Linky Friday: Here, There, Everywhere

Home:

highrise condominium photo

Image by JoeInSouthernCA

[H1] Joe Cortright explains why affordable housing is really expensive. The solution… could involve… supply…

[H2] I would guess because it’s primarily affecting Blue America, and so Red America doesn’t really care and Blue America doesn’t want to look like they’re not better than Red America in every imaginable way.

[H3] David Adler looks at the people who profit from poverty, specifically the eviction industry. We’ve been getting a feel for housing markets here and there, and we’re running across a lot more “If you buy the house, you have to get the current occupants out.” I’m not opposed to the universal housing voucher idea, though it’s going to open up a box of other issues.

[H4] The advent of the tower prison. I don’t know, when I was younger I really wanted to live in a highrise condo (a specific one right by the Colosse skyline where units started at $80k), and but for the fact I have a kid I still like the concept.

[H5] When I see stories like this from Canada it’s like a TV show where the plot revolves around something in the newspapers the previous week. Government-funded insurance for waterfront properties remains among the more indefensible policies we have.

[H6] Amazon: Housing the homeless.

School:

University of Missouri photo

Image by Adam Procter

[Sc1] Matt Bruenig argues that the education issue is really overblown in importance. Skip the school and just give people money.

[Sc2] Per Andre Perry, the problem with white teachers is that they’re racist.

[Sc3] Phillip Levine looks at the limitations of Cuomo’s Free Tuition plan, which still manages to leave Vassar as less expensive than SUNY-Binghampton for some families. Seems to me that at the end of the day we’re going to have to make a decision: Smart kids or poor kids.

[Sc4] Well, this confirms my priors. It comes up a lot in debates about rewarding students for good grades, that it doesn’t count if they’re not motivated by love of learning or whatever. Bullocks!

[Sc5] Jesse Singal reports that microaggression training could be backfiring on minority students.

[Sc6] I’m still reluctant to believe that it’s about Political Correctness, but that the University of Missouri alone is having a steep drop in enrollment is noteworthy, and Missouri State is gaining. (Lurking in the background of this article is what appears to be a significant drop in international applications.)

[Sc7] Dave Taylor explains what Hollywood gets wrong about high school. Fortunately, he said nothing of Saved By The Bell. I don’t know if I could go on if I found out it wasn’t accurate (other than the school magically teleporting from Indiana to California, that is).

Work:

[W1] I’ve known some people who did this. My wife will likely start doing stints far away from home while we get situation. Not fun.

[W2] African-Americans are returning to work!

[W3] Maybe, but I wouldn’t risk it if I could avoid it.

[W4] This old school coloring book (from 1961) is pretty badass and ahead of its time.

[W5] Employers steal from workers.

Earth:

astroid mining photo

Image by tonynetone

[E1] I find optimistic articles about how Renewables Are Taking Over to be rather unconvincing at face value. More convincing is when I hear nuts-and-bolts explanations of how they’re dealing with the hurdles.

[E2] The science and archeology behind The Great Comet are really interesting.

[E3] Well, uhhh… could be worse? Might want to see about putting some cities on stilts, though…

[E4] Not helping, guys!

[E5] Al Globus argues that rather than colonizing Mars, we should put some tin cans within our existing magnetic field.

Space:

Image by Jemimus

[Sp1] Is space-mining right around the corner?

[Sp2] A look at Io.

[Sp3] So what’s up next for NASA? They’re working on it. (I sort of vote for poking around the moon.)

[Sp4] Wait. Secret military space shuttle?!

[Sp5] Testing for Mars! Testing for Mars!

[Sp6] Andrew Lilico is bullish on Mars, but Adam Ozimek is a killjoy. (Also, you never know why you don’t want to have all of your eggs in a single basket until you do. Just saying.)

[Sp7] Ethan Siegel comes very close to killjoying Planet Nine.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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425 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Here, There, Everywhere

    • I worry about isolated demands for rigor. For example, saying “this might backfire on minorities” is itself an unproven assertion. Sure, it might. However, it might not. Furthermore, “social stuff” is inherently hard, inasmuch as things will always be rather fuzzy. Thus demanding a precise definition of “microagression” will fail for the same reason that we cannot define “common sense” or “basic politeness.”

