Monday, March 8th, 2021


Home on the Range

It turns out that the rent isn't too damn high. It's home prices that have gone through the roof. In a weird twist, rent levels and home prices have diverged across the country. "Home values increased in all of the 100 largest metros in the U.S., according to Zillow data. But in some of the richest cities—San Jose; Seattle; New York; Boston; Austin; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; and Chicago—rent prices fell, many by double-digit percentages." Why is this very unusual trend happening? Like so many other financial and social matters, it might be the economic divide. The pandemic hit certain groups hard, but was a boon for those at the top. The Atlantic: Why America's Housing Market Has Never Been Weirder.

+ "Once a home is stationed on a lot, it is not always possible to move it; if it is possible, doing so can cost as much as ten thousand dollars. Most buyers aren't eligible for fifteen- or thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages, so many of them finance their homes with high-interest "chattel loans," made against personal property. 'The vulnerability of these residents is part of the business model,' Sullivan said. 'This is a captive class of tenant.'" The New Yorker: What Happens When Investment Firms Acquire Trailer Parks.


We Used to Be Royals

I've always thought royalty was best reserved for HBO actions shows. But there's certainly something notable about our obsession with these celebrity stories. About 17 million people watched Oprah's interview of Harry and Meghan on Sunday. From issues of race to parallels with Diana, here are 12 key takeaways from the interview. (Harry and Meghan upgraded from the Queen to Oprah. God is the only remaining level.)

+ Here are 20 headlines comparing Meghan Markle to Kate Middleton that may show why she and Harry left royal life.


Offspring Rolls

"Obscured by other parts of President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which won Senate approval on Saturday, the child benefit has the makings of a policy revolution. Though framed in technocratic terms as an expansion of an existing tax credit, it is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children, akin to children's allowances that are common in other rich countries." There are a lot of things in the stimulus bill. But this could be the aspect that has the longest lasting impact. NYT: In the Stimulus Bill, a Policy Revolution in Aid for Children.


Needle Thread

The CDC has released guidelines about life after vaccination. While they still must wear masks in large public gatherings, vaccinated people can get together maskless (and make fun of the suckers who aren't vaccinated yet). Fully vaccinated people can gather without masks, CDC says.

+ WaPo: A Mexican restaurant in Texas kept its mask rule. People threatened to call ICE on the staff.


Peach Gobbler

"The Georgia bill also provides that individuals can be charged with a misdemeanor if they hand out food or drinks to voters standing in line on election days, even as it ensures that more voters will be forced to wait in longer lines to cast a ballot. Immiserating nonwhite voters, who are disproportionately forced to wait for hours in Georgia, is very much the game plan." Using false claims of voting irregularity as an excuse, there is a massive push to restrict voting in swing states. Backers of a federal bill are looking to prevent the squeeze. Slate: Unpacking the Fight Over H.R. 1, the Massive Voting Rights Bill.


Ticket Masters

"Ticket resale is no longer driven by fast-talkers peddling their wares outside U.S. arenas. Now it's effectively dominated by software companies." The secondary ticket market works really well. Unless you're an actual fan. Reveal News: How is this Legal? If you wanted to score concert tickets when I was a kid, you lined up outside your local record store first thing Sunday morning and hoped the teenager working the Bass Ticket terminal was a fast typer. That seemed a lot more fair than trying to refresh a web page faster than a bot.


End Times at Ridgemont High

"As time has gone on, evidence has grown on one side of the equation: the harm being done to children by restricting their "circulation." There is the well-documented fall-off in student academic performance at schools that have shifted to virtual learning, which, copious evidence now shows, is exacerbating racial and class divides in achievement. This toll has led a growing number of epidemiologists, pediatricians and other physicians to argue for reopening schools as broadly as possible, amid growing evidence that schools are not major venues for transmission of the virus." ProPublica: The Lost Year: What the Pandemic Cost Teenagers.


Your Day, Women’s Day

"International Women's Day is celebrated with everything from flowers to breakfast. But the holiday started with a 1907 labor strike." Vox: The little-known radical history of International Women's Day.

+ International Woman's Day is the ideal time to follow my wife's excellent company Instagram feed for The What, a great resource for women.


Elder Flower

"While plenty of older folks enjoy the recreational use of pot, the drug's health benefits seem to be a more important motivation. 'A main reason for the increase in older adults using cannabis is for treatment of chronic symptoms that can be common among older adults, such as pain, sleep problems, anxiety, or depression.'" Saturday Evening Post: Senior Stoners. (This may be the one life transition I'm truly prepared for.) "Older people can be more sensitive to the effects of drugs, so they may not be able to handle marijuana as they could decades earlier. 'Even if you used it when you were younger, today's medical stuff is stronger. You can't just smoke a whole joint.'" (I'll take that challenge.)


Bottom of the News

"I told him about the time a couple of years ago I checked out a cannabis dispensary in Marina del Rey, Calif., and a woman working the door had a double-take as she checked my driver's license: 'Wait," she said, "you're not Seth Rogen?' He responded with his signature timpani-like chortle. 'Of all the people who get told they look like me," he said, "you might look the most like me.'" The NYT's Alex Williams: Seth Rogen Is All Fired Up.

+ MacKenzie Scott, philanthropist, author and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has married a Seattle science teacher. (I would have predicted she'd marry a humanities major, but I guess they just had chemistry.)