Marketplace - American Public Media

Quit your job! It proves the economy's getting better

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:49

At this stage in the recovery —f ive years after the U.S. officially emerged from recession, labor economists would like to see the “quits rate” rise. It’s a measure of the percentage of people voluntarily leaving their employment — rather than being laid off or having a contract end. Workers might leave a job if they’ve been recruited for another one, or even to look for another job without having one already lined up. Or, they might quit to go back to school, or retire, or take a break from work altogether.

“When the economy is strong, people are more likely to be able to quit the job they’re in,” says labor economist Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute, “to take another job that has better opportunities for wage growth and advancement, perhaps it better matches their skills and interests.”

Since plummeting at the start of the Great Recession, the quits rate has been gradually rising. But (at 1.8 percent in April 2014, the most recent month for Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting), the quits rate is still nearly 20 percent below its pre-recession level, says Shierholz, and nowhere near what would be expected in a robust economy with plenty of job opportunities.

And Dan Finnigan at Jobvite thinks that for a long time to come, most American workers are going to be hesitant to take the risk of quitting. “The last recession actually frightened the workforce,” says Finnigan. “And most companies now have a difficult time convincing prospective employees that they’re going to be able to stick with them for a long career.” 

Executive coach Jean Erickson Walker in Portland, Oregon, leads career-building sessions for middle-aged managers and she urges people to consider leaving a current job if it’s not satisfying, or not providing opportunities for advancement. She says many workers have felt stuck for years in bad jobs, too fearful of unemployment and financial hardship to move on. 

“There's a restlessness that people have identified in their lives,” says Erickson Walker. “It's —‘I want to do something new, I want relief.’ This not the time yet, but I think it will be in the months to come, when you should feel comfortable leaving to look for something else.”

Indeed, quitting a decent job in this economy — without something as good or better already lined up — might sounds crazy in this economy.

But it’s exactly what Jean MacDonald, 53, did last year. She left a very successful software firm, which she had helped grow over a decade, to found App Camp for Girls in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. And raised $100,000 through crowdfunding to get the nonprofit off the ground.

The impetus to start a free summer program to teach teenage girls how to code came at a developers conference she attended in her previous job.

“I looked around the room, and I didn’t see any other women,” says MacDonald. “At that moment it hit me: ‘This just does not make sense.’” 

App Camp for Girls lasts one week and enrolls up to a dozen girls per session. (See the girls pitching their Apps at the end of last summer's session in Portland here.)

Now in its second season, it's expanded to Seattle, and MacDonald is recruiting volunteers to launch the program to other cities around the country.

For MacDonald, it’s a 60-hour-per-week job, and unpaid — at least so far.

“I really had a burning desire to do this,” she says. “Maybe I’m a masochist but I thought: 'Wow, I get to try all these things that I don’t know how to do.'”

MacDonald says if she can’t make. App Camp for Girls a paying gig eventually, she’ll go back to high tech. She's confident about that, too — she says firms are always looking for experienced, talented workers.

Dan Washburn's new book on golf course ban in China

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:30

China is in the middle of a golf boom. In the past few years, the country has had about 4oo new golf courses built... and most of them are deemed illegal by the Chinese government. 

In Dan Washburn's new book, "The Forbidden Game," he follows three people who are involved with the golf industry in China. The new trend is seen as a bizarre activity through the friends and family members of Zhou Xunshu, one of the main characters in the book. Xunshu is from a small and poor village in China and it was when he got a job as a security guard in one of the main providences when he was introduced to the game. The only problem was that he was the only one in his village who knew about golf according to Washburn.

“The rest of his family has no idea what golf is… doesn’t understand it, doesn’t really care. I mean, they all wanted him to be a police man. Nobody in the family has been a police man before... so when he comes back, even if he’s ranked in the top 20 in China in golf, to many he’s still the son that never became a police.” 

The game of golf is for the rich and elite of China. While not a lot of people play or can afford the sport, Washburn says the activity is growing in popularity. 

