Links 12/10/18

Links for you. Science:

Insect Populations Are Declining Around the World. How Worried Should We Be?
Ants in Florida Collect the Skulls of Other Ants to Decorate Their Nests (of course they’re from Florida…)
China halts genome editing research that led to claimed birth of CRISPR babies
Countries vowed to cut carbon emissions. They aren’t even close to their goals, U.N. report finds
How to Land on Mars


Democrats Have Their Package Of Reform Bills In Hand. Here’s How It All Came Together. (more on the bill here)
“From the River to the Sea”: A Guide to the Perplexed
FDA promised a ‘lower-cost option’ to EpiPen, but the price isn’t any lower
The other housing crisis: Cities where home prices are low because people have left
America’s dark history of organized anti-Semitism re-emerges in today’s far-right groups
Important Not to Confuse Monopoly and Wealth Inequality
Amazon Wins!!!
The Life and Death of George Bush Sr: The Best of a Bad Bunch
Party Monsters: Punch-drunk critics in the era of Peak TV
CHP: Drunk driver slept while Tesla appeared to drive Hwy 101 on autopilot
Google Shut Out Privacy and Security Teams From Secret China Project (if the leadership really didn’t know what was going on, then this is an excellent argument for breaking up the company)
It’s downhill for Mayor Walsh
Les cavaliers de l’apocalypse
Blame The Right People for Media Failures
Gen X bought the most homes, but debt killed their American Dream
The Violence Against Women Act is set to expire. Not a single Republican co-sponsored it.
George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad will always be the reference point for dog whistle racism

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Yellow Vests, Gas Taxes, And Getting Serious About Global Warming

Last week, I noted that, despite the rhetoric we hear from some quarters, we are not serious about combating global warming. Why? Because, even in cities where there is a shortage of multi-unit housing accessible by mass transit–the most energy efficient lifestyle–it is incredibly difficult to build more housing in any significant numbers. The ‘yellow vest‘ protests in France, which started over gasoline taxes, illustrate another difficulty (boldface mine):

France has turned into a bubbling cauldron of unrest over the past month as the so-called yellow vest movement has put up roadblocks and taken to the streets to protest a gas tax. Last week’s protests turned violent and facing a crisis, the government of Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday it would put a six-month moratorium on the tax.

The tax was meant to combat climate change and reduce carbon pollution. While it likely would’ve done that, it would’ve done so on the backs of France’s rural low and middle class. The mass revolt against it doesn’t mean those groups oppose climate action. It means that Macron needs to include them in discussions about the best way to address climate change as part of a just transition, something the world at-large is grappling with as it aims to get a handle on carbon emissions.

As I noted years ago about gasoline taxes (boldface mine):

I remember when I was living close to the bone, in a crappy apartment 75 yards from the LIRR. If someone had told me that I would end up paying $300-$600 per year more in gas tax, well there is a problem: I couldn’t afford it (and we’re not talking about [something like] having to remove my kids from private school, but basic necessities). And I didn’t have a choice-my job was in suburban Long Island, and a car was every bit as essential as oxygen. It’s like that in many parts of the country. While we can talk about net gains, there will be some losers–and they will be those who can least afford it.

Because I keep hearing about carbon taxes on the order of $250/ton of carbon. That would be around $2.20 of tax per gallon (a carbon tax of $50/ton would be 44 cents/gallon). That’s a lot of money. Of course, this would encourage people to drive less, but there’s only so much that can be avoided in most parts of the U.S. Even if the tax was revenue-neutral, in the sense that everyone gets an equal, flat credit on their taxes, people who have to drive a lot would still lose out*. And if most people don’t end up paying very much, then it really doesn’t have an effect on behavior. For this to work, to change behavior, it has to hurt. That’s how it works.

If this really is a national or global crisis, then we need to start think about more direct command-and-control options. There is no environmental equivalent of the zipless fuck.

*Also, lower income people might have to go into debt until the rebate arrives.

Posted in Global Warming | 2 Comments

Links 12/9/18

Links for you. Science:

Tipping Points, For-Profit Scientific Publishing, and Closed Science
Incredible Photos of the Hermit Crabs Who Live In Trash
Measles outbreak raging in Europe could be brought to U.S., doctors warn
Let’s say we can force the mosquito into extinction — should we do it?
Can Killer Robots Help Save the Great Barrier Reef?
Some of Earth’s first animals—including a mysterious, alien-looking creature—are spilling out of Canadian rocks


Bush (excellent)
U.S. agency apologizes to George Soros after broadcast called him ‘multimillionaire Jew’
Why Second Trimester Abortions Should Be Legal
What You Do to Survive
Trump Is Compromised by Russia
The Open Office and the Spirit of Capitalism
Who’s the Mystery Man Behind the Latest Pelosi Putsch? It’s Mark Penn. (90s ‘centrist’ retreads are the worst)
Trans Woman Was Beaten in ICE Custody Before Death, Autopsy Finds (ICE is a makework program for racists and fascists)
Democrats Can Win Back Rural America, But First They Need To Understand What Bled It Dry
Democrats smash Watergate record for House popular vote in midterms
Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?
We often like to pretend that it is totalitarian governments that create the prejudices that end up killing millions – that they cast a strange, dark spell over the population. This couldn’t be further from the truth. They only ever work with what is already there.
New York City Mapped All of its Trees and Calculated the Economic Benefits of Every Single One
Living in Shaw—as a Senior Citizen
There will be a lot of sentimentality about George H.W. Bush, with people casting him as a noble statesman, compared with Trump and with his own son. Do not fall for this.
‘They had us fooled’: Inside Payless’s elaborate prank to dupe people into paying $600 for shoes
County GOP chair: Oklahoma should quit public education

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The Rent Is Too Damn High

Or, if you prefer, affordable housing is now an upper-middle class problem. Not a gentry class problem, but definitely one for the upper-middle class. Consider the median D.C. household income–which is pretty good compared to many places!–of $77,686. Affordable housing, commonly defined as thirty percent of your pre-tax income, would be $1,942/month. There are very few places near mass transit that cost that ‘little’ in D.C.; overall, one bedroom apartments cost $2,220 and two bedrooms cost $2,810, a ten percent increase in one year (these are medians). And that is household income: if you need a two-bed apartment with kids, well, then, you’re pretty much screwed. If you live somewhere far away from mass transit, then you need to own a car, and that adds hundreds of dollars of expenses per month.

If you need two bedrooms, the median D.C. livable income is $112,400. There are places that are cheaper, but most of them aren’t near mass transit and require a car. I’ve never been a dogmatic YIMBY, but we desperately need more housing in D.C.–and more extensive and better mass transit.

Posted in DC, Housing | 2 Comments

Links 12/8/18

Links for you. Science:

Stop Letting Republicans Lie on TV About Climate Science
Tear gas should never be used on children. Period.
Breaking Down What Climate Change Will Do, Region by Region
Part of the Answer to Climate Change May Be America’s Trees and Dirt, Scientists Say
Regulators close Maine’s shrimp fishery for next 3 years: Maine fishermen used to catch millions of pounds of shrimp every winter, but the fishery is decimated by warming ocean temperatures


How to Survive the Next Era of Tech (Slow Down and Be Mindful)
In D.C., water fees tap into tension over race, gentrification and the First Amendment (also religion)
You’re not imagining it. Your co-worker looks a little different this holiday season.
Don’t Hate Mississippi
How Cheap Labor Drives China’s A.I. Ambitions
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Push for a Green New Deal Is Not Just Good Policy—It’s Political Genius
What Is Chuck Schumer Thinking?
American Life Expectancy Continues to Fall: Rise in Suicides, Overdose Deaths the Big Culprit
Bret Stephens’ 2018 midterm analysis is quietly getting worse
Meet The Charming, Curious, Occasionally Hat-Eating Christmas Camel Of Mount Vernon (THIS IS THE HERO AMERICA NEEDS)
No talk of ‘the Resistance’ or opinions about impeachment at work, federal employees are warned (meanwhile, “Six White House officials reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act“. Reprimanded. Terrifying.)
DC Could Begin Using DOPA As Early As February (excellent)
Trumpism is rotten to its core. And the stench of corruption and failure is everywhere.
Changing the Name of Mount Evans Won’t Change Sand Creek’s Story
The million-dollar drug: How a Canadian medical breakthrough that was 30 years in the making became the world’s most expensive drug — and then quickly disappeared
How Donald Trump appeals to men secretly insecure about their manhood (not sure there’s anything “secret” about this…)

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist links:

They’ve Been Very Bad For A Long Time

Biodiversity, Biomass, And Defaunation

Swing Tunes And Saucy Sirens

What If We Funded Science The Way We Funded The Pentagon?

The Environment Deficit


Punish Companies That Store But Can’t Protect Your Data

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Links 12/7/18

Links for you. Science:

The weather of Washington’s future: Hellish heat and high water, says Trump administration climate report
Editing Babies? We Need to Learn a Lot More First
Amid uproar, Chinese scientist defends creating gene-edited babies
A Honeybee With Two Fathers And No Mother
Silent and Simple Ion Engine Powers a Plane with No Moving Parts


Lindsay Graham takes on AOC on Refugee Analogy: Guess whose side the Auschwitz Museum takes.
We Can Pay You To Do That, Too
Capitol Hill’s Riverby Books Is Closing Down
Nearly two-thirds of students at D.C. arts school wrongly accused of residency fraud, city finds
Justice Announces He Suffered ‘Mini-Stroke’ Over Citizens United
How Restaurants Got So Loud
I still miss my headphone jack, and I want it back
In the Twittersphere, the D.C. Council went from dry to wry thanks to this guy
The Pelosi Playbook
The Weird Dwight Howard Saga Shows the NBA Still Has a Problem With the Closet
How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime
Booker’s ambitious proposal to close the racial wealth gap (it’s not a bad policy, but people need help now)
To patients’ surprise, a visit to urgent care brings steep hospital bill
Good Morning America May Have Just Cracked the Code on Interviewing Trumpists
736 Square Feet: DC Has Fourth Smallest Apartments in the Country
You are in Melania Trump’s nightmare forest. Keep to the path.

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