Category Archives: Links

Links: Opioids treatment, unglamorous but important bureaucracy, Pre-K for All, and more!

* “‘Pure incompetence:’ As fatal heroin overdoses exploded in black neighborhoods, D.C. officials ignored life-saving strategies and misspent millions of federal grant dollars. More than 800 deaths later, the city is still reckoning with the damage it failed to prevent.” If your organization is working on the opioid crisis, you should give us a call, because there’s a huge amount of federal, state, and local funding for it. Rural areas are seeing and especially large burst of funding.

* “The Tragedy of Germany’s Energy Experiment: The country is moving beyond nuclear power. But at what cost?”

* America’s National Climate Strategy Starts with NEPA. Unglamorous but important.

* Officials want to clear a mile-long homeless camp on a Sonoma County bike trail. Some don’t want to go. We’re guessing that those who don’t want it to go also don’t use the bike trail or live near it.

* The hottest new thing in sustainable building is, uh, wood. If you’re doing construction-related job training, mention cross-laminated timber (CLT) in your next proposal.

* On the Chinese education system and philosophy. It’s nearly the opposite of what programs like Pre-K For All or Early Head Start attempt to do. I wonder how well it works, although that will be hard to say, since it probably takes 40 or 50 years to properly evaluate how an early childhood education program “works,” by which point the entire cultural, social, and technological environment will have changed.

* For another perspective, read me on Bringing Up Bébé, an essay that is sure to be of interest to anyone providing early childhood education services like Pre-K For All or Head Start. We collectively ought to spend more time looking at early childhood from a cross-cultural perspective and less time on making early childhood “academic.” Life is not a race. France and China seem different in key ways but surprisingly similar in some.

* “Against Against Billionaire Philanthropy.” Donations by rich people are better than not, and criticism is misguided. Foundations offer flexibility that government funding typically does not.

* “Let’s quit fetishizing the single-family home.” This would also make programs like YouthBuild work more effectively: zoning restrictions are now one of the biggest problems with any job-training program that includes a construction training element. Many of today’s challenges are really housing and healthcare policy challenges, with powerful incumbents blocking change and the powerful need for change building up.

* “The Age of Decadence: Cut the drama. The real story of the West in the 21st century is one of stalemate and stagnation.” An interesting thesis, but not necessarily one that I buy.

* Was the nuclear family a mistake?.

* How we write scientific and technical grants.

Links: Healthcare and how it’s eating the world, education, homelessness and weird public policies, the nature of the good life, and more!

* “The Pedagogical Lessons and Tradeoffs of Online Higher Education.” Education and healthcare both seem to lack silver bullets, although we keep looking for them. See also us on the need to boost apprenticeships and vocational education. This is based in part on my experiences teaching college students.

* “The U.S. Furniture Industry Is Back—but There Aren’t Enough Workers: Companies expanding American production due to consumer preferences and tariffs are finding a dearth of skilled workers.”

* “As Homelessness Surges in California, So Does a Backlash.” Who could have predicted that homelessness is part of the regulatory environment that precludes the building of homes?

* “Apple Commits $2.5B to Ease California Housing Crunch.” Unfortunately, money is not the big problem here—zoning policies that prevent new housing from being constructed is the problem. Until we decide that more housing is a good idea, more money is mostly going to be used to bid up the prices of existing housing. Oregon, for example, has legalized townhomes statewide, and California should be doing the same. We’ve worked on some homeless-service proposals, but it’s depressing to see California raise a bunch of money that then can’t be used efficaciously because of their zoning policies.

* “The Key to Electric Cars Is Batteries. Chinese Firm CATL Dominates the Industry.” Have not seen this triangulated from other sources, however.

* Unraveling an HIV cluster.

* “Why It’s So Hard to Buy ‘Real Food’ in Farm Country. An exodus of grocery stores is turning rural towns into food deserts. But some are fighting back by opening their own local markets.” Seems like an Onion story, but seemingly not.

* “San Francisco Board of Supervisors questions $900K/unit cost for Sunnydale ‘affordable’ housing.” Until we do zoning reform, we can’t build affordable housing, as noted above. Meanwhile, southern California is little better: “Some of Los Angeles’ homeless could get apartments that cost more than private homes, study finds.”

* $30 million in grants to fund nuclear fusion research. That’s cool.

* Air Pollution Reduces IQ, a Lot. If you are worried about human welfare, attacking air pollution is key. Normal people can do this, too, by choosing low-emissions vehicles.

