Tuesday 10 May, 2022

Quote of the Day

”Anyone who has been to an English public school will always feel comparatively at home in prison.”

*  Evelyn Waugh

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Little Richard | Good Golly Miss Molly | Muhammad Ali’s 50th Birthday


They don’t make them like that any more. (Ali died in 2016, Little Richard in 2020.)

Long Read of the Day

Cars Are Here to Stay

Sobering essay by Alex Trembath

As knowledge economy workers increasingly crowd into walkable, expensive urban cores, lower-income Americans are crowded out into suburbs and exurbs. Increased housing construction and affordability would certainly reduce these pressures. But as civil rights attorney Jennifer Hernandez recently wrote, the policies and regulations put in place to reduce car dependence and invest in transit often come at the expense of these low-income communities. Even a radical acceleration of densification is unlikely to reverse these dynamics:

Public transit, the “solution” wealthy Whites imagine will supplant personal vehicles, does not work for many people in less-affluent communities of color, where housing, employment, and other opportunities are often more dispersed and many more jobs can be accessed in a 30-minute drive than a 30-minute ride on public transit. Unlike affluent residents in the keyboard economy, workers of color more often have multiple jobs, commute during non-peak hours, and simply cannot use transit to “balance work, child care, elder care.”

It is easy and credible enough to blame the fossil fuel and auto industries and the legacies of redlining and racial covenants for the land use and transportation infrastructure arrangements we have in the United States today. But there are legitimate reasons that more and more people, in the United States and abroad, continue to sprawl outwards. Housing will always be more affordable and more spacious in the suburbs, amenities that remain attractive to many people here and around the world.

And switching to EVs won’t fix that fundamental dependence on cars.

Inflation is worse than we think

Blog post by Samuel Gregg, arguing that the way our societies measure inflation is partly designed to understate it.

In 2011, the last time inflation was on the rise, the then-president of the New York Federal Reserve, William Dudley, ventured into a working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, to give a speech explaining why inflation wasn’t a big deal. Finding that he wasn’t making an impact, Dudley famously picked up an iPad 2 and told his audience, “Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful.”

“I can’t eat an iPad!” someone in the audience shouted back.

I was reminded of this story recently while standing in the checkout line of my local grocery store. An elderly neighbor standing in front of me saw the total price of her purchases flash up on the screen. For a moment, her eyes registered shock. Then I heard her mutter, “That sure doesn’t feel like $150 worth of groceries.”

I was thinking this the other day when it was announced that inflation in the UK is running at 10% — which seemed to me to be an under-estimate.

China’s Bizarre Authoritarian-Libertarian COVID Strategy

By Alex Tabarrok

It’s difficult to understand China’s COVID strategy. On the one hand, China has confined millions of people to their homes, even to the extent of outlawing walking outside or having food delivered. Many thousands of other people have been taken from their homes and put into quarantine centers. On the other hand, vaccination is not mandatory! I can understand authoritarianism. I can understand libertarianism. I have difficulty understanding how jailing people, potentially without food, is ok but requiring vaccinations is not. (Here’s a legal analysis of China’s vaccine policy.) Moreover, put aside making vaccines mandatory because as far as I can tell, China has only recently started to get serious about non-coercive measures to vaccinate the elderly.

He’s right: the strategy is weird.

My commonplace booklet

How I would learn to code (if I could start over) Link A nice illustration of why so many people turn to YouTube to learn stuff — in this case programming in Python.

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