Re: Who Put These Lucky Duckies In My Boat?

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What's interesting to me is that he's articulating what is actually a very common and openly expressed attitude. I am consistently surprised by the discomfort with which many people I know approach public transportation.

They aren't weirded out by regional rail, which is mostly business-class commuters. Rather, they are upset by the prospect of sharing physical space with poor and disabled people.

I've ridden transit pretty extensively in New York, Washington, Boston, Baltimore, and Chicago, as well as Philadelphia, and it is certainly true that Philadelphia's system is dirtier than other cities'.

It's also true that the sheer breadth of poverty and associated ills in Philadelphia is extraordinary compared to those cities, and that unlike those cities, middle and UMC people here overwhelmingly do not commute by non-rail transit lines.

Even so, it is notable to me how many middle and UMC people are willing to throw around words like "disgusting" and "horrible" when what they mean is "People are sneezing and coughing," or "People are loudly cursing each other out."

[Granted that using mass transit here ALSO means being regularly exposed to open drug use and physical altercations, and the occasional highly dangerous incident involving guns.]

Shorter me: The stigma is enormous, even if partially justifiable.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:23 AM
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More specifically on topic, I'm kinda curious whether anyone will start a movement to pressure the rich folks into using the so-called 'poor door' in solidarity.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:24 AM
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And, of course, they didn't build these affordable housing units out of the goodness of their hearts. They got massive tax breaks or zoning variances to build much taller/larger than they otherwise would have been allowed in exchange for a relatively small number of units reserved for households that are income-capped. And the caps are solidly middle class. These rich people will be forced to mingle with teachers and nurses, not actual poor people.


Posted by: Sam | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:25 AM
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They're doing this in London too, which was predictable, since affordable housing in London is an oxymoron.

"When both the lifts weren't working they did say that if you were pregnant, had a health problem or a baby in a buggy you could use the main entrance,"

So kind of them.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:37 AM
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I am consistently surprised by the discomfort with which many people I know approach public transportation.

I laughed when you followed this with "it's the dirtiest fucking transit in the land filled with crackheads coughing up tuberculosis and getting in fights that sometimes involve a firearm".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:39 AM
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Rather, they are upset by the prospect of sharing physical space with poor and disabled people.

Well, yes, and they're encouraged in that feeling by so much rhetoric coming chiefly out of the Republican party according to which that's an entirely understandable response. (Though Dems are not exactly shining monuments here either.)

Anyway: public transportation I've always thought is an equalizer. It's always struck me that the *lack* of a robust public transportation system in Baltimore contributes to its class divisions and consequent shitting-upon-the-poor. Boston: a lot of people take public transportation: they see one another on a regular basis. New York I'd have thought the same. Chicago I do not know well enough to say.

But I'm surprised, Witt, that you say that It's also true that the sheer breadth of poverty and associated ills in Philadelphia is extraordinary compared to those cities, just because I figure Baltimore is about the same as Philly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:41 AM
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Not that I want to have a Philly-Balto-off.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:45 AM
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just because I figure Baltimore is about the same as Philly.

The proportion is somewhat similar, but the scale is not even close. Baltimore is about 600K population, about 25% in poverty. Philadelphia is about 1.5 million, about 28% in poverty.

More to the point, among poor and near-poor Philadelphia residents age 16-64 (265,000 people), only 30% are employed.

That means that 17% are unemployed and 53%, or 141,000 people, are not in the labor force at all -- not working, and not looking for work.

It's an absolutely staggering number, and it can't be fully explained by full-time college students or unpaid family caregivers.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:56 AM
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5: Well, yeah. I was right with Witt, until she made Philly mass transit sound unappealing by my standards.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:59 AM
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Pittsburgh buses are not nearly the disease-riddled, violent hellscape that Witt depicts Philadelphia buses as being. But still, although most college students take the bus all the time, they see it as a phase of their lives that will end when they get an adult job. Like living in rentals with 4 random friends.

Still an equalizer in some ways, in that taking public transit is not seen as utterly unthinkable once you've done it for a while.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 11:08 AM
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My father used to work for Toll Brothers, and they were a horrible bunch of crooks -- when he was working for them they were rehabbing buildings in Harlem in the cheapest and shoddiest possible way. This was a sort of post-retirement job for him, and he didn't need the money, which allowed him to quit when they started asking him to lie on official forms (like, representing that asbestos abatement had been done properly when it hadn't).


Posted by: Dilma Rouseff | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 11:09 AM
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As for the quote in the OP, it never goes well when someone with "Von" in his name is the public face of an organization seeking to avoid accusations of elitism.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 11:10 AM
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8: Baltimore is about 600K population, about 25% in poverty. Philadelphia is about 1.5 million, about 28% in poverty.

Okay, understood, but I thought there was something abut the official city lines which dictate the official population: isn't Baltimore smallish in official population size because the city lines are drawn rather small? What you might call greater Baltimore is larger. Just a question of where the lines are drawn.

Nonetheless, this is a non-argument. Philadelphia is in dire straits, no doubt about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 11:28 AM
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Rich people in New York can seem uniquely awful, until you go to LA.

Anyhow, riding the bus is not always a picnic here either, despite having a fairly good system, and not nearly the same level of poverty and despair as those failed cities back east. I really do wish people would make an effort to bathe more effectively. And not be drunk at 11 am. And not shout profanity and racial epithets. And not not fold up their gigantic strollers. It's really depressing.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 11:41 AM
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10: Over half of my co-workers take the bus at least some of the time. Parking has gotten more expensive (all the cheap meters are now $2/hour and they require a plate number so you have to obey the 2 hour limit) and transit passes are free for university employees.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 11:52 AM
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OT: A certain person is performing with Kenny Rogers this weekend, but had never heard "The Gambler" until last night.


Posted by: Captain President | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 11:53 AM
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I'm finding this incredibly depressing.

Witt: what do you think could or should be done to try to fix your state? Or perhaps just your city's state of affairs?

(Disclosure: my bookshop has recently acquired an extensive collection of books on early -- 17th, 18th, 19th century -- Pennsylvania history, particular emphasis on western PA, so I've been a bit immersed in that early history, which probably has nothing to do with the current state of affairs.)

On riding the bus or public transit in other forms: mostly about race, is it not?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 11:58 AM
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16: What about chicken? Has the person heard of chicken?


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:01 PM
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18: Not of KR's Roasters. I know, right?


Posted by: Captain President | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:02 PM
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17.last: Yes and no, it's about street culture. Working-class white kids overcompensating are some of the worst.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:09 PM
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I'm UMC and ride the el in Chicago every day. It's widely used by all strata of society except the very top, who still drive even downtown. Most big-firm partners I know drive and have nearby parking sometimes in their own building.

I've seen everything Witt referred to except the gun, and standard stuff, the drunk or stoned, the shouted profanity, the self-fouled, occurs regularly but not every day. Ride regularly and you'll see it.

Metra, the commuter railroads going farther out in every direction on regular railroads from the stations on the west bank of the Chicago river, was actually cheaper until a couple of years ago, and has a decidedly better-off ridership. I would take it to my far North side stop but most were going to the North Shore suburbs. But that's mostly a rush hour phenomenon. At other times, on the all-stop runs in the middle of the day for instance, there are many more poor people, often going to Highwood, N. Chicago, Waukegan or Zion.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:13 PM
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20: Kids? I wouldn't have thought they were the tubercular ones or the ones shouting epithets into their cellphones. The latter people you see around Baltimore all the time: they are having a really hard time with child support or joint custody, and are trying to arrange matters in a really angry way. I know that because they're shouting it out to anyone within earshot. On the phone.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:17 PM
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Get ready to ride the Metra to Zion


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:18 PM
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Kids = anyone from 14 to 25


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:19 PM
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They got a private developer to build new affordable units in manhattan? What a win!

Seriously lucky for the people in the affordable units that they don't have to mingle with the assholes. Why is making rich assholes not assholes important? Who gives a fuck about them? The important thing is that the affordable units got built. Standing on some moral principle that the rich assholes should like it is just going to lead to less units getting built.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:19 PM
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There was an abusive, psychotic (I'm guessing) guy trying to get on the bus and the driver wasn't having it but couldn't drive away because somebody with a wheel chair was getting on. Some young man started making jokes to the guys in security uniforms. He was pretty good at it. "I don't feel safe" and "If you aren't going to provide some security, at least turn your shirts around." So the security guards got up and stood by the driver. One of them called the guy being denied boarding a motherfucker very loudly. Twice. A little girl, maybe four, said tells her dad, "That man said a bad word twice."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:19 PM
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25: And today Tweety will be standing in for Mr. Halford.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:20 PM
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The public shouting thing is cultural: that's what I meant by it being race-related. So it is in Baltimore, anyway.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:23 PM
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I heard a great shouted phone conversation the other day. As far as I could ascertain, what had happened was that someone, an acquaintance of both the caller and her interlocutor, who was the baby mama of baby daddy's older kid, had taken baby daddy's *other* baby, from a different relationship, out and about, and had gotten her some fairly radical haircut, without obtaining baby mama the second's permission. The caller was just about as flabbergasted as she was incensed by this. And I have to say, that does seem like the sort of move that can't help but result in totally unnecessary drama for everyone involved.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:23 PM
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not be drunk at 11 am... not not fold up their gigantic strollers

Look, assface, it's really tough to fold those things when you're wake-up drunk.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:24 PM
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I commute in Philly (Market-Frankfort El, sometimes the bus) and when you are riding the transit system makes a big difference. In normal commuting hours, you see plenty of middle class people, but just an hour before or after that the ridership completely changes. In DC, NYC, and Boston, where I have mostly been on transit on weekends and off hours, it seems like there is a broader spectrum of people riding.

You'd think more people would commute by transit here considering what a PITA it is to commute by car. I hated driving in from the suburbs, and I can't imagine it's any better driving if you live in the city.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:24 PM
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16, 19: I don't even have a lower middle/working-class childhood.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:26 PM
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I used to occasionally go for the previews of the big Sotheby's and Christie's auctions. Most of the people there were like me, just for looking at the pretty things. Some, however, were buyers. Once I saw an older couple, straight from UES central casting, looking on with polite amusement as the obsequious handsome young staffer tried to sell them on this or that multimillion dollar painting. A couple hours later I saw them at the bus stop waiting for the crosstown. They got off at Fifth. Apparently even some of the .01% take mass transit here. But I've never seen guns, self fouling seems incredibly rare, and nasty profanity filled arguments are uncommon. NY'ers are a polite and well behaved people.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:28 PM
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29: Oh yeah, half the time, if you listen to and make sense of the shouted conversation, it totally makes sense. What's different from the way genteel white people would do it is that it's conducted in public, on the bus or in line at the bank or at the pharmacy, or walking down the street ... with much pausing and gesticulating and repetition (and shouting, and epithets) for full dramatic effect. White people would just do that stuff more quietly, that's all. Cultural difference.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:32 PM
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I always wonder about folks on the train about 7am conducting long conversations on the phone. I guess they must be talking to folks eastward, because otherwise, WTF? Who wants to talk on the phone at 7am? I don't want to talk on the phone until at least 10.

And even after then I still don't want to do that.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:35 PM
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self fouling seems incredibly rare

Maybe some more fiber in the diet?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:39 PM
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I need to make an apology here: I've been speaking of white people as though they're obviously genteel, while black people are not genteel.

That is not right, not just because it's politically incorrect, but because it's flatly, factually incorrect. I apologize. I should have spoken in terms of class or cultural affiliation.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:41 PM
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I've more or less abandoned my car since moving to Baltimore, and while I can walk most places, I use public transportation on a reasonably regular basis. My favorite overheard conversation so far is young white Guns & Ammo/Soldier of Fortune dude loudly explaining to his friend how to assassinate someone and get away with it (no, I didn't take notes).


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 1:02 PM
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33: I always wonder in conversations like this if NY is very civilized, or if people in other cities are highly sensitive to antisocial behavior, and I'm just not noticing the things they're talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 1:07 PM
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It's because we lacked the formative social discipline of crowded sidewalks growing up.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 1:19 PM
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It's because we lacked the formative social discipline of crowded sidewalks growing up.

Oooohhmigod. I'm from ruralland, and it still pisses me off. WTF, peeples?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 1:26 PM
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There's definitely something to the idea that you need a mix of income levels of riders to make mass transit attractive to middle income or above folks. It's a major issue here -- the physical condition of the buses is great, they have a really great, extensive network, generally come on time, etc. For me, for example, it would only add about 20 minutes to the commute to take the bus. Yet it is substantially less pleasant than being in the car; part of it is that the car has comfortable leather seats, a nice stereo, bluetooth, etc, but part of it also is that there is just such a sense of desperation on the bus, since it's clear that almost no one is riding by choice.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 1:27 PM
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When I lived in San Francisco, I took BART over driving my car whenever it was practical to do so. I was not disinclined to take BART, but I was disinclined to sit in the seats because they seemed imbued with no-longer-fresh ethnic hair products. Being very aware of this aversion made me feel racist.


Posted by: Owner | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 1:53 PM
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I haven't used the bus a lot since we moved, but there is a very convenient bus that goes straight downtown, and the one time I took it I got to say hi to an immigrant hotel worker I knew from my union organizing days and hadn't spoken to in 15 years, so that refueled my man-of-the-gente tank for another sixteen months.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 3:16 PM
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16 months? That's an oddly specific timeframe.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 3:23 PM
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I was disinclined to sit in the seats because they seemed imbued with no-longer-fresh ethnic hair product

That _is_ a pretty odd thing to think. I can't imagine that hair products, and specfically ethnic ones, have ever entered my mind in connection with transport.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 3:25 PM
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I'm not going to dig up my Oil Sheen story, but I know what he means.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 3:29 PM
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46: Perhaps they would if you could smell them and see their greasy residue on the fabric of the seats. (And describing it as "greasy" makes me feel racist again.) But I still advocate taking public transit.


Posted by: Owner | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 3:32 PM
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I see a lot of greasy hairprints on the windows of the train.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 3:40 PM
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From Witt's comment, I can only assume that the tipping point for Philly's public transportation is that I moved away. I rode it for years, at all times of day and night, and I never saw open drug use or guns. I did see somebody stabbed with a box cutter once. (The stabbee, who was wearing a leather coat and was unhurt, just turned around and punched the guy in the face.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 3:55 PM
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Witt is totally right about the attitude toward public transportation among UMC white Philadelphians. I've never encountered anything quite like it in other large cities, so I think it's a local peculiarity probably connected to some of the specific ways that Philly dealt with the challenges of the white-flight era.

I'm thinking here primarily of my mom's siblings, UMC liberal professional-types who have lived in the city virtually their entire lives, and drive absolutely everywhere even though both driving and parking is a huge pain. From my mom's accounts of her childhood, they took public transportation all the time when they were growing up, so something changed between then and now in the mindset of the siblings who stayed.

My sister, on the other hand, takes the bus all the time, and when my mom and I have visited her in the past few years we have too. I've seen some of the stuff Witt mentioned, but not much. I think it depends a lot on which routes you take and at what times. In general it's a pretty good system in terms of coverage and frequency of service.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 4:03 PM
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51: Do they actually live in the city? My brother has a pathological fear of public transportation, but he cowers in the Jersey suburbs.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 4:09 PM
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Hair prints. Misty water colored hair prints. Of the way... we were.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 4:12 PM
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48: "Grease" is in the name of a lot of the products as well as being a generic descriptor, so I think you're safe.