* Medical billing: where all the frauds are legal. We’ve heard that many healthcare providers, including FQHCs, are forced to be medical billers first, and everything else second, or third, or worse. In related news, A CT scan costs $1,100 in the US — and $140 in Holland.” You’ve heard it before, but: price transparency now. What’s stopping this? “Doctors Win Again, in Cautionary Tale for Democrats: Surprise billing legislation suddenly stalled. The proposal might have lowered the pay of some physicians.” There are few if any easy wins.

* Why white-collar workers spend all day at the office. It’s a signaling race. Most writers know we have 2 – 4 decent hours a day in us for real writing, for example.

* “California population growth slowest since 1900 as residents leave, immigration decelerates..” This is purely a political and legal problem, which means it’s very solvable. Also, “‘Garages aren’t even cheap anymore:’ Bay Area exodus drives lowest growth rate in years.” California is a gerontocracy ruled by zombie homeowners who bought their properties decades ago, pay low property taxes on them, and now block anyone else from building anything, anywhere.

* Magic mushroom compound psilocybin found safe for consumption in largest ever controlled study.

* AI and adaptive learning in education. This could and should be a big deal.

* “Denser Housing Is Gaining Traction on America’s East Coast: Maryland joins Virginia with a new proposal to tackle the affordable housing crisis. And it’s sweeping in its ambition.”

* Dan Wang on science, technology, China, and many other matters of interest.

* Letting nurse practitioners be independent increases access to health care? See also my post, Why you should become a nurse or physicians assistant instead of a doctor: the underrated perils of medical school. Healthcare fields seem to have near-infinite job growth, which is useful knowledge for job-training programs.

Links: Freedom for nonprofits, fun RFPs, car-free LA, insurance weirdness, grant $ spent at strip clubs, and more!

* “Jeff Bezos is quietly letting his charities do something radical — whatever they want.” “[Bezos] has given them life-changing money with virtually no restrictions, formal vetting, or oversight, according to Recode’s interviews with eight of those funded by him and others familiar with his donations.” This is what giving looks like when it’s supposed to be about getting the work done, rather than increasing the status and stature of the funder; note that almost no funders operate this way. This is also somewhat closer to how many VCs operate: they give money to the entrepreneur and tell the entrepreneur to implement more or less as she sees fit. We’ve also written about narrative as Amazon’s competitive advantage.

* “New federally funded clinics in California emphasize abstinence and ‘natural family planning.'” What could go wrong? But, importantly, we also wrote a bunch of Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) grants back in the day, and they were an interesting lesson in how to write “evidence-based” applications when the evidence seemed to point in the opposite direction of what the RFPs required.

* “Baseline Inventory and Assessment of Newly Acquired Lands” is the title of an actual RFP in the Federal Register. I also like this, from grants.gov: “Batty about Bats program.” This program is meant to “increase public education about bats, white nose syndrome, and the importance of bats to the environment.” In Tucson I lived near an underpass that was famous for also being a bat house, which could be better than living near a frat house.

* “Car-Free in L.A.? Don’t Laugh.” There are two major spending categories—housing and transportation—that can be substantially reduced with existing technologies, provided the politics can be solved. Healthcare and education cost rises, however, seem to be due to Baumol’s cost disease and for that reason are likely resistant to substantial reform. But housing (typically the largest cost for a given individual or family) and transportation can both be made far less expensive.

* Insured price $2,758, cash price $521. Perhaps our policy makers ought to do something about this?

* “‘It’s going to be a crisis’: D.C. may be left without a halfway house for men returning from federal prison.” Another story that’s fundamentally about zoning, NIMBYs, and land costs.

* “American With No Medical Training Ran Center For Malnourished Ugandan Kids. 105 Died.” This is the space where “good intentions” meet “lack of knowledge.”

* Give later?

* Is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation fraudulently misusing savings from a federal drug-discount program designed to help poor patients? I have no idea about the merits of this story. Still, it is one of the rare mentions of the 340(b) program I’ve seen in the larger media, although we mention 340(b) in just about every proposal we write for FQHCs—which means we write about 340(b) “a lot.”

* Simple cash transfers might be the optimal way to reduce severe global poverty.

* “A Gates-funded program meant to keep low-income students pushed them out instead.” The author observed on Twitter, probably correctly, “I kind of always beat the same drum when it comes to education policy: we don’t really know how to turn money into results and most programs fail.” Nonetheless, I predict more confident predictions about improving education policy. Confident predictions of success are also an important element of grant proposals.

