In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

Best Healthcare System In The World

In Ten To Fifteen Years, Two Policies Will Be Finished

Our Scientific Infrastructure Is Not Robust: The Entomology Edition

Words To Live By?

Note To Anti-LGBTers: This Is How You Conscientiously Object

Shopping Descartes

Since 2009, Weekend Metro Travel Has Dropped 26 Percent

You Know Who Did Hire Actors For Political Purposes?

Seventeen Year Olds Just Beclowned The Political Press Corps

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Links 2/23/18

Links for you. Science:

Supplements are a $30 billion racket—here’s what experts actually recommend
The Cuttlefish, a Master of Camouflage, Reveals a New Trick
Borneo Lost More Than 100,000 Orangutans From 1999 to 2015
This Roman ‘gate to hell’ killed its victims with a cloud of deadly carbon dioxide
Laser scanning reveals ‘lost’ ancient Mexican city ‘had as many buildings as Manhattan’


Don’t blame ‘Washington.’ Blame the GOP.
LeBron James and Laura Ingraham Are Not Equals
Do You Believe Her Now? With new evidence that Clarence Thomas lied to get onto the Supreme Court, it’s time to talk seriously about impeachment. (but see this)
James Bennet Wants You to Be Quiet in the Name of Free Speech
How Political Pessimism Helps Doom Tougher Gun Laws
NO: Bots Didn’t Trick Liberals into Ousting Al Franken
The more times I read the @jmartNYT and @maggieNYT analysis nominally probing if Russian intervention made a difference in the election, I’m struck by 2 things: its CYA tilt and its strangely bad sourcing.
Let’s Make the Most of the #MercerCulpa
Would Canadian gun laws have stopped America’s worst mass shooters?
Last Week at Wellesley
‘She had trusted me. And I’d turned her away.’ Chelsea doctor’s regrets lead to call to action on opioid patients
Does CA Need An Alternative to the GOP?
New Research Eviscerates Widespread Anti-Choice Myth
Why Do Liberals Feel the Need to Rehabilitate Terrible Recent Republican Presidents?
Nothing Is More Important Than The Lifetime Income Streams Of Elite Tenured Columnists
Can You Feel ‘Nauseous’?
How Banks Could Control Gun Sales if Washington Won’t
The Greatest Obstacle To Participation In Public Debate
“Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War

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Seventeen Year Olds Just Beclowned The Political Press Corps

And this is a very good thing.

Wednesday evening, there was a CNN town hall in Florida about gun violence. Unlike most of these staged events, there wasn’t very much of a ‘press filter.’ Of course, in the absence of that filter, there’s always the danger of a kook showing up (and I’m not referring to NRA spokesvermin Dana Loesch). But the format did allow for some very tough questions, the kind of questions that political reporters usually won’t ask–and when they do, it’s not from an immediate sense of lived, personal urgency, but trying to ask the tough ‘gotcha’ question. It’s not a game or a career move.

We also were reminded that America isn’t just a Midwestern diner at breakfast filled with Trump voters. It is diverse in belief and opinion. You could tell that there was some quiet surprise that a significant portion of the audience cheered a ban on semi-automatic rifles, and that there was no shame to be had in doing so. Despite all of the blather about coastal elites and what-not, there’s very little coverage of what ordinary ‘coastal elites’, whether they live in Parkland–or the Bronx–actually think, want, and need, to the point where columnist Will Bunch wrote a satirical piece, “In the heart of Anti-Trump Country, voters still pine for an America better than its president.” Unlike the political press corps, many people despise the NRA and anti-gun control politicians, and they aren’t interested in ‘both sides’ equivalences.

If nothing else, the meeting helped dispel the false notions that the left is not ethical and that the right are mainstream. I won’t go as far to say I’m optimistic, but something snuck past our supposed political betters Wednesday evening, and I’m not sure they can get rid of it. That’s a good thing.

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Links 2/22/18

Links for you. Science:

In Sudan, Rediscovering Ancient Nubia Before It’s Too Late
My toddler was so sick with the flu. Here’s why I think he survived.
The Republicans’ war on science is slaughtering our children
Another flu pandemic is coming, and the world isn’t prepared
‘Science needs to catch up’: Deep sea mining looms over unstudied ecosystems


No You’re The Mark
You can do something about guns. In the voting booth.
The Very Bad Politics of ‘Putting Healthcare Over Politics’ (it’s like putting ‘gun control over politics’–the problem is fundamentally a political problem)
Yes, I’m Sure I Want Single Payer
How to Fix Facebook’s Phony Feed Problem: It’s Fun and Easy
In Order to Keep Our Editorial Page Completely Balanced, We Are Hiring More Dipshits
How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park
Teachers say Florida suspect’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him
Andy Slavitt’s United States of Care: A Second “Undertaking” (and What We Can Expect From It)
The Upcoming Public Sector Apocalypse
Republicans may finally be feeling the heat on guns
A stunning chart shows the true cause of the gender wage gap
The Politics of Shame (don’t entirely agree; sometimes you need to rally your own, instead of convincing theirs)
We Should Ban Semi-Automatic Firearms
Reckoning With Trump’s Illegitimacy
Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

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You Know Who Did Hire Actors For Political Purposes?

No, it wasn’t the DREAD GEORGE SOROS (BOOGA! BOOGA!) supposedly hiring ‘crisis actors’ to promote the anti-ammosexual lifestyle. Remember this? (boldface mine):

Carrie Levine of the Center for Public Integrity found a report from the Federal Election Commission examining an under-reported aspect of Trump’s campaign launch. Trump’s announcement, held on the lower level of the Trump Tower lobby, was framed by cheering crowds watching from the floors above. Some of the members of that crowd, it was soon reported, were apparently paid to be there.

The Hollywood Reporter sussed out the evidence. An email from a firm called Extra Mile, soliciting people to be paid $50 to attend “an event in support of Donald Trump and an upcoming exciting announcement he will be making.” Instagram photos of an actor in attendance that day. A reference in that email to Gotham Government Relations, the firm that hired Extra Mile and which Trump had used in the past.

Ironically, this only came to light because Il Trumpe was true to form and too cheap to pay them, so they went to court (MAGA!).

The self-projection from these dopes is staggering.

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Since 2009, Weekend Metro Travel Has Dropped 26 Percent

One theme we often return to here is that a mass transit system can’t be successful if it’s only used an alternative commuter route. The system needs off-hour and weekend use. Not only does that help pay the bills, but it also lets people ditch their cars for good: if city residents still need to own a car to get around on the weekend in a city, then your mass transit system has failed.

One problem in figuring out weekend travel use in D.C.’s Metro is that WMATA rarely makes that information publicly available–in public statements, they focus almost exclusively on weekday travel (which is, itself, part of the problem). But thanks to D.C’s local data nerds, going back to 2004, we have data! Here’s how the weekend and weekday travel patterns look, with the last two columns standardized to the 2009 data:


A key takeaway is that, of the ‘missing’ thirty million rides since 2009, almost eight million are due to declines in weekend travel–even though weekend travel only makes up around thirteen percent of the total travel. And it’s no accident that weekend use cratered in 2016, at the height–or worst*–of the weekend construction efforts. These weekend travel declines are probably due to three factors:

  1. Single tracking due to weekend construction. Two to three trains per hour isn’t any damn good.
  2. Early closing times. You can get there on Metro, but it closes by the time you want to go home.
  3. If you rub #1 and #2 together, you get an obvious increase in Uber and Lyft use. And if you’re using them to return home, why not use them to go there?

I realize there are still many repairs that need to be made, but WMATA has to do something about weekend service (and off-hour use suffers from many of the same problems). If it becomes a commuter-rail only, then it will slowly die. D.C. can’t afford that.

*Though Safetrack repairs, which officially ended, are still ongoing under other names.

Posted in DC, Transportation | Leave a comment

Links 2/21/18

Links for you. Science:

Where does your ESBL come from?
How We Pollute the Air Every Morning (Before We Hop in the Car)
Bitcoin Mining Is Hindering the Search for Alien Life
More than 40 dead in Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria
Peru Moves to Protect ‘One of the Last Great Intact Forests’


Jared and Ivanka Are Buried in Debt (if they were Democrats, we would never hear the end of how they’re national security threats–which they are)
Democrats Should Run on Gun Control All Over the Country
When it’s okay to talk politics after a mass shooting
Forget the Media Caricature. Allow Me to Caricature Myself
Beauty and the Ugly Truth
Eastern Kentucky’s Struggle With Water Symbolizes America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
The Only Way To Prevent Gun Violence Is To Reduce the Number of Guns
Student Stops Church Shooting and Is Shot by Cops, But You Didn’t Hear About It
The Trump Administration Goes to War — With Itself — Over the VA
The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors
The Tech ‘Regrets’ Industry
How Worrisome is Future Inflation?
Conservatives love small government — until it comes to welfare (it’s welfare policy designed by fucking morons)
I know most journalists believe that their own coverage is not easily manipulated by Russians or anybody… which is weird, considering that there are multiple multi-billion dollar industries dedicated to manipulating media coverage.
Peggy Cooper Cafritz, grande dame of the Washington arts and education scene, dies at 70
Fans at United Center direct racist remark toward Capitals’ Devante Smith-Pelly
Trump Nominee Would Be Disaster For Campus Sexual Assault Victims (“Fighting BDS simply cannot justify putting all students, including Jewish ones, in harm’s way by rolling back on Title IX. You don’t get to be a “champion” for students if you don’t support their basic right to pursue an education free from gender-based violence.”)
‘We say now’: The day more than 25,000 Florida teachers resigned over pay and school funding

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