Links 10/21/17

Links for you. Science:

Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers
What is sleep, even?
I once tried to cheat sleep, and for a year I succeeded
Former Head of Energy, Environment at ALEC, Todd Wynn, Hired by Trump Interior Department (this is a complete environmental disaster)
The Amazing Accessory Genome in S. pneumoniae (interesting)


8 Iconic Signs You’ll Recognize If You’re a Real Washingtonian
How UNH Turned A Quiet Benefactor Into A Football-Marketing Prop
Life and Death After the Steel Mills
‘Shrinking, shrinking, shrinking’: Puerto Rico faces a demographic disaster
Why So Many D.C. Plays End Up On Broadway
Donald Trump’s Unseemly Condolence-Call Bragging Game
Buying A House In The DMV Could Take 20 Years For New Teachers (remember, you can’t have gentrification without a gentry class)
How “Big Data” Went Bust. And what comes next
When Nazis rallied in Manhattan, one working-class Jewish man from Brooklyn took them on
Spare the outrage over Harvey Weinstein. These people voted for Trump.
How So-Called “Right to Work” Laws Aim to Silence Working People
Reimagining “right-to-work”
Cy Vance represents everything wrong with the justice system
The Deep Unfairness of America’s All-Volunteer Force
Real estate backs renegade Dems
I feel like an idiot. I vastly misunderstood how a library card works for years. (?!??!!!)
Yes, This Is a Witch Hunt. I’m a Witch and I’m Hunting You.
How A Heavy Metal Band From The D.C. Region Has Gone Viral In Catalonia

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist links:

Metro’s Problems Will Not Be Solved With Less Democracy

If You Care About Open Data, Then Il Trumpe’s NOAA Nominee Is Disturbing

One Way Sunflower

Puerto Rico And Power

Big Buggy

How Much Ruin In A Nation: Bush Was As Awful As Il Trumpe, Just No One Cared

“He Knew What He Signed Up For”

The Opioid Crisis Will Be With Us For Decades: Lessons From D.C.

Public Notice

We Can’t Understand The Urban Housing Shortage Without Recognizing The Office Surplus

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Links 10/20/17

Links for you. Science:

Follow up to Study Section
An ace in the hole for DNA sequencing (still doesn’t seem accurate enough for SNP calls; hope it will be soon!)
In Early Results, Shorter Treatment for Tuberculosis Proves Effective
From Blue Cheese To Dirt, How Beautiful Bacteria Can Be
Trump Pick for Top Environment Post: Carbon Dioxide Is ‘The Gas of Life’


Community health centers anxiously await congressional action on expired funding (Sanders’ greatest legislative legacy might well be the massive expansion of community health centers from less than half a million to 27 million patients)
Neo-Nazi and National Front organiser quits movement, opens up about Jewish heritage, comes out as gay
Many of us know this famous picture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. But few know the bravery and tragedy of the white guy, Peter Norman.
Small donations to Trump campaign pay for Trump Jr.’s massive legal bills
Trump election fraud commission staffer arrested on child pornography charges
How Men Like Harvey Weinstein Implicate Their Victims in Their Acts
Candidate for US congress stands by her claim she was abducted by aliens
Let’s Not Destroy New York City’s Brutalist Masterpieces
What Would Women Be Doing if We Weren’t Constantly Dealing With Male Abuse?
The scamming runs very, very deep
The drug industry’s triumph over the DEA (Triumph of the Pill)
Five myths about Hollywood
Masked and Armed With Rifles: Military Security Firms Roam Streets of San Juan (why are they wearing masks in a non-combat situation on U.S. soil?)
Why is ‘The Bulletin’ carved on a Chinatown building?
The Devaluation of Music: It’s Worse Than You Think
Birmingham’s New Mayor Randall Woodfin on How to Win the Political Revolution Down South
In South Carolina, pregnant women are increasingly giving birth without prenatal care
Four Laws for Protecting Capitalism from Itself
GOP private-police bill could unleash mercenaries on Michigan towns

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We Can’t Understand The Urban Housing Shortage Without Recognizing The Office Surplus

This is something cities are going to have to grapple with (boldface mine):

DC has around 14.1 million square feet of vacant office space, and 8.2 million square feet of it is in the downtown area. That’s equivalent to more than two Pentagons worth of empty offices.

The DC Council will soon consider a bill that would incentivize owners to convert a portion of that empty office space into much-needed homes…

Since the Great Recession, the District’s office market has experienced vacancy rates above 11 percent, and the total area of vacant office space has reached over 14 million square feet. As recently as last month, the office vacancy rate in the DowntownDC and Golden Triangle Business Improvement Districts was 10.3 percent and the total vacant office space was 8.2 million square feet–almost double the vacant space at the end of 2006.

This abundance of vacant space is unlikely to decline. There are more than 5 million square feet of office space under construction, meaning that older office buildings will likely continue to be passed up by business renters.

What is more, the private sector and the federal government simply don’t need the same amount of space they once did. (There is a lot less physical file storage and rooms full of secretaries these days.) Even if an business or agency did need the space, there is plenty of cheaper competition in Virginia and Maryland. Northern Virginia has 32.6 million square feet of vacant office space, and suburban Maryland has 12.4 million square feet.

On the flip side, there are very few homes for rent or purchase in the downtown area, something particularly frustrating given the dramatic shortage of homes and affordable homes the DC region is facing.

