Friday, November 08, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Don't Really Have Time to Write This Edition

Ooph, I've had a week. I've got a big project milestone coming up and there have been lots of issues to work through ahead of that. On top of that, I have been super tired. I don't know if it is the time change or if I'm not sleeping well for some reason (asthma? hormones? who knows?) but I've been exhausted in the evenings. Of course, we had our school's Dia de los Muertos festival on Wednesday and Petunia wanted to work on robotics stuff other nights... so as much as I wished I could spend my evenings crashed on the sofa, I didn't get to.

I'm only on temporary break from work tonight, too - I'm monitoring the project right now, will take a break to go get my kids and make dinner, and then will get back online. So this post might be a little more terse than usual.

I did get out for my rollerblade today. I thought work might prevent me from going out, but there was enough of a lull that I decided to go out. I had to handle one work call about 2/3 of the way through, but it was still a nice outing. I'm glad I made it out.

Anyway, on to the links.

I have two local stories to share. First, our local paper reported on a rise in smuggling by ocean, which is honestly not a surprise. The existence of our big coastline is one of many reasons I think the border wall is a waste of money.

Second, remember the transit survey I shared earlier? There was an article about the feedback they're receiving via the survey.

Josh Marshall's post about how we should describe the President's crimesis worth your time.

I found this article about the policy opinions of undecided voters in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania really interesting.

This ProPublica article about Anna, IL, and its inability to shake its past as a sundown town, is really good.

A health insurer is giving some people apartments because it makes their healthcare cheaper. I think this is a good program, but reading about making decisions about who gets a home based on whether it will "pay off" for the insurer is a bit rough. In the end, I think the existence of this program is an indictment on how we've organized our society.

In recommended listening: I found Ezra Klein's conversation with Michael Lind really interesting and thought-provoking.

This whole thing is perfect - the embedded video and Inslee's reaction to it:

Honestly, the inter-generational warfare on Twitter is getting very annoying. There are people working for solutions in every generation, and every generation has faced challenges. I wish we'd start learning from each others' perspectives and experiences instead of screaming at each other online.


Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, November 01, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Is This a Cold or Not Edition

I may or may not still be fighting off the cold my older daughter caught at school. It never bothered her much, so maybe it just isn't a very bad cold. I don't know. I'm feeling run down and my nose is a little runny - but I also let my nose spray allergy medicine run out, so who knows.

I still went out for my rollerblade and am glad I did, but now I just want to lie down and not do much.

So this won't be a very long post tonight!

But I wanted to share this fabulous piece by Dahlia Lithwick about why she hasn't been back to the Supreme Court since Kavanaugh took his seat. And when I say "fabulous" I mean in it really captures some of the despair I feel in this historical moment as a woman, which is not "fabulous" at all, but the ability to articulate it is.

Continuing on in that theme a bit... here's another Slate piece that's really worth your time, about the bad faith of the people who took Rep. Katie Hill down.

This article about the new cystic fibrosis drug treatment is a reminder of the good that pharmas and biotechs do. We can - and should - critique the bad aspects of some pharma company practices. But we shouldn't lose sight of the benefits the industry brings.

This article about the effects of traumatic brain injury is beautifully written and haunting.

In recommended listening, I have two podcasts about the environment.

First, Matt Yglesias' discussion with Gretchen Goldman about clean air and particulates is really good and I learned a lot from it. I firmly believe that someday people are going to look back at the fact that we drive around in these machines that basically emit poison into the air we all breathe and feel sorry for us and our ignorance.

Second, Ezra Klein had an excellent interview about climate change with Kate Marvel that was sobering but also inspiring.

Sleepy bunny!

Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Thoughts about Transportation

A friend sent me a link to this nifty website San Diego's transit system is using to collect public feedback about how it should spend money allocated for transit improvements. You get 1000 "coin" and you allocate them to different projects, which all cost different amounts. I spent a little time reading about the options and the pros and cons for each and made an allocation - but I didn't submit it yet. I want to think about it a little more and maybe read up on some of the options. Any transit nerds out there who want to tell me what they think about any of the options are welcome to do so in the comments!


I am still enjoying driving the Tesla. We're planning to drive it over to Arizona for a visit soon. I'll report back in about how we find that experience. The drive over will be no problem: there are superchargers at all three spots we've been known to stop to break up the drive. I'll be interested to see how we find the experience of keeping it charged up for city driving (and a side trip we have planned) without our home charging set up.

I can definitely say that if you're considering an electric car as a commuting car - GO FOR IT. You won't miss stopping for gas! And even with a car with a relatively short range (e.g., ~120-150 miles), I think you'll get past range anxiety pretty quickly. Once you get in the habit of plugging in your car at night, you realize that 100+ miles range is actually pretty huge. I only plug in the Tesla every third night or so, and even that is only because we want to keep the charging in the "super off peak" hours. Our Tesla has a 300 mile range, but for daily use we only charge to about 260 miles. When I charge after three days I am almost never below 100 miles, and am usually at about 120-150 miles.


Speaking of the Tesla, a funny/annoying thing happened on my way back from my beach walk on Friday. I was driving out of Pacific Beach at about 4 p.m., so there was a fair amount of traffic. The main road out of PB does not have a high speed limit, and there were enough other cars around that no one was going much over the speed limit. At one point, I notice a big black truck riding my tail. It had raised tires and sometimes those higher vehicles tailgate almost by accident - they can easily see over a little car like mine, so there's a tendency to creep up. But this guy was driving somewhat aggressively and was clearly antsy. I couldn't really have gone faster even if I'd wanted to, so I assumed he just hated traffic and ignored him.

But then, when we got to the freeway on ramp, he aggressively pulled around me to get into the carpool lane ahead of me (I've got my clean air stickers, and leaving PB on a Friday afternoon is just about the only time I use them).

As he passed me, I saw the sticker in his window. It said "F*** your hybrid."

So I guess he was extra-pissed to be stuck in traffic behind an electric car.

I have never wanted to use the Tesla's rocket car acceleration as much as I did right then. It would have been delicious to zoom past him... but it wouldn't have been safe in so much traffic, so I didn't try.

I really, really don't get the mindset of guys like that. Fine, drive your big, gas-guzzling, jacked up truck. I don't know - maybe you have a reason you need it. I don't drive around judging other people's car choices. But why put a sticker on your car like that? That's telling me that you are an asshole, and also makes me suspect that your asseholeishness is the only reason you "need" that jacked up truck. People like that make me wish there really was some giant cosmic counter tallying up points to determine where we'll spend eternity.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Shorter Than You'd Think Edition

We're having really dry, hot, windy weather here: Fire weather. I don't mind the dry heat, really, but I hate the wind and the threat of fire, even though that threat is mainly in the more inland parts of my county. So far, the brush fires that have broken out in San Diego today (three, by my count) seem to have been quickly contained. People north of us have not been so lucky.

The biggest direct impact to me of the weather was that I decided it wasn't good rollerblading weather and went for a walk on the beach, instead. Hardly a hardship! The beach was beautiful and I'm glad I went.

Anyway, let's get to the links.

First, I'm running a free promo for the ebook of The Dodo Knight, by Michelle Rene. Go grab a copy from your favorite ebook source - and if you do, please come back later and leave a review! Getting more reviews is one big reason to run a free promo. This is an experiment for me, to see if a free promo can be a useful tool for eventually driving more paid sales. We'll see how it goes.

Next: I posted a new Where in the World at Adjusted Latitudes. Can you guess where that fish lives?

Now, for my other links. You'd think I'd have more after two weeks, but I've been really busy and not reading much. 

David Roberts at Vox tackled the California public safety power outage issue, and his posts about these blackouts and the potential ways to improve the situation are a good introduction to the issue. As I type, it looks like a PG&E transmission line was the cause of the Kincade fire.

I, for one, will be perfectly happy to have earthquake spoilers delivered to my phone. (Note to self: you still need to download that app....)

Here's a write up of  a really interesting study about how to make teen girls' social media feeds more nourishing. Really, I think it is good advice for all of us.

In recommended listening:

Krista Tippet's interview with David Truer about the Ojibwe language is wonderful.

Matt Yglesias' interview with Ian Millhiser about the courts is also really good.

I haven't decided who I support in the Democratic primary, and I won't really even try until much closer to the California primary. But I love the tweets from people excited to get a call from Elizabeth Warren - even famous people get excited!

I think this is cool and wonderful:

And of course, here are some bunnies:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Thinking about Climate Adaptation Edition

I had a particularly good rollerblade today. I made a conscious decision that when people stopped unexpectedly in front of me, rode their bikes down the middle of the path instead of keeping right, and generally just were oblivious to the other people on the path I would slow down or stop, cheerfully say "no worries!" when they looked up in surprise at the existence of another person using the public path, and continue on my way. I would not grumble or grit my teeth, I would be cheerful! And it worked. I was genuinely not annoyed. There's a life lesson in there for me if I care to take it, I suppose.

Anyway, on to the links.

As usual, I assume you can find your impeachment news on your own, and I'm focusing on other things.

Badmomgoodmom sent me a link to the article I've been wanting to read about the blackouts up north. SDG&E has been doing public safety blackouts for several years, and I was wondering why none of the ones down here have ever been such big news. This LA Times article explains: SDG&E is just better at handling the hot, dry, windy weather conditions that cause such high fire risk and prompt public safety blackouts. They have upgraded the infrastructure to be less risky and to have more microgrids so blackouts can be more targeted. This is no doubt due at least in part to the fact that we had big, devastating fires a decade ago, and so SDG&E is ahead of PG&E in adjusting to this reality. I suspect it is also due to some good planning by some people within SDG&E, and I'd love to read their stories.

Watching the news from up north has made me adjust how I think about the solar panels we want to get, though. I had been thinking of them mostly as a "good climate citizen" thing to do, with the potential to save money down the road. Now I am also thinking of them as a climate change adaptation. We wanted to get them this year to take advantage of the tax rebate, but aren't sure we'll have the cash we need. That was the downside of buying the more expensive car! But on the other hand, we're going to drive that car to Arizona for Thanksgiving and that is not something we could do with one of the cheaper electric cars.

In somewhat related news... here's a write up from a chemist about this year's Nobel prize in chemistry, which was for Lithium ion batteries. If you're curious why this was such a big improvement over previous battery chemistry, check out this post.

Updated to add: I meant to include a link to this NY Times interactive graphic about the change auto emissions since 1990. Enter your metro area and see how you've done. San Diego did so-so - emissions per person up 5% since 1990. LA did better: emissions per person down 2% since 1990. But compare us to Phoenix: emissions per person up a whopping 86% per person since 1990!

This article about how San Diego is changing its scooter regulations was interesting. I have noticed an improvement, both in terms of not having to step over scooters when I'm walking around and in terms of not having to deal with rude scooter riders when I'm out rollerblading. I'd say that if the scooter companies can't make things work here, they're in trouble. Our civic leaders have mostly been pretty welcoming of scooters, and looking for ways to make it work.

I found Jim Hines' post about adjusting to being widowed deeply moving.

In recommended listening: Ezra Klein's conversation with former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about loneliness was really good and thought-provoking. One thing it made me think about was how the sort of changes to cities that some urbanists and climate activists want - like more walkable cities and  the superblocks in Barcelona - might have impacts on health in more ways than we might expect, by making our cities feel more like communities.

This made me happy to see. Good for World Center Kitchen:
This is awesome.
 I know my husband has shown me the original video but I can't remember what the song is. If I can find it again I'll update this post or put it in the comments.