Links 9/21/19

Links for you. Science:

New Electric Eel Is Most Shocking Yet
Why The Measles Surge Could Open The Door To A Host Of Other Diseases
Weather Agencies See Risk to Future Storm Forecasting From 5G
This astronaut raised geese to study their hearts. The birds stole hers.
‘Paralysed by anxiety’: researchers speak about life in troubled ancient-DNA lab


Why Schools Should End Active Shooter Drills Immediately
I’ve known about Epstein’s involvement with the MIT Media Lab and Joi Ito from the moment Joi shared his public apology. I joined the Media Lab as faculty before Joi joined as director.
The Woman Who Wore a T-Rex Costume to Her Sister’s Wedding Is the Best Person in America
The Scourge of Worker Wellness Programs
Restaurant Owners Should Embrace — and Pay Above — the $15 Minimum Wage
Banana docks, New York, 1900s.
The Moral Rot of the MIT Media Lab
Open your wallet. Trump demands tribute.
Student Debt Is Transforming the American Family
Want to Make Your City Safe? The Data Points To Prioritizing ‘Vision Zero’ To Cut Crime (interesting, but not sure this is just a correlation)
To Understand the Surge of Surprise Medical Bills, Get to Know Private Equity
The wild corruption of Trump’s golf courses deserves more scrutiny
The Secret Files of the Master of Modern Republican Gerrymandering
How Not to Fight Anti-Semitism
Why Can’t Republicans Deal With Hurricanes?
Is This the World’s Most Accessible Museum?
The Wrong Way to Contrast With Trump on Trade
The Art Handler Who Saved the Emancipation Proclamation From Drowning in Mountain Dew
The Democratic Party’s Addiction to Dirty Money
I read every 2020 frontrunner’s labor platform so you didn’t have to
The Historical Amnesia of Joe Biden’s Candidacy

Posted in Lotsa Links | 2 Comments

In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

Narcissists Gonna Narcissist

If Kavanaugh Had Happened to Republicans

Caregiving and Income

The Business Rent Is Too Damn High: The Bike Store Edition

The Nextdoor Presidency

What a Movement Looks Like

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Links 9/20/19

Links for you. Science:

The Racist Origins of Computer Technology
Theorists Debate How ‘Neutral’ Evolution Really Is
The first and most important thing to note is that you should NOT get your medical advice from the Federalist.
As humans shaped dogs’ bodies, we also altered their brains
A beginner’s guide to the debate over nuclear power and climate change


In an Age of Policy Boldness, Think Tanks Have Become Timid
Elizabeth Warren Couldn’t Have Asked for a Better Campaign Ad Than This CNBC Segment
Media coverage of Trump rallies is completely broken
Trump’s People Tried to Rush This Judge Through the Senate. I Can See Why.
Open carry activists were not asked to leave Walmarts when they tested the retailer’s request
No, You Don’t Get to Keep 100 Billion Dollars for Yourself
Remembering the war criminals
Pro-Trump Parents Panic Over Hoax Claiming Antifa Will Report Them to Child Protective Services
‘Why Are You Pissing In Our Face?’: Inside Warren’s War With the Obama Team
Stop Calling John Bolton a ‘Hawk’
Warren Proposes the Biggest Expansion of Social Security in 50 Years
How The Post’s analysis compares to other studies of school segregation
Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books
Everything Must Go
Bernie Sanders’s Enduring Appeal to the Youth Vote in Iowa
You Are So D.C. If…
Sotomayor’s brutal dissent unmasks an ugly truth about Trump
D.C. Laws Strip Thousands of Criminal Defendants of Their Right to a Jury Trial. One D.C. Judge Has Suggested That Should Change.
What we get wrong about the Southern strategy
California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis
Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden Will Duel Over the Obama Legacy

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

What a Movement Looks Like

Since I’m blogging about the Democratic primary, as usual, my obligatory disclosure that, were I voting today, I would vote Warren.

While I’m a Warren supporter, in no small part, because I think she’s more realistic than Sanders on how to pass legislation, I haven’t liked the derision from some quarters of Sanders’ attempt to build a movement. As some asshole with a blog noted:

…I’ll remind readers that I’m a life-long Democrat, have donated to Democrats, and have volunteered for multiple Democratic campaigns. Hell, I once registered absentee to vote in a Democratic municipal primary. I’ve also never missed an election. So don’t bring that you’re a Johnny-come-lately BernieBro crap here.