D.C. is considering offering tax abatements for owners who convert offices to apartments. An alternative might be to tax vacant business properties at a higher rate (something D.C. already does for vacant houses). Meanwhile, new office space is being built, which, if it were housing instead, could be 1,800 two-bedroom apartments per year.

Historically, D.C., after the riots, destroyed a lot of housing and turned into office space (e.g., South of Dupont Circle). Cities often did this as they lost population, since office space can generate a lot of taxes, while having relatively few expenses (e.g., no kids to educate). That probably was the only way cities could survive after the flight of manufacturing in the 1960s, and the massive federal defunding starting in the late 1970s. But we’re paying for it now, as cities desperately need more housing.

Posted in DC, Housing, Urban Planning | 1 Comment

Links 10/19/17

Links for you. Science:

LIGO Detects Fierce Collision of Neutron Stars for the First Time
Seven New Species Of Peacock Spiders Discovered In Australia (DANCING MINI-SPIDERS!)
Why is it so hard to track the source of a food poisoning outbreak?
Mathematicians Discover Prime Conspiracy
Sexual Harassment in Science is Just Like Hollywood: Everyone Knows Who The Weinstein Is


The Case of the Spitting Legionnaire
This is what America’s eco city of the future looks like
Voters Are Horrible
‘Beautiful Girls’ Scribe Scott Rosenberg On A Complicated Legacy With Harvey Weinstein
DC updates snow strategy; adds cash, contractors and gear (D.C. digging out really isn’t the problem. So many people live in the burbs and commute to D.C. or other burbs, and they take so long to clear the roads)
Marc Faber, author of influential ‘Gloom, Doom, and Boom,’ report, says ‘thank God white people populated America, not the blacks’
Working at Google seemed like a dream job. The reality has been a tedious, pointless nightmare.
‘A Soulless Coward’: Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump
Save the Phony Weinstein Outrage, Republicans
Deep in Trump Country, a Big Stake in Health Care (everybody embraces Lernerism when it’s their jobs on the line…)
The G.O.P. Is No Party for Honest Men
Cyrus Vance and the Myth of the Progressive Prosecutor
Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies
What Will It Take for Black Lives to Matter?
Welcoming Our New Robot Overlords
Scaramucci Apologizes After His New Media Venture Goes Into Full Holocaust Denial
He’s Poison
Ben Bernanke Wouldn’t Have to Worry if Trade Were More Balanced

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Public Notice

Observed at the corner of Fairfax Drive and North Stafford St., Ballston, Arlington, VA:

Public notice

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The Opioid Crisis Will Be With Us For Decades: Lessons From D.C.

D.C. offers a sobering lesson about just how long a drug addiction crisis lasts in a community (boldface mine):

While other jurisdictions across the country grapple with opioid overdoses among their white residents, the District offers a unique perspective. The majority of opioid-related deaths in the city fit a select profile: male, between ages 50-59, and black, according to a 2017 report from the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner….

Historians trace its presence in D.C. as far back as the late 1930s, and by the 1960s heroin addiction reached epidemic status in the city. During that epidemic, a young Harvard-trained psychiatrist named Dr. Robert DuPont was working in the D.C. Department of Corrections. He found that nearly half of the men who came into the D.C. jail between 1968 and 1970 tested positive for heroin

In 1972, DuPont authored a report titled “Where Does One Run When He’s Already in the Promised Land,” referring to people who had escaped the Jim Crow South for northern cities. He found that 13.5 percent of males born in the District in 1953 were addicted to heroin, that in “large sections of Washington” the addiction rates were double that, and that addiction was concentrated among young, lower class black men.

The heart of the heroin epidemic in the 1970s was in a population of people who were born between 1945 and 1957. That group is the group that is now aging,” says DuPont. “The teenagers of the 70s have become 50 and 60 year olds. I’m amazed at the the tenacity of the problem.”

…“These gentlemen who have been using for many years are teetering on this line of safety,” says Dr. Tanya A. Royster, Director of D.C.’s Department of Behavioral Health. “They know how much to use. They know when to use. They know where to get it.

“Now that these new things are introduced into the opioid supply, like fentanyl and some of the other synthetics, they are much more lethal and much more deadly. So what they have been doing for the last 20 or 30 years is not necessarily safe. That’s our message to them: What you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore because the supply has changed.”

Changes in supply can be lethal, though political pressures, such as ‘getting tough’, often lead to these changes.

D.C.’s experience also means we’re going to have to take harm reduction, and not just ending addiction seriously:

The Department of Behavioral Health has had its eyes on this problem for a long time, setting up prevention centers across the city and hotline numbers. Royster’s goal is to reach the users before fentanyl does. “We have two approaches to recovery,” she says. “One is abstinence, which is: Stop using or don’t start using drugs. The other is harm reduction. If you’re going to use a drug, use it in the safest, least harmful way—trying to reduce the amount of damage. So we try to make sure you have good healthcare. We make sure you have clean needles.

“Many of the the older black men are in the harm reduction category. We know that they’ve been using for a long time. They have been very clear that at this point in their lives, or at no point in their lives, have they been willing to stop using. So the strategy is, how do we keep them healthy and alive while we continue to encourage and support treatment?

Harm reduction is a controversial option. It involves supplying addicts with clean needles for drug use and methadone, an opioid medication, to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Abstinence supporters say that this approach is complicit and counterproductive, while harm reduction advocates argue that it is a more effective method to treat addiction and that it decreases the rates of other comorbidities such as HIV and Hepatitis C infection.

The consequences of opioid addiction likely will be with us for decades, and no one seems to realize this.

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