The worst conversation I've seen on public transport involved me, when I was taking Mara and her siblings to a park and they were recognized by someone who knows one of the parents and wanted to weigh in on that parent's recent appearance in the monthly magazine publishing mugshots and it was incredibly awkward, but I kept whispering that the children didn't have to answer if they didn't want to, but they insisted they didn't mind and the older few vaguely remembered this person, but then wanted to talk about a fight this person's relative had had with a cousin of theirs. I'd already been getting glares from several corners for being white with five black kids and didn't improve things by saying "Come on, you don't ask children about their parents' mug shots!" though I didn't otherwise intervene.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 4:15 PM
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52: Yes, and in very densely developed neighborhoods with limited on-street parking. That's the weird part; it's sort of crazy to even own a car in the places they live, and yet they not only own cars but drive everywhere. And I get the impression that this sort of thing is quite common among people of their generation and socioeconomic status who stayed in the city when most people like them moved to the suburbs.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 4:24 PM
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teo, the girls asked today if I had any friends who lived in the desert, so I said that I had one who had but now lived in Alaska, and I think Nia wants to get your full life story including all the details on the job you do now. They were completely fascinated, though her next question was whether I have any friends in Indiana, after which she decided I must know people EVERYWHERE.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 4:41 PM
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Heh. You can tell her my job mostly involves attending meetings, although some of them are in remote parts of Alaska that I have to fly into on small planes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 5:04 PM
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Lots of meetings? Occasional flights on small planes? So you have the worst job in the history of ever, then?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 5:05 PM
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Even worse than being a music promoter in Vancouver, as hard as that is to believe.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 5:07 PM
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I did mention the meetings! She thinks they sound great, and that the downside to being a hairstylist or chef as she'd so far planned is that there would be no meetings.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 5:07 PM
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That's awesome.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 5:09 PM
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She also plans to foster babies and announced that Mara could just watch them for her if she has to travel for a lot of meetings. She didn't see the face Mara made in response, but she also has plenty of time to make alternate childcare plans. And I forgot last night's future planning, which was that she wants to be the kind of scientist who names new animals ("Pavicci," I believe was her first suggestion) but isn't sure she wants to do the discovery part, so if anyone knows of a marketing firm for species names that's hiring kids under 10, she's interested. Meetings would be a plus!

(To tie this into the earlier comment in the thread, this conversation about teo took place as we walked home from the bus stop and right after running into the relative mentioned in the previous story. That relative in fact talked about a more recent incarceration, but in ways that fit my middle-class mores like "You know I only been back since March, so...." and I nodded that I did know and we went on being adults.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 5:20 PM
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Oops, only now coming back to the thread.

Actually, I think pasdquoi makes a good point. A lot of the crazy stuff I have seen on transit has been during daylight, but non-commuting, times.

I also think that some of it is gendered and numerical -- some people will get up to more crazy stuff with a few women in the trolley/subway car than they will with a larger group of fellow passengers, or even a couple of men. It's possible that would explain Walt's experience. There are certainly times when I've decided it was more desirable to get yelled at by the conductor for changing cars than to stay in the car I was in.

I'm trying to think about the most recent examples. I was on the trolley down to SW Phila the other day and there was a lengthy, noisy conversation between the guy behind me and the guy in front about guy #1's job and life situation. He was actually a pretty gutsy, interesting guy, and didn't set off any of my warning flags.

Representative quote: "Full benefits, vacation. It's a good money for someone who ayn gone high school. I mean, I got nine-teen felonies."

That's the kind of thing that would scare my sisters off from taking the trolley for the next 10 years. Never mind that he was on his way to said job.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 5:54 PM
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That was at 9:30 on a Tuesday morning.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 5:56 PM
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My sister is only afraid of people with twenty or more felonies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 6:06 PM
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So does that mean you can or can't bring her with you to The Squirrel Cage when she visits?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 6:12 PM
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She won't go in because of smoking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 6:17 PM
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Or so she claims!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 6:20 PM
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I have met two economists.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 6:24 PM
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How many felonies do they have?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 6:25 PM
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Were they really very nice?


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 6:25 PM
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This reminds me that somebody told me that somebody told him that this very obviously mentally ill guy we used to see in various bars hasn't been around because a cop saw him in a bar and old everyone that he (the obviously mentally ill guy) had raped a child. Then he (the guy I was talk to) told me not to repeat it because he wasn't sure if he believed the other guy. Then I looked up the sex registry and didn't find him.

My personal guess is that every bartender in the area stopped serving him for more standard reasons and somebody invented a story.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 7:26 PM
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I know that guy, and was very surprised to see that he's not a smart person. But 25 gets it right. If you can't sell your market rate units to the assholes, you can't build the affordable ones. An affordable housing policy that doesn't depend on the assholes is the next step.


Posted by: Mr. President | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 7:57 PM
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Alas, 73 is not to 72. (And to my life, why doesn't port get marketed as fortified wine? Then people would think it had vitamins and minerals and there'd be a fantastic halo effect and whatnot. Lee bought me some white port today b/c she's racist and so now I have to drink it to be polite. And also because it's port.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:02 PM
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Tawny port is better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:11 PM
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And to my life, why doesn't port get marketed as fortified wine?

Isn't the term at least a little associated with Thunderbird and the like?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:12 PM
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Oh, I was just joking. Sorry! Lee did say the guy who sold her this bottle also served her white port and tonic and that she really liked it, so I suppose I'll have to try that. I guess that sold her on it, since I like port and I like other things and tonic. And I'm not complaining about gifts of alcohol, especially given how much pain I'm in tonight.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:19 PM
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Store brand French Onion dip sort of sucks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:33 PM
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But at least I got to go in by the main door of the store.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:43 PM
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79 reminds me that the other awkward public transit moment was this afternoon when I realized that all the black people had gone to the back of the bus. But I can blame the girls for wanting to sit in the back seat; the other people were just filling in what was left after the white folks sat at the front. And yet!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:46 PM
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81

Do servants quarters, maid apartments, au pair rooms count as housing for the working poor ?

51: Opinionated Atrios could elaborate a lot on how busses are for the poors.


ObData: income by NYC subway stop
http://projects.newyorker.com/story/subway/



Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 9:31 PM
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In Portland, mass transit is popular in large part because UMC white people ride the bus. If you take the bus to certain neighborhoods at certain times of the day, the bus will be filled with middle aged men in suits talking about golf and planning their next Caribbean vacation. I know mass transit is used by UMC white people in all large cities, but Portland is the only US city I know of where they actually all take the bus (as opposed to a subway).


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 10:09 PM
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I know mass transit is used by UMC white people in all large cities

Except Philadelphia!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 12:06 AM
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We're here!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 1:54 AM
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17 hours of travelling today, so we got here a day early, sort of. I really feel like I've earned this vacation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 1:55 AM
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Wow. Yeah, I think you deserve it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 1:58 AM
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On the way to the airport on light rail last Monday, I overheard a conversation a guy had on his phone in which he informed a friend of his of a job that would be paid regularly in cash and would be tax free, under the table. In response to a question, he said something like "drugs are for losers." I meant to note the exact language, since it was kind of a fun one-sided conversation to hear, but I forgot about it until now.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 2:24 AM
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87

Can this thread be about fun or inappropriate bus conversations? I have had/heard many of them. One was this woman asked me how to spell 'biological.' I spelled it for her, and then she typed something into her phone and dialed what was a paternity testing center. She had this loud conversation how she had no idea who the father was but she'd narrowed it down to about 10, and starts reading off this list of names she has in a notebook, with pauses to repeat and spell out the names. I understand her desire to make use of bus time, but wondered if she might not want to pick a more discreet place to share the potential fathers of her baby.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 4:02 AM
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Tawny port is better.

Tawny Port would be an excellent stage name at a wine-oriented strip joint.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 5:33 AM
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Re: 89

I am hearing 80s Whitesnake now.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 6:30 AM
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89: Beaujulie? Pussy-Fuissé? Syrah Plain and Tall?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 6:53 AM
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A first cat named Tawny and a childhood on Port St. and you're there.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 7:14 AM
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Mass transit subthread is timely for me as for the last month or so I have been using the bus for work about 2/3rds of the time in response to a period of reduced car supply. Had been about 30 years since I had used the bus with any regularity (and that in Houston, not Pittsburgh). It's not super-convenient for me, stop about a mile and 350 ft. of elevation away from the house--but it is actually just one portion of steep. narrow no shoulder road that I don't really like (and if I'm in a hurry or late, usually my wife can drop me off/pick me up). A very infrequent bus used to come much closer (and I'd have still needed to walk the death stretch), but it was dropped in one of the PAT service cuts.

Experience has been good (and I'm annoyed I did not think to use it more earlier), and provides some walking exercise. Two buses I can get, one stays on small depressed river town side of the river and has only a semi-commuter feel during rush, and a complete "my life is on the bus" feel at other times*. The other crosses the river to gentrifying Lawrenceville and is full of the gentrifiers during commute times, and then a big switch to "life on the bus" at other times.

