Tuesday, July 26th, 2022


Home Ec

There are many reasons that buying a house is so expensive. First, there's the supply/demand issue. In a lot of places, there aren't enough homes to house all the people. Then, there are the same inflationary pressures that are pushing up prices of everything—including all the stuff (to use a technical term) that gets used when building a house. And, of course, there are all the rules, codes, red tape, Nimbyism, and anti-building vibes that make building a new house a living nightmare. "The average San Francisco project takes nearly four years to be permitted ... One by one, each rule has its reasons ... Who's against money for schools? Who's against safe low-income housing? No one, perhaps. But when you add them up, defensible rules can become indefensible barriers to new construction. This is especially true for affordable-housing projects." In The Atlantic, Derek Thompson explains why the barrier between you and that new house make a better door than a window. Why Your House Was So Expensive. On the (house)flip side, the oncoming recession coupled with rising interest rates will make the house you just spent years building worth a lot less...


Bifurcation Nation

"On everything from gun ownership and religious affiliation to reliance on fossil fuels and participation (or not) in the 21st century information economy, most red states are following similar tracks, while diverging more sharply from the experience in blue states. Broadly speaking, blue states are more heavily exposed to the big demographic, cultural and economic forces reshaping American life, while red states are less exposed, and to the extent they are, those changes are centered overwhelmingly on their large metropolitan areas, which are trending Democratic and often -- like in Austin or Atlanta -- are a target for the Republicans controlling state government." Ron Brownstein with some interesting analysis. Red states are building a nation within a nation.

+ Religion is at the core of this movement. And if you're for more religion in public life, you're getting tired of all the winning. WaPo (Gift Article): After court ruling, activists push prayer into schools. "They say church and state are already too separate."


Check Yourself Before Your Wreck Yourself

From Bloomberg: Myth of ‘Free' Checking Costs
Consumers Over $8 Billion a Year
. For people who can least afford it, that myth is a harsh reality. "Many Americans enjoy free checking accounts on the backs of the fees paid by poor people. Customers who pay overdraft fees again and again—who typically have no more than a few hundred dollars in the bank—are responsible for over half the profits from mass-market consumer checking accounts at the biggest US lenders."


Just Rub Some Dirt On It

"Tubs of the substance are found at every major league ballpark. It is rubbed into every one of the 144 to 180 balls used in every one of the 2,430 major league games played in a season, as well as those played in the postseason ... Consider what this means: That Major League Baseball — a multi-billion-dollar enterprise applying science and analytics to nearly every aspect of the game — ultimately depends on some geographically specific muck collected by a retiree with a gray ponytail, blurry arm tattoos and a flat-edged shovel." Dan Barry in the NYT (Gift Article): He's Baseball's Only Mud Supplier. It's a Job He May Soon Lose. There is No Joy in Mudville...


Extra, Extra

Taiwan On: NYT: "The Biden administration has grown increasingly anxious this summer about China's statements and actions regarding Taiwan, with some officials fearing that Chinese leaders might try to move against the self-governing island over the next year and a half — perhaps by trying to cut off access to all or part of the Taiwan Strait, through which U.S. naval ships regularly pass. The internal worries have sharpened in recent days, as the administration quietly works to try to dissuade House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from going through with a proposed visit to Taiwan next month." (No one is watching the Ukraine invasion closer than China, and the US is watching China more closely than any other country.)

+ We Need Some Space: "Russia says it will withdraw from the International Space Station after 2024 and build its own station instead.
The US and Russia, along with other partners, have successfully worked together on the ISS since 1998." (Putin should stick with the space station and withdraw from Earth.)

+ Space Jam: Scientists want to "measure how Earth's rotation drags the fabric of space-time around itself — an effect of Einstein's general theory of relativity." So they're doing exactly what you'd expect: Shooting a giant disco-ball into space.

+ Alberta Spruce: "Pope Francis issued a historic apology Monday for the Catholic Church's cooperation with Canada's 'catastrophic' policy of Indigenous residential schools, saying the forced assimilation of Native peoples into Christian society destroyed their cultures, severed families and marginalized generations." Uh, is there anything else you guys might want to apologize for...

+ Bytedancing With the Stars: Today, almost 40K Tik Tok users have more than a million followers. That's more than YouTube and Instagram. That helps explain why Instagram is starting to a look a lot like Tik Tok. The trend caused a user backlash. Then that backlash included the Kardashians.


Bottom of the News

"'Over the past 2 years, we have experienced an unprecedented spike in demand across our portfolio and have had to make very tough decisions to ensure availability of our full portfolio nationwide,' said a Klondike representative in an email. 'A necessary but unfortunate part of this process is that we sometimes must discontinue products, even a beloved item like Choco Taco.'" To understand the scope of this slight, you need to understand The Legend of the Choco Taco. For its acolytes, this product discontinuation feels like a swift kick in the cronuts.