A Shutdown Suspicion

No way to prove this, but I suspect the White House, and possibly Congressional Republicans too, think the weekend gives them extra time to avoid a ‘real’ shutdown before the shutdown ‘really’ kicks in on Monday.

That might be a serious miscalculation.

Posted in Conservatives, Fucking Morons | 1 Comment

In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist links for you:

Sunday Sermon: Time To Give Them The (Electoral) Business

Healing The Sin Sick Soul

This Is Not Normal: The HHS Edition

If Trump Goes Down, It Will Be Over Money Laundering

Direct Delivery

Books For The Rich

The (Business) Rent Is Too Damn High

When Real Estate Needs Change Faster Than Building Cycles

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Links 1/19/18

Links for you. Science:

Tennessee lab is leading fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria
It Doesn’t Take a Genius to Solve the Opioid Crisis
Flu season is shaping up as one of the worst in years, officials say
Passage Prevented: President Trump wants to stop illegal immigration with a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but experts agree it would harm the ecology of one of the most biodiverse regions of North America
New Research Reveals How to Easily Grow Jellyfish In Captivity


The Damage Done by Trump’s Department of the Interior
Meet the 24-year-old Trump campaign worker appointed to help lead the government’s drug policy office
Trump Thinks Only Black People Are on Welfare, but, Really, White Americans Receive Most Benefits
No, #MeToo Is Not a Witch Hunt
Opioid Addiction Knows No Color, but Its Treatment Does
How The Alt-Right — And Paul Ryan’s Challenger — Coordinate To Fight The “Jewish Media”
Trump Puts the Purpose of His Presidency Into Words
The Other Scary Foreign Hacking Threat Trump Is Ignoring
As Labor Pool Shrinks, Prison Time Is Less of a Hiring Hurdle
How Hawaii Could Have Sent a False Nuclear Alarm
California Is Doing Fine, Thank You Very Much
What Would President* Trump Recommend for Countries Running Out of Water?
Elaborate Birdhouses Resembling Miniature Palaces Built in Ottoman-Era Turkey
The Radical Dr. King
Babe, What Are You Doing?
Fox News shelved story on Trump and porn actress Stormy Daniels before election
Don’t make the poor work for health care
How Hello Kitty manhole art is helping Japan’s sewage industry clean up its act (you’ll also note how much better maintained the streets are than in the U.S.)

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When Real Estate Needs Change Faster Than Building Cycles

A while ago, some asshole with a blog observed that there is a mismatch between what is being built in D.C. and what is actually needed:

But what’s really ridiculous is that, even as the need for office space is declining, we’re building about the equivalent of 1,800 two-bedroom apartments worth of offices. In fairness, zoning laws often won’t let builders put up housing, but this is when one wishes libertarians would actually doing something useful, and get D.C.’s zoning regulations changed.

The Grey Lady finally noticed this (boldface mine):

In a 43-square-block portion of the booming central business district, there are just 23 residential units, condos in a row of four late-19th-century townhomes on Jefferson Place, just south of Dupont Circle. It’s a minuscule number compared with the 33 million square feet of office space in the same area.

With construction cranes for new office buildings dominating the skyline, owners of older buildings may face a choice: Upgrade to current standards to compete — an expensive proposition — or convert to residential use…

To encourage conversions in the nation’s capital, where the office vacancy rate is around 11.4 percent, the district’s Council members are considering legislation to provide a tax abatement of up to $20 per square feet for 10 years, capped at $5 million a year. The DowntownDC and Golden Triangle Business Improvement Districts, two adjoining associations of property owners that represent the area, back the legislation…

An estimated 89,000 people work in the so-called Golden Triangle, an area of prime real estate that extends from the White House to Dupont Circle. The hope is that conversions will give it more of a 24-hour neighborhood feel…

In the Golden Triangle, 77 percent of the office buildings were erected from 1960 to 1990. Ms. Agouridis suggested that owners must soon decide whether to demolish and rebuild or renovate them to the higher Class A or premium Trophy building standards.

One thing to note about the Golden Triangle: it used to be chock full of housing. For most of its history it was residential. Back to some asshole with a blog:

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.

Between 1950 and 1975, D.C. lost thirteen percent of its population (100,000 people). By 1997, D.C. had lost thirty percent of its 1950 population (over 215,000 people). No one thought for a very long time, that D.C.’s population would rebound (in the last ten years, the population has increased by 107,000 people). There is history that needs to be overcome here, as the zoning laws and governmental culture* are still catching up to the new reality. While one should always keep an eye on the D.C. Council and the mayor, it seems like the initiatives they’re pushing to convert offices to apartments might work (though the devil is in the details). This might work.

*One noticeable example is that D.C. government is still far too automobile focused. That was fine in the 1980s and 1990s when the city was comparatively empty. It doesn’t work very well in 2018.

Posted in DC, Housing, Urban Planning | Leave a comment

Links 1/18/18

Links for you. Science:

Antibiotic Resistance and Toxin Production of Clostridium difficile Isolates from the Hospitalized Patients in a Large Hospital in Florida.
A Foreboding Similarity in Today’s Oceans and a 94-Million-Year-Old Catastrophe
‘Raw Water’ Isn’t Better for You—But It Could Definitely Hurt You
Getting Paid For Your Genetic Data Like Never Before
New study on abortion pill shows high success, low rate of complications


Why Did Slate Protect Trump’s Hush Money Secret? (important)
What did the men with Donald Trump do when he spoke of ‘shithole countries’?
This is how ignorant you have to be to call Haiti a ‘shithole’
Media Euphemisms For ‘Racist’ Are Stupidly Tinged
Kicking Charter School Money Out Might Be California Democrats’ Best Chance For Unifying Their Party
Jaylen Brown: ‘Sport is a mechanism of control in America’
After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward. Here’s Why.
All Taxation Is Theft: Four Words To Understand The Republican Party
Wish I Voted for Sanders, Says Laid-Off Carrier Worker Duped by ‘Con Man’ Trump
Trump Exceptionalism Will Kill Every Last One Of Your Brain Cells
Yesterday, as Trump was ranting about “shithole countries,” I was in a county courthouse in Georgia looking at a death certificate for a black man who died in 1930.
Trump reportedly interrupted intel briefing to ask Korean American, “Where are you from?”
A woman’s choice – sexual favours or lose her home (related post here)
In light of the recent Medicaid work requirement legislation, I felt compelled to share some thoughts… I have had the opportunity to care for patients on Medicaid and hear their stories.
The Potemkin Sh*thole
Ladies, let’s be reasonable about #MeToo or nothing will ever be sexy again
Two Lessons of the Urban Crime Decline

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The (Business) Rent Is Too Damn High

From New York City (boldface mine):

Over the past several years, thousands of small retailers have closed, replaced by national chains. When they, too, fail, the stores lie vacant, and landlords, often institutional investors, are unwilling to drop rents.

A recent survey by New York councilmember Helen Rosenthal found 12% of stores on one stretch of the Upper West Side is unoccupied and ‘for lease’. The picture is repeated nationally. In October, the US surpassed the previous record for store closings, set after the 2008 financial crisis.

The common refrain is that the devastation is the product of a profound shift in consumption to online, with Amazon frequently identified as the leading culprit. But this is maybe an over-simplification.

“It’s not Amazon, it’s rent,” says Jeremiah Moss, author of the website and book Vanishing New York. “Over the decades, small businesses weathered the New York of the 70s with it near-bankruptcy and high crime. Businesses could survive the internet, but they need a reasonable rent to do that.”

Part of the problem is the changing make-up of New York landlords. Many are no longer mom-and-pop operations, but institutional investors and hedge funds that are unwilling to drop rents to match retail conditions. “They are running small businesses out of the city and replacing them with chain stores and temporary luxury businesses,” says Moss.

In addition, he says, banks will devalue a property if it’s occupied by a small business, and increase it for a chain store. “There’s benefit to waiting for chain stores. If you are a hedge fund manager running a portfolio you leave it empty and take a write-off.”

…Like Moss, Zendell believes it’s too simplistic to blame Amazon. The same signals of over-pricing are seen in every area of real estate, including housing. “When you see [that] every corner has a bank or a pharmacy, and there is a gym on the second floor, there’s a simple reason for that: people can’t afford the rent.

Why did restaurants go to Brooklyn? Because it’s cool? No, because it was cheap, and [because] restaurateurs were sick of giving investors’ money away so they could pay their rent.”

As some asshole with a blog noted about D.C. restaurants:

When it comes to food, in too many neighborhoods there simply isn’t enough profit margin in ‘cheap eats’ to pay these kinds of rents. But a six dollar hamburger transformed by the magic phrase ‘fast casual dining’ becomes ten dollars–and has a pretentious name that causes David Brooks to freak out….

The exceptions to this phenomenon are those businesses where the business owns the building (e.g., Ben’s Chili Dogs). But if a business is renting, it’s too hard with low margins to survive. While D.C., and other cities, do have some local store and restaurant initiatives, if cities can’t figure out how to get business rents under control, we’re going to end up with a lot of overpriced stores and restaurants–which is another reason why lower-middle and middle class people are concerned about gentrification.

While housing rents are the usual focus of discussion, if we don’t want cities to resemble high-density strip malls, we need to help businesses stabilize rents.

Posted in Economics, Urban Planning | Leave a comment

Links 1/17/18

Links for you. Science:

All the cool new friends you’ll meet when you drink raw water
On that personal statement…
Illumina Unveils $20,000 Desktop Sequencer Aimed At Sequencing Germs
‘The problem child of seasonal flu’: Beware this winter’s virus
U.S. Interior Department to put academic, nonprofit grants through political review


Democrats: Big Tent, Yes, but With Parameters (excellent)
Dear Democrats: Shut it down
Public school buildings are falling apart, and students are suffering for it
Some Types of Make-Work Jobs Won’t Survive
When Deportation Is a Death Sentence (it’s not deportation for many, it’s de facto expulsion)
Retired From the Brutal Streets of Mexico, Sex Workers Find a Haven
Trump’s Pick to Run 2020 Census Has Defended Racial Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression Laws
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend may be about to take a Pizzagate peddler to court
A New Frontier in American Ethnic Cleansing
Biden Trashes Millennials in His Quest to Become Even Less Likable
Economist James K. Galbraith isn’t celebrating Dow 25,000
The Most Important Election of 2018 Might Be Happening in Maryland
It’s Time to Censure Trump for ‘Conduct Unbecoming’ of a President (I proposed this months ago, after he engaged in Nazi and Klan sympathizing)
What to make of the failure of the Democrats to deny Trump the power to engage in warrantless surveillance? (he’s probably right, but don’t rule out incompetence either)
Puerto Rico’s power outage keeps getting weirder and more infuriating.
Uber developed secret system to lock down staff computers in a police raid
The enablers of the racist president are back at it
Trump and ‘shithole’: I’m shocked, shocked!
Lot of folks think they’re making a great argument in the president’s defense tonight by noting that Haiti and El Salvador are, in fact, poor. But they’re just revealing their own racism.
Trump just denied his ‘shithole’ comment. In the process, he confirmed the worst.
Has anyone checked in Lindsey Graham’s basement for the pod?

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