Re: There But

1

On the central anecdote itself, though, I think I might have parked a block away and walked, out of sheer mortification. I don't begrudge he for not doing so, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:13 AM
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We always have cars from Chrysler to avoid problems like hers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:18 AM
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The only downside is we have cars from Chrysler.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:21 AM
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Does WIC even cover tuna? I'm pretty sure not because of the mercury, but I also don't remember any meat. (I just googled to answer myself and in California it does. They also could have gotten canned salmon, sardines, or mackerel!) And WIC does not equal food stamps, which are SNAP. But I'll stop quibbling now before I go off on the "poverty-stricken" kind of language too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:34 AM
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I actually found the salary trajectory a little underexplained. Was the $25K income what she was making at her producer job? Because that's a really awful salary for a job like that. Or was that money her boyfriend was bringing in, and she stopped working because of the twins, and if so was it voluntary or involuntary?

I feel unsympathetic picking at this, and if they made the decision that it was important enough for them that she stay at home doing full time childcare that it was worth being poor, that's their decision. But it bothers me that it's not made explicit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:35 AM
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She talked about her pay stubs, so I assumed she kept working and he was with the kids. I don't think local TV producers make much money.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:41 AM
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Perhaps short term disability she was getting as part of maternity leave? Which is usually 40-60% which means she was more in the 40-50k range which isn't unreasonable but still pretty low given how much she talked about climbing the ladder.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:44 AM
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the real value of the piece, I think, is in describing the not-very-unlikely series of events that landed them there, and, of course, the programs that helped them get back on their feet.

To me, it looks like what "landed them there" was fundamentally just her husband's extended unemployment, and what got them out was his finding another well-paid job. Am I missing some important nuance?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:46 AM
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4: She lives in CT, where apparently breastfeeding mothers on WIC can get tuna. (Googling tells me that the concern trolls at mo/the/ring dot com are VERY UPSET that WIC gives tuna to breastfeeding mothers.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:47 AM
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If we're being frank, that's kind of a shitty Mercedes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:50 AM
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In most states, WIC draws the line at canned tuna and the 500 series.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:51 AM
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The clutch of stubs at the grocery store confused me, too. Here you get a little card that swipes like a credit card, and it's not that noticeable if someone next to you in line is using SNAP.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:52 AM
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8: I think being able to short-sell their house helped. Although I've mostly heard stories about people being unable to shortsell their house, but I'm glad it worked out for these guys.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:54 AM
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And that they were able to stay housed throughout? And probably keep phones/internet on, which made it realistic for him to land the new job.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:55 AM
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Most places have moved to debit cards but there are still a few places (I didn't think CT was one of them) where legislators have resisted that system because of the cost discreet cards don't carry enough public shame like the traditional physical vouchers do.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:56 AM
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Ah, sorry, I missed that she'd moved from San Diego to CT rather than to San Diego. WIC debit-type cards would have been rare in 2008 and some places still don't have them.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:57 AM
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15: You could make a card that said, "Poor person shopping" when it was swiped.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 6:59 AM
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I thought she was in Boston.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:00 AM
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17: couldn't they just wear a hat? Maybe something cone-shaped? Let's not make this unnecessarily complicated.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:01 AM
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Here's the comment where I typed out what WIC (on paper coupons) Mara was eligible for as a 3-year-old in 2011.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:01 AM
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I'm pretty sure Connecticut uses a debit-card-like system, but that might be for SNAP (vs. WIC.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:05 AM
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As of April 2014, Connecticut is implementing e-WIC and doesn't seem to have it fully rolled out.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:07 AM
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13: surely being able to short-sell their house helped them, just as their need to use expensive formula for their premature twins cost them, but I don't think either of those was really a driving factor in putting them into/pulling them out of poverty.

(Would short-selling their house have made a difference if her husband never found another job? Maybe. But it wouldn't have out them back on their middle class track. If they had to short sell in order to relocate so that he could take the other job, then it would feel like a causative factor in pulling them out of poverty. But I didn't get that impression from the article.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:07 AM
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18: her job was in Boston and his was in Connecticut, and apparently they lived in Connecticut? They sure as shit didn't live in Boston proper buying a house for $240k.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:09 AM
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Ah, sorry, I missed that she'd moved from San Diego to CT rather than to San Diego. WIC debit-type cards would have been rare in 2008 and some places still don't have them.

A lot of the northeastern states have the most inefficient bureaucracies because they've had to adapt their state bureaucracies a million times over the past 400 years. Whereas even the less liberal states in the rest of the country often have more convenient services, because they were able to create a government out of whole cloth in 1910 and then being unafraid to change it a couple decades later when they finally reached a 6-digit population. That's my logic anyway. That and gradual depopulation leading to constant budget crises.

