Friday, July 1, 2022

Behavior Change Needed. Start Now.

I saw the Star Tribune's story about $5.00 "crazy" gas prices shared online before I saw it this morning in the print version, which is where I read it.

Aside from my initial reaction that most of these people have lived through prices just as high as this, adjusted for inflation, back in the mid-2000s (remember the Bush years?), I already had little sympathy because I knew they were likely driving vehicles much larger than they needed to be, given the way vehicle sizes have been increasing in the U.S.

Reading the story confirmed that. Get this one:

[A woman from] rural Sandstone, Minn., said her two grandchildren have been virtually trapped at her home most of the summer because their friends live at least 45 minutes away. Despite economizing, she still spends $300 to $500 on gas weekly to buy groceries and make other necessary trips.

"I have to travel a lot to get anywhere... Walmart is 45 minutes away. It's 70 miles for a hair appointment."

She said she now spends more on gas than on her mortgage.

"It's insanity," she said as she filled her GMC Yukon...

She drives a GMC Yukon, which gets 11 to 15 miles per gallon, depending on the situation. 

There's nowhere to buy groceries or get a haircut nearby, because no one in her community supported local businesses because they wanted to get the cheapest prices possible while burning cheap gas to get to Walmart 45 minutes away.

(Also... Sandstone is 13 minutes from Hinckley, Minnesota. Is there really nowhere to get groceries or a haircut in Hinckley? Oh yes, I see a store there called Daggetts Fresh Foods — not to mention Chris's Food Center in Sandstone itself. I guess those don't count as "groceries." There are also multiple hair salons in Sandstone and Hinckley.)

Other sob stories included:

  • The guy with the Ford pickup who was filling up his speedboat, too, and bemoaning the fact that he can only spew hydrocarbons on the lakes and rivers every other weekend instead of every weekend this summer
  • The young family who is visiting northern Minnesota instead of South Dakota in order to save gas money
  • The dad who said his six children had to forego seeing the latest Marvel movie
  • Others who are having to (gasp!) carpool or combine trips

It's hard not to choke on my outrage about how spoiled we are in this country as our habitat heats up, CO2 reaches the highest levels it has been in more than 4 million years, and people are suffering real harms from the climate crisis. Some people are even suffering harm from fuel prices, but these are not the ones.

Meanwhile, the head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy, which tracks fuel prices across the U.S., said:

...most motorists could cut gas expense by 10 to 20% by driving more fuel efficiently. He said he recently squeezed an extra 125 miles out of a tank of gas by slowing from 75 mph to 55 mph on the freeway and taking other steps to reduce consumption.

"People give up on their plans rather than figure out how to drive more fuel efficiently," De Haan said. "It's the one thing Americans completely overlook."


Thursday, June 30, 2022

Twitter in the Grueling Month of June, 2022

If it seems like I just wrote a Twitter round-up, it's because I did — the May 2022 round-up was very late. Well, here's June's version, on time or even a bit early. 

That's about all I can say for it, because like the month of June, it contains a swath of devastation, much of it from the Supreme Court and news from the January 6 committee's hearings, with remnants of the Uvalde and Buffalo mass shootings.

As always, the tweets are in reverse chronological order, and everything below the line is a quote from the attributed account.


My kingdom for news outlets to stop saying "underage women" when there is no such thing -- those are girls, you can call them "girls" -- and "sexually abused" when they mean "raped."
Jill Filipovic

Congratulations to Ketanji Brown Jackson. I look forward to reading your dissents aloud to my cell block mates while sitting in DeSantis Jail-Powered By Chik-Fil-A, while doing my ten year stretch for wrongthink.
Elie Mystal

Happy Independence Day? LOL, not you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or you. Fucking court.
amandarama @awillis

The text says right to bear arms, but doesn't specifically mention concealed weapons. That's okay, says SCOTUS, it doesn't have to.
The text says EPA can regulate air pollution, but doesn't specifically mention carbon emissions from power plants. Not okay, says SCOTUS, it had to.
Nicholas Grossman

Slavery, segregation, voting rights, gerrymandering and abortion all have one thing in common: “States rights.” Since the first draft of the constitution, “Leave it up to the states” has been code for “Leave it up to the racists.”
Michael Harriot

Dayton, Ohio, ~100 years ago. This is what “real” america looked like before most of it was demolished to make way for highways and parking lots:


Every random regional city used to have the amenities, public realm, and basic public infrastructure of Manhattan's nicest neighborhoods. It didn't used to be a megacity luxury and it doesn't have to be.
Alex Armlovich @aarmlovi

SCOTUS rationale for gutting the EPA is basically the same as the rationale for gutting the Voting Rights Act: Congress passed a law, the text allows this, but a majority of the Justices don't like the policy, so they go outside the text to say Congress can't and has to redo it.
Nicholas Grossman

Don't Look Up missed the part where the Supreme Court says we can’t stop the asteroid because that power wasn’t written into the Constitution in 1787.
Jamie Henn @jamieclimate

If you don’t see how family separation and forced pregnancy are connected forms of state violence, notice how adoption is being promoted as the “solution” for both. Black feminists understood this when we grounded reproductive justice in the human right not to have a child, to have a child, and to raise your child in a supportive, humane and just society.
Dorothy Roberts

First women, now the planet. Good job SCOTUS.
Brian Poliakoff

Understand that today's EPA ruling is the culmination of decades of careful and patient work by big business using dark money. It is the logical end point of the Powell memo
Bill McKibben

The biggest take-away of the Supreme Court ruling? An orderly transition is now impossible. We'll get climate action. That's inevitable. But it'll be disruptive, less coordinated, driven by competition, see widespread weaponization of risk, and avoid less loss and suffering.
Alex Steffen

Supreme Court votes 6-3 to pour hot bacon grease straight out of the pan into sink, citing “pipes are metal” and “who cares we’re renting anyway”

why do people act like the constitution was ever a functioning document. we literally had to add in no slavery

