internet, I hardly receive any negative comments. Online however, I’ve had many trans men on pages I follow on Facebook tell me that I’m not a real trans guy for wearing makeup and looking feminine. One guy even told me I couldn’t possibly be trans, because I didn’t look like a guy.

Outside of the trans community, many people still insist on definitions of “man” and “woman” that arbitrarily exclude every single trans person from their post-transition gender, and hurl insults when our appearances are deemed too feminine or masculine for the gender we identify with. So as a trans guy myself, I just don’t go there. If a trans guy wants to wear makeup, he has every right—I won’t say a thing about it. Deep down in some cold, conservative part of my soul, however, I have to admit I understand where these particular haters are coming from. I don’t say it; I wish I didn’t feel it; but when a transgender man shares a very feminine looking picture, particularly one in which the femininity of his facial features is enhanced by makeup, it makes me uncomfortable. It reminds me of an earlier time in my life when I’d look into the mirror and see a girl who could never be anything but a girl, a particularly intense form of what’s called gender dysphoria. Damien, a New Jersey trans man who has participated in some of the online dust-ups, described his own similar reaction:

I feel dysphoric since we’re both lumped in under the same label, and it reminds me of how hard I fought to NOT have to look like that, [and of] all the trans guys in unsupportive households who are forced to wear makeup and perform femininity.
It also reminds me of the feminine features I still have that I’m waiting to change. I wonder if the person posting even understands dysphoria the way that I and many other non-makeup-wearing trans guys experience it.

Dysphoria is not something that only the makeup-free among us experience, according to Andrew Berry. Berry is an 18-year-old trans man who’s a brand ambassador for MISFITBEAUTYCO and sells his own homemade makeup on Etsy. He explained to me how makeup can make him feel good, despite the haters:

When I do more drag like or extreme looks it can help my dysphoria in a weird way. Makeup can change how I look, and I like that aspect of it. My dysphoria is really prominent, but making myself feel good by doing a fun makeup look can really help me feel better and that’s what people usually try to do when they have dysphoria.

For me, makeup is reminiscent of high school, of trying to fit in as a teenage girl even though the more I succeeded the more wrong and out of place I felt. For Damien, makeup reminds him of parts of himself he still hopes will change and of trans men whose unsupportive families force them to perform femininity. But who are we to say how it affects Berry or Lukas? One man’s dysphoria is another man’s brand ambassadorship, apparently.

But the extreme negative reactions some trans men have to others’ makeup can’t all be chalked up to an awkwardly reflected form of gender dysphoria. Another thread is some trans men’s belief that society will only accept us if we prioritize passing, and conform to a masculine standard in our outward presentations. James, an Australian trans guy who says he tries to stay out of arguments over makeup pictures, stated his fears about how others will view feminine trans men in no uncertain terms:

For those [makeup wearers] who haven't had top surgery, don't bind, and aren't on T, it's simply ridiculous. Often, they're the ones who get angry if they're misgendered, when they appear to be making no concerted effort to look like their desired gender. It makes the rest of us legitimate trans men look ridiculous and like confused [lesbians].

Though crudely stated, this sounds familiar. There’s a long history of bad blood between assimilationist queers—who stress our similarities to the mainstream—versus more radical folks who hope to overturn the dominant cultural norms about gender and sexual expression, dating back at least to when the LGBTQ movement was still called the “gay rights” movement. Even today, many gay men and lesbians see transgender rights as a millstone around their necks, much as masculine trans men see feminine trans guys as weighing down their struggle for acceptance. I’m not persuaded that trans men wearing makeup is where a final line that must be drawn, that society must accept everything up to that, but not one eye-shadow further, even though I sympathize with a desire to be accepted by the mainstream rather than endlessly fighting against it.

Part of the negative response to trans men wearing makeup is dysphoria, and part of it is a fear that masculine trans guys’ desire for acceptance will be undermined by radical demands to upend gendered expectations for behavior and appearance. I also suspect that there’s an element of generalized bias against femininity: a sense that expressing femininity is weak, bad, or frivolous while masculinity is strong and righteous. The trans guys I spoke with didn’t say this, exactly—but they did make mocking references to “toxic masculinity” and claim that masculine trans men were being marginalized or excluded from the trans male community. In my experience, the extent of this marginalization has been to ask masculine trans men not to impose their ideas about what it means to be a real man or look like a real man on others. But I can’t claim to know everything these guys have experienced.

It’s understandable that makeup makes some trans men uncomfortable and that some people are afraid the mainstream will only accept gender-conforming, cis-passing trans men. But to believe that we’ll win acceptance by policing one another the way the cis world polices us—tearing down each other’s appearance and accusing one another of being fake—makes no sense. Trans people have to give one another the benefit of the doubt if we’re going to expect the wider world to do the same for us. That means accepting trans men as men, makeup and all.

The Best Whole Life Insurance Company

by Philip Palermo @ Reviews.com

Four Crucial Things You Should Know About New York’s New Paid Family Leave Program

Four Crucial Things You Should Know About New York’s New Paid Family Leave Program

by Jessica Mason @ Slate Articles

Working people in New York state will ring in the new year with an important new right on the job: up to eight weeks of paid family leave (increasing to 12 weeks by 2021). Here’s what workers in New York—and advocates for paid leave across the country—need to know about paid leave in the Empire State.

It’s not just for new parents

The benefits of paid leave for new parents are clear: It’s critical for children’s health, early brain development, and families’ economic stability. And new parents in New York will have equal coverage regardless of gender, including adoptive and foster parents.

But providing parental leave only to new parents ignores the range of caregiving needs working people have. In fact, about 1 in 5 people who take leave through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act each year take that time for family caregiving—a share that is likely to grow as the population ages.

New York’s program offers the most inclusive paid family leave in the country, covering not only new parents but also family caregivers and military families with needs related to active duty deployment.

In New York, workers will be eligible to take time to care for a family member with a serious health condition, such as a grandparent recovering from hip surgery or an adult child seeking treatment for opioid addiction.

Relatives of military service members can also take paid leave for reasons related to deployment, such as making child care arrangements, caring for a service member’s parent, or spending time with a service member on temporary rest and recuperation leave.

“There are nearly 2.6 million family caregivers across New York state, including many who care for older loved ones while balancing the stresses of work,” said AARP New York state director Beth Finkel. “No one should ever be forced to risk their own economic security to care for a loved one. New York’s paid family leave program will provide critical support to our state’s unpaid family caregivers.”

It doesn’t put your job at risk

Even people who have access to paid leave may avoid taking the time they need if they fear it will have negative consequences at work. After all, the last thing a new parent or someone caring for a seriously ill family member needs is to lose a job—and income. Any well-designed paid leave program should ensure that employees will not face retaliation for using the leave they have access to.

“One especially crucial element of New York’s landmark law is full job protection,” notes Molly Williamson, staff attorney for A Better Balance, a nonprofit that is helping to educate New Yorkers about the law. “Every worker covered by the law will have the right to return to work after taking paid family leave. That means that workers can take the time they need to focus on their families, safe in the knowledge that they’ll have a job to return to when they're ready."

It’s not just for white-collar workers

Because the highest-profile voices calling for—and in some cases providing their employees with—paid leave are often Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or other large employers in big cities, paid leave can seem out of reach for workers outside of certain industries or urban centers. But the need for caregiving doesn’t discriminate, whether you’re a programmer, a truck driver, or a retail worker, living in a Manhattan apartment or in an upstate industrial town.

New York’s paid family leave program covers private sector workers in all industries, including many part-time workers. And it supports self-employed people like freelance writers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs, who can opt into coverage.

It’s not just for large employers

Many small business owners would like to offer paid leave, which has clear benefits for employee morale, productivity, and retention, but may have concerns about unforeseen costs.

