Wednesday, December 1st, 2021


If You Billed It

If you build it, they will come. Of course, by they, I mean change orders, cost overruns, and costly delays. It was hard getting an infrastructure bill passed. It could be harder to put the money to effective use in a timely manner. A short overpass in my county has been under construction for so long they should rename the street "Road Work Ahead." NYT (Gift Article): Years of Delays, Billions in Overruns: The Dismal History of Big Infrastructure. For an example, consider the 20-mile Honolulu rail transit line (it won't be operational for more than a decade, so you'll have to consider it in your mind): "The $4 billion estimate in 2006 was hardly cheap, amounting to $200 million per mile. The cost escalation since then has been an engineering marvel all its own. Concerns over Native Hawaiian burial grounds stalled early construction, then problems with welding and cracks in the tracks appeared. Earlier this year, engineers realized that in some sections, the wheels were a half-inch narrower than the rails. Order new wheels? Tear up the tracks? The launch dates slipped forward and the cost estimates crept upward — at latest count, $11.4 billion, with a target completion date of 2031." (The timing and price seem pretty good compared to a bathroom retiling project my wife and I have penciled in for a 2042 ribbon cutting.)


There Will Be a Test

"The Biden administration is moving to toughen testing requirements for international travelers to the U.S., including both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, amid the spread of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus."


Roe v Wade Bogs

"Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts ... If people actually believe that it's all political how will we survive? How will the court survive?" Those questions posed by Justice Sonia Sotomayor were anything but rhetorical during a Supreme Court hearing that could gut Roe v Wade. At historic abortion arguments, conservatives signal changes. (That's what this court was designed to do. Abortion rights could be dramatically curbed by men including Donald Trump, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh.)

+ This Mississippi clinic is at the center of the case that could end Roe v. Wade. (Full disclosure: My wife is on the board of The Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization that brought the case challenging Mississippi's law. And that disclosure makes me proud.)

+ How the Supreme Court could overrule Roe v. Wade without overruling Roe v. Wade.

+ WaPo: The Rule of Six: A newly radicalized Supreme Court is poised to reshape the nation. "That is the reality — exhilarating for conservatives, chilling for liberals — as the court, with a membership that has not been this conservative since the 1930s, embarks on what could be its most consequential term in decades."


Another School Shooting

Using semiautomatic handgun purchased by his father less than a week ago, a 15 year-old student killed four of his classmates at Oxford High School in Michigan. These shootings are so common that this one only briefly held the headlines.


Lens Flare

"In New Delhi, a man sprints amid the funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims -- too many fires, too much heat, too many victims. On a beach near the village of Limni, Greece, the horizon is lit by the flames of wildfires raging across the eastern Mediterranean. And at La Palma in the Canary Islands, the inferno is in the Cumbre Vieja volcano. But more than 10,000 million cubic meters of ash turn the world into a negative, with black ash taking the place of white snow." A world ablaze, captured by AP photographers in 2021.


Positive Charge

The Trump administration was so thoroughly corrupt that I doubt Mark Meadows even knew his book admission would stun anyone. Trump tested positive for Covid few days before Biden debate, chief of staff says in new book. He later tested negative. " The host, Chris Wallace of Fox News, later said Trump was not tested before the debate because he arrived late. Organizers, Wallace said, relied on the honor system." Ah ha ha ha ha.


Cuomo Fomo Nomo

"CNN indefinitely suspended anchor Chris Cuomo on Tuesday after details emerged about how he helped his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to face charges of sexual harassment earlier this year. The network said documents released by New York's attorney general Monday indicated Cuomo took a greater level of involvement in his brother's efforts than CNN executives previously knew." (CNN should use this moment to return to journalism.)


Faux Oz

"On Tuesday, Dr. Mehmet Oz officially announced his plans to win election to the United States Senate. If successful, it would mean a return to the scene of what might have been the worst humiliation of his career as a pop health guru." (Dr Oz for Senate? You're trying to tell me that a grifting television con artist who spreads false information could win an election? No way!)


Wanted Poster Child

"To those who knew him in Lynnfield, Tom Randele had all the hallmarks of a regular guy. He was an avid golfer and car enthusiast. His wife worked for the town, and they owned a modest home on a quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. But Randele had a secret — something he'd been hiding for 52 years." Boston Globe: How one of the country's most-wanted fugitives led a quiet life in Lynnfield. (He got away with it all the way to a deathbed confession.)


Bottom of the News

NYT (Gift Article): Why Does Coffee Make Me Poop? "In the same study, some volunteers agreed to have a pressure-sensing probe inserted into their colon to measure intestinal muscle contractions before and after drinking a cup of Joe. Among those who said that coffee usually stimulated a bowel movement, the probe showed a significant increase in pressure within four minutes of drinking coffee." (Four minutes? I'll have what she's having.)

+ Tel Aviv Ranked World's Priciest City For First Time.