The phone stuff was the most striking thing to me. The several overheard conversations that have struck me have been litanies of sad educational experience--for-profits going broke, non-transferable credits, etc.

*I partake fully of my semi-official ability to come and go as I please at work.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 7:41 AM
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The upper income limit for 'affordable' housing in London is currently set at £80,000 pa. Just thought I'd throw that in there.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 12:16 PM
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That's barely enough income to get two complete houses here, unless you want a bit of a run down neighborhood or houses small than 1,500 square feet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 12:38 PM
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82: Bizarrely Portland gets a reputation of having "good public transit" solely on this basis. It's not actually better, it just whiter.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 2:19 PM
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Re: 94

Yeah, and daft as that sum seems, are there many (any?) places in London where £80k will get you a mortgage that'll buy a livable flat? Now, I mean. Not a few years back, pre-tightening.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 3:46 PM
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I too agree with 25. I mean, sure, boo rich snobs being snooty, but I'm guessing the people in the affordable units are still better off, no one would have noticed a problem with this if they'd built a separate "affordable" building, so why is it suddenly worse once they decide to locate them in the same tower?

The only problem is there aren't 10x as many projects like this.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-27-14 7:57 PM
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Because in egalitarin, pull yourself up by the bootstraps America it's impolite to be so direct in your abhorrence of the poor?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:01 AM
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97: the Santander mortgage calculator says that, if you are earning £80k, they'll lend you £400k, which is easily enough to buy a livable flat in some fairly nice bits of London...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:20 AM
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96: it's probably better if UMC people (who are rich enough to have alternatives) still take public transport.

22 et seq: If you're having a shouted mobile phone conversation on public transport, then, black or white, you're being a dick. (In London shouty mobile phone use is colour blind, at least on public transport.)

The only drug use I've ever seen on London public transport is the guy I may have mentioned before who sat next to me on a night bus and proceeded to alternately puff on a cigarette and inhale lighter fluid. Not only antisocial, but foolhardy.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:30 AM
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The only problem is there aren't 10x as many projects like this

Is it not standard then? In London, every large development has to have an affordable housing contribution. Often this is negotiated away/down by the developer in return for funding something else, but it has to be there to start with.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:51 AM
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alternately puff on a cigarette and inhale lighter fluid
A new meaning to the phrase, "It will blow your mind."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 5:10 AM
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re: 100

Really? I didn't think they were lending that sort of multiple anymore. I was thinking that you might get 3 - 4 x gross income. Which would be 250-300K ish. £400K would buy the flat we rent. Just.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 5:12 AM
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104: assuming an 80k deposit, yes. Try it out: santander.co.uk.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 5:29 AM
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99: Not since Reagan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 5:48 AM
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105: How are you guys supposed to keep a real estate bubble going on the backs of only those who already have £80,000.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 5:51 AM
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Wouldn't fancy my chances of getting a £320K loan on £80K but you never know.

The better comparison, surely, is £80K v. average (London) earnings. Do it that way, and it's clear that 'affordable' really means housing for professionals, with a modest subsidy.

The two doors thing is demeaning in part because it's so unnecessary: it's less efficient, you have to double up lifts, etc. There's a deliberate extra effort to exclude. By contrast, two buildings on a street (one affordable) will naturally share the public space: nothing's being done in terms of partitionng that wouldn't be done anyway.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 5:54 AM
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re: 104

Ah, assuming an 80k deposit? That's like 'assume magic happens'.

That means [assuming you are starting at near zero] saving something like 50% of net income for 3 years. Which, I think, for most people, is not realistic. And, as per a post in the other thread, property is appreciating fast enough that if you save 50% of net income for 3 years, you'll then be short by about 50K. I'm pretty sure to actually be able to afford to buy in London, you'd need to be earning enough that the savings hit for the deposit would be _significantly_ less than 50% net income.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:10 AM
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With a £20,000 deposit and £80k annual income they'll lend you £320,000.

That means [assuming you are starting at near zero] saving something like 50% of net income for 3 years. Which, I think, for most people, is not realistic.

You're right, saving 50% of net income isn't realistic for most people, but most people aren't on £80k a year. If I had been living my current lifestyle on £80k a year for the last three years, I could easily have saved £80,000 by now, which is why I took £80k as a realistic deposit.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:18 AM
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Average London earnings are about £34,000 a year, by the way (ONS).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:20 AM
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re: 110.last

I'd like to know how you could make that work because it doesn't seem workable to me. Based on a savings target of 80K in 3 years, that means a monthly save of around £2150, per month. Net income based on a gross income £80K a year, works at around £4450 per month.

So, that means total expenses, per month, including food, transport, rent, all utility bills, pension, etc of around £2300 a month. That's pretty good going in London. Rent on a flat, plus utility bills, Oyster card, and a minimal food spend, would easily eat that, and more.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:34 AM
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I mean, I'm sure it's do-able, if you are a single person with frugal tastes, and don't have any dependents. But it's not going to be very easy, I'd have thought.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:35 AM
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113: Coincidentally my monthly outgoings are about that, at the moment, and it's limiting. Basically, you give up on eating out, theatre tickets and the like, all travel, car ownership and any significant consumer purchases. Basic clothing only. Now do it for years on end, in the knowledge that you're on a salary that's over twice the going average: going to take a special discipline, I reckon. I'm sure some can do it. But any notion of balance and moderation seems to have gone out the window: does a society really want to arrange things this way?


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:45 AM
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And a bank's underwriters will simply not lend you four times your salary, despite what their online calculators may say. Not on a 20% deposit.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:48 AM
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re: 114

When my wife was on maternity leave last year, because of her shitty maternity pay, we had to live more or less within that budget. We basically couldn't. Or rather we could, for about 6 months, but then when you get hit with things like car maintenance bills, or other one off costs, we couldn't. Admittedly, that was food and bills for 2 adults, plus baby, and I have a more expensive than normal commute.* But that was living way outside on the far edge of London, in a less than lovely run-down terrace, with a shitty landlord, and with pretty much all luxuries, as you say, gone. No holidays, no non-work travel, very little in the way of clothes expenditure, shopping at very cheap supermarkets, going out of the way all the time to minimise expenditure, worrying continuously that an unexpected expense was going to push us over the edge. And we aren't extravagant anyway. Both of us grew up relatively poor.

* with the plus side that I have very flexible working hours [which certainly saves significantly on child care costs]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:55 AM
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112: So you're saying it's not workable to live in London on a monthly net income of (4450-2150=) £2300 a month?
Just to be clear, that is the same as saying that you can't live in London on a gross salary less than £35,000 a year? (http://www.netsalarycalculator.net/) Note that the median London salary for full-time workers is £34,200.

It is therefore, you are saying, not workable for half the population of London to be living in London.

I don't know how else to say this but - yes, it is workable. I've done it. I know plenty of people who are still doing it. No, you don't give up on eating out or going to the theatre or travel or any non-Primark clothes; you have a pretty good life, I would like to think.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 6:57 AM
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This is all too gloomy. Let us contemplate instead the splendour of 87


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:02 AM
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re: 117

Most people are not in single income families. Which is why lots of people can get by just fine, when the average median income is £34,200. And if you are a single person, living in shared accommodation, or in a bedsit type flat, I'm sure it's also fine, and you can have a decent enough life, too.

However, I just added up non-negotiable expenses, for us, and it comes to around £3500 quid. That's just rent, transport, utilities, child care, phone(s). And we only have child-care for 3 days a week. If we had to have 5 days a week child care [which if we both worked normal hours we would] you'd be talking £4000. Then add food, clothes, and other slightly more flexible expenses on top of that. Again, do-able on 2 incomes of around the median London wage. People can afford to LIVE, they can't afford to live and save up multiple tens of thousands to put a deposit down on a house or flat.