Being a Democrat isn’t like joining a union. In a union, there are formal benefits, such as group negotiation, union legal representation, and so on. There are often informal benefits, such as getting help from your brothers and sisters when you face a personal crisis, such as a family tragedy, or unemployment. But what do I get for officially being a Democrat, other than a shit ton of junk snail mail and email? It makes me laugh to think that my local Democratic party is going to show up and help me when I face a crisis. From a rank-and-file perspective, the Democratic Party is an electoral brand, nothing more. Even the Democratic Socialists of America will fix your tail light for free. But Democrats?

Right now, the Democratic Party is a brand–it’s not going around to members trying to help them, unlike a group like DSA which does things like helping people who are about to lose their homes. Last week (which, in the era of Trump scandals, is about as old as the pre-Cambrian), a despondent veteran who had massive medical debt and who didn’t see a way out other than suicide went to a small Sanders rally, and told Sanders about his problems. It’s clear he had a lot of physical difficulties (including Parkison’s).

Sanders was lauded for how he treated this man, but that’s not really the point: I think many of the Democratic candidates would behave as well* (and Clinton would have too in 2016). But I also think someone in that desperate situation probably wouldn’t believe if they went to another candidate’s rally that they could get some kind of help (even odds Biden would say something tasteless and tacky). That’s the difference between a movement and a party–people expect, or at least hope, that a movement will help them, that it’s not just about getting their votes.

As a Warren supporter, I have to wonder if she or other Democratic candidates can engender that sort of connection. I don’t mean that in an ersatz pundit theater criticism way either. But that sort of belief does matter, and it can win elections.

*Not convinced about Biden though.

Posted in Democrats | 1 Comment

Links 9/19/19

Links for you. Science:

Smithsonian Researchers Triple the Number of Electric Eel Species, Including One With Record-Setting Shock Ability
A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked
Hype vs. Reality at the MIT Media Lab
Nursing Homes Are a Breeding Ground for a Fatal Fungus
There may have been dozens more deaths linked to the Flint water crisis than previously known


The Necessary Radicalism of Bernie Sanders. His plan to enhance workplace democracy puts the strike back where it belongs: at the center of political power.
She’s just like you and me But she’s homeless
The U.S. Attorney Got The Numbers Wrong. Here’s A Look At D.C.’s Actual Incarceration Rate
How Apple’s Apps Topped Rivals in the App Store It Controls
‘They Have A Greed Problem’: National Grid Refuses To Give Desperate Brooklyn Residents New Gas Hookups (to those who caterwaul about TEH SOCIALISMZ!, this is how you turn people into socialists)
Dan Helmer looks to help Democrats take the Virginia House. Here’s what he said about our issues.
Paul Ryan joins DC think tank (told you…)
I Was Caroline Calloway: Seven years after I met the infamous Instagram star, I’m ready to tell my side of the story.
The Alabama Democratic Party is like a wolf; or Jim Harbaugh
The gig economy has costs. We can no longer ignore them.
Tell Us About It Grandpa
Republican Gerrymander Whiz Had Wider Influence Than Was Known
Three Ways to Fix the Drug Industry’s Rampant Dysfunction
Former FEMA Official Accused of Taking Bribes in Hurricane Maria Recovery
This is how the Trump administration quietly incapacitates the government
Robert Frank’s Curious Perspective
A company suggested installing solar panels near Virginia Civil War battlefields. Locals raged — and what happened next will happen again, experts say.
For more than a year, DC has experimented with giving rental subsidy recipients control over their spending. It’s working.
Andrew Bacevich, Ending War, American-Style
The Trump Organization’s Hostile Takeover of the U.S. Government
Remember Trump’s Charlottesville Comments? Conservatives Don’t.

Posted in Lotsa Links | 3 Comments

The Nextdoor Presidency

When the left, construed very broadly, fails at governance (which isn’t the same as legislating), it creates room for very bad actors to offer superficial solutions which lead to very bad things. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

By ‘Nextdoor’ Presidency, I don’t mean that the president lives next door, I’m referring to the Next Door app, which is a ‘hyper-local’ social media platform that focuses on very local problems and issues. If you’ve ever been on the site, there is a constant undercurrent of bigotry that occasionally erupts into rampant stupidity. There’s ugly anti-homeless sentiment too (as best as I can tell, every city has people who accuse homeless people of coming from ‘somewhere else.’ If they’re all coming from somewhere else, where is that place? But I digress again).

So when I call Il Trumpe the Nextdoor President, it’s in that sense. For example (boldface mine):

As The Washington Post has reported during the past week, though, Trump’s administration has quietly been planning a crackdown on homeless camps in California, including visiting unused government facilities to determine if they could serve as housing…

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump said, according to a report from the White House news pool. “And I’m speaking to tenants — in some cases foreign people, foreign tenants — but they have where they’re tenants in buildings throughout various cities in California, and other places … where they want to leave the country. They can’t believe what’s happening.”

