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ChexSystems Explained

ChexSystems Explained

by Ask Sebby @ Optimal Strategy - AskSebby

ChexSystems is a consumer credit reporting agency, similar to Experian and TransUnion, that focuses specifically on deposit accounts. Whenever you open a new checking or savings account, the bank will run your information through ChexSystems to see if you're a good customer.

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.

 $200 Wells Fargo Checking Signup Bonus

$200 Wells Fargo Checking Signup Bonus

by Ask Sebby @ Optimal Strategy - AskSebby

Wells Fargo is offering $200 to new customers that open an Everyday Checking account. This offer is online-only. 

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.

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.

Chase Bank Sign Up Bonus - New Customers Can Earn $150, $200, $300, or $350

Chase Bank Sign Up Bonus - New Customers Can Earn $150, $200, $300, or $350


The Military Wallet

Chase Bank Sign Up Bonus. These Chase Bank Coupon Codes can earn you up to $350 when you open a new Chase savings or checking account with direct deposit.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap in Banking

by Jeffry Pilcher @ The Financial Brand

Four of the top ten banks in the U.S. have announced their commitment to equal pay for women. But have we gone far enough, soon enough?

Wells Fargo Bank Holidays for 2018 and 2019

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Need to know if your local Wells Fargo bank branch is open or closed on a certain holiday? All Wells Fargo banks in the United States will be closed on the below dates in 2018 and in 2019. When a … Continued

The 10 Best Vanguard Funds

by Jim Wang @ Wallet Hacks

I love Vanguard. The bulk of my investments are there, minus a few dividend growth stocks I hold in an Ally Invest account (formerly TradeKing). I'm not the only one. Of the top 25 largest mutual funds by assets, sixteen are from Vanguard (source). A clarification – many of the funds on the Marketwatch list […]

The post The 10 Best Vanguard Funds appeared first on Wallet Hacks.

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.

Digital Borrowers Expect Money in Seconds… Not Days

by Jim Marous @ The Financial Brand

Banks and credit unions must build digital loan application, approval and disbursement processes, improving simplicity and availability of funds.

$500 When You Open a New Business Checking Account

by Tom Andrew @ Rebates Money

     The Huntington National Bank offers the opportunity for small, upcoming business owners who want to open a new Accelerated Business Checking account and gain up to $500 just by doing so. This would be great for businesses with the average collected monthly balance of $25,000 to $100,000 in the checking account. The amount inside the account […]

How To Become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

by Jeff Rose @ Good Financial Cents

I get asked pretty frequently about what the requirements are to become a Certified Financial Planner™ and what I went through to achieve the designation. Knowing there are over 800,000 people who can be considered “financial advisors” to some degree, I knew I had to differentiate myself. But, it wasn't all about being different; it... Continue Reading-->

The post How To Become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) appeared first on Good Financial Cents.

How to Get Started with the Chase Mobile App

by Anthony Nguyen @ Bank Checking Savings

Chase Mobile is the mobile banking app for customers of JP Morgan Chase Bank, and it’s available for Android, iPhone, Windows, and Amazon Fire. The app offers a number of convenient features and can complete almost all of your personal banking tasks. Some of you guys out there may have trouble getting started with this app, so... Keep Reading↠

The post How to Get Started with the Chase Mobile App appeared first on Bank Checking Savings.

Legacy Texas Bank Checking Review: $200 Bonus (Texas only) *Current Clients only*

by Howard Young @ Bank Checking Savings

Are you currently banking with Legacy Texas Bank? Legacy Texas Bank is currently offering existing clients a generous $200 bonus when you apply and qualify for a new Maximum Checking Account with a minimum opening deposit of $100 by March 31, 2018. Once you have signed up for a new account, all you have to have to... Keep Reading↠

The post Legacy Texas Bank Checking Review: $200 Bonus (Texas only) *Current Clients only* appeared first on Bank Checking Savings.

Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings Account Review

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

The Synchrony High Yield Savings Account is a low-risk investment option you’ll want to explore if you’re looking for a solid interest rate with a trusted online bank. About Synchrony Bank Synchrony Bank is a well-known credit card issuer for many retail … Continued

What is a Cash Out Refinance Plan?

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

A cash out refinance plan is a refinancing plan where you can refinance your home for an amount that is greater than the balance that you still owe on your existing mortgage. With your refinance loan you would pay off … Continued

What Exactly is a Certificate of Deposit?

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

It’s never too early to begin building your nest egg. Safe and effective investments can help you slowly and steadily grow your savings. You may have heard the term “CD” commonly used in banking. If you’ve asked yourself, “What is … Continued

New Bank Account Offers

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

You may have received the offers in the mail or heard about it online: banks are handling out cash bonuses to new customers that open a savings or checking account. These offers can range from $25 on up to $300. … Continued

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.

How to Keep a Side Hustle and a Day Job Simultaneously

by Due.com @ Chime Banking

While it seems as if everyone is turning a side hustle into a full-time gig, the reality is not everyone wants to do that. Heck, not everyone even should do that! Contrary to how you may be feeling, it doesn’t make you any less of a business owner to keep your day job. That being said, you […]

The post How to Keep a Side Hustle and a Day Job Simultaneously appeared first on Chime Banking.

Why You Must Launch a Voice Banking Strategy Now

by Guest Contributor @ The Financial Brand

The sales and acceptance of voice devices by consumers necessitates an understanding of the opportunity and challenges of this trend.

7 Things You Can Use College Loans For — Besides Tuition

by Elyssa Kirkham @ Student Loan Hero

As a student, figuring out the wisest way to use college loans is tricky. You want to borrow enough to pay for college and focus on your studies, but it can be hard to know where to draw the line. Can you borrow to pay for a new computer? What about your internet bill? Some […]

The post 7 Things You Can Use College Loans For — Besides Tuition appeared first on Student Loan Hero.

How to Close a Bank Account at the Top 5 Big Banks

How to Close a Bank Account at the Top 5 Big Banks


Chime Banking

You had a good start and all was going well. Then came fees, scandals, and shady practices. Here's how to close a bank account for a better banking option.

Bank of America and the End of Free Checking

by Lisa Joyce @ The Financial Brand

With consumers threatening to close their Bank of America accounts. If you still offer free checking, this may be a great opportunity to grow deposits.

Bank Failures Cost the FDIC Deposit Insurance Fund $894 Million in 2015

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 resulted in hundreds of bank failures. In the year after the crisis, bank closures cost the FDIC‘s Deposit Insurance Fund more than $38 billion. As the U.S. economy slowly recovered, fewer banks have been closed and sold by … Continued

Best Personal Checking Account Promotions in 2017 - The Simple Dollar

Best Personal Checking Account Promotions in 2017 - The Simple Dollar


The Simple Dollar

If you need a new checking account, banks from coast to coast are offering attractive promotional bonuses to lure your business. A bank checking account bo

How Employment Affects Qualifying for a Mortgage

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Perhaps you’ve read articles and books on how to qualify for a mortgage. Information buried in these pages might include tips on how to raise your credit score, how to save for a down payment, and tips on how to … Continued

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.

Chase Banking Bonuses - Earn $250 for Signing Up!

Chase Banking Bonuses - Earn $250 for Signing Up!


Good Financial Cents

Advertising Disclosure While most people are well aware you can earn cash back with a rewards credit cards, few know banks offer yet another way to earn free cash. With bank bonuses, you can earn a

How to Get The Best Mortgage Rates

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Now is an excellent time to buy a home because values are continuing to rise, which makes owning a house an excellent investment. Although slowly rising as well, mortgage rates are still near their historic lows. A small difference in … Continued

The Best Champagne Glasses on Amazon

The Best Champagne Glasses on Amazon

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 Champagne glasses—including plastic and stemless Champagne flutes—determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Pair of Crystal Champagne Flutes

4.6 stars, 207 reviews

“Extra-special in looks and would be the perfect ‘toast flutes’ for weddings, at events or [parties]. A few times a year I host events and celebrate with Champagne and loving adding these to my collection. An extra kind of fancy and I just love them. Besides the lovely shape, this set of flutes are made extremely well. Sitting all beautiful and level and being very lightweight, which I can certainly appreciate. At the same time, they are far from being fragile. Very tall and display very nicely. I would love to add a few more to my collection and definitely recommend to others.”

Bella Vino Crystal Champagne Flute Glasses
$20, Amazon

Best Pair of Insulated Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 255 reviews

“These Champagne glasses are a very cute and unique way to toast or simply enjoy a glass of Champagne—or even sparkling cider. The double wall gives the glass a different look than your standard glass yet allows the inside to maintain the temperature longer than a regular glass. The glass itself has a good weight to it but is not overly heavy. It does not seem thin and fragile as a standard Champagne glass. The cylindrical shape allows for an easy grasp that fits nicely in the palm of your hand. However, it has a very smooth finish, and there is nothing to keep it from sliding out of somebody’s hand—if, say, they already had one too many. I personally hold it with my pinky under the bottom for security.”

Eparé Champagne Flutes, Insulated Stemless Glass Set
$18, Amazon

Best Set of Four Crystal Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 377 reviews

“These are beautiful glasses that have a nice weight to them and feel special in the hand. The one thing that I did not think about when I bought them, however, was that, even though they are dishwasher-safe, they are too tall to fit in the top drawer of my dishwasher. The Champagne does bubble nicely in them … That said, I’d buy more of these, if I needed them.”

Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass Pure Stemware Collection Champagne Flute with Effervescence Points, 7.1-Ounce, Set of 4
$56, Amazon

Best Set of Four Decorative Crystal Champagne Flutes Less Than $25

4.4 stars, 160 reviews

“I purchased a set of these crystal Champagne flutes recently, and was so happy and pleased when I received them! They look like they cost so much more than they did! They are so beautiful! These Champagne flutes make you feel a little bit special, when you use them! I would definitely purchase them for a wedding gift, or a housewarming gift!”

Godinger Dublin Crystal Champagne Flutes, Set of 4
$18, Amazon

Best Set of Four Decorative Crystal Champagne Flutes Less Than $50

4.5 stars, 142 reviews

“I purchased the wine flutes as a wedding shower gift, they were lovely, so I had to buy a set for myself. So, with the beautiful Champagne flutes and a nice bottle of Champagne I had a very lovely wedding shower gift for under $50.”

Marquis by Waterford Omega Flute, Set of 4
$41, Amazon

Best Set of Four Plastic Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.1 stars, 263 reviews

“I bought both the wine and Champagne flutes. Was worried they would look cheap and ugly—they didn’t! Friends are shocked they’re not glass. Lightweight, perfect for our boozy concert picnics in D.C., where no one wants to give up form for function. Don’t wash in dishwasher and they’ll last a long, long time I think. Just bought two sets (wine and Champagne) for two friends and I’m positive they’ll love them as much as I do.”

Govino Go Anywhere Champagne Flute, 8-Ounce, Pack of 4
$13, Amazon

Best Set of 12-Glass Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.3 stars, 308 reviews

“Amazing for entertaining. I got these for NYE and have also used them for mimosas during brunch. Much better than glasses with stems for guests. They are just more stable and less likely to go flying with the commotion of a party. I don’t want to serve nice drinks in plastic cups—stemless wine and Champagne glasses are seriously the best option for a party! I always get compliments on mine and so will you!”

Libbey Stemless Flute Glasses, 12 Piece Set
$25, Amazon

Best Set of 12 Plastic Champagne Flutes

4.7 stars, 174 reviews

“I bought these for a boating trip and they were perfect. I’m not one to give 5 stars but these flutes deserve it. It was nicely packed when it came. The glass is sturdy, looks elegant and perfect for any event. I’ve bought Champagne glasses like these before but other brands need assembly. No assembly is required for these! You can also re-use these glasses. Although these flutes are disposable, they are of such high quality! You do not want to regret not buying these glasses.”

Premium Quality Plastic 5-oz. Champagne Flute, Set of 12
$20, Amazon

Best Set of 12 Plastic Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.6 stars, 602 reviews

“Perfect for an outdoor wedding. They are sturdy so I didn’t have to worry about them tipping over from the wind or someone bumping a table. And since they were disposable, it made the after-party cleanup very easy.”

TOSSWARE 9-oz. Flute, Set of 12
$11, Amazon

Best Set of 96 Plastic Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 118 reviews

“I thought these were excellent value for just a ton of attractive party glasses. They look good in person. They’re sturdy, like, sturdy enough that if you wanted to you could use them again. We were able to build a little tower with them. They’re very clear, They’re colorless (I had been concerned they might have a yellow tinge) and they just held up really well. I’m really pleased with the purchase.”

Fineline Settings 2106 - 5 Ounce Flairware ClearOne Piece Champagne Flute 96 Pieces
$48, Amazon

Best Champagne Bong

4.6 stars, 358 reviews

“I absolutely LOVE to Chambong! I bought my original Chambong before the holidays and let me tell you, it really gets the party started! My first bong was back ordered twice so I was super happy to find this one on Amazon Prime. I also need to tell you guys how impressive the packaging is. Wow! That’s half the reason I bought this second bong as a gift for my Champs-lovin’ friend. She went nuts for it!”

Chambong
$35 for 2, 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.

Why Big Banks Charge Fees

by Lindsay VanSomeren @ Chime Banking

Raise your hand if you’re fed up with big bank fees. These pesky fees can put a damper on your day and a drain on your finances. According to a 2016 survey by the Pew Charitable Trust, a full quarter of people who use bank overdraft services regularly end up paying out at least one week’s […]

The post Why Big Banks Charge Fees appeared first on Chime Banking.

The Best Gifts and Gadgets for Nerds and Geeks

The Best Gifts and Gadgets for Nerds and Geeks

by Trupti Rami @ 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 teen girl in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. Today, nine self-proclaimed nerds (from a MacArthur genius to a comics historian) on the gifts they want for the holidays.

“Like everyone else, I always have too many tabs open in my browser, but I also have too many books open on my desk. One of these bamboo book stands would make my year. In fact, I think I need four (and a bigger desk).” —Mignon Fogarty, creator of Grammar Girl and founder of Quick and Dirty Tips

Readaeer BamBoo Reading Rest
$15, Amazon

“When it’s winter (and to be honest, when the air conditioner is blasting in the summer), I always wish my office chair could feel like my heated seat in my car. Also, I think I have my best ideas when I’m warm and relaxed (my colleague used children’s washable bath crayons to write on the shower wall for this reason). So a big holiday wish would be for a heated office chair like this one.” —Betsy Levy Paluck, 2017 MacArthur “genius” fellow

The Heated Lumbar Office Chair
$800, Hammacher Schlemmer

“I want this awesome Game of Thrones cutting board, because I’m trying to cook at home more, and winter is coming, obviously!” —Stephanie Durkacz, scientist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Game of Thrones Cutting Board
$25, Amazon

“In celebration of Jack Kirby’s centennial, the new edition of the Fourth World omnibus would be something amazing to have and display. The Fourth World omnibus is the largest single collection of Kirby’s Fourth World epic to ever be compiled together in one place. It’s all been published before, but broken up into volumes that are hard to track down and mostly out of print, so the chance to have it all in one giant tome is something I’d absolutely love to take advantage of. I’m a comics historian and journalist, so my interest in Kirby’s work runs deep, and the idea of getting to display it as a thousand-plus page hardcover is really exciting.” —Meg Downey, superhero fan who writes about superheroes and comics history at CBR.com and DCComics.com

Fourth World by Jack Kirby Omnibus
$100, Amazon

What If, from the creator of Xkcd Randall Munroe—a web comic geared toward physicists, computer scientists, and mathematicians—tries to answer ridiculous hypothetical questions with wit and accurate scientific information. I love this guy’s webcomics, and there’s nothing more nerdy than arguing over stupidly impossible hypothetical questions with real ire and intensity.” —Jeff Maltas, Ph.D. candidate in biophysics at the University of Michigan

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
$7, Amazon

“Also Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones and an Audible subscription: I work a job where I spend many hours alone in a science lab with no windows. Audible is an amazing way to pass the time while getting work done, and the Bose QC 35 are a miracle: top-of-the-line noise-canceling, wireless headphones and amazing sound fidelity.” —Jeff Maltas

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones
$349, Amazon

“Recordly is a University of Missouri–based startup offering transcription software for audio interviews conducted by researchers or journalists. At $2 per hour of recorded content, this is a gift I can actually afford to buy myself. Most human transcriptionists charge $25-plus per hour of work, meaning Recordly will help academics and reporters produce important work on tight deadlines and shoestring budgets”. —Chelsea Reynolds, Ph.D., assistant professor of communications at California State University, Fullerton

Recordly
$2 an hour, iTunes

“For the holidays, I really want dual computer monitors. I spend a lot of time reading articles and writing, and my laptop screen is too small to be practical!” —Jessica Powers, graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Syracuse University

ASUS Full HD 1920x1080 Monitor
$130, Amazon

“I am really excited about this retrospective release from Blonde Redhead. I loved listening to them when these albums came out, and I look forward to rediscovering them. This release is special because it is has four LPs and the digital files. I can listen to it on the record player or on the Sonos.” —Harper Reed, head of commerce at Braintree

Masculin Feminin
$39, Amazon

“I would love to get Savage Young Dü, which looks like a lavishly produced box set of rarities by Saint Paul, Minnesota’s fierce punk-rockers, Hüsker Dü. For a Midwesterner who grew up in the ’80s—and following the recent passing of drummer/co-songwriter Grant Hart—to hear that there are 47 previously unissued Hüsker songs and an alternate version of Land Speed Record is tantalizing.” —Mike Maggiore, programmer at Film Forum

Savage Young Dü
$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.

Simple.com Bank Review

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Online banks are becoming more and more popular for a number of reasons. As we move closer to a cashless society in 2017, physical locations and taking out cash is becoming less and less important to consumers. Individuals can perform … Continued

Net Worth Update: February 4, 2018

by DailyGrindFree @ Freedom from the Daily Grind

We continued to add $1500 to my 457 retirement account and decided not to put any money on our Vanguard taxable account for the next several months. That money will go to Mrs’s 2107 Roth IRA starting next week. We also continued to make a few bucks from other investments & side hustles.   This month’sRead more about Net Worth Update: February 4, 2018[...]

Life Insurance and Millennials — What to Consider Now

by Barbara Marquand @ NerdWallet

Getting married, buying a house and having kids are all good reasons to purchase life insurance. But if other financial priorities keep getting in the way, there’s an economic consideration…

Five Star Bank Checking Account Bonus: $250 Promotion (New York Only) *In-Branch*

by Howard Young @ Bank Checking Savings

Are you interested in making free money? Five Star Bank is currently offering qualified residents of New York a $250 bonus when you apply and qualify for a new Premier Checking Account by April 30, 2018. To get started, you must open a new account in-branch. For those who are not familiar with the current promotion, you... Keep Reading↠

The post Five Star Bank Checking Account Bonus: $250 Promotion (New York Only) *In-Branch* appeared first on Bank Checking Savings.

Our Family’s Expenses: October 2017

by DailyGrindFree @ Freedom from the Daily Grind

For some reason, it felt like the whole month of October went by too fast. Nonetheless, it is over and it is time for another expense report. Good news is we didn’t face any unexpected expenses in the month of October. The total number was relatively low compared to some of the previous months. Let’s hopeRead more about Our Family’s Expenses: October 2017[...]

Hand luggage rules- yellow tag

by South London Bon Viveur @ FlyerTalk Forums

The other day I was coming back from ZUR (in Y) and, unusually for my SH flights, I was checking in hold baggage. I also had my usual hand baggage with me, namely one medium/large rucksack type bag. It usually fits under the seat in front, although...

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We’re used to hearing stories of triumphant Olympians overcoming all odds to achieve their dreams. But for many, staying afloat financially is a lesser-known hurdle as they ski, skate, jump,…

Childless Burden

Childless Burden

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. Husband embarrassed by my infertility: My husband and I have been married for five years. We have no children because I have been unable to get pregnant, even with the help of fertility treatments. We are set up with an agency to adopt, but that has also been a lengthy and emotional process, which has included a match with a birth mother who ultimately broke the match because her mother didn’t like us.

Now that my husband’s sister-in-law just had a baby, he’s more desperate than ever to start our family. He has recently told me that he is “embarrassed” by the fact that we are almost 35 and childless, and he places the blame squarely on me being “unable to produce a child.” The truth is, while I have been diagnosed with a hormonal disorder, it hasn’t been proven to be the reason why we haven’t gotten pregnant. Nonetheless, I feel ashamed and hurt by these comments. I fear I may lose my husband over this. What should I do?

A: Couples’ counseling, get thee to a couples’ counselor yesterday. I know that dealing with infertility can put a strain on any relationship, and over the course of almost any marriage both parties will eventually (and inevitably) say cruel and hurtful things to one another, but framing your infertility as some sort of biological failure wherein blame can be apportioned as assigned is cruel, unnecessarily divisive, and ultimately unproductive. Be honest with your husband about how painful and unloving his words were. Make it clear that he cannot speak to you that way, especially if the two of you are planning on adopting and raising a child together—that’s no way to model familial affection for a little kid. If he can’t see the gravity of what he said, and if he’s not willing to apologize and mend his ways, then it might be time to consider parting from him, but here’s hoping he comes to his senses and tries to make things right before it’s too late.

Q. My dog: Three years ago, I asked my brother and his girlfriend to take care of my dog while I went away to school. The first year was fine, but midway through the second, my brother broke up with his girlfriend and moved out. I panicked and asked her if she would still take care of my dog (she had a house with a yard while my brother and I lived in apartments). She agreed but told me come pick my dog up in three months. I wasn’t able to meet the deadline and begged her for an extension. Then my dog had to have some expensive surgery (I gave her some cash later on) but since then, she has been later and later in responding to me.

I admit I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been but I had a lot on my plate with my final year of school and two internships. Now she refuses to give back the dog. She finally called me back after I bombarded with texts. She told me I was harassing her, she was going to call the cops, that I had “abandoned” my dog so it was hers now, and she microchipped and registered him as hers. I don’t know what to do. Please how do I get my dog back from her?

A: I’d encourage you to familiarize yourself with animal abandonment/ownership laws in your area; it’s possible (though not likely) that you still have some legal claim to the dog. That said, while I’m sympathetic to your feelings, I think you should put them aside and look at the facts. You asked someone else to take care of your dog for three years—a not insubstantial portion of the dog’s life—then, when given a deadline to resume ownership, you were unable to do so. If you didn’t register the dog as yours and never had him microchipped, then I think your brother’s ex owns the dog in a legal and a logistical sense.

Sometimes people have to temporarily give up pets through circumstances entirely out of their control, but it’s not like you were evicted or a victim of bad timing. You made a decision to prioritize your “final year of school and two internships”—which is, frankly, understandable—and now you’re experiencing the consequences of that decision.

You can be sad about this, you can experience regret, you can wish you had prioritized things differently, but you should use that as an impetus to behave differently if you ever get another pet in the future, rather than try to force this woman to give up the dog she’s been responsible for during the last three years and has clearly grown to love.

Q. Mother diagnosing everyone (especially me!) with mental disorders: I’ve come back to my childhood home for winter break, and my mother has been declaring my every action a sign of mental illness. (My three siblings have all diagnosed with some form of mental illness; I am the only one who is not, and I have talked to several therapists.) I twitched my leg? A Tourette’s tic. I’m stressed out about a problem I’m having? Anxiety. She has also self-diagnosed herself with OCD.

It really irritates me to have my every thought or movement dissected like this, and she’s even started diagnosing the people I tell her about stories from college. I’ve asked her to stop multiple times, but she claims it’s her duty as a parent, and also mentioned one time that “figuring out what people have gives her sympathy for them.”

When I was younger, we really struggled to get my siblings diagnosed and she did a lot of research and work to make it possible for them to get help, but now she seems to think that I need that too when it’s very clear to others that I am doing fine. I don’t know how much more I can take. I go to college nearby and visit often so this is not something I can just wait out. What do I do?

A: If visiting less often is an option, I think that’s your best choice. If you absolutely have to go home, that’s one thing, but if you merely find it convenient or enjoy staying someplace with an in-unit washer and dryer, I think you should curtail your visits. You’ve tried setting a verbal limit with your mother and she’s ignored you, the best and most effective way to follow up with that is to back up your words with actions. “Mom, I’ve told you not to diagnose me; if you can’t stop, I’m going to have to leave.”

If for whatever reason you can’t limit your visits, you can still leave the room, go take a walk, call a trusted friend who’s able to listen to you vent about these bizarre attempts to play armchair psychiatrist. If, when you’re trying to tell her about a friend you’ve made in one of your classes, she insists on diagnosing them as well, you get to say: “Mom, I’ve asked you not to do this. I want to be able to tell you what’s going on in my life, but not if you’re going to treat stories about my friends like case studies.” If she can’t let up after that, then you stop telling her stories about your friends.

What your mother doing is sad and bizarre, and I’m so sorry you have to deal with this right now, but your best way forward is to set big, neon-flashing limits between yourself and this behavior. Don’t try to reason with her about it, or let her draw you into an argument about why it’s OK because she enjoys doing it. Just make it clear that you’re willing and able to spend time with her, to whatever degree she’s capable of honoring your simple request—if she can’t do that, then you’re going to hang up/leave the room/cut the story short and wait to try again later.

Q. Should you tell?: I recently went on a series of dates with a guy that I was really clicking with. However, when it got more intimate, he was terrible! It was like he had no idea what he was doing and he didn’t seem to show a lot of concern for how it was for me. We’re in our 30s and have both had multiple prior relationships. We have a dinner date tonight and I’m thinking of canceling and telling him the truth about why, as I think I’d want to know. Should I?

A: Sure! It would be one thing if he seemed unsure and you thought you guys could try again with some more explicit instructions and requests, but if you think he’s a mostly indifferent lover, then don’t waste your time trying to turn him into a conscientious one. Cancel the date, tell him you just weren’t feeling the physical connection, and move on.

Q. Re: My dog: I wish you had left off the first sentence of your advice to the truly former dog owner. The ex was extraordinarily generous to not only keep the dog, but to pay for and take care of a dog that needed expensive surgery that the LW only gave some cash for later on. The letter writer needs to put the needs of the dog, who is well-cared for and loved, first and move on now, not explore legal options.

A: That’s fair! This woman has put her time and pocketbook on the line repeatedly for the dog; if we were watching a heartwarming movie about the emotional rewards of pet ownership, we’d all be cheering for the original poster’s brother’s ex to keep the dog. The original poster should move on; it’s unlikely that they have legal rights to the dog, given that they apparently never registered or microchipped him, but frankly even if they do, they ceded the moral claim a long time ago.

Q. Reverse baby pressure: I am 40, my fiancé is 49. He wants kids more than me. When we first met I was 37, and I told him that I would be open to children, but only if it happened naturally, no intervention. He agreed. He also agreed to be the primary caretaker.

I out-earn him and had no desire to leave my job. Shortly after our engagement he accepted a job out on the West Coast, with the intent to do that job for a year and then move back to the East Coast. As a result of many factors beyond his control, it actually took him almost two years to get back. In that time not only have I aged, but I am up for a promotion at my job. The job he will work here has him traveling for two weeks out of the month.

I told him at this point that I did not think kids were in the cards. I have showed him all the pregnancy stats and the risks to me. I also told him I did not want to be pregnant until married, and since I was not going to be able to take time off from work, he would have to adjust his schedule as originally agreed. He says he cannot do that. He is angry at me for not taking time off from my job and thinks it’s my fault. Now he says he is questioning his decision to marry me. I have explained that I will try to get pregnant but it is unlikely.

I am furious. I feel like he is looking solely for an incubator for his child and that I mean nothing to him. He’s never cared for an infant, has no idea how much time it takes, and no idea how it affects a woman. He also knows realistically he would have a hard time at almost 50 years old going out and finding a woman who is significantly younger than him who wants kids, and not be used for money. What gives? I feel like I am in “bizarro” world—shouldn’t I be the one asking for the child?

A: There is no “bizarro” world; the idea that it’s the natural order of things for only women to want to have children and for all men to have to be cajoled into the idea is patently untrue. You both seem to have been relatively honest with one another at the outset, only for you both to assume the other would eventually come around to your way of thinking, and since then you’ve both dug your heels in and gone on to assume the other isn’t doing his or her fair share of the work of trying to meet halfway.

It’s not quite clear to me if your partner is upset you won’t take time off work for the actual pregnancy, or if he’s trying to change the terms of your initial agreement by suggesting you take on child care responsibilities, but either way, you’re absolutely right not to want to contemplate having kids with him. You two might benefit from couples’ counseling to reassess your mutual goals and figure out how to communicate with one another better, but I think you should continue to be clear that you’re not interested in getting pregnant on the terms that he’s offering, and that you’re in no position to change your mind as long as the two of you feel this at odds with one another.

Q. Re: Should I tell?: Am I the only one thinking that it’s super premature to write off a guy based on their first intimate experience together? Unless he did something outright abusive, a couple’s first time together can be awkward so it may be prudent to give him another shot.

A: If your bar for sleeping with someone a second time is “he wasn’t abusive,” then that’s your prerogative, but that’s an awfully low bar.

Q. How do you tell your boyfriend he’s in love with someone else?: My boyfriend of nine years landed a great job about a month and half ago following a several-year struggle with switching careers. This should have been a good turning point for both of us, but along with the new job came the realization that he would no longer be working with a woman he’d grown rather close to in his old role. Ever since then, he has been more irritable with me, very sensitive to what I say, and suddenly extremely concerned with problems we’ve had in our relationship for many years. He keeps trying to tell me she’s a symptom of our problems—not the problem—and yet he’s told me how much he cares about her several times. He’s had a couple of multihour conversations with her late at night, and even bought her a very expensive Christmas present. What do I do?

A: Address reality. You don’t need him to admit that he’s in love with her or agree with your perspective. The subject of your letter is “how do you tell your boyfriend he’s in love with someone else,” which suggests that you’re fairly convinced at this point that he’s not simply lost focus or temporarily infatuated. Tell him what you’ve seen: That ever since he stopped seeing her on a regular basis he’s irritable, hypersensitive, and newly focused on the problems in your relationship. Moreover, he’s in the same breath reiterating how much he cares for her while also claiming she doesn’t have much to do with the problems you two are experiencing.

Whether or not the two of them ever slept together, he’s had an emotional affair (that appears to be ongoing). It’s not up to him to say whether or not his relationship with her is a problem or merely a symptom, it’s a problem for you because your boyfriend is currently pouring the most, and the best, of his emotional energy into his relationship with her. If you think it’s worth trying to work through this, and he’s willing to stop seeing her, then you can certainly give it a try; if you think you have sufficient reason to end the relationship, then I think you should break up with him.

Q. My friend prefers my husband’s ex: My friend Javi, who I know through my husband, throws parties every year for his birthday, but he never invites us. We asked him about it and he said it was because Sonya, my husband’s ex-girlfriend, was invited and he didn’t want it to be awkward for her. I was offended by it and decided that as long as I wasn’t invited to his birthday celebrations, he was not getting a birthday gift. I believe that’s a natural consequence to leaving us out.

The problem is, he keeps buying us and our son gifts for our birthdays, which wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t because this year we didn’t throw any parties. He even gave one to my son for Christmas. Now the one feeling awkward is me.

A: It’s always deflating when someone isn’t slighting us as much as we wish they would so we could get well and properly mad at them, isn’t it? The way I see it, getting mad is a nonrenewable resource, and we should all try to save it up for instances where we can really enjoy ourselves.

Javi isn’t a super-close friend of yours, and he appears to have a pre-existing relationship with your husband’s ex; once a year he doesn’t invite you to his birthday party, but otherwise he sounds friendly, approachable, and interested in your happiness. I think you have a good opportunity to let this particular resentment go. Maybe Javi’s never going to be your best friend, but if he wants to send you and your son Christmas presents and occasionally go to the movies together, then I think you should accept his casual friendship. That doesn’t mean you have to start getting him presents for his birthday—lots of adults don’t buy other adults birthday presents—but encourage your son to write him a thank you note when he receives a gift, and be polite and friendly when you two run into one another.

Q. When to walk: I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for a few years now. We met when I lived in his country for work. We see each other about six times a year for a few weeks at a time. While I love him dearly, I’m starting to crumble without having an endgame in sight. I’ve talked to him about this and he’s adamant that he’ll propose when he’s ready and not a moment sooner, that he wants it to be a surprise, et cetera. I have told him it doesn’t need to be some big elaborate thing; I’m more concerned about being together. There are other things to consider, like the considerable time the visa will take, which we can’t expedite.

I don’t want to keep having this conversation to be met with a vague ‘we’ll get there.’ I shouldn’t have to beg to take the next step. I don’t know how much longer I’m willing to hold out for this. How do I communicate this more clearly without issuing an ultimatum? I’m at a loss.

A: Issue an ultimatum! Ultimatums get a bad rap, but I’m not suggesting you force him to jump through a lot of elaborate hoops in order to prove his love. You’ve told him repeatedly that you’re anxious about the future of your relationship, and that you’d like to enter into an engagement together as equal partners after having talked about what you both want. He’s heard you say that, and his response was, “No, I want to create an elaborate surprise at some non-specific future date.” That’s not going to work for you and is in fact expressly not what you want. If you don’t want to continue having vague conversations about “getting there” someday, then it’s incumbent upon you to make yourself extremely clear. “I don’t want to be surprised by a big, showy engagement. I want to be with you, and I want to start taking steps towards living together, but I’m not willing to continue in a relationship where you hold all the cards in terms of what we do next. This is a deal breaker for me. Are you willing to compromise on this?”

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks for chatting, everyone! Remember to register and microchip your pets.

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!

M&T Bank $200 Checking Bonus [AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, OR, PA, VA, WA, WV] (YMMV)

by Danny Nguyen @ Bank Deal Guy

If you are a resident in one of the following states: AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, OR, PA, VA, WA, or WV, M&T Bank is offering you a $200 bonus when you open a new personal Checking Account with promo code TE and completing certain requirements! Below is all the information and details you need to... Read More →

The post M&T Bank $200 Checking Bonus [AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, OR, PA, VA, WA, WV] (YMMV) appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

Compound Interest Money Market Calculator

by interestguru @ Top Online Savings Accounts & Money Market Rates 2017

>> Click here to compare today’s top savings and money market rates << Check out today’s top online savings and money market account rates. Finding out how much money you could make from an investment can help you find the best savings rates and choose an account that will yield the highest return. Using a money […]

Evolve Federal Credit Union Rewards Checking Account Review: 5.00% APY Up To $10,000

by John Catral @ Bank Checking Savings

Available for residents of Texas, Evolve Federal Credit Union is currently offering a generous 5.00% APY when you sign up and open a new ePriority Checking account. If you are currently interested, the bank is offering you the attractive APY rate on a balance up to $10,000. Not only are you able to bank with ease with... Keep Reading↠

The post Evolve Federal Credit Union Rewards Checking Account Review: 5.00% APY Up To $10,000 appeared first on Bank Checking Savings.

Chase Bank Promotion: $500 for New Checking & Savings Accounts - Wallet Hacks

Chase Bank Promotion: $500 for New Checking & Savings Accounts - Wallet Hacks


Wallet Hacks

Forget free toasters and t-shirts, these days banks are fighting tooth and nail for your business. Chase is one of the most aggressive with offers in the hundreds of dollars when you open a new account. The best offer is a total of $500 for opening two accounts – a checking and a savings account. …

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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 […]

Analysis: Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card (75,000 Point Signup Bonus)

Analysis: Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card (75,000 Point Signup Bonus)

by Ask Sebby @ Optimal Strategy - AskSebby

The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier credit card has a new offer: 75,000 points after $3,000 in spend within the first 3 months, and the $85 annual fee is waived the first year. Is it worth it?

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.
Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Chase's new $6 monthly checking account fee will become common at other banks: Money Matters

Chase's new $6 monthly checking account fee will become common at other banks: Money Matters


cleveland.com

Chase Bank just sent me a letter about my free checking account. There will be a $6 monthly fee starting Feb. 8, but I can avoid it I make five debit card purchases a month, or have one direct deposit of $500 or more. My paycheck deposit is under that amount and I don't like using a debit card. I'm changing banks.

Chase Bank Home Mortgage Promotion: $595 Cash Back

Chase Bank Home Mortgage Promotion: $595 Cash Back


Maximizing Money

Earn a $595 Cash Back Bonus when you Close on a Chase Bank Home Mortgage Purchase Loan. Get Prequalified and Qualify for Your First Home Mortgage Today.