New York’s paid leave program provides a solution. Employers provide their employees time away from work for eligible caregiving purposes, but they won’t incur the substantial and often unpredictable cost of covering pay for employees who are out on leave. Instead, employees pay a small share of their wages (less than 0.2 percent of each paycheck, capped at less than two dollars per week) to cover the cost of premiums on the insurance policies that will cover their leave.*

By balancing the needs of employers and employees, New York’s program actually makes providing paid leave more affordable for many businesses and more accessible to working families. It’s little wonder that a majority of small business owners support establishing a national paid leave insurance program similar to New York’s.

In the nearly 25 years since our nation’s first and only federal leave policy—the Family and Medical Leave Act—was signed into law, researchers and policymakers have learned a lot about what it takes to create a fair, inclusive, and responsible paid leave program. This is clearly reflected in New York’s cutting-edge policy. Other states—not to mention members of Congress—should be taking notes.

*Correction, Jan. 2, 2018: This post originally stated that employees pay a small share of their wages into a state trust fund that covers the cost of their leave. The employee share actually pays the full cost of the premiums for the insurance policies that cover their leave.

7 Best Online Checking Accounts in 2018 | MagnifyMoney

7 Best Online Checking Accounts in 2018 | MagnifyMoney


MagnifyMoney

You don't have the bank the old way with fees and taking trips to a local branch. These 5 best online checking accounts can change the way you handle money.

The Best Online Savings Accounts in February 2018

by LaTisha Styles @ MagnifyMoney

Updated February 9, 2018 After years of low interest rates, there is a pricing war happening for online savings accounts. Long gone are the days of 0.01% APY. If you are willing to open an online savings account (which is FDIC insured), you can now easily get a 1.50% APY or higher. Interest rates are … Continue reading The Best Online Savings Accounts in February 2018

The post The Best Online Savings Accounts in February 2018 appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

In Love With a Truther

In Love With a Truther

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, poppets! Let’s draw a little closer to the fire and get started.

Q. Conspiracy theories: My cousin recently set me up on a date with a really great guy that she knew from work. At first, I was hesitant to go on a date with him as he is 43 and I am 27, however I decided to give him a chance and I was really glad I did. He’s smart, funny, and easy to hang out with. I am also very attracted to him physically.

The only bad thing, so far, is that during a text conversation, he alluded to believing that 9/11 was an inside job. At first I thought he was joking, but further questions revealed that he was not. We discussed it in person the next time we met up, and he was joking about it with me but didn’t change his stance. Is this a deal breaker? I felt bad afterward because I was basically making fun of him to his face not realizing he actually believed what he was saying.

A: It’s a deal breaker for me, but I’m not the one who has to go out with the guy. My best advice for you is this: Don’t look for reasons to doubt your instincts. If the fact that he’s a 9/11 truther doesn’t make you more excited about going out with him, then don’t try to talk yourself into overlooking it or making yourself feel bad for not taking that conspiracy theory seriously. You’ve only been on two dates, and you’ve learned something that really drew you up short and, it sounds like, makes you question whether or not you want to get to know your date any better. That sounds like a pretty good reason to wish him well and move on.

Q. Holiday hosting etiquette: Each year, my wife’s niece hosts a Christmas dinner for the entire, relatively large, family. Most years this is in the neighborhood of 40 people. Her mother-in-law is from another country, and they do a dinner theme around the mother-in-law’s native cuisine. The dinner and food are always very enjoyable, and we are sure to express our gratitude openly and often. This year, we received a text stating that we were required to bring $5 per person to cover the costs of the dinner.

On one hand, I enjoy the meal, and I enjoy the family time, so I have no issue paying. The $40 it’s going to cost my family is not going to break the bank. On the other hand, this, to me, is rather rude. If you do not wish to host, then don’t. If you don’t wish to host so many, then don’t invite everyone.

What is the etiquette of this situation? My wife’s first reaction was simply to say that we wouldn’t be going. I am not so sure how to react.

A: This is after the fact, so you’ve already either decided to cough up the $40 bucks en famille or done something on your own, both of which are perfectly reasonable choices to make. But your wife’s niece cooks dinner for 40 people every year. That’s a far cry from a big family dinner for eight or nine people; that’s the kind of dinner that requires professional-level strategizing, meal shopping, prepping until early in the morning, and keeping everything warm despite wildly different cooking times for each dish until it’s time for everyone to eat. $5 per person seems like an incredibly reasonable request to defray expenses so she doesn’t end up spending hundreds of dollars to host an annual dinner. It’s not like you stopped by your niece’s house for a casual pasta dinner on a Thursday night and later got a PayPal request for your share of the hot water needed to run the dishwasher—this is a big production, and it’s reasonable for your niece-in-law to ask that people express their gratitude “openly and often,” and with five bucks.

Q. Out-of-character behavior leads to horrendous breakup: Two weeks ago I attended a holiday party with my boyfriend and his family. We’ve been together for three years, and since we moved to his hometown, I’ve gotten to know his parents and sisters better. I forgot about new medication I was taking, had a few drinks, and became drunker than I have ever been in my life. (Counting this event, I’ve only been drunk three times, so it’s extremely out of character for me.)

I now know that I did something so horrible at the party that my boyfriend broke up with me via text and told me he has no interest in speaking to me ever again. I’m devastated. My now ex-boyfriend is the sweetest man I know, so I had to have done something cruel for him to do this. But because he won’t talk to me, I have almost no idea of what I did or said. I am really afraid that I was mean to his sister Amanda, whom I’ve never liked.

I am going crazy here, trying to figure out how to fix this and rebuild my life when I don’t even know why it’s going off of the rails. I’m so lost. Please, do you have any advice?

A: This sounds extremely painful and bewildering, and I have a lot of sympathy for what you must be suffering right now. But I think you do have some sense of why your life is going off the rails right now. As you yourself said, you drank with medication that’s not meant to be mixed with alcohol, then did or said something extremely hurtful and out of character. That doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily a terrible person or an alcoholic, but it does mean that you have at least one clear path forward, and that’s to re-familiarize yourself with the side effects of the medication you’re taking and make sure not to mix it with alcohol again.

If your ex-boyfriend is still too hurt to talk to you, then you shouldn’t compound the pain you’ve caused by continuing to ask him to tell you what you did that night with his family. That doesn’t mean you have to keep all these feelings inside. Talk to your own friends and family members about the pain and self-recrimination you’re experiencing. Ask for their emotional support as you grieve the loss of your relationship and deal with the pain of not knowing what you did to hurt your ex-boyfriend. See a therapist if you feel you need additional help.

It may be that when things aren’t so fresh, you want to write him a letter or an email to express your sincere remorse, reassure him that you’re not going to try to get him to talk to you again, and explain what you’re doing now to make sure you don’t mix your medication with alcohol again—not in order to get him to forgive you or to explain what happened, but because you genuinely regret causing him pain.

Q. Son’s gf’s college debt: My youngest son has fallen madly in love with a very sweet and ambitious young woman his own age (late 20s). She has a Ph.D. in child psychology and is in her postdoc year. He’s a high-school history teacher with no debt. She’s now looking for permanent employment. But, she’s almost $500k in debt and told him it’s college loans. I’ve done some research and spoken with experts in the field, and we’ve concluded that it is probably loans as well as credit card debt. I want to have an open and frank discussion with my son about how this could impact him should he decide to marry her. But I don’t want to be an interfering mother. Do you have some pointers for me to start the conversation?

A: I think doing research and speaking to field experts about the likely composition of your son’s girlfriend’s debts has already pushed you into “interfering mother” territory. That’s a lot! That is, frankly, way too much, especially given that your son is not engaged to this woman, that she has not asked him to pay for her debts, and that your son has not asked for your advice.

Your son is an adult, rapidly approaching 30, who can—and should—take responsibility for his own financial life, including contemplating marriage with someone with a lot of debt. He hasn’t given you any reason to think he can’t handle this one on his own, so let him handle it.

Q. Missing my daughter: “Eric” and I were together for five years and had a horrible breakup a year ago. While we were together I grew very close to his daughter “Amy,” and she to me. Amy’s mom has not been in the picture for many years. Amy took our breakup badly, and pretty much took my side in everything. We’ve kept in touch and often done things together since Eric and I split. We basically don’t discuss him.

I last spoke to Amy early in September. Since then she hasn’t called or texted. I’ve tried to contact her several times, telling her I miss her and asking about getting together. No response. I’m pretty sure she’s ghosting me, and I suspect Eric worked on her, telling her what a horrible person I am. Part of me thinks it’s better this way. Eric is a toxic person and I need to stay out of his orbit. But I really miss Amy. Should I continue to try to reconnect with her or let it go?

A: If she’s already ignored several of your messages about missing her and wanting to get together, I’m not sure how you can keep trying to reconnect with her. That doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to never hearing from her again—it may be that someday, when the fallout from your breakup with her father isn’t quite so intense, she gets in touch and you two can reconnect, but whether she’s stopped returning your calls because her father poured poison in her ear or for some other reason, you ought to respect her choice. She knows that your door is always open.

Q. Animal boyfriend: My boyfriend eats like an animal! Mouth open, uses his hands instead of the proper utensils, blows his nose at the dinner table, talks with his mouth full—the works! It grosses me out. If we’re at home, I generally turn up the music and try to block it out, but when we’re out it’s so embarrassing! We recently traveled to a foreign country and I was so shocked and embarrassed by his eating habits, I actually left the table and hid out in the bathroom.

Is there any way to broach this subject with him without coming off as snooty, or embarrassing him? For what it’s worth, his family eats the same way, so it’s not his fault he has no manners at the dinner table—he was never taught any. But we’re in our mid-30s. It’s time he learned.

A: Talk to him about it. Speak kindly, but if he gets embarrassed for a few minutes, that’s not the end of the world. You’re not doing him, or yourself, any favors by hiding in the bathroom or quietly stewing about his manners while he eats. Tell him what you’ve observed about his habits, that it’s important for him to develop better table manners, and stay brisk and matter-of-fact. This is something he can absolutely change, and you are doing him a favor in the long run by mentioning it.

Q. Re: Conspiracy theories: Thinking 9/11 was an inside job, or being on board with other conspiracy theories, isn’t an inherent deal breaker. Accompanying associated behaviors might be. My boyfriend is a conspiracy theory nut, and I disagree with 97 percent of what he believes, but he’s neither pushy nor aggressive about his beliefs, and doesn’t accuse me of being blind or a sheep for not believing it. Because there’s respect there, our differing opinions aren’t a problem.

I’d take a closer look at how he treats you for not believing 9/11 was an inside job. That will tell you more about his character and help you determine whether or not this is, indeed, a deal breaker.

A: Here is at least one vote for going on a third date!

Q. My mother is trying to turn my wedding into her second wedding: I am getting married next spring, and my fiancé and I are very excited to move to the next phase of our relationship. Wedding planning has been surprisingly easy, save for my mother. My mother has an opinion on everything in that she wants everything to involve her. She wants to pick out music for her to be seated to. She wants my fiancé to walk her down the aisle to her seat. She wants to wear a white dress to the ceremony!

What do I do here? My fiancé and I are paying for most of the wedding on our own, but my mother made a sizable donation to our wedding fund, which she claimed was “no strings attached,” but clearly there are many strings attached. My fiancé has suggested that we give her back her money, but we can’t afford the wedding without it. Please help!

A: You can’t afford this wedding without your mother’s money, but you can afford a wedding without your mother’s money. You can say things like, “Mom, I don’t want you to wear a white dress to my wedding;” or “Mom, we’re not going to have a special song for when you sit down before the ceremony;” or “Mom, Hephaestus and I aren’t looking for input on wedding planning. Let’s talk about something else.” If your mother subsequently demands to be included in the planning because of the donation she’s made, then I think it’s time for you to thank her for her generosity, give her the money back, and plan a day that feels like it’s true to the two of you, not to your mother.

Q. Re: Out-of-character behavior leads to horrendous breakup: I think after a three-year relationship in which the letter writer moved to her boyfriend’s hometown, she is owed more than a text message breakup and radio silence. Especially since she does not even know what she did. No matter how badly she behaved, the boyfriend is kind of being a jerk.

A: I mean, that really depends on what the letter writer did, and we’re as much in the dark about it as she is. There are some things that she could have done or said that might materially and permanently altered how he saw her, regardless of whether she intended to do or say them.

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The GOP Respects States’ Rights, Unless Your State Gives You These Workplace Benefits

The GOP Respects States’ Rights, Unless Your State Gives You These Workplace Benefits

by Alieza Durana @ Slate Articles

The GOP has already stripped you of workplace protections at the federal level, and now they’re coming after benefits your state has given you, too. The new Workflex in the 21st Century Act introduced before Congress by California Rep. Mimi Walters would create a voluntary paid leave scheme employers could participate in instead of complying with state and local laws and ordinances on paid leave. There’s precedence for this: Several states have recently (and quietly) moved to pass obscure “pre-emption laws,” which shield employers from complying with city laws such as paid sick days, paid leave, minimum wage laws, and fair work scheduling, that have only been passed to supplement the paltry unpaid offerings guaranteed by the federal government. Yes, the same party who used states rights arguments to pass gay marriage bans, oppose the Affordable Care Act and Environmental Protection Agency regulations, and refuse refugee resettlement are considering using the federal government to block state and local work-family legislation.

The 2017 Workflex Act would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to create what are cynically called “flexible work arrangements,” which would allow employers to ignore their state and local requirements in exchange for voluntarily providing a small amount of paid leave (sick time, vacation time, time off—it’s not specified) to full-time workers. This paid-leave minimum would be anywhere from 12 days for smaller employers with new employees up to 20 days for workers with over five years of experience at the largest firms. However, employers are allowed to subtract six federal holidays from that compensable leave, and none of the benefits apply to employees who’ve worked at an organization for less than a year. Six days of paid time off for a new mom, father of a sick child, or cancer patient, is hardly a solution to the United States’ current last-place status among industrialized countries when it comes to paid leave.

So despite efforts by states like Washington to pass 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, the Walters bill could pre-empt it or allow Washington state employers to provide those 12–20 days (to some, not all) instead. States are already well underway in pre-empting local efforts, from minimum wage and firearm laws to paid sick days. The state of Missouri now prevents localities from passing paid-sick-days legislation, for example. Dillon’s rule, which allows states to set health and safety standards that supercede local control (to learn more about your state’s pre-emption efforts, explore here), provides them grounds to do this. An August Economic Policy Institute report highlights 15 states that have passed 28 laws pre-empting local labor standards, specifically as they relate to paid leave, paid sick days, and the minimum wage.

The GOP says it’s bad for business, and therefore bad for workers, to have to comply with patchwork laws. This is the argument of the Society for Human Resource Managers. But there’s a better solution than letting employers opt out of better state and local laws: Pass sweeping federal legislation that improves upon each of these state and local laws so these governments don’t have to invent their own stop-gap programs and policies in the meantime.

At a hearing on Tuesday with the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women’s Forum, an organization aiming to increase “the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty,” spoke in favor of the Workflex Act: “Policymakers’ goal should be to help make it easier for workers to prepare for time away from work and for businesses to provide leave benefits but without discouraging hiring and innovative work relationships,” Lukas concluded. “However, the best way to ensure that workers have the benefits they need is for there to be a growing economy, which offers plentiful job opportunities and rising compensation.”

This means little in real terms other than a hope and prayer for trickle-down economics. Results from the National Study of Employers (ironically, released by the Society for Human Resource Managers, one of the supporters of the Workflex Act) show that most employers don’t currently offer paid family or medical leave. One of Lukas’ alternative suggestions to state and local attempts to remedy this is “personal care accounts”—or bank accounts where people can save their own money to take leave. But this is really only a way the more affluent could pay for leave (some of whom probably already get paid leave through their jobs). With stagnant wages and families unable to afford an emergency expense over $400, personal care accounts seem like a nonanswer to our workplace woes.

It’s unclear whether the GOP will jump on the Workflex bandwagon wholesale. Subcommittee chair Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan said, “We have questions in this area and we have needs. Questions such as: Can employers be trusted to make good paid time off decisions for both themselves and their employees? Or can we develop productive paid time off legislation that fosters good relations between employees and employers while not violating our constitutional federalism in regards to the state and local primacy, and that is an important question to consider.”

The Walters bill before the House does neither.

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My Rich Revolution: CREDIT EDITION

by Wall Street Minimalist @ Wall Street Minimalist

  Learn how to raise your credit score, clean up your credit report, negotiate bank fees away, and earn free vacations in 7 days! We have received such a great response and feedback from you all for our Bootcamp Series! Don’t worry, we’ll continue with the series until week 15 […]

The post My Rich Revolution: CREDIT EDITION appeared first on Wall Street Minimalist.

Bank Of The West Review: $150 Checking Account Bonus

by Tony Phan @ MoneysMyLife

Get the latest Bank of the West bonuses and promotions here. There are branches in the following states: AZ, CA, CO, IA, ID, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA, WI, WY. Typical promotions for Checking accounts have been for $150, $200 and $300. They also oftentimes have promotions for their investment services […]

The Best Gym Bags

The Best Gym Bags

by Trupti Rami @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To help you with your New Year’s resolutions, we’ve already found the best winter running socks, workout gear, sports bras, and leggings—but what to pack everything in? Here, we grilled seven trainers, gym professionals, and plain-old exercise enthusiasts on the best gym bags.

For the Rush-Hour Commuter

“For me, simplicity is beauty. I like my Nike Brasilia duffel bag because it’s big enough to fit my running shoes and a clean pair of shorts, but small enough to carry on a crowded subway during rush hour. It’s got a hanging pocket on the inside to hold any valuables, it’s ventilated, and it fits in even the smallest of gym lockers.” —Charlie Dowe, media planner

Nike Brasilia Black Duffel
$45, Amazon

For the Throw-and-Goer

“I’m not even sure this tote is meant to be a gym bag, but lots of people who come into the studio are using it that way. It’s lightweight, it’s durable, and at the end of class I can throw my wet mop of a shirt in it with no concern. Occasionally I take it and give it a good rinse in the shower. It’s chic without being overstated, and it’s oh-so durable. I’m on the go all day and I wear my stuff hard, so for me it’s perfect.” —Taryn Toomey, founder of The Class by Taryn Toomey

MZ Wallace Small Metro Tote
$195, Saks Fifth Avenue

For the Comfort Seeker

“I have had a lot of gym bags during my recent time as a fitness instructor and my latest Puma bag is just awesome. It’s wide enough for me to carry all my workout gear (sneakers, water bottle, clothes, etc.), as well as one to two changes of clothing, which becomes especially useful when I’m teaching two or more classes a day and need to quickly change. The bag can also carry my laptop (13-inch MacBook Air) and charger cables comfortably. Day to day, I also appreciate that the strap doesn’t cut into my shoulder.” —Danny Cadet, fitness instructor at BollyX

Puma Transformation Duffel
$20, Amazon

For the Weekend Traveler

“I love the Lily Tote because it’s the most versatile bag I’ve ever owned. I travel quite a bit for work, and it allows me to carry my laptop, a change of clothes, toiletries, and my favorite book without bothering my shoulders. Plus, it also doubles as a waterproof backpack and messenger bag, so I can use it for a weekend trip without having to make any adjustments.” —Kat Ellis, head trainer at Uplift Studios

Lolë Lily Tote
$140, Amazon

For the Compartment User

“My bag has held up for like four years now and still looks pretty new. It’s kind of become my default bag. I take it to the gym, of course, and I even took it with me when I went on a trip to Jamaica recently. I put a whole bunch of clothes in it and used all three compartments—a big one that’s ventilated for sweaty items and two little side ones for a water bottle or anything else you’d want to throw in there.” —Peabo Bryson, assistant manager at Planet Fitness

Adidas Team Speed Medium Duffel
$40, Amazon

For the Cross-Trainer

“Like the triathletes I coach, when I head to the gym, it’s rarely for just one thing, so I need a bag that can handle gear for swimming, riding, running, lifting, yoga, or whatever combination I have planned for the day. The Blueseventy Transition Bag was originally designed for triathlon race day, but works nicely in the gym. The bag has all sorts of features—a big main compartment, a separate waterproof compartment for wet swim gear that can even hold a wetsuit, external pockets for water bottles, a top pocket for breakable items, a spot for a bike helmet (which comes in handy if I ride to the gym), and even a headphone jack. It works nicely for air travel too since it fits in an overhead compartment and has a padded laptop compartment.” —Jonathan Cane, founder and head coach of City Coach Multisport

Blueseventy Transition Bag
$90, Amazon

For the Heavy Sweater

“My favorite gym bag is the Champion zip bag that I have had for a few years. The reason this bag has stuck with me for so long is its size (not too big and not too small), as well as its fabric. The synthetic material repels moisture and does not trap odor.” —Maggie Byus, advertising manager

Champion Mindset Duffel
$39, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Bar Carts on Amazon

The Best Bar Carts on Amazon

by Lauren Levy @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best bar carts determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Cheap But Expensive-Looking Bar Cart With Stemware Rack

4.6 stars, 148 reviews
“Absolutely gorgeous! Elegant, minimalist style was the missing thing for my apartment. This is a cute, chic thing! Metal with black glass is so trendy. Fair price and excellent quality.”

Coaster Kitchen Carts Serving Cart With 2 Black Glass Shelves
$69, Amazon

Best Cheap But Expensive-Looking Bar Cart Without Stemware Rack

4.3 stars, 103 reviews
“This small bar cart is ideal for a small apartment. I assembled it without any help, but it would have gone faster with someone else on hand. Still, all the parts went together easily. I had no problem with screws and wheels, which were mentioned in other reviews. If you assemble it carefully, you should be happy with it, too.”

Chrome Metal Bar With Tempered Glass
$80, Amazon

Best Folding Bar Cart

4.5 stars, 445 reviews
“Neatly packaged and arrived on time. The product is already assembled and neatly folded as shown in the images. All you have to do is screw on the wheels on the legs, and it is ready to use. If you are looking for something that is easy to move around and blends in well with your dining room or kitchen, this is perfect and I recommend it.”

Folding Metal Rolling Serving Cart
$60, Amazon

Best Tiered Bar Cart

4.8 stars, 52 reviews
“I love this cart! We live in a smaller condo and it looks great in our living room, and it is great for entertaining guests and easy to decorate. Funny thing is, I put the top or the middle on wrong and ended up having the wine glasses hang on the wrong side, but I actually like it this way, and it freed up another shelf so … that was lucky. Anyway, if you want a quality-looking cart, pick this one. I chose to leave the wheels off, but there are wheels that come with it as well.”

Holly & Martin Zephs Bar Cart
$124, Amazon

Best Traditional Bar Cart

4.5 stars, 170 reviews
“I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on this. It’s small, but that’s why I like it. The color looks really red in the pictures, but it matches my expensive furniture perfectly. The only thing I don’t love is the gilded accents. I might take it apart someday and paint them. It’s not that big of a deal, though. It was a good piece for the price.”

Coaster Serving Cart
$49, Amazon

Best Bar Cart With Cabinets

4.5 stars, 181 reviews
“This bar cart is everything you could ask for. At first, my fiancé and I weren’t sure about how it would look, but after purchasing it, we couldn’t be happier. The cart looks amazing when stocked. Everything came very well-packaged, and assembly was not too bad … about an hour and a half total construction by myself. Just a heads-up, not all size wine glasses will fit in the rack, only smaller white-wine glasses. Also, the bottom rack of the wine-bottle holder is really only meant for larger bottles, as smaller ones will roll around between the wood dividers. But, if the cart is stationary, that won’t matter.”