Plus, “Fail” is a bit tricky when it comes to grants: most grants have multiple purposes, including PR cover and employment, beyond their putative purpose (many high-flying Silicon Valley types miss this distinction and so find grant-funded programs very strange).

* Why is California seeing housing starts decline by 20% amid a housing shortage? These kinds of stories explain why, adjusted for cost of living, California is the most impoverished state in the nation.

* “The Fastest Growing Jobs in America Don’t Require a College Degree.” This is heartening in some ways (college is not the apotheosis of human existence) but also points to some of the bad public policies of the last two decades. We need more work in apprenticeships and less in traditional four-year degrees.

* “Malaria breakthrough as scientists find ‘highly effective’ way to kill parasite.” This is likely to be bigger news than anything else you read this month, if it’s true.

* Health insurance coverage was down in 2018, according to the Census. Does anyone else remember the sound and fury accompanying the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? The way it dominated headlines and generated millions, if not billions, of words, from all kinds of people with all kinds of writing skills and knowledge? And yet it’s turned out to neither be the major blessing supporters hoped nor the catastrophe its opponents feared.

* Greedy hospitals fleecing the poor. And not just the poor, either, as I’ve unhappily discovered.

* “‘Out here, it’s just me’: In the medical desert of rural America, one doctor for 11,000 square miles.” Unfortunately, without comprehensive reform of the medical training and credentialing systems, this is unlikely to change. Most doctors are ritzy cosmopolitan types who want to live in or near big cities and can afford to do so. They didn’t go through four years of undergrad, four years of med school, and then three or more of years residency only to live somewhere they don’t want to live.

Right now, this problem is partially being made up for by fly-in doctors who, at great expense, fly into rural areas or hospitals, work a couple days or a week, then fly home.

* “The Atavism of Cancel Culture: Its social rewards are immediate and gratifying, its dangers distant and abstract.”

* Death By 1,000 Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong.

* “Drexel engineering professor ‘blew $190k in federal grant money on strip clubs, sports bars and iTunes over 10-year period.’” This is not how you’re supposed to manage your grant, in case you’re wondering.

Links: Don’t steal the grant money, where the jobs are, fun grant programs, ameliorating homelessness, and more!

* Don’t embezzle grant funds. If your organization gets grant funding but can’t carry out the proposed services, just admit it and give the money back—or at least stop taking the money. This ought to go without saying and without federal prosecutors getting involved. And, an excellent way of meeting the local US Attorney is to steal grant funds. Some grantees find themselves unable to execute the grant-funded activity, and, while that isn’t optimal, it is okay.

* We have a massive truck driver shortage, and pay is increasing, albeit too slowly, given that shortage. Contrary to the hype, we still appear to be quite far from automating trucking and many other in-demand jobs.

* “There’s a high cost to making drugs more affordable for Americans.” Almost no one is talking about this. We can likely force the cost of today’s drugs and treatments lower—but at the cost of not having new drugs and treatments tomorrow. This seems like a poor tradeoff to me, although that’s a philosophical point. The interesting thing is that no one advocating for price controls admits the tradeoff.

* “Resistance to Noncompete Agreements Is a Win for Workers.” This is an area where the left and right are aligned: the left worries about worker rights, and the right (putatively) worries about free markets. Banning both is a win for left or right.

* My favorite recent grant program: “Supporting Economic Empowerment in the Pakistan Film Industry.” We really want to be hired to write a proposal for this one!

* “Fears grow over ‘food swamps’ as drugstores outsell major grocers: With CVS selling more groceries than Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s combined, researchers fear food ‘deserts’ are becoming ‘swamps’ of processed food.” Another handy proposal term. Both Isaac and I have noticed the expanding food selection at local drug stores.

* More Millennials Are Dying ‘Deaths of Despair,’ as Overdose and Suicide Rates Climb. See also the book Lost Connections.

* “Americans Need More Neighbors: A big idea in Minneapolis points the way for other cities desperately in need of housing.” Obvious but needs to be repeated, as bad land zoning is at the root of many problems in individual cities and America as a whole today. We feel some of the effects when we work on projects like Prop HHH proposals in Los Angeles. If it’s not possible to build a sufficient amount of new housing, then many actors are going to bid up the price of existing housing, and homeless service providers are rarely the top bidder.

* “Los Angeles Is in Crisis. So Why Isn’t It Building More Housing? Rising rents are feeding a surge in homelessness.” The Atlantic is now on the beat Seliger + Associates has been covering for years. These links are congruent with the links immediately above.

* “An Addiction Crisis Disguised as a Housing Crisis: Opioids are fueling homelessness on the West Coast.” Or, as I’d put it, “Both at once, and interacting with each other.”

* The Machiavelli of Maryland: Edward Luttwak is adviser to presidents, prime ministers – and the Dalai Lama. Hugely entertaining, and via MR.

* “Why Transparency on Medical Prices Could Actually Make Them Go Higher.” I’ve long been a price-transparency proponent, but maybe I’m wrong.

* “Housing crisis: Why can’t California pass more housing legislation?” This is much of the reason homelessness is increasing in California: it’s almost illegal to build housing for humans.

* “Why mention the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when Democrats can debate shiny new Medicare-for-all?” I post this not for the political valence but for the discussion of what has and has not changed in healthcare over the last decade; in many ways, there’s been less change than both ACA proponents hoped for and opponents feared.

* Why Are U.S. Drivers Killing So Many Pedestrians? “If anything else—a disease, terrorists, gun-wielding crazies—killed as many Americans as cars do, we’d regard it as a national emergency.” Maybe the automotive era was a terrible, murderous mistake.

* “Progressive Boomers Are Making It Impossible For Cities To Fix The Housing Crisis: Residents of wealthy neighborhoods are taking extreme measures to block much-needed housing and transportation projects.” Not far from what you’ve been reading here for years, but the news is getting out there.

* “Live carbon neutral with Wren: Offset your carbon footprint through a monthly subscription.” Many people wonder what they as individuals can do. Here is one answer.

* “The numbers are in: SF homeless population rose 30% since 2017.” While people are slowly but surely linking SF’s terrible zoning rules with its extraordinary homelessness challenges (just like L.A.), the city isn’t moving fast enough to make real changes. Interesting fact: about one in 100 San Francisco “residents” lack a place to live. And there is purported to be more dogs than kids living in SF.

* “FBI investigating tattooed deputy gangs in Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.” This is almost unbelievable, but here it is.

* The radical case for teaching kids stuff. Relevant to those of you running early childhood education programs like Head Start and UPK.

* “Seliger + Associates enters grant writing oral history (or something like that).” This is a favorite essay, as since then we’ve seen, many times, our own phrases and proposal structures come back to us, like ships in a bottle dropped at sea that then wash up on our shores.

Links: Housing, grant size, the perils of EMRs, the nature of energy, addiction and treatment, and more!

* Death by a thousand clicks: How electronic medical record (EMR) systems went wrong. We’ve written so many proposals involving EMR systems, and yet it seems they’ve had little if any positive impact on the overall landscape, in terms of health or cost.

* “California Has a Housing Crisis. The Answer Is More Housing.” One of these obvious things, yet here we are.

* “When It Comes To Applying for Grants, Size Doesn’t Matter (Usually).”

* “A $20,243 bike crash: Zuckerberg hospital’s aggressive tactics leave patients with big bills. I spent a year writing about ER bills. Zuckerberg San Francisco General has the most surprising billing practices I’ve seen.” Remember how we wrote about the need for price transparency? This is another specific instance of that general point.

* Waymo’s CEO says autonomous cars “will always have constraints.” They are not a panacea for urban transit and are not going to be here in the next five years, and they will likely be weather-dependent.

* Is fusion power much closer to becoming reality than is commonly anticipated? If so, it will solve or substantially ameliorate the world’s energy problems, along with the geopolitical conflicts fueled by the world’s desire for oil.

* “Firms Learn That as They Help Charities, They Also Help Their Brands.” This is firmly “dog bites man” story instead of a “man bites dog” story, but there it is.

* “California will sue Huntington Beach over blocked homebuilding.” Good news.

* “Most People With Addiction Grow Out of It,” something not widely appreciated in the larger culture and a factoid we never include in the many SUD/OUD treatment proposals we write.

* Public Education’s Dirty Secret. Congruent with my experiences.

* “Is the Revolution of 3D-Printed Building Getting Closer?” Let’s hope so, as that would likely substantially decrease construction costs.

* Japanese urbanism and its application to the Anglo-World.

* “Climeworks: The Tiny Swiss Company That Thinks It Can Help Stop Climate Change.” Not just the usual.

* From Literature to Web Development: My first 6 weeks at Lambda School.