      For example, in the latter case I’m sure my grandma could have given you an earful on the obvious boundaries of “basic politeness,” but your grandma might totally disagree. That said, if you’re asking, “Hey, does basic politeness help social cohesion,” I think the answer is almost certainly yes, even if we don’t know its precise boundaries.

      Microagressions certainly exist. How much harm to they cause? Well, that’s going to be hard to measure. However, “no effect” is a weird null hypothesis.

      Myself, I certainly want cis people more aware of trans issues. Likewise, I want them to know that it is more than just those who call me a “faggot” or a “tranny.” There are other small things that are hurtful. Can I prove that? Well, how could prove that to you, other than saying, “Dammit this hurts”?

      #####

      Furthermore, there is always something weird in saying “this might backfire.” The question becomes, how will it backfire?

      The interesting thing is, the answer is often something like, “Well, white people will become even more shitty to minorities if we point out the ways they are currently shitty to minorities.”

      I’m serious. Dig into how this is often discussed. That really is often the underlying logic.

      (Example: “transgender rights drove people to elect Trump” is something that was actually said, with the underlying logic that transgender people should silently accept being second class because otherwise they’ll put us in the ovens. Which, they might put us in the ovens. Trumpism really is fascism, after all.)

      If this is true, it seems to imply that the majority is even more bigoted than we thought. That would be a pity.

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      • “That said, if you’re asking, “Hey, does basic politeness help social cohesion,” I think the answer is almost certainly yes, even if we don’t know its precise boundaries.”

        One might say, for example, that assuming any perceived slight was made knowingly and with the direct intent to cause maximum harm, and reacting with angry denunciation, is outside those boundaries.

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            • The problem with training people to perceive and react to “microaggressions” is that it’s exactly the same thing you’d do if you wanted to bring back dueling, where we teach everybody kill each other over perceived slights and insults.

              Italians used to have that kind of honor culture, and people were killed all the time over nothing. The Italian rapier masters even taught how to troll for insults just so their students would have an excuse to kill their enemies. Even after rapiers fell out of fashion, they kept killing each other in knife fights over nothing up through the 1800’s.

              Parts of England (the cavaliers) had strong elements of such an honor culture and it became established in the South. Murder was rampant, as were duels, whippings, and lynchings. In an honor culture, you not only have to respond with vengeance upon any sleight to your honor, you have to insult other people’s honor to show you aren’t a coward and will kill them where they stand.

              Thankfully, Southern whites largely grew out of that and adopted the dignity culture, where you ignore such insults because they are beneath you. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

              But now leftist idiots are pushing a victimhood culture, which like the old honor culture looks to aggressively punish people for perceived sleights, and even manufactures new insults out of whole cloth. But instead of defending one’s honor with physical courage, one whines to all the nearby adults and screams at them to go beat up or jail the perceived offender.

              The victimhood culture is inherently unstable and unsustainable. It won’t last long.

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                • Nah. All you have to do is refuse to play the victimhood game, most of which is concentrated at universities, and especially at elite universities.

                  Fratboy Jock: “Oh, I apologize for offending you, snowflake, but I can’t help it if I come from a long line of winners and you come from a long line of losers. That’s just the way good DNA and superior culture works, enhancing assets over generations, while bad DNA and inferior cultures does the opposite, leading to my high status and desirability, as opposed your low status and life prospects.

                  I’m sure you’ll go seek solace in the company of other losers, where you will talk about how badly you all suck at everything and how how unfair society is.

                  I am the embodiment of that unfairness in culture and genetics, and I revel in it. I’ve earned it as the inheritor of countless generations of not sucking balls. Perhaps if your parents drank less you’d have turned out better.”

                  Repeat as necessary.

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                  • I really see things differently. Seems to me that both sides are escalating, and believing themselves to be innocent victims. You don’t badger or embarrass people out of that. For example, I look at the way Northerners talk about Southerners, and Southerners get more resentful, and Northerners get more resentful, and it…seems familiar. You talk about the lonely person with the toxic personality? Picture 300 million people with toxic personalities split into two camps.

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                    • That’s why I’m suggesting an honor based response to the victimhood culture. One celebrates being a winner while the other celebrates being a loser. Thus there shouldn’t be a real conflict, kind of like the way our soldiers want to kill jihadists and the jihadists want to be martyred. It’s win-win.

                      More seriously though, the victimhood proponents aren’t having as much penetration in Southern universities, and I suspect some of the reason is that those still retain a lot of the older honor culture, where people wouldn’t brag about being victims and certainly wouldn’t go whining to parents about it.

                      The more prevalent dignity culture, which would have been heavily dominant in northern and elite universities, seems to be the one that had few defenses to the intrusion and establishment of the victimhood culture.

                      Ironically, the people at the elite universities are the last people on the planet who could claim victimhood over anything, which might actually be some kind of root cause. Perhaps they were subjected to a lot more status-oriented guilt growing up.

                      In sum, to combat the victimhood culture, brag, gloat, and don’t apologize for being awesome, successful, and dominant – like Trump. SJW’s will still whine about being victims, but perhaps mockery, derision, and insults will set them straight.

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                      • Huh? Trump, honorable? He’s as big a whiner as our last president. His schtick is identical to the SJW’s. Nothing’s your fault, nothing’s his fault, it’s always someone else out there who’s disrespecting you. It’s maybe a little less obvious because Trump has been attacked unfairly lately, but he cries and wets himself like a little baby any time he feels slighted. At least an infant can grow up to be honorable. Donald Trump represents exactly what I’m afraid of: both sides being equally petty.

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                        • Trump launched himself into the Presidency when, in the first debate, Megyn Kelly went after him with blood shooting out of her eyes and other places, and he just smacked her down.

                          All the other candidates live in fear of being called nasty names in the media. Trump revels in it. He eggs it on. He trolls them. He sets them up to attack him.

                          He’s like one of those movie monsters who gain power from the energy you throw at them.

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                    • Free speech is the innocent side not the SJWs using violence. If they can’t learn that, yes there may be violence and maybe there should be. This can’t be situation where you tell both sides to stop b/c both sides haven’t acted the same

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                      • That’s true for now. But that’s not how resentment works. It used to take a generation or two to go from aggrieved innocence to itching for a fight. In the information age it might be quicker.

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        • Or that it creates bigots.

          I’m certainly not assuming Veronica D accepts this view, but the claim that anyone who doesn’t use the genderless pronoun Xe is a bigot strikes me as creating bigots out of thin air. And insisting that a “Xe”-less speaker actually IS a bigot merely increases the likelihood of targeted resentment.

          In one sense, it’s easy to create bigots: just identify a behavior someone currently exhibits and define THAT as evidence of bigotry.

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          • I think we’re using similar words to refer to different things. I’m not talking how creating fake new categories of bigotry allows one to identify more people as bigots. I’m talking about how strident accusations of bigotry inflame people into genuine dislike of the groups making the accusations.

            Really, it seems like I’m talking about that a lot. We’re as a society locked into behaviour that reinforces both sides’ animosity while making both sides believe that they’re in the right. You couldn’t choreograph it better.

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            • They indeed do that, but I would also encourage more of it because that’s how we get more Trump. I like Trump, and hope we get more of him when the SJW’s manage to alienate ever larger swathes of society by denouncing them on social media as irredeemable xenophobic racist sexist cis-gendered bigots who should die in fire.

              In short, what happens to the college girl with a toxic personality who constantly lashes out at everyone around her? She becomes a party of one.

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            • I’m talking about how strident accusations of bigotry inflame people into genuine dislike of the groups making the accusations.

              I was talking about that as well, just focusing on one way the dynamic plays out (in particular as it applies to the post-moderny SJW folks).

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          • — But be honest, have you ever met anyone in meatspace who says that you are a bigot if you mess up someone’s “xe” pronouns? Because I’m an actual trans person who has literally dozens of trans friends who in fact take “weird pronouns,” and literally none of them will call you a bigot if you have problems remembering their pronouns. It doesn’t happen.

            I mean, I forget their pronouns constantly. Obviously. Pronouns are hard. Language doesn’t work that way. We do our best. However, when I inevitably screw up, my friends are pretty understanding.

            For example, one friend prefers “ze/zir,” but won’t get too upset if you call zir “they/them” or even “she/her.” Pronouns are hard. Ze gets that. We all do our best.

