Aug 10, 2016 merula commented on Anyone Know What This Guy Is Patron Saint Of Exactly?.
My two guesses are (1) some local martyr from the Reformation/Counter-Reformation era (based mostly on the hat of the praying guy), or (2) Saint Paul in the midst of his conversion vision (but portrayed in then-modern clothes), possibly with Ananias of Damascus.
Feb 25, 2016 merula commented on So Now Ben Carson Is Going to Eat an Eagle or Something?.
@7 It's undefined (aka indeterminate) in some uses, but in other cases is 1. The proof I got in Algebra way back when is:
0^3 = 1*0^3 = 1*0*0*0
0^2 = 1*0^2 = 1*0*0
0^1= 1*0^1 = 1*0
0^0 = 1*0^0 = 1

A better explanation that I can give is here:…
Feb 24, 2016 merula commented on So Now Ben Carson Is Going to Eat an Eagle or Something?.
Zero to the zeroth power is either indeterminate or one. And one, in this case, would mean 100%. So by saying "Carson...has a zero to the power of zero chance of winning any states on Super Tuesday", you're actually saying "Carson...has either an indeterminate chance or a 100% chance of winning any states on Super Tuesday."

And come on, if you're going to write a mocking article about Carson, please use words correctly. Anything else is hypocrisy.
Feb 11, 2016 merula commented on Chris Christie Is Returning to New Jersey; No Bridge Is Safe.
Copyedit note: Senator Loretta Weinberg, as a woman, is a widow and not a widower.
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:…