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We remember Unf

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 07.19.08

If Greg Norman really wants to bring us back to the good old days, he'll crap out tomorrow and let someone else win. David Duval already did his part. Hot quote:

"I might have mishit three shots but managed to shoot 83," said Duval. "I'm extremely disappointed with my score because I can assure you that not very many people hit the ball more solid that I did. But I couldn't get anything to happen."

The 1087th best golfer in the world, ladies and gentlemen.


 

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al-Maliki

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 07.19.08

Josh thinks that al-Maliki's more-or-less endorsement of Obama's 16-month exit plan is a big deal:

...I don't think it's enough to say this is a huge development. It's huger than that. In a stroke, I think, al Maliki has cut McCain off at the knees in a way I'm not sure his campaign strategy can recover from.
Consider McCain's strategy, which is all bound up with Iraq.
All understand it is a given that the war is unpopular and that the vast majority of Americans want out as soon as possible. The big of wiggle room is just what's 'possible.' McCain has invested his entire campaign in support for the purportedly nascent Iraqi democracy al Maliki represents and the claim that Obama's support for a timetable for withdrawal irresponsibly risks losing the gains we've achieved and giving Iraq back to al Qaeda.
Here, with a brush of the hand and in so many words, al Maliki says, "No, we're good."

Is this right? It sounds right. I hope it's right.

UPDATE: Spencer "go ahead and punch me" Ackerman has a really useful stage-setting. MORE updating: Ambinder, via Yglesias.

YET ANOTHER UDPATE: Instapundit's only mention of this story is to say

REPORTS THAT MALIKI ENDORSED THE OBAMA TROOP-WITHDRAWAL TIMELINE turn out to be in error, which should come as no great surprise to those who have been paying attention.

So he buys the vague quasi-denials of an Iraqi spokesman issued through CENTCOM. Punchline: "libertarian."


 

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Borderline

Posted by Stanley
on 07.19.08

I thought I'd stumbled upon American Border Patrol's website from a link 'round these parts, but I can't find it in the archives. Anyway, I admit to spending far too much time looking at their photo pages. The captions seem to be growing more earnest by the day. For instance:

Young lady contemplates the American flag as she places them on the border fence on the American Border Patrol ranch in southeastern Arizona. Her name is withheld to protect her from those who would attack her for standing up for America.

Leaving off her name: completely normal and sane thing to do. That second sentence: huh?

The ABP also has an affinity for paranoid speculation:

Digital game camera captures image of at least five people on trail in the Huachuca Mountains. Their dress is unusual as most migrants use inexpensive things like plastic trash bags to protect them from the rain.
This group appears almost military in nature. It is unknown if drugs are hidden under the parkas.

I see. It is also unknown whether they have puppies under the parkas. Or who the hell they are in the first place.

Or perhaps the my current favorite:

This photo was taken today, July 11. It shows the border fence where thousands of American flags were affixed on July 4. In the background a storm gathers over the Huachuca Mountains. "When I took this photo I couldn't help but think of the other storm that is gathering along our border," said Glenn Spencer of American Border Patrol.

Oh my! Luckily, the group is to sell Umbrellas of Justice in their online store. I mean, I'm speculating, but maybe.


 

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Somewhere Ogged is feeling smug

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 07.18.08

Oscar Pistonius fails to make the Olympics.


 

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Ask the Mineshaft: Arf Arf Arf Edition

Posted by Apostropher
on 07.18.08

To the mailbag!

Yesterday evening, the Ruprecht family found the perfect dog at the local animal shelter: a five-month old purebred Basset Fauve de Bretagne, a.k.a. a Brittany Fawn. He is, in my completely objective and considered opinion, the cutest dog ever. And I didn't even want to get a dog.

His slave name at the shelter was J.P., but we would like to come up with a new name, and we want to solicit suggestions from the Mineshaft.

Non-negotiable criteria: Should be pronounceable by our four-year-old, should not reveal us as total tools.

Nice to have criteria: Could reflect his breed heritage (he is a French scent hound used by the common folk for non-mounted hunting) or his morphology (low and long, like a Dachshund, bristly red hair).

Extra bonus points will be awarded for names beginning with the letter D, which corresponds to the French naming convention for pets (animals born in the same year carry names that begin with the same letter; 2008=D).

The contenders so far (courtesy of our Breton friend Jean-Yves) are: "Korrigan" (a Breton word meaning a magic, creative elf), "Mignon" (cute), and "Rouquin" (redhead). The leading rejected entry so far is "Kouign Amman" (a Breton butter cake), rejected for being unpronounceable by non-Celts.

Won't you help some new dog owners out?

Have at it, folks.


 

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Tedious angry liberal blogging

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 07.18.08

So there's this NYT article mainly about electrical problems at US bases in Iraq. The problem is widespread but has gotten more Pentagon attention since a soldier was electrocuted while showering. There are some suspicions that Kellog Brown & Root botched some wiring.

The reports of shoddy electrical work have raised new questions about the Bush administration's heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq, particularly because they come after other high-profile disputes involving KBR. They include accusations of overbilling, providing unsafe water to soldiers and failing to protect female employees who were sexually assaulted.

This struck a chord with me because I know a guy who might be shitting blood for a while because he drank some bad water while on deployment-- right after KBR took over the water supply. (This would have worked out fine if he'd gotten competent medical care right away, but there's not much of that at the FOB.) So the Army is out one expensively-trained guy (he's rendered undeployable) and he's out a well-functioning intestine. And "providing unsafe water" sounds so "lemon chicken" innocuous. I don't want to think about what stories are wrapped up in "failing to protect."

Of course I don't know what it's like to be on the receiving end of this sort of incompetence or neglect. It's nightmarish to learn that you've been permanently damaged by your service, or to learn that your loved one won't be coming home. I imagine it's even harder to take when the story is absurd. "He was killed in a firefight with the enemy" is one thing; "he died in the shower because we had lousy electricians" is another. Maybe. I don't know.

/earnest.
KBR was created when Halliburton merged their subsidiaries MW Kellogg and Brown & Root. B&R got their start building roads in Texas and got rich when they hitched their wagon to LBJ. After funding his first congressional campaign, they got his help getting around federal regulations and securing other government contracts, e.g. the construction of the Corpus Christi Naval Station.
/Edge of the American West.


 

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For Future Reference

Posted by Stanley
on 07.17.08

I'm not sure who "Phil" is, nor do I know why he seems to think that the ben w-lfs-n of the future will adopt the moniker "Edward", but there it is, right there on the internet.

Hi, future ben w-lfs-n. Or, Edward, as you would have it.


 

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'A ream of email'

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 07.17.08

An account of sex via Craigslist. Via the Instant Pundit.

In other kinky news, Rod Dreher brings us this account of a woman's long-term sexual relationship with her brother:

Every so often I would wonder what people would think if they found out, especially our parents, but it always felt so right and was so exciting that these concerns were never enough to stop me. Sometimes he initiated sex and sometimes I did, but in between times our relationship was as easy, relaxed and affectionate as ever, with the incredible passion of each encounter quietly banked away until the next time.

Lest you think Dreher was merely appealing to prurient interest, he tacks on a moral at the end:

Here's my question, though: If God doesn't exist (that is, if there is no such thing as absolute moral truth), why shouldn't the woman have sex with her brother? They're careful not to risk reproduction, its always been consensual, they enjoy it, and they don't feel guilty. So what's the problem?

My favorite part, of course, is "(that is..."

Oops, I should mention Roy linked to another Dreher post and I just couldn't stop reading.


 

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Als wäre die Musik im Schaltplan des Radios

Posted by Ben
on 07.17.08

No vulgar reductionist is Blixa Bargeld!