We should redesign cities for autonomous kids, not autonomous cars:

Queen Anne Greenways

Black carbon, or soot, released from rockets in the upper atmosphere is nearly 500 times worse for the climate than black carbon on or near the Earth’s surface, a new study finds. That’s a big problem when considering the push for space tourism.
Inside Climate News

The thing is: not only are “originalist” justices decidedly not trained historians, but no serious historian would ever advocate for an originalist application of past laws to the present.
Dr. Mikki Brock

Kagan, dissenting [on the EPA case]: “The Court appoints itself—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”
Matt Ford

Listen, if Congress wanted to give the power to the EPA to keep our air clean, they would have provided a clearer title for the law than the "Clean Air Act."
Anthony Michael Kreis

at least the babies will be born into a climate hellscape now.
Kate Sheppard

The author of the 2nd Amendment, James Madison, twice introduced state legislation in VA to penalize carrying a gun outside of your own property unless performing military duty. Gun regulation is legal, has historical precedent, and saves lives.
Senator Chris Larson

Conventional wisdom is Trumpers refusing to testify are afraid of accountability. I think it's worse. I'm afraid many are afraid of what would happen to them if Trump returns to power. Which is to say, they're betting he will.
Jeff Sharlet

The leader of the GOP tried to execute Mike Pence, and GOP leadership sits in total approval. Every media question to GOP politicians must be, "Do you stand by Donald Trump to execute the VP or do you denounce Trump?" Ask again and again and again until they answer. No exceptions.
Qasim Rashid, Esq.

your reminder that everyone around Donald Trump knew he was a violent gibbering idiot and nobody thought it important to inform the public
Jeff Tiedrich

For a guy who doesn't seem to believe in the rule of law Donald Trump sure got to appoint a lot of Supreme Court justices!
Jason O. Gilbert

This week's New Yorker cover:

Daniel Strauss

Keep your religion out of my uterus AND my schools!

Why am I, a non-Christian, being made to think about Christianity this much?

No one will believe me on this, but I actually think of myself philosophically as a centrist. I'm wary of broad, overarching ideology and I think technical, incremental solutions are essential for solving social problems. The bald fact, however, is that a lot of issues in the United States have gotten so bad that incremental, technocratic solutions won't work. I might prefer, in my gut, a politics in which the parties work together to find compromise but in my head I know it's not realistic.
Michael Hobbes @RottenInDenmark

If you think we don’t still need to do a lot of rethinking in our cities, consider this — many of the most important ideas that would make cities better that I champion as a city planner, are still specifically and deliberately illegal in our city-building rules, codes and laws.
Brent Toderian

The weirdest thing is the anti-choice movement saying it’s been peaceful for decades. No American political movement has been as violent and deadly as the anti-choicers.
Oliver Willis

This is what  Gorsuch calls a "quiet personal prayer" at the 50-yard-line at the end of games. He uses the word "quiet" 14 times in his decision, as though the coach was merely whispering under his breath and not leading a religious service every player felt obligated to attend:

Paul Waldman

“Queer people are next” shouts the cis gay man who failed to notice the 300+ anti-trans laws this year or that most lesbians have a uterus.
Jasmine @womanontherun

Is praying and forcing your team to pray in the Constitution?
Barbara Malmet @B52Malmet

All of you saying "wonder what'll happen when a Jewish or a Muslim or whatever prays at school" are ignoring the fact that we've already seen what happens: A bunch of hysterical right-wing ghouls circulate targeted disinfo to get a bunch of gun nuts to show up to menace and worse
Brooke Binkowski @brooklynmarie

In the US, teachers buy their own chalk while cops get Captain America shields to protect themselves from women who want healthcare
Rebecca Watson

They haven't just been mad since 1965. Try 1865.
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas @Ebonyteach

If the Supreme Court does what people fear it's going to do in the EPA case, they will have arguably changed every aspect of our form of government in a matter of weeks. Five people, sometimes joined by a sixth, have arrogated that right to themselves. They've changed our personal rights, the relationship between the state and federal governments, and now they're likely teeing up the hobbling of the regulatory state. Everything about how our government works will change significantly, because five or six people decided.
Adam Kotsko

Note to journalists: the problem isn’t US “polarization” but a radicalized minority which is usurping power.
Arlene Stein

Voters are not actually responsible for governing despite what the “vote, vote, vote” crowd want you to believe. I’m at the point of chanting back, “lead, lead, lead” and “govern, govern, govern.” We all have our roles to play. Voters did their part. We are not the issue here.
noliwe rooks

The constitution says we can’t limit carbon in the atmosphere. Oh give me a break. It’s hard to take our government seriously
Angie Schmitt

Lovely metal gates in Paris:

Ada Palmer

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. Christian denominations lobbied against the Act, and in fact churches (and all related organizations) are completely exempt from its Title III provisions. Remember that when churches tell you they’ll “take care” of people.
David Dault @DaultRadio

For everybody saying it's unacceptable to change the number of Supreme Court justices, Mitch McConnel did that for almost a year. When he refused to allow RBG's seat to be filled, he changed the number of justices on the Supreme Court from 9 to 8.
Mary L Trump

God didn’t write the Second Amendment, a slave owner did.