Daniel K. Inouye Airport to get new $1.1 billion concourse

by JimNastic @ FlyerTalk Forums

Article can be found here: http://Daniel K. Inouye Airport to get new $1.1 billion concourse Wait what?? Are we going to get two new terminals: one by the old interisland and this one? Or is this just election talk.

Help! Whose Parents Are Supposed to Pay for the Reception at a Gay Wedding?

Help! Whose Parents Are Supposed to Pay for the Reception at a Gay Wedding?

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

Q. Hypothetical wedding: My older sister got married in 2010, and our parents paid most of the wedding costs. I came out in 2015 as a gay man and I’m not in a serious relationship right now. Recently, my father, who for the purposes of this letter I will call Gender Norman, recently assured some distant relatives that they would be invited to my future wedding. This got me and my sister talking about who’s footing the bill for this hypothetical wedding. When I approached Norman about this, he got very flustered and said he might contribute something. Norman thinks he’s the most open-minded guy out there, but apparently he still goes by the family-of-the-bride-pays-for-the-wedding trope. I pointed out to him that I will not have a bride. Norman told me that my sister’s in-laws pitched in for the wedding, but my sister tells me they wanted to contribute more and Norman declined. Norman also borrowed thousands of dollars from my grandfather to pay for the wedding, even though my sister asked Norman not to because she would have rather put that money toward grad school.

Obviously it’s very generous that our parents want to support either of us in this way at all, but I’m left wondering how much to push this issue given that it’s hypothetical. I would rather have this conversation now, as I want the news that I’m getting married to be nothing but joyful when it happens. Also, Norman plans far ahead when it comes to finances.
What do you advise?

A: Woof! I’m inclined to agree with you that there’s not a lot of value right now in pushing a hypothetical scenario, especially when you add the detail that your father borrowed money in order to pay for your sister’s wedding. Everything else aside, that’s not a great financial strategy, and if you ever do get married, I hope you can figure out a way to host a wedding without sending either yourself or any of your relatives into debt. There’s more to marriage equality—and LGBT rights—than just making sure everybody spends more than they can afford on a wedding.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t spend time talking with your father about his unspoken assumptions about heterosexual and gay relationships. It seems like, more than the possibility of not getting a cash donation to a hypothetical future wedding, what’s really bothering you is the fact that your father thinks of himself as open-minded when it comes to having a gay kid, when in actuality he hasn’t spent a lot of time thinking about what that might mean. Leave the wedding budget aside and talk about that. I think it will be a more productive discussion.

Up to $500 for Opening Chase Checking and Savings Accounts

Up to $500 for Opening Chase Checking and Savings Accounts


The Points Guy

For a limited time, Chase is giving up to $500 in bonuses when you open new checking and savings accounts.

Gender Discrimination at Work Is All Too Real, With 42 Percent of Women Experiencing It

Gender Discrimination at Work Is All Too Real, With 42 Percent of Women Experiencing It

by Alieza Durana @ Slate Articles

Think problems in the workplace are limited to sexual harassment? Think again. New data from a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey out Thursday show upward of 4 out of 10 employed women report experiencing at least one kind of gender discrimination, not including sexual harassment, at work. A separate question found 22 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. The findings are especially significant because the survey was conducted between July and August of 2017, months before reports of sexual harassment and abuse across industries could have impacted perceptions of the questions.

The survey asked both men and women to report whether a series of incidents had happened to them because of their gender, including whether they had earned less than a woman/man doing the same job; were treated as if they were not competent; experienced repeated, small slights at work; been passed over for the most important assignments; felt isolated in the workplace; or been denied a promotion.

Black women were more likely to report at least one kind of gender discrimination (52 percent) than women who were white or Hispanic (40 percent for each). Perhaps the most surprising finding in the survey is that less educated women are less likely to report experiencing gender discrimination than their more educated peers (those with bachelor’s degrees and more): “Roughly three-in-ten working women with a postgraduate degree (29%) say they have experienced repeated small slights at work because of their gender, compared with 18% with a bachelor’s degree and 12% (of women) with less education.”

This finding seems counter to recent reports emphasizing high rates of harassment and workplace abuse in the lowest paid professions where the least educated women have very few labor protections. A 2014 report from the National Women’s Law Center suggests the 17 million women in low-wage jobs are especially vulnerable to harassment by low-level supervisors. One might guess this high vulnerability to abuse would be correlated with overall gender discrimination.

However, the lowest educated and lowest wage women are concentrated in “feminized” pink-collar jobs. They are overrepresented as child care providers, maids and housekeepers, home health aides, personal care aides, cashiers, and in food service. A side effect of this concentration: There may just be fewer men around to discriminate against women in “feminized” professions or for women to have other professional experiences to compare it to. Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew and a co-author of the report, notes that other studies have shown women in female-dominated workplaces don’t experience the same rates of discrimination as those in male-dominated workplaces.

Increased levels of education (and discrimination) may have more to do with different perceptions of discriminatory experiences at work. Women might learn about discrimination (as a concept) through higher education and secondly, believe that by getting an education, they should be able to overcome any barriers that exist in today's society. In other words, whether women consider discriminatory behavior like getting passed over for a big assignment to be normal or to be discrimination may vary by level of education.

But Parker wants to ensure that this question of perception does not mean we should assume the discrimination some respondents report isn’t happening, just because they’re more likely to report it than less educated peers. According to Parker, for more educated women, “There’s probably a greater level of awareness about these types of experiences, what they mean, and the broader conversation around gender and work.”

In addition, the structure of low-wage versus high-wage work might affect knowledge of discrimination: High turnover and income volatility might make it harder for workers to know things like whether their income is the same or less than that of co-workers of a different gender. Data from the Urban Institute show that “40 percent of low-income, working-age adults have household income that spikes or dips in at least six months of the year,” probably reflecting job instability. It’s possible that discrimination is more noticeable the longer you're in a job, up for promotions, and exposed to hierarchy in the workplace, which is increasingly limited to higher-wage work. Women with more education may have a leg up on learning about salary differentials, or other less visible forms of discrimination.

As for the sizable racial differences in whether they say they’ve experienced: In particular, while more than 1 in 5 black women say they’ve been passed over for the most important assignments because of their gender, less than half that number of white and Hispanic women report this experience. These claims bolster other findings reflecting worse incidences of most kinds of gender inequalities for black women compared with women as a whole (according to the NWLC, while women over all make about 80 cents to the dollar men make, black women make just 63 cents).

The study’s findings on sexual harassment are also somewhat low, just 22 percent of women and 7 percent of men, compared with other recent polls, though that may be due to the question design and the survey’s pre-Weinstein timeline. But in a different study that breaks down that harassment question to ask respondents about whether they’ve experienced more specific behaviors, such as “unwanted sexual attention,” that number goes up to 40 percent of women reporting harassment.

Parker says the number of men who reported experiencing one of the eight kinds of gender discrimination in the survey (22 percent) is similar to other studies on the question. She points to an October study from Pew that showed a significant portion of men, mostly white men, believe that women are getting preferential treatment in hiring, pay, and promotion. But, according to Parker, women respondents to the survey released today were more likely to have experienced more than one of the kinds of discrimination than men. “Among men who say they’ve experienced at least one of the eight forms of discrimination we asked about, 56% have experienced one and 44% have experienced two or more. Among women who say they’ve experienced at least one of the eight forms of discrimination we asked about, 37% have experienced one and 63% have experienced two or more.”

In the context of our #MeToo moment, they’re helpful in confirming what many have suspected: Sexual harassment and misconduct are happening in the context of larger patterns of behavior that create discriminatory and sexist work environments.

How To Avoid Chase Bank Account Monthly Fees

by Hilary Tran @ Bank Deal Guy

Bank accounts are a useful way to track your transactions and keep an eye on all your expenses. Not only do you know that your money is safe, but you can also earn interest with the money that you have in your bank account. However, nothing is free and bank accounts come with the threat... Read More →

The post How To Avoid Chase Bank Account Monthly Fees appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

5 Things Experts Say You Should Know About Obamacare Open Enrollment

5 Things Experts Say You Should Know About Obamacare Open Enrollment

by Kate Cox @ Consumerist

If anything is true of 2017, it is this: Confusion reigns. And nowhere do we see that more than in healthcare, where failed repeal attempts, executive orders, sudden, out-of-the-blue policy changes, and general unpredictable chaos have dominated the news. But the fact remains that Americans still need access to medical care, and for those who don’t have …

Chase $500 Checking and Savings Bonus Publicly Available [In-Branch Only] - Doctor Of Credit

Chase $500 Checking and Savings Bonus Publicly Available [In-Branch Only] - Doctor Of Credit


Doctor Of Credit

Update 01/16/18: Bonus is back and valid through March 3rd, 2018. Hat tip to reader banyue. Update 01/09/18: Bonus has expired early and is no longer available. We will repost if when we find a working link. Update: We’re now into 2018, so just reposting this again. I really like to get my Chase checking/savings bonuses [&hellip

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.

How Much Money Can You Deposit Before the Bank Reports It?

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

To the average person, it would seem like making deposits into their savings or checking accounts would be viewed as a good thing.  After all, doesn’t a regular savings plan mean an individual handles their money responsibly and they have … Continued

Bank Holiday Schedule for 2017 and 2018

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Few things are more frustrating than wanting to deposit a check, make a withdrawal or make a same-day online bill payment and then finding out that the bank is closed for a holiday. The Federal Reserve bank observes 10 holidays … Continued

Huntington Bank Coupons: $150, $200, $300, $500, & $750 Deals, Offers, & Promotions

by Danny Nguyen @ Bank Deal Guy

Huntington Bank Coupons, Coupon Codes, Promo Codes, Bonuses, Deals, Offers, and Promotions for their Checking, Savings and Business accounts can all be found here. Huntington Bank Coupon & Bonus Promotions are constantly updated throughout the year, so bookmark this page or check back on our Huntington Bank Deals, Offers, Bonuses, and Promotions master post for updates. Check out... Read More →

The post Huntington Bank Coupons: $150, $200, $300, $500, & $750 Deals, Offers, & Promotions appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

Starbucks Rewards Visa Card Review

Starbucks Rewards Visa Card Review

by Ask Sebby @ Optimal Strategy - AskSebby

Starbucks just launched a new credit card in partnership with Chase to help you earn more Star points. 

The Problem with Overdraft Fees

by Paul Sisolak @ Chime Banking

“Overdraft” is not a word we like to hear. Why? It generally means you’ll be dinged with a fee you don’t want to pay. To clarify, an overdraft fee occurs when you don’t have enough money in your bank account to pay for a purchase. When this happens, your bank will pay for the transaction […]

The post The Problem with Overdraft Fees appeared first on Chime Banking.

Banks vs Credit Unions: Is One Better Than The Other?

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

When we are young, we learn that everything has its place.  You buy food at the grocery store, books live at the library, and money goes into banks. As we get older and experience the complexity of the world, we … Continued

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.

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.

Ally Bank Review: One of the Largest and Most Well-Known Online Banks

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Although Ally began as an insurance agency, they are now one of the largest and most well-known online banks. Since 2006, Ally has received hundreds of awards from various companies for their banking and insurance operations. Here is a look into … Continued

The Healthiest (& Unhealthiest) States in America

by PolicyGenius @ Chime Banking

With the start of a new year, many of us have embarked on self-betterment resolutions. The vast majority of these are health-related: Eat healthier, get more exercise, sleep better, stay fit, lose weight. But what about financial health? Many of us are resolving to get our financial house in order, too. It turns out the two are […]

The post The Healthiest (& Unhealthiest) States in America appeared first on Chime Banking.

Maryland To Try Sending Recall Notices With Car Registration Renewals

Maryland To Try Sending Recall Notices With Car Registration Renewals

by Laura Northrup @ Consumerist

Your state’s department of motor vehicles already knows what make and model of car you own, and sends you registration documents every few years that you have to open. Safety advocates have suggested including information about important vehicle recalls in vehicle registrations to make sure more people know about recalls and comply. In an experimental program, Maryland will start sending …

Premier America Credit Union Promotions: $50 + $50 Bonus [CA, TX Residents]

by Tony Phan @ MoneysMyLife

Premier America Credit Union promotions and sign-up bonus offers will be updated at this page. Typical offers in the past have been for $100 to $200 in bonus cash. Headquartered in Chatsworth, California and established in 1957, Premier America Credit Union has around 20 locations in California and Texas. If you’re not a resident of either […]

What's in My Wallet? February 2018 Edition

by Ask Sebby @ Optimal Strategy - AskSebby

For the month of February, the Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Amex SPG cards are in my wallet. 

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.)

History of Chase Bank Bonus Payouts

History of Chase Bank Bonus Payouts


Deposit Accounts

Chase Bank has a long history of offering new-account bonuses. These include bonuses for personal checking accounts, business checking accounts and personal...

Online Savings Accounts: Better for Your Money

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

If you’re looking around to choose the best bank for your savings, or are thinking about switching banks to get a better interest rate, you should consider online savings accounts. They offer significant advantages to consumers in terms of higher … Continued

How to Open a Free Online Bank Account with Chime

by Melanie Lockert @ Chime Banking

Whether you want to open your first bank account or switch to a new one, it can be a daunting process. You may be wondering “How long does it take to open a bank account?” Or, “What do I need to open a bank account?” You may also feel unsure about the next steps. Here’s […]

The post How to Open a Free Online Bank Account with Chime appeared first on Chime Banking.

Stay Safe in a Turbulent Market with Certificates of Deposit

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

It is very scary out there for the average stock investor. Roughly half of all adults in the United States own stocks. Most of those people own them through retirement plans they have set up at work. Most also do … Continued

Safest Places to Live in New Hampshire ( 2017 Updated ! )

by The Fastest Growing Personal Finance Blog in 2017 @ Elite Personal Finance – Credit Report , Loans , Identity Theft , Credit Cards : Advanced Guides ; Best Reviews in 2018

Located in the northeastern region of the United States, New Hampshire is one of the New England states. It is bordered by Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Canadian province of Quebec. New Hampshire is the 5th smallest and the 10th least populous state in the United States, with over 1.33 ...

The post Safest Places to Live in New Hampshire ( 2017 Updated ! ) appeared first on Elite Personal Finance - Credit Report , Loans , Identity Theft , Credit Cards : Advanced Guides ; Best Reviews in 2018.

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.

Is Ally Bank’s Raise Your Rate CD the Right Investment for You?

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Ally Bank is an online-only bank that features live 24-hour customer service. Ally offers strong rates, innovative tools and superior customer service. Since Ally saves by eliminating the need for local branches, they’re able to offer extremely competitive rates on … Continued

5 Tips When Choosing an Online Savings Account

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

There are more and more online savings accounts popping up. These accounts are generally limited solely to the internet, which means that there are no brick and mortar locations for you to visit. They can provide a variety of benefits, … Continued

Huntington Bank $300 Business Checking Bonus [IN, KY, MI, OH, PA, WV, IL, WI]

by Danny Nguyen @ Bank Deal Guy

If you’re interested in banking at Huntington, you can earn a Huntington Bank $300 Business Checking Bonus when you open their Fast Track Business Checking Account currently available in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Get the right business checking account, whether you’re starting out or starting to expand. Huntington has checking options to meet your needs,... Read More →

The post Huntington Bank $300 Business Checking Bonus [IN, KY, MI, OH, PA, WV, IL, WI] appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

Consumers Expect Everything On Demand, But Banks Are Slow To Respond

by Guest Contributor @ The Financial Brand

With a culture of impatience, Millennials and other digital consumers expect banking to be seamless and easy to use, 24/7/365.

Chase British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card Review

Chase British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card Review

by Ask Sebby @ Optimal Strategy - AskSebby

The Chase British Airways Visa Signature credit card offers up to a 75,000 point signup bonus, along with the ability to earn 3x Avios on British Airways purchases. Here's our review.

Pros and Cons of Online Checking Accounts

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

The internet has changed the way we operate as a culture on many levels, specifically the way we communicate and interact with others.  Community is now a global term, and while we may be able to transfer information more easily, … Continued

American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card Review: 5,000 MQM + 35,000 Delta Skymiles + $100 Statement Credit

by Anthony Nguyen @ Bank Checking Savings

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card is currently offering 35,000 Delta Skymiles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs)  when you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Additionally, you can get a $100 Statement Credit when you make a Delta purchase within the first 3 months. For every 5,000 bonus miles redeemed, that’s $50 off... Keep Reading↠

The post American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card Review: 5,000 MQM + 35,000 Delta Skymiles + $100 Statement Credit appeared first on Bank Checking Savings.

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.

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!

The Best Gifts for Coffee Snobs

The Best Gifts for Coffee Snobs

by Maxine Builder @ 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 booze connoisseur, or picky teen girl in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. Today, eight coffee nerds on the gifts they’d want to receive (or give) this year, from high-end burr coffee grinders to delightfully tacky coffee mugs.

“My wife and I have been using the OXO Adjustable Temperature Pour Over Kettle. It’s by far the most cost-effective kettle on the market and one I strongly recommend for home use. For serious home brewers, I’d also recommend the OXO Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. A burr coffee grinder is an important investment and will provide you with a consistent grind size to brew the perfect cup of coffee time after time.” —Paul Schlader, co-founder and co-owner, Birch Coffee

OXO On Adjustable Temperature Electric Pour-Over Kettle
$100, Amazon

OXO On Conical Burr Coffee Grinder With Integrated Scale
$200, Amazon

“The Baratza Encore allows for an impeccable grind, really bringing the coffee to its full potential. Also, a case of Pure Black is a great gift for anyone who loves coffee. It’s balanced and smooth, making it a great cold coffee you can dress up in so many ways.” —JP Iberti, president and co-founder, La Colombe

Baratza Encore Electric Grinder
$139, Amazon

La Colombe Cold Pressed Coffee, Pure Black, 4 Count
$3, Amazon

“As the owner of a growing coffee business, I’m always trying to think of ways to stay ahead of the curve, and I find inspiration all around me. It’s silly for me to think that I can remember everything, so everywhere I go, I always bring a trusty durable notebook. Moleskine has been my go-to and I have my fair share of filled notebooks on my shelf.” —Jeremy Lyman, co-founder and co-owner, Birch Coffee

Moleskine Limited Collection Denim Notebook, Large, Ruled, Navy Blue
$23, Amazon

“Because we often work from home and are spoiled with the best coffee, we love using our KitchenAid pro series espresso machine. Not only is it a beautiful piece of art for your kitchen, but this espresso machine is as close to the real thing as you can get! Perfectly pulled shots and frothy foam from your very own home will have you skipping your morning coffee run.” —Elisa Marshall, founding partner, Maman

KitchenAid KES2102FP Pro Line Series Espresso Maker With Dual Independent Boilers, Frosted Pearl
$995, Amazon

“For a couple of friends who own record players and are heading up to Portland, Maine, this spring and need a reason to stop at a great café: The Tandem Coffee vinyl and coffee subscription.” —James Freeman, chief product officer and founder, Blue Bottle Coffee

The Good Thing - Coffee & Vinyl Subscription
$35/month, Tandem Coffee

“For all of my cocktail-loving friends who go to Tokyo, and then return morose because they are 6,000 miles from perfect ice: An ice mold that gets you very, very close to perfect ice. My friends can then enjoy the ice they make with a finger or two of Hibiki 12-year poured into a perfect, delicate Hario tumbler with sides as thin as a dragonfly’s wing.” —Freeman

W&P Design Clear Ice Mold - Charcoal
$35, Amazon

Hario Rock Glass RG-300
$28, Amazon

“At the top of my list this year is the Stagg EKG kettle from Fellow Products! It’s the ideal brewing kettle for any coffee enthusiast; with its temperature stability and variable settings, it allows you to hold the water at 200 degrees for up to an hour. This means that every time I make a pour over at home, I know that my water will be consistently hot throughout the brewing process. (If you’re curious why water is so important in brewing, just remember that coffee is 99 percent water!)” —Noah Goodman, barista, Nobletree Coffee

Stagg EKG
$149, Fellow

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for a slightly-less-expensive alternative to this electric kettle (or one that’s eligible for Amazon’s two-day shipping), Fellow’s pour-over kettle is what Grub Street editor Sierra Tishgart will be giving everyone this holiday season.

Fellow Stagg Pour Over Kettle, Polished
$79, Amazon

“I have a collection of tacky coffee mugs from places I’ve been. This one is from Bondi, where I grew up, so I drink my morning coffee from this one when I’m feeling a little homesick.” —Giles Russell and Henry Roberts, co-owners, Two Hands

Zazzle Bondi Beach Vintage Travel Poster Coffee Mug
$15, Amazon

“Our dear friend and coffee roaster César Vega, from Café Integral, created these bowls for his café on Elizabeth Street in Nolita. They’re a dream to drink your morning (or afternoon) coffee from. Combining the comforting feeling of drinking from a bowl, but with the practicality of drinking from a cup. And as each one is handcrafted, they’re a beautiful piece of art to sit on your shelves as well.” —Russell and Roberts

Azure Au Lait Bowl
$30, Café Integral

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What Financial Marketers Can Learn From Nonprofits

by Guest Contributor @ The Financial Brand

Nonprofits have learned how to generate massive ROI by turning data into personalized marketing messages. Smart banks and credit unions will steal their playbook.

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.

Who Has The Best Car Insurance for Young Adults in 2018?

by Jeff Rose @ Good Financial Cents

When you’re a teenager or young adult, buying car insurance isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. On the one hand, auto insurance coverage is required for all drivers in every state in the US (except New Hampshire). On the other, teenagers and young adults pay the highest premiums for coverage. We’re going to try and... Continue Reading-->

The post Who Has The Best Car Insurance for Young Adults in 2018? appeared first on Good Financial Cents.

RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler User Guide – Schedule Your Military ID Card Appointment Online

by Ryan Guina @ The Military Wallet

Getting a new military ID card can be a simple process if you’re on active duty. You can usually just go to your base personnel office or Pass & ID center during office hours, sign up on the waiting list, and get a new card issued within the hour. But you may need to schedule [...]

United MileagePlus Explorer Card 50,000 Bonus Miles + $100 Statement Credit + 5,000 Bonus Miles When You Add an Authorized User + 2X Miles on United Airlines

by Anthony Nguyen @ Bank Deal Guy

When you open a United MileagePlus Explorer Card, you will earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, as a travel benefit, you’ll receive 2 United Club passes each year for your cardmember anniversary – over a $100 value. To top it all off, you can get a... Read More →

The post United MileagePlus Explorer Card 50,000 Bonus Miles + $100 Statement Credit + 5,000 Bonus Miles When You Add an Authorized User + 2X Miles on United Airlines appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

After Bank Kicks Agitated Elderly Man Out, Cop Brings Him Back to Get the Job Done

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

A bank branch recently contacted the Montebello Police Department, near Los Angeles, to assist them with a banking customer who was being disruptive. Evidently, an elderly gentleman was being unruly and causing a scene. Montebello Police dispatched Officer Robert Josett to … Continued

U.S. Bank and Chase Free Checking Accounts: Hidden Fees or Free?

U.S. Bank and Chase Free Checking Accounts: Hidden Fees or Free?


The Balance

Does it really mean no cost when you open a free checking account with a big bank? Find out what you get when withChase and U.S. Bank.

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.

Switching Banks: A Strategic Move for Your Money?

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Everyone is probably familiar with the unpleasant narratives of those who are lackadaisical about keeping track of their money.  For the apathetic who do finally risk evaluating their checking and savings accounts, discovering the fees charged to their account and … Continued

After Holidays Saving Money Plan

by The Fastest Growing Personal Finance Blog in 2017 @ Elite Personal Finance – Credit Report , Loans , Identity Theft , Credit Cards : Advanced Guides ; Best Reviews in 2018

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And we wish you to recover from holidays too, for they can be rather difficult to process both to your tummy and your wallet. Indeed, if you had stood on your weight scale before and after holidays (and we are sure some of you ...

The post After Holidays Saving Money Plan appeared first on Elite Personal Finance - Credit Report , Loans , Identity Theft , Credit Cards : Advanced Guides ; Best Reviews in 2018.

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.

Daniel K. Inouye Airport to get new $1.1 billion concourse

by JimNastic @ FlyerTalk Forums

Article can be found here: http://Daniel K. Inouye Airport to get new $1.1 billion concourse Wait what?? Are we going to get two new terminals: one by the old interisland and this one? Or is this just election talk.

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.

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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

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

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How to Trade Bitcoin Futures in 2018

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Four Ways We've Distorted The History of the Civil Rights Movement

Four Ways We've Distorted The History of the Civil Rights Movement

by Rebecca Onion @ Slate Articles

This MLK Day weekend, I've been finishing up Jeanne Theoharis' new book, A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History. Theoharis has written other mythbusting histories of civil rights, including the 2013 biography The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. A More Beautiful and Terrible History is a synthesis of arguments Theoharis and other historians have made about the truncated and bloodless way the movement gets depicted in politics, culture, and public life.

The “things you didn't learn in school” approach to correcting gaps in historical knowledge can be limiting for an author trying to make larger points about the way history works. But Theoharis doesn't stop at pointing out omissions. She makes the forceful and persuasive argument that these “misuses” matter. They affect the way we understand racism in this country, and they diminish our appreciation of the activists who fought these battles.

And they're everywhere! President Obama is far from immune.

Among the misconceptions Theoharis discusses...

Civil rights was a Southern fight. In places like New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, Theoharis shows, “nonviolent, disruptive struggles” for desegregation and reform took place starting well before the 1960s. This fact, Theoharis writes, has been proven by “an avalanche of scholarship over the past two decades,” yet public commemorations of civil rights continue to emphasize the movement's Southern-ness. That approach allows Northerners to think of racism as a solvable aberration, limited to one particularly sick region of the country.

The movement's late-1960s "turn" was tragic and sudden. Here's how the mainstream narrative about the trajectory of civil rights activism goes: MLK was good, then the Civil Rights Act passed, and then the Black Panthers were bad. “The turn to Black Power is framed as inexplicable and ungrateful,” Theoharis writes. (She points to the 2013 Lee Daniels film The Butler as an example of a bit of culture that furthers this story.)

That interpretation depends on ignorance of the decades of patient organizing that preceded the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Theoharis argues. “The mounting militancy of the later 1960s didn't come out of nowhere,” she writes. “It came from ignoring, denigrating, and rejecting the demands community organizers had made for years for real school desegregation and educational equity, open and affordable housing, jobs and a robust social safety net, equitable municipal services, and the transformation of the criminal justice system.”

Activists just wanted a seat on the bus/at the lunch counter. Our public fixation on two primal scenes of civil rights—Rosa Parks with her tired feet; stoic students wearing coats and ties at a Woolworth's counter—obscures the real breadth of what the movement wanted, Theoharis argues. Refer to the list above, or to the author's capsule histories of economic justice organizations like the Poor People's Campaign and the National Welfare Rights Organization, or her discussion of the way the cases of Emmett Till and Jeremiah Reeves influenced activists to fight for criminal justice reform.

In retroactively narrowing the movement's goals to access to public accommodations, Theoharis argues, we allow ourselves to think of the problem as “solved.” Reading about the goals of the campaign for economic justice makes it clear that this is far from true.

The movement was led by a few charismatic men. High-school junior Barbara Johns organized a strike in 1951 to protest the conditions at her all-black high school in Virginia. She and her student compatriots eventually brought their case to the Supreme Court, as part of Brown v. Board. But this was just the movement's first student-led strike against inequitable education. Theoharis tells the story of later strikes in New York and Los Angeles, writing “Students fought back to show that they were not the problem but that the education they were being provided was—a lesson this country still wants to ignore.” The stories of these young people, as well as those of female activists like Coretta Scott King, Ella Baker, and Rosa Parks, show how broad and deep the movement truly was.

There's a lot more in the book, including analyses of Northern media outlets' failures to cover racism in their own cities; the story of civil rights activism in Los Angeles before Watts; and meditations on the lessons a true history of the movement can provide activists.

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Chase Bank $300 Premier Plus Checking Bonus [Many States]

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For a Member of the Creative Class, Space Is a Luxury Just Out of Reach

For a Member of the Creative Class, Space Is a Luxury Just Out of Reach

by Sandra Beasley @ Slate Articles

In May 2015, my husband and I moved from a one-bedroom in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington to a one-bedroom in a Southwest neighborhood known as the Waterfront. Our rent increase was minor, from $2,000 a month to $2,100 a month, putting us squarely in the median price range for a D.C. one-bedroom as described by a study conducted that year by the online rental site Zumper. I embraced the better view and made peace with the fact that, once again, the kitchen table would serve as my desk.

Many days I wake up around 3 a.m. to work. The work varies: drafting an essay, editing a poem, fellowship application, paid manuscript consultation, preparing for class. I work for several hours, then fall back asleep. That way I feel at least a little refreshed when my second round of work for the day starts. Making my way through the world as a writer, I enjoy a tremendous amount of flexibility. But the work never stops.

In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the D.C. median household income was $75,628. We don’t earn that much. In order to convince owners to rent apartments to me, I’ve pled my case with unconventional documentation, including a publishing contract, a grant letter from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a fistful of 1099s. Many urban centers supposedly value their creative class but, according to computer algorithms looking for 1-to-3 ratios of rent to income in order to approve our application, we don’t belong here. Yet we choose to be here. And with four books behind me, an anthology due out next year, and two manuscripts in hand, I’ve realized: I need a room of my own.

What could that room look like? Many local office hubs target entrepreneurs. Base rates for WeWork or The Hive exceed $300 per month for access to a desk, and perks such as meeting spaces and digital projection are lost on me. The Writer’s Center and D.C. Writers Room use modest rates to target literary communities but are clustered in Northwest. Although 24-hour access is a standard amenity, I’m reluctant to drive there in the middle of the night—my critical creative window—and a locker won’t hold all the reference materials I might need. As part of my revision process, I read aloud. Repeatedly. Hard to imagine doing that in an open-floor plan.

My autocorrect in email keeps changing coworking space to cowering space.

You need a home office, a little voice keeps saying. My work is the primary engine of our income, a determining factor for our household schedule. My next career breakthrough won’t come about through $200 freelance assignments taken on to pay off a monthly “all-access” Cove workspace membership, or an adjunct class that gives me a shared cubicle at a local university. The writing that matters is big, stressful, book-length projects that delve deep, can’t be scheduled between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and are almost entirely uncompensated up front.

My husband knows this. He does what he can to give me the creative space I need, but there are not many places to hide in 900 square feet. Some days he gets up right as I come back to bed, trekking to sites around the city where he is paid by the hour to install rain barrels. Some days he heads to his studio to paint. My husband’s “room of his own” is part of a bargain struck over a decade ago, when a longtime friend moved his family to Spain. He gets a raw space to make art in that friend’s row house basement, in return for keeping an eye on the upstairs tenants. Without that grace, finances might have driven him out of the city before we ever met.

Many think of Washington as a town with high turnover. I get that—the politicians, the diplomats, and, frankly, the friends who show up to one or two events, burn out after a year, and move. But D.C. is filled with good people terrified of losing the security of their place: the artist whose management company renegotiates her lease every time she takes on a new roommate; the poet with disability who needs an accessible building with two working elevators; the musician who doesn’t have a guarantor waiting in the wings. If we save money by moving to the edges of gentrifying neighborhoods, we spend more money on transit. That sidewalk cafe, the one where I’m supposed to camp out and write in my notebook? They now charge $4 for a cup of coffee.

I brew perfectly good coffee. When I first brought up the possibility of a second bedroom, my ace in the hole was the tax deduction—not for coffee, but rent on square footage—associated with a home office. But the far-reaching tax bill waiting reconciliation between the House and Senate leaves me wary of counting on any particular tax provision, especially as the resident of a city without voting representation. Because we’re outside the umbrella of traditional full-time employment and under the mandate of D.C. Health Link, my household is looking at 2018 insurance rates of $750 a month for two adults with no dependents. A year from now, we may decide we cannot afford to live here. But I don’t want to be haunted by what I could have done, had I claimed the space I needed.

The application has 10 sections. Under “Employer,” I put my largest income source, a school that isn’t even in D.C. I add a forward slash, and write “self.”

My Self is the true earner: hustler, poet, boss who gets up at 3 a.m. to get work done. The Self could charge more for manuscript consultations but is wary of contributing to the class barrier facing many aspiring writers. The Self insists on alternating between applying for grants and volunteering to judge them. The Self says yes to events that don’t pay because they foster our arts scene. The Self donates $30 she can’t afford to a literary organization she believes in. The Self always buys a book when she walks into a bookstore. The Self has $4.39 in her checking account. The Self looks okay on paper, but not great. The Self is the one who deserves a room of her own.

We hit “Submit” on the application for a bigger apartment, with a $150 nonrefundable fee. We wait.

They call. They ask if we want to apply for a one-bedroom instead.

There’s A Better Way To Serve The Underserved

by Guest Contributor @ The Financial Brand

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SunTrust Bank Holidays for 2017 and 2018

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Wondering if your local SunTrust bank is open for a specific holiday? Check out the list of 2017 and 2018 dates below that all SunTrust branches are closed on. If a holiday is not listed below, such as Christmas Eve, New Year’s … Continued

Navy Federal Credit Union Review

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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. […]

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Ally Bank Online Savings Account: Earn 1.45% APY Rate [Nationwide]

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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.

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.
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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.

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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.

3 Times It’s Worth Chasing That Checking Account Bonus | Student Loan Hero

3 Times It’s Worth Chasing That Checking Account Bonus | Student Loan Hero


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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.

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M&T Bank Deals, Bonuses, & Promotions: $150, $160, $200, & $250 Checking Offers

by Danny Nguyen @ Bank Deal Guy

Check out our listing of M&T Bank Deals of $150, $160, $200, & $250 promotions. Let M&T Bank reach your financial goals with their full suite of bank accounts and lending solutions, including savings accounts, checking accounts, auto and home loans, and more! M&T Bank has branches in the following states: CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ,... Read More →

The post M&T Bank Deals, Bonuses, & Promotions: $150, $160, $200, & $250 Checking Offers appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

Net Worth Update: December 4, 2017

by DailyGrindFree @ Freedom from the Daily Grind

We continued to make our regular mortgage payments, added $1500 to my 457 retirement account, deposited $1200 to Vanguard taxable account and continued to make a few bucks from other investments & side hustles.           This month’s biggest expenses were our mortgage payment and regular monthly bills.   Any comments, suggestions, encouragements, or advice is welcomeRead more about Net Worth Update: December 4, 2017[...]

Where Yinz At

Where Yinz At

by Matthew J.X. Malady @ Slate Articles

This month, Slate is republishing some of our favorite stories. Here’s today’s selection: Matthew J.X. Malady’s Good Word columns were a delight for dedicated linguists and word dabblers alike. This one from 2014 shed light on the verbal complexities and fascinations of Pennsylvania. Plus, Natalie Matthews-Ramo’s delightful illustrations will have you speaking like a Keystone State native in no time. —Abby McIntyre

The 4 hour and 46 minute drive from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is marked by several things: barns, oddly timed roadwork projects, four tunnels that lend themselves to breath-holding competitions, turnpike rest stops featuring heat-lamped Sbarro slices and overly goopy Cinnabon. But perhaps the most noteworthy—and useful—hallmark of that road trip is all the bumper stickers that one spies along the way.

From Center City Philly to about Reamstown, it’s all Eagles and Phillies and Flyers stickers. Then there’s a 150-mile stretch of road where anything goes. Penn State paraphernalia, Jesus fish, and stickers about deer hunting mix with every other form of car commentary to create a hodgepodge that predominates until about Bedford. From there, it really is all Steelers stuff. And for those who make this drive fairly often, that bumper sticker progression serves as an old-school GPS. Of course, you’ll also spot stickers referencing cheesesteak lingo, as well as those emblazoned with “N’AT,” on this trip. And if you’re from out of state and decide to rest-stop query the owner of a car bearing one of those stickers, within the first few words of that person’s spoken response you’ll realize why linguists love the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania, in case yinz didn’t know, is a regional dialect hotbed nonpareil. A typical state maintains two or three distinct, comprehensive dialects within its borders. Pennsylvania boasts five, each consisting of unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar elements. Of course, three of the five kind of get the shaft—sorry Erie, and no offense, Pennsylvania Dutch Country—because by far the most widely recognized Pennsylvania regional dialects are those associated with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia dialect features a focused avoidance of the “th” sound, the swallowing of the L in lots of words, and wooder instead of water, among a zillion other things. In Pittsburgh, it’s dahntahn for downtown, and words like nebby and jagoff and yinz. But, really, attempting to describe zany regional dialects using written words is a fool’s errand. To get some sense of how Philadelphians talk, check out this crash course clip created by Sean Monahan, who was raised in Bucks County speaking with a heavy Philly accent. Then hit the “click below” buttons on the website for these Yappin’ Yinzers dolls to get the Pittsburgh side of things, and watch this Kroll Show clip to experience a Pennsylvania dialect duel.