Hey guess what guys? I'm going back on the air! A fellow DJ, who goes by Wedge, is for some reason unable to do his regular slot this week, and so I'm doing it in his stead, demonstrating that his taste in replacements is no worse than his exceptional taste in music. So: 3 to 6 pee em, Pacific StandardDaylight, whatever Time, Friday 7/18, 90.1 FM if you're in range (unlikely) and online otherwise. There will be a playlist linked from here. Since Wedge normally does a jazz show, there will be a higher-than-normal proportion of jazz, but also, some non jazz! Thus there will be heard such as Steve MacLean, Jannick Top, Offonoff, the Scorch Trio, the Equal Interest Trio, Heinz Holliger, the Michael Dessen Trio, the Giants of Gender, Joseph Holbrooke, Peter Hammill, Paolo Angeli, Peter Brötzmann (in multiple contexts!), Familha Artús, two John Cage pieces played simultaneously, Normal Love, Burning Star Core, AND MORE.

Oh I forgot: I wanted to put some Mucca Pazza (a little marching band!) in the set but I forgot. But that's ok because they're playing tonight at the Rickshaw Stop with some other brass band or two. But what's that you say? Perhaps you can't go to the Rickshaw Stop tonight because you're going to see Brian Kenney Fresno or Tussle or Peter Walker or Kris Tiner (all excellent choices)? That's ok, because the Extra Action Marching Band (also a marching band!) is playing tomorrow as part of the mission creek boring music festival (though they are not boring) at some place called The Eagle, wherever that is. It seems to be hosting an event called "Up Your Alley", F. Labs, Master of Ceremonies.


 

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And your roommate may have Wonderwall set as their alarm clock buzzer.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.17.08

Okay, so this fall I'm teaching a Welcome to Being An Undergrad course that all first-years are required to take. I've read a couple books and solicited a lot of ideas for how the hell to flesh out a non-math course, and feel like I have a pretty good idea of how I want to run this course and what kind of assignments I want to assign, etc.

However, I haven't been a student in a non-math course since the 90's. I don't feel very well-informed as to The Student Experience in a course like this. My question is: what assignments and activities felt like a waste of time when you were in high school and college?

I'm not going to pander the class to what students love. I'd just like to be informed and prepared for their reactions to activities and assignments.

So, this college is not as challenging, nor the students as educationally mature, as you probably were, you smarty-pants. When I try to see things from their point of view, I usually use Heebie-as-a-10th-grader as a yardstick.

The bulk of the class is spent reading two books and a series of readings, and writing short responses and having discussions, etc. So tell me, what felt like a colassal waste of your time? And after all, you're my wonderwall.


 

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Car Cuisine

Posted by Becks
on 07.17.08

I've found that I'm eating an increasing number of meals in my car due to my long commute and busy schedule. At a minimum, I usually eat breakfast and an afternoon snack behind the wheel. I'm getting sick of granola bars, my usual auto edible, and want to mix it up. My top concerns are:

1) Healthy
2) Extremely fast or no preparation (pre-packaged OK)
3) Not drippy or excessively crumby

I know you've indulged Ogged's weird breakfast requirements in the past. My turn!


 

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The SSS will propel local college sophomores at tremendous speeds into unfamiliar groups of people in an effort to plumb the structure of the elementary particles of social interaction.

Posted by Ben
on 07.16.08

This is pretty funny, but since I've quoted the funniest part in the title, there's really little reason for you to read the whole thing, unless you want context, or to look at an amusing diagram, or something.


 

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Ask The Mineshaft - Miracle of Preventing Life Edition

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.16.08

A previous pill popper pops the pregunta about preventing the preggers:

The Pill is messing me up, people, and I'm a little at a loss as to what to replace it with. Barrier methods (other than condoms) don't stay where they're supposed to, I've had bad reactions to nonoxynol-9 (though it's been years since I've used it), and I'm leery of the IUD. My doctor is willing to give me one (39, nulliparous), but she's only talked about Mirena, the one with the hormones. I'm also worried that it will hurt -- both going in, and that the string will irritate my cervix -- and while I'm reasonably sure we won't be having kids, I'm still reluctant to close that door for the next 5 years. We'll suck it up and use condoms for the time being, but I'm really pissed that my old friend the Pill has turned on me.

What do you all use? What are the tradeoffs? HALP.

So, how does the Mineshaft staunch the flow of babies?