Bible says: you cannot hate your brother whom you have seen and love God whom you have not seen. (I John 4:20) I submit: you cannot “love” all the unborn whom you have not seen and (govern in ways that) hate the living people you see everyday. Bible survey says: you’re a liar.
Brittney Cooper @ProfessorCrunk

The level of structural change required to make this country a democracy is too great for our backwards constitution to accommodate. This outcome isn’t happenstance, it was enabled by the current structure. A system — especially the courts — designed to reject the people’s will. It shouldn’t be up to interpretation whether the people have a right to vote, to healthcare, to privacy. Clearly defined rights countries around the world have enshrined in their constitutions. And a process to amend those constitutions that isn’t impossible in the modern era.
Samuel Sinyangwe

The cruelty isn't the point, power is: the power to use other people in cruel ways, to be sure, but also the power to float above other people's pain, sorrow and concern. The rich dream of a world where "personal responsibility" is code for "total lack of empathy."
Cory Doctorow

Even when it's not unexpected, not surprising, seeing the Supreme Court nullify the rights and bodily autonomy of millions of people in this country is so appalling, so horrifying.
Robin Garwood

A majority of the white women who voted for Trump are evangelicals who do not object in any way to their subjugation to white men. They didn't do it as a "lesser evil" or make a quiet decision for white supremacy at the expense of their own autonomy.
Kristin Rawls

It took me a long time to understand evangelical women do not see abortion as an issue of bodily autonomy or human rights. They see it as an issue of sin. Yes, they get abortions, then they repent and are “saved” and “forgiven” in their minds.
Leah McElrath

Those men were at the constitutional convention on stolen land writing about "freedom" while eating meals prepared by the human beings they owned. Some chewed and swallowed that food with teeth stolen from someone else's mouth. And we were taught in school to call them "fathers."
Ryan Ken @Ryan_Ken_Acts

Packing the court is holding a seat open for a year because it's the last year of a presidency and then filling it a few weeks because it's the last year of a presidency. What we need to do is unpack the court.

America: where a man can't be forced to wear a mask, but a woman can be forced to bear a child.
Tristan Snell

We need to stop starting sentences with “If a woman gets pregnant…” and start saying “If a man impregnates someone…” “If a man impregnates someone, they are no longer able to access abortion care in 20 states.” Like that. People are talking like we just become pregnant all on our lonesomes.
Aubrey Hirsch

I’m sick of living in unprecedented times.
Lauren C. Taylor @elleceetee

The road to fascism is lined with people telling you to stop overreacting.
Brave New Films

best part of the protest was they had us all scream three times, I recommend adding this to your protests

If you can see that a major aim of anti-abortion legislation is to limit people’s ability to make decisions about their bodies that do not conform to rigid gender roles and expectations you can understand how trans liberation and reproductive freedom are irrevocably connected.
Your Friendly Butch Anarchist

Supreme Court Votes 5-4 To Reclassify Women As Service Animals
The Onion

People need to understand that one of the only things keeping conservatives in line, 20 years ago, was the concern of political revolt if their decisions were too extreme. Now, they don't fear that at all. They think the opposition is too weak. They're going to keep doing this. Arguably, the conservative justices are more concerned over their personal safety, a random act of violence directed at them by a crazy person, than they are of concerted political pushback by a dedicated opposition. They don't think the *will of the people* can stop them.
Elie Mystal

Cishet white dudes could literally *drastically* reduce mob violence simply by saying "not cool dude knock it. the fuck off." And almost none do, right now, while there is time to say it.

With Miranda Rights blown up:

Kate Sánchez @OhMyMithrandir

NEW: Public confidence in the Supreme Court just plummeted to the lowest level ever recorded in American history. Only 25% of Americans say they have confidence in the Supreme Court now, down double digits since last year, per Gallup
No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen

Thomas and Alito especially are clearly people who have nursed massive resentments most of their lives, and now have a chance to let it all out. The shoddiness of their work is itself an expression of their power
Matthew Sitman

Just getting started reading the gun decision, but every sentence so far makes clear what a joke and a scam "originalism" is. It continues to amaze me that anyone takes it seriously. It's just one assertion after another about how what people thought in 1790 is sacrosanct, except when it isn't, but also here's a novel way to think about 1790, but also that doesn't matter either. It's Calvinball as legal reasoning. The bad faith is just incredible.
Paul Waldman

More people will die because the same justices on the verge of overturning Roe in the name of "life" are obsessed with putting murder weapons in as many hands as possible.
Hemant Mehta

watching scotus destroy rights in a flurry of 6-3 decisions, reminding myself that republicans have lost the popular vote in every potus election except one (1) since 1988
Andrew Lawrence

The Right is literally paving the way for a country where people carry firearms like the Wild West and every single interaction carries the threat of death. It’s an attack on open society and preparation for an oppressive regime supported by violence and intimidation.
Jared Yates Sexton

Gas tax holiday hitting that perfect sweet spot: it'll piss off the most committed members of Biden's own party; Big Fossil Fuel will give him zero credit or quarter; and the effect will be lost in the noise of economic fluctuations, so voters won't care either. Très Démocratique!
David Roberts @drvolts

If Trump was a cocaine dealer and the feds had him on phone calls with distributors (state legislators), corner boys (fake electors) and even crack smokers (MAGAmuffins), he’d be in jail on RICO charges. This fits the LITERAL DEFINITION of  organized crime but… Y’all know.
Michael Harriot

Like police just take it for granted now that protecting their own lives justifies anything, any militarization, any profusion of false positives and harassment, any risk to civilian lives, any loss of speed or flexibility. No! That shouldn't be how it f'ing works. If you're given a monopoly on violence, the rules and norms that govern you should place civilian lives *above* yours, should hold you to a *higher* standard of calm and restraint, should have you substitute risk to yourself for risk to civilians. That's part of the trust.
David Roberts @drvolts

What's interesting about the Big Lie is how it's basically the same conspiracy theory as birtherism. The premise is that Black people are not legitimate citizens, and therefore official documents like voter registration and birth certificates don't "count". Always, always, always, the *point* of the conspiracy theory is to frame official citizenship paperwork as something that Black people simply do not have by rights: Voter registration, birth certificates.
Amanda Marcotte

Reminder: People *do not* get the politicians and governments they deserve. People are caught in a system that uses, marginalizes, alienates, and oppresses them driven by elite interests that are difficult to fight back against. We get the governments elite interests want.
David Moscrop

Let's be very clear about this. The GOP and the Right are not interested in rolling back this or that or incremental change. This is a project dedicated to literally eradicating social progress and reinstalling blatant authoritarian rule by white, wealthy, evangelical men.
Jared Yates Sexton

For anyone who still thinks we shouldn’t prosecute Trump and his co-conspirators because their coup against America’s democracy failed, consider this: there is no such thing as prosecuting a successful coup.
Andrea Junker @Strandjunker

Note to my fellow journalists: please, please don't call votes "late-arriving" or "last-minute." If they're mail-in ballots they're not late if they were mailed on time. Would you call someone who voted at a vote center in person on Election Day a "last-minute" voter???
Alissa Walker @awalkerinLA

The media needs to be more explicit about the role of humans in extreme weather. Rather than saying heatwaves are made worse by 'climate change', we should say they are made worse by fossil fuel pollution. It's not the climate's fault we're sweltering, it's cars and coal and oil.