* * “A Radically Moderate Answer to Climate Change.” You may be getting tired of reading about nuclear power, yet we still seem as a culture not to be paying attention to it. See also “Nuclear goes retro — with a much greener outlook.”

* “This is Roquette Science: How computerized arugula (aka roquette) farms take over the world.”

* How to Create Reality: “So a funny thing happened on Twitter this week, which almost changed the world a little bit. Someone sent me a beautiful 3-D mockup of a fictional, car-free city of 50,000 people, set in the scenic nook of land* between Boulder, Colorado and Longmont, where I live.”

* “Science, Small Groups, and Stochasticity.” In short, we are doing the structure of science wrong.

* “The corporations devouring American colleges.” Colleges are businesses with extremely good PR and marketing arms.

* “The Streets Were Never Free. Congestion Pricing Finally Makes That Plain..” Seems obvious to me.

* “The antibiotics industry is broken—but there’s a fix.”

* “The 2008 financial crisis completely changed what majors students choose.” How could it not?

* “Lambda, an online school, wants to teach nursing.” Good. Competing with existing schools is a feature, not a bug. See also that other link about Lambda School, above.

* Most of America’s Rural Areas Are Doomed to Decline. Basically, agriculture now accounts for perhaps 2% of the workforce; manufacturing accounts for less than 15% of the workforce, and even as manufacturing has increased in value produced, it hasn’t much increased in jobs.

* “Considerations On Cost Disease‘s” money shot:

So, to summarize: in the past fifty years, education costs have doubled, college costs have dectupled, health insurance costs have dectupled, subway costs have at least dectupled, and housing costs have increased by about fifty percent. US health care costs about four times as much as equivalent health care in other First World countries; US subways cost about eight times as much as equivalent subways in other First World countries.

I worry that people don’t appreciate how weird this is.

Links: Price transparency in healthcare?, collaboration, debt, the good life, and more!

* “A Billionaire Pledges to Fight High Drug Prices, and the Industry Is Rattled.” This would be very good: healthcare costs are eating the world.

* Collaboration Again: A Story From the Trenches.

* “GM’s electric bikes unveiled.” File under “Headlines I never thought I’d see outside of The Onion.”

* “Cultural barriers still stand in the way of HPV vaccine uptake.” Most importantly, “Every year, nearly 34,000 cases of cancer in the US can be attributed to HPV, the human papillomavirus. The CDC estimates that vaccination could prevent around 93 percent of those cancers.” We should be getting vaccinated. This is an easy healthcare win, and a way to easily reduce healthcare costs.

* “Six Secrets from the Planner of Sevilla’s Lightning Bike Network.” Reducing car usage is another easy cost win. There are two ways to improve well-being: increase incomes and decrease costs. Almost no one talks about the latter. We should talk more about it.

* “Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year.” An evergreen article. Imagine if 70,000 people were killed by opioid overdoes in the United States every year. Oh wait, that’s actually happening too.

* Single-Family Home Zoning vs. ‘Generation Priced Out.’

* “Doctors Are Fed Up With Being Turned Into Debt Collectors.” Maybe we ought to go back to a world of transparent pricing, paid in advance?

* “Why Cities Must Tackle Single-Family Zoning.” Useful for anyone who thinks their rent is too damn high (like I do).

* “Oil Demand for Cars Is Already Falling: Electric vehicles are displacing hundreds of thousands of barrels a day, exceeding expectations.” We get too little good news; here is some.

* “The Creation of Deviance,” note: “The activities of university administrators may also fit a larger pattern, one in which agents of social control readily create the need for their own services.”

* Scott Alexander: “Preschool: I Was Wrong.” See also us on Universal Pre-Kindergarten and Early Head Start (EHS).

* “Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Cost.” It’s like no one imagined unintended consequences, or understands that incentives affect behavior.

* Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018.

* “‘Forget About the Stigma’: Male Nurses Explain Why Nursing Is a Job of the Future for Men.” I wrote an essay, “Why you should become a nurse or physicians assistant instead of a doctor: the underrated perils of medical school,” that also covers germane points.

* “Workers are ghosting their employers like bad dates?” Ghosting is bad for the ghoster and ghostee, in my view.

* Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break Into Winners and Losers. I liked Nashville.

* Why are construction costs rising?

* Repl.it: Get your ideas out there. What the kids are apparently using to learn how to code.

* 2018 Was the Year of the Scooter?

* The World’s Leading Electric-Car Visionary Is Wan Gang, not Elon Musk?

* “Two Roads for the New French Right,” a much deeper, more substantive piece than the headline implies.

* Hospital prices are about to go public. Good news if true. We’ve written quite a bit, perhaps too much, on the topic.

* “A tour of elementary OS, perhaps the Linux world’s best hope for the mainstream.” It is strange to me that Linux still has so many problems for mainstream use and users.

* “Retraining Programs Fall Short for Some Workers: The goal was to help displaced workers gain skills in new industries. But studies show people are earning less or failing to find work.” This will not shock existing training providers. Re-training is hard, and the older the workers being re-trained, the harder the process is. Careers also tend to have arcs. At some point, if haven’t ascended sufficiently, you’re unlikely to ever build up the ability to do so. I think about myself and writing: it took me about ten years of continuous practice to become a competent writer. Ten years. And that seems to be a common fact for highly skilled people. Medical school + residency is seven years. Law school is only three years, but most lawyers take another five or so years to get really good at their jobs.

* Nuclear energy is key to saving the planet.

* “How economic theory and the Netflix Prize could make research funding more efficient.” The journal article is here. Looks like a good idea to us: some signaling is inevitably wasteful but may also be useful. In the grant world, however, there is far too much wasteful signaling. In this respect, the grant world resembles the heavily-marketed college admissions world.

Links: Young people don’t want construction jobs, how to focus, why there’s an affordable housing crisis, the nature of education, and more!

* “Young People Don’t Want Construction Jobs. That’s a Problem for the Housing Market.” Given what happened to construction workers in 2008, this is not entirely surprising. From what I’ve read, 50% or more of all construction workers were out of work in 2008, and construction didn’t pick up again in earnest for three to four years. Who wants to bear that kind of brutal career risk?

* Alzheimer’s risk 10 times lower with herpes medication. This should also increase interest in herpes vaccines; right now there is basically no reason, save finances, we don’t have one: “Clark said a phase III trial would have cost $150 million and taken three years. In the end, the company’s board and investors were ‘unwilling to take on the investment.'” You should be outraged when you read this. There are also live attenuated versions that show promise.

* “In Some US Cities, There Are Over Ten Times More Parking Spaces Than Households.” Should you be wondering why the rent is too damn high and the commuting times too damn long, this is part of the answer.

* “San Francisco’s zoning makes it illegal to build apartments in 73.5% of the city.” And that, friends, is another part of the reason the rent is too damn high.

* People Are Bad at Being Productive in a Limited Time.

* “Fighting Back Against the War on Homeless Shelters.” Everyone is in favor of homeless shelters in someone else’s neighborhood. See also our post, “Los Angeles’s Prop HHH Funding for homeless facilities meets NIMBYs.”

* “California teacher pension debt swamps school budgets.” Given the poor educational outcomes for most CA public schools, maybe this doesn’t matter?

* “New York City Study Shows Literacy Coaches Had No Effect on Low-Income Second-Graders.”

* The Education Department to require colleges to publish data on graduates’ debt and earnings by major. Good, and long overdue, like that library book the college requires you to pay for prior to receiving your diploma.

* Anti-Vaccine Activists Have Taken Vaccine Science Hostage. Outrageous and true.

* Unions’ Fees Take a Hit After Decision From Supreme Court.

* Does Television Kill Your Sex Life? Microeconometric Evidence from 80 Countries. “Under our most conservative estimate, we find that television ownership is associated with approximately a 6% reduction in the likelihood of having had sex in the past week, consistent with a small degree of substitutability between television viewing and sexual activity.”

* “The Toll of America’s Obesity.”

* Electric scooters will work in NYC. This is obvious, but it’s also amazing to see the small-c conservative NYT editorial board figure it out. Also, “The Real E-Scooters Story Is Much More Boring Than Media Coverage Suggests.” They mostly work out well, and venture capitalists are footing the bill. A win for everyone!

* Rich Absentee Landlords Make a Killing from California’s Prop 13. This is congruent with “L.A. digs a hole more slowly than economics fills it back in: The Proposition HHH Facilities Program RFP.”

* “The Modern Automobile Must Die: If we want to solve climate change, there’s no other option.” More of the obvious, but here it is.

* “What Does Knee Surgery Cost? Few Know, and That’s a Problem.” We need price transparency now.

* “His $109K Heart Attack Bill Is Now Down To $332 After NPR Told His Story.” Another example of why we should be working harder towards price transparency in healthcare.

* “The Nuclear Power Plant of the Future May Be Floating Near Russia.”

* The weirdness of online mobs.

* Radical open-access plan could spell end to journal subscriptions. Good.

* ‘For me, this is paradise’: life in the Spanish city that banned cars.

* Canadian marijuana stock soars to $12 billion. The headline is too celebrity-gossip for me, but the content is of interest as a sign of social change.

* “Why Is the Home Building Industry Stuck in the 1940s? Embrace pre-fabricated, adaptable homes!”

* How San Francisco demolished the California dream via its own housing laws.

* Iron Ox, a new autonomous farm, wants to produce food without human workers.

* Why the novel matters in an age of anger.

* “The Case for Making Cities Out of Wood,” things I had not considered but that are very interesting.

* “Two Students Hooked Up. It Was Clearly Consensual. He Still Spent $12,000 Defending Himself.” Maybe universities ought to get out of the student housing business, which might curtail some of these absurdities.

* The Student Loan Debt Crisis Is About to Get Worse. Having observed the U.S. college system up close for a long time, I find it baffling that it’s managed to persist as long as it has.

Links: The bike challenge, the car challenge, the subway challenge, the EMR challenge, the altruism challenge, antibiotics, and more!

* “Learn to Ride: E-bikes are great—as long as people know how to ride them. Here’s how to make sure they’re safe.” Also, Isaac has seen the sudden emergence of e-scooters in Santa Monica and environs, appearing like a swarm of 17-year cicadas.

* “Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in adult patients admitted to a psychiatric hospital.” Correlation is not causation, and all that, but it sure is interesting. Ten or more years ago, we did a foundation appeal for a fellow with an organization devoted to improving the vitamin D situation. At the time we were somewhat skeptical, but maybe he knows, or knew, something we didn’t, or don’t.

* “I Will Do Anything to End Homelessness Except Build More Homes” is technically satire, but not really.

* “How Tech Can Turn Doctors Into Clerical Workers.” Much more moving than expected from the title. Isaac has an old-school primary care provider who hates EMRs—and virtually everything we’ve seen indicates he’s right. Pretty much everyone in healthcare hates their EMR, yet EMRs keep proliferating.

* Why are new antibiotics so hard to find?

* “Can ‘effective altruism’ maximize the bang for each charitable buck?” Among some foundations, maybe. But see also “Yours is not the only organization that isn’t worried about long-term grant evaluations.” Few if any grant-making government organizations care. Maybe the NIH and CDC do, sometimes.

* “Piece by Piece, a Factory-Made Answer for a Housing Squeeze: Developers are taking on residential building challenges by extending the concept of prefabricated housing to manufacture entire apartment buildings.” Zoning is the real problem, but this is a useful step, since zoning prevents us from, you know, building more homes.

* “The U.S. Can Still Catch Up in Manufacturing,” which seems obvious to me.

* “How Batteries Went from Primitive Power to Global Domination:” one of these articles that is all good news and no bad news.

* How to stop the decline of public transport in rich countries.

* “Short of Workers, Restaurants Turn to Robots.” This is part of the reason job-training programs are hard to run right now: in a seemingly short period of time, we’ve gone from under- to over-employment.

* Why alternate vehicles like bikes and e-scooters will conquer the city.

* “‘An Expensive Experiment’: Gates Teacher-Effectiveness Program Shows No Gains for Students.” See also Bryan Caplan’s book, The Case Against Education, which is excellent.

* Andrew Sullivan on why we should say yes to drugs. Not just the usual. We can’t yet argue this in proposals, but that world is getting closer. There’s another good book, albeit with an over-long subtitle, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, covering similar subjects.

* “Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?” Many beautiful details in this story.

* “Why commuting by public transport makes most people happier,” at least when the subways work.

* “Scientists assessed the options for growing nuclear power. They are grim.” Very bad news.

* “To Recruit Students, Colleges Turn to Corporate-Marketing Playbook.” Profs in humanities departments are probably aghast and impotent.

* “How Hospital Administrators Hide the Umbrella.” Another one for FQHCs.

Links: The White Wartyback, fighting poverty, healthcare and prices, big soda, college versus learning, and more!

* “Recovery Efforts for the White Wartyback,” a favorite recent grant program from grants.gov.

* Propel, a Start-Up, Says It Wants to Fight Poverty. A Food Stamp Giant Is Blocking It.