Which was ... my original point.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:05 AM
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And, I should stress, I have a shitty little car which I've had for years. So I have no car payments beyond cheap-ish annual maintenance and insurance. Haven't been on a holiday in 3 years. And live in a flat that's cheaper than the average rental for a 2 bed flat in the part of London I live in, which is one of the cheaper parts of London which is still accessible [within 90 minutes travel] from work. So that 3500-4000 [not including food or clothes] expense is not, I think, unrepresentative.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:07 AM
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I thought your original point was that it was unrealistic for someone on £80k to be able to afford a mortgage on a London flat. Not that it was unrealistic for an average Londoner to do so.
I'm entirely in agreement with the second point, in fact I said so in 110.2. But someone on £80k is perfectly capable of doing so; all he has to do is live like the median Londoner for three years and save the difference, and there's your deposit.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:14 AM
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You guys have a government that isn't hampered by things like checks and balances or a written constitution or the fact that all the crazy people have huge numbers of guns. Why not just move a bunch of jobs to Yorkshire or Preston or something?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:15 AM
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re: 121

Well, it's realistic for an individual on an individual income of £80k, with no dependents or other expenses, and who is able to live within very tight financial boundaries to just about save up 80K, yeah. Leaving aside the whole 'accelerating/shifting deposit' thing, and assuming a very high level of spending discipline.

I'd still argue that it's completely unrealistic for actual _households_ on 80K a year, to actually afford to buy somewhere to live. Which was the root of the discussion -- as the affordable housing criteria is set at £80K.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:19 AM
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re: 122

Yeah, you'd think. Except ... fuck knows. Dsquared always brings up the absence of a regional policy in the UK. Where the real problem isn't so much that London is incredibly expensive, but that for huge swathes of the job market, you have little choice but to live in or near it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:20 AM
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Is affordable housing defined as £80k per person or per household? £80k per household isn't that much - just over two median full-time incomes.

Well, it's realistic for an individual on an individual income of £80k, with no dependents or other expenses, and who is able to live within very tight financial boundaries to just about save up 80K, yeah

Like I say, I have actually been living within these boundaries for quite a few years, and, for an individual _they really aren't that tight_.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:26 AM
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re: 125

It's household.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:29 AM
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And a bank's underwriters will simply not lend you four times your salary, despite what their online calculators may say. Not on a 20% deposit.

FWIW, according to the Bank of England, about 22% of mortgage lending is above 4x LTI. And those are disproportionately in London. But, yes, you're likely to need a much bigger deposit.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:30 AM
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re: 125

And that only applies to 3-bed properties. For 2-bed or smaller it's less.

https://www.sharetobuy.com/firststeps/amieligible


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:31 AM
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re: 125 [again!]

Which was why Charlie used the 80K figure in 94.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:33 AM
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126 makes it make sense. I was a bit worried that the bar for needing affordable housing was set so much higher.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:38 AM
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You guys have a government that isn't hampered by things like checks and balances or a written constitution or the fact that all the crazy people have huge numbers of guns. Why not just move a bunch of jobs to Yorkshire or Preston or something?

The government, appropriately defined, does occasionally do this. Most notably, a bunch of BBC staff (see caveat above) were moved to Salford (and much more production is done in Cardiff than before). And there's been moves to distribute some civil service jobs to the regions, but:

a) The Tories hate anyone in the regions who isn't a farmer/landowner, because they don't vote Tory. So an inordinate amount of Tory policy is seemingly designed to spite non-London citydwellers.

b) There's enormous inertia driving investment into London, and obviously Westminster-based MPs benefit directly from, eg, transport infrastructure being improved. So given the choice between spending money on London and spending it elsewhere, they'll usually spend it on London.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:39 AM
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122. What's in moving to Preston if you're CEO of a major company. Plus- you can get labour cheaper, and keep them longer; minus- you can't get the sort of bright young things who believe that you have to live in London if you can't do Manhattan or Berlin and who will work all the hours god sends because they can't afford a family. Plus- premises are about a quarter the price; minus- you're 200 miles from the people you personally want to schmooze. Plus- the local government will pay you to move there and treat you like royalty; minus- foreigners (suppliers and customers) won't understand why you're not in London.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:39 AM
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I was thinking of government offices, like mentioned in 131.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:40 AM
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So given the choice between spending money on London and spending it elsewhere, they'll usually spend it on London.

Yeah, I remember a [not entirely unbiased] BBC Scotland documentary in the early 90s pointing out that the cost of one of the access roads to the Docklands was more than the entire development budget for Scotland, for the year.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:42 AM
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Somebody should devolve Scotland.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:42 AM
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Cardiff seemed fun in Human Traffic.

132: Berlin is something of a massive outlier there in terms of living expense, no?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:43 AM
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Partly pwned by 131.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:43 AM
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Up the road, there was a long serving House member who was big on the defense committee. He moved whole government offices out into the middle of nowhere, awarded defense contracts to companies that put offices out there, and then subsidized an airport so people could get to it. Then he died and I assume the whole thing fell to shit, but I haven't checked.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:45 AM
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re: 135

Heh, well, that's why I said a non entirely unbiased documentary. IIRC, the journalist presenting it was partly making the case for devolution. Financially, though, it was pretty compelling at the time. This was the fag end of the Thatcher government, and I think the development spend regionally across the UK was even more unfair than usual.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:47 AM
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standard stuff, the drunk or stoned, the shouted profanity, the self-fouled, occurs regularly but not every day. Ride regularly and you'll see it.

I've been riding the bus to work in Columbus for over 15 years, and over that time I've seen all those things, but it's a rare occurrence. 95-98% of the time, I get on the bus, sit down and read for the whole ride without any disturbancees. So much preferable to driving!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:47 AM
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Not sure whether to link this here or in the Piketty thread.

According to a study released this week by geneticists at Cornell University, substantial evidence indicates that rich people and poor people--disparate populations long thought to be entirely unrelated--may have once shared a single common ancestor.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:49 AM
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I used to take the 18 downtown. I never had to stand like I do here. Plus, one time I was riding the bus and saw the Stanley Cup.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 7:50 AM
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Berlin is something of a massive outlier there in terms of living expense, no?

Yes, but you need to learn German.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:00 AM
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95-98% of the time, I get on the bus, sit down and read for the whole ride without any disturbancees.

2-5% of the time still means once every ten days to once every month, if you're taking the bus twice a day. If I commuted by bus and a couple of times a month someone screamed profanity and shat themselves when I got on the bus, I'd probably stop taking the bus.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:02 AM
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144: ajay -- this is just more proof that American math education sucks.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:03 AM
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sit down and read for the whole ride

That's the part had been undervaluing. Or at least doing "visual" things rather than just listening to music like in the car. In practice that has generally meant either catching up on things via Twitter or playing DIVE. (And theoretically reducing my urge to do so at work. Theoretically.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:04 AM
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145: alternatively, I might just start feeling smug that I was obviously such a terrifying presence that people screamed profanity and shat themselves at the mere sight of me. I bet that's the real reason Halford doesn't take the bus to work.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:05 AM
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re: 143

I keep thinking, semi-seriously, that I should move the Hague, or Norway, or somewhere. I know people who do what I do in those places [we work together on projects], and life seems easier/cheaper, and they don't get paid less. And they mostly seem to work in English.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:08 AM
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Life is cheaper in NORWAY?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:10 AM
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148: The Hague, yes. Norway, cheap, not so much. Though incomparably nicer than Slough, and you can always visit Sweden


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:11 AM
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re: 149

Well, I suspect the people I know are being paid quite well. They all have summer cabins, with wood-fired hot-tubs, and the like. They do also live in the frozen north, not Oslo.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:11 AM
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Life is cheaper in NORWAY?

JA, FOR SURE.


Posted by: Opinionated Viking | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:12 AM
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Maybe the Svalbard Repository needs an archivist. I mean, it's basically a library, except instead of books it has grain.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:13 AM
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151: ttaM the frozen north is quite amazingly fucking frozen. And dark. And oddly full of Vietnamese Catholics.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:13 AM
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with wood-fired hot-tubs

That was soup, you asshole.


Posted by: Opinionated Norwegian Chef | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:14 AM
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Although the nb.no people are here:

http://bit.ly/1l7dAKi

which is no-shitting North.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:15 AM
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re: 154

Yeah. They make a lot of dark jokes along the lines of:

'How can you tell it is July?'

...

'Because the children are wearing their summer mittens.'