“You can still say that statistically zero percent of the population plays golf. But the thing about China – statistically zero percent of one point four billion could still be… you know, a decent number.” 

Yet in the midst of its popularity, the Chinese government has been cracking down on the rapid construction of golf courses across the nation. The majority of land used to build golf courses are meant for agricultural purposes. Yet even if China tried to remove these golf courses, there's too many developing to start. 

“China is where all of the new golf courses are getting built. Some say, ‘if you’re not working in China in this industry, you may not be working at all. “   

Dan Washburn's new book on golf course ban in China

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:30

China is in the middle of a golf boom. In the past few years, the country has had about 4oo new golf courses built... and most of them are deemed illegal by the Chinese government. 

In Dan Washburn's new book, "The Forbidden Game," he follows three people who are involved with the golf industry in China. The new trend is seen as a bizarre activity through the friends and family members of Zhou Xunshu, one of the main characters in the book. Xunshu is from a small and poor village in China and it was when he got a job as a security guard in one of the main providences when he was introduced to the game. The only problem was that he was the only one in his village who knew about golf according to Washburn.

“The rest of his family has no idea what golf is… doesn’t understand it, doesn’t really care. I mean, they all wanted him to be a police man. Nobody in the family has been a police man before... so when he comes back, even if he’s ranked in the top 20 in China in golf, to many he’s still the son that never became a police.” 

The game of golf is for the rich and elite of China. While not a lot of people play or can afford the sport, Washburn says the activity is growing in popularity. 

“You can still say that statistically zero percent of the population plays golf. But the thing about China – statistically zero percent of one point four billion could still be… you know, a decent number.” 

Yet in the midst of its popularity, the Chinese government has been cracking down on the rapid construction of golf courses across the nation. The majority of land used to build golf courses are meant for agricultural purposes. Yet even if China tried to remove these golf courses, there's too many developing to start. 

“China is where all of the new golf courses are getting built. Some say, ‘if you’re not working in China in this industry, you may not be working at all. “   

Hot dog, it's a holiday week

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:07

From the Marketplace Datebook here's an extended look at events coming up the week of June 30:

What's happening in the housing market? On Monday the National Association of Realtors issues its monthly pending home sales index for May.

It's a holiday week for Congress leading up to Independence Day.

The National Organization for Women was established on June 30, 1966.

And remember Scarlett O'Hara's famous line? "After all...tomorrow is another day." We at Datebook headquarters love that sentiment. Margaret Mitchell's novel "Gone with the Wind" was published on June 30, 1936 according to history.com. It won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reports on construction spending for May.

Wanna take a ride? Wednesday is World UFO Day. Maybe you'll get lucky.

On Thursday the Labor Department releases its June jobs report.

And crank the A/C. We enter the dog days of summer.

U.S. markets are closed on Friday for Independence Day.

Exercising your independence with trip? You have some solid company. According to AAA 41 million Americans are rocketing out of town for the holiday.

And finally, July is National Hot Dog Month. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Los Angeles beats all other cities for hot dog consumption. I am filled with pride.

Hot dog, it's a holiday week

Fri, 2014-06-27 12:07

From the Marketplace Datebook here's an extended look at events coming up the week of June 30:

What's happening in the housing market? On Monday the National Association of Realtors issues its monthly pending home sales index for May.

It's a holiday week for Congress leading up to Independence Day.

The National Organization for Women was established on June 30, 1966.

And remember Scarlett O'Hara's famous line? "After all...tomorrow is another day." We at Datebook headquarters love that sentiment. Margaret Mitchell's novel "Gone with the Wind" was published on June 30, 1936 according to history.com. It won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reports on construction spending for May.

Wanna take a ride? Wednesday is World UFO Day. Maybe you'll get lucky.

On Thursday the Labor Department releases its June jobs report.

And crank the A/C. We enter the dog days of summer.

U.S. markets are closed on Friday for Independence Day.

Exercising your independence with trip? You have some solid company. According to AAA 41 million Americans are rocketing out of town for the holiday.