Does anyone know the GOP plan for lowering gas prices and inflation?
Wajahat Ali

The Republicans have pulled off quite a trick. If news is defined as something unusual happening, GOP corruption is not news because the party is so widely corrupt. Some media have turned off their outrage impulse and decided that corruption is normal. What’s needed is new framing. Not party-oriented but democracy-oriented. Truth-oriented. The media shouldn't elevate liars in the interest of “fairness.” Yes, media should be fair – to the readers, to the facts. But not to the 2-party system. To our democracy.

Last year, almost 43,000 US residents died on the road — many killed by the massive SUVs and trucks now crowding dangerous, poorly designed highways. What would it take to reduce that number by two thirds, saving tens of thousands of lives every year? Since 2020, French government has mandated a fee for all non-electric cars sold that weigh more than 4,000 pounds. The fee ramps up quickly: If you wanted to register a massive truck, like the GMC Sierra, that's common on US streets, you'd have to add about €10,000 to its cost. One result of this policy—combined with several other policies—is that cars sold in the EU are much lighter than those sold in the US. A result of that—combined with better safety requirements that require pedestrians to be considered in car design—is less death on the roads.
Yonah Freemark

Media must stop using happy pics of people frolicking in fountains when reporting on deadly heat waves.

Druh Farrell

This should be really, REALLY obvious — If an assault rifle is so deadly that an entire police force is too afraid to take on a single teenager who has one, in order to save the lives of CHILDREN being murdered in real time, that assault rifle should be illegal for civilians.
Brent Toderian

I don't know why we ever expected the people who reject history to accept climate science
Mary Annaïse Heglar

I want to build homes on private property: GRRR
I want to put my car, which you can’t use, on public property and you should help pay for it: GO RIGHT AHEAD!

just thinking about how America’s dependence on cars is a regressive tax that destroys our cities and the environment just to enrich carmakers and oil companies. I’m saving thousands of dollars every year now that I live in one of the few places where it’s easy to go car-free

you need to vocally oppose transphobia not just because of the harm it does to trans people, but because the right see demonising trans issues as a gateway to attack all manner of people they hate. they wouldn't stop with forcing one group back in the closet

Compelling and damning. The only "dip" we see in US roadway fatality rates corresponds with the Great Recession ('08-'09), when "light trucks" also briefly dipped as percentage of all new vehicle sales and leases. Trucks now almost 80% of all new passenger vehicles!

Tinman contre la caste @bcmFietser

The timing of the US pivot toward deadlier streets coincides precisely with the timing of when the US car industry pivoted to SUVs and trucks to avoid air quality regulations. This is not coincidental. American carmakers made a conscious choice to kill us, and trash the planet.
Matthew Lewis @mateosfo

A main deliverable of predatory delay has been labeling as journalistic activism the act of accurately describing the world and what we need to do to avoid catastrophe. Media concern for "balance" in discussion of the planetary crisis is itself participation in predatory delay.
Alex Steffen

A 2014 study found that “white heterosexual male entitlement fuses with downward mobility, subordinated masculinity, and other disappointing life course events” to lead mass shooters to carry out their attacks in an attempt to regain a sense of dominance after feeling outcast. Another study published in 2010 examined 3 mass shootings that ended with the gunmen killing themselves and concluded the shooters felt “‘aggrieved entitlement’ — a gendered sense that they were entitled, even expected — to exact their revenge on all who had hurt them.”
Julianne McShane

"I'm fine with all your liberal politics until there is a level of disruption, uncertainty, and disorder in society that makes me, an older white guy, feel uncomfortable. After that, I'm with the fascists." The trick, of course, is that the status quo is so rooted and powerful that *any advance in justice or equality* inevitably involves disruption and disorder. Power concedes nothing without a fight, etc. etc. So if you support progress only until there's disruption, then you don't really support progress at all. You're just a tool for keeping the status quo in place. Sullivan has a self-flattering view of his own politics -- he imagines himself quite enlightened -- but this paragraph gives up the whole game.
David Roberts @drvolts

"We went from people who traveled (together) by train and streetcar and boat between towns and cities that were relatively compact and contained, to people who…sprawled. Alone."
Tony Dutzik @FrontierTony

In world without abortion rights, you can’t make a man give you a drop of blood to save your life, but he can make you grow one for him.
feminist next door @emrazz

Post-Roe, someone needs to bring a case before SCOTUS, and argue it on 14th Amendment grounds. It should have been 14A all along.
tamara martin @tamaram62877538

John Eastman was brought aboard Trump’s legal team in late summer 2020 at the demand of none other than Cleta Mitchell — a Trump lawyer and Ginni Thomas’ best friend. So Ginni orchestrated John, a longtime family friend, becoming a *second* conduit on Trump Legal.
Seth Abramson

Nobody argues that degrowth *wouldn't work* to draw down both extraction and pollution to sustainable levels. The argument against degrowth is that the global north would never accept it as an economic system. Just think about that for a second...
Dr. Genevieve Guenther @DoctorVive

DOTs measure the success of a street by the number of people killed or injured. Such a grim metric. We should have much higher aspirations for our public space:

Queen Anne Greenways

Places with higher rates of poverty, don’t have more homelessness.
Places with higher rates of mental illness, don’t have more homelessness.
Places with higher rents, *DO* have more homelessness.
Bottom line: The root cause of homelessness is housing.
Long story short: While drug use, mental health, poverty, etc are risk factors for homelessness, the root cause (as evidenced by countless data points, studies, and common sense) is housing. And the solution is ample housing + affordable housing.
Aaron Carr (graphs in the original)

Proposal to stop referring to the pandemic in the past tense and climate change in the future tense.
Dr. Elizabeth Sawin @bethsawin

I know a lot about how 1/6 unfolded. I watched it live on TV at that time and have read 1000s of pages about it since. And still at the end of each of these hearings, I remain shell-shocked by the new evidence, the mendacity, the violence, and how close we came to disaster.
Garrett M. Graff @vermontgmg

If nothing else we should amend the Constitution to define what is a “constitutional crisis.” And then amend that to define a “full blown Constitutional crisis”
Chris Steller

Can we please stop talking about how public transit needs to get riders “back”?  This framing guarantees failure. Public transit’s task is to be relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s demand, not to get “back” to 2019.
Jarrett Walker @humantransit

Wait – Ginni Thomas is now receiving security protection from the very same government she just tried to overthrow? Are you fucking kidding me?

Wild how they think trans teens are bewitched by YouTube videos but totally unaffected by the emboldened and increasingly visible anti-trans movement.  If I was a trans 12-year-old the internet would make me want to stay in the closet, not come out.
Michael Hobbes @RottenInDenmark

Imagine watching Lord of the Rings and thinking "I mean, the ring could have really done some great things for us," and that's the evangelical church for the last six years.
sammy rhodes

As a site director at an emergency homeless shelter, I'm often asked: "What do you need?"
I'd like to say: "Housing, especially nursing-home care for felons," but I end up saying: "Sweatpants, gloves, socks, granola bars,..."

it's crazy to me that we let a company (often illegally!) turn a bunch of our housing stock into hotels because it came with an app on your phone

Highway safety officials love to use wordplay and puns, or to shock people with upsetting imagery. But no evidence suggests that a wittier or scarier message is more likely to change behavior:

David Zipper

"Sure, GOP is going to go fascist and white nationalist, take away our rights,  and kill Social Security and Medicare, but at least they'll protect us from the woke and transgender people" - basically a summary of suburban fears.
Wajahat Ali

Letting rich old people who're massively invested in the status quo define the range of acceptable futures for us is probably a bad idea.
Alex Steffen

I know many think financial literacy is a solve to many of our economic problems, but I need to note it's required in high school by 21 states, and I don't think it made a dent in the number of young adults — especially young adult men — who invested in meme stocks and crypto.
Helaine Olen

A recent study found that universal health care could have saved 338,000 lives from Covid. Also $105 billion... "on top of the estimated $438 billion that could be saved in a nonpandemic year."
Brooke Jarvis

I'm trying to drive less, but I still drive from time to time. When I do I can't stop thinking about the fact that I'm hauling a small living room set around with me. Everywhere. It's so ridiculous.

At the IRS in Austin, cafeteria is overrun with paper returns awaiting processing by campus’s dedicated employees who will *keystroke* line items into the IRS’s database:

Natasha Sarin

These are the police that were actually defunded
Jake M. Grumbach

If white men can all agree “wokeness” seems real to us, despite the many failed attempts to define it, maybe it’s because we share many of the same biases — the same annoyances, the same resentments, the same discomforts. That’s the commonality we’re feeling. And if many important people seem to agree this is a real problem — well, is it not true that white men command almost all the highest heights in our society? That our biases have frequently been expressed as true facts? And that’s why I struggle to see any critique of “wokeness” (or “cancel culture” or “political correctness”) as valid, ESPECIALLY coming from a white man: society is almost perfectly constructed to validate and rationalize these particular biases, to accept and spread them. This topic is an echo chamber and a hall of mirrors for us, one that’s difficult to look outside of. And when I do look outside of it, here is what I find: very few people who do not share some basic feature of my social position seem to share these concerns.
Will Stancil

Households usually spend 6-20x as much on housing versus gasoline. And housing costs have outpaced gas for more than a decade. Why do people talk about gasoline so much more often than housing?
Brad Hemak @hemakhemak

It’s hard to think of a more self-defeating ideology than left-NIMBYism. Urbanization is such an important force for left politics, we need to make room for everyone rather than pushing people out to the atomizing suburbs
James Medlock

Rich people realizing that Great Artists can be rented for pennies
+ Proudly displaying both Revenge and Cringe commissions
= World changing art movement
Don't sleep on your destiny, my spiteful overpaid nerds.
Dr Kate Compton @GalaxyKate

The general public doesn’t seem to know that Covid is airborne, that reinfection is common, that the vaccinated can get it, that Covid is a vascular disease with serious neurological complications possible, that #LongCovid is common and can disable anyone including the vaxed.
Ellison Cooper PhD @ECooperAuthor

One of my favorite claims about "fraud" in the 2020 election was the belief that deeply urban wards in Madison and Milwaukee couldn't possibly be 80-90% Dem. As someone who lives in such a ward, I'm a little suspicious Trump got 9% of the vote here.
Sir Humphrey @bdquinn

Portland, Los Angeles, Berkeley, New York City, Schaumberg, Phoenix, Salem: the same exact Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol had been attacking people in the streets for YEARS, captured on countless videos, with the blessing and active support from local law enforcement.
Chad Loder

Parents who pay taxes are welcome to send their children to any school they want to. They just aren’t welcome to siphon off money from public schools. Everyone benefits from educating all children. Even people without children.

Seems like a good day to remind people that the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice supported this shit.
Miranda Yaver, PhD

Minnesota Constitution: Object of government. “Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent, together with the right to alter, modify or reform government whenever required by the public good.”  
Rep. Rick Hansen

The Supreme Court just ruled that Border Patrol can enter any home without a warrant and assault you, within 100 miles of the border. And no, you have zero federal protections if they do so. The area in yellow is affected:


The only thing the Right can do is blame “spiritual evil” for the present crisis, which is just a veneer to hide behind in order to conceal a true lack of solutions and the repulsive racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia that powers their entire political project.
Jared Yates Sexton

I wonder if humanity will ever really absorb Darwinism or if there is something in our evolved cognitive or sociological makeup that effectively makes it impossible. What an irony that would be.
David Roberts @drvolts

In coming months, you will hear a lot from the news media about how "fear of rising crime" means Democrats need to boost police and prisons. This is like saying fear of climate change means people must donate to Exxon.
Alec Karakatsanis @equalityAlec

We have no idea how horrifying the results of climate change will really be. But we’re starting to get a taste. [Screen snapshot of a news story about the Great Salt Lake drying up, and its effects.]
Elad Nehorai

Keep this in mind as we talk about congestion pricing:
Cars accounted for *just* 250k of the 2 million trips in and out of Manhattan's Central Business District pre-pandemic.
Subways/railroads/buses? 1.65m
City Nolan @ndhapple

Compared to White Americans, Black Americans are ~4x more likely to die while biking, ~2x while walking, and ~1.5x while driving.
David Zipper

Ted Cruz had the time to tweet 73 times, got paid for 3 speaking engagements, was on cable news 11 times and held a fundraiser. What he didn't do this weekend: attend one funeral for the 21 people who were murdered in Uvalde. He didn't do anything to help the mass power outages.
Danielle Candela

We probably just need to get rid of weddings because people clearly cannot be trusted not to be chronically anti-social about them. All of this to say, if you are going to subject people to Disney so you can play at being a princess on a budget, you should at least feed them. Either double-down on the patriarchy bits so we can have some goat meat and champagne or rebuke the whole thing altogether. But we have to stop these bad-for-no-reason weddings. They’re going to start getting people hurt. Honestly, these wedding posts are one day going to be a text for the decline of consumer citizenship in late stage capitalism. The absolute perversion of hospitality while the state that sanctions marriage crumbles, all written on cakes paid for using Affirm. Doing what you want is easier when you can afford what you want. The ritual of weddings is deeply tied to rules based on social class. If you adopt some of those rules — like gift exchanges — then you have to adopt the others — paying for food.
Tressie McMillan Cottom @tressiemcphd (written in response to a viral post about a wedding where the hosts did not provide food, but instead hired Disney characters)

The zero-sum mindset does not acknowledge rules or principles above or separate from the competing factions, governing them both. There are only the factions, pursuing power at any cost, full stop. Any *claim* to be applying principle can only disguised factional warfare. Or as I've said before: to an asshole, all virtue is virtue signaling.
David Roberts @drvolts

Is it fair to ask whether oil and gas companies are producing artificial scarcity (under the cover of Putin's war) in order to raise the price of gasoline and help produce inflation generally, with the end goal of reducing support for climate policy?
Dr. Genevieve Guenther @DoctorVive

As far as I can tell, Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen is by almost any metric as bad as Russia's war on Ukraine.
JW Mason

"Fortify schools" as a solution to school shooting does reflect conservative tendencies generally, though. The solution to every problem is to create an enclave where the problem doesn't exist. But then the problem leaks in, so they have to make the enclave smaller and stronger
Will Stancil

i have said this before but a city department devoted to actually keeping public order and solving crimes would likely look very different than existing police departments
Jamelle Bouie @jbouie

fixing this is more important than banning plastic straws:


The autistic urge to practice every social interaction in order to remove the variables and reduce the anxiety of it all, only to still get told off for doing something wrong.
Pete Wharmby @commaficionado

The Stupidity of Traffic Signals: "a half-million dollars to basically rob everyone of their time and make the street way less safe for everybody." Stopping every block is more efficient than waiting to speed to the next red light.

Constant chaos and trauma and transformation of public spaces into sites of fear and dread is good for a) democracy or b) authoritarianism?
Ruth Ben-Ghiat

233rd mass shooting of the year.
17th mass shooting since Uvalde.
34th mass shooting since Buffalo.
It’s the easy access to guns. It’s always been the easy access to guns. Do Something About The Guns.
Qasim Rashid, Esq.

active shooters in three states at the same time is a policy choice.
Marisa Kabas

How many mass shootings is the right number for the United States? Let the market decide.
New York Times Pitchbot @DougJBalloon

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A Clean Energy Path for 145 Countries

Every time I mention Stanford's Mark Jacobson to someone and they've never heard of him, I'm always surprised. This is a guy who should be a household name, if climate change got the kind of attention it should. 

As I've written occasionally before, Jacobson is an energy scientist who, with his colleagues has formulated plans for how all 50 states could make their energy grids carbon-neutral.

They've done the same for 145 countries. (That's an article digesting the study; the study link is here.)

Here are some key quotes with all emphasis added:

The energy-producing technologies considered include only onshore and offshore wind electricity, solar photovoltaics for electricity on rooftops and in power plants, concentrated solar power, solar heat, geothermal electricity and heat, hydroelectricity, as well as small amounts of tidal and wave electricity. The most important electricity storage technology considered was batteries, although pumped hydroelectric storage, existing hydroelectric dam storage and concentrated solar power electricity storage were also treated. We found that no batteries with more than four hours of storage were needed....

We found that the overall upfront cost to replace all energy in the 145 countries, which emit 99.7 percent of world carbon dioxide, is about $62 trillion. However, due to the $11 trillion annual energy cost savings, the payback time for the new system is less than six years....

The new system may also create over 28 million more long-term, full-time jobs than lost worldwide and require only about 0.53 percent of the world’s land for new energy, with most of this area being empty space between wind turbines on land that can be used for multiple purposes....

It did not include bioenergy, natural gas, fossil fuels or bioenergy with carbon dioxide capture, direct air capture of carbon dioxide, blue hydrogen or nuclear power. We concluded that these technologies are not needed and provide less benefit than those we included.

Finally, our findings contend that a transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy in each country should occur ideally by 2035, and no later than 2050, with an 80 percent transition by 2030.

Now if only we had the political will to make it so.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

A Bee Mosaic

Ignoring the big news from Washington today (!), instead I have a calm photo from downtown Saint Paul:

Mosaics make things better. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Housing Scarcity

I knew that zoning and other restrictions had made possibilities for building housing limited, but tonight I saw an example of just how much that was true. 

This graph, created from data for Los Angeles by Strong Towns, shows how that city's housing capacity was decreased over three decades:

I wonder what the equivalent graph looks like for Saint Paul, where it's illegal to build anything but a single-family house on the vast majority of blocks? And where the change started around the same time, I've been told.

Saint Paul is currently studying whether to allow housing with up to four units on a lot, and other uses up to that kind of density as well. To me, it seems like an obvious thing to do.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Octavia Butler, Transit Rider

Today I learned that one of my all-time favorite science fiction writers, Octavia Butler, never drove, but instead took the bus around her Pasadena and then Los Angeles environs. She thought about and worked on her stories while in transit and walking.

I know this from Lynell George, who among other things has studied Butler's diaries and papers in the collection at the Huntington Library in San Marino. George recently published a four-page article about some of the significant places in Butler's life. It's on pages 32–35 of this pdf of LA Parent magazine.

From the article, I learned that Butler's junior high library is now named for her and has a mural in her honor, and that the beautiful Los Angeles Central Public Library has a DIY studio space called the Octavia Lab, which wasn't there when I last visited in 2010. 

The Pasadena Central Library, where Octavia Butler spent many hours as a child and teenager.


Lynell George is the author of A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler. Here's an earlier story about her research on Butler.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Coming Monday

One of the final decisions to come in this year's poison soup of Supreme Court decisions is the EPA case, where the right-wing majority is expected to abrogate the EPA's ability to regulate anything that causes climate change, and possibly government regulation by the executive branch itself.

I want to quote a thread by David Atkins, who describes himself as a progressive reformist who runs a qualitative research firm. He writes at least sometimes for the Washington Monthly, The American Prospect, and other publications, and is an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from California.

Next up: this illegitimate, stolen court will dismantle the federal regulatory apparatus on Monday. This will push each state to have to implement its own wildly different environmental and regulatory regimes.

They're going to literally destroy the country.

In a country this polarized, leaving each state to do whatever it wants while keeping Congress broken and undemocratic by filibusters, gerrymandering and big money in elections, means the country will inevitably balkanize. Originalism is a path to national destruction.

Blue states will be providing corridors and safe havens for women, LGBT people and others, in shadows of the 1860s. Companies won't be able to have offices in some states. People won't send their kids to college in certain states. States will be constantly suing each other.

It all comes down to the fact that the compromises the Framers made to get slave states on board with a union were bad ones and led to a civil war. Reconstruction didn't last long enough. Jim Crow should have been demolished by force. This is the same shit, different day.

You can't have normal folks coexisting legally with states run by vicious, cruel white christian nationalists, without federal regulations and rights guarantees, while the former are disenfranchised and their votes count for less. The country won't hold together.

The "states should do whatever they want and the federal government should have no power except what literally passes filibuster-proof through our broken, rigged, apartheid, and dark-money-drenched Congress and White House" crowd, if they win, will literally destroy the country.

Once again, California is not going to follow Idaho's rules. We're just not. We don't have to and our people deserve better. And if we have to Constitutionally protect basic social rights and set up our independent EPA because the GOP destroyed the federal government, we will.

And because we're the fifth largest economy in the world, California's decisions will have a lot of sway. People from Idaho will come here to get abortions and we *will* protect them. Automakers will follow California's standards.

Originalists have no clue the Pandora's Box they are opening.

Letting every state functionally be a country unto itself while leaving Congress rigged and broken is a horrifically bad idea. Republicans are literally destroying this country's ability to function as a unified whole.

I only have one disagreement: I think the originalists either don't care about the Pandora's Box or they welcome the upheaval it will bring, because instability serves them and their police state.


Friday, June 24, 2022

A Preview of Coming "Attractions"

In striking down Roe v. Wade today, as was expected, the Supreme Court voted 6–3. Chief Justice Roberts did not sign on to the majority decision, though he voted with the majority on the specifics of the Dobbs case. 

Justice Clarence Thomas piled on by filing a concurrence, which contained this statement:

In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is “demonstrably erroneous,” we have a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents.

Griswold: the right to contraception. Lawrence: removing anti-sodomy laws from the books across the country (that is, making consensual sex between adults legal). Obergefell: marriage equality.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to notice that Thomas didn't mention Loving v. Virginia. Hmm, I wonder why that is, given that it fits squarely within the same tradition of substantive due process as the other three cases he does include?

This cartoon, by Michael de Adder of the Washington Post supplies a visual of the Supreme Court's intended future in the U.S.:

My only argument with the cartoon is the order of the dominoes. I don't think they'll go after contraception first, except maybe by nibbling at the edges of it (what's defined as contraception vs. what's an "abortion" in the eyes of the far-right). 

The current anti-trans witch hunt and all of the "groomer" language makes it clear who's going to be first.


Elie Mystal was transcendently angry and on point tonight at the end of Joy Ann Reid's show on MSNBC. I couldn't help thinking of his book Allow Me to Retort, and particularly his recommendation for how the Supreme Court should be changed.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Two Plaques at the Library

Today I had reason to go to the main library in downtown Saint Paul. It's a beautiful building that I have not visited very often. Because I was early for my appointment, I walked up the marble stairs to the fourth floor, checking out the reading rooms and the Innovation Lab (where they have two 3D printers and a podcasting room!) along the way.

I was interested to see this stone plaque on the landing between the first and second floors. At first I didn't see the carved letters, but they became clear when I looked more closely:

On the other side of a window on the same landing is this plaque:

It's a nice pairing in a way because, as I later learned, Helen McCaine was the first Saint Paul librarian, and she was responsible for the fact that the main library was built. Carole Williams, 80 or so years later, was in charge when the by-then-historic building was renovated and preserved.

