Monthly Archives: October 2020

Links: COVID’s effects on mental health, job training in construction, and far more!

* “A Hidden Cost of Covid: Shrinking Mental-Health Services: Mental-health treatment has become harder to find just as the coronavirus pandemic has driven higher demand for such services and hospitals place a high priority on handling the next Covid-19 surge.” This is consistent with what we’ve heard from FQHCs and other mental health provider clients.

* “Prefab was supposed to fix the construction industry’s biggest problems. Why isn’t it everywhere? The Canadian company Bone Structure can produce zero net energy homes months faster than a traditional builder. But its challenges highlight the difficulty of disrupting the entrenched construction industry.” High construction costs have important implications for job-training programs like YouthBuild, several DOL H1-B job training programs, the recent DOL Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants, and the like: the skills needed in the construction industry are likely to change as modular housing takes off. Notice:

The bigger problem they needed to solve was labor. There have been shortages in labor and skilled tradespeople in the homebuilding industry for years, as workers have fled construction jobs tied to the volatile housing market in the years since the great recession and shifted to higher-paying jobs in other sectors. More than 80% of builders have reported shortages of framing crews and carpenters, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Availability of labor remains builders’ top concern.

If housing developers can’t get skilled persons, they’re going to shift more towards modular.

* “Here’s how DOE’s first crop of risky energy tech has done: Comparing 2009 ARPA-E winners to peers yields a mixed bag.” We’ve written a bunch of ARPA-E, and SBIR/STTR applications, so this one is of particular interest to us. The answer seems to be, “Better than expected” overall. We also seem to have been added to a bunch of SBIR/STTR grant-writer lists, as we’re getting more calls for these projects than we used to. Many startup founders and expert engineers are not writing experts too.

* Rachel Harmon on policing. Much more substantive on this important topic than most of what you’ve read in the media or, worse, on Twitter.

* Don’t believe the China hype. Maybe.

* “Millions of abandoned oil wells are leaking methane, a climate menace.” All energy sources have serious externalities, and relatively few discussions offer an even and total treatment of them.

* Dropbox is a total mess. This matches our experience: we use Dropbox internally but probably won’t indefinitely, due to the said mess. Peak Dropbox was, for us, about five or six years ago, when it was easy to share files with a link but Dropbox hadn’t started putting a bunch of random stuff where the MacOS Finder should be. The simplicity is declining.

* “People Have Stopped Going to the Doctor. Most Seem Just Fine. Do Americans really need the amount of treatment that our health care system is used to providing?” Although I don’t have an immediate citation to this effect, my impression is that people who don’t actively have anything wrong with them don’t need to see doctors regularly—and that includes the elderly.

* Can philosophy make people generous?

* Why does DARPA work? Much more interesting than the title may suggest, and congruent with the link above regarding ARPA-E winners.

* “Losing the Narrative: The Genre Fiction of the Professional Class.” Overstated, yes, but among the most interesting essays I’ve read in a long time, and I read a lot.

* “Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Activities in Kansas” is (or was) in Grants.gov, and it’s a favorite recent RFP. I’m reminded of Isaac’s fondness for “giant animal” movies (think Lake Placid, Them!, Godzilla, Attack of the Killer Shrews, etc.), although this project is likely for more terrestrial issues.

* How you attach to people may explain a lot about your inner life.

* Licensed to Pill, on the roll from prescribing and prescriptions in the opioid epidemic.

* Might buildings can 3-d print houses—even the roof. See also the second link in this batch.

* “The Underemployment Crisis: Even before the pandemic, roughly one in ten workers wanted to log more hours.” I don’t see how public policy substantially alters this one.

* Zillow research finds that the strength (or weakness) of housing markets is about the same in urban and suburban areas, despite the many stories and claims about “fleeing the city.” But, “Metro-level discrepancies exist as well, especially in San Francisco and New York, showing that not all urban cores are keeping pace with hot suburban markets.”

* “Silicon Valley and Wall Street Elites Pour Money Into Psychedelic Research: Donors raise $30 million for psychedelic nonprofit to complete clinical trials around drug-assisted psychotherapy for trauma.” Coming to an FQHC near you!

* “The Service Economy Meltdown: As companies reconsider their long-term need to have employees on site, low-wage workers depending on office-based businesses stand to lose the most.”