* “Medicare will require hospitals to post prices online.” This is really good and important news. See also us, here, on some of healthcare’s shibboleths.

* On Henry Green, who figures prominently in How Fiction Works and Reading Like a Writer.

* “You Can’t Have Denmark Without Danes,” amusing throughout.

* “Police and therapists are joining forces to de-escalate situations involving mentally ill people. Is it working?” Makes sense to me.

* “How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America.”

* Non-profit NewStoryCharity built the first 3D home printer for the developing world.

* “The Decline of ‘Big Soda:’ The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade.” Great news!

* And Then There Were Nones: How Millennials’ Flight From Religion is Transforming American Politics. Maybe.

* Living in suburbs is very expensive due to the cost of cars.

* Why Social Services Are Virtually Useless Outside of Cities.”

* “Scientists say we’re on the cusp of a carbon dioxide–recycling revolution.” Great news if true.

* “Why Some Americans Are Risking It and Skipping Health Insurance: Prices and deductibles are rising. Networks are shrinking. And even some well-off Americans are questioning what they’re paying for.” Makes sense to me. We have “good” insurance with absurd deductibles. That’s one reason why, per this post, I’ve become a stronger advocate for pricing transparency (hence the link above). Right now, I can call three providers and I’ll be lucky if one can give me a price quote. That’s absurd. If Amazon can offer instant pricing on a billion items, it shouldn’t be hard to have every insurance code with a cash price next to it.

* Doctors hate their EHRs.

* How the humble bicycle can save our cities. Oddly, it never mentions ebikes. Also, “Electric bike purchases pulling people from private cars, finds NITC study.” This should be obvious to anyone who’s ever ridden an electric bike.

* Almost no one knows what education really means.

* “High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University.” See also our post, “Rare good political news: Boosting apprenticeships.” And if you have not read Bryan Caplan’s book The Case Against Education, you need to, now.

* “In grant writing, longer is not necessarily better” (and is often worse).

* Universal basic income is not feasible. I think it’s a cool idea and it could one day be feasible but isn’t now.

Links: The changing nature of donations, the changing nature of job training, DARE in the time of legalized pot, and more!

* “No One Wants Your Used Clothes Anymore.” Actually, most nonprofits don’t want clothes or volunteers or anything else, except money, because money is way more efficient; it’s much easier to transport and deploy. People like giving away physical stuff, but that’s just not a great way of benefiting actual recipients.

* “‘People are freaking out.’ Will electric vehicles doom your neighborhood auto mechanic?” The answer is “probably.” Electric vehicles require virtually no maintenance; they need tire changes and windshield wipers and that’s about it. They’re a huge boon to drivers but less good as providing employment for mechanics.

* “The Pool Safely Grant Program” may be my favorite weird grant program to appear in grants.gov recently.

* “How Germany Wins at Manufacturing – For Now.” You may remember our essay, “Rare good political news: Boosting apprenticeships.” Skilled trades and vocational education are wildly undervalued in the contemporary U.S.

* “Nonprofits Are Tapping Outside Firms To Conduct Internal Probes.” This whole “tapping outside firms” thing, among all kinds of organizations, mostly seems like it’s designed to signal caring. I’m also reminded of Laura Kipnis’s endless Title IX trial. That is what universities are spending money on now, by the way.

* “The Current Sex Panic Harks Back to the Era of Coddling Women.”

* “How to Get American Men Back Into the Workforce.” “Public investment in improving skills” is another way of calling for more job training funding.

* “People Aren’t Having Babies Because The Rent Is Too Damn High.”

* “Drug and Alcohol Deaths at U.S. Workplaces Soar.” But the real issues get little airing amid culture-war grievances.

* Portugal is “winning” the war on drugs via decriminalization.

* The lucrative business of America’s opioid crisis.

* “Why American doctors keep doing expensive procedures that don’t work.”

* “The problem with ‘problematic.'” Seems obvious to me.

* Facebook billionaire Dustin Moskovitz pours funds into high-risk research.

* “Los Angeles’s Vermont Avenue Subway Should be A Priority For Metro.”

* “I’m no longer advocating for clean energy; here’s why.” Important though also depressing.

* “American Fertility Is Falling Short of What Women Want.” News rarely heard.

* A sweeping new bill targets California’s housing crisis. Great!

* “Legal pot on the one hand, opioid crisis on the other. What’s a DARE officer to do?” The optimal thing would be to tell the truth—but nah, that’s too hard.