The juxtaposition of the two plaques is interesting for other reasons, at least to me. The workmanship of the McCaine plaque is not something you see much these days: stone carved by hand in the Roman style of Trajan, with mother-of-pearl inlaid:

The Carole Williams plaque, on the other hand, is laser-burned into stone. Sure, at least it's stone! But comparatively, its design is clunky and heavy, even if it's better-designed than most plaques you might see from its turn of the 21st-century era. It doesn't make you want to look at it, though... does it?

Who was Helen McCaine? I've never heard of her before, so I tried to look her up. The interweb doesn't know much, other than that she was the first librarian of the St. Paul Public Library. Obviously, she lived from 1836 to 1922, as the Roman numerals on the plaque tell us. She was the librarian leading up to the year when the main library building opened in 1917, so I infer that she had a lot to do with its completion. (I'll bet the morgue at the Pioneer Press could fill me in on this.)

There's just one other piece of information related to her online. It's from the history of the Minnesota Library Association

A small group of librarians met on December 29, 1891 at the Minnesota Historical Society to organize a State Library Association for Minnesota. A short constitution was drafted and adopted during the first meeting, and the Minnesota Library Association was born "for the purpose of mutual aid and cooperation in our profession, and the advantages which may be gained by union and interchange of ideas acquired by experience in our work." At the first meeting, Dr. William Watts Folwell (Librarian, University of Minnesota) was elected to serve as the first MLA President and went on to lead the Association for nine years. The other first two officers of MLA were Helen J. McCaine (Librarian, St. Paul Library), Vice-President; and J.Fletcher Williams (Librarian, Minnesota Historical Society), Secretary.

The Minnesota Library Association played a huge role in early 20th-century library development. They spearheaded support for the legislative bill to establish the first State Library Commission in 1899 (known today as State Library Services). MLA advocated for professional education programs to prepare students for librarian positions (at a time where there were only 4 library schools in the country) and library training for students and teachers.

Minnesota, I found elsewhere, was the sixth state in the U.S. to form a library association. McCaine later served as president of the MLA in 1910/1911. I wonder if she was newly retired at that point?

That's all there appears to be about her online. I wish I knew where she was from, how she came to be in Saint Paul, and how she became a librarian at a time when most women were not working in fields like that. Aside from the Pioneer Press, maybe there's something about her at the library itself! Hmm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

There Should Be a Duty to Protect

Following up on yesterday's post about how police have no duty to protect, Dave Roberts had a thread on that topic as well. Two of his points:

If you're given a monopoly on violence, the rules and norms that govern you should place civilian lives *above* yours, should hold you to a *higher* standard of calm and restraint, should have you substitute risk to yourself for risk to civilians. That's part of the trust.

Like police just take it for granted now that protecting their own lives justifies anything, any militarization, any profusion of false positives and harassment, any risk to civilian lives, any loss of speed or flexibility. No! That shouldn't be how it f'ing works.

In response, a commenter pointed to a Radiolab episode that I haven't heard about the Castle Rock v. Gonzalez case

I'm kind of afraid to listen to it, given the terrible details of that situation, but I will.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

No Duty to Protect

I've come to thinking of police as part of the problem very late in the game: I held onto the idea of reform for a very long time. I remember the first time I heard about the idea of abolishing the police, and how shocked I was by it.

But when you understand that police have no duty to enforce the law, you have to begin to question the whole premise of their existence. The details of police failings in the Uvalde killings have raised this issue, but a Supreme Court case called Castle Rock v. Gonzales (2005) laid it bare 17 years ago.

Civil rights lawyer Sheryl Ring described the case on Twitter a few days ago.

In 1999, a Colorado woman named Jessica Gonzales had an order of protection for herself and her three kids against her ex, who had been violent and who had also threatened the kids. One evening, he kidnapped the kids from her yard. She called the police at 7:30 p.m. She showed two cops the the restraining order, but they told her to call back after 10:00 p.m. if the kids were not returned. Her ex called to taunt her. She called the police again after 10:00 when he did not return the kids.

A few hours later, she went to the police station to file a report and they refused to take a report. They went to dinner instead. While she was there, her ex arrived with a handgun to kill her, bringing the dead bodies of her three children. He was shot and killed by police, after opening fire.

Jessica Gonzalez sued the police. She argued Colorado law required an arrest for violating a domestic violence restraining order, which it clearly did. But in 2005, Antonin Scalia wrote a 7–2 opinion (only John Paul Stephens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting) saying the Colorado law was "irrelevant in light of 'long-standing police tradition.'"

Ring summarizes:

This is the origin of the "no duty to protect you" doctrine. Police, according to SCOTUS, have complete and unfettered discretion to decide whether or not to follow laws requiring them to act even when those laws are mandatory on their face. And for that you can thank Antonin Scalia's insistence that police duties are governed by tradition from when they were slave patrols, and not any actual statute or law.

This is the opinion.

Meanwhile, police departments are the largest budget item in every city in this country, from Uvalde to Saint Paul, shorting all of the other important work cities need to do to make children and adults happier, healthier, and therefore actually safe.

In Minneapolis, the city has been sued to add more cops than they can find to employ:

Even though many of their current cops are basically on a sick-out, drawing disability payments. 

And if they were showing up for work, under Castle Rock there's no way to make sure they do their jobs and enforce the law, at those times when they aren't being racist enforcers.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Republican Death Cult

Coming soon: More examples of the Republican death cult, trying to condemn the world to climate-change hell, or the End Times, or some such twaddle. 

You've probably heard this, but there are Supreme Court cases about to be decided that gut the ability of the federal government to regulate climate. They've been building toward it for decades, and now is their time! No more environmental protection!

The New York Times has the story. 

Cartoonist Mike Lukovich recently had a cartoon in a similar vein about the denialism that's rampant in U.S. thinking, fomented by media coverage:

It's a good thing I'm too busy to think about this much.