Until this past election I kind of thought of "early voting" as something they do in Oregon and maybe one other place, like being forbidden to pump your own gas. No, apparently states like Pennsylvania are the outlier in our lack of early voting. And I've never even seen anybody proposing that it could be a possibility.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:10 AM
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I like to go vote on the regular election day because the PTA of the school I vote in sells cookies and coffee.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:11 AM
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Today marks the first day New Jersey foster parents can be receive their monthly stipends via direct deposit or onto prepaid debit cards rather than as checks in the mail, and there is much rejoicing in my fb feed. We've been able to email in the monthly form since the beginning of the year and that makes me happy every time. We've also had card-based WIC for quite a while. But that's because we're very poor (and apparently corrupt!) here.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:12 AM
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We can all agree that insisting that they should have sold the fully-paid Mercedes is ignorant.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:12 AM
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But that's probably not as important as making it easier for people in general to vote.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:12 AM
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24: there are a bunch of details about the story that seem a little odd, but I'm assuming she decided -- mostly but not entirely fairly, in my view -- that those details weren't really the reader's business. Also, they really should have sold the Mercedes. If that thing had broken down, they would have been in deep shit.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:14 AM
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I agree with urple on the car. If you are dependent on driving and have very little income, selling a working, paid-for car seems foolish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:17 AM
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Before urple starts jumping up and down, 30.last was a silly commentary on the expense of fixing a Mercedes, rather than a serious prescription for people who were getting by however they were getting by. That said, soda really is terrible stuff. But I suppose if you have to drink it, root beer is about as good as it gets.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:17 AM
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Urple or Moby Hick, I should have said, though that wasn't very impressive jumping up and down.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:18 AM
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But the psychology of not selling it is really sympathetic. Also we have early voting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:18 AM
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You're taking an asset that usually won't count against you for support programs and can't be seized by creditors and turning it into cash, which is a problem on both those fronts, and a shitty car that is less likely to run when you need it to.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:18 AM
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36

35 before seeing 32/3.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:19 AM
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37

I got the impression that it was having twin preemies just before the husband lost his job that really did them in. His job was the key in getting them back to normal life, but the various government programs helped bridge the gap, like they're supposed to.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:19 AM
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Where's the part about stabbing cockroaches with toothpicks?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:21 AM
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37: oh, sure, if you were referring to WIC etc., it's obvious that helped them.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:22 AM
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One interesting unspoken piece of this is that, presumably, the way they were able to buy a house so (relatively) inexpensively is that they lived somewhere between their two jobs, meaning, one that both of them had costly commutes (or a lot of costly driving in to town for job searching and etc.) and, two, that they really couldn't get along without two cars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:24 AM
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35 is somewhat more impressive, I'll grant you. And yes, of course you're right.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:26 AM
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That said, soda really is terrible stuff. But I suppose if you have to drink it, root beer is about as good as it gets.

What lies are you spreading, wafer. Ginger ale is best. The end.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:27 AM
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I find the quality of ginger ale too entirely too variable to rely on it as a beverage. Even good brands are sometimes truly terrible: flat or terribly sweet.* That's not the case with root beer, I don't think. Also, I badly want to capitalize Ginger Ale and Root Beer. I'm not sure. I think I blame Piketty, that wine-swilling, socialist bastard.

* And let's not even talk about Vernors.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:31 AM
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I blame Marx himself for the stray "too".


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:32 AM
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Root beer, meh. Coke goes with rum; ginger ale goes with brandy or whisky, so does soda water (seltzer); lemon soda goes with any clear spirit, even cherry coke can take vodka. What the hell can you drink with root beer?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:35 AM
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46

Root beer schnapps.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:36 AM
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45: Fernet


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:37 AM
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I drink an embarrassing amout of diet coke.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:38 AM
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The only legitimate use for root beer is making a root beer float, but that's more than enough to justify it.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:39 AM
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The illegitimate uses are practically endless.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:40 AM
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More root beer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:41 AM
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52

I'm really puzzled by the salary structure. Together, they were making $120K. When the husband lost his job, she was making $25K (good catch on the pay stubs, which I missed). So he was making $95K as a copy editor for the Hartford Courant? That's a hell of a gig.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:44 AM
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That maybe doesn't make sense, even before the recession killed journalism incomes. But she talked about working any hours she could before the babies. Maybe $25k was what she earned working a reduced schedule, or even a standard schedule without overtime.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:47 AM
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52: Guild jobs pay pretty decently. Here at the Strib, I believe once you've got your 5 years in as a reporter, you're making around $65K.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:47 AM
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43: Seagram's ginger ale is really gross.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:49 AM
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One thing about the perpetuation of poverty and the material conditions of the poor, is that it often might make sense to tie up some of your capital in a nicer car, since you can put it in someone else's name, and thus not have it count against your benefits. Likewise, apparently, at least in Connecticut, they're not counting your vehicles for WIC and food stamps. Both of which are way too hard to get, when they should be the easiest benefit to obtain. Also, the byzantine rules around WIC-approved comestibles need serious reform now.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:52 AM
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52: My guess is that she went to part-time in anticipation of the twins, and then they showed up early and he lost his job.

37: Yeah, that's what was neat about the piece -- how does bridging the gap work, when it works? It seems to have worked by affording them the time for him to find a job while they short-sold their house.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:54 AM
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Why the hell does she need to show a marriage license to get WIC? All they need to know is that household income is below a certain amount and that the kids actually exist. Making them jump through additional hoops seems pointless and cruel. I know that for some cruelty *is* the point but really, ffs.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 7:58 AM
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It's highly possible she went to part time to look after the twins. I imagine daycare or nannies for preemie twins could cost much more than the difference of her working part time. It wouldn't surprise me if before twins he's making 70K and she's making 50K, then if she goes to halftime that's 25K. 95K with her doing the bulk of the childcare should have been fine. I suppose if he's laid off he could be doing the childcare and she could work full-time, but it's possible she'd worked something out and couldn't switch back easily, plus if he was hoping to find work quickly then they may have wanted to keep her part time arrangement as is.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:00 AM
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pwnd by 57


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:01 AM
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It wouldn't surprise me if before twins he's making 70K and she's making 50K, then if she goes to halftime that's 25K. 95K with her doing the bulk of the childcare should have been fine. I suppose if he's laid off he could be doing the childcare and she could work full-time, but it's possible she'd worked something out and couldn't switch back easily, plus if he was hoping to find work quickly then they may have wanted to keep her part time arrangement as is.

Yeah, anything like that is possible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:05 AM
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But do they have granite countertops?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:07 AM
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Most likely.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:10 AM
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And let's not even talk about Vernors.

Vernor's is an abomination that mostly tastes like cream soda. I speak of the decadent ginger ales: Reed's, Fentiman's, Blenheim's.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:14 AM
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58: If you're not currently getting child support when you go on state aid, typically the state will go after the other parent for the money. Proving that dad is dad and lives in the home lets them show that they don't have to do that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:14 AM
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The title irritates me. "This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps." So, what happened? She... felt somewhat embarrassed. Good story!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:15 AM
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This is, of course, a hobbyhorse of mine. But if something like 57 or 59 is what happened, it looks as if it's possible that they got screwed, a bit, by making employment decisions on the basis of an ideological attachment to maternally (as opposed to, e.g., paternally) provided infant care, and that the article sort of wrote around that issue. (That is, you can't tell what did happen, and it's possible that nothing of the sort did; but talking about their pre-baby income only in combined terms makes it impossible to tell.)

And if that's what did happen, people make the decisions they do, and I'm glad there were programs there to give them some of the support they needed to get back on track. But I'd prefer to see the costs of decisions like that made explicit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:19 AM
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Articles like this should have actual titles that are distinct from the clickbait title, the latter of which should only appear in pages pointing TO the article.

If it were written today, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" would be titled "Why Having a Cold Makes Frank Sinatra Pretty Much The Most Intriguing Singer Ever"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:20 AM
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I think the problem with 67 is that you keep thinking he'll find a job any minute, and life can go back to normal. It's only in hindsight that it looks like a decision not to switch primary earners.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:22 AM
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an ideological attachment to maternally (as opposed to, e.g., paternally) provided infant care


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:24 AM
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|| Today is Jamaal's aunt's funeral. Ugh so sad. She was 61, principal of a high school, young grandkids, so it feels very much like a life cut-off short. |>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:25 AM
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I find the quality of ginger ale too entirely too variable to rely on it as a beverage. Even good brands are sometimes truly terrible: flat or terribly sweet.

Not really an issue over here - it's Canada Dry, Schweppes, or nothing. Unless you count actual ginger beer.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:26 AM
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71: Sorry to hear about his aunt. That is too young.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:27 AM
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69: Yeah, but I think it's easier to think that way if it's uncouth to talk about it when it leads to problems. As, for example, in an article like this.

(And maybe he was making $95K as a copyeditor, or maybe she was on disability because she was unable to work, and the sort of thing I'm speculating about wasn't a factor.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:27 AM
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It's not really MY loss. I just feel bad for her kids and siblings and mother.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:28 AM
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67: Mmm. I can see where you're coming from, but not only do I agree with 69, it's not really clear what their long-term plans were, nor what the income distribution was before the twins.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:32 AM
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They bought a house in CT and her job was in Boston; that certainly seems to induce some dependencies around who could have worked full time while still being involved in child care.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:36 AM
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Blenheim's hot is so good, but difficult to find in my neighborhood of Pierogistan.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:36 AM
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Well, right. It's really unclear -- I'm speculating because in an article where, as Ogged says "the real value of the piece, I think, is in describing the not-very-unlikely series of events that landed them there," it gets unclear right around the question of "How come a professional woman is working for $25K a year?" And there are a whole bunch of possibilities -- maybe that really is what TV producer jobs pay, maybe they thought she'd go part-time for a while and then had trouble going back full time, maybe they think it's really important for mothers to do most of the infant care. But there's a part of the story that's really fuzzy around the couple's decisions relating to her employment, and that's the area where I get very interested.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:39 AM
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Given twins and the premature birth, it's possible that she had a medical need to work less before the birth.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:41 AM
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Our Kroger stopped carrying the Crabbie's alcoholic ginger beer, which is annoying since it's the only alcohol I drink that I could buy in the grocery store.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:43 AM
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I have to say if she was trying to establish breast-feeding and struggling to do so, she may have felt, for good reason, that full time employment wasn't an option. (Is it clear she wasn't looking, too?) I'm loathe to describe it as mere ideology, given that the early postpartum period is a rather shitty time to rearrange all your plans if you think that he'll find something full-time in short order.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:44 AM
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Also possible. I'm really not judging anything except the writing of an article about a couple undergoing economic hard times that treats a professional woman making $25K a year as something that's perfectly normal and doesn't require any explanation at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:45 AM
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What 82 said.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:45 AM
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81: Some of us can't even buy alcohol in the grocery store at all. Except the vanilla extract.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:46 AM
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83 intended to 80, but it also works to 82.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:46 AM
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Or "cooking wine". Which I guess they can sell because it has too much salt to drink it directly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 8:48 AM
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85: You did indeed bust me trying to make the PA contingent feel bad about their lives. Living here, I so rarely get a chance! (Untrue, I guess, if we're talking about real estate prices rather than politics.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:00 AM
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I was thinking that 25k was his unemployment and that she was on unpaid leave -- this is a figure 2 months after he lost his job, and 6 weeks after kids were born -- and the paycheck stubs are independent of that amount, but still relevant to showing eligibility for programs.

TV producers are way underpaid: IIRC, a German outfit tried to recruit the wife, maybe 20 years ago, and it was shockingly low.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:08 AM
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Except the vanilla extract.

My maternal grandfather was known to drink vanilla when the family would hide his alcohol.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:14 AM
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Jammies' grandfather was so alcoholic that they moved from their small town to Billings so that he could keep driving drunk, because it had gotten to the point where he couldn't drive in the small town because everyone knew him and knew he was drunk and got pulled over instantly. Even after switching to his riding lawn mower.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:17 AM
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There was a funny news of the wierd story about a guy who lost his license to repeated DUIs, so he rigged a riding lawnmower motor to a recliner, and then got arrested for operating that vehicle in a roadway.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:24 AM
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There was a guy in my town who drove drunk so often that the police set up a DUI check point just to get him. They did the required advance publicity, but knew he didn't read the paper. The arrest was thrown out as being an unreasonable search because it was so clearly targeted at just the one guy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:29 AM
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People of my father's generation (most of your grandfathers' generation) regularly drove blind drunk until the police started taking it seriously. Their retrospective excuse was that there were far fewer cars on the road, but that ignores the fact that the ratio of fatalites was higher by an order of magnitude (OK, that's an exaggeration, but not much). My father said that in the 30s he reckoned he was too drunk to drive if he saw oncoming vehicles double. I think that was fairly typical.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:32 AM
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When the local police got their first breathalyzer machine, they called all the lawyers in for a showing. They all drank and blew into the machine. They did this for some time. Dad says that cops cleared him to drive home and that he'd never driven that drunk in his life.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:35 AM
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This would be been quite a bit after the 30s.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:38 AM
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Until recently, the bars in Heebietown closed at midnight, to cut down on the partying. So the college students drank till midnight, headed up to Austin, drank till 2:00, and drove home again. A story that I've heard several different variations on is the car full getting pulled over at the end of the night. The cop hauls the driver out, declares him too drunk to drive, and chooses a polite-looking girl to take over the wheel, who is so blasted she can barely comply. They start back down i35, and as soon as the cop is out of sight, they make the wasted girl pull over and reinstate their choice of least-drunk. I think this kind of thing has been really cracked down on I the last ten years, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:50 AM
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"Uncle Ned, you drank a bottle of vanilla extract!"
"I'm sorry, did you want some?"


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:50 AM
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I don't know about the US but in Britain the "police started taking it seriously" dates to some time in the second half of the 60s. Dad had eased up a lot, partly because he didn't drink so much with family responsibilities and partly because he was middle aged enough to understand it was stupid. His twin brother kept driving pissed until he went into a nursing home, but somehow he never got busted.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:52 AM
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I hope nobody in the nursing home got hit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:53 AM
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Here, definitely in the 80s. My parents were still doing things like deciding which of them was less drunk for driving purposes well into the 70s.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:54 AM
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101 fits with what I saw. The police were taking it seriously in the 80s, but there wasn't much of a social stigma yet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:57 AM
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101. Yes, it was a gradient from the 60s to the 80s. Most people who were used to driving drunk carried on, but the generation behind them generally gave up doing so after they left college.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:57 AM
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College and graduate school. I've heard.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 9:58 AM
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Dad says that cops cleared him to drive home and that he'd never driven that drunk in his life.

BAC limits were way higher back in the day. One of the big pushes by MADD and such early on was to get the the limits lowered to .10. There's a good chance they were clearing your dad to drive home with a state law that set the prima facie DUI BAC at .15.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 10:00 AM
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News story from 2010: http://missoulian.com/news/local/montana-s-drinking-and-driving-culture-at-crossroads/article_b7475558-b517-11df-96eb-001cc4c002e0.html


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 10:09 AM
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My in-laws tell of living in Indiana in the early 70s, where their commute crossed a freight rail line. You had to try to beat the daily afternoon train because it took 30 minutes for the train to pass if you didn't make it. No worries, though, there was a bar right on the city side of the crossing, so if you did get caught you had something to do.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 10:39 AM
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79: But there's a part of the story that's really fuzzy around the couple's decisions relating to her employment, and that's the area where I get very interested.

I'm actually more interested in how dreadful the tone of the article is: it reads like a Modern Love column. 'This totes troubling/embarrassing thing happened to me! Can you believe it? Eventually it worked out, of course, but man, was that a trip.'

It's unfortunate that the article doesn't actually address this until the end:

We didn't deserve to be poor, any more than we deserved to be rich. Poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgment. I still have to remind myself sometimes that I was my harshest critic. That the judgment of the disadvantaged comes not just from conservative politicians and Internet trolls. It came from me, even as I was living it.

I'm not going to criticize an article for not being what I'd have wanted it to be, but why not start from there: casting those in dire circumstances as unworthy, embarrassing figures whom we'd rather just step over in distaste *is* a cultural phenomenon, it *is* promulgated most actively by conservatives (libertarian-leaning esp.), many of us have internalized it, and it's disgusting. I wish the writer had gone on to say that she's a diehard liberal now, and volunteers in a food pantry when she can. Or something.

But okay, a bit judgmental on my part. The article just really seems to be soft-pedalling the message. Its tone until the very end is quite off-putting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 11:01 AM
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And she thought she was her own harshest critic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 11:07 AM
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I volunteered in a food pantry once. I was offered a handful of the cookies that were too smashed to bits to package for distribution.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 11:10 AM
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109: She says so. On reflection, I don't even know what she means by that. Is she aware that some Republicans want to do away with WIC (more or less) altogether? The article just reads as incredibly naive; but then again, that's the target reading audience.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 11:26 AM
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101: I remember in the early '80s in your home state my mother's boyfriend regularly getting into the car and cracking open a can of beer. Never got busted that I knew of.

I also remember getting back from an outing on his motorboat and having to clean all the empty beer bottles out. He got pissed at me for throwing one down from the boat rather than carrying it down unbroken.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 11:38 AM
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I'm not going to criticize an article for not being what I'd have wanted it to be

Ha, good one.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 11:39 AM
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101: Don't people still do that now, and it's just that the "too drunk to drive" threshhold is around one or two drinks, rather than five or six like it used to be?

110: Tigger and I continually snipe passive-aggressively about what to do about food that's technically edible but we don't want and definitely won't eat on our own. For example, a bag of chips someone brought to a party we hosted. The bag is unopened but we didn't like them (the guest brought two; one was barely finished off). At this point the chips are a little past their expiration date, but they're so full of preservatives they'll be safe to eat forever, they'd just be less crunchy or flavorful, right? As for food banks, I assume even they don't need expired junk food.

Tigger wants to give them to a homeless person. She's welcome to do so, but I'd rather just throw them away. I admit it's mostly because I'm too self-conscious to walk up to someone and effectively say, "Excuse me sir, you look like the type of person who would be happy to pick through our trash."


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 11:51 AM
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If you had five or six drinks, I bet you'd eat the chips.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 11:52 AM
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113: That's a thing. Don't complain that something is not what you thought it should be.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:00 PM
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This mostly comes into play with respect to reviews.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:01 PM
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114.2: The dates on food are just "best-by" dates, not real expiration dates. Unless the food's obviously off, it's perfectly safe to eat. It just might not be the optimal experience the manufacturer wants you to have.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:04 PM
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101: I remember in the early '80s in your home state my mother's boyfriend regularly getting into the car and cracking open a can of beer

There are definitely still people who will crack open a roadie. Probably less than once there were, but still some.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:04 PM
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116: You might be missing the thrust of the joke in 113.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:10 PM
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113 to 120.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:11 PM
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||

This seems like an unfogged-style story:

Several years ago Ben Johnson worked at a health foods store in Iowa. He remembers store management stringing up a donkey piñata to pump up the workers.

"Pinned to its chest was a name tag for a rival store," Johnson says. "They explained to everyone that this was, in fact, an effigy and that we were going to work together to figuratively, literally destroy the competition."

In lieu of candy, the piñata was filled with dollar coins. An overzealous middle manager with a baseball bat was first up, and he obliterated it.

"So when this thing explodes, dozens of the dollar gold Sacagawea coins fly through the air everywhere," Johnson says. "Someone in the front row takes one in the face and goes down. They ricochet off the walls. And when the coins finally stop, I emerge from underneath the table, there's just a stunned silence."

The coins are like blood money, and no one picks them up. Johnson thinks of the whole fiasco as an omen since the store eventually fell to the competition.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:16 PM
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Whole Foods probably would have run them out of business even without the dollar to the head.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:18 PM
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Whereas even the less liberal states in the rest of the country often have more convenient services, because they were able to create a government out of whole cloth in 1910 and then being unafraid to change it a couple decades later when they finally reached a 6-digit population.

I don't know how it compares to the Northeast, but I can assure you California's social services are not convenient or efficient in any objective sense. (Keyword: Medi-Cal backlog.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:21 PM
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Or in any Objectivist sense.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:26 PM
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90: My maternal grandfather was known to drink vanilla when the family would hide his alcohol.

Referred to (I think?) as "baking a cake" in Maine -- i.e. drinking extracts on Sundays when the "green front" was closed.

72: Do y'all not get Reed's over there?

Fentiman's is kinda meh, but I can see how it would be good for cocktails.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:27 PM
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122: As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:29 PM
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CA has been a high-population state for a pretty long time, though.

You notice the same sort of thing with state law -- NY has some organically developed kludgy system of regulating complicated economic transactions, because they needed to deal with that sort of thing on a large scale in 1890, and then everyone got too used to the state of the law to amend it all that much, while the rest of the country adopted the model whatever code drafted a couple of decades ago.

Also, my phone line makes crackly noises because Wall Street has some really, really old infrastructure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:30 PM
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That really was the best-delivered line in the history of TV shows set in Ohio.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:30 PM
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When I was a supervisor, my team-building activities consisted of spending the departmental slush fund on beer and pizza for my employees every month or so.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:31 PM
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Right. Old infrastructure.


Posted by: Opinionated NSA | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:31 PM
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Just trying to coordinate the school districts in CA with social service agencies to try and make sure families get all the services they qualify for has been a years min project, legislation has been passed and it still isn't happening.

(there is some marvelously odd dancing happening right now in the farewell gala for Nicolas Le Riche streaming on the Opéra Garnier website)


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07- 9-14 12:37 PM
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126. Fentiman's is ginger beer, not ginger ale, over here. There's a distinction, at least this side of the pond: GA is a mixer, like Canada Dry, GB is a soda/pop/fizzy drink/whatever. You normally drink ginger beer on its own, though you can make traditional shandy* with it.

*These days shandy is beer and lemonade by default, but when I was a kid it was beer and ginger beer and you had to ask for lemonade if you wanted it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 3:57 AM
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There's a reason German cabbies all drive Mercedes 190Ds or the new 200 series; they last like hell.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 5:57 AM
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I was at a thing last weekend and they had dark and stormies. I confirmed that it was being made with ginger beer (it was a venue where ginger ale was conceivable), got one, took a sip, and realized it was ginger-flavored beer. Ack.

Actually, I have no idea. Were gingers ale or beer originally alcoholic? Did they become soft at some point? Because, here in the States at least, they're exclusively soft drinks (last weekend's experience aside).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:04 AM
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That said, soda really is terrible stuff.

Ever notice that everyone gets righteous about poor people buying soda, but never about them buying coffee, which is exactly as nutritious and performs the same function (for most people)? Everything about the judgment people shower on poor people is disgusting, but perhaps the worst is the scorn people feel for vices they don't happen to indulge.

Actually, what's sort of funny, because it seems like shaming the poors for their SNAP usage transcends political boundaries, is the implicit code in what shouldn't be permitted under SNAP: good meat, good bread, no, bad bread, junk food, no, organic fruits.... At least everyone agrees that soda (but not coffee!) is beyond the pale.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:13 AM
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I'd add that we were on SNAP while we were WIC-eligible, but WIC is so limited*, and applying for benefits is such a PITA, that we skipped it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:16 AM
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Possibly because I drink a pot of it a day, I always thought coffee was quite a bit better for you than soda. It has no calories, sugar, or artificial sweeteners.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:17 AM
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135: I'm fairly sure they were all alcoholic at some point, but to different degrees. Ginger beer/ale (along with root beer, birch beer, etc.) would have been very mildly alcoholic ('small beer' or less) but not much more - probably not enough to get drunk on without an awful lot of work. It hasn't been that long since fermentation was the only way to get something fizzy, after all.

I'm not particularly old and I remember being told by my (conservative, mennonite) grandparents about how they used to make root beer by mixing up the flavorings and sugar, adding yeast, and sealing up the bottles. The general procedure was to leave them under the porch until one of the bottles exploded, which let you know that the rest were done. I asked my (again, conservative mennonite) grandmother about how alcoholic this made them and she explained that they didn't have any alcohol because they used "a different kind of yeast" for them.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:25 AM
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*These days shandy is beer and lemonade by default, but when I was a kid it was beer and ginger beer and you had to ask for lemonade if you wanted it.

My grandmother (the Irish one, obvs) used to make me shandy (sometimes she called it shandy gaff [sp?]) with ginger ale and beer when I was little. I loved it, but weird.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:28 AM
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136

I agree with your general point, except coffee is actually much better for you than soda. It's very low calorie, been shown to reduce risk of diabetes, and has lots of antioxidants. Soda is empty calories and chemicals which dissolve your teeth enamel. (Not that poor people should be shamed or forbidden from drinking it.)


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:21 PM
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Given the literature on coffee the last couple decades it should probably be considered a staple for good health. My personal favorite is the liver protection from alcohol.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:33 PM
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The joke I make to Mormon coworkers is that if you pair them right the sins cancel each other out.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:43 PM
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Yeah, I always wonder why health puritans are so down on coffee. It's virtually always near the top of the list of shit they think you should stop doing. It's _good_ for you, ffs, and it tastes nice.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 3:03 AM
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144. Health puritans are puritans first and foremost. Most of them zero in on food as a topic to nag people about because they don't actually much like food. So coffee is tasty and gets you mildly high: that's two strikes already.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 3:24 AM
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try and make sure families get all the services they qualify for

I've been working on a project with my state's WIC program. They've done tons of analysis to try to figure out how many WIC locations they need, and where they should be. Utilization is extremely highly linked with location, and slight demographic shifts affect it enough that they close previous locations and open new ones pretty much yearly.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 4:08 AM
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Health puritans on coffee are almost as annoying as the coffee puritans who keep insisting everybody else needs to make coffee one particular way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 6:07 AM
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They've done tons of analysis to try to figure out how many WIC locations they need, and where they should be. Utilization is extremely highly linked with location, and slight demographic shifts affect it enough that they close previous locations and open new ones pretty much yearly.

That is pretty nifty!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 6:10 AM
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147: 200 degree water, make sure you filter all the grit out, and for god's sake make sure it's cooled down before you put it in your butt.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 6:16 AM
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149: John Harvey Kellogg would be so proud right now.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 6:33 AM
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That is pretty nifty!

It is! Less nifty are the locations that don't really make sense any more (i.e., neighorhood has gentrified) but have to stay open for political reasons. Oh Boston, your commitment to poor white people is really something.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 6:37 AM
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been shown to reduce risk of diabetes, and has lots of antioxidants

I had no idea. As for calories, I'd have thought it went without saying that A. many people add cream and sugar to their coffee, and B. there's this thing called diet soda.

Also, since we're talking about why poor people shouldn't be buying it, decent coffee costs quite bit more than soda.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 7:00 AM
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They should buy decent coffee, but infused with a sense of shame and fraud.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 7:03 AM
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many people add cream and sugar to their coffee

Two tablespoons of sugar is 24 grams, the internet tells me. A can of Coke has 39 grams. So even if you're sugaring the hell out of your coffee, it's still not as bad as soda.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 7:26 AM
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re: 154

Yeah, and most people use one or two teaspoons, max. Which is 5 - 10 grammes or so.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 7:46 AM
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At the gym last night, I was pleased to hear two men bitching the evils of trickle-down economics. Not surprisingly, most of it was based in self-interest. "If the poor don't have money, then they can't spend it at my business!"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 7:57 AM
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there's this thing called diet soda.

