Paris Hilton is the businesswoman Donald Trump imagines himself to be

Various news outlets have pointed out that Donald Trump would be wealthier if he had just taken his early millions, invested them in an index fund, and sat on his hands.

Meanwhile, Paris Hilton has made billions of her own money before the age of 35:

Through the power of a fake baby voice, Paris Hilton launched a business empire, invented reality TV superstardom, and disrupted American culture years before Facebook or the Kardashians.

Source: This Is How Paris Hilton Fooled the Entire United States of America | Broadly

Those people

It wasn’t Americans, it was those people.

It wasn’t people from our generation, it was those people who never learned our values.

It wasn’t people who look like you and me, it was those people from the inner city.

It wasn’t people from our neighborhoods, it was those people who live in trailers.

It wasn’t people who sound like us, it those people with accents.

It wasn’t good people like us, it was those people who made bad choices in their lives.

It wasn’t healthy people like us, it was those people who are mentally sick.

It wasn’t our political group, it was those people who have taken it to an extreme.

It wasn’t our church, it was those people who interpret a passage slightly differently than we do.

It wasn’t our gun culture, it was those people, with the slightly different gun culture.

It wasn’t people like you and I who always make good choices when we are desperate. It was those people who make bad choices when they are desperate.

Read the headlines today. See if you can find all the those peoples hiding out in them.

What would happen if you ran out of those people?

What if you couldn’t find a distinction, no matter how hair-thin?

This is rhetorical, of course. There is always a distinction to be made. That guy was a little too quiet. We were never sure about that side of the family.

But pretend for a second, that you couldn’t find a line to draw.  What would you have to do, if it wasn’t about dealing with those people, who are obviously,  qualitatively different from us people? What would have to change if you looked into the future and saw the gun, the club, the bomb warm in your hands? Or your parent’s hands, or your child’s hands, or your lovers’?

What would you want people to know? What would you fight for? What would you wish you could go back and change?

 

Down with lawns

In 2008, Joe Prudente—a retiree in Florida whose lawn, despite several re-soddings and waterings and weedings, contained some unsightly brown patches—was jailed for “failing to properly maintain his lawn to community standards.” Earlier this year, Rick Yoes, a resident of Grand Prairie, Texas, also spent time behind bars—for the crime, in this case, of the ownership of an overgrown yard. Gerry Suttle, a woman in her mid-70s, recently had a warrant issued for her arrest—she had failed to mow the grass on a lot she owned across the street from her house—until four boys living in her Texas neighborhood heard of her plight in a news report, came over, and mowed the thing themselves.

Source: The American Lawn: A Eulogy – The Atlantic

One of the selling points of our new house here in the foothills is its almost complete lack of lawn. Lawns are pointless, time-sucking, over-politicized environmental disaster areas. I’m hopeful I’ll live to see the day when they are looked down on as relics of a dumber age—like lead paint and gelatin cuisine.

The state of our household, 2015

I’ve written before on the how hard it is to catch up if you’re even a smidge behind the curve on the American dream. We’ve come a long way since I wrote that piece. But I’m still uncomfortably aware that a series of ill-timed setbacks could toss us careening down the hill. We’re further away from the precipice than we’ve been in the past, but I can still see it clearly from here. It still keeps me up at night.

I sometimes feel that I project a confusing, contradictory image online. One day I’m in an airline lounge; the next I’m casting about for a dead-cheap vehicle because my car is too busted to drive, and too decrepit to fix. The truth is, for us “middle class” feels like it’s more about contrasts than about being at a recognizable middle ground.

Last night I wrote up some of those contrasts. The following is absolutely not a plea for sympathy. I’m very aware of just how privileged we are, in so many ways.  It’s just a statement; something I can look back on in five or ten years and (hopefully) see progress. And maybe it’s also a little bit of a meditation on the difficulty and precariousness of being middle class in America today.

I’m a world traveler, but only on someone else’s dime.

We are debt-free apart from the mortgage. But our savings would barely get us through a month and a half.

Our kids have good food and quality shoes. But I have no hope of putting them through college.

We have a gorgeous house, one that finally fits our family (assuming two kids to a room) after a decade and a half of renting. But I worry about affording the upkeep.

We own our cars outright. But one is no longer safe to drive, and the other is only legal because we now live in a state with no inspections.

I am extremely employable. But I have no retirement savings to speak of.

I carry life insurance. But I’m scared it’s not enough to keep my family from a steep drop in quality of life.

I’m 35 and healthy. If I became disabled for an extended period, it would be disastrous. If my wife became disabled and required constant care, it would be disastrous.

I’ve built my own successful business. I have no way to be sure it will be sustainable over the long term.

We have decent health insurance. This month, so far, half of our entire monthly budget has gone to paying for that health plan along with various medical bills.

We can afford to take our kids to Dollywood. But we’ve only had one real family vacation in the last 15 years.

We are far from poor, but we are far from safe.

Ours is a life of stark, considered prioritization. Solid dependable luggage; but no A/C on the drive to the airport. Big house; minimal, decrepit furniture. Good beer; but not a lot of it.

That’s the state of our household in 2015. It’s been a lot of work getting us this far. We still have a ways to go.

The thick blue line: the view from inside

It all goes back to this whole us versus them thing. You suit up; you get out there; you’re with your brothers. You’re an occupying force. Your job is to fight crime, and these are the guys you do it with. So you just don’t see the abuse. It doesn’t even register, because those people are the enemy. They aren’t really even people. They’re just the enemy. This is the culture. It’s a s—– excuse. But it’s the reality.

Source: An interview with the Baltimore cop who’s revealing all the horrible things he saw on the job – The Washington Post