According to Barbara Johnstone, a professor of English and linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University, migration patterns and geography deserve much of the credit (or blame) for the variety of speech quirks on display in Pennsylvania. A horizontal dialect boundary that roughly traces Interstate 80 spans the length of the state. The speech and vocabulary of those living north of that line of demarcation, she says, were influenced by those who migrated into the U.S. through Boston mainly from the south of England. “Whereas the people in the rest of Pennsylvania below that tended to come to the U.S. from Northern England and arrived in Philadelphia and other places along the Delaware Valley,” Johnstone says. “They came from Northern England and Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

Those living north of I-80 have historically used different words for certain things than those living in the southern half of Pennsylvania—pail vs. bucket, for instance. And the pronunciation of various vowel sounds north of the boundary doesn’t align with how those vowels are pronounced in other parts of the state. “Rot can sound, to south-of-I-80 ears, like rat,” she adds, “or bus, like boss.”

Settlement in western Pennsylvania began to pick up around the time of the American Revolution, and those who set down roots in the area—predominantly Scotch-Irish families, followed by immigrants from Poland and other parts of Europe—tended to stay put as a result of the Allegheny Mountains, which bisect the state diagonally from northeast to southwest. “The Pittsburgh area was sort of isolated,” says Johnstone. “It was very hard to get back and forth across the mountains. There’s always been a sense that Pittsburgh was kind of a place unto itself—not really southern, not really Midwestern, not really part of Pennsylvania. People just didn’t move very much.”

The result was a scenario in which—with some exceptions, such as the transfer of the word hoagie from Philly to Pittsburgh—the two dialects could develop and grow independently. Fast-forward 250 years or so, and people from Pittsburgh are talking about “gettin’ off the caach and gone dahntawn on the trawly to see the fahrworks for the Fourth a July hawliday n’at,” while Philadelphia folks provide linguistic gems like the one Monahan offered up as the most Philly sentence possible: “Yo Antny, when you’re done your glass of wooder, wanna get a hoagie on Thirdyfish Street awn da way over to Moik’s for de Iggles game?”

He deciphered the easy elements—like “Antny” (Anthony), “hoagie” (submarine sandwich), “Iggles” (the Philadelphia Eagles)—before transitioning to the more upper-level material. “We have this very unusual grammar quirk with the word done,” Monahan explains. “When you say ‘I’m done’ something, it means the task is done. The rest of the country would say ‘I’m done with my water.’ But if I say ‘I’m done with my water’ in Philadelphia, that would mean I’ve had some, and I don’t want to finish the rest. If I say ‘I’m done my water,’ that means I’ve drunk all of it. They mean two different things.” 

That’s not really the case anywhere else in the country. There also aren’t many places, he adds, where people refer to someone named Mike as “Moik” in conversation. “That ‘oi’ is what I would call the defining Philadelphia sound in the way that the Philly accent is today,” Monahan says. As for “Thirdyfish Street”? That’s “Thirty-fifth Street” to you and me. Philadelphians often replace “th”s in words with other sounds, though, and “everything just winds up getting all blurred together.”   

According to University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor William Labov, the Philly dialect represents a tug of war between the city’s connections to, and influences from, different parts of the country. “I think Philadelphia is torn between its northern and southern heritage,” he says. The result is a regional dialect that combines many influences to form a one-of-a-kind manner of speaking. And, he adds, it’s a way of speaking that has become a source of pride for many residents. Labov is currently working on a project at Penn that involves interviewing students who have graduated from Philadelphia high schools to determine their perceptions about Philly. “Most are very positive about the city and see themselves staying in Philadelphia,” he says. “As far as the dialect is concerned, only a few points have become self-conscious. For most of Philadelphia, the general attitude is quite positive.”

Across the state, in western Pennsylvania, Pittsburghese has developed over time into a badge of honor for locals—something akin to a spoken symbol of blue-collar toughness and tradition. Notoriety on the dialect front gained steam when linguists began visiting the area in the 1930s and ’40s, providing scholarly support for the notion that Pittsburghers had developed a unique way of talking. Around the same time, Johnstone says, interactions between those from Pittsburgh and people from other parts of the country during World War II resulted in a more broad recognition of the phenomenon. Things really picked up during the 1960s, as more linguists focused on the region and newspapers began running pieces on elements of the dialect. The publication of Sam McCool’s New Pittsburghese: How to Speak Like a Pittsburgher in the 1980s represented the first time that someone had detailed for a mass audience the sounds and words that make up the dialect, and it provided thousands of displaced Pittsburghers a way to reconnect with their home town. (Many of them moved to other states when the local economy tanked.) The widespread use of personal computers during the years that followed meant that people all over the world could discuss Pittsburghese at any time, and the topic now garners more attention than ever.

But as the national and international buzz about the distinctiveness of both accents increased, so did the number of young people from the state’s two largest cities who decided to attend college far away from home. As familiarity with various unique elements of Pennsylvania’s dialects reached an all-time high, the influence of those dialects on younger generations was challenged.    

“You learn really fast when you first show up [to college], because, particularly if you’re a freshman, you’re an undergraduate, you’re the new kid on the block and you don’t want to stick out,” says American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron. “If you look at the history of broadcasting in this country, when broadcasting went national, one of the things that happened is there were handbooks written for national radio broadcasters on how to eliminate the regionalisms from their speech so that they would be understood across the country. And in a sense that’s what a lot of people do when they come to college today. They drop what they assume are going to be the regionalisms.”

Pittsburgh native and nj.com sportswriter Dom Cosentino is one of those who left the Steel City for an out-of-town college. That school, La Salle University, also just happened to be in Philly. It was a rude awakening. “I had no clue about any of it—that Pittsburgh people even talk a certain way—until I moved away,” he says. “Almost immediately I noticed I talked differently, and I noticed other people talked differently. They would kind of make fun of the way I talked, or the way I’d say certain words—I was calling my ‘mawm’ instead of my ‘mom,’ and that kind of thing.” In a very short period of time, Cosentino says, he went from being “Dawm” to “Dom.” “I wouldn’t say that I went to a full-on Philadelphia accent, but it wasn’t long before I was coming back to Pittsburgh and my friends were sort of making fun of the fact that I didn’t talk like I was from Pittsburgh much anymore.”

Baron sees that same scenario play out year after year on campus, with the net impact being thousands of dropped accents. Of course, some regional language quirks may return if and when students move back to their hometowns after college. But many won’t. So, extrapolating over the course of 20 or 50 or 100 years, does that mean the Philly and Pittsburgh dialects are destined to disappear? And will our contemporary propensity to communicate via text rather than speech speed that decline?

First, the good news: According to Baron, who is the author of Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World, all the time we spend emailing and texting and tweeting and IMing doesn’t portend the downfall of distinctive regional dialects. She has been teaching for a “number of years, including pre-personal computers and post, and before all the new technologies that have come in the last five to 10 years,” Baron says. “And what’s really clear to me is that the technologies aren’t having any influence at all on dialects.”  

We may speak less to one another these days, but when we do speak, Baron says, we talk pretty much as we have in the past. And those conversations are now more likely to occur in environments that are welcoming of accents and strange names for things and unusual pronunciations. “As the world gets more internationalized in so many ways, we don’t notice things like accents the way we used to,” Baron says. “Day to day, we see so many people who speak so many versions of English. We don’t judge people nearly as much, and therefore people are free to speak the way they have spoken, including with regional accents and dialects.”

A March New York Times piece titled “The Sound of Philadelphia Fades Out” appears to serve as a wet blanket to Baron’s optimism about the persistence of regional dialects. The article cited a 2013 University of Pennsylvania study for the proposition that “the Philly sound is conforming more and more with the mainstream of Northern accents.”

But if you talk to William Labov, who co-authored the study, you’ll get a decidedly less fatalistic perspective on the trajectory of the dialect. He refers to analysis of sound and speech changes as “a game of musical chairs,” and suggests that making broad pronouncements based on shifts in one element of a dialect is probably not a good idea. “Philadelphia is maintaining its local dialect, and developing in new directions,” Labov notes. “I would say that the dialect is in pretty good shape.” Monahan agrees. He says the Times piece is too simplistic in its summation of the linguistics involved. “Certain vowels are getting less strong over time,” he notes, but “others are getting stronger.”

Johnstone is quick to point out that the Pittsburgh dialect—and how people perceive it—is constantly evolving. She notes the increased national attention garnered by the word jagoff during the past few years (“If you’re an outsider, you don’t know whether or not it’s obscene”), and the development of the “yinzer” persona as a common stereotype. “It seems to be getting used for a particular kind of working class person—male or female, but usually male—who is kind of loudmouthed and maybe not quite so smart and has all the stereotypical characteristics of Pittsburgh: has never moved away from home, loves the Steelers, loves to party, likes to drink beer,” says Johnstone, adding that widespread use of the term only really began around 2000. “It’s both negative and positive. It’s both mocking and also something that people orient to.”

Twenty years from now, though, yinzer might be used to describe someone who has moved away from Pittsburgh, and by 2040 “Thirdyfish Street” may have morphed into “Thirfistree.” This year’s jagoff may be next year’s gutcheez. Or, as Johnstone notes, all those words could fall out of use altogether. The history of language tells us that almost nothing remains static or lasts forever. “It’s a fact about language. This process has been going on forever. What happens is that there are new ways of speaking that develop.”

And, according to Labov, those new ways of speaking will give us new things to fixate on and gab about. As we grow familiar with certain publicized hallmarks of a given dialect, those elements tend to dissipate, only to be replaced by other unique language strains that often show some connection to what came before. “When people become aware of particular sounds, it’s like throwing a monkey wrench into a car,” Labov says. “It’s going to bang up part of it, but the rest of it will go on its own way. And the car runs.”

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.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Making Savings a “Dream”: A Review of Barclays Online Bank

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Barclays Bank has its roots in 17th century London and its legacy includes financing the world’s first industrial steam railway and introducing the world’s first automated teller machine. While Barclays is still headquartered in London, it has operations in more than … Continued

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.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Bank Holiday Schedule for 2016 and 2017

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Few things are more frustrating than wanting to deposit a check, make a withdrawal or make a same-day online bill payment and then finding out that the bank is closed for a holiday. The Federal Reserve bank observes 10 holidays … Continued

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.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Review: 50,000 Bonus Miles + $100 Statement Credit

by Anthony Nguyen @ Bank Checking Savings

When you sign up for a United MileagePlus® Explorer Card you can earn yourself a attractive 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account activation. Also, you can earn $100 statement credit after you make your first purchase. In addition to that, get priority boarding and 2 redeemable United Club passes each year, so I... Keep Reading↠

The post Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Review: 50,000 Bonus Miles + $100 Statement Credit appeared first on Bank Checking Savings.

Online Money Market Accounts

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

As the financial industry moves into the internet age, more and more options are becoming available for consumers. In the old days, banking required you to go to branch and speak with a teller or a manager to get anything … Continued

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.

United’s Trying a New Way to Board Its Planes

United’s Trying a New Way to Board Its Planes

by Katherine Fan @ The Points Guy

Airlines and passengers alike are constantly trying to streamline the headache otherwise known as the boarding process, sometimes with science, and other times with psychology. In 2014, popular TV show Mythbusters tested out the WILMA (Window, Middle, Aisle) method, among several others. The overall consensus seems to be that the most efficient boarding process also happens to …

Cashback Checking | Online Checking Account | Discover

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This Is The Tallest Hotel In The World

This Is The Tallest Hotel In The World

by Katherine Fan @ The Points Guy

In Dubai, a city synonymous with superlatives, the Guinness Book of World Records just confirmed newcomer Gevora Hotel to be the world’s tallest at just over 356 meters high (1,168 feet). Neighbor and previous record-holder the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai stands just one meter shorter at 355 meters (1,165 feet). The Gevora Hotel has four restaurants, …

The 7 Best National Banks In America for 2018

by Jeff Rose @ Good Financial Cents

Everyone needs a safe place to stash their money, instead of burying it in the backyard (or worse, under your mattress). If you're looking for a new bank, you have hundreds of options to choose from, but every year, it seems like there are more banks who enter the market. And we know, every bank... Continue Reading-->

The post The 7 Best National Banks In America for 2018 appeared first on Good Financial Cents.

Four Reasons Your Definition of ‘Open Banking’ is Too Narrow

by Guest Contributor @ The Financial Brand

Open banking is the catalyst for a new wave of financial innovation, a re-imagining of traditional digital architecture unrestricted by legacy technology.

Chase Coupon Codes | Checking & Savings $150, $200, $300 Bonus Offer

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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.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

How to Find the Lowest Bank Mortgage Rates

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

If you believe every advertisement you see on television, the internet and even in print, then you would believe that every bank has the “lowest mortgage rate,” right? The truth is: some banks offer lower rate mortgages than others and … Continued

Relationship Unmoored

Relationship Unmoored

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! Let’s get chatting.

Q. Is he insensitive? Or merely conservative?: My boyfriend and I have been together for two years, and he is loving, caring, and dedicated. He’s in the medical field and enjoys helping his patients. Most of the time, I can see myself marrying him and being happy, but some things he says politically make me nervous, and I’m worried that he’s too uncaring about other people’s situations. He doesn’t have a problem with Roy Moore being a senator because “he hasn’t been convicted.” He seems to judge sexual harassment victims for not coming forward earlier and doesn’t understand why some wouldn’t.

I’m a politically involved liberal, and he’s not, so I know he doesn’t think a lot about these topics and can be thrown off. Sometimes he will also say anything to end a fight. How can I tell if he’s just more conservative than me? Or if he’s just just defensive (I admittedly come on really strong when I question him)? What is a character problem I should be concerned about? I love him, but he’s making me nervous.

A: If your boyfriend’s stance on what kind of person should hold elected office is “Roy Moore is fine by me, as long as he hasn’t been convicted of sexually assaulting underage girls,” then he is not defensive, or thrown off, or someone who hasn’t spent enough time thinking about these topics. He’s a bad person.

It’s possible for someone to be loving, caring, and dedicated to their partner, to work hard at their job, and to hold beliefs that are so repugnant that the good does not outweigh the bad. You should be more than “nervous” that your boyfriend thinks the only question he needs to consider about a man accused of sexual assault by five different women is “Has he been convicted?” Pay attention to this nervousness—it’s your gut trying to tell you that this man is not safe to be around, that if you ever experienced sexual harassment, assault, or violence, he would not believe or help you. He is telling you everything you need to know about his character. Listen, and leave him.

Q. Dye job: Is it ever acceptable to make a request about your partner’s appearance? I would never comment on something like weight or unchangeable physical characteristics (nor would I want to—I think my wife is beautiful). But what about easily changeable things? My wife has recently stopped coloring her hair, so now she is all gray. We are in our 30s. Would I be a jerk if I asked her to go back to the dye job?

A: It’s not beyond the pale of acceptable things to say to one’s partner, but it’s also possible that you might hurt your wife’s feelings, or that she’ll say no to your request. If you two can typically have productive conversations about fraught topics like personal appearance comfortably and affectionately, then you might consider bringing it up. You can say that you really liked the color she used to dye her hair, and if she ever went back, you’d be totally into it. But if she likes the gray, or doesn’t relish the hassle of keeping a dye job refreshed, then you should drop it.

Q. Adolescent embarrassment: I’m in my late-30s but for some reason am painfully embarrassed by my pre-teen/middle school years. I don’t want any throwback pics or “hey, remember how you used to...” discussion. It’s completely irrational. I was not tormented and had no particularly traumatic incidents. Just your garden-variety awkward. Anyway, I’ve never told anyone this because I realize it’s nuts. If things come up, I just laugh along and change the subject as swiftly as possible. But recently a family member has started posting clips from old family videos on Facebook. I am absolutely mortified at the thought of some of the videos that I know they have of me being made public. On one hand, I think that I should try to just laugh it off and let it go, and that making a big deal of it would just draw attention to it. But I’m not exaggerating when I say my stomach is in knots just thinking about those videos. Why can’t I see the humor in those years the way most people do?

A: You do not have to see the humor in your adolescence just because some other people see humor in theirs. Your feelings do not need to be justified by the experience of others! You can say to your relative, “Hey, I’m glad you’re enjoying these old videos. Would you please not upload any including me? I’d prefer not to have any videos of me as a child made public. Thank you so much.” You can also unfollow/detag yourself/mute your relative on social media if even videos that don’t include you, but remind you of that time in your life, make you feel uncomfortable. It’s fine to feel sensitive about this, and there’s plenty of relatively small steps you can take to avoid this source of anxiety.

Q. Reading too much into his ex pattern: I am 36 years old and have been in a relationship with a great guy for almost two years. He is 43. We are talking about marriage and possibly kids if that works out. I have zero issues with our relationship—it’s great. The only concern I have is that prior to dating me, my boyfriend only dated very attractive women under 26 years old. Some of them were even as young as 20 or 22, while he was in his mid-to-late 30s. I guess I am concerned that someday he will want to go back to that. I am not sure where this fear comes from, and I am not even sure what I want to communicate—“Hey, our relationship is great, but I have a fear, based on nothing, that you might want to go back to dating college-aged women.” I am being ridiculous. How can I get over this?

A: This fear is not based on nothing, and it’s not ridiculous. It’s based on a series of choices your boyfriend has made. Your goal should not be to “get over this.” Your goal should be to talk to your boyfriend about his past and to share your feelings, anxieties, and questions with him openly.

You’re not talking about an age gap between two adults in similar life situations, or the occasional exception—for most of his life and well into his late 30s, your boyfriend has dated college-aged women. That’s a pretty significant pattern, and there’s a pretty significant difference between an adult who’s been living independently for a few years and someone who was a senior in high school two years ago. How did he meet those women? How did they talk about the difference in their ages? What did he think about the potential imbalance of personal power inherent in a 38-year-old dating a 20-year-old? If he shuts down or dismisses the topic, that’s a sign that he hasn’t thought critically about it, and that should worry you. Not because he “might want to go back” to dating extremely young women, but because it’s an indicator of how he sees and treats women.

Q. Re: Is he insensitive? Or merely conservative?: I’m not sure I agree with Prudie’s answer on this one. As much as it’s certainly a possible red flag, I remember having a truly horrible argument with my now-husband, when we were first dating, in which he argued that rape culture wasn’t a real thing—after all, he’d never heard of it!—and I stormed out of his apartment in tears and almost dumped him. In the intervening years he has started listening to the things women (and other minorities) have to say, and has become possibly a better feminist than me (he is, among other things, spearheading a gender equality campaign in his workplace to recognize women’s unpaid contributions). The key character trait driving this change was a willingness to truly listen to other people and change his mind when confronted with new information. I think the letter writer probably needs to make that same assessment about her boyfriend, and I hope she gets as lucky as I did. But I agree that if she doesn’t get that sense from him, she needs to run, run, run.

A: I’m glad to hear that your husband came to listen and pay attention to you when you talked about rape culture. That said, I don’t think it’s incumbent upon anyone, particularly women, to stick with a partner in the hopes that they eventually come to believe in things like sexual assault and harassment. It would be a good outcome if the letter writer’s partner listened with an open mind, apologized for his previous dismissal, and went on to behave differently. It would also be a good outcome if the letter writer ended their relationship over this.

Q. Poly, maybe?: I recently got out of a very long-term relationship. I hadn’t expected to enter the dating world so soon, but I met a guy while traveling for work and made an instant connection with him. I only travel to his area a few weeks a year, so I stayed in contact with him and we chat almost every day. Well, I’ve just recently met someone else more local (once again, it caught me by surprise). I know I’m not necessarily ready for a relationship with either, but I’m really starting to like both of them. I’ve always felt I could be polyamorous, as I feel that people have the capability to care for and love multiple people, but should I continue spending time with both of them? How would I even bring this up with them? I feel like down the line, I’ll be forced to choose.

A: It’s great to think about this sort of thing before it comes up, but it’s worth remembering that one of the guys you’re seeing lives far away and you only get to see one another a few weeks a year. You don’t appear to be facing an imminent “Are we exclusive?” conversation. If you’re interested in poly dating, I’d encourage you to do some research about how other people make it work; it never hurts to have more information on your side, and you can probably benefit a great deal from hearing more about what mistakes and pitfalls others have experienced.

As for these two guys, it sounds like—so far—everything is going great. As long as you’re honest about what you feel (“I like you, I’m not looking for an exclusive relationship, I want to keep seeing each other”), you’re in the clear. If you want to talk about the possibility of polyamory with one or both of them, just say, “Hey, there’s no smooth way to open this conversation, so I’m just going to go for it. I’m interested in dating, but I’m not interested in monogamy; are you down for that?” If the answer is “No,” by the way, that doesn’t mean you did something wrong or that you shouldn’t have brought up the subject at all. It just means you’re both looking for different things, and your relationship has reached a natural end. Good luck!

Q. Mother off the rails: My father has just collapsed from a cancer none of us knew he had. He is ailing, and my mother is absolutely freaking out. She has always had undiagnosed, untreated mental illnesses. Since his retirement, she has clung to my father. My sister is there trying to manage things while my father is in the hospital. If she leaves the room, my mother freaks out. Last night mom called me, hysterical, saying that she had been “abandoned” (my sister went to the gym). She wandered the neighborhood wailing and sobbing until a neighbor came out to talk to her. Sooner or later, someone may call the police. She has not been to a doctor since I was born (I’m in my 50s). She won’t listen to anyone and wouldn’t let a caseworker into the house to assess the situation. I am estranged from all of them but would like to get her some help. Is there an agency I can contact? Once he passes, what would happen to her if she can never be alone? (She will never voluntarily go into a home.) They are both in their 90s. Please someone help me help them before someone gets hurt.

A: You can contact your local division of the Area Agency on Aging (here’s a relevant example from my neighborhood, for example), and/or get in touch with your city’s social services department and request an elder check. Here’s an elder care directory with specific information on what resources are available in different states. Since you’re estranged from your family, and it doesn’t sound like you’re planning on re-establishing contact, I think your best bet is to make sure your sister is aware of all the resources and assistance that may be available to her as she tries to care for your parents. If any readers have experience or advice they’d like to share, let me know and I’ll print that, too.

Q. Swiped a crush: I recently asked out a man and he said yes (yay!). However, it turns out my roommate is also interested in him. I did not know this at the time, and I’m wondering if I should tell her about it and make sure it doesn’t interfere with our friendship, or if I should just cancel the date.

A: Don’t cancel the date, but do let her know that you’re going out with him—not because you have to apologize for going out with a guy you didn’t know she sort of liked, but in the interest of full disclosure, and so she’s not surprised if he shows up at your place in a few weeks for a third or a fourth date.

Q. Daughter doesn’t want to visit me: My daughter is 16 years old. Her mother and I have been divorced for most of my daughter’s life. For years, I have had to fight my ex’s attempt to keep my daughter from me and to keep joint, 50-50 custody. However, as a teen my daughter has been rebelling—stealing, failing school, et cetera. I’ve punished her by taking her phone away or not letting her go over to friend’s houses. Instead of backing me up, my ex sides with my daughter—without asking me why I punished her. Now my daughter refuses to visit me and even called the police on me for sending her to wash her dishes after a meal. Do I force her (enforce my court order), or realize that a 16-year-old not wanting to see her dad is old enough to make her decision?

A: You do have the legal right to custody, of course, but if your goal is to preserve the possibility of a better relationship a few years down the road once your daughter is out of her teens, I think it’s wise to be judicious about enforcing your legal rights. That’s not to say you should stop speaking to her—if she’s acting out so extremely that she’s calling the police over being made to wash her dishes (!), then I think you have grounds for serious concern and should consider making her an appointment with a therapist. It’s a shame that your ex isn’t backing you up, but it might be worth trying to have a conversation with her about your concerns, and to make it clear that you’re worried about your daughter, and that you’re not capriciously punishing her, but trying to look out for her best interests.

Q. Re: Dye job: I would not ask your wife to do this. I’m also 30 and now officially in the “salt and pepper” phase of my hair, and while I can laugh about it, I would feel weird if my wife asked me to dye it to make it look younger. I am sure the letter writer has undergone changes with age that the letter writer cannot control that would be hurtful if letter writer’s wife brought them up.

A: I’m getting a lot of letters to the effect that it’s better not to ask, especially since your wife used to dye her hair. She’s probably acutely aware of how expensive and labor-intensive the process is, and has decided it’s no longer worth doing.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

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.

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.

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 […]

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.

First Bank Financial Centre Business Checking Bonus: $300 Promotion (Wisconsin only)

by John Catral @ Bank Checking Savings

Available for business owners of Wisconsin, First Bank Financial Centre is currently offering residents of Wisconsin a generous $300 bonus when you sign up and open any new Business Checking Account. All you have to do to get started is open any new business account at your nearest branch or online, and then have at least 50... Keep Reading↠

The post First Bank Financial Centre Business Checking Bonus: $300 Promotion (Wisconsin only) appeared first on Bank Checking Savings.

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.

6 Real-Life Money Lessons You Can Learn From Monopoly

by Kim Galeta @ Chime Banking

When I was growing up, my favorite board game was Monopoly. Recently, I decided to re-explore the game with my nieces and nephews. And, wow! I realize now just how many life lessons can be learned from this classic game. For starters, Monopoly is a game of strategy that offers ways to manage your money […]

The post 6 Real-Life Money Lessons You Can Learn From Monopoly appeared first on Chime Banking.

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.

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Update – January, 2018: VA Again Accepting ID Card Applications. The VA began accepting applications for the Veterans Identification Cards at the end of November 2017. Shortly afterward, the VA announced they were unable to process ID card requests due to the overwhelming response. Veterans were instructed to submit their email address on a waining [...]

Discussing Consent in Gay Spaces Requires Nuance, Not Sex Panic

Discussing Consent in Gay Spaces Requires Nuance, Not Sex Panic

by Rennie McDougall @ Slate Articles

On Nov. 14, just 4 days after Louis C.K. admitted to sexual harassment and 2 days before Sen. Al Franken was accused, Masha Gessen posed a provocative question on the New Yorker website: When Does a Watershed Become a Sex Panic?” When I first read Gessen’s article, it seemed too soon in this moment of reckoning with sexual assault and harassment to cast doubt, too early to entertain fears of a “panic” in which all sorts of sexual acts are viewed with suspicion. The momentum with which these abuses of power were coming to light had created a vital movement; handwringing over anti-sex hysteria was not yet warranted.

But now I’m not so sure. Three days after Gessen’s article, Phillip Henry posted a piece in them, Conde Nast’s new LGBTQ platform, about how gay bar culture promotes and normalizes sexual assault, particularly in the form of touch and groping. It’s a concern that had been voiced two months earlier by Marc Ambinder in USA Today, arriving right on the heels of the Weinstein revelations. Reading Henry’s and Ambinder’s pieces over recently, I wondered again about Gessen’s point. “I’m also queer,” Gessen writes, after noting that she too has experienced harassment, “and I panic when I sniff sex panic.”

It’s inevitable that during this cultural shift, gay men should question their leniency regarding the grope, that not-necessarily invited hand on the chest, ass, or even crotch that may occur during a night out—sometimes welcome, sometimes not. It’s encouraging that the discussion has led gay men to revisit the extent to which tropes of masculinity shape our perspectives. And it’s true that, as Henry and Ambinder point out, the laxity of some gay bars can make it harder for assault victims to come forward and be taken seriously.

But the sanitization of gay spaces—a total cleaning up of our sometimes messy brushes with desire—would be a profound loss. What arguments like these make clear is that when it comes to the language of assault, we should not generalize. A “strange hand on our butts” in a gay club, as Henry writes, is not necessarily an act of sexual violence. To lump the two ends of a spectrum together under one category of assault trivializes the seriousness of aggressive acts and ignores the fact that unexpected—but non-threatening—encounters can be a positive part of sexual discovery.

To be fair, Ambinder makes the distinction that “as bad as drunkenly grabbing a butt can be, it is much less bad as many other forms of assault.” Yet overall he paints those drunk butt-grabbers in gay bars as lecherous creeps, “stepping up the boundaries of predatory behavior.” Observing this rather sweeping move, I start to feel uncomfortable remembering that this is exactly how gay men were once vilified in homophobic propaganda: as predators. So any message that points to gay bars and claims this is where predatory behavior is born deserves careful consideration.

New York, sadly, no longer really has a culture of gay saunas. Coming from Melbourne, Australia, where that culture still exists (albeit unglamorously), I have always been surprised and heartened by the code of consent to be found there, a code that I have seen men adhere to responsibly time and again. Someone approaches you in the steam room or the sauna, sits beside you, and maybe touches you. If you’re not interested, you can take their hand and move it off of you—you can also shake your head, and clearly say “no”—and the stranger, having received the signal, will leave you be without protest. In my observation, this code is dutifully followed. In a form of community protection established over many decades, other men will often step in against bad actors, and any troublemakers will be evacuated from the premises.

Entering these kinds of spaces, one accepts a contract that these environments welcome sexual behavior, and everyone has the freedom to participate, or not, in the way that they choose. Saying no is always, and must always be, an option. To suggest that the initial placement of a hand is in itself assault, however, completely betrays this contract and willfully ignores that consent can work differently in different contexts.

People’s opinions will differ on whether a gay bar should automatically be defined by sexual permissiveness. When I first started visiting gay bars in Australia, I felt both awkward and excited by the blurred lines of touch. It also afforded me the chance to deal with discomfort; to learn where my own boundaries lie, as well as how those boundaries shift and change; and to feel empowered to enforce those boundaries myself, remaining respectful of other people’s sexual expression. I would hope that we could allow individuals a similar autonomy (including, perhaps, deciding that cruisier gay bars are not really their scene) rather than dictating how everyone should feel from on high.

And what then of specifically designated sex areas, such as dark rooms? Pushing past some cheap curtain to fumble blindly among other willing participants, one engages a similar contract as that of the sauna, agreeing to the terms of the sexualized space. This is not to say that sexual assault doesn’t take place within these spaces, because it can and does. But when the spaces themselves are called out for permitting a “level of impropriety,” as Henry writes, it comes across as impugning sexualized spaces altogether, consenting or not. Henry also writes that all men feel similarly violated by such improper interactions: “We know all too well the things running through your head when these casual gropings happen.” Do we all know? Aren’t we permitted some agency over our own private reactions, be they flattery, arousal, or discomfort?

Another piece in them this past weekend, written by Darnell L. Moore, takes the idea even further, suggesting it’s not only gay venues that create predatory behavior, it is also gay men’s private thoughts. “That’s where it begins,” Moore writes, “in the expansive space that is our imaginations.” Moore writes that when he observes a stranger on the subway or at a bar, he turns them “into an object of [his] affection, stripped of their agency and clothes,” and that this is an unacceptable violation. But doesn’t this idea—that Moore can strip a person of their agency with his gaze—still leave Moore with all the power, as he presumes to know how that person feels about cruising in the first place? “Some gay, bisexual, queer, and trans men often think it’s okay to look at or touch other people’s bodies without permission.” Look at? Are we to imagine a future in which acceptable interactions begin with eyes cast down until consent to look is given? “So many men believe the exterior and interior parts of another person’s being are ours to access and dominate.” But isn’t this exactly what Moore is doing, by reading malicious intent into everyone’s passing glances? And doesn’t this all begin to sound like thought-policing, in which an authority muscles in on our erotic imaginations and admonishes us for desires that are “wrong”? As with the “think of the children!” sex panics of the past, this kind of extreme view employs a morality that treats all sexual thoughts as hostile, something that gay men have historically fought against.

Most dangerous about this kind of thinking is that it reduces our essential ongoing conversation around sexual assault to a micromanagement of gestures, not just in properly de-sexed environments like offices and business relationships, but also in supposedly sex-positive spaces. To enforce a code onto all queer spaces which says that physical contact—even looking—is inherently “improper” risks imposing a paranoia into our still much-needed havens for sexual expression. I don’t think Henry or Ambinder intend that degree of regulation (Moore perhaps does), but we should nevertheless be more diligent when terms like inappropriate become interchangeable with violation and assault. For many, including the current vice president, all homosexual acts are considered inappropriate. All the more reason for us to be wary of this casual use of terminology.

“Over the last three decades,” Gessen writes, “as American society has apparently accepted more open expression of different kinds of sexuality, it has also invented new ways and reasons to police sex.” This kind of policing should be challenged. Our whole LGBTQ movement began as a refutation of the policing of our spaces. And questioning this level of regulation should not be seen as an opposition to the larger fight against sexual assault, particularly as it occurs in workplaces. Henry is right when he says that gay men have a responsibility to ensure our spaces remain vibrant and explorative, as well as safe. The last thing I want for our cherished gay spaces, however, is that safety translates as sex-phobic propriety.

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Savings accounts: everyone should have at least one, but when your local bank is offering to pay you interest at dismal rates as low as 0.01%, saving can be downright discouraging. Thankfully, in the internet age we live in, savers … Continued

How to Get Free or Cheap Flu Shots

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The flu is bad news. Like really bad news. And the 2018 flu season is going down as one of the worst in recent memory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps an influenza map of the United States and for the first time, the entire contiguous United States is the same color – […]

The post How to Get Free or Cheap Flu Shots appeared first on Wallet Hacks.

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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.

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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!

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.

Get Paid to Live on Bahamas and Care for Flamingos

Get Paid to Live on Bahamas and Care for Flamingos

by Jeffrey Preis @ The Points Guy

Baha Mar, a massive resort that recently opened on Nassau, Bahamas, after more than 10 years of construction, sits on 1,000 acres and a half-mile stretch of beachside property and cost over $4 billion to build. The resort includes three hotel properties (totaling 2,300 rooms), 42 restaurants and lounges, an 18-hole golf course, a casino and the resort’s …

Chase Total Checking Account Bonus

by Liz Pham @ Bank Deal Guy

Right now, Chase Bank is offering a sign-up bonus when you open their Chase Total Checking® Account. This account is very easy to use and you’ll have access to many features such as online banking, bill pay, mobile banking services like Chase DepositFriendlySM ATMs nationwide, and more! With over 16,000 ATMs and 5,100 branches, convenience is definitely... Read More →

The post Chase Total Checking Account Bonus appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

Leverage Technology to Fuel Greater Acceptance of Digital Banking Solutions

by Guest Contributor @ The Financial Brand

Piraeus Bank in Greece has combined the best of digital with the warmth of human interaction in their e-branch design and remote teller technology.

Press Release: 44% of Parents Feel Guilty They Haven’t Saved More for Kids’ College

by SLH Staff @ Student Loan Hero

“A new survey by Student Loan Hero finds more than 57% of parents have saved less than $10,000” Austin, Texas, Feb. 13, 2018 — 44% of parents who are currently saving for family college costs reported feeling guilty that they haven’t stashed away more to date, according to a new survey from Student Loan Hero. […]

The post Press Release: 44% of Parents Feel Guilty They Haven’t Saved More for Kids’ College appeared first on Student Loan Hero.

5 Undeniable Truths of Digital Banking

by Jim Marous @ The Financial Brand

Banks and credit unions must embrace digital banking truths that should guide business strategies, impacting revenue and the future of organizations.

The Hawaii Supreme Court Must Affirm the Equality of Same-Sex Parents

The Hawaii Supreme Court Must Affirm the Equality of Same-Sex Parents

by Anthony Michael Kreis @ Slate Articles

On Thursday, the Hawaii Supreme Court will hear arguments in a significant LGBTQ rights case—a first of its kind—that applies marriage equality to legal parenthood. At the heart of the litigation is a question of what makes a parent. The Hawaii justices will have to decide whether a married lesbian can escape parental responsibilities toward the child to whom her then-wife gave birth. To uphold LGBTQ equality, the justices should rule that parental obligations attach equally to same-sex and opposite-sex spouses.

The couple, C.C. and D.D., married in Washington, D.C., in 2013. Shortly thereafter, the two women moved to Hawaii, where C.C. had been called on military orders. During the course of their marriage, they considered having a child together. While C.C. was deployed between January and September 2015, D.D. sought out a sperm donor and became pregnant. A month after C.C.’s return from deployment, she filed for divorce. The child was born before the divorce’s finalization.

As a general principle in family law, when a married woman gives birth to a child, the birth mother and her spouse are presumed to be the child’s parents. The biological relationship of her spouse to the child is irrelevant. This is true of a same-sex couple or a married heterosexual couple. If a birth mother is married to a man at either the time the child was conceived or between conception and birth, her husband’s name is placed on the child’s birth certificate. The presumption of parentage does not necessarily mean he is the biological father. Indeed, presumptive paternity requires no evidence that her husband is the biological father.

The theory behind this presumption is that it advances children’s best interests, keeps children off public assistance, and promotes stronger families. The presumption, however, is rebuttable if the nonbirth parent shows clear and convincing evidence that parental rights should not be imputed on them. In the context of opposite-sex couples, the presumption can be overcome with proof that the husband was away from the wife during the time of conception; that the husband is infertile, sterile, or impotent; or that the couple did not have sexual relations.

C.C. does not wish to be a legal parent of D.D.’s child. In family court, C.C. argued that the presumption of parentage should not apply to her because she is not capable of having a biological relationship to the child D.D. gave birth to. The family court denied C.C.’s petition to sever her parental obligations, ruling that Hawaii’s Uniform Parentage Act and Marriage Equality Act presumes that a legal spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child is the parent of that child. The spouse’s gender is irrelevant. The family court also determined C.C. had insufficient evidence to overturn her status as a parent and, as a consequence, her parental obligations.

While state courts have been asked to sort out the rights of same-sex parents before, this one stands out as unusual. Typically, these cases arise from petitioners who want to establish parental rights over the objections of their former spouses and partners. In recent months, state courts in Vermont, New York, and Arizona have ruled in favor of the estranged same-sex partner who raised children with their former partner. Here, though, C.C. wants to avoid the obligations of parenthood.

While C.C. should be able to offer evidence to the court to rebut the strong presumption that she and D.D. are both the child’s parents, the Hawaii Supreme Court should reject C.C.’s argument that the standards of presumed parentage do not apply to same-sex couples. To adopt C.C.’s position is to undermine the basic tenets of family law and the equal status of marriage between opposite-sex and same-sex couples. C.C.’s theory is at odds with the constitutional command of Obergefell v. Hodges that states cannot impose different terms and conditions on civil marriage between same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The Supreme Court reinforced this principle in Pavan v. Smith, in which the Supreme Court required Arkansas officials to place a birth mother’s same-sex spouse on her child’s birth certificate by default as they would with opposite-sex couples, consistent with the marital presumption of parentage.

Same-sex couples’ freedom to marry advanced equal rights for all LGBTQ people, but equality does not only mean equal privileges and benefits: With equal rights come equal obligations and responsibilities.

Quorum Federal Credit Union CD Account Review: 2.00% APY 11-Month, 2.25% APY 25-Month CD Rates Increased (Nationwide)

by Howard Young @ Bank Checking Savings

Now is the best time of the year to start a new account experience. With that said, Quorum Federal Credit Union is offering residents nationwide a wide selection of rates to fit all your banking needs. Whether you are looking for a short term or long term solution, there is definitely an account to fit... Keep Reading↠

The post Quorum Federal Credit Union CD Account Review: 2.00% APY 11-Month, 2.25% APY 25-Month CD Rates Increased (Nationwide) appeared first on Bank Checking Savings.

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.

What Every Homeowner Should Know About Tax Deductions

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Whenever April approaches, people start to think of two things: spring and taxes. While most people welcome the arrival of spring, very few cheer at the impending tax deadline. Paying taxes, however, is something we all have to do. When … Continued

Net Worth Update: October 2, 2017

by DailyGrindFree @ Freedom from the Daily Grind

We continued to make our regular mortgage payments, added $1500 to my 457 retirement account, deposited $300 to Vanguard taxable account and continued to make a few bucks from other investments & side hustles. As you may have noticed, this month, I only deposited $300 to Vanguard taxable account. I may also skip the next month.        Read more about Net Worth Update: October 2, 2017[...]

How the Places We Live Can Shape Our Queer Identities

How the Places We Live Can Shape Our Queer Identities

by Japonica Brown-Saracino @ Slate Articles

Adapted from How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities by Japonica Brown-Saracino, out now from the University of Chicago Press.

When Sam—a petite, tattooed woman in her early thirties with a degree from an Ivy League university—decided to move from Boston, to Portland, Maine, for graduate school, she knew her new daily life would be significantly different than the bustle of her twenty-something world in Boston; but what she didn’t anticipate was how her very sense of self would change. On moving, she found that the cities share a number of traits: a cityscape marked by antique homes and proximity to water, and pockets of both gentrification and poverty. However, something unexpected occurred after her move. After years of thinking of herself as lesbian, as a woman who loved other women but who did not devote much thought to what kind of a lesbian she might be, she came to think about and speak of herself as “stone butch.” Not only did the way she thought about herself change, but her ties—and the basis on which she forged them—changed, too. She cofounded an online and off-line meet-up group for butch individuals, which, via bowling nights, dance parties, and conversation over coffee, celebrated the diverse forms butch identity can take—spanning the gamut from the “tea-drinking-fairy-butch” to the “preggers butch” to the “survivor butch”—and immersed herself in a network of individuals committed to polyamory.

Sam could not put her finger on the source of her personal transformation, but she was certain that it had occurred. She also noted that those around her in Portland approached identity and difference in a manner distinct from that which she had found in other small, Northeastern cities. In Portland, like Sam many celebrated very specific lesbian, bisexual, and/or queer (LBQ) identities, like stone butch, high femme, or queer punk. Sitting on the back patio of her rental in Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood she said, “[In Boston] there’s like a different kind of queer . . . I couldn’t really escape being around, like, student groups and there’s always kind of like an ‘outy’ feeling . . . that feels different than, like, queer here.” In Portland, she said, “there’s more opportunity for people to feel welcome even if they have sort of a particularized identity.”

I met Sam when I was collecting the stories and charting the experiences of LBQ residents of four small, politically progressive U.S. cities: Ithaca, N.Y., San Luis Obispo, Cali., Portland, Maine, and Greenfield, Mass. Like Sam, most of the 170 individuals I interviewed and many of the others whom I observed while collecting field notes are highly educated, white, and mobile individuals, who moved to these cities sometime in the decade before I met them. Moreover, like Sam, nearly all have found that in these new places, they felt a shift both in how they relate to those around them (gay and straight alike) and in how they understood themselves and the group to which they belonged.

Taken alone, Sam’s personal transformation is not particularly surprising. Indeed, the notion that identities change on moving will surprise few. We have long associated relocation with reinvention of the self: for example, the pioneer who started anew in California in the 1850s or the immigrant who traversed an ocean to find new economic possibilities in nineteenth-century New York City.

However, at heart my findings challenge an assumption most of us share about such transformations: that transformation is either an individual process (the wanted man from Connecticut who reinvents himself as a law-abiding citizen in San Francisco or the frantic executive who takes up yoga and meditation and becomes a calmer, more “centered” person) or that it is universal (the seemingly standard process of assimilation for all nineteenth-century European immigrants).

Considering Sam’s personal transformation alongside that of many other LBQ individuals rules out individual-level explanations for her transformation, such as life stage, or personality, as well as broad scale or more universal explanations, such as far-reaching changes across American identity politics. It also challenges an even more fundamental assumption: the belief that, beyond the basic groups we belong to based on our race, class, and sex, we, as individuals, are the ones who change who we are and the group to whom we belong. Even though we know that each of us is growing and changing all the time, most of us hold onto the notion of an essential self—a core identity that is who we really are, regardless of where we live, what job we have, or where we go to school. My research troubles this assumption by revealing how places make us.

Why is this the case? As I discovered, Sam’s transformation was city specific. That is, if she had moved to a different city—even another very similar city—the way she thinks about herself as a sexual minority, and the way she relates to both other LBQ individuals and her heterosexual neighbors, would be different. Despite the fact that the four cities I studied share many traits, and that the people I spoke with and whom I observed who moved to these places are themselves quite similar, on moving without meaning to and without even fully recognizing that they are doing so, LBQ migrants craft a sense of self that corresponds with their new home. That is, their new cities call out new ways of relating to those around them and therefore new ways of thinking about their sexual identity and difference and, ultimately, a different sense of who one is. As a result, there is, in Sam’s words, a “different kind of queer” in each of the four similar cities I studied.

Consider that shortly after Sam left Boston for Portland, another woman—Lisa—left Northampton for Ithaca, N.Y. While in Northampton, Lisa thought of herself as lesbian and occasionally described herself to friends as “butch.” Once in Ithaca, Lisa found that she rarely considered herself “lesbian” or “butch,” although she suspects that throughout her adult life most have read her as a “big old dyke.” While she remains with her female partner, in Ithaca the story she tells herself about who she is has shifted. She increasingly thinks of herself as carpenter and gardener. Just as Sam wonders how she became resolutely “stone butch” and enmeshed in a world of butch-femme polyamory, Lisa wonders when “lesbian” stopped being the defining facet of her self and how she came to spend evenings beside heterosexual men in a working-class bar. In fact, Lisa wasn’t very happy with her personal transformation; she did not feel entirely at home in the person she had become in Ithaca, and yet, despite this discomfort, in her new context she found that she couldn’t be any other version of herself.

The personal transformation of these two women, taken together with the many other individuals I interviewed, affirm Sam’s notion that what it is to be lesbian, or bisexual, or queer, varies from city to city. Indeed, there is what I call a sexual identity culture that is distinct in each city; in other words, sexual identity and even our basic notions of difference are shaped by the city in which we live. Despite the fact that the LBQ residents I encountered across the cities share many demographic and cultural traits, their approaches to sexual identity politics and to ties with other LBQ individuals and heterosexual residents vary markedly by city. Specifically, by suggesting that their sexual identity cultures vary by city, I mean that the way they talk about or describe themselves varies by city, as do their coming out practices and even whether they prioritize being “out” and “proud,” the degree to which they seek to build ties with heterosexuals, and their attitudes about contemporary LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) politics and issues, such as marriage equality and transgender rights.

It would be impossible to overemphasize the degree to which informants’ sexual identities and ways of relating to their neighbors vary by city. In Ithaca, which is home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, most, like Lisa, think of themselves as being “post-identity politics,” downplaying the centrality of sexual identity to their self-understandings and celebrating ties predicated on shared politics, beliefs, and practices, rather than on sexual identity. In San Luis Obispo, on California’s Central Coast, most identity as “lesbian” and surround themselves with others who share that same identity. In Portland, Maine’s most populous city, many, like Sam, emphasize the import of sexual identity for their self-understandings, celebrating hyphenated sexual identities, such as “stone butch” and “queer-punk.” Finally, in Greenfield, a former-factory town located in the verdant northwestern corner of Massachusetts, longstanding residents identify as “lesbian feminists” and cultivate lesbian-only networks centered in neighboring Northampton, otherwise known as “Lesbianville, USA”. However, in contrast to the other cities where sexual identity cultures span migration waves, newcomers to Greenfield think of themselves differently. Much like those in Ithaca, new residents emphasize facets of the self other than sexual identity, like being members of the local co-op and taking classes at the YMCA.

As I spoke with people in city after city, I found myself returning to the same question: Why are they not more aware of how they are shaped by the place they live? I now realize that this question is applicable to every one of us: I think that, more often than not, we are all largely unaware of the ways place shapes identity. That lack of awareness, as we’ll see, makes sense: It is obvious to all of us that New York is different from Los Angeles—that nearly every city has some kind of distinct identity. But we tend to think of those distinctions between one place and the next as the result of categorical differences. Mapping how cities shape identities not only solves the puzzle of why those I studied describe and understand themselves in such different ways, but also advances a new, more sensitive and specific approach to place; an approach that calls all of us to seriously consider the influence of even subtle differences in city ecology on self and group.

It is surprising that LBQ residents are largely unaware of the place-specificity of their identity. Except for a few exceptions, my informants all told me that the notion of identity as place specific did not occur to them until after they moved to their current place of residence and, in the context of an interview, had the opportunity to reflect on their moves and how they have changed over time. Many describe this as an after-the-fact discovery, and no one I spoke with described it as having driven their decision to move. Indeed, many are quite surprised, and some are even disappointed, by the identity cultures they uncover in their new place of residence.

Why might this be true? Why do some have a vague sense of the place specificity of identity but do not pair this with serious inquiry into place-specific identities before relocating? After all, most of us weigh numerous factors before moving somewhere, from the price of housing to the quality of schools. Doesn’t it stand to reason that we would also inquire about something as essential as identity? Apparently, no. I see a few reasons that explain this seeming oddity.

First, despite some cognizance of the place specificity of identities, for the most part LBQ individuals, like most of us, assume that variations in identity comes from elsewhere: from demographic, regional, or other categorical differences, such as whether a city is rich or poor, big or small. Thus, if you are moving from Boulder, Colo. to Portland, it is easy to assume that the lesbian community you find there will be similar. This assumption obscures the possibility that identity will feel different even if you move to a similar city that possesses a demographically similar LBQ population. If we attribute identity variation to categorical differences, there is little reason to expect identities to take novel shape in Portland, compared with what happens in Ithaca, for instance.

Second, few propose that they adopt entirely new identities in each place. Few shift from “straight” to “lesbian”; instead, on moving and without intending to do so one might transition from thinking of oneself as “lesbian” to framing oneself as “butch-lesbian” or “post-lesbian.” That is, we rarely become entirely new people on moving, but, instead, we “do” and feel who we are—lesbian or bisexual or butch—in markedly new ways in a new city.

Together, the fact that cities typically call out new arrangements or frames for the self, rather than wholesale reinvention, and that we tend to turn to categorical explanations for place-based identity differences (turning, for instance, to whether a place is urban or rural, rich or poor), help to account for underdeveloped awareness of how places shape identities.

Regardless of their source, at its core, these accounts of the unexpected emergence of place-specific identities tell a story of personal malleability. At first glance, the concept itself is not surprising. After all, we live in a cultural moment that emphasizes self-improvement, calls for relentless actualization, and lauds the intentional crafting of the self. But the story residents inadvertently shared with me is not about self-evolution as we usually think about it. On the contrary, the LBQ residents I spoke with told me again and again of transformation that is involuntary. This is a story not of the practiced shaping of the self or of the body as performance, but about our exquisite, though often ignored, sensitivity to our environment; it is a story about the unintentional and unplanned remolding of the self in relation to one’s surroundings.

To preserve anonymity and maintain confidentiality names have been changed, and in some instances identifying characteristics are masked.

Reprinted with permission from How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities by Japonica Brown-Saracino, published by the University of Chicago Press. © 2017 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Protected: This Week’s High Yield CD, Savings & Checking Deals

by Skyler @ Top Online Savings Accounts & Money Market Rates 2017

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Stonegate Bank: The First U.S. Bank in Cuba

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

During President Obama’s landmark trip to Cuba in March 2016, great fanfare was made of US businesses including AirBnB and Starwood Hotels.  However, left unsaid was the progress of Stonegate Bank.  The firm made a historic announcement back in November 2015, becoming … Continued

#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.

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/>.

Thrive or Survive? Tech Strategies Will Determine Banks’ Future

by Jim Marous @ The Financial Brand

Despite stronger financial performances, the banking industry needs to invest in innovation-led technologies to position for the future.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Online Savings Account

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

It is important for everyone to have some sort of savings. Depending on your age and how much money you have to put into savings, there are many different options available. For some people, a traditional in bank savings account … Continued

Tax Professional or DIY? Here’s How to Choose

by Gemma Hartley @ Chime Banking

The thought of filing taxes on your own can be daunting. At the same time, hiring a professional accountant comes at a price: around $273 of your potential refund. But, with the availability of low-cost online options – like TurboTax and TaxAct – you may still be wondering if hiring a tax professional makes the most sense […]

The post Tax Professional or DIY? Here’s How to Choose appeared first on Chime Banking.

Under Attack: Outsiders Threatening Traditional Business Banking Models

by Guest Contributor @ The Financial Brand

Retail banks and credit unions can't sit back while new players and industry outsiders chip away at their historical bread and butter.

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.

The Smearing of America’s First Black Legislators

The Smearing of America’s First Black Legislators

by Jamelle Bouie @ Slate Articles

Formerly enslaved black Americans held a majority of the seats in South Carolina’s state Legislature in 1868, and no other state elected as many black Americans during the Reconstruction era. How successfully did these politicians wield their newfound power? And compared to other eras, was political corruption really as endemic as white Americans claimed?

In Episode 4 of Reconstruction: A Slate Academy, Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie are joined by Kate Masur, the author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C., to explore the new political order that surfaced briefly in South Carolina and other Southern states after the Civil War. If you are not yet a Slate Plus member, you can listen to a free preview of the episode in the player below. To hear the entire series, join Slate Plus.

Chase Checking Account Review: Fees, Options

Chase Checking Account Review: Fees, Options


NerdWallet

Chase checking accounts give consumers access to solid banking services in person and online. There are various accounts to suit different needs, and fees are on par with other national…

Chase Bank Holidays for 2017 & 2018

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

This article has been updated for 2018. Need to know if your local Chase branch is open on a specific holiday? All branches are closed on the below dates in 2018 and 2017. If a holiday is not listed below, … Continued

Delta 55 332 evacuation at LOS after emergency landing

by turkeyRIOO @ FlyerTalk Forums

Saw this on the news. 11alive.com | 5 injured after Delta flight from Nigeria to Atlanta forced to turn back due to engine issues...

Online Bank Review: Bluebird by American Express

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

One of the many challenges people face when opening a checking account is their credit. This is partly because in some instances, banks may refuse to open checking or savings accounts for those who have had financial difficulties. It is … Continued

Best Bank Account Bonuses For February 2018 | Bankrate.com

Best Bank Account Bonuses For February 2018 | Bankrate.com


Bankrate

Walk away with sacks of cash just for opening a checking or savings account.

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.

Negative Interest Rates: How They Could Impact Our Economy

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Imagine rates so low that they’re actually in the negative. Instead of making money off your investment, you would have to pay the bank to house your cash. Although it may not even seem legal, negative interest rates are a real possibility. In … Continued

Robotics and Cognitive Automation Will Keep Banks From Drowning in Data

by Guest Contributor @ The Financial Brand

With data generation exploding, banks and credit unions need to automate data processing and analytic capabilities using advanced technology.

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

FDIC Insurance: Protection Against Bank Failure

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

With financial market uncertainty, it is comforting to know that there is a base level of protection for bank accounts held at financial institutions that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). FDIC insurance, which offers coverage for bank … Continued

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.

Re: 50 Books in 2018!

by @ The Money Mustache Community

I post new ones, because I want to discuss my most recently read book with anyone else who's read it, and nobody is going to go back and reread the old posts.

I finished Dead Wake, the book about the Lusitania. Spoilers: the ship sinks. I am so bad at...

Safest Places to Live in Vermont ( 2017 Updated ! )

by The Fastest Growing Personal Finance Blog in 2017 @ Elite Personal Finance – Credit Report , Loans , Identity Theft , Credit Cards : Advanced Guides ; Best Reviews in 2018

Located in the New England region of the northeastern United States, the Green Mountain State is bordered by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and the Canadian province of Quebec. With approximately 624,000 residents, Vermont is the second least populous state, but it is also the sixth smallest state by area. Its capital is Montpelier, while ...

The post Safest Places to Live in Vermont ( 2017 Updated ! ) appeared first on Elite Personal Finance - Credit Report , Loans , Identity Theft , Credit Cards : Advanced Guides ; Best Reviews in 2018.

Chase Premier Plus Checking Coupon Code

by Anthony Nguyen @ Bank Deal Guy

Need a checking designed to help you easily manage your everyday banking needs & earn internet? You can with the Chase Premier Plus CheckingSM Account. Need more than basic checking with online bill pay and mobile banking? Not only can this checking account earn you interest, but you’ll also save money on ATM fees and other select... Read More →

The post Chase Premier Plus Checking Coupon Code appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

Net Worth Update: November 5, 2017

by DailyGrindFree @ Freedom from the Daily Grind

We continued to make our regular mortgage payments, added $1500 to my 457 retirement account, deposited only $300 to Vanguard taxable account and continued to make a few bucks from other investments & side hustles. As you may have noticed, this month like last month, I only deposited $300 to Vanguard taxable account.          This month’s biggestRead more about Net Worth Update: November 5, 2017[...]

Banking Trends in 2016

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

The banking industry has always been in a state of change, especially over the past decade. With new technologies and ways to improve productivity surfacing every year, banks are engaging in these changes to increase customer loyalty and maintain competition. … Continued

The Risks Associated With CDs

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Certificates of Deposit have been around for a while. If you save or invest your money, you’ve probably at least considered making use of a CD. Certificates of Deposits are one of the safest methods of saving money. In many ways, … Continued

Filing a Complaint About a Bank: When and How?

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

Most adults feel comfortable complaining when they feel that their needs have not been appropriately met. If their steaks have not been cooked properly, they will send them back to the kitchen. If their new set of clothes shrinks in the wash, they will return … Continued

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.

Chase Coupon Code $50, $150, $200, $350, $500 Checking & Savings Bonuses - February 2018

Chase Coupon Code $50, $150, $200, $350, $500 Checking & Savings Bonuses - February 2018


Bank Checking Savings

You'll find the most exclusive list of Chase Coupon Code from $50, $150, $200, $250, $300, $350, $400, $450, $500, and possible $800 for Total Checking, Premier Checking and Chase Savings for 2018!

Chase Savings $300 Coupon – Requires $25K Deposit (Direct Working Link & Available Online)

by Vicky Huang @ Rebates Money

Chase Bank is the best at offering special bonus promotions for new account sign-ups. With holidays around the corner, this is a great time to take advantage of the Chase Savings $300 Coupon when you deposit $25K to the savings account and meeting few simple requirements. Forget those measly free gift promotions and actually make your […]

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?

The Banking Industry Sorely Underestimates The Impact of Digital Disruption

by Jim Marous @ The Financial Brand

Digital technologies are rocking every corner of the banking industry. The speed and scope of disruption is happening at a pace that is catching financial institutions off guard.

Caution: Sometimes When You Close Your Account at Chase It's Not Actually Closed (How Else Are They Going to Keep Wringing Overdraft Fees Out of You?)

Caution: Sometimes When You Close Your Account at Chase It's Not Actually Closed (How Else Are They Going to Keep Wringing Overdraft Fees Out of You?)


The Stranger

Remember how I said closing my account at Chase was really easy? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. A week or two later, I&#39;m going through the mail and there&#39;s all this mail from Chase&amp;#8212;overdraft notices for my Chase checking account. Which is supposed to be closed. The notices are for two debit card transactions and two auto-pay electronic checks. Instead of the payments not going through, like...

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.

Top 5 States Where Income is Growing Fastest

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

The US census data is out and the information on the fastest and slowest growing states has finally arrived.  This gives state governments a chance to compare records and mark their progress.  Continue reading below to find out which 5 … Continued

Chase Bank $200 Checking Bonus [Many States]

by Danny Nguyen @ Bank Deal Guy

Ranking as one of the top banks in America, you are making the right choice banking with Chase! Opening a new Chase Total Checking® Account offers you the potential to earn a $200 Checking Bonus by applying in-branch ! With over 5,100 branches in AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA,... Read More →

The post Chase Bank $200 Checking Bonus [Many States] appeared first on Bank Deal Guy.

Cincinnati Federal Review: $250 Checking Account Bonus [OH Residents]

by Tony Phan @ MoneysMyLife

Find the latest promotions and bonuses from Cincinnati Federal updated here. Offers have typically ranged from $150 to $250 in the past. Established in 1922 and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Federal has 4 locations in the state. If you’re not an Ohio resident, use our Bank Bonuses page for other offers, including those from […]

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.

How to Get Branch Design Right in the Digital Age

by Lisa Joyce @ The Financial Brand

Banks and credit unions are rethinking their branch experience, trying to create environments that are more personal, immersive and relevant.

Capital One Online Bank Review

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

The online bank which began as ING Direct, then became Capital One 360, and is now simply Capital One, has gone through a trial by fire with this customer.  As a member of the military, then married to it for many years, … Continued

How to Work in the Gig Economy and Still Reach Your Money Goals

by Colin Ashby @ Chime Banking

Working in the gig economy offers some great perks. For starters, you get the flexibility of setting your own hours. Plus, you can often find gigs instantly using an app rather than prospecting new work yourself. Nearly one in four Americans have earned money in the gig or “platform economy” over the last year, according to Pew […]

The post How to Work in the Gig Economy and Still Reach Your Money Goals appeared first on Chime Banking.

The Best Gifts for Beauty Obsessives

The Best Gifts for Beauty Obsessives

by Katy Schneider @ 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. Today, 10 beauty obsessives on the gifts they want for the holidays.

“I’ll definitely be asking for the Drunk Elephant Vitamin C serum for Christmas (I can thank my sister for that). I swear by this serum—it helps so much with brightening and elasticity, but it’s a splurge.” —Harley Viera-Newton, designer (and Rio’s sister)

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
$80, Amazon

“I would also love the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream—I use it on everything. It’s incredible for helping out with dryness on your face, body, and lips throughout winter.” —Viera-Newton

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Skin Protectant Cream
$22, Amazon

“This is crazy, and something I’d never splurge on for myself, but I’d love another NuFace—this microcurrent facial-toning device that tightens your skin—so I can use it more consistently when I’m not at home.” —Lili Chemla, clothing designer

NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Kit
$260, Amazon

“I want the Pat McGrath Mothership II: Sublime palette because it’s the most luxe eye palette I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen them all. Normally with palettes, I only ever like a few shades and the rest sit there, unused for eternity. But this one has ten full shades that I actually want to use, both on their own and together. The packaging is insane, and while I’ve KonMari’d my entire life, this is one of those things that I just want to keep around as an object on display.” —Alexis Page, creative beauty consultant

Pat McGrath Mothership II: Sublime Palette
$215, Amazon

“Ever since Kim K ’grammed herself post–vampire facial, I’ve dreamed of sucking my own blood to reach Edward Cullen levels of youthfulness. I imagine the Dr. Barbara Sturm blood cream is like a daily visit to the fountain of youth.” —Cassie Coane, creative director

Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream
$249, Amazon

“Clearly, I’m obsessed with physically hurting myself to look better, as I’ve been obsessing over these Natura Bissé micro-needling patches. In my head, and most likely not in reality, they are a Velcro strip that will somehow fix my ‘laugh lines’ much better than the Dermaroller I use at home.” —Coane

Natura Bissé Inhibit High Definition Intensive Line Minimizing Patches
$440, Amazon

“I’m getting old, but I’m not old enough to afford nice eye cream, so I’d love to get this given to me as a present. A quartz roller is essentially a more luxurious version of the ice roller, which I swear by. It helps with redness and wrinkle reduction.” —Bo Hesslegrave, graphic designer

Natural Rose Quartz Double Roller
$45, Amazon

“I read in an interview once that actress Michelle Yeoh face masks every single day. For the holidays, I want sheet masks to the infinitum (the limit should not exist). I’ll take a re-up of my favorite ones from Korean brand Sulwhasoo, the highest-end line in the Amore Pacific beauty conglomerate, like La Mer to Estée Lauder. These sheet masks are made of such impossibly thin plant pulp that I don’t know how they don’t tear during manufacturing. The thinness really allows the masks’ fermented white ginseng (aged for two weeks!) to really sink into your skin and make you look like a dewy baby. These are fighting words, but I swear they’re better than the SK-II ones. A less expensive option are the Lancôme Génifique masks, which was a discontinued product that I swear was brought back due to beauty editor and MakeupAlley demand. The least expensive option would be any Peach & Lily mask.” —Kathleen Hou, Cut beauty director

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Mask, 5 Sheets
$85, Amazon

Lancôme Advanced Génifique Collection
$112, Ulta

Peach & Lily Sheet Mask Set
$15, Barney’s New York

“I am obsessed with the idea of this mask since my two most trusted beauty confidantes—my sister and Rio—swear by it. I know it’ll change my life, I just can’t get myself to buy four masks for $200, so I would love it if someone else would.” —Alison Chemla, jewelry designer

Hanacure Multi-Action Treatment Mask Set
$200, Amazon

“I miss this cream every day of my life. I splurged on it last year (around Christmas time) and it was heaven. It’s a tiny container of gold-leafed, heavenly smelling perfection. My face had no idea it was even winter because my skin was smooth, hydrated, and brightened in a way it normally isn’t during the cold months. But it’s close to $400, so … Santa, please.” —Chemla

MBR Cream Extraordinary
$369, Rescue Spa

“The Dior rose lip balm, because it’s fucking amazing, and makes your lips look supple and soft. Diorshow mascara because it’s the best mascara out there, hands down. Diorskin nude air luminizer because all four shades are amazing, and it’s buildable, so great for day or night.” —Jessica Leigh, stylist

Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm
$80, Amazon

“I absolutely love all products from Santa Maria Novella, and I would love a skin-care treatment at Tata Harper’s new spa room at Bristol in Paris.” —Lili Barbery-Coulon, beauty blogger

Santa Maria Novella Exfoliating Water, 50ml
$55, Net-a-Porter

“The new Frédéric Malle fragrance called Promise, created by Dominique Ropion, the same perfumer as my favorite Malle scent, Portrait of a Lady. While I haven’t smelled it yet, I am intrigued by the combination of two varieties of roses, mixed with pink pepper, clove, and patchouli. I feel certain as a lover of POL that this fragrance will most certainly become a favorite.” —Troy Surratt, makeup artist

Frédéric Malle Promise Eau De Parfum 100ml
$392, 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 to Save $1,000 in Less Than a Year

by banksadmin @ Banks.org

How would you like to save $1,000 by setting aside less than $50 a week? As a bonus, it doesn’t even take a year, just 44 weeks. You can start on any week, at any time. All you need is … Continued

The 1908 Murder That Brought Sexual Assault, Work, and Power to the Headlines

The 1908 Murder That Brought Sexual Assault, Work, and Power to the Headlines

by Lindsay Bernhagen @ Slate Articles

Sarah Koten immigrated to the United States in 1902. Five years later, she began working under the tutelage of Dr. Martin W. Auspitz, who ran a sanitarium where Koten was also allowed to live. According to the June 9, 1908, issue of the New York Times, Koten worked with Auspitz for about five months. “I was frightened and did not want to stay,” she later told a coroner, “but the doctor wanted me to stay, and said he would make a trained nurse out of me.” Then one morning, as she told it, Auspitz chloroformed and raped her in the room where she slept at the sanitarium.

Koten found herself pregnant. According to Koten, Auspitz pressured her to get an abortion, but she refused and left the job.

Finding herself poor and unable to obtain work due to her pregnancy, Koten, an unmarried Russian Jewish immigrant, went to the courts and brought suit against Dr. Auspitz for the rape and to hold him responsible for the unborn child. He denied the accusations, and defense-witness testimony from Auspitz’s brother and brother-in-law maligned Koten’s character. The presiding judge acquitted the doctor on the grounds of insufficient evidence. Turned away by the police, and advised by the district attorney that she had no other legal recourse for what the doctor had done to her, Koten sought redress on her own terms. She lured Auspitz to a made-up patient’s home and, upon his arrival, shot and killed him.

Koten gave birth to her child during the year she spent imprisoned while on trial. Then Koten became a lightning rod for the early feminist angst against the injustices of American workplaces of the day, a hero to female labor leaders, and a dark inspiration to other women who would go on to murder men and cite Koten as a role model.

Rachel Elin Nolan, a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Connecticut, analyzes Koten’s story in a recent article in the feminist journal Signs. Nolan’s article traces the evolution of the press’s coverage of Koten “as a ‘wretched’ and ‘frenzied’ girl and ‘a total wreck’ ” into an object of public sympathy. According to Nolan, when Koten was first arraigned, the press “delighted in recounting anecdotes about her ostensible hysteria and criminality.” However, as the story evolved, Auspitz’s history of being accused of sexual violence against women emerged. Two women had previously come forward to name him as their attacker, with one going so far as to try to kill him herself. (According to the Washington Post, Hannah Jensen, a patient of Auspitz’s at the saniatrium, attempted to shoot him but was less successful than Koten. She was arrested but allowed to go free as long as she promised not to harm him.)

Aided by the public’s temporary interest in broader patterns of male abuses against women and Koten’s insistence that her attack of Auspitz was done to save other women from him, the press started to turn in Koten’s favor. While the trial was ongoing, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader quoted Koten as sublimating her own needs to her son’s: “There is nothing in the world like loving as a mother loves. I think of nothing but him. It makes no difference what comes to me, I am not anything myself … I have no care for anything but the baby.” In their coverage of the trial, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader and the Philadelphia Inquirer ran pictures of Koten holding her newborn son, Abraham.

Her story was also featured in a suffrage-themed issue of the Coming Nation, then a popular socialist newspaper, as an example of how an ideal immigrant, a “frail little woman,” saw her hopes of prosperity dashed by the workplace exploitation endured by women. By the time the case ended, Koten’s image had been rehabilitated. Mercy was granted to the submissive new mother who had been victimized and forced into poverty when she was unable to obtain justice against her abusive employer through legal pathways.

In an interview with Slate, Nolan explained that Koten’s story was taken at the time as evidence that a “new unwritten law” was emerging. Up until the late 19th century, the unwritten law was a sort of widely shared “ ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that if another man had meddled with a woman in his life, it was acceptable that he would retaliate.” In the late 19th century, however, the press began discussing a new unwritten law that applied to the women who experienced violence at the hands of men: Because they had little power to stop men’s aggression through other means, they were allowed to commit violence themselves in response.

As Nolan explained, “This often hinged on the women making the claim, ‘I’m just a woman. I couldn’t do anything else but pick up a gun and shoot him.’ ” While this shift in public opinion provided women grounds for justifying retaliation, it was also contingent on their willingness to emphasize not their autonomy but their victimhood. To earn mercy, they had to concede: “I’m so weak; he was so powerful.”

This shift in public perception Koten experienced benefited her legally and served to bolster the political aims of the groups that used her story to further their own causes, but, as Nolan points out, it ultimately obscured her efforts to lay claim to her own autonomy in the face of a system that had failed her. While awaiting trial, Koten was interviewed by well-known socialist activist Rose Pastor Stokes, who would become a strong ally of Koten’s throughout the trial (and would go on to use Koten’s story as the basis for her 1916 play The Woman Who Wouldn’t …).

Koten made clear to Stokes that murdering Dr. Auspitz was not merely a last-ditch effort to spare herself of any future abuses at his hand but a kind of activism on behalf of other poor women: “When I thought of my broken life and the lives he might live to break, well, I felt it was my duty to kill him.” The public sympathy from which Koten ultimately benefited was contingent on her desperate victimhood rather than what she saw herself as: an empowered and righteous avenger.

Nolan notes that, left to their own devices, women seeking retaliation against men who had wronged them began to cite Koten’s case as inspiration for their own violent actions. Later in 1908, Sarah Comiskey tried to kill her father for deserting his family. That same year, Nellie Walden killed her ex-boyfriend for abandoning her, and in early 1909, a woman named Elizabeth threatened a man named Charles Schmidt, telling him that if he didn’t marry her, she would “blow out his brains like Sarah Koten did.” (He complied, but ultimately had the marriage annulled.) Each of these women claimed Koten as inspiration. Yet none was able to convincingly demonstrate her victimhood enough to draw the leniency under Koten had.

Unwritten laws, while potentially powerful, are no substitute for policies or systems. They are subject to varied interpretation, trust, and shared sensibility among their various constituents, to an informal and often inequitable adjudication of who “counts” as a viable complainant. And, most importantly, unwritten laws leave little recourse for victims who are unable to game the implicit codes in their favor and convince the audience they were helpless (white, of course) victims deserving of sympathy and the benefits of the unwritten laws. Of course, it’s men’s belief that nobody will believe the women they assault that often leads them to target them in the first place. This is likely why a doctor back in 1908 thought he could get away with raping a nurse. Koten’s story is only one for the history books because, in this case, he turned out to be wrong.

In many ways, this is the argument anti-rape activists have been making for years about rape culture: How we respond to those who say they have been sexually assaulted and preventing sexual violence in the first place are not unrelated issues. Thanks to the shift in public opinion, the resulting mercy granted by Justice James A. Blanchard, and the help of the women’s organization that took her into its care, Koten was given the chance to retreat into anonymity and “rear her child” in what early-20th-century Pennsylvanian publication the Index called “ignorance of the crime its mother had committed.”

Because Koten likely changed her name, Nolan has spent considerable time trying to find out what became of her and her child to no avail.

Did she go on to live a happy life with her child? How did she pay the bills? Did her next employers mistreat her, or did she get respect and a guarantee of safety while she worked?

When the only kind of justice for workplace abuse comes in the court of public opinion, what kind of peace does it offer the victim in the long run? These are answers Koten’s story can’t give us.

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.

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

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