            Look, these are people with real gender dysphoria just trying to figure out how to make their lives work. Gender is weird. Decades ago, there was no vocabulary for this, so they suffered in silence, just feeling “off” all the time. Now they have a vocabulary, such as “genderqueer” or “non-binary” or whatever. So … if you had a friend with deep clinical depression, and you could help mitigating that by using slightly different words to talk to them, would you?

            That’s what people are asking for.

            #####

            We do encounter bigots, of course. There are people who just refuse to listen, who refuse to accept the existence of gender dysphoria, or that they might play a role in mitigating this stuff. Honestly, it would be good for English to develop a common set of gender-neutral pronouns. We already have singular-they. Perhaps “ze/zir” or “xe/xir” (or whatever) is better. I dunno. Language changes bottom up, not top down. It’s a slow process.

            That said, attitude reveals a lot. We can read people’s attitude. It’s usually pretty obvious when someone is just a shithead about trans stuff.

            #####

            Honestly this whole subthread kinda demonstrates my point. Microaggressions are real. Unconscious bias is real. Our System 1 versus System 2 minds do in fact lead us into racist/sexist/etc. behavior, even if our expressed values differ. This is obvious.

            On the other hand, sooner or later someone will call you a “racist.” It will happen. It might hurt your feelings…

            Does that “cause” someone to be a racist?

            Ha! Fuck that. If you find the occasional “SJW” on Twitter as justification to hate LGBT people or black people or whatever — look, that shit was in your heart to start with. You’re just happy for an excuse to let it out. “White fragility” is a real thing.

            Who’s the fucking snowflake here?

            If you talk to people long enough, it’s usually pretty easy to distinguish those who have a good attitude about racism/sexism/etc. and those who are just mean spirited little shits.

            Choose.

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            • Honestly I think the most exhausting bit are the very privileged folks who have to be very publicly and loudly offended for *you* for any and every imagined slight.

              If I am inadvertently rude to a transgender person and they call me on it, I am happy to learn and alter my behavior. If it comes from some other source… let’s just say my reaction will depend a lot on the delivery of their admonishment. Self righteousness and holier than thou attitudes burn through my goodwill in a big goddamn hurry.

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              • — Oh gawd, there is little worse than over-zealous “allies.” And honestly, they’re just as insufferable to us as they are to everyone else. They show up in our spaces and suck up all the oxygen, centering themselves, endless blather.

                To me this has more a psychological explanation, rather than a political one. There are always some people who are just psychologically needy. They need to be center of attention. In turn, some of them seem to glom onto to {insert minority group} as their special “mission.”

                I’m not your fucking mission!

                I can fight my own damn fight. Just, sometimes it helps to have support.

                But support adds. Needy people do not add. They are a damn energy suck.

                Gawd know we trans folks have a hard enough time figuring out our own shit, without having to negotiate the sad-snowflake feelings of some hypersensitive “ally.”

                Anyway, yeah.

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                • v,
                  When you let the needy people (who are often liars, because game theory on attention getting) take over the movement, your movement is going to have serious problems getting support from other people.

                  There’s multiple reasons Gay Rights worked and Trannie Rights isn’t working.

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      • I worry about isolated demands for rigor.

        Isolated? In academic research? Well, it is social psychology, so maybe.

        However, “no effect” is a weird null hypothesis.

        “No effect” is almost always the null hypothesis.

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      • The interesting thing is, the answer is often something like, “Well, white people will become even more shitty to minorities if we point out the ways they are currently shitty to minorities.”

        You understand that that isn’t the claim being made by this article, right? The proposed mechanism here is that teaching minority students to perceive ambiguous patterns of behavior as microaggressions is harmful to their psychological health directly, in ways that are not mediated by changes in others’ behavior.

        Do you remember, for example, that video that was going around of a black college RA assaulting a white student for having dreadlocks, on the grounds that it was cultural appropriation? Now, it’s entirely possible that she was by nature, a shitty person whose antisocial tendencies would have manifested themselves in other ways if she had never heard of cultural appropriation. But it’s also possible that being introduced to the concept of cultural appropriation, by teaching her to perceive others’ (admittedly regrettable) fashion choices as personal slights, filled her with anger and caused her to engage in antisocial behavior when she otherwise might not have.

        It’s hard to say, really, without conducting some kind of controlled experiment.

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      • v,
        Up to you whether you want to eat the poison pills. I’m just going to say that eating the poison pills is likely to make you vomit on people that would otherwise be on your side.

        … that’s why they’re on offer.

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  1. H1 and H2 are related. Beside apathy between Red and Blue America, one reason why housing hasn’t become a focus in the primaries is that even the people who recognize it as an issue really disagree on what to do about it. You have the build more crowd and the housing is a human right crowd that favors a lot of fancy legislation but little actual building. There are also NIMBYs.

    H4: The Jenga Building is near where I work.

    H6: In a dark dystopia, you will soon be able to order them on prime. Amazon Servant.

    Sc7: Hollywood doesn’t depict a lot of the actual studying and school work done by students who graduate either. Dealing with depressing realities or hard real life work is boring. Its better to show a bunch of young hot people having a rollicking good time or dealing with aspects of teenage years that don’t involve work. There hasn’t exactly been realistic depictions of college or graduate school in Hollywood movies either.

    W5: Its an amazingly common form of theft.

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    • [H1] The other problem about affordable housing is that people don’t actually want housing that’s built to be affordable in a particular market; they want the same housing that’s being built anywhere else, only cheaper.

      Also, “The very high per-unit construction costs of affordable housing only make the problem more vexing: the pressure to make any project that gets constructed as distinctive, amenity-rich and environmentally friendly as possible, means that the limited number of public dollars end up building fewer units.”

      As I’ve said elsewhere, maybe it was a bad idea to make every government action be a referendum on progressive politics.

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      • Don’t you understand? Conservatives only became racist because liberals called them racist so much!

        So out of self defense…or liberal mind control….I’m honestly not sure of the causative element there. But I know it’s true, because many conservatives have told me that.

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  2. H1 and H2 are related. Contra our Mr. Cain, djw at LGM believes that the American public is roughly divided between people who want to live in suburbs, cities, and rural areas. The problem is that all of our housing policy is really tilted to suburban dwelling for a variety of reason and suburban preferences. It is getting better but condo approval is still hard. Seattle still shoots down a lot of multi-family units.

    H4: I just don’t get the point of living that high up. If I had oddles to spend on housing, I’d go for a West Village Townhouse or a Brooklyn Brownstone type of thing.

    W1: I wouldn’t want to be stuck behind a paywall either.

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    • Seattle ins in a somewhat special situation because you have a lot of NIMBYs of various stripes and a bunch of Leftists who want to do something about housing but are deeply suspicious of the just build it argument. They prefer fancy legislative arrangements over the simpler solution.

      Townhouses and Brownstones are for people wealthy enough to afford them but not wealthy enough to be paranoid of everyone and everything.

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      • Seattle ins in a somewhat special situation because you have a lot of NIMBYs of various stripes and a bunch of Leftists who want to do something about housing but are deeply suspicious of the just build it argument.

        The problem, of course, is that more building is the only affordable housing policy that actually works. Any attempt to make housing more affordable for some people without increasing supply will necessarily make it less affordable for everyone else.

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        • Any attempt to make housing more affordable for some people without increasing supply will necessarily make it less affordable for everyone else.

          Well, technically, you could make it more affordable by reducing total demand. It’s hard to see how that makes any sense, unless we either convince people to live outside or kill a lot of them, but it is *technically* possible. ;)

          But, more seriously, NIMBYism is a huge problem.

          Right now, my fairly small city is going through a cheap housing crisis mostly brought on by the college continually expanding, which means college students are taking all the cheap housing.

          And the only person who is building any cheap housing is a complete asshole, in all sorts of ways I do not want to get into. And people seem to want to blame her for this situation, and complain constantly about the development that goes on.

          And I’m like: Look, you guys cannot complain about the *lack* of cheap housing at the same time you complain about people *building* cheap housing.

          And you also cannot complain how the sole person who seems to be building cheap housing keeps those prices pretty high…it’s basic supply and demand, and she functionally has a monopoly because *no one else is competing with her*. She owns basically every rowhouse and apartment complex in this town, not because she’s running around buying them, but because *she is the only person who has ever built any*.

          And people protest every one of them, because they don’t want ‘development’, and also because they hate her.

