Well, Nothing to Worry About Then

Apparently, the global warming crisis has a simple solution (boldface mine):

The fact that half of Americans cite the end times as a cause of recent severe weather events suggests a kind of fatalism that would certainly lead to less urgency when it comes to issues like climate change. Even many of those who believe in climate change — and about one-quarter of Americans don’t, per the survey — seem to think natural disasters are part of something that is preordained.

In addition, 39 percent of Americans say God would not allow humans to destroy the Earth (53 percent disagree). So, apparently, most of those who believe we’re in the end times also believe God would intervene. Basically at least four in 10 Americans see little reason for a human response — or, at least, doubt things will wind up being catastrophic.

This is insane.

And the congregation responds: This another reason why we can’t have nice things.

Posted in Fucking Morons, Global Warming | 2 Comments

Links 11/21/14

Links for you. Science:

Mammoths are a huge part of my life. But cloning them is wrong
Gecko-inspired adhesives allow people to climb walls
Indirect costs: Keeping the lights on. Every year, the US government gives research institutions billions of dollars towards infrastructure and administrative support
Bogus Journal Accepts Profanity-Laced Anti-Spam Paper
Chagas Disease in America: Undiagnosed, Unappreciated

Other:

Whatever Happened to Overtime? It’s one reason we’re poorer than our parents. And Obama could fix it—without Congress. (excellent)
Remember Christie’s controversial Ebola policy? (we do)
Some Thoughts on the 2014 Election (the entire damn Republican Party is the 1990s militia movement)
Reality Leaves Newark and Invades Rick Hess’s Happy, Shiny World (“Imagine what it’s like, then, having to pay taxes to support a school system where you have no ability to shape policy or determine personnel through the exercise of your democratic rights.”)
Quick, Some Meaningless Budget Numbers from the NYT
Why I Left United Airlines
Slurstorm, and the flaws in “Shirtstorm” arguments
Today in #Ebolanoia: Man in isolation at Delhi airport after officials insist on testing his semen
Wisconsin as a Frontier of School Privatization: Will Anyone Notice the Looting?
Nobody Should Shed A Single Solitary Salty Tear Over Senator Mary Landrieu
American Rand Stand, Con’t
D.C. To Test Demand-Based Parking Prices In Penn Quarter
Facebook reveals cop who killed black St. Louis teen an Obama-hating ammosexual
Ebola Response in Liberia Is Hampered by Infighting
The Republican Health Care Pathology
Anonymous Operation #HoodsOff IDs St. Louis Klan Members — Including Cops
No, the Culture Wars Haven’t Heated Up. It Just Seems Like They Have.
Chair of NY Regents Threatens to Close Schools that DeBlasio Wants to Help
Orange moves to change policy to keep Satanist coloring book out of schools

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One That Got Away

I think it’s broken. White Cage by Bernardi Roig, Dupont Circle, at the corner of Q and 21st Streets, D.C.:

Surveillance

Posted in DC | 1 Comment

Why One Should Always Build Mass Transit When Offered: Georgetown, D.C.

One of the bizarre things about D.C. (not Wor-Shing-Tun, but the District) is that Georgetown, is pretty isolated from the rest of the city even though it’s pretty high density and has lots of nice old (by U.S. standards) architecture. And that’s starting to affect business in Georgetown (boldface mine):

The reason Georgetowners are often disappointed in the state of Georgetown’s retail options is the Georgetown’s retail doesn’t need Georgetowners.

Sternlieb drew a comparison between Georgetown in 1990 and today. One of the starkest differences is that in 1990, Georgetown retail was equally dependent on Georgetown residents to be customers as it was dependent on DC residents generally, people from the DC region, and tourists.

Nowadays those first two categories are relatively insignificant to Georgetown retailers. Georgetowners don’t spend money at local stores like they used to. And DC residents have many more neighborhoods now to spend their money (and they also have shifted to online spending like Georgetowners). Georgetown retail still gets a healthy amount of money from regional customers (mostly Arlington residents, according to Sternlieb). But by far the largest category now is tourists.

This is a problem for many reasons. The first is that restaurants that target tourists don’t have to be very good. There will be a new crop of tourists next week. That turnover presents another problem. Georgetown has to constantly market itself if its primary customer base is brand new every single weekend.

I think this misses something really important: Georgetown just isn’t that accessible. There’s no Metro station nearby (we’ll return to that). Most people would have to take two bus rides to get there–and those who could take the Circulator (a rapid bus) could walk from Dupont Circle (and have plenty to do there, as well as at Logan Circle, Adams Morgan, and Shaw). Parking is awful: for the Bostonians reading this, imagine parking in Back Bay–now imagine it worse. On the weekend, driving into Georgetown is a nightmare (heading the opposite way, I’ve seen backups for a mile just to get into Georgetown. In short, the only people who would head into Georgetown, unless they had a very specific destination, would be tourists.

The irony is that it wasn’t always so. In the 1970s, a decision was made to not build a station in Georgetown:

As rigorously documented in Zachary Schrag’s Great Society Subway, the planners behind Metro simply never seriously considered putting a station in Georgetown. The reason: the Potomac. To get under the river, the Metro tunnel has to start heading down far enough away so that it’s not like a roller-coaster.

Commercial Georgetown is very close to the river and on a steep hill, which wouldn’t give the tunnel much distance to reemerge from underneath the river. Thus a Georgetown station would be extremely deep. It would be physically possible to build, but it would be extremely expensive.

And the Metro planners didn’t see a reason to spend that sort of money on Georgetown. In the 1960s when the plans were developed, Georgetown had little office space and few apartment buildings. It simply was not a destination of suburban commuters. Since that was the audience for which the Metro was primary designed to serve, Georgetown was not considered a worthwhile station location.

The Metro originally was conceived as a commuter rail system, not mass transit. In other words, it was designed to relieve workday traffic from the suburbs to the city. Which worked fine for Georgetown as long as car traffic didn’t become too heavy. Since the 1970s, the region’s population has skyrocketed, and D.C.’s population has rebounded–there are simply too many damn cars. The one exception to this is Arlington, VA, where one could take the Orange Line to Foggy Bottom, or to the Circulator (connect in Rosslyn), and from there, into Georgetown.

Moral of the story: when an opportunity presents itself, always push hard for a transit station. The good news is that there might be a Georgetown station. By 2040….

Posted in DC, Transportation | 1 Comment

Links 11/20/14

Links for you. Science:

Current data show no signal of Ebola virus adapting to humans
Personhood Week: Conception Is a Process
Bed Bugs Won’t Give You Chagas Disease (probably)
In search of the starfish killer: the quest to save the original keystone species
Rush Holt, physicist and congressman, to lead AAAS

Other:

Joni Ernst’s Iowa Dystopia (excellent)
Dismayingly Dawkins
Art Burn: Just how much public input should there be in public art? (oddly enough, people in lower-income neighborhoods aren’t huge fans of ‘challenging’ art when they’re leading ‘challenging’ lives….)
Stop calling me ‘the Ebola nurse’: I never had Ebola, and politicians who lie do nothing to protect your health (absolute must-read)
No More Backroom Deals (amazing what happens when unions decide to fight; related posts here)
A Pundit Explains What’s Wrong With Washington
Blame Uncle Sam for congestion on your commute
What Cops Are Really Thinking When a Woman Claims She Was Raped
Hillary Clinton’s “Connection” to White Voters: What Could It Possibly Be?
Isn’t It About Time to Ask Republicans to Start Acting Like Adults?
Aaron Swartz was no criminal
The moment I learned just how far Uber will go to silence journalists and attack women
Cost to Treat Ebola: $1 Million For Two Patients
How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization

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It’s Not Even Thanksgiving Yet…

…but that’s not stopping people from putting up Christmas decorations. On 16th Street, Dupont Circle, D.C.:

Still not thanksgiving

And on P Street, between 17th and 18th, Dupont Circle, D.C.:

Not even thanksgiving yet

Gut Yontif?

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Finally, Someone Realizes There’s Money to Be Made in Microbial Genomics

Even though most genomics-related business ventures seem to focus on human-related issues, I’ve argued that using genome sequencing to do clinical microbiology is not a ‘niche’ or a minor market:

On the other hand, microbial genomes are cheap, fast, and you can provide epidemiologically relevant information to clinical laboratories, hospital networks, and public health departments. I’m not arguing that we will or should sequence everything–and today that’s not feasible–but in two or three years, I don’t see any technical hurdles to routine microbiological surveillance in hospitals. This is something already being done, just with mid-20th century technology.

So this joint venture between bioMérieux, a laboratory diagnostic company, and the sequencing behemoth Illumina seems promising (boldface mine):

The first application will be an NGS epidemiological solution offered by service labs for genotyping disease agents. The high resolution of NGS combined with bioMerieux’s industry-leading knowledge in microbiology will provide easily accessible and highly accurate information to communities and hospitals to track, prevent, contain and stop the spread of disease agents.

The solution will combine Illumina’s MiSeq® sequencing system with a jointly developed pathogen genome database based on bioMérieux’s culture collection. This collection, which contains over 80,000 references, constitutes one of the largest libraries of bacterial strains in the world, and will contribute to creating a database of unprecedented scope with information about virulence and microbial resistance characteristics. The service will deliver a standardized report with a genomic profile of the infectious agents, with sequence-level accuracy and depth of information…

The ultimate goal of the Illumina-bioMérieux epidemiology solution will be to enable public health and hospital microbiology laboratories to contain an epidemic, avoid transmission of infectious agents, and improve hospital practices where needed. Those facing a suspected epidemic or health crisis will be able to send the relevant isolates to a designated laboratory equipped with an Illumina sequencing system. The genetic sequences will be sent via a secure cloud platform to be analyzed, using the database and software developed by bioMérieux, which will also generate a customized report for the customer.

The devil will be in the details–the bioinformatics details–but this is a good development. It’s time clinical epidemiology entered the 21st century.

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