 

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Doomed To Dorkdom

Posted by Becks
on 07.16.08

I've been pretty amazed by the increasing degree to which I've stopped giving a shit what most people think as I've gotten older. It started out slowly in my late 20s but the velocity really picked up after I turned 30 and the year's not even out yet. There have been a number of times in recent weeks where I've caught myself doing something that would have made my 16 year old self cringe. This must be how our parents became embarrassing.


 

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Mixed martial arts is the new swimming.

Posted by Apostropher
on 07.15.08

I know that besides Tweety and me, there aren't more than a handful of commenters who are even vaguely interested in MMA, so this seems entirely in keeping with the spirit of the place.

Probably not coincidentally, the college buddies I get together with to watch it are all gay men. Actual quote: "The first time I saw it flipping through channels, I thought, 'Holy shit, they've started putting gay porn on basic cable!' " And I do find it amusing that the fastest-growing sport among young male viewers is the most blatantly homoerotic programming ever to be broadcast on public airwaves. Especially when the fight goes to the floor and though the one guy is working hard from the bottom, eventually the fighter in top position gets past his rubber guard and starts raining blows, eventually transitioning to a full mount. Which, of course, forces the guy who has been mounted to give up his back to avoid further punishment and, after a little more softening up, he is forced to submit due to a rear naked choke.

You see what I mean. Well, so does Out Magazine.


 

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Enumerative!

Posted by Stanley
on 07.15.08

Feist's kid-friendly version of "1 2 3 4" as performed on Sesame Street is pretty adorable. Of course, I'm not to be trusted, for I always preferred Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood growing up.

Nonetheless, full video after the jump.

[Via]


 

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Being a woman can make you frowny-faced.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.15.08

1. I sometimes get CPAish about the sheer number of hours lost to defeatist tasks by women who are ensnared in the beauty paradigm handcuffs. It is a draining and depressing approach to life, where you constantly derive your worth via comparisons to other women around you. Here's what brought this on.

Obviously this TV show is doctored to drive the self-objectification levels through the roof. But boy, up until I had some therapy, I had a split brain where my id saw the world just like these women do, while my superego knew not to let anyone know. (I worked really hard in therapy from age 25-27, and came out on the flip side a massively happier, more relaxed Heebie. I'm now 30.)

2. While we're on the topic of therapy: One big difference between my relationships pre- and post-therapy, (of which there is only one) is that pre-therapy, I focused excessively on behaviors instead of the emotions underlying them. So I'd fall into traps where I'd outline the n behaviors that you can't ever do, because they'll trigger X reaction, and this would spin out into a maze of behaviors to avoid or dutifully carry out.

I think many people simply outgrow this stage, and I might have too, anyway, and that perhaps this is just a common feature of being in your early twenties. Anyway, I used to do it, and it's exhausting, and good riddance.

(Conclusion: therapy is the best.)(I'm sure this thread will be really light-hearted and won't devolve into gender wars or relationship wars at all. OKAY BYE.)


 

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Huh.

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 07.15.08

I saw this via Hilzoy. Interesting.

cartoon20080715.gif


 

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It really just seems that perhaps I think I feel that my opinion is sacred.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.15.08

I think I feel that this is an interesting anaylsis. At least I even think so in my heart, bones, spirituality, and yes, colon. The ways in which it is interesting would be innumerable to enumerate.

(Okay, it is about how our perception that Obama is tracking more towards the center is really just that we had rosy-colored glasses on during the primaries. She makes a good argument that he has consistently been 1) trying to find the intersection in people's ideologies, and 2) dumb-avoidant. It makes sense to me.)

Via Sir Kraab.


 

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Discussion Section

Posted by Stanley
on 07.14.08

I had a friend in college whose pet peeve in discussion sections was people who began comments with, "I just feel...".

I am, of course, a descriptivist and pass not judgment on this manner of speaking. However, I recognize that we bask in the summer sun, and all you slacker academics need to work through the perceived wrongs of your past semester(s). Have at it. Give us the dumb shit. Presidential anonymity, as needed.


 

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I see the next New Yorker has arrived early

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 07.14.08

Eric at The Edge of the American West has an advance copy of next week's John McCain cover. Disturbing.

(I love the idea; the execution is flawed because it makes me think of John McCain's ass.)


 

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Four kids makes it like summer camp

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.14.08

Of the families I know, I can't shake the suspicion that there is something special about having four kids in creating a family identity. We have three kids in my family, and we've got individual relationships between siblings and each with our parents, but there's no sense of being a cohesive unit. My aunts and uncles each had two kids, and most of my friends are from two kid families, and again the individual relationships are cherished, and that's about it.

But of the three four-kid families I know, (including Jammies's family)...they just feel like a team when they talk about their family. (Does Cala's family have four sisters? I'll just invoke retroactive confirmation bias either way.)

(Now, raising four kids is something else, entirely. This is not a back-door confession that Jammies and I will have four kids. We'll have one, and if it bats its eyes and says cute shit, we'll try for a second.)

(Is everyone going to get defensive and mad at me because you only have one or two or three kids? I'm flinchy.)


 

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The court also hopes you didn't pay those shysters too much

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 07.14.08

David Bernstein passes on this helpful hint:

Let's say you represent a condo board. The board has forcibly removed at least two mezuzot from the homes of Jewish families in the building. The families sue, claiming intentional discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The condo board claims it is just enforcing a neutral rule. In your reply brief, you are looking for a literary allusion to describe what you believe is the illegitimate request the plaintiffs have made for money damages. Perhaps it would be wise not to suggest that the plaintiffs are [like Shylock] trying to extract a "pound of flesh" from the defendants.

("Mezuzot" is the plural of "mezuzah.") I'm sure the allusion was well-intentioned but in this context it's hilariously inappropriate. Like a dog-whistle in reverse: the speaker hears the language as innocuous but it has a deeper (unintended) meaning to (part of) the audience. (By my naive lights, leaving the mezuzot alone is commanded by that great ethical principle "don't be a pain in the ass"-- it's not like these things are in anyone's way.) Any other fun examples come to mind?


 

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Funny Rangel Story

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.14.08

I just read Rangel's memoir, Haven't Had A Bad Day Since, the other week, and it had a good story about his getting hired as an AUSA. Rangel grew up as a tough kid in Harlem, with a whole bunch of sketchy friends. To be an AUSA, you have to get vetted by the FBI. Rangel's vetting wasn't going through, and he finally asked what the problem was: he found out that the FBI hadn't been able to confirm that he actually lived at his Harlem address. He had no idea how this could be -- he'd lived pretty much the same place all his life.

He then ran into a couple of his friends, who asked: "Charlie, what did you do? The FBI's been asking about you for weeks. Don't worry, though. Everyone said they didn't know you and you certainly don't live around here."


 

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You have got to be kidding me.

Posted by Apostropher
on 07.14.08

newyorkertm3.jpg


 

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The Price Of Life

Posted by Becks
on 07.14.08

The EPA recently reduced the value of a statistical life by 11%. Your life is now only worth $6.9M to that government agency. This number is used in cost/benefit analysis to determine how many lives would need to be saved in order to justify the cost of a regulation. So now, with the lower value, more people would need to be at risk of death in order for a change be deemed cost-effective.

What I find disturbing is the method used to calculate it:

The EPA figure is not based on people's earning capacity, or their potential contributions to society, or how much they are loved and needed by their friends and family -- some of the factors used in insurance claims and wrongful-death lawsuits.
Instead, economists calculate the value based on what people are willing to pay to avoid certain risks, and on how much extra employers pay their workers to take on additional risks. Most of the data is drawn from payroll statistics; some comes from opinion surveys.

So basically the Bush administration's anti-regulation folks are being rewarded for having made the economy go down the shitter, right? People are so desperate for jobs that they're willing to do even risky ones at low wages and, because of that, the companies providing the risky jobs at low wages get to avoid regulations?


 

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Listen, Don't Read It

Posted by Becks
on 07.13.08

Since Rob brought up NPR's "This I Believe", I have an excuse to link to this segment that I heard in the car the other day that I wanted to share with more people but was hesitant to blog because it's so touching and earnest. But Rob started it so it's all his fault.


 

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This could be entertaining.

Posted by Apostropher
on 07.13.08

Dad mostly sounds like a dumbass, but dumbasses get First Amendment protection just like everybody else.

The T in Satan's name inked on Jamie Meyer's left leg is drawn to look like an upside-down cross. The crucifix suspended above his bed hangs upside down too.

Meyer's ex-wives say he also has turned their children's lives upside down since he joined the Church of Satan--an organization that eschews spirituality and celebrates man's selfish desires. One of Meyer's ex-wives is citing his religious affiliation as the main reason an Indiana judge should restrict his visitation time to allow his three youngest daughters to attend Christian church. A Fulton County judge could decide the case Wednesday.

"My children are my legacy," said Meyer, 30, a factory worker. "It is because of them that I am still here today. I will always fight for my rights as a father."

Across the nation, child-custody disputes involving religion are on the rise as the frequency of interfaith marriages and religious conversions increases and fathers become more active in their kids' upbringing. Judges risk crossing the line between church and state, experts say, if they try to choose the religion in which a child should be raised.

Of course, the courts aren't supposed to favor one religion over another, though they often do in practice, especially when anybody can raise a plausible alarm about sexual abuse. However unfairly, that's an issue that's associated with Satanism in the minds of many Americans. And it's Indiana. So the smart money's on these kids getting ferried to their mother's church eventually, though the ruling has been delayed until mid-August.

However, Satanism is officially recognized as a religion by the Internal Revenue Service, and this guy's court-ordered visitation time is on the weekends. So it's not like he doesn't have a case. And, laid side-by-side, Satanism doesn't look particularly more ridiculous than Christianity (less so than some strands, honestly) to this non-religious observer. You'd hope for the kids' sake that this sort of thing could be worked out peaceably among the adults to the kids' best interest. But on a totally selfish level, I kinda hope it gets kicked up to higher courts on appeal so I can watch the freakshow protests and counter-protests.

Yeah! Yeah! Let's you and him fight!


 

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Doesn't The Times Have Anyone Who Understands Rent Stabilization On Staff?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.13.08

This story about Charlie Rangel's apartments in Harlem, as well as a whole lot of the blog reaction to it, betrays a real misunderstanding of how rent stabilization law works. Rangel lives in three rent stabilized apartments on 135th Street, and uses a fourth as an office, and the Times is shocked:

Mr. Rangel, the powerful Democrat who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, uses his fourth apartment, six floors below, as a campaign office, despite state and city regulations that require rent-stabilized apartments to be used as a primary residence.

State and city regulations don't require a tenant to do or not do anything in or with their apartment, regardless of its rent stabilization status -- there's no possible way for a tenant to violate the regulations. The regulations prevent a landlord from raising the rent above the stabilized level, unless the apartment qualifies to be removed from stabilized status. The landlord could almost certainly remove Rangel's office apartment, at least, from stabilization, but that doesn't mean that Rangel has done anything wrong.

It is possible there's a story here, but the story's not about Rangel's relationship with the rent stabilization law and whether or not he's breaking it -- he's not in a position to. The actual content of the story here is "The Times thinks that Rangel's landlord could legally charge him a higher rent than he does; we're looking into whether this fact alone constitutes an ethical violation." The only place the rent regulations come into it is in figuring out how the landlord's behavior is or is not constrained, but there's nothing in the story beyond "Rangel's landlord may be voluntarily charging him less than a new tenant in the building would be charged" (something which never happens in the absence of rent stabilization regulations.)

That's going to be an interesting standard to apply -- I wonder when the Times is going to call every Representative's landlord, get their monthly rent, and compare it to the market rate for a new tenant?


 

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Happy Campers

Posted by Becks
on 07.13.08

Some of my friends camped out to be the first to get the new iPhone and I realized I'm one of the only people I know in my age cohort who has never camped out for anything. Most others have camped out at one time or another for concert tickets or for a movie. Am I alone? What was worth camping out (or not) to you?


 

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