He mentioned police getting sick of addressing homelessness problems, then returning to those tenants.

We have people living in our … best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings and pay tremendous taxes, where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige,” he said. “In many cases, they came from other countries, and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents. Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.

“And the people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up,” he added. “And we’re looking at it, and we’ll be doing something about it.”

…His answer on Tuesday makes a lot more sense. The focus of his concern, as presented to reporters on Air Force One, wasn’t Americans or veterans, but foreigners who rent or buy high-end real estate, people who get frustrated at seeing those experiencing homelessness at the entrance to their office buildings. It’s the sort of complaint that might resonate with someone who owns real estate in major U.S. cities that is used for housing or office space.

Trump is well aware of how people experiencing homelessness can make a property less appealing. As CNN reported during the campaign, Trump once proposed housing people who are homeless in one of his buildings — in an apparent effort to oust rent-controlled tenants from the property.

It’s remarkable, though, that Trump went as far as to frame this as a concern for foreign tenants. Foreign investors are central to much of the high-end real estate market, prompting Donald Trump Jr. in 2008 to remark that “[i]n terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” But even if that is a central concern of Trump’s in this case, it seems odd to mention it explicitly. To the rally crowd, concern for the veterans. To reporters, it’s apparently about tax bases and appealing to the foreign market.

Of course he views this as a real estate problem. But this political opening occurs only when governance fails–and a fair amount of that failure can be laid at the feet of nominal Democrats:

Yet like many problems Trump raises, he’s not wrong to say its a failure, even if his solutions are monstrous and his motivations vile. Homelessness is a massive failure of governance, especially at state and local levels. In many places, one could blame divided government: the state government, controlled by Republicans, might be starving municipalities for funds. But California* is nominally controlled top to bottom by Democrats and has been for a while (arguably, the two-thirds majority required for tax increases limited Democratic initiatives for a long time, but important subtleties like that will get lost in the political weeds). Yet the state and its cities have failed on the whole. It’s very difficult to build market-rate housing in most Californian cities. It’s even harder to build a homeless shelter (got NIMBY?).

This is another manifestation of the crisis in governance in the U.S.

Democrats, and not just the ones operating at the national level, need to learn that, if they don’t solve (or at least significantly reduce) problems, Republicans–usually the worst of the lot–will propose solutions that will be awful in so many ways. Democrats, especially at the state and local levels, needed to be much more effective when it came to urban housing, but, instead, treated homelessness as ‘normal.’ The trouble with normal is that it always gets worse.

Democrats need to win elections. But they also need to start governing well.

Posted in Conservatives, Democrats, Homelessness, Housing | Leave a comment

Links 9/18/19

Links for you. Science:

NIH opens inquiry into management, workplace issues at troubled pharmacy
Mass Pig Deaths in China Cause Short Supply of U.S. Blood Thinner
We worked for the NOAA. Political appointees can’t overrule scientists.
We’re Barely Listening to the U.S.’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes
Would we miss the Media Lab if it were gone?


Bernie Sanders Went to Canada, and a Dream of ‘Medicare for All’ Flourished
I Support Unions, Just Not This One
Clarence Thomas’s Radical Vision of Race
Uber Undone
Politics Is Not Arithmetic
Judge Promoted by Trump Administration Threatened a 2-Year-Old With an Attack Dog
How Not to Fight Anti-Semitism
Elizabeth Warren Doubles Down On ‘Medicare For All’ In Interview With Dying Activist
The One Thing No Israeli Wants to Discuss
Poor and middle-class Americans are much less likely to survive into their 70s than the wealthy, federal report says
Robert Frank Dies; Pivotal Documentary Photographer Was 94
NYC Subway Banned Dogs Unless They Fit In a Bag, Dog Owners Did Not Disappoint
How Democracy Dies, American-Style
Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, A Trump Nomination Means a Trump Presidency (from early 2016, amazingly, it still holds up pretty well)
Trump skeptical of using foreign spies to collect intel on hostile countries, sources say
Controversial Trump Court Pick Gets Expedited Senate Confirmation Hearing
Volkswagen Hopes Fresh Logo Signals an Emission-Free Future
The Deep-Pocket Push to Preserve Surprise Medical Billing
A Joe Biden presidency would be a climate catastrophe
What Bernie Sees in the New Deal
The Center for American Progress Is a Disgrace
Tackle the epidemic, not the opioids

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment