Wet Rose

Observed on 19th Street NW, between R and S, Dupont Circle, D.C.:

Wet rose

Posted in DC | Leave a comment

When Il Trumpe’s Narcissism Hurts Foreign Policy

While I don’t think Il Trumpe’s narcissism accounts for everything–or many things–that is wrong with this administration, every so often it does rear its head in really ugly ways. For instance, our recent North Korean debacle:

Moon likely exaggerated this to tie Trump to a diplomatic track to prevent him from backsliding into last year’s war-threats which scared the daylights out of South Koreans. If Trump were less vain and had allowed his national security staff to vet the NK [North Korean] offer, he might have learned this. But instead, he accepted the NK summit offer 45 minutes after he was told of it, without even telling the White House staff, and then drank his own kool-aid watching Fox telling him for weeks that he deserved a Nobel. Now comes the hang-over.

Flattering Trump into diplomacy is likely also why Moon’s government credited Trump with driving NK to negotiation through maximum pressure and suggested that Trump receive a Nobel peace prize. It is an open secret in Korea that this was just flattering Trump to prevent him from starting a war. No one actually believes it. My students and colleagues laugh at the suggestion. No one thought the western media [would] actually start seriously debating it. Trump is loathed here.

…The great irony, which US conservative media will never admit of course, is that Trump actually drove SK to the table, not NK. Trump scared SKs so much last year, that Moon’s approval rating has shot up into the 80s%, even though he won with just 41% a year ago, and approval of the summit process is in the 90s%. So if you are a NK hawk, Trump’s rhetoric last year made things worse, not better, by scaring up a dovish consensus for Moon to make concessions and keep Trump at bay.

All politicians can be susceptible to flattery, but Trump lives for it, and is incredibly susceptible to it, as are most narcissists. While any Republican administration would be awful in most areas, this is one case where Trump’s illness–and it is an illness–jeopardized our security.

Posted in Nukular Stuff, Resistance Rebellion And Death | Leave a comment

Links 5/22/18

Trump_lawfulneutralogre
Links for you. Science:

Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts
Building a NASA for Prescription Drugs
Inside the Biomedical Revolution to Save Horseshoe Crabs and the Shorebirds That Need Them
Ground Zero of Amphibian ‘Apocalypse’ Finally Found
Five myths about spring allergies

Other:

“Gun Culture”
How to tell when criticism of Israel is actually anti-Semitism
Giuliani’s Pooch
Home Depot Employees Are Broke, Sick, and Disappointed
Boring
New Trump Administration Rule Will Force Doctors to Stop Saying “Abortion”
Millennial women say dismal economy is preventing them from having children
CBC endorses Capuano in Massachusetts Democratic primary
Hyman Minsky Really Did Oppose the Dole on Principle
Howard M. Sachar, GWU scholar and ‘trailblazer’ of Jewish history, dies at 90
Can #MeToo save the American worker?
This CEO Took A Pay Cut To Give Employees $70,000 A Year. Now He’s Battling Amazon.
Donald Trump and the Case of the $107,000,000
An Open Letter About Female Coaches
Usually, the popular debate over the partisan realignment over civil rights focuses on southern Democrats, but it’s just as instructive to look at the first wave of southern Republicans.

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

The Washington Examiner Editorial Board Doesn’t Understand Mass Transit Or Geometry

Over the weekend, the rightwing rag, The Washington Examiner, revealed that it doesn’t understand either mass transit or geometry (boldface mine):

What would you do if you controlled an unpopular, unreliable public service that was being displaced by the private sector? It would make sense to restructure your service to make it more popular and accountable. You might stop wasting money on propaganda against your rival. You might even ask those who use your service to pay more for it.

Instead, the D.C. City Council has decided to punish Uber and Lyft for selling a better service than the antiquated Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority can provide.

Uber and Lyft are part of the transit system here, and so they should help pay to fix Metro because they’re benefiting from Metro’s demise,” said council member and Metro board chairman Jack Evans.

The city raised its tax on ride-hailing services from 1 percent of gross receipts to 6 percent. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said of the 500 percent tax increase, “We’re talking about a fraction of pennies here.” (It actually adds 60 cents to a $10 ride).

It also continues enabling Metro’s failures by inflicting extra costs on competitors to sluice more money into the failing system. Metro doesn’t have to improve or attract customers to get this extra lucre.

If the council’s stupidity drives you to drink, that will cost you more too. The tax on alcohol bought at liquor stores will rise by 0.25 percentage points, along with a general sales tax increase from 5.75 percent to 6 percent. Plus, commercial properties worth more than $5 million are getting a 15 percent property tax hike.

All that to prop up an increasingly irrelevant transit system that in 2017 had its lowest average weekday ridership since 2000.

Will Metrorail riders actually get any better service from their extra tax liability? Don’t hold your breath, because the trains are either delayed or not coming. Metro’s operating hours are the shortest of a major subway system in the country, and to accommodate sports fans, the city relies on the generosity of a foreign government to keep the trains running.

Nevermind that most commercial properties worth more than $5 million benefit from Metro, or that the Uber/Lyft tax increase, which is small, hurts those companies by making taxis a better option. But what is really stupid is how the local paper doesn’t even understand the importance of Metro for the city’s basic functioning.

If you remember back to when SafeTrack started (and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still going on), there were discussions about shutting down entire lines for months to do construction. As I noted, that meant the city wouldn’t work:

Metro is just too critical for weekday commutes.

Between 5am and 9:30am, the two Farragut Square stations alone have 30,000 people arriving, with the bulk (~70%) arriving between 7am and 9am. If we add McPherson Square and Metro Center to the mix, that’s another 26,000. If we assume that’s around 40,000 people every weekday morning between 7 – 9 am, it would be impossible to get that many people in by buses–even if we cleared all car traffic from the roads. It would be, if we assume fifty riders per bus, 400 buses in an hour in a very small area. The people who pulled off the Berlin airlift couldn’t make that work.

This also ignore that the Metro serves, during the weekday, as a commuter rail–if people without cars lose the Metro, many don’t have other options; the bus might not provide a realistic alternative*. Shutting down the Metro on the weekends might help, but it simply won’t work in terms of traffic.

And I was talking about replacing trains with buses. The august solons at the Washington Examiner want to replace trains with cars. The geometry simply doesn’t work–you can’t fit an additional 40,000 cars in that space–or on the roads traveling to that space. And then there’s the parking.

I have criticized Metro many, many times here, but that’s because the city needs a good, functional mass transit system. It’s not 1985 (or 1995) anymore. The city’s population has rebounded, and the D.C Metro area’s population has exploded. But the road surface area in D.C. is a fixed quantity. We need mass transit–and “we” includes drivers, even if the Washington Examiner editorial board is too stupid to figure that out.

If you want to live in a car-dependent place, D.C. has a lot of nice suburbs

Posted in DC, Fucking Morons, Transportation | 1 Comment

Links 5/21/18

Trump_investigatemike
Links for you. Science:

Rehabilitation of Science Cheaters
A Cancer Researcher Was Caught Using Her Own Blood For Almost 100 Samples (amazing that she didn’t think people running a genetics study wouldn’t figure this out…)
Pruitt’s Own Scientist Appointees Challenge EPA Science Restrictions
The Evolutionary Trap That Wiped Out Thousands Of Butterflies
Eyeless, Mouthless, Bone-Eating Worm Named After Jabba the Hutt

Other:

We are disarming America’s future
America Is So Very Sorry for Profiling You (Again)
I tried leaving Facebook. I couldn’t
A Public Option for the Internet
Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror
Hey, Have You Heard of This Guy Bruce Springsteen?
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the culture war: Now the right hates both groups
The VA is working just fine, thank you very much
American democracy has faced worse threats than Donald Trump
Democrats: Prepare to Pack the Supreme Court
Remembering the Battle of Negro Fort, one of the most important and forgotten events in U.S. history, 200 years later

Posted in Lotsa Links | 2 Comments

We Need A Better Definition of Urban

While I might, at some point, have more to say about this post by Kevin Drum about cities and high rents, what bothers me is this figure:

blog_density_30_biggest_cities

Not the underlying data, but the assumption that many of these entities are cities in a meaningful sense. Yes, I realize that they are incorporated as cities, and that they certainly can’t be viewed as rural. But to me, a city means that there is enough density and infrastructure such that one can live a car-independent life. Mind you, for many Americans, that is a completely alien concept and would be undesirable. Yet it’s clear that many people, if they could, would like to live in cities, and that there aren’t enough urban areas.

The reason I don’t like that figure is that to define Jacksonville, FL as urban just doesn’t make a lot of sense. It has a population density lower than Fairfax County, VA, but no one would call Fairfax County urban. And Jacksonville has a better-than-average bus system, and even a skyway monorail thingee! But when you look at Jacksonville, all but one census district have less than 5,000 people/square mile (maximum ~6,200), and many census districts are below 3,000 people/sq. mile. In D.C., which still has too many car-dependent areas, 88% of the population lives in census districts above 6,200 people/sq. mile. These cities are not the same when thinking about how people live, mass transit needs, and density.

I’m not judging! Jacksonville, FL is nice! But we really need to redefine urbanity, not as density, but as how people get around and live. This means, as one D.C. developer noted, that, overwhelmingly, most places in the U.S. are not urban. I really don’t want to turn your suburb into midtown Manhattan. But cities that are dense need to promote and support that density; they can’t have policy decisions made by those who don’t live as city dwellers (which, in D.C., is a not-insignificant swathe of the City Council).

Posted in Urban Planning | 2 Comments

Links 5/20/18

Trump_Americaneedsmorebricks
Links for you. Science:

Interior agency blocks group of archaeologists from attending scientific conference
Congressman Divulges Unreleased Study to Win Support for Life-Hunting Mission to Jupiter’s Moon Europa
Alligators on the Beach? Killer Whales in Rivers? Get Used to It.
The Catch-22 of Mass-Prescribing Antibiotics
Beyond the SNP threshold: identifying outbreak clusters using inferred transmissions

Other:

Democrats are finally doing politics the way Republicans do (except for the conservative Senate Democrats, so what is new here…)
Who Does The Work
Where Trump Succeeds: The administration continues to accomplish its central goal of maintaining white racial hierarchy.
Voices on the left are rising in the US. Why aren’t they in mainstream media?
Teachers at a D.C. school say seniors’ absences were erased, prompting investigation
Jared Kushner about to get bailed out of $1.8B disaster by besieged Qatar
Gina Haspel, Torture Supervisor, Confirmed Head of the CIA
Politicians who took NRA money ought to give it back
The Lesson of Eric Greitens, and the Navy SEALs Who Tried to Warn Us
The Rage of the Incels
It’s Not a Liberal Fantasy to Ask if Trump Committed Treason
The DCCC Should Only Fight Republicans And Stop Picking Losers In Primaries
Medicaid Work Requirements and the Politics of Whiteness
Shanty Mega-structures
Any educational reform that ignores segregation is doomed to failure
How Corporations Have Destroyed Our 20th Century Literary Heritage
Writer @Curtis_Cook thinks Kanye is one step away from going full-on black republican.
‘Stand by your people’: State and federal officials rally with workers at Philips Lighting
The Press Must Reckon With Its Role In The War On Drugs

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment