Linky Friday #164: eSolar


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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131 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Ed1: Good piece. He doesn’t address it explicitly but he is basically discussing the whole language versus phonics debate. A whole language-based approach to literacy development promotes surrounding and exposing kids to rich, engaging literacy experiences. A phonics-based approach promotes an emphasis on the individual skills/components of literacy: letter symbols/sounds and how they interact.

    Research shows the former develops a love of reading and greater comprehension skills but results in poorer decoding skills. The latter produces better decoding skills but worse comprehension and kids develop poor attitudes about reading.

    Thankfully, the two are not mutually exclusive and I think it is obvious to use both in tandem.

    Unfortunately, given the emphasis on testing and “real work”, things like teacher read-alouds, books on tape, finger play songs, and the like are seen as wastes of time and scrapped for guided reading and workbooks. It’s sad really.

    Another study said the biggest predictor of school success is how many books — of any type — are in a child’s home. Now, the relationship isn’t causative and there are all sorts of issues with oversimplifying that relationship, but it seems reasonable to say that a home environment/family that embraces literacy promotes good outcomes. And I don’t see any reason schools can’t provide similar environments.

    Lastly, certain public PreKs (Yay!) in NYC that fall under a particular oversight group*, are banned from using fairy tales of ANY kind because they contain violence. Holy fuck, how damaging is that to those students, who are disproportionately poor and of color???

    People… Read to your kids. Even your older ones. Even if they can read to themselves. Not only does it provide an invaluable bonding experience, but it will help make them better readers.

    * Prior to the roll out of UPK/PreK-For-All, PreKs in NYC were a hodge podge of setups, getting funding from and submitting to oversight by various groups (e.g., Head Start, DOE, private sources). PK4A has added yet another source of funding but another set of regs. Unfortunately, many of these regs are at odds. The same school may have one oversight body saying, “No fairy tales!” while another is saying, “These fairy tales are required texts.” It’s maddening.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      I used to read Jerry Pournelle’s weblog. He was quite proud of his wife’s method for teaching reading, and often scornfully declared it a crime that schools focused so much on “learning the words” rather than “learning to read”.

      He did finally admit that his definition of “read” was “be able to properly pronounce the formation of letters you see on the page”. The notion of learning what the word actually meant, well, that was “just vocabulary” and if the kid cared he could go look it up in the dictionary.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        That is called decoding and is just one component of reading. Sadly, it is the most visible and tends to become the primary/sole focus.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      My observation of my kids’ experience in a good public elementary school is that the current ideology on teaching reading is a pretty sensible mix of phonics and whole language. I also cynically observe that teaching ideology runs in cycles. Next year they could be all-in on phonics, or all-in on whole language.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          My general thought is that most ideologies/approaches have merit and value, especially when considering a diversity of learners. Ideally, you pick and choose the best parts of each and allow them to complement one another whenever possible. Being dogmatic seems destined for failure.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        There’s a school district I know of that is looking increasingly likely to lose accreditation in the next few years (basically get taken over by the TEA and smacked back into shape). While it has numerous structural issues (grinding poverty, high number of ESL kids, sub-minimal resources) at least half of the explosion in problems can be traced to a superintendent padding his or her resume.

        Because what looks good to the district he’d or she’d like to “trade up to” is all those initiatives he or she started. It doesn’t matter if, in practice, those iniatives are contradictory. It doesn’t matter that by slamming his staff with so many, they stop caring because whatever new method, ideology, or concept they’re forced to use this year — next year it’ll be replaced with another.

        The staff had gotten ridiculously passive aggressive (and somewhat understandably so). They’ve stopped caring whether anything is good or bad, because it doesn’t matter. They won’t change even the stuff that’s failing because it doesn’t matter. There’ll be a new diktat next month, a new “mandatory” method — and they’ll do whatever they like behind closed doors because none of it matters anymore.

        What you have is a school district that badly needed change. What they got was a new leader dictating senseless, unfocused, constant change — without oversight, without enforcement, and without even the buy-in (after the first year) of his own principles. So nothing changed, and kids suffered, and crappy teaching remained crappy — and the good teachers burned out quick because they kept trying and even when stuff worked they either were forced to toss it in favor of the next method — or become one of the staff ignoring administration.

        It’s a toxic, dysfunctional mess. And when it finally explodes, the person single-handedly responsible for turning a problem into a nightmare will be…making three times as much money in a richer school district about 300 miles away.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          While I’m sure this is not unique to schools, change for change’s sake is rarely the best (or an even good) remedy.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            I’ve seen very similar approaches in the business world. “let me do all this awesome sounding stuff that really hurts the company in the long run, slap it on my resume, and trade up to a better paying job elsewhere before the fire starts spreading” is sadly common.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              It’s a big thing in college football. Coach comes into a mid-major school, relies heavily on junior college transfers which can produce immediate results but usually isn’t sustainable, and then leaves his successor with a bare cupboard. You can often when a coach is going to accept a better job offer less by who is going to extend the offer than by whether the clock has run out on quick-hit recruiting.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              You haven’t seen the co-owner to something say, “don’t make me do this!”, and then when eventually forced to do it — calmly and deliberately burn the entire place to the ground, while making a profit on it.

              The “don’t make me do this”? Posting his real name.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Ed2: When I was a senior in High School, Spin magazine came out with an article about how my alma mater was the hook-up capital of the world. Since I was a dateless dork who did not go to the prom, I got a fair bit of teasing on how much sex I would get at my alma mater. Needless to say that this did not happen. The so-called “walk of shame” was real. I would see women dragging themselves back to their dorms in party dresses on Saturday and Sunday mornings (because I am a dork and incapable of sleeping in.) The article was real enough for a certain subset of the college (mainly those who went to the on-campus bar/club nearly every night.) There were also lots of couples who went steady almost immediately (but obviously had sex.)

    Ed5: There is a money and connections angle but I wonder how much of this is cultural. I remember Road Scholar writing a long time ago about how he was the first person in his family to attend college and his parents and family did not quite get the difference between a “job” and a “career” and pushed him to a job. Likewise, some working class people I know have this kind of story about being dropped of at college at 18:

    “Parent: Congratulations, you got into college. Please give us the key to our home. Your are 18 and on your own now.”

    Needless to say that my upper-middle class parents did not do this and I can’t think of anyone from a similar background whose parents did the above dialog. Being told something like this is going to kick someone into immediate survival mode and not long term career-planning mode. I know a woman who has more or less been on her own since 18. She eventually graduated from college around age 30. Most of the time from 18-30 was made money by working as a server in restaurants. This is something that she can always fall back on but it is also sort of a crutch that prevents her from going forward as well in my opinion because she is always in “I can always wait tables” as a mindset. Now my parents are very well aware of my post-law school struggles because of the bust but they are also determined that I become a lawyer, hell or high water. My mom always thought I was meant to be one of two things: a high school teacher or a lawyer. She never wanted me to be a high school teacher because of her own experiences as a teacher. I am the one who would be intrigued by an out if I could find a viable one.

    Ed5: I wonder how many STEM PhDs always wanted industry as opposed to academic careers. The adjunct thing is still real.

    H2: When I taught in Japan, it seemed fairly common place for Japanese companies to have company dorms for their unmarried workers. I am not sure if Americans would put up with this. We have bad views on company towns like when Pullman used to reduce hours and pay during recessions but not rent in his company housing. That being said, young Bay Area residents are starting to fight back but it is an uphill battle:

    Eu4: I am generally suspicious of the AEI but I know lots of people who are foreign born and partially U.S. educated who founded their own start-ups or work at start-ups in the United States especially SF obviously. They do say that there is more venture capital here and the weather is better but this is not otherwise a ringing endorsement of the United States. They also say that universal healthcare would make their lives easier as employers because it is one less thing they would need to deal with as an admin. They also think the Republican Party and its supporters are absolutely nuts and don’t understand the Second Amendment and many Americans obsession with it. Don’t get them started on Donald Trump.

    T2: This article covers the much smaller Great Britain. I would like to see U.S. numbers. I admit that my family was not of the road trip variety growing up.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      H2: It’s cute that he’s living in a truck but he’s breaking probably a dozen different laws, not to mention Google’s company policies. And he’s lucky that he can go shower at Google’s gym, eat in Google’s (free) cafeterias, use the WiFi internet from Google’s buildings; for all that we’re supposed to shake our heads and say “boy the Bay Area sure is ka-RAZY” he’s actually got it really good compared to 95% of humanity.

      He could certainly pay less than $2000 a month for a bedroom if he moved further south. San Jose has entire one-bedroom apartments going for that much. Of course, then he’d have to live in…eyurgh…San Jose…and for the kind of hip young Technology Professional that Google prefers, that simply will not do.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      T2 – That seems to cut both ways. In a country as large as the US, you can go a lot of places without flying. There are fewer places to easily do so when you’re on an island.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      [Ed2] The “walk of shame” thing bugs me. How about the “march of triumph” for a change?

      Also, apparently those mall stores that sell business casual clothes do a huge amount of their business before 9 in the morning, to customers who just put on the clothes in the dressing room and take the tags up to the counter to pay.

      As a friend of mine put it, “when you walk into a menswear store shirtless at 8:30 on a weekday morning, you get help, because the staff know you’re not there to waste their time.”Report

      • Avatar Autolukos says:

        “Victory lap” was the nomenclature at my alma materReport

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Walk of shame assumes that the women got drunk and had sex with some dude that they might not want to sleep with ordinarily or the “shame” of wandering home in the early morning and essentially broadcasting your dalliance. If it was a dude doing it, it would probably be called the walk of triumph, ie “That dude scored”!Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          We’ve made a lot of progress, but a dude sleeping with some dude they might not want to sleep with ordinarily would be more complicated than a walk of triumph. Unless gay or bisexual, of course.Report

          • Avatar Damon says:

            Well, it was more of a hetero reference, as in, replace the girl leaving the the guy’s place with a guy leaving the girl’s place, but it also works for homo as well, guys being guys.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Whenever I heard “walk of shame” used, it was about someone broadcasting that they had not made it back to their own bed the night before, usually with the assumption that they got laid. It didn’t communicate regret. It was also used with regards to both men and women, though probably more frequently with the latter due to A) more hook ups happening in the guy’s place then the gal’s and B) females’ outfits tending to be more obviously out of place in the wee morning hours. A guy in rumpled t-shirt and jeans MIGHT be having a walk of shame or might just be getting an early start to his day. The girl in the wrinkled dress, tussled hair, and smeared makeup is pretty obviously still in recovery mode.Report

        • Avatar aaron david says:

          Something my wife mentioned to me way back when we were still just dating was that women prefered to have causeal encounters at their place, as it was easier to A.) get the man out of the place B.) no walk of shame type act and C.) much safer feeling.

          Don’t know how true this was in general, or if it was just for her friends and her, but it always made sense to me.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Believing sex and sense to be nearby each other gets people in a lot of trouble.

            May I refer you to Trudy’s comic about what women really want?Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:


            I’ve always wondered which is safer. On the one hand, being on your home turf would seem to give you more control. On the other hand, the guy now knows where you live. Obviously there are other factors at play, but this piece was always uncertain to me.

            I generally just went where ever the female wanted… which was usually teh opposite direction she was headed.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          Kazzy has it right. Call it a walk of shame. Call it a victory lap. They both communicate the same thing: “OMG! I got so wasted last night and did this thing. I’m so sketchy (by the way, did I mention that I got laid?)”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        That’s why I put it in quotes. We are arguably a very sex-positive campus. Our big fall dance was called the “homo hop” and they idea was that you were supposed to be able to get your freak on with whoever you wanted. Though my cohort were children of Reagan and did not know how to do so without alcohol so this happens:

        Not sure about the implication of the mall story. Are these people who just need some clothing to get to work after a weekend of partying?

        I also note that it was only a “walk of shame” if women did it.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          1) Wow, that’s way more sex positive than any college experience I’ve experienced

          2) That’s my understanding, yes – that a fairly high percentage of business casual clothing is bought after having crashed somewhere other than one’s home and woken up without time to get home before work for a fresh outfit.

          3) Yeah, that old double standard…Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            Vassar was a fairly unique place.

            I never figured out how people hooked-up at bars. I’ve certainly never been able to do it. A few years ago This American Life had Ira Glass interview a guy who had been with his girlfriend since they were 17. Sometime in their late 20s or 30s, they mutually decided that they needed to see other people and experience things to determine if they were right for each other or just feel into a “we are just too comfortable to break up and scared to try something new” trap. The guy made this observation. Anyone can go to a bar and go home with someone. You just need to do two things:

            1. Stay out until closing time; and

            2. Radically lower your standards.

            Things made much more sense after hearing that.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Its really more of a stumble than a march.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Ed2: This really shouldn’t be that surprising. Having a wild and crazy sex life takes time, skill, and effort. Most people are going to take the path of least resistance.

    Ed4: Accept the fact that the game is fixed or go for socialism.

    Eu1: This gets filed under well-meaning but…

    Eu4: There are plenty of countries that lack both a European style welfare state and America’s entrepreneurial flare at the same time. Saying that Americans create tech start ups because we lack a welfare state seems wrong. Most of the really wealthy people in the United States inherited their wealth I believe.

    T2: I have to fly a lot for work and other reasons. Its kind of shocking that flying is still a rather uncommon experience.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Ed2: This. Stories about college hook-up culture are just a subset of teen sex panics. (Remember rainbow parties?) This was nothing new when I was in college, back in the Reagan administration. There certainly was the party-till-you-drop crowd, and I am willing to assume that they were getting more than their share of action, But they weren’t anything like the majority. They merely were noisy beyond their actual numbers.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Its kind of shocking that flying is still a rather uncommon experience.

      I haven’t flown in about ten years. The expense is part of this, but mostly I find the entire experience unpleasant and exhausting from start to finish. I am currently considering a quick trip to Chicago. If I do it, I will take Amtrak.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I like the NYC to Boston or DC ride on Amtrak and think it is a pleasant way to spend a day.

        I don’t know if I would enjoy something longer. Portland to SF is about 12 hours on Amtrak. You can fly in about two hours. If you include getting to the airport and your hotel. The whole thing takes about 4-5 hours.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          Less if I take a Lyft line instead of BART.Report

        • The trip I have in mind would be overnight on the DC-Chicago line. My oh-so clever idea is to leave work early on a Friday afternoon, drive to Harper’s Ferry (thereby avoiding the DC traffic) and catching the train there. It arrives (at least in theory) in Chicago early the next morning. The key is that the reason for the trip is to visit the Chicago History Museum (which used to be the Chicago Historical Society) because I want to fondle the William Hulbert papers. The train station is about three miles from the museum: a good walk if the day is nice, or a quick cab ride if it isn’t. This would give me the entire day there, with time to grab dinner afterwards and catch the train coming back, again overnight. I would get back home around noon on Sunday.

          Yes, the travel time is a whole lot more than flying. The train is 16 to 17 hours each way, while a direct flight is about two and a quarter hours. Add in time to and from and in the airport, and figure it comes out to about five or six hours each way.

          The down sides to the flying idea are (1) it costs about three times as much. The train ticket is under $200 round trip. This is low enough that I wouldn’t really have to budget it. Triple that and it is something to think about more. (2) I find every aspect of flying hideous, except for the fact of flying itself, which I am fine with. I am a big guy, both in length and width. Those two-plus hours in the air, plus however long we are on the ground, are extremely uncomfortable. Train seats are pure luxury in comparison. Yes, 16 hours is a bit much, even for them, but on a train you can get up and walk around. Similarly, the whole process surrounding the flight itself, going through security and sitting at the gate and so forth, is unpleasant. The process surrounding a train ride is much better. And while yes, it is a long ride, I sleep well on trains, and I consider the view through West Virginia a strong positive.

          Now I’m thinking I am going to pull the trigger on this. It sounds like fun: a train ride and a day spent in a research library: better than sex!Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine says:

            We haven’t done DC to Chicago, but we have done DC to Florida on the Car Train.

            Now, we had 5 small children so we’ve popped for private rooms, but the experience was very pleasant, the children all slept soundly and we had dinner and plenty of time to read and lots of room (well, lots of train vs. airplane room) to stretch out and move around. The stress of travelling dropped sharply and was worth the 15% premium in cost. When we awoke we were in Orlando and our car with all our luggage and extra kid stuff was there with us as well. The entire experience from packing to embarking to the actual travel time to disembarking was much more conducive to both children and a better total experience compared to flying. Pro-tip, the prices to and from FL are inversely related to the direction the snowbirds are going… so about 50% less going south in the summer or North in the winter – we’ve done a drive/train combo when the pricing for both ways was too much. I much prefer coming back on the train – the drive home usually lacks all the excitement and anticipation that motivates you on the way down.