Winsome Wood Entertainment Cart
$137, Amazon

Best Disguised Liquor Cabinet

4.3 stars, 210 reviews
“I was afraid the quality might be crap, but I was very pleased. It was well-packed and easy to assemble, and it looks beautiful in my living room and holds a ton of bottles and glasses. I absolutely love it!”

Sixteenth-Century Italian Replica Globe Bar Cart
$215, Amazon

Best Bar Cart for Your First Apartment

4.8 stars, 90 reviews
“Great, versatile storage unit! Manual doesn’t include any words, only images, but it’s easy to follow. Comes with everything you need to quickly install your storage unit, except the ‘plus sign’ screwdriver. Love it! I’m always changing what I store in here. I had originally bought this to store snacks, but then quickly changed my mind. And in the first bin, I store first-aid products; second bin stores beauty products; and the third bin stores some office supplies. May not be the most practical, but it can always change. Love the versatility of this storage unit!”

Raskog Home Kitchen Bedroom Storage Utility Cart
$42, Amazon

Best Bar Cart for a Tiny Apartment

4.4 stars, 75 reviews
“Well-made, solid, and sturdy. Exactly what I was looking for! Love it!”

Welland 3-Tier Wood Rolling Cart
$80, Amazon

Best Bar Table

4.5 stars, 289 reviews
“This was just what I was looking for. Great for my small apartment and holds a good amount of alcohol and glasses. Looks very stylish and wasn’t difficult to assemble.”

Coaster Home Furnishings Contemporary Bar Table
$160, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Board Games From 2017

The Best Board Games From 2017

by Keith Law @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

The ongoing boom in tabletop board-gaming shows no sign of slowing any time soon; Boardgamegeek lists nearly 600 titles with a publication year of 2017 and enough user ratings to put them on the global rankings, and more than 2,000 other titles that were released somewhere, somehow during the year.

I of course haven’t tried them all—I’ve played or demoed somewhere north of 50 games this year but south of 100, and if I had played more than that I’m not sure I’d admit it anywhere my employers could see it. It is, however, nearly the end of the year, and before the apocalypse descends upon us all, here are my choices for 2017’s best games, organized into various categories. It’s worth noting that one game I wanted to love was Legend of the Five Rings. It has some of the best art of the year, and was co-designed by one of the folks behind the excellent Game of Thrones card game’s current edition, but it’s just … so … slow. The game has already found a cult following in the three months since its release, so perhaps it’s just not my cup of tea, but I found it just too languid.

With that out of the way, on to the top picks.

Best Overall Game

Azul
Azul is just the second title from Plan B Games, the new company founded by former Z-Man president Sophie Gravel, and between its simple mechanics, high-quality components, and perfect amount of screw-your-opponent, it’s a huge winner. Designed by Michael Kiesling, who made one of my all-time favorite Eurogames, Vikings, Azul asks players to fill out a five-by-five grid on their individual boards by taking tiles in five colors from the central supply. There’s a big game-theory aspect to selecting which tiles to take and which to leave for later (or to try to foist on one of your opponents), on top of the challenge of figuring out how best to deploy the tiles you take on your board. It plays quickly and works as well with two players as it does with four.

Azul
$80, Amazon

Best Heavy Game

Wasteland Express Delivery Service
Heavy in the literal sense, Wasteland Express’s box is enormous, weighing over seven pounds, with hundreds of cardboard and plastic pieces. The gameplay itself isn’t quite as heavy as that might imply, though, and you can finish a game in under two hours. More mid-weight than high complexity, Wasteland Express has players moving around a postapocalyptic map to bring water, food, or weapons from one city to another in exchange for cash or to fulfill contracts. You get to trick out your truck with over a dozen different “mods,” things that give you more firepower when you fight neutral raiders, or that let you pass through irradiated areas unharmed, or that let you carry more goods on a single haul. It’s a little Mad Max, a little Fallout, and a little Galaxy Trucker all in one.

Wasteland Express Delivery Service
$56, Amazon

Best Party Game

Werewords
Werewords is a spinoff of the popular One Night Ultimate Werewolffranchise, which has become a brand unto itself. This time it takes the same core deduction and bluffing mechanic and adds a bit of Twenty Questions. Players are assigned roles that they keep secret, other than the Mayor, who runs the show and learns the game’s magic word but also has a second, secret role of his or her own. Players must attempt to guess the magic word (it’s not please) via yes-or-no questions before the four-minute timer runs out. However, one player is the Werewolf, working at cross purposes to everyone else. The game also comes with extra roles to vary play, and it’s tailor-made for expansion packs. The game requires at least four players but, like many social deduction games, it’s better with more people around the table (and drinking).

Werewords
$17, Amazon

Best Game for Two Players

Santorini
Santorini was first developed by a math professor in the early 2000s, but only saw a limited release as a strictly abstract game this year, when Roxley Games put out this Greek-mythology-themed version that also builds in numerous expansions and variants to make it almost like multiple games in one box. Players work with two builders on a five-by-five board, using one builder per turn to start or add a level to an adjacent building. A player can win by constructing a three-story building and then getting one of his/her builders to stand on top of it—but only if the opposing player doesn’t slap a dome on top of the building first, which precludes anyone from moving to that space. It’s quite replayable on its own, but the game also includes “god” and “hero” powers that give players one additional power beyond the simple move-and-build mechanic, with 40 different cards that can be played in many combinations.

Santorini
$27, Amazon

Best Reissue

Stop Thief!
I admit to serious bias on this one, as the original Stop Thief! was one of my favorite board games when I was a kid, not least because of the little electronic “phone” that came with the game and gave you clues that told you when the culprit was running, or when he broke a window or triggered an alarm. The phone is no more, alas, but of course Stop Thief! now works with an app, and the game itself is the same but with updated graphics. Players compete to track down a specific thief by unearthing clues and following the sounds the app gives to represent his movements. Other great games to get reissues in 2017: Torres, London, and Through the Desert.

Stop Thief!
$30, Amazon

Best New Board Game App

Through the Ages
This isn’t the best board game to come out as an app this year (that would be 7 Wonders), but it is the best port of any board game to tablets or phones in 2017, and the biggest reason is the tutorial. Through the Ages is a very heavy Eurogame that takes three to four hours to play, taking the 4X concept from video games and trying to bring it to the table top without losing the complexity. Learning it can be daunting. I came into this app without ever having played the physical game, so I started off cold and found the tutorial incredibly useful and quite entertaining. (I won’t spoil it, but it has the best joke I’ve ever seen in a game tutorial.) The developers also did a fantastic job of using the illusion of 3-D perspective on the 2-D screen to replicate the giant tableau a player would have in the physical game. It took me an embarrassing number of plays to finally beat the medium AI, but at least each run-through only took 15 to 20 minutes instead of 180.

Through the Ages
$10, iTunes

Best Expansion

Cities of Splendor
Marc Andre had a good year, releasing Majesty—his very good and long-awaited follow-up to his 2014 Spiel des Jahres–nominated game Splendor—this month, as well as the four-in-one expansion Cities of Splendor back in August. Splendor was a fairly closed game with tight, streamlined mechanics, but Andre came up with four mini-expansions that all come in one box, each of which brings one specific twist that alters the base game in a significant way. The Cities expansion replaces the noble tiles with city tiles that you earn by meeting a specific point total and accumulating the right combination of gem cards. The Trading Posts give you new powers. The Orient expansion expands the table from 12 cards for purchase to 18. And the Strongholds expansion gives Splendor a more directly competitive aspect by letting players reserve development cards with their stronghold tokens. Each gives the base game a needed boost, changing the pace and/or making it more interactive with other players.

Cities of Splendor (Expansion to Splendor)
$36, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Singular Assault

Singular Assault

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, everyone! Let’s chat.

