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Aug 19, 2014 merula commented on Guest Editorial: Seniors Need Affordable Housing, Too.
"[T]he maximum social security amount for an individual in 2014 is $721 per month."

Maximum Social Security Benefit: Worker Retiring at Full Retirement Age in 2014: $2,642/mo.…

$721 is the maximum Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a separate benefit based on need.

If we assume that the seniors in question worked enough to be eligible for regular social security benefits and meet the income requirements for SSI, then they would get their regular SS benefits PLUS the SSI benefits.

I'll grant that social security isn't much to live on, but it's not quite as dire as "The max Social Security check anyone can get isn't enough to cover rent, much less anything else."
Apr 2, 2014 merula commented on Paris To The Left, France To The Right.
Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France with a population of over 800,000 in the metro area. Strasbourg is the eighth largest with over 400,000.

Are these dwarfed by Paris' population of 10,000,000? Yes, of course. But places that are not the largest city and dominant location in politics and culture are still cities. To suggest otherwise would be to say that because Seattle doesn't even make the top 20 in the US, it's not a real city.

There is a real problem in France, with rural areas claiming to be more authentically French than the cities with their large immigrant populations and therefore demanding tax money to preserve this authenticity. That deserves more attention. Municipal (from the Latin municipium meaning free city) elections are not the issue.

Dec 4, 2013 merula commented on There's No and There's....
Another Minnesotan here. The names definitely seem East African, and I think that by not addressing that, the story is missing quite a bit. It's possible that what was meant was a second wife, but even if we take it at face value as a threesome and wanting to use a toy, we're still talking about a community that, overall, is very devoutly Muslim.

Obviously, that doesn't make her actions right or justified, but cultural context is important.
Nov 12, 2013 merula commented on SL Letter of the Day: Model Behavior.
I'm with 16. Dan's response would be perfect but for her view that she has a right to be upset if he played with someone else, but he doesn't. And yeah, that was clearly play.

I agree with Dan and the majority here that you can't date someone you've never met, but at some level self-determination should count for something. If he says she's his gf, and she says he's her master, can't we let that be their truth and restrict ourselves to snickering behind their backs at their naivete? Like when a 13 year old tells you she's met her soul mate?
Oct 9, 2013 merula commented on Top Three "Restaurants" Expensed by Business Travelers.
Let me add to the cacophony of people who are experienced business travelers. When you're in Iowa City at 8pm, do you go with the Starbucks sandwich that you know will be mediocre but probably was handled according to proper food storage procedures, or do you go to Jane's Cafe that one guy on Yelp said was decent 8 months ago? Starbucks, every time. Jane's might be the best place ever, but Yelp doesn't have a link to health code violations. Being sick while traveling is such a miserable experience that I would rather each mediocre sandwiches until I can get home.

Regarding the aspirational choices, I believe all of those chains except Chipotle are regionalized. I don't live in a place with Dunkin Donuts, so when I travel to a place that does, you better believe I stop in.
Mar 9, 2013 merula commented on The Insurance Industry Is Pretending That Climate Change Doesn't Exist.
Ok, people, let's all back up. There are a few important points from the Ceres report that both Quartz and our esteemed Mr. Constant missed:

1. "The insurance industry" is not a homogeneous group. Property & Casualty insurers are very very different from Life & Health insurers. The report indicates (as one might expect) that P&C carriers are much more likely to have adopted climate-related risk management strategies, because they have a lot more at risk. When you pay out billions in claims for every Sandy, Irene, Ike, Katrina, etc., you have to be proactive. Life & Health carriers don't see those extreme events and therefore have no incentive to prepare for them. Is there a potential for catastrophic losses to life insurance companies from climate-related events? Sure. But that's not as pressing to them as, say, obesity, and by the time we get to that point, we're pretty much doomed.

2. Larger P&C carriers DO have these plans in place. Most of them will address climate change on their websites or in their annual report. If this is important for you (if you're someone who appreciates reality and/or lives near a body of water), check up on your carrier. If you don't like what you find, switch.

3. Here's a good example of a P&C carrier who is doing it right:…

Feb 1, 2013 merula commented on Goldy: I Know You're a Man and Therefore Always Entitled to Be Right But on the Issue of Birth Control, You Are Wrong.
Maybe I'm missing something. Women (like me, just for the record) get birth control for free, just like the Affordable Care Act said originally, right? Has anything changed with those benefits? If not, how is this misogyny?

I happen to work in insurance. Despite how obtuse policy language and claims handling may be, the business model is simple: sell promises for less than it costs to keep them. I would bet anything that every single health insurance carrier is right now looking at their customer lists to find out if they have religious organizations. The next step is to invent a charge for these customers to cover their birth control costs, because the insurance companies aren't going to do it out of the goodness of their hearts.

Insurance company: Dear client, your premium for the next year will be a gazillion dollars.

Religious nut job: Now wait just a minute. I ain't payin for that there birth control.

Insurance company: Ah, I see you're interested in our Religious Freedom package, with special pricing for people like you. Your new total is a gazillion dollars.
Jan 14, 2013 merula commented on Morning News.
Paul the Octopus DID correctly predict the World Cup final in 2010, but he died that October.…

The Stranger's journalistic integrity demands a correction to this grevious error.
Dec 1, 2012 merula commented on Debora Barr Escaped the Lesbian Lifestyle.
@11 That was my reaction. It sounded like stereotypical bed death with a Jesus twist.

Money quote: I thank God for the healthy heterosexual women who surrounded me with love as I suffered through this transition.
Feb 17, 2012 merula commented on "More clever than a pie in the face but less clever than something actually clever.".
Didn't Dan specifically ask the police *not* to arrest his glitterbombers? I seem to remember that detail.

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