Oct 7Liked by PJ Vogt

Hi PJ—I’ve listened to your shows for years and think very highly of your reporting, and I love Search Engine! I was really glad to see an episode housing subsidies. You did say one thing on the show that I had to comment on—and I’m sure I won’t be the only one to point out. When talking about making the Sxn 8 program an entitlement you said something to the effect of “entitlements mean no one has to jump through hoops.” Entitlement programs, like SNAP and Medicaid, actually have huge administrative burdens and people struggle to get the programs they’re entitled to all the time. Check out an article in the Atlantic called the Time Tax for some info if you’re interested. I’m taking the time to correct this misconception because I think it plays into the broader narrative of “government hand outs” and how easy it is for people to lie and get benefits, going all the way back to the racist and damaging idea of “welfare queens”. In reality, these programs are complex and often difficult to access, even for the most deserving, and there’s usually no help available for those who need it. As an anti poverty attorney, it’s something I think about a lot!

Anyway—thanks for the great reporting and great show! Already looking forward to the next one!

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Oct 6Liked by PJ Vogt

> But for me, for now, watching Michael Lewis try very hard to understand Sam Bankman-Fried felt like a good use of my time. I liked the book.

Very interesting, I've noticed the Lewis-dunking too and was curious about that. This tips me towards wanting to read for myself, having enjoyed many of Lewis's books before. Thanks.

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Great episode. However, that last segment was probably one of the most out-of-touch, depressing things I’ve heard in a while. People so caught up in social media that spending $200 a week to have someone else “consume content” seems like “a steal” and a stress reliever? It’s funny in the kind of absurdist way only the best satire can be, but all the more sad because it’s real.

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List of questions I need answered:

-Why do phones never appear in our dreams?

-What is going on with Point Roberts Washington and North Angle Minnesota? Look at them on Google maps and you'll see what I'm talking about.

-Who is Sid Meiers and why does he think we need to know he made this video game?

-How many things are there? Like if a car is one thing and a tree one thing, and a sandwich is a dozen things stacked on top of each other... about how many altogether?

-Is it true that there was a period during world war 2 where it was illegal in America to buy any cheese other than American cheese? Wikipedia edits have been warring on this for years.

-Where was Tommy Wisseau born? Where did get his money? Does anyone else on earth have his accent?

-Why does passenger rail in America suck so badly?

-Ignoring the fact that everyone knows the real Mona Lisa is hanging in the Louvre... How easy would it be to make a fake Mona Lisa, today, even if subjected to any scientific or subjective tests available.

That's probably enough for now.

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Found this particularly fitting with Jennifer Egan's recent reporting in tNY on transitional housing as a solution to chronic homelessness. I'm happy that Search Engine has covered two housing-crisis related stories in its first dozen episodes. Hope it continues to be a beat.

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Btw, fond du lac means bottom of the lake.

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I recommend you check out podcast According to Need by Katie Mingle and 99% invisible. it's powerful, informative and deeply moving.

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A week after listening, I can’t stop thinking about the short Taylor Lorenz segment at the end this episode. Like so much other reporting about the addictive technologies in our modern internet world, from iPads with YouTube for toddlers to TikTok for teens, the conclusions assume that a world without it is so impossible that it’s not even within view.

I’m a 39 year old in Brooklyn who got on Tumblr in 2008, has been a PJ fan since TLDR, made 200 episodes of a weekly YouTube channel, went to VidCon every year, was an early adopter of Snapchat, etc, etc, and I just decided to stop. I deactivated my Instagram account. I read hardcover novels from the library. I text a very small number of friends who I’m truly friends with. I take photos of my kids with film cameras and put the prints in a shoebox, and it’s not influenced by maximizing ad revenue for anyone.

It’s good. If I run into an old friend, they can tell me in person that they just got married, and it’s ok that I didn’t already know about it. And maybe we can have a really nice lunch to catch up, and maybe I’ll never know that they have an extreme view on some parenting article that I disagree with. And that’s nice.

If your career is social media reporting, of course, you can’t entirely stop. But following 6,000 people on instagram and feeling anxiety about keeping up with their Stories is something to consider challenging, rather than outsourcing. Life is short.

Looking forward to listening to the Ezra Klein episode, because maybe it’ll get into this realm a bit!

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Oct 13·edited Oct 13

I listened to this episode until I got to the part in the very beginning where Cory said that there were no available apartments in her town under $650. I was surprised by this as I have visited Fon Du Lac. I did a quick craigslist search of apartments under $650. There were quite a few available. The one that I clicked on (an 800 sq ft 1 bedroom) included utilities. Maybe she needs special accommodations that we aren't made aware of? Also, I did a cursory search about section 8. You can have a roommate, which I assume would create even more options.

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Has this episode been removed from Google Podcasts? Saw it pop up the other day but it's now been removed from your feed

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New episodes of Heavyweight and not exclusive to Spotify! Thanks, PJ, for the alert! This is a favourite ep of mine too.

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I *really* liked this episode. Thank you for thoughtfully framing the history and important questions about the current state of housing assistance in the US. Interesting to think about the difference between and entitlement and a limited program (in this case I think it is a block grant from the federal gov/HUD to states, which are limited). Other places to explore here: years of noise about block grant-ing existing entitlements and what that would actually do, and also - a legitimately good question - why have some states (to date, still 10) refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act?

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