Q. Trying to leave it in the past: Two and a half years ago, my partner of seven years sexually assaulted me. We were sharing a room with other people and he wanted to have sex. After I refused and attempted to go back to sleep, he continued to masturbate against me, purposefully where people could see if they were to wake. After this went on for a considerable amount of time, in shame I led him to the bathroom to have sex with him just so he would stop. I felt disgusted, and was deeply troubled for the rest of the trip. We were, however, moving into our first home, and I loved (and still love) him deeply, so I put it down to his mental health and self-esteem issues, which at the time were particularly bad.

In the last six months, this incident has begun to haunt me. I think about it at least once a day, and it’s gotten worse since the current stories of sexual assault began appearing in the news every day. Talking to him isn’t an option—it will destroy us. He isn’t that man anymore, and has never ever done anything like that again. I fear reminding him will make him regress back to the state he was in at the time of the incident. I’m wondering if therapy could help me to resolve my feelings.

I love my partner, we are truly best friends, and our relationship is fantastic in so many ways. I hope to marry him and know he feels the same way. But I need closure from this historical incident, and to leave it in the past where his behavior stayed.

A: You absolutely deserve the chance to talk about this with someone safely and confidentially. For whatever it’s worth, your boyfriend is “that man” still. Regardless of whether he has assaulted you again since that first incident, regardless of how much he’s changed his day-to-day behavior, he is the same person who repeatedly pressed you for public sex despite your repeated refusals, who wore you down until you gave in. You say that you think about this at least once every day, which says a great deal about how this incident—even while singular—affects your current emotional and mental well-being.

Please do see a therapist, and I hope that at some point in the future you will consider discussing this with your partner. You don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for, of course, but you don’t have to keep silent about this forever. You say you think it would destroy your relationship, but it’s clearly already destroying you. There’s no reason you should have to bear the full weight of this alone.

Q. To go or not to go?: I recently met a really nice guy and he asked me out. He is dying of cancer and has been given a year to live. I want to go out with him, but am I setting myself up for heartbreak?

A: Heartbreak is always a possibility. In this instance, you have a stronger sense of where and when heartbreak will strike. It’s up to you whether you think you’re prepared to handle it. That’s not to say that you can predict with 100 percent certainty how you’ll react in the moment to his declining health and eventual premature death—after all, you can’t even predict if your first date will go well enough to merit a second. But if you feel reasonably sure that you can’t deal with going out with someone who’s likely to die in the next year, then spare both him and yourself the time and say no now.

Q. Re: Trying to leave it in the past: While my heart goes out to the letter writer and what they are going through, the letter has left me with questions about my own experiences. Not that I condone the boyfriend’s actions in any way, but I did not realize they would be considered sexual assault. I have encountered this type of behavior from a partner many times and recently a close friend told me about a similar experience. While both of us did not think the behavior was acceptable, neither of us considered it assault. Should we?

A: Let’s take a look again at what the letter writer said. They were in a room full of other people when their partner attempted to initiate sex. The letter writer “refused” and tried to go back to sleep, at which point he continued to masturbate against him or her for a “considerable amount of time.” The letter writer very clearly said no, and very clearly refused to engage in sexual behavior. Their partner continued regardless. The fact that the letter writer later redirected their partner so that at least they weren’t having sex in front of people does not retroactively make it OK that their partner continued to molest them after they said No.
That does not necessarily mean that their partner is a monster who should be thrown out of society, or that they cannot meaningfully repair their behavior, but it was a clear violation of consent.

It is of course difficult and painful to think of someone we love and trust committing assault. The mind balks at such a prospect. But that’s what happened. Part of the necessary work in sexual justice is figuring out how to meaningfully address assault and consent violation—it’s not just “monsters” in shadowy corners, but people we love and trust and who otherwise treat us well and with respect. It happens, and it’s wrong, even if it comes from an otherwise “good” person, and it needs to be addressed.

Q. Snubbed: I was snubbed at a family gathering by the significant other of a family member. There was no mistaking the snub. I don’t know the reason for it, but I have theories. I don’t know this person very well, but there is a class aspect as that branch of the family is wealthier than mine. It may also have been political. Or a million other different reasons. I have no idea why I was snubbed.

Prudie, I’m of the Larry David school of thought on this. We can’t just go around normalizing snubbing if we are to live in a society. What is the best way to handle a snub that calls attention to the snub, but makes the snubber look bad and not the snubee?

A: I cannot think of an appropriately great response after the fact; the moment of the snub has long passed. That said, if calling attention to the snub while making the person who overlooked you “look bad” is your goal, then I’m not sure I can help you. If, however, you’re genuinely interested in figuring out whether this was based on a misunderstanding and seeking to clear things up between you, then I think you should get in touch directly and ask whether there’s anything you have done or said that offended them. If you get an answer and find out there’s something you can do or say to heal the breach, so much the better. If you don’t hear back, or get an answer you consider petty or misguided, then you can steer clear of the snubber in future. But your dream of a run-in at a party where everything suddenly breaks into slow-motion as you say, “Hey, get a load of this jerk who’s trying to pretend I don’t exist when in fact they’re the jerk,” isn’t super likely, I’m afraid.

Q. Rudeness disguised as helpfulness: Why are my husband and his sister so rude and thoughtless? Whenever we host a gathering or a holiday meal, my husband and I plan the menu together and do the shopping. Inevitably, he will then talk to his sister and ask me something like, “Hey, can Drusilla bring a rotisserie chicken?” This might sound like a great thing, except I’m already cooking a turkey. In the past, she’s asked if they can bring a pie when I’ve already told her that I’m making cupcakes, brought a chicken salad when I’ve already made a green salad, or she simply shows up with a main dish and takes over my meal.

I’ve repeatedly suggested to my husband that he have his sister bring an appetizer or drinks, or a side dish that we haven’t already planned on making, but he can’t get it through his head that what he and his sister are doing is rude and thoughtless. Even my friends have noticed and commented on it. Believe me when I say that it looks weird to have a large prime rib of beef on the table with a little pot roast sitting next to it. I’ve told her many times to “Just bring yourselves,” to which she replies, “Oh we can’t do that!”

Why are my husband and his sister like this? What, if anything, can I do?

A: Maybe your husband and his sister really hate your cooking, but haven’t been able to steel themselves to tell you so. Maybe they don’t realize how much this bothers you, and think of their efforts as collaborative. Maybe your sister-in-law just really loves miniature pot roasts. There are a number of possibilities! You can certainly ask your husband if there’s something going on that he’s been reluctant to tell you, although I think it’s likelier that he simply doesn’t realize how much this annoys you.

When it comes to how you can respond, I think you have two options. The first is to just roll with it (to be honest, this is the route I’d probably take, in part because I’m all for delegating when it comes to meal preparation, but I realize not everyone feels this way), and to ask your sister-in-law in advance what she plans on bringing and then plan your own menu around it. There are worse things, I think, than a table looking “weird” with two main courses on it. You could also ask her to host meals more often, since she’s so gung-ho about contributing.

If that route doesn’t interest you, then you can certainly be more direct, especially since you say she has a history of speaking to you about what she plans on bringing. If you say you’re making cupcakes and she “asks” if she can bring pie, be honest: “No, we don’t need two desserts.” “No, we’ve already got prime rib, don’t bring a roast chicken.” If she says “Oh, we can’t show up without bringing anything,” then your response should be, “You definitely can! You’re a guest, and we’re happy and able to host.” Either way, it doesn’t sound like your sister-in-law is trying to make a dig at you.

There’s nothing else in her behavior that suggests she’s trying to be rude or make things difficult for you; it might help if you communicated your (clearly strong) preferences so that she and your husband were both aware of how you’d like to host.

Q. Making a financial plan with and for mom: My mother is a freelancer whose flow of work has dropped precipitously, from steady as recently as five years ago, to practically nil in 2017. She inherited some money and that floated her for a little while, but now she’s putting things on credit cards. Help!

She has already declared bankruptcy twice. She is kind of at the end of her rope, as drained emotionally as she is financially. She lives in an expensive part of the country. I have encouraged her to move to my city, which is considerably less expensive. She is considering it, but reluctant.

How do we start to make an actual plan? I’m not rich but I’m steadier than she is right now, financially speaking. I don’t want to wait until things get any worse, and she gets into even more debt. Any advice is appreciated!

A: There are certainly ways you can be helpful to your mother, but the responsibility for making “an actual plan” lies with her, not with you. You can’t want financial stability for her more than she does. She’s already declared bankruptcy twice, which is obviously far from ideal, but also suggests that she knows what to do when her financial outlook is especially bleak.

Encourage her to see a financial advisor, to reduce costs wherever possible (including moving to a less expensive city, although not necessarily yours), to seek more stable work, and to look into social services her age may soon qualify her for.

Consider now (rather than when she faces an emergency) how much money, if any, you are willing to give her to help meet her expenses, and whether your own budget will survive if she never pays you back, especially since it seems unlikely that she ever could. Everyone has different values when it comes to giving family members money, so I’m not going to tell you that you absolutely should or shouldn’t. But it’s better to have a plan in mind before things get dire.

The important thing to remember is that your mother is an adult with resources that extend beyond you. You can love and support her without taking on her problems as your own.

Q. The bully and the burnout: I recently switched teams, within the same company, to get away from a bullying boss. She was rude, controlling, and regularly made nasty, inappropriate “jokes” about things like my makeup or my accent. I’m much happier with my new team, but my previous role is widely considered to be more challenging and prestigious. My decision to leave had nothing to do with the workload or difficulty—I was performing well and enjoyed the role. However, people often assume I “couldn’t handle it,” and I get a lot of well-meaning comments along the lines of, “It must be nice to slow down.”

I don’t want to air my dirty laundry or publicly disparage my ex-manager. I also don’t want to be pitied for “burning out” when this simply wasn’t the case—especially as I might want to go back to my previous role (under different management, of course). Some of my colleagues are aware of my situation, but most aren’t. What is an honest but professional way to explain my move to a different team?

A: “Oh, I’m not looking to slow down, but I am looking forward to learning more about [new team’s process].” I don’t think you should go into any more detail than that if you’re hoping to maintain at least the appearance of friendliness toward your former manager, but a quick correction about your workload, as well as reframing your move as an opportunity to pick up some new skills, will go a long way towards minimizing those condescending comments.

Q. Update—Snubbed: I am the letter writer and you are correct. I snubbed her back the next time I saw her and I didn’t feel better about it! Two wrongs definitely don’t make a right.

A: Ahh, the cut direct! So satisfying in fiction and in the imagination, so often oddly deflating in action. I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t work out, but at the very least, thanks for the update—I’m always keen to hear more of them.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

The Best Travel Gifts

The Best Travel Gifts

by Ashlea Halpern @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening (is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?), but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that college student, or serious home cook, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we found a dozen people who travel for a living who told us about the space pens, portable printers, and Gucci luggage they’re hoping to be gifted this year.

Less Than $100

“I lost my Space Pen on a flight after coloring with my daughter. In the rush to get out, we accidentally left her bag of pencils and my pen. While I quickly got some new pencils for her, I haven’t gotten my replacement yet. This is an amazing pen that writes anywhere. Too often, I’m stuck in a line, trying to fill out customs forms with a crappy ballpoint that doesn’t work. The Space Pen never had that problem and lasts forever. As long as you don’t leave it on your chair, that is…” —Chris Bergaust, 12 years abroad as an expat, 27 countries (not including airports), and 29 flights so far this year

Fisher Space Chrome-Plated Shuttle Space Pen
$30, Amazon

“Watching a movie is a great way to pass the time on a long-haul flight, but sleeping through a red-eye is my first choice for beating jet lag before it starts. However, actually losing consciousness on a 500-ton metal tube roaring through the sky at 560 miles per hour is easier said than done. Sure, I could turn to my old friend Pinot Noir, but on my next overnighter, I’d like to try Sprayable Sleep’s melatonin spray instead. Melatonin pills tend to stir up some pretty intense dreams, like watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a loop all the way to Thailand. Sprayable Sleep claims to be different.” Yael Boyle, author and full-time traveler who has visited more than 25 countries in the past four years (and spent just 10 days in the U.S.)

Sprayable Sleep Melatonin Spray
$60, Amazon

“I’ve always wanted to be the kind of traveler who looks stylish and put-together no matter where she’s landed. Instead, I always look rumpled and frumpy. So I’ve been dreaming about starting from scratch with an entirely new travel wardrobe: A bunch of versatile, wrinkle-free, light-to-pack, easy-to-wash, quick-to-dry pieces that would ensure I always appear as the neat and fashionable digital nomad I feel like, and not as the living-out-of-a-suitcase, long-term traveler I sometimes look like. A few brands are focusing on exactly this kind of clothing—including things that can be worn in multiple ways—and they intrigue me. Encircled’s Chrysalis Cardi is somehow a cardigan, a blouse, and a dress; Eddie Bauer’s 7 Days 7 Ways Cardigan is exactly what it sounds like; and Betabrand has several multitaskers, including the Travel Wrap Dress and the Round-Trip Dress, both of which have pockets (huzzah!) and the magical ability to be four frocks instead of just one. I’ve heard good things, too, about Anatomie’s lightweight, breathable travel pants, and I’m super curious about Tieks’ foldable ballet flats, which frequently show up in my Facebook feed claiming to be the ultimate travel flat. The catch is that clothing in this category can be expensive, so while these are things I wouldn’t necessarily get for myself, they’d make perfect gifts.” —Billie Cohen, content director at WendyPerrin.com and travel writer

Eddie Bauer 7 Days 7 Ways Cardigan
$30, Amazon

“I’d like a book: Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums, by Maryam Omidi. After a recent trip to the Caucasus, I’ve become fascinated (and a little bit obsessed) with Soviet history and architecture. If only I had grasped the cultural importance of this much-beloved public institution born of Soviet times—the sanatorium—I might have treated myself to a crude-oil bath in Baku. Places like Abkhazia, Transnistria, and Crimea now feature on my bucket list, so I’d love to understand more about this aspect of the post-Soviet lifestyle before I travel in the region again.” —Emily Lush, a writer and communications consultant who has lived in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and now Vietnam

Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums by Maryam Omidi
$24, Amazon

Less Than $200

“My 3-year-old has logged some pretty serious miles already, which is par for the course when your mom is a travel editor. She’s just getting strong enough to lug her own stuff around with her—and the compact size of this stylish carry-on from Away is very appealing. No more overpacking allowed!” —Julia Cosgrove, VP and editor in chief of AFAR Media

Away Kids’ Carry-On
$195, Away

“My job is quite selfish in many ways, in that I take so much from people. I take their picture, I take their time, I take their life story, I take their personal space in their home, and I take their food, tea, and more from hosts who never give less than the best of whatever they have. I find myself feeling I wish I had something to give back. The digital age and social media mean nothing in remote Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Sierra Leone, or even Bangladesh. To have a portable printer that can connect to my DSLR or even mobile phone, that doesn’t need ink cartridges and will print out high-quality images, would mean I leave a part of the story with the storytellers themselves—many who will otherwise perhaps never have a personal or family photo in their lifetime.” Maria de la Guardia, staff photographer for Save the Children Australia

Canon Selphy CP1200 Black Wireless Color Photo Printer
$93, Amazon

“As a photojournalist, my work requires me to travel internationally at least 70 percent of the year, and to some of the most remote, misunderstood, and desperate places in the world, as well as some of the most breathtaking, inspirational, and life-changing. In the hunt for a good story, nothing is more important than being able to communicate with locals. While I usually rely on human interpreters, this isn’t always possible; neither is learning five languages. So, nothing could be more perfect than these small, portable, lightweight earbuds that give real-time translation! I bet they will even make foreign-language jokes funnier.” —Maria de la Guardia

Google – Pixel Buds
$159, Best Buy

“I want the TLS Mother Lode wheeled duffel because I love the two-compartment design, perfect for when a trip includes hot and cold climates; reconfigurable dividers to keep everything in place; and expansion zippers, for when you need a little more room. Basically, a one-stop shop for all my packing needs.” —Susan Portnoy, founder of TheInsatiableTraveler.com

eBags TLS Mother Lode 29” Wheeled Duffel
$160, Amazon

Less Than $500

“I’ve had my eyes on Bose noise-canceling headphones for a long time, but Sony’s new Bluetooth set with a longer battery life and higher sound reviews looks even better. Just imagine drowning out all the hustle and bustle of your commute. Stylish, too!” —Chris Bergaust

Sony WH1000XM2 Premium Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones
$350, Amazon

“I travel to some pretty scary places with awful water. Surprisingly, most water purifiers don’t actually filter everything out. While taking care of bacteria and protozoa are nice, the smaller viruses will quickly ruin your dream vacation. Since this came out last year, I’ve been wanting to pick one up, but the high price tag has put me off. Would make for a really great gift (hint, hint).” —Chris Bergaust

MSR Guardian Purifier
$350, Amazon

“I have a hard time buying things for myself — things that aren’t plane tickets or hotel rooms, that is. But I haven’t stopped eyeballing Bragi’s the Dash Pro wireless headphones since they were released back in May. Saving space is paramount on the road, and the Dash Pro packs a lot into a little: playing music from my phone or laptop, doubling as earplugs on naps over the Atlantic, and keeping me motivated on 5 a.m. jogs through downtown Budapest. The Dash Pro even includes a real-time language-translation app, helpful not only for asking directions home after a half-conscious ramble through a foreign city, but also for ordering a bag of warm chocolate croissants on the way back to the apartment. Which means another predawn run the next day, and probably the next, too. That’s the circle of life (and pastry).” —Yael Boyle

Bragi the Dash Pro With Alexa
$330, Amazon

“I first discovered Osei-Duro a few years ago at the West Coast Craft show in San Francisco. I’ve since become obsessed with their graphic home accessories and women’s clothes, made primarily using textiles from Ghana, India, and Peru. This ikat trench is a showstopper, and sturdy enough for long flights.” —Julia Cosgrove

Osei-Duro Handwoven Trench in Ikat
$375, Garmentory

“Since I’m usually on the road for several months at a time, I typically rent or borrow a sleeping bag, so I don’t have to lug one around when I’m not hiking. But after freezing every night on a Kilimanjaro trek last month in my rented sleeping bag, and dealing with a bulky one in Torres del Paine a few years ago, I’ve decided that I finally need to invest in my own sleeping bag for hiking trips. REI’s Joule 21 is on the top of my list because it’s one of the lightest water-resistant bags I’ve found with a temperature rating below freezing. It weighs around two pounds. This is my Christmas gift to myself this year.” —Anna Mazurek, an Austin, Texas–based freelance travel photographer and writer at TravelLikeAnna.com

REI Co-op Joule 21 Sleeping Bag
$299, REI

“In a world of digital, there’s something to be said for the tangible. I’ve always wanted to leave more behind than just a thank-you. Making a photograph with someone and being able to give them a picture in real time feels like a fitting tribute to the time spent and connection made. I was in Namibia a couple of years ago, photographing members of the Himba tribe. The children loved to see their images on the LCD screen. I would have loved to have been able to give them photos right there and then. With the Polaroid Pop, I could.” —Susan Portnoy

Polaroid Pop 3x4” Instant Print Digital Camera
$200, Amazon

Less Than $1,000

“I like to go to extreme places when you aren’t supposed to be there, which is why I’m headed to Alaska this winter! I’m going to Fairbanks to do some aurora-viewing, dogsledding, and snowshoeing in February. I am a supercheap traveler, so I seldom buy myself the right equipment, but in this case, I can’t really screw around. I need the right cold-weather gear to survive these adventures!” —Sherry Ott, founder of Ottsworld.com and nomad for 11 years and counting

Baffin Coco Boots
$125, Amazon

Canada Goose Trillium Parka
$799, Amazon

Less Than $5,000

“As an editor for a publication that covers luxury travel, I get to lay my head in some fabulous places. I remember one particular rest not too long ago at rural Virginia’s Primland that was so heavenly, I almost took a sick day from my own vacation. While I’m sure I could probably find the cloudlike mattress online somewhere, this Christmas I’d be content with re-creating the experience at home with a set of fine Frette sheets similar to the ones used at the Forbes Travel Guide four-star resort.” —DeMarco Williams, managing editor of Forbes Travel Guide

Frette Bicolore Sheet Set
$1,200, Bloomingdale’s

“Despite the schlep that modern air travel has become, I still believe that if you plan smart, dress well, and invest in airline-lounge membership, getting there can be half the fun. For months now, I’ve been lusting over this Gucci carry-on suitcase, which is distinctive and stylish—just the way I like to present myself to the world. But at $4,200, it’s also completely beyond my freelance-writer budget. Yet I love it still. To me, the overlay of the colorful embroidered appliqués on the traditional Gucci printed canvas makes it less ‘I’m carrying this because I want everyone to know it’s Gucci’ and more ‘I’m carrying this really cool bag. And, yeah, since you asked, it’s Gucci.’ I visited it in my local boutique at least three times this summer. Here’s hoping the fourth will be with someone who’ll buy it for me.” —Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, TV host, Caribbean expert, and travel writer at JetSetSarah.com

Gucci Courrier GG Supreme Suitcase
$4,200, Gucci

“As a food writer and photographer who spends most of his time wandering around taking photos in remote markets and rural villages in Latin America, I need to lug around a clunky DSLR camera with several lenses and a backpack to get the right shot, which can be tiring and attracts a lot of unwanted attention. My iPhone is OK on occasion, but the quality is lacking, and the types of shots I can get are limited. The Leica Q is a full-frame camera that’s as good as any DSLR, I can stick it in my pocket, and it isn’t flashy. Plus, it easily connects to Wi-Fi, so I can upload a shot to Instagram in real time.” —Nicholas Gill, co-founder of NewWorlder.com and co-author of Central with Virgilio Martínez

Leica Q (Typ 116)
$4,250, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Blooom: Finally, a Robo-Advisor to Help You Manage Your 401K

by Ashley Chorpenning @ PT Money

When you started your first job, were you offered a 401(k) account? And if you were, did you even know what that meant? PT's note: When I started my first big career job (nine months with KPMG out of Shreveport, LA) I never invested with the 401K! I didn't even get the match! It wasn't […]

The post Blooom: Finally, a Robo-Advisor to Help You Manage Your 401K appeared first on PT Money.

How to Stay Safe on Social Networks

by Melina Delis @ Bank of Southern California N.A.

Social media is becoming one of the most prominent tools in our society. Today, it does not matter if you are young or old or even a business, most people use social networks as a means of connecting with people. Instead of asking who has social media, the better question is who does not? WithRead more

The post How to Stay Safe on Social Networks appeared first on Bank of Southern California N.A..

The Best Gifts for Health and Wellness Nuts

The Best Gifts for Health and Wellness Nuts

by Samuel Anderson @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of different tribes to find out exactly what to get that home cook, college student, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or at least a very helpful starting point. Today, 12 health and wellness nuts on the gifts they want for the holidays. (And take a look at what Taryn Toomey, founder of cult workout the Class, recommended last year.)

“Every wellness girl I know milling about New York or L.A. can’t wait to get their hands on the Kule x Bandier collection, which has the coolest, comfiest tracksuits. Going in—literally closing your eyes and deepening your awareness through meditation and yoga—is the new going out.” —Beth Cooke, yoga instructor

Kule x Bandier Williams Trackpants
$135, Bandier

“I would wear this bodysuit to work with sweaters, to play with my son, and if I’m lucky to actually work out! I also use this Jiva Apoha body oil all over my body, which I love because it’s all organic.” —Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Moon Juice