Aside from various fears about what artificial sweeteners might do in the line of causing cancer, I thought it was the case that they gave you inear-irresistable cravings for actual sugar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:01 AM
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decent coffee costs quite bit more than soda.

Isn't that if you're putting spendy coffee up against rock-bottom cheap soda?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:05 AM
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been shown to reduce risk of diabetes

And Parkinson's, liver cancer, and appears to protect heavy drinkers from cirrhosis. There was also a Japanese paper last year showing marked improvements in small blood vessel circulation and function. Coffee is magic.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:06 AM
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I'm not actually arguing that soda==coffee for health (especially with the info that coffee has actual health benefits), I just thought it was funny that several people were treating coffee as an obviously low-cal drink, when many (most?) people add milk and/or sugar.

They should buy decent coffee, but infused with a sense of shame and fraud.

As if coffee doesn't taste bitter enough as it is.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:07 AM
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Well, you have to roast the beans just right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:08 AM
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158: Coke and Pepsi are regularly sold for $1.50 for a 2 liter. A pound of coffee, Google tells me, makes 6 liters of coffee. I don't think $4.50 gets you a pound of anything remotely resembling "spendy" coffee.

I've never heard 157, but I've never touched the stuff.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:16 AM
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Google uses a fuckton of beans. I get way more than 9 liters from a pound.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:18 AM
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when many (most?) people add milk and/or sugar

As I mentioned the other day, I'm calorie counting right now. I don't take sugar in my coffee, but I do take a lot of milk: whole milk, about 3:1 coffee to milk ratio. My coffee is still a bit less than half as caloric as the same amount of Coke. Using sugar would change that, obviously, but duh. Putting added sugar in your anything is going to make it less healthy.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:19 AM
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160: We went through this sort of argument talking about the Bloomberg soda fascism. To be comparable at all to soda, you need to be talking about some kind of ridiculous Starbucks fluff-coffee weirdness (once you're in ridiculous fluff-coffee land, of course, you may be talking about much more calories. But that's not coffee, that's caffinated milkshakes.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:21 AM
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The store down the street sells milkshakes with liquor. I should try one. I can't see well enough to work anyway. I just had the pupil dilation thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:23 AM
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Lately I've been pouring this stuff from Whole Foods into my coffee instead of creamer or regular milk. It's amazing.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:31 AM
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You're using coffee as a creamer in your coffee. That seems less than efficient.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:32 AM
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The store down the street sells milkshakes with liquor.

Too high calorie; try a chamomile tea.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:35 AM
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167: That's my wife new favorite thing in the world! She used to use lots of cream.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:37 AM
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168: It's just sweet enough to smooth out black coffee and adds a bit of nutty flavor and doubles up the coffee. Try it, you'll feel like a champion.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:37 AM
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Why not almond milk straight, to avoid the adding coffee to coffee weirdness?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:43 AM
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Doubling the coffee is part of the awesomeness.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:45 AM
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I don't add anything but whole milk to my coffee. I'm afraid there's a slipper slope that will lead me straight to Faygo Red.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:49 AM
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173: Also, the pure cane sugar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 8:57 AM
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166: I used to live next to a place that served milkshakes made with stout. Very good.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:00 AM
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My wife was trying to switch from cream to almond milk, but it wouldn't quite take until we discovered this wonder beverage.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:01 AM
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176: That does sound good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:02 AM
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I used to get Guinness floats from the late, lamented late night (late) place in Kenmore Square. They were pretty great.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:03 AM
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Probably not that much better for you than diet coke, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:04 AM
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Why not almond milk straight, to avoid the adding coffee to coffee weirdness?

This doesn't work at all for me: the added nutty/roasty quality makes it taste like grain coffee to me.



Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:06 AM
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157 Aside from various fears about what artificial sweeteners might do in the line of causing cancer, I thought it was the case that they gave you inear-irresistable cravings for actual sugar.

I've never experienced that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:11 AM
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I buy whole milk to keep at the office for my tea, because they only stock 2%, nonfat and half & half, the first two of which are pointless and all three smell truly foul even on the day of delivery.

Milkshake with stout is an excellent idea.

All sweet fizzy drinks are repellent to me, I blame my hippy parents who only gave them to us as "remedies" for stomach flu. They make me gag even now.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:11 AM
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