            If the seats on the Chicago line are like the Car Train, they are even more like reclining lounge chairs than are available on the Acella. The Acella is aces for DC to NYC to Boston, but I’m not sure I’d want to sleep on it.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Maybe because it’s I travel alone and I’m short and slender but I’ve never found air travel to be that annoying. This is even though I’ve been put through full inspection at least four times. It really does save time for farer distances and allows people to travel further for vacation.Report

      • I fly a lot, but almost entirely on business. So far this year, to North Carolina and Zurich. The last few years, to Seattle about every six months. Before that, to Buenos Aires also every six months.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      Ed2: This really shouldn’t be that surprising. Having a wild and crazy sex life takes time, skill, and effort. Most people are going to take the path of least resistance.

      It also requires that you prioritize having a crazy sex life over enjoying the company of any one partner (unless that partner is one of the rare ones who is fine with you having a crazy sex life). That graph seems pretty dead on to me.

      My wife and I met fairly early in college, and I know a lot of people who ended up that way, even if they didn’t get married. And it’s not just people who are looking to find a spouse. Shockingly, people really do end up falling for somebody and having that mutual attraction last a goodly fraction of a year or even longer!Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Prioritizing falls under the time. When you have class at 8:30 or latter court at 8:30 than you really can’t spend that much time in bars.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          I don’t think the woman I eventually married would have accepted my having a “crazy sex life” even if we both had all the time in the world when we were dating. Which was fine, because I preferred her over the 4+ partners per year option, but that prioritization had nothing to do with it being easier on the schedule. Humans just tend to pair bond, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that the majority of them end up with 0 or 1 partners per year.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Humans tend to pair bond, but that’s different from sex life — which is fundamentally designed to be more promiscuous (due to shallow, small breeding pools).Report

            • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

              Tell that to the person you’re pair bonded with. For most couples, that doesn’t work out as well as you might think when looking at the problem in the abstract.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                How many statistics have you looked at about men cheating on their wives? Last I remember looking, most women don’t really get a divorce simply because they were cheated on.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                We’re trying to explain a 1 year timespan for a pair of people being monogamous, not discussing whether lifelong commitments end up working out perfectly. And if we’re going to go off the rails, I’m going to guess that among those people who cheated and didn’t end up getting divorced, there were probably at least some consequences for some of them.

                The world of free wheeling, widely-accepted sexual hookups is not the majority among married adults, and not surprisingly, it looks like it’s not the norm among college students.Report

  4. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    T1: Pacific. Though apparently only from Oahu to California.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Conor F examines why San Francisco can’t stop an epidemic of car window smashing:

    Main culprit number one seems to be that the Police are having a tiff about a state-wide proposition that turned some felonies into misdemeanors:

    “Why San Francisco is suffering a unique spike in property crime hasn’t been fully explained,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports, “but the problem is at the center of a war between District Attorney George Gascón and the city’s police officers’ union over their respective crime-fighting competence as well as the impact of reforms favored by Gascón and other progressives designed to thin jails and prisons.”

    The police particularly dislike Proposition 47, “a ballot initiative passed into law in November 2014 that reduced six nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors.” But that was a statewide measure, while the smash-and-grab epidemic is local and predates 2015. What’s more, Gascón says that he still charges car break-ins as felonies.

    Culprit Number 2 might be the lefter wing of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. From an article in the NY Times:

    On the other side is David Campos, a supervisor who opposes the increase in police officers and describes Mr. Wiener’s views as “a very knee-jerk kind of punitive approach that is ineffective and inconsistent with the values of San Francisco.”

    Mr. Campos and many others evoke the charitable spirit of the city’s namesake, St. Francis.

    “We are not going to criminalize people for being poor,” he said. “That criminalization is only going to make it harder for them to get out of poverty.”

    San Francisco’s liberal ethos, Mr. Campos said, was changing as the city focused more on business and the needs of the tech industry.

    “I think there has been a shift in the people who have come to San Francisco,” Mr. Campos said of the city’s new arrivals, a group that is well educated and well heeled. He deplores what he describes as a growing “sink-or-swim” free-market ideology that stands in contrast to the city’s traditions.

    I would say it is probably a combination of both. Some techies can be amazingly clueless and entitled and say “Why as a rich person, should I have to view homeless people” and other such shit.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      entitled clueless techies? lel. Tell me more about how it’s entitled to expect that your property will be secure against vandalism and theft.

      Or if you want to say “you’ve got no such guarantee”, well, I think maybe you don’t like where that path is going to lead. It’s how we got Three Strikes, as the article points out.

      Of course, if we were permitted to just make pot legal–legal to own, grow, carry, use, and sell–then we wouldn’t have needed a ballot initiative that didn’t allow jail time for misdemeanors (which was a backhanded attempt at decriminalizing pot, but unfortunately swept up a whole bunch of other things in the bargain).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Sure, let me introduce you to Vancouver, British Columbia. There the thieves and cops have a sort of informal compact — the thieves just go after cars, and the cops catch them when they can. The populace just has really high car insurance — if they bother with a car at all. Thefts don’t really bother the populace, as they’re pretty much used to it — and there’s very little danger of physical injury because the car thieves do it when you’re not in the car.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      It’s really unclear why smashing car windows equals criminalizing people for being poor or going against SF’s ethos. I could make some uncharitable guesses but what is the deal with that?

      Okay i read Connor’s piece. The updates from Campos actually make sense and clarify his position much more. He comes off better than in the quote you provided. Connor still makes valid points and a liberal admin would best serve the liberal cause by finding solutions that dont’ over incarcerate and cut crime.Report

  6. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Eu4: “I’m just old enough to remember when phones were used by a certain kind of lefty as indicative of how Americans are not as great and innovative as we think we are.”

    Yeah, actually, now that you mention it I remember that too. I remember how it was Proof Positive That American Are Dumb Jesus Thugs because Europe had 3G and we didn’t.

    I further remember when sending an image in a text message, instead of just text, was a feature that you had to pay extra for–if it was possible at all. And it was yet another thing that Europeans Were So Much Better At. (The people saying this didn’t understand the technology any better than the people they were mocking, of course; no understanding that it had nothing to do with capability and everything to do with phone companies trying to suck every penny out of a revenue stream.)Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Funny. The way I remember this was that it was used to push back against tiresome “USA! USA! We are the bestest at everything because USA! USA!” bullshit.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    T5, David Roberts: Haw. I love these “electric cars are SOOOO SIMPLE”, Popular Mechanics-style blipverts. At the level of abstraction they’re using, mechanical cars are equally simple–in fact, you could say “instead of the four motors required by an electric vehicle, an ICE car requires only a single motor, resulting in one-fourth the complexity!”

    “Their simplicity and flexibility mean they can be right-sized, designed for a fine-grained array of transportation uses.”

    blah. Or, maybe, fleet operators will standardize on a single type, due to maintenance and system-operational efficiencies; and they’ll standardize on a large vehicle, because customers who are renting don’t care about trying to park it, and disabled customers prefer larger vehicles which can better accomodate mobility-assist devices.

    It’s also a bit thick to say “right-sized vehicles” while failing to take into account the reasons cars got to be the size that they are. It’s not customer preference, it’s safety regulations; it’s simply not *possible* to make a car that is below a certain size and weight but still meets the requirements for crashworthiness. You can get around it to some extent by declaring that you’re actually a motorcycle, but that’s a loophole that will close pretty quickly if manufacturers start trying to exploit it en masse. (Yes, I’m aware that there are production three-wheel vehicles, but we’re talking millions and millions of things across the country here, not a few tens of thousands in California.)Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Or, maybe, fleet operators will standardize on a single type, due to maintenance and system-operational efficiencies; and they’ll standardize on a large vehicle, because customers who are renting don’t care about trying to park it, and disabled customers prefer larger vehicles which can better accomodate mobility-assist devices.

      I understand your vision here, but I don’t see any real reason why we should expect that or consider it any sort of likelihood.

      Though it’s a benefit, people don’t get small cars because they’re easier to park. They get them because they’re cheaper both to drive and to maintain and most of the time we don’t need to extra capacity. This applies especially for rental cars, because “most of the time” includes the entire term of the rental. Which is why rental car fleets typically have a lot of economy cars. I don’t believe they would if there were such a market in fleet standardization. It would be easier to get an Pathfinder-type than a Versa-type, which as someone that has moved from renting one to renting another, isn’t really the case.

      You do bring up a point about safety regulations, but I can imagine those changing as circumstances do. The key to that would be self-driving cars resulting in fewer accidents, environmentalism playing a bigger role in our considerations, or both. (And maybe other things I am not thinking of.)

      Where I have a criticism of the Roberts piece, it’s that he combines two separate issues and makes it seem like they’re a part of the same thing. Which in one way they are, in that they both help the environment. But the benefits seem to me to be mostly linear. Self-driving cars may help because of right-sizing. Electric cars may help if we use renewables to derive the energy. Both together will help as in an A+B sort of way, but not in a special tandem. That’s a small criticism, though.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Though it’s a benefit, people don’t get small cars because they’re easier to park.

        Probably not in much of North America, where most infrastructure is designed with the idea that every single parking spot needs to accommodate a pickup truck with a crew cab and full sized box (and anyway many cities have such outsize parking requirements in their zoning laws that you could park crosswise across three spots at the mall on Black Friday and still not inconvenience anyone)

        That said, I remember watching out our apartment window as my parents’ dinner guests tried to park a 70s-Buick type sedan in Paris, and it was amusing. They drove off in search of a parking spot that would fit their land yacht, and it was some time before we finally heard their knock at our door.Report

  8. Avatar Damon says:

    Ed5: Of course. It’s just the likelihood of getting a tenure job is almost as low as getting a professional sporting job.

    H2: dude could just buy/rent a tent trailer or small trailer too and have something a lot nicer with running water and power for a bit more.

    H3: Err houseboats? This is a new thing? I knew folks living on these, not as nice, in Seattle, in the 90s.

    Eu1: all about the indoctrination. What’s next. “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!” ?

    T3: This is why I won’t have any of this crap in my car, or I’ll find a way to disable it.

    T5: Bjor is spot on. Not to mention the enviro cost of the batteries. All that lithium is going to come from destroying the Bolivian desert. But hey, it’s not in America so…who cares.

    S4: No country on the Earth has authority over space, regardless of any UN resolutions. Earth, assuming one world gov’t, has no authority over anything past orbit range. UN resolutions is the same thing as the Pope’s Treaty of TordesillasReport

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      H2: dude could just buy/rent a tent trailer or small trailer too and have something a lot nicer with running water and power for a bit more.

      I took it that he was doing this bootleg. A nondescript panel truck, which he probably moves around a bit each day, can go unnoticed indefinitely. If he had a vehicle obviously designed as a personal living space, someone would notice, and kick him off the lot.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      Damon: H2: dude could just buy/rent a tent trailer

      Thank you. There are a lot of options that are actually meant for the purpose. If I were in his shoes, I’d go with an RV. I congratulate him for at least trying to save money.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        A panel truck could go under the radar a lot more easily.

        Per above, I’m sure security knows what the jig is, but the regular staff just see a panel truck by their spot one day, gone the next, and think nothing of it. An RV is going to get far too many people asking questions.Report

        • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

          I had been assuming it wasn’t against policy. If it is, I think he’s in any case sunk once your story has been reported as widely as this one has been.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog says:

            I suppose it could also be a zoning thing – RVs in particular are not permitted to park overnight in lots of such and such zoning (the goal being to prevent impromptu RV residential areas from springing up in parking lots), but there’s no rule against a person sleeping in their vehicle (because you really don’t want to force people to keep driving when they recognize they’re too tired).Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        A friend of mine is doing a bunch of software contracting down here in tech central when his primary home is up closer to Oregon. He was staying in a “cheap” apartment in the area until one day he said, “For the price of this apartment that I barely spend any time in, I could make payments and do maintenance on a pretty sweet RV, have a mobile lab, and end up with equity in a real asset when I’m finished with this job.”

        I know a few contractors who are nomads who just live out of RVs and move from high paid contracting job to high paid contracting job, dumping everything into savings. A couple of them live like seasonal workers and work like low-overhead maniacs for a chunk of the year and then RV around for the rest of the year and sightsee.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          They’re lucky they haven’t met the “helicopters and blindfolds” crew yet…
          My friend who does contracting just works from home. But he does a LOT of contracting for a lot of different things.Report

  9. Avatar Roland Dodds says:

    Ed4 – Shocking! So connections and social capital are actually more important than a credential. The college myth has been one of the worst and most pervasive lies sold to the working class in recent American history.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      It’s Will Ferrell, no one thing’s it’s funny.Report

    • Avatar aaron david says:

      It looks like Farrell is pulling out.

      I have a close family member who suffers from Alzhiemers, and feel that pulling out is the best decision. The makers will always have the right to make the film, but as we find making fun of the handicaped in bad taste, so too do we find making fun of other afflicted people.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco says:

        If Will Ferrell says your project is beneath his dignity, that’s a sign from on high that you should reconsider the whole shebang.Report

    • It’s interesting that the criticisms are that Alzheimer’s isn’t a joke (100% true, of course), not that Reagan didn’t suffer from it during his presidency.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        His daughter said she noticed nothing untoward until the middle of 1993. Edmund Morris has also said his mental decline was extraordinarily rapid with terrible damage observable between August 1994 and February 1995.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          One of the common observations about Alzheimer’s used to be that the onset was much faster for high-IQ people. More detailed examination of their lives showed that those people recognized the onset of cognitive decline, and worked out crutches that helped (eg, making detailed to-do lists and consulting them frequently). When the crutches weren’t enough, it looked like falling off a cliff.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco says:

            Don’t think so. The galloping Alzheimer’s case I heard about recently (a lapsed chemistry professor I used to know) was not observably distressed in December 2013 and by June 2014 could only recognize family members. She died in December 2014.

            I knew a married couple, the wife an academic librarian and the husband a professor at a technical college. The husband’s decline was observable over a period of 8 years and you could still converse with him about 6 years into it (he was confined to a memory care unit after 7 years, when his wife could no longer handle him; he died the following year). The wife went from (by all appearances) perfectly normal and still working part time to being unable to form new memories and not really recognizing people she’d met in the previous 10 years. The lapse in time from point A to point B was about 15 months. She lived another 7 years in that state.Report

      • Avatar notme says:


        No one is saying that he didn’t have Alzheimer’s. I can’t imagine the reaction from the left it someone on the right was making a joke out of Alzheimer’s.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          But since we all know the right doesn’t care about ableism and since we all know that the left does, it doesn’t make sense that the right would get upset about the left making jokes about Reagan going senile.

          Therefore: You’re a hypocrite.

          Therefore: the left wins the argument.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            Since “Hollywood” is Officially Left Wing any product is an Official statement on behalf of all liberals and lefties.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Also, Team America made fun of Michael Moore being fat.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Never saw it, so ok i guess. I’m sure i got some demerits for that.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Incidentally, Alzheimer’s (Charlton Heston’s, in this case) was why I thought Bowling for Columbine was absolutely loathsome.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                I’ve been streaming a lot of British comic panel shows lately, and the usual crew is definitely left-wing even for that milieu – religion is mocked, economic conservatism is generally scorned, aggressive foreign policy is beyond the pale, cozying up to strongmen is, well, we mostly mock that even here. Except for the Saudis, but that’s a digression…

                They are perfectly happy to do “fat” jokes that would make even transgressive US comics think twice. And then grind the topic into the ground.

                Really, it’s true enough. Fat people are a safe target for humor from both the left and right.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, more seriously, there are some things that you (or “one” but I’m going to use a generic “you” if you don’t mind) would immediately see as bad if they were targeting the ingroup but they get a “well, you have to understand…” treatment when they target the outgroup.

                A light-hearted treatment of Reagan’s senility? Imagine, if you will, someone treating Hillary Clinton in the same way. If your response is to get indignant and to point out “THEY ALREADY DO!” and, perhaps, include the word “sexism” at some point, well, good. You understand that it’s possible to step on some toes with such treatments.

                The problem is that there is a serious story to be told regarding Reagan’s second term and whether it was actually the first term of H.W. but a comedy starring Will Farrell is not going to do a good job of telling that story.

                At this point, we usually play the BSDI game… what is the closest analogue to this? If we can’t think of one, what does that mean?

                If the closest thing we can come up with is the Citizens United movie, what does *THAT* mean?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Let me state without reservation that making light of an individual’s diminished mental functioning is offensive. There are a variety of ways to explore Reagan’s mental state during his second term — perhaps even critically so — that do not sacrifice basic respect or decency.

                I’m not sure we have enough of a ‘sample size’ to identify any patterns other than most people are more willing to tolerate bad behavior from allies aimed at enemies than in any other permutation of relationship dynamics.Report

  10. Avatar Autolukos says:

    H2: Google and Facebook have both made some efforts to build apartments (or at least facilitate approval for others building apartments) near their campuses. Last I heard, Facebook had managed to push through a few hundred units to construction and the Mountain View City Council had showed warmth to allowing several thousand near the Google campus. Adding any sort of multi-family housing in these cities is politically difficult in a way that makes San Francisco seem like a developer’s paradise, though, so there are strict limits on both scale and pace.Report

  11. Avatar Chris says:

    S1: Duh! Because we never went there in the first place. #flatearth #chemtrailsReport

    • Avatar Autolukos says:

      Colonize the moon landing set!Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Ooh ooh new conspiracy theory!

        Eurasians never actually went to the Americas because it was just too complicated. We’re all in Eurasia, and the maps lie. When we fly between “Eurasia” and “the Americas” the planes just fly out over the ocean, then do a subtle enough curve that the passengers won’t notice, and then land in another city back on the same continent.Report

        • Avatar Autolukos says:

          Wait, you believe you’re actually flying through the air when you get on a plane?Report

          • Avatar El Muneco says:

            You beat me to it. I think I saw Ross Noble do a take on this… Not only is the earth flat, it’s on rollers – your plane goes straight up into the air, they move the ground below you to make it look like you traveled, then you descend straight down to your destination…Report

  12. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    En6: Oscar brought it up in the context of Singapore, where such reactors are probably not a desirable choice. It looks to me that Singapore would have two options: (1) build it in one of the narrowest, busiest shipping lanes in the world, or (2) negotiate a deal with Indonesia and/or Malaysia to site the reactor and transmission link in their EEZ waters. City-states can have really limited choices about things.Report

  13. Avatar LTL FTC says:

    Ed2: There’s something funny about the 5% gap between the percentage of men and women who report having 4 or more sexual partners over the last year. How is it possible that guys are over 50% more likely to be very sexually active, given that, if you take out the <3% of men who are gay or bi, it takes a man and a woman to have the kind of sex being counted in the survey. So what could possibly be going on here?

    1. Men lie about sex. They do so constantly. The younger the man, the more outlandish the lie. Women also lie, but in the other direction. It should be a surprise that the numbers were that close given the sheer volume of lies men generate about their sexual adventures.

    2. Men are in numerically short supply in college. If 100 men have sex with 100 women out of a population with 150 men and 200 women, a higher percentage of men will have had sex.

    3. The question is about four or more partners, but has no granularity above that number. So it's possible that the subset of women having, say, 8+ different partners is larger than that subset in men, thus creating a larger population of men with 4 or more partners.

    4. College men are having all that extra sex with non-surveyed non-college women. Is there a lot more shame about sleeping with male townies than female townies?

    5. Though their numbers are insufficient to account for all of it, gay and bi men are having way more sex than their lesbian and bi woman peers. The stereotypes are true!

    6. Tons of threesomes or other group encounters with more men than women.

    My educated guess is that it's probably 70% #1 and 30% #2, but wouldn't it be a crazy world if the others were true?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I think 3 is a factor. It’s the first thing I thought of after “lies” though you give some other good possibilities.Report

      • Avatar LTL FTC says:

        Re: #3, If I’ve learned anything from women writing personal narratives for $50 a pop at Thought Catalog, XOJane and the like, all 20-something women who experience some sort of trauma or personal crisis go through a phase of dealing with it by sleeping with a ton of guys.

        But that’s not a self-selecting group of people prone to exaggeration at all…Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        3 is a bit of a wildcard. In theory, it would only take 4 extremely active women to satisfy the “4+ partners” statistic for a large number of men. If the tails of the “multiple partners” distribution aren’t similar in the two sexes, I wouldn’t expect the two percentages to line up.Report

        • Avatar LTL FTC says:

          #3 assumes that there is not a corresponding number of men who sleep with lots and lots of women. How does one justify assuming that?

          Here’s my just-so story: In my experience, the most damaging aspects of slut shaming is overwhelmingly something women do to one another,* but having a rep for being an easy lay doesn’t make a woman unpopular among men. A man with a reputation for being too much of a lothario, however, will cause women to steer clear and warn one another.

          I don’t really buy it as explaining more than a very small portion of the gap. There’s something like 1.3 women for every man in college, though I’m not sure if that holds true for the kind of non-commuter schools we’re talking about when discussing hookup culture. That says a lot for #2.

          *This is complicated. Men certainly think of some women as “not marriage material” or stupid for having so many partners and they certainly talk trash and spread rumors, but a reputation for sexual activity never dissuades a drunk undergrad from making a pass.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            I justify it by believing that if a woman has an enthusiasm for sex with a quantity of partners, she operates in a more target-rich environment than a man with a similar degree of enthusiasm.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              Not sure if this turns out to be true in practice. Post-collegiate women seem to complain about various kinds of sexual frustration — striking out at the bar, flirting to no avail, not getting a second date — about as much as men do. Maybe some of the ladies in our community will offer up their observations.Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      Re: #4 Anecdotally, when I was in grad school, significantly more men than women in my program hooked up with locals.Report

      • Avatar LTL FTC says:

        I went to grad school in a bigger city than undergrad. In undergrad, there was the occasional male student-female townie hookup. In grad school, it was more even, but more of the incoming women were married.Report

  14. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    En5: I notice that it was written in mid-2015, and much of the optimism is linked to production of tight oil and gas using fracking. 2016 is quickly turning into the year that the fracking boom goes bust. Most of the tight production is done by small companies with staggering amounts of debt; estimates are that as many as a third of them may go bankrupt this year. Financial shenanigans — some legal, some probably not — have run rampant over the last couple of years. An acquaintance in the business tells me that the big debt holders are telling many of the companies, “We know you’re going to declare bankruptcy this year, and you know you’re going to declare bankruptcy this year, so for God’s sake just stop spending money so there will be something left when it gets to court.” Active rig counts are down very substantially. Baker-Hughes says the number of active rigs is the lowest in 60 years.

    A whole lot of the conversions from coal to natural gas for fueling electric power plants are going to look really dumb if/when the price of NG reverts to the pre-fracking $5 per thousand cubic feet wellhead price.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Well if the Saudi’s ever stop essentially giving their oil away the wells will pop back up again.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        Much the same as that rare-earths mine in the American desert that keeps opening up to great fanfare about breaking China’s stranglehold on the technology industry, and then it shuts down a few months later when the Chinese government announces a price reduction for rare earths and it’s no longer economical to run the American mine.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Since my real concern is electricity, I don’t worry about oil. Most of the world figured out back in the 1970s that oil is far too valuable as a transportation fuel to burn it to generate electricity. The Saudis are among the last to use oil for electricity except in emergencies, and even they would like to move on to other sources.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          We still use oil in furnaces don’t we?Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            In the Northeast, where historically there wasn’t much alternative. Until recently, the Northeast sat at the end of some very long pipelines for either NG or propane, and supply could be a problem. Seriously, when my wife and I were shopping for a house in NJ in the very early 1980s, and discovered that almost everything was going to have oil heat, it felt a bit like stepping back into the dark ages. Neither one of us had ever lived in a house that wasn’t NG or propane. I just looked, and Denver’s residential building code doesn’t even mention oil, just gas and electric.

            Interesting side note since NG became more broadly available in the Northeast. The New England grid reliability organization’s highest-ranked concern now is over-dependence on NG as a fuel.Report

    • Avatar Francis says:

      I don’t follow the logic of the last para. If NG prices start to rise, wouldn’t drillers come back into the market?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        It’s more… complicated than that. Many of the small companies are going to go into Chapter 7 and disappear. Some of the bust will ripple back up the supply chain — drilling rigs that aren’t used fall into disrepair, companies that provide fracking fluid may fold for lack of business, disposal wells for used fluid may be capped and abandoned, the pipes and compressors in the collection networks may be scavenged for other purposes, etc. A drilled but unfinished well is a liability, not an asset. Most states require the owner to finish the well within a certain relatively short time or cap it (capping means filling at least the top few hundred feet with cement, rendering it unusable in the future). Options to drill expire. When I mentioned shenanigans, many of the land owners are getting cheated, and will demand much more money for new options. Historically in NG/oil busts, prices have to go up substantially and stay there for 18-24 months before the investment money starts coming back.

        The fracking boom happened because no one thought oil would ever again go much below $80/bbl, nor NG below $5/mcf at the wellhead. The necessary money’s unlikely to come back until prices reach those levels and stay there for a sustained period.Report

        • Avatar Francis says:

          I can see that this is a business with a pretty high barrier to entry. But I would have thought that the coal to NG conversions would be amortized over decades, so a few bubbles in price of the NG would just be part of the overall analysis.Report

  15. DensityDuck: He could certainly pay less than $2000 a month for a bedroom if he moved further south. San Jose has entire one-bedroom apartments going for that much.

    But not very many of them, and they don’t look like they’re in very nice parts of town. So why spend the extra money? The difference between $2k/month and $120/month (assuming he bought the truck with cash) is nothing to sneeze at.Report

  16. Saul Degraw: Portland to SF is about 12 hours on Amtrak.

    18 hours. A long time to spend sitting in a completely full coach (but still less unpleasant than the whole screaming clusterfuck of flying.)Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I am not sure I agree with this statement. Though if America actually had bullet trains, I could see doing that.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      If train travel becomes more common in America, it’s going to look exactly like that whole screaming clusterfuck. That it is not now is entirely because it’s not common.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        I would be very happy if we had major hub bullet trains that cost more than flying; let the airplanes remain the cheap 21st century greyhound of the sky.Report

      • I’ve been in countries where train travel is much more common than the United States (and I’ve lived in places in the USA where I’ve commuted by train) and it’s nowhere near as bad as the entire theatre wrapped around flying. It is true that I’m not taking American exceptionalism into account, but it would take a /lot/ of effort to make the whole process of taking the train as inconvenient as flying is.

        (and I can’t really see high-speed rail going in between Portland and San Francisco; once you’re north of Sacramento/south of Eugene there’s ~550 miles of rural land that’s going to generate approximately zero revenue for those high-speed trains.)Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      This observation is relevant for those who might wish to travel from SF to Portland. For instance, if they were going to Leaguefest IV.Report

  17. LeeEsq:
    My guess is that if train travel becomes more common than security theater might become a part of it.

    Maybe. A lot of the security theatre is because the payoff for blowing up/hijacking an aircraft is much better than that of pretty much any other form of transport. Bomb = airplane explodes, everybody dies; hijacking = airplane as guided missile, everybody dies, plus if you’re lucky you take down an office tower.
    You’d need to put a bomb on a commuter train to get that sort of payoff (cf Madrid ’04, and it still took bombs on 4 trains) and I strongly suspect that a full implementation of US-style security theatre would kill commuter rail dead in this country.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      If 9/11 hadn’t happened and we were still talking about hijacking as if D.B. Cooper were the exemplar, I would have loved to have seen an “Airplane” style movie about a Hans Gruber style Eurotrash gang who, perfectly deadpan, go through their plot to hijack a train with military precision, never realizing that you basically can’t change a train’s destination.Report