And finally, July is National Hot Dog Month. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Los Angeles beats all other cities for hot dog consumption. I am filled with pride.

Space tourism: Still for the future, New Mexico learns

Fri, 2014-06-27 11:27

Money's everywhere. And then sometimes… suddenly… it's not.

Down in the Southern New Mexico desert four years ago, there was a kind of birthday.

Richard Branson, the billionaire behind Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Atlantic, christened Virgin Galactic and promised tourists a two and a half hour flight to space for $250,000 per trip.

The operation set up shop outside Las Cruces at a place called Spaceport America.

Josh Wheeler wrote about it for Buzzfeed. "It rises up in the middle of the desert, almost from ground level, on the south side, then opens up with this giant three story glass wall with this giant runway, coming out of it on the other side. It's really sort of a beautiful building to find out in the middle of the desert."

Fred Martino, Director of Content at the public radio station KRWG in Las Cruces,  lives near the facility.

"When people heard about this idea, they really were excited about it. And not just from an economic development standpoint," Martino says. "The idea that they would live in the place where space travel would be possible, that was really an exciting idea. So was what the Spaceport could bring with it, in a state where 30 percent of children live in poverty. New Mexico would front the money for the Spaceport. And Virgin would pay rent, and bring big spending space tourists, money and jobs. Plus, a chance to be a part of something kind of magical."

Except, it hasn't happened yet. There have been no Virgin Galactic space flights in 2012. Or 2013. There were construction delays. Haggles with regulators. Insurance problems. Political fights .

"There was some concern at one point about Virgin Galactic's future in New Mexico," Martino says. "And it had to do with the legislation that was being proposed at the state level to give liability protection for the folks who do the launches, build the equipment for the spaceport. And the Spaceport came with a big price tag. More than $200 million… money from the state, the local counties, and their taxpayers. For now, the action at the Spaceport is mostly from Elon Musk's company Space X. And NASA."

Josh Wheeler rode the one bus on the one road that drives to it. "The couple times I visited nothing was happening out there."

Virgin Galactic has said it will stay at Spaceport America. But state officials are no longer counting on those space tourists to make the money back. "They were no longer going to get the economic development that comes from the being cradle of a nascent industry, they had to rely on the promise of a tourist boom," Wheeler says.

For now, those are the people New Mexico is relying on to recoup its money: what they call "terrestrial space tourists," who will ride a bus out to the desert to see the Spaceport, and never get off the ground.

"It's very ironic, that on the one hand you have people that can afford a $250,000 ticket going up into sub-orbital space, and getting those amazing views. And on the other hand, you'll have people that can't afford those tickets, who are expected to just come and watch those people who do have that money, go and have this potentially life changing experience," Wheeler says.

What happens next here? What Virgin Galactic does next will dictate that. Richard Branson told Fusion that he's "90 percent certain" they will launch this year.

We reached out to both Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America, but as of now, we haven't heard back.

Space tourism: Still for the future, New Mexico learns

Fri, 2014-06-27 11:27

Money's everywhere. And then sometimes… suddenly… it's not.

Down in the Southern New Mexico desert four years ago, there was a kind of birthday.

Richard Branson, the billionaire behind Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Atlantic, christened Virgin Galactic and promised tourists a two and a half hour flight to space for $250,000 per trip.

The operation set up shop outside Las Cruces at a place called Spaceport America.

Josh Wheeler wrote about it for Buzzfeed. "It rises up in the middle of the desert, almost from ground level, on the south side, then opens up with this giant three story glass wall with this giant runway, coming out of it on the other side. It's really sort of a beautiful building to find out in the middle of the desert."

Fred Martino, Director of Content at the public radio station KRWG in Las Cruces,  lives near the facility.

"When people heard about this idea, they really were excited about it. And not just from an economic development standpoint," Martino says. "The idea that they would live in the place where space travel would be possible, that was really an exciting idea. So was what the Spaceport could bring with it, in a state where 30 percent of children live in poverty. New Mexico would front the money for the Spaceport. And Virgin would pay rent, and bring big spending space tourists, money and jobs. Plus, a chance to be a part of something kind of magical."

Except, it hasn't happened yet. There have been no Virgin Galactic space flights in 2012. Or 2013. There were construction delays. Haggles with regulators. Insurance problems. Political fights .

"There was some concern at one point about Virgin Galactic's future in New Mexico," Martino says. "And it had to do with the legislation that was being proposed at the state level to give liability protection for the folks who do the launches, build the equipment for the spaceport. And the Spaceport came with a big price tag. More than $200 million… money from the state, the local counties, and their taxpayers. For now, the action at the Spaceport is mostly from Elon Musk's company Space X. And NASA."

Josh Wheeler rode the one bus on the one road that drives to it. "The couple times I visited nothing was happening out there."

Virgin Galactic has said it will stay at Spaceport America. But state officials are no longer counting on those space tourists to make the money back. "They were no longer going to get the economic development that comes from the being cradle of a nascent industry, they had to rely on the promise of a tourist boom," Wheeler says.

For now, those are the people New Mexico is relying on to recoup its money: what they call "terrestrial space tourists," who will ride a bus out to the desert to see the Spaceport, and never get off the ground.

"It's very ironic, that on the one hand you have people that can afford a $250,000 ticket going up into sub-orbital space, and getting those amazing views. And on the other hand, you'll have people that can't afford those tickets, who are expected to just come and watch those people who do have that money, go and have this potentially life changing experience," Wheeler says.

What happens next here? What Virgin Galactic does next will dictate that. Richard Branson told Fusion that he's "90 percent certain" they will launch this year.

We reached out to both Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America, but as of now, we haven't heard back.

Tech IRL: A second life for pay phones

Fri, 2014-06-27 11:21

Ever walk down the street and see a phone booth? Do you even notice it anymore?

There are some city planners and internet companies out there that do.

Cities in the United States and around the world are working on turning those neglected telephones into wi-fi hotspots. Among them: New York City.

Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson joins Weekend host Lizzie O’Leary to explore tech in real life.

Tech IRL: A second life for pay phones

Fri, 2014-06-27 11:21

Ever walk down the street and see a phone booth? Do you even notice it anymore?

There are some city planners and internet companies out there that do.

Cities in the United States and around the world are working on turning those neglected telephones into wi-fi hotspots. Among them: New York City.

Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson joins Weekend host Lizzie O’Leary to explore tech in real life.

What can art tell us about the economy?

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:53

It's a busy time of year for art collectors. Art Basel, one of the world’s biggest art shows in Switzerland, wrapped up a week ago. Now, London is in the middle of a few big art sales.

Auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's are selling impressionist and modern art one week, post-war and contemporary art the next. But no matter what era the art is from, people from all over the world are paying a whole lot of money for these pieces.

"By looking at what types of artists are selling well in any particular part of the world, you actually glean a lot of helpful information about how successful those parts of the world feel," says Kelly Crow, reporter for The Wall Street Journal. "When they feel successful they buy art. It’s a tried and true thing we’ve seen, especially in the last ten years."

Many of these London art bidders are participating by phone. And a lot of those calls are coming from Asia.

"When China wants to spend some serious money, they have it," says Crow. "And they certainly are interested in art more than they were a few years ago."

What can art tell us about the economy?

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:53

It's a busy time of year for art collectors. Art Basel, one of the world’s biggest art shows in Switzerland, wrapped up a week ago. Now, London is in the middle of a few big art sales.

Auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's are selling impressionist and modern art one week, post-war and contemporary art the next. But no matter what era the art is from, people from all over the world are paying a whole lot of money for these pieces.

"By looking at what types of artists are selling well in any particular part of the world, you actually glean a lot of helpful information about how successful those parts of the world feel," says Kelly Crow, reporter for The Wall Street Journal. "When they feel successful they buy art. It’s a tried and true thing we’ve seen, especially in the last ten years."

Many of these London art bidders are participating by phone. And a lot of those calls are coming from Asia.

"When China wants to spend some serious money, they have it," says Crow. "And they certainly are interested in art more than they were a few years ago."

My money story: Writer Anna Holmes

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:49

Every week, we have someone tell us their story about money. This week, writer and Jezebel creator Anna Holmes tells us how money impacted her life growing up.

It was 2008, and I was sitting in the Brooklyn home office of my longtime accountant, who informed me that I had, for the first time in my 15-year-career, made over $100,000 in a year.

To be exact, one hundred and two thousand, three hundred and fifty-four dollars. And seventy-two cents.

The six-figure mark filled me with pride, but it was short-lived. For one thing, I didn’t have much to show for it, other than a new outfit (or three), and maybe a couple of fancier dinners than I was accustomed to enjoying. For two, it was, I quickly realized somewhat guiltily, the first time I had ever made more money than either of my parents.

I grew up in a lower middle-class household in an affluent college town in Northern California. To say that money was a stressor in the lives of my parents — and in my own life — would be the truth, but not the whole truth.

My younger sister and I never went without. Our parents found the funds to buy us new clothes, new school supplies, take us on camping trips, and, once, when I was 15, send me to visit a friend in Australia. We were never without a roof over our heads. We had a car. We ate well, and, for the most part, we slept well too.

Even so, the financial stresses that my parents endured throughout my childhood felt personal and arbitrarily punitive, what with all the other kids and their trips to Tahoe, in shiny new BMW sedans, and their apparent ignorance of any sort of existence that would complicate their lives or keep them out of the trendiest clothes and away from the most sought-after vacation destinations.

Other kids’ parents, I suspected, did not worry so much about money, did not fret as to whether they’d be able to make the mortgage payment that month, or whether the cherry-red Chevrolet Nova was, as suspected, on its last legs, or how in God’s name they were going to pay for their children’s eventual college educations.

My parents’ financial insecurities made me feel impotent and terrified, and then, as I got older, they made me angry and determined, at which point I vowed that I would avenge some of the bad choices they had made and circumstances they had endured by growing up to become a wealthy adult, thereby ensuring that they would never have to worry about money again.

I would pay off my mom’s house, and buy my father a bungalow in nearby Berkeley, plus the Chevy Suburban he always wanted. They would, through me, obtain a status that they had not been able to attain otherwise, and when people looked at them they would not see a struggling single mom overwhelmed by two difficult adolescent daughters or a soft-spoken, middle-aged African-American male.

They would see two loving, intelligent, passionate, authentic human beings, and maybe, just maybe, my parents would be karmically rewarded for it.

What I didn’t know then was that my parents’ supposed humiliations were also — mostly — my own, and that six-figure salaries did not make up for the profound humiliations or petty jealousies and resentments that come from living in a sexist world, a racist world, or a capitalist world, which is to say, an often unfair world.

What I didn’t know then was that more money — a little or, perhaps, even a lot of it — wouldn’t profoundly change our narratives, wouldn’t bestow upon me or those to whom I was related the respect and rewards I believed were our due, if not our birthright. It would not make my parents any prouder of me, and, as was made perfectly clear as I grew older and the size of my annual salary increased, it certainly wouldn’t allow me to pay off that mortgage or buy that Berkeley bungalow.

The only thing that my making more money than my predecessors symbolized, in fact, was that my parents had not failed but succeeded, triumphed in their efforts give me access to the experiences and educations that might lead to the sort of professional and personal rewards they had only dreamed of.

That, really, was all they had ever wanted to do.

My money story: Writer Anna Holmes

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:49

Every week, we have someone tell us their story about money. This week, writer and Jezebel creator Anna Holmes tells us how money impacted her life growing up.

It was 2008, and I was sitting in the Brooklyn home office of my longtime accountant, who informed me that I had, for the first time in my 15-year-career, made over $100,000 in a year.

To be exact, one hundred and two thousand, three hundred and fifty-four dollars. And seventy-two cents.

The six-figure mark filled me with pride, but it was short-lived. For one thing, I didn’t have much to show for it, other than a new outfit (or three), and maybe a couple of fancier dinners than I was accustomed to enjoying. For two, it was, I quickly realized somewhat guiltily, the first time I had ever made more money than either of my parents.

I grew up in a lower middle-class household in an affluent college town in Northern California. To say that money was a stressor in the lives of my parents — and in my own life — would be the truth, but not the whole truth.

My younger sister and I never went without. Our parents found the funds to buy us new clothes, new school supplies, take us on camping trips, and, once, when I was 15, send me to visit a friend in Australia. We were never without a roof over our heads. We had a car. We ate well, and, for the most part, we slept well too.

Even so, the financial stresses that my parents endured throughout my childhood felt personal and arbitrarily punitive, what with all the other kids and their trips to Tahoe, in shiny new BMW sedans, and their apparent ignorance of any sort of existence that would complicate their lives or keep them out of the trendiest clothes and away from the most sought-after vacation destinations.

Other kids’ parents, I suspected, did not worry so much about money, did not fret as to whether they’d be able to make the mortgage payment that month, or whether the cherry-red Chevrolet Nova was, as suspected, on its last legs, or how in God’s name they were going to pay for their children’s eventual college educations.

My parents’ financial insecurities made me feel impotent and terrified, and then, as I got older, they made me angry and determined, at which point I vowed that I would avenge some of the bad choices they had made and circumstances they had endured by growing up to become a wealthy adult, thereby ensuring that they would never have to worry about money again.

I would pay off my mom’s house, and buy my father a bungalow in nearby Berkeley, plus the Chevy Suburban he always wanted. They would, through me, obtain a status that they had not been able to attain otherwise, and when people looked at them they would not see a struggling single mom overwhelmed by two difficult adolescent daughters or a soft-spoken, middle-aged African-American male.

They would see two loving, intelligent, passionate, authentic human beings, and maybe, just maybe, my parents would be karmically rewarded for it.

What I didn’t know then was that my parents’ supposed humiliations were also — mostly — my own, and that six-figure salaries did not make up for the profound humiliations or petty jealousies and resentments that come from living in a sexist world, a racist world, or a capitalist world, which is to say, an often unfair world.

What I didn’t know then was that more money — a little or, perhaps, even a lot of it — wouldn’t profoundly change our narratives, wouldn’t bestow upon me or those to whom I was related the respect and rewards I believed were our due, if not our birthright. It would not make my parents any prouder of me, and, as was made perfectly clear as I grew older and the size of my annual salary increased, it certainly wouldn’t allow me to pay off that mortgage or buy that Berkeley bungalow.

The only thing that my making more money than my predecessors symbolized, in fact, was that my parents had not failed but succeeded, triumphed in their efforts give me access to the experiences and educations that might lead to the sort of professional and personal rewards they had only dreamed of.

That, really, was all they had ever wanted to do.

'I can't believe I bought that...'

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:42

We've all done it.

It's way past your bedtime. Maybe you find yourself shopping online and then you buy ... THAT THING. You know, the one that makes you say, "I can't believe I bought that."

We've opened up our own museum of regret, and we want you to add yours. Check out our Tumblr at icantbelieveiboughtthat.tumblr.com. While you're there, leave us a story and a picture of the purchase you regret most.

Each week, we'll pick our favorite entry and feature it on our show.

To get the ball rolling, here's mine:

It's a lithograph ... I think? A big canvas print of a panda, holding six shooters, on a rainbow backdrop.

It came from the internet ... and there might have been some wine involved.

That's all I'm sayin'.

'I can't believe I bought that...'

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:42

We've all done it.

It's way past your bedtime. Maybe you find yourself shopping online and then you buy ... THAT THING. You know, the one that makes you say, "I can't believe I bought that."

We've opened up our own museum of regret, and we want you to add yours. Check out our Tumblr at icantbelieveiboughtthat.tumblr.com. While you're there, leave us a story and a picture of the purchase you regret most.

Each week, we'll pick our favorite entry and feature it on our show.

To get the ball rolling, here's mine:

It's a lithograph ... I think? A big canvas print of a panda, holding six shooters, on a rainbow backdrop.

It came from the internet ... and there might have been some wine involved.

That's all I'm sayin'.

Atop the Iron Throne of pirated TV

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:34

Have you been using our handy list of places to pirate this year's World Cup?

Not that we want to encourage you to do anything illegal, but, chances are, you're already well on your way. During the 2010 World Cup alone, millions of people around the world streamed the games through one of 18,000 illegal broadcasts. And that was back in 2010, when Blackberry phones were still hot tech.

FIFA, the governing body behind the World Cup, took the unprecedented move this year of warning several prominent sites not to allow illegal game streams. (Copyright owners usually wait for the law to be broken before taking action.)

But, ultimately, trying to shut down online piracy might be a futile effort by copyright owners. Case in point: Millions and millions of people love to watch "Game of Thrones" -- but only a share of them pay HBO for the privilege of watching one man crush another man's head with his bare hands. And if you're not one of the people using your ex-roommate's girlfriend's mom's boss's HBOGo account, you're one of the millions of people straight up illegally downloading copies of the show.

"Game of Thrones" has sat atop the Iron Throne of illegally downloaded TV shows three years in a row. In fact, TorrentFreak put together this list of the most pirated shows of 2013.

Atop the Iron Throne of pirated TV

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:34

Have you been using our handy list of places to pirate this year's World Cup?

Not that we want to encourage you to do anything illegal, but, chances are, you're already well on your way. During the 2010 World Cup alone, millions of people around the world streamed the games through one of 18,000 illegal broadcasts. And that was back in 2010, when Blackberry phones were still hot tech.

FIFA, the governing body behind the World Cup, took the unprecedented move this year of warning several prominent sites not to allow illegal game streams. (Copyright owners usually wait for the law to be broken before taking action.)

But, ultimately, trying to shut down online piracy might be a futile effort by copyright owners. Case in point: Millions and millions of people love to watch "Game of Thrones" -- but only a share of them pay HBO for the privilege of watching one man crush another man's head with his bare hands. And if you're not one of the people using your ex-roommate's girlfriend's mom's boss's HBOGo account, you're one of the millions of people straight up illegally downloading copies of the show.

"Game of Thrones" has sat atop the Iron Throne of illegally downloaded TV shows three years in a row. In fact, TorrentFreak put together this list of the most pirated shows of 2013.

People love pirating Game of Thrones, games of soccer

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:34

Have you been using our handy list of places to pirate this year's World Cup?

Not that we want to encourage you to do anything illegal, but at this point, illegally streaming or downloading content is the norm. During the 2010 Cup alone, millions of people around the world streamed the games through one of 18,000 illegal broadcasts. And that back in 2010, when the hot new piece of tech to own was the iPhone 4.

FIFA, the governing body behind the World Cup, took the unprecedented move this year of warning several prominent sites not to allow steams of broadcasts of the games. Copyright owners usually wait for the law to be broken before taking action.

But, ultimately, copyright owners trying to shut down online piracy might be a futile effort. Millions and millions of people love to watch "Game of Thrones." Though very few of them are paying HBO for the privilege of watching one man crush another man's head with his bare hands. If you're not one of the people who is using your ex-roommate's girlfriend's mom's boss's HBOGo account, you're one of the millions of people illegally pirating the show.

"Game of Thrones" has sat atop the Iron Throne of Illegally Downloaded TV Shows three years in a row now. Among the other most popular downloads are some of the most buzzed about shows online. TorrentFreak put together this list of the most pirated shows of 2013. It makes it easy to guess what might be on their list this year.

Defining the new middle class

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:29

Do you consider yourself middle class?

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Heather Moore is an 11th grade history teacher and lives in Glendora, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, and is 31 weeks pregnant. Her husband, Michael, is a computer programmer and stay-at-home Dad to 4-year-old April.

They live on about $82,000 a year, just over the median income in Glendora.

Moore considers herself solidly middle class. Why? "I don't even know if I could put my finger on it. We have a very suburban life style. We are not struggling, but we are still concerned about money.

Moore wrote us online about how being in the middle is a balance of needs and wants: " My uncle has this great line that he said, 'As long as you have everything you need and a little of what you want, than that is essentially a good life.' And that's where I feel we are today," Moore says. "We can afford to paint our house, and save up a little for new carpet, but then also pay some out of the budget too."

And, they have no debt beyond their mortgage, too.

"Michael and I have a college education with no debt leftover. That was a tremendous gift that my family was able to give us. That's the gift I want to give my children. That's my priority when it comes to saving is to give them a college education that's debt-free. And if I put off retirement a few years, then so be it. I can't think of a better reason to do it... I also kind of see this generationally and see this as an age thing as well. My grandparents did a lot to help out my parents when me and my brothers were born. And my mom is essentially paying it forward. So she's promised the diaper service for this one when he's born. And the way I'm going to thank my mom is to do this for April. In fact, I wrote her a thank you note, and she said you don't need to do this, just do this for April. And that's how you're going to thank me."

Jason DiPinto, a Navy chaplain in San Diego, Calif., calls himself "borderline middle class."

"When I see that sort of thing, and I do, I travel a lot for my job, around to a lot of different communities. And when I see communities, even sometimes new ones, that look like the community I grew up in, but to me that's like watching a black-and-white television show."

Despite a steady job, benefits, and potential job growth, DiPinto is unsure where to place himself. "I think that when I talk to my friends, and I talk to my peers, I think we were very affected by the last four or five years. And I think what it means for us to be secure is very different than when we grew up."

Defining the new middle class

Fri, 2014-06-27 10:29

Do you consider yourself middle class?

(function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, 'script', 'scrbbl-js'));

Heather Moore is an 11th grade history teacher and lives in Glendora, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, and is 31 weeks pregnant. Her husband, Michael, is a computer programmer and stay-at-home Dad to 4-year-old April.

They live on about $82,000 a year, just over the median income in Glendora.

Moore considers herself solidly middle class. Why? "I don't even know if I could put my finger on it. We have a very suburban life style. We are not struggling, but we are still concerned about money.

Moore wrote us online about how being in the middle is a balance of needs and wants: " My uncle has this great line that he said, 'As long as you have everything you need and a little of what you want, than that is essentially a good life.' And that's where I feel we are today," Moore says. "We can afford to paint our house, and save up a little for new carpet, but then also pay some out of the budget too."

And, they have no debt beyond their mortgage, too.

"Michael and I have a college education with no debt leftover. That was a tremendous gift that my family was able to give us. That's the gift I want to give my children. That's my priority when it comes to saving is to give them a college education that's debt-free. And if I put off retirement a few years, then so be it. I can't think of a better reason to do it... I also kind of see this generationally and see this as an age thing as well. My grandparents did a lot to help out my parents when me and my brothers were born. And my mom is essentially paying it forward. So she's promised the diaper service for this one when he's born. And the way I'm going to thank my mom is to do this for April. In fact, I wrote her a thank you note, and she said you don't need to do this, just do this for April. And that's how you're going to thank me."

Jason DiPinto, a Navy chaplain in San Diego, Calif., calls himself "borderline middle class."

"When I see that sort of thing, and I do, I travel a lot for my job, around to a lot of different communities. And when I see communities, even sometimes new ones, that look like the community I grew up in, but to me that's like watching a black-and-white television show."

Despite a steady job, benefits, and potential job growth, DiPinto is unsure where to place himself. "I think that when I talk to my friends, and I talk to my peers, I think we were very affected by the last four or five years. And I think what it means for us to be secure is very different than when we grew up."

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