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:15 AM
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The summer looks cooler, but it doesn't look like Oslo gets that much colder than here in the winter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:17 AM
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That actually looks like a nice climate for me. I want to start wearing jackets more often, but it's just too hot for the whole summer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:18 AM
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How can you weirdos read on a bus? If I tried I would soon join the ranks of the vomiting-on-the-bus 2%. Train, sure you can read.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:19 AM
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I fell in love with Norway on my very brief, uninformative vacation to Trondheim. I say go for it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:22 AM
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146: This is why I love the bus. I get places! I do things! I don't have to worry about steering a giant death machine. I get exposed to different sorts of people than I would otherwise. It's cheaper than parking downtown.

To that point, I have a lot of trouble understanding people who don't prefer that. I had a coworker who was a recent CMU grad and lived on For/bes & Wi/ghtm/an in Squ/irrel Hi/ll and didn't even know what bus went downtown; the idea that there was a way he could drink at happy hours and get home safely was alien to him. ("You could take the bus home" "Nope, the lot downtown won't let you keep your car there overnight.") The buses here are somewhat erratic in showing up, admittedly, but not so bad that they're not a good way to get around. I can only assume classism.

Alas, I've mostly been catching up on podcasts, and since I can only handle one language stream at a time that generally means my eyes are occupied--shamefully--2048.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:23 AM
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I had a college friendquaintance who did a year abroad at the University of Tromso because he wanted to go study at the world's northernmost university for some reason. He was an Islami Studies major as well, which made the whole thing even more rational. He said it was very very dark.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:24 AM
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And this was over New Year's Eve, so full fledged cold and dark. The cold was on par with michigan or Wisconsin.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:25 AM
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The dark would have been much longer than in Michigan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:27 AM
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"The dark would have been much longer than in Michigan. "

Because the trees would have been the wrong height.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:28 AM
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Ah, but in Mo i Rana, you also have sea-running Actic char. Move there at once!


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:28 AM
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When I recently helped my daughter move, I noticed she had small paper labels attached to a number of things in her apartment. Turned out they were the name of the thing in Norwegian--somehow linked to an interest in Norway and desire to become familiar with/learn the language.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:43 AM
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This was the fag end of the Thatcher government, and I think the development spend regionally across the UK was even more unfair than usual.

Yeah, the answer to the question is slightly different now. Back then, it was basically government policy to depopulate and de-industrialise the regions.

How can you weirdos read on a bus? If I tried I would soon join the ranks of the vomiting-on-the-bus 2%. Train, sure you can read.

I'm immune to motion sickness. Never been sea-sick or car-sick in my life. Even if I could drive and had a car, I'd rather take public transport so I could read.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:49 AM
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I genuinely love using public transport,* for exactly that reason -- I can read -- and would use it all the time for longer journeys, if I could. I also have no problem reading on buses. No idea about motion sickness, although I have never been car or sea-sick.

* although I moan about the unreliability of my train route on Twitter a lot because, well, it is really really fucking unreliable.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:51 AM
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160: That reminded me that when I first started riding the bus I thought that reading would make me sick. For a few weeks I just sat and observed.
Then one day I decided to try to read on the bus. I didn't get sick.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:55 AM
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150: yeah, I've heard complaints about the price of booze on Norway from Swedes. Which tells you something.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 8:58 AM
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Speaking of moving to places where everybody speaks English, I just came across a map. Norway isn't listed, but probably about the same as Sweden and Denmark.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:10 AM
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I would assume Switzerland is pretty high as well, but apparently they're neutral in response to the survey.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:16 AM
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I would assume Switzerland is pretty high as well, but apparently they're neutral in response to the survey.

It's EU only - hence Norway's absence too. Regardless, I'd be surprised if it's as high as in Scandinavia. Among the urban elite, sure, but among the ordinary population, especially in the countryside, not so much. Far more useful to learn one of the other official languages. I'm a bit surprised Austria is so much higher than Germany - maybe because of having so many trade links with Eastern Europe they have more need of a lingua franca.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:21 AM
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170: this is exactly right, the luxury of not having to drive! Wonderful. Reading, listening to music, poetry or a play, knitting, people watching, visiting with charming companions. Just about the only thing I really dislike is talking on the phone.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:23 AM
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Some data for Switzerland here. Higher than I'd have thought overall, but I don't know how the numbers would map to the EU survey.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:24 AM
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101

For drug use, I once sat next to a guy mixing a screwdriver with orange juice and vodka in a paper bag. He was kind enough to offer some to me before taking the first sip.

151

Re. Norwegian cabins. It might have changed since the 80s, but it used to be your cabin could either have electricity or plumbing but not both. The idea was that cabins were supposed to be for roughing it and you ought not to be too comfortable. Our family & friends generally went the electricity route and put in an outhouse. Also, pretty much everyone in Norway has a cabin, it's pretty much a national requirement.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:30 AM
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Also Norway got way more expensive with the oil boom. It wasn't that long ago Norway was cheaper than Sweden. (And for most of history, Norway was much poorer than Sweden. I hear there's some resentment about the role reversal now.)


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:32 AM
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The buses in Austin are clean, frequent, and wide-ranging. But when I'm on them I'm frequently the only person on them. I don't get it (and will be out of Austin before I do).


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:35 AM
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I never took the buses in Austin much, mostly because my schedule didn't regularly demand it and so it was enough of an obstacle to figure out the buses for a one-off trip that I never bothered. It seemed like students used the buses to commute pretty heavily.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:42 AM
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Obviously you go with the plumbing because then you can use the water for very inefficient hydroelectric power


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:43 AM
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||

Robert Halford, call your office, in the most literal, Robert-Halford-est way imaginable, except that it doesn't have any reference to killing and eating an animal

|>


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 9:54 AM
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I'm glad this thread is still ticking because now I can report on the lengthy pep talk/friendly bullying that I overheard between mother and daughter on the trolley to SW yesterday.

Scene: Daughter (braids, chunky, monosyllabic, sullen, 12ish)
Mother (animated, polished, vehement, youthful)

You have to imagine the whole thing in a strong Philadelphia working class accent, conducted at a high enough volume that most of the trolley could hear every word.

Mother: Everybody learns differently. Just because you have a learning DIFFERENCE doesn't mean you have a learning DISABILITY.

(Daughter: [unintelligible])

There are places, schools that cater to, to, to people with learning differences. It's a learning DIFFERENCE. It's like me and math.

(unintelligible)

You can't assume that just because it's like this now -- look, I am not happy with degree that I have. I, still want to to continue my education, because my one degree, is not enough.

(unintelligible)

It's not like this in college! College is different. You can't assume that because this one class -- I went to the center and asked for help. And my math grade, my math grade went up. I got the best grade in class.

You know why? Because I listened, and I paid attention, and every-body-else, they just wanted to goof off, and not pay attention, and make fun of the teacher because he was Russian. And I didn't like that, because your grandmother, Grandma Susan? She's half-Russian.

(unintelligible)

She is. So next time you see her, you give her a big hug, but not too hard, because you don't want to hurt her.

...

You can't say you don't like biology! It's only based on one class. You have no idea what it is going to be like in college. You might LOVE biology.

(unintelligible)

Have you ever had a class with a LAB? Have you ever had a class with EXPERIMENTS? Biology is not always like this! In college it's different. You don't even know. You do not even know what it's going to be like.

That's why I want more. Because my one degree, my vo-ca-tion-al certificate, is not enough for me.

(Mother and daughter exit the trolley, mother continuing the monologue.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 10:03 AM
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My kid chose a 47, heading north, to let me know the game was up with the whole Santa Claus thing. He knew I was trapped. I got pitying looks from the adults within earshot as I tried to salvage the situation, but he wasn't having any of it. A school playground populated by 7 year olds can be a harsh place.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 10:20 AM
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184

That is great and reads quite a lot like some of the early sociolinguistics data coming out of Penn in the 60s & 70s.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 10:24 AM
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your cabin could either have electricity or plumbing but not both

Isn't the obvious choice to go with plumbing? I'm looking into renting cabins as a compromise because my SO wants to go camping and I am not very enthusiastic. I don't mind no electricity, but I draw the line at no indoor plumbing.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 10:44 AM
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187 is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 10:46 AM
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When I lived in San Francisco, I took BART over driving my car whenever it was practical to do so.

Unless you also mean MUNI I would assume this would mean essentially never. It's a train system with eight stops in an entire (small) city.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 11:31 AM
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BART goes to the east bay and partway down the peninsula, to SFO and beyond the caldicott tunnel, heck it even goes to Antioch! but yes not very useful within the city except for getting from downtown to 16th street efficiently.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 11:34 AM
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Is the light rail system in Austin still limping toward death? So depressing!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 11:44 AM
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That's a good question. Traffic is amazingly more awful there than it was when I moved away in 2006. I have to imagine that keeps the pressure on finding a workable rail system, so maybe it's getting more use.

There's a semi-imminent plan to connect San Antonio to Austin with a regular commuter train. That would be great for us.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 11:47 AM
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190: Yes, BART is a serviceable commuter rail. As urban mass transit, it's a joke. Stops in Oakland (56 square miles), 9. Beyond that, it's one per town.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 11:53 AM
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193: well yeah, but (even before it was crippled by Marin and San Mateo Counties) it was never really intended to be urban mass transit. That's what the Key Route/AC Transit/Muni etc. systems were/are for.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:04 PM
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Assume Oakland is square with sides of 7.5 miles that is divided into nine smaller squares with sides of 2.5 miles. Second, let's assume that at the center of each of the nine smaller squares is a station. In that case, no part of Oakland is more than 1.77 miles from a station. Which seems a reasonable walking distance for a place with nice weather.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:05 PM
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Maybe not. We don't even have a commuter rail that goes any place useful.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:06 PM
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3 stops in Berkeley, but yes strictly regional rail. If you get the chance to go a Lost Landscapes they often play portions of a hilarious BART promo depicting the dystopian hell of San Francisco in the 70's (appx), transformed! by the miracle! of regional rail! And then the clips from the construction update promo with the folk dude soundtrack, "we're building a bridge to the future" repeated endlessly as if the budget for lyrics got shorted and they could only pay for one line. Highly recommended.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:12 PM
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194: that might be part of the problem!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:12 PM
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the dystopian hell of San Francisco in the 70's

I saw a documentary about that. A cop had to go outside channels to stop a killer who hijacked a bus full of kids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:14 PM
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It's on youtube! Look for "Bart construction along the way" and I misremembered the lyric, "were building a dream for tomorrow..."


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:16 PM
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If you get the chance to go a Lost Landscapes

Oh yeah, those are a great time. Unfortunately the last one sold out in no time at all, so I'm not optimistic about getting to see another one. (I don't think I'm quite ready to throw down for a Long Now membership just for that.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:20 PM
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196: It goes to a place called "Library", which is apparently not a library.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:22 PM
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Wow 1967 aerial footage for construction update, oh god productivity is taking it in the neck...awesome editing effects involving a giant auger...


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:22 PM
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It's actually not bad for around downtown, but I can't figure out why it takes so long to get from the casino to Market Square. It's about walking speed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:25 PM
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I've never used it in the free zone since Downtown is so walkable. I could understand going to the North Shore, but if it's that slow...


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:28 PM
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It just seemed strange. Maybe I was there when they were still testing the limits. Anyway, it's certainly faster to take the T to station square than to walk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:30 PM
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Really? That's a pretty short walk, at least where I am downtown (near the courthouse). Maybe people just hate walking more than I can comprehend? I get the bus at Boulevard and Smithfield and able-bodied people take (sometimes will even run after) a park & ride bus from there to...Station Square. Sometimes they'll wait more than fifteen minutes for it. The mind boggles. I hope there's some secret far-away lot I don't know about.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:36 PM
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Oh is Ashby in Berkeley? I guess that means 8 stations in Oakland (3 of which are downtown.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:38 PM
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Earlier this month, I went from Steel Plaza to Station Square on the T twice. It took like three minutes both times. Maybe I just got lucky.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:41 PM
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209 to 207.

208: That's much harder math than the original problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:42 PM
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Also there are 2 stops in San Leandro (Bay Fair), 2 in El Cerrito, 2 in Walnut Creek (Pleasant Hill), and 2 in Hayward, but who's counting.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:43 PM
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No toilet is no big deal; as I have mentioned before my dad didn't have one for years.

However, I don't think I could pass on uunning water....I don't think I'd want to manually pump all my own. And if you had electricity it wouldn't be a big deal.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:48 PM
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It depends if there's an outside fire pit with a spigot nearby, or not. Or presumably your car is close enough that you can pack in a big plastic tub of water. Actually packing in water sounds miserable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:50 PM
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I was assuming an outdoor hand pump.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:50 PM
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Or at least a tank filled from a buffalo.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:52 PM
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Or pedagogy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:52 PM
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I assumed manual hand pump was meant, but I think hauling water for every use is a real pain.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:53 PM
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Anyway, my dad didn't have a toilet for years also. I've noticed that he always uses a toilet now that he has the option.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:59 PM
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I'm a bit surprised Austria is so much higher than Germany - maybe because of having so many trade links with Eastern Europe they have more need of a lingua franca.

Half of Germans over a certain age would have learned Russian as their first foreign language, and may or may not have ever picked up English.



Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 12:59 PM
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We rented a house on a lake in Canada last summer and apparently it's pretty standard for all cottages in the area that there's no drinking water- they pump and filter water from the lake for dishes/toilets/bathing but you shouldn't drink it. So we had to buy our own bottled water / fill up jugs from a drinking pump. OTOH Costco in the area seems to have adapted to this requirement and they sell insanely cheap generic bottled water, like 8 cents / 500 mL bottle.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:06 PM
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I didn't realize you could wash dishes with water that you couldn't drink.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:11 PM
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The answer to many questions of the form "Why doesn't BART do X?" is "BART was never intended to do X, it was intended specifically to reduce rush hour congestion along the traffic patterns of the 1950s and 1960s".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:13 PM
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We have the set up in 220 for a family cabin. It's nbd for a week long vacation stay, and so far no one has died from polluted dishes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:15 PM
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Apparently even brushing your teeth is ok. We used to do that on canoe trips where we would otherwise treat water meant for drinking. Doesn't matter so much for cooking since you're usually boiling that anyway.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:16 PM
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I think of it as the difference between water approved for boating/swimming/fishing/drinking. The Charles River was recently reopened for swimming in some parts even though it's still not approved for drinking, but you ingest a certain amount in the course of swimming, so I guess there's some threshold of ok to have a little but not everything you drink.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:18 PM
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Fortunately BART didn't need to do anything else because of the awesome public system already provided by AC Transit and MUNI.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:19 PM
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Do they ever approve a river for drinking?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:19 PM
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I've drunk from rivers and lakes, I assume there's some standard to say that's ok. Probably never one that runs through a major urban area.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:28 PM
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Sadly I can't seem to find the dystopian hell film online, just the upbeat folky one and the auger-in-action one, the latter also includes a totally cool sequence on the join up of the Berkeley hills tunnel, demo shot of a water tower, insertion of transbay tube sections, lots of cut-and-cover footage in downtown Oakland and SF...such great footage. Sad reflections on our inability to accomplish anything this grand today, complex weapons systems aside.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:29 PM
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I'm sure there's a standard, but I was wondering if they ever put up a sign saying, "Go ahead and drink the water" or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:29 PM
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I've never been to a Lost Landscapes but aren't all the clips in the Internet Archive.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:32 PM
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awesome public system already provided by AC Transit

Rly?

I mean, I don't care, really. I'm re-embracing car culture...


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:32 PM
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. s/b ?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:33 PM
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That was just trolling. Of course AC Transit is (or at least was, I'm assuming it hasn't gotten better in the past 15 years) incredibly bad. Also what car did you get?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:34 PM
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I thought maybe it was trolling but I'm also crabby because I've been dealing with Comcast.

We got a 2007 Fit. It seems to meet our insubstantial car needs.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:36 PM
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I thought maybe it was trolling but I'm also crabby because I've been dealing with Comcast.

We got a 2007 Fit. It seems to meet our insubstantial car needs.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:36 PM
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We like it so much we got two, apparently.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:36 PM
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On the Norway subthread, I once spent a night in Tromso without a place to stay. It was light the whole time.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:37 PM
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And it was December.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:38 PM
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I mean for that matter BART is fine. I'm just incredibly crabby.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:38 PM
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231: Yes, but some (likely lame on my part) searching didn't yield the clip. The Prelinger archive section doesn't have a tag for Bart - ?

Definitely go to a Lost Landscapes if you can! Although there was some interesting tensions in the last one I went to, it was pretty apparent there were some major cleavages between tech industry friendly people in the audience and, hmmm, *others* shall we say ...


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:41 PM
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Also, I think Narvik, south of Tromso, is the northernmost point reachable by rail in western Europe. It's something like 19 hours north of Stockholm, and the route is one of the few train rides I've been on in Europe that's felt like taking the train in the western US.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:43 PM
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82: Bizarrely Portland gets a reputation of having "good public transit" solely on this basis. It's not actually better, it just whiter.

Totes untrue! Portland's public transit is beloved of planning and transportation wonks everywhere, and in some parts of town it's not even lily-white.

No toilet is no big deal

Sure, as long as your outhouse has a bidet.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:45 PM
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Couldn't you just pee in the bidet?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:47 PM
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You can pee anywhere there's a mountain laurel.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 1:57 PM
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Correction to 11: on checking with my father, he did not work for Toll Brothers, but for another developer with a very similar name. Any insinuation that Toll Brothers is sketchy should rest only on information published in the regular news media.


Posted by: Dilma Rouseff | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 2:01 PM
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Somebody tried to convince me that peeing in the bidet would somehow damage it (the bidet). I don't remember how that was supposed to happen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 2:08 PM
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247: It's the same bastards who tell you that peeing in the sink (or as I like to call it, the 1/8 bath) is wrong. (1/16 bath: floord drain. 1/32 bath: sump pump hole.)


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 2:39 PM
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130: Not sure. Median _household_ income for London seems to be quite a bit lower than people are suggesting, at around £30K. Source. The median salary may well be not much less than that, but I would suggest that households are very often _not_ composed of two full time earners on equal salaries. Part time work for one partner might be a fairly common scenario for families with children. In any case, I think most people would think 'affordable' - and let's say this is defined more by the £66K maximum that applies to two-bed units than the £80K that applies to the comparatively rare three-beds - should address incomes at or below the median, not significantly above it.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 2:46 PM
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Source:

http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/idoc.ashx?docid=b1e38174-452f-4488-b02f-1bd81d3bbbe2&version=1


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 2:50 PM
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Alternate source (GLA data):

http://data.london.gov.uk/documents/update-06-2014-results.pdf

The median for London household income is here given as £35K. (Note that, unlike the Tower Hamlets figures, this is 'unequivalised'.) Anyway, if you're a Londoner commenter, you're probably better off than you thought. Just not able to afford a house.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:06 PM
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Finally, for the sake of full disclosure, we in our household recently applied for shared ownership housing in Lambeth, and were accepted. Assuming the mortgage goes through, we should get to move in before the end of the summer. Tbh, for us there were no other buying options. Not only that, the administrative hoop you have to jump through when qualifying for affordable housing is pretty small. Not too much income, not too little either.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:10 PM
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What's 'shared ownership housing'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:13 PM
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248: You monster. I'm always having to reach down in the sump to change or maintain the pump.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:24 PM
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243's comments about Portland transport aren't necessarily inconsistent with it not being better, just whiter. Lots of PT enthusiasts are pretty snobbish/racist.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:35 PM
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My understanding, never having ridden it, is that Portland light rail beats Santa Clara County light rail on such criteria as "used on a regular basis for commuting", "not traveling through vast expanses surrounded by parking lots and low office buildings", and "land use near stops suggests that planners are willing to acknowledge that light rail exists".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:46 PM
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253: you buy a share of the freehold (i.e. 30%) and pay rent on the remainder, subject to rent control. You have the option to 'staircase' to 100% ownership later on. You have most of the rights of a freeholder, but there are some restrictions. You can't sublet the property, or make major alterations to it. When you sell, you have to allow the housing association to have a go at finding a buyer first, before you can advertise on the open market, and the price is set by a valuer.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:47 PM
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I should have added - although I guess it's implied - no no one can _just decide_ to give you notice and evict you (unless of course you just stop paying the rent). In the context of UK rental law, this is a very attractive feature.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:50 PM
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Who owns the other 70%? The government?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:51 PM
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Also, I think Narvik, south of Tromso, is the northernmost point reachable by rail in western Europe. It's something like 19 hours north of Stockholm, and the route is one of the few train rides I've been on in Europe that's felt like taking the train in the western US.

Norwegian movie O'Horten is about a train driver on routes like that. It's one of those Kaurismakian deadpan quirkfests but highly recommended.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:51 PM
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259: the housing association. You also pay a service charge and they maintain the common areas (no different from many private 'for sale' developments).


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:56 PM
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||
Grover Norquist is trolling Sifu.
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:56 PM
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That's a riot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 3:58 PM
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Might be, if people figure out who he is. I mean, I'm sure it'd be a creative riot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:01 PM
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I'm sure he'll pick a non-identifying playa name.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:04 PM
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For an art project he's bringing a bathtub and people can bring thing they really dislike to drown in it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:05 PM
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Won't his "Taxation is theft" tat be identifying?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:05 PM
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You know, I hear that sometimes it's really hard to keep people from running into the burning Man. IYKWIMAITTII*.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:06 PM
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*...It's Incriminating.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:07 PM
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re: 252

Congratulations on getting a place.

We looked seriously at it ourselves, as we sort of qualify, and we certainly qualified a year ago when J' was on maternity leave. There was literally nothing within a reasonable commuting route for work when we looked 7 months ago, so we signed a 2 year lease on a rented place. Looking now, somewhat annoyingly, there are now several places up for grabs where we'd just meet the criteria, and where the places are handy for the kid's nursery, and our respective commutes.

I have no idea what our situation is going to be like in 18 months. We certainly won't be able to buy on the normal non-affordable open market. But we will probably have slipped outside the relevant affordable housing window unless my wife goes part time. It's slightly sad that our best shot at an affordable home, with some rights, might involve becoming a fairly classic 'husband works, wife works part-time and does childcare' arrangement. Which isn't where we are at the moment. I actually do fractionally more childcare, and we earn pretty much exactly equivalent salaries.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:07 PM
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The building we live in now has some 'affordable' units. But they are long gone.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:08 PM
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Worth bearing in mind that you only have to be on the 'correct' income for as long as the qualifying assessment takes. You can go out and start working more hours (or get a very highly paid job) immediately afterwards. The bigger problem, I reckon, is the sheer lottery of getting an offer. You have choice, in that you can apply only for apartments (houses?) you actually like, but there are many more applicants than there are homes. Having children gets you a higher priority, as does living or working in the borough in which you're applying.

Anyway, we are not done yet. The mortgage offer is tantalisingly close (the bank did the valuation, which is a good sign) but could go tits up still.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:13 PM
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And Islington, Hackney and Southwark seem to build the most affordable. Lambeth not bad. Peabody has just started a big development in St John's Hill (i.e. Battersea), but Wandsworth is generally abysmal. Tower Hamlets probably has a decent amount, but the general living environment in the east is still fairly lousy, I reckon. Lots of developers try to put the affordable next to something nasty, so extreme caution and plenty of research is needed. Nothing easy about it, although tbh I suspect any sort of house buying is stressful.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:20 PM
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re: 273

Yeah, sadly none of those areas are remotely accessible for my commute. Maybe Islington, I suppose. But I'd still be looking at 4 hours+ a day.

Still, I suppose it'd good [in general] that there are areas that are building a decent amount.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:25 PM
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270: could you sublet for the remainder of the term where you are now?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:33 PM
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No. In fact, subletting in general is not a thing here, and I'm certain it's against the terms of our lease.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:35 PM
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On the plus side, to alleviate the doom and gloom, our current place is perfectly OK, and friends live within walking distance. So it's not Dickensian squalor.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:37 PM
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it's not Dickensian squalor.

That's extra, but still quite affordable at Dickensworld, Brough To You By Goliath Corporation.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:46 PM
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