          Except, of course, the college is going to *keep* expanding, and there is literally nothing the town can legally do about that. Housing will get more and more scarce…which means she can jack prices higher and higher, and be more and more abusive to the renters.

          The townsfolk need to stop pointing fingers at her for ‘development’. (There’s plenty of other reasons to point fingers at her.), and start pointing fingers at *the other wealthy people who are literally just sitting on their land* and ask why *they* aren’t putting up any cheap housing.

          But the people in my town, like the people in most places, are teh dumb and run around NIMBYing.

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          • There are places were housing affordability problems are exerbated by housing stock being used as investment vehicles and shadow assets rather than housing for people who actually want to live there. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem in a lot of free markets, because that investment stimulates production of supply but the lag time of investment of capital and supply production in housing is pretty big so the market isn’t so elastic.

            So under these specific conditions, demand destruction by disincentivising holding housing units as assets and not using them to live in is probably a justifiable intervention.

            Basically, the demand for housing you get from foriegn millionaires who don’t live in the area isn’t demand you want in your housing market. You want housing to be used productively by putting people near where they need to be, not being used as the equivalent of gold bricks.

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            • …rather than housing for people who actually want to live there.

              Could you elaborate? I’ve heard about big time investors buying up lots of cheap houses in depressed markets to fix up and rent them, but it seems you have something else in mind.

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                • Some of this stuff reminds me of the theories that oil futures were being bought up by shadowy wealthy operators and driving up prices at the pump for all of us. It neglects that ultimately, oil can either stay in the ground or get pumped out of the ground and used by somebody who pays to use it. All of the middle men are ultimately just middle men–they generally can’t store lakes of oil somewhere.

                  The “foreign investors” thing smells very much the same. Housing has value because people want to live in it. If investors are buying up property, they’re mostly either selling it or renting it, so the bulk of the market is still being driven by people who actually use the housing. There are only so many investors who can afford to buy a property and let it sit unused for years, hoping to make a capital gain. Absent some pretty serious speculation, we’re still ultimately talking about how many people are willing to pay money to live in a home in a particular location.

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                  • That would be the general theory, but ignores the concept that there would be a major class of investors looking for assets beyond the reach of the Chinese Communist party. Not so much your traditional investment vehicle, more like having a stash of gold bars for when you have to make a run from the heat.

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                    • But ultimately, the way this external investor class can actually drive up prices is by buying those units and then sitting on them. Unless the units they’re buying are left unoccupied, the fundamentals are still being driven by what people are willing to pay to occupy them. Their motivations and country of origin aren’t really relevant.

                      I’m sure some small percentage are being held by ultra-wealthy people who want a sixth summer home, but absent some data, it seems like that’s unlikely to be a real driving factor.

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                        • I’m really interested in seeing numbers on this. I’m sure it’s happening, but the claimed size of the effect really strains credulity. It keeps sounding like the oil stories of investors buying up and storing oil. Yes, it’s possible and there may even be people doing it, but how big is it compared to the size of the market overall?

                          Anecdotally, Chinese investors have purchased a couple of homes in my (very expensive, by national standards) neighborhood, but they’ve gone up for rent immediately. That seems like the more rational behavior.

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            • There are places were housing affordability problems are exerbated by housing stock being used as investment vehicles and shadow assets rather than housing for people who actually want to live there. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem in a lot of free markets, because that investment stimulates production of supply but the lag time of investment of capital and supply production in housing is pretty big so the market isn’t so elastic.

              Oh, I agree that *is* happening. But it’s not what’s happening here.

              What is happening here is that there are some fairly old and wealthy families in town that ended up owning most of the land around here.

              *One* of them (Who actually married into one of the wealthy families, and got a lot of land that way, and then when her husband died she married an even wealthier person, although not one from here.) is an asshole…and *also* the only person who builds anything.

              Everyone else *just sits on their land for no reason*.

              I mean, I feel, in some sense, it’s commendable to say ‘I have enough money and don’t need more. I am happy with what I have.’. I often find myself wishing the person who *does* build stuff would do that, because she is, again, a professional asshole.

              But *there is a finite amount of land in town*. Sell your land, you idiots. You can still be content rich people after that. Or hire commercial builders to put up a building, hire a rental management company to run the place, and, hey, free money, and you *still* own the thing if property values spike later.

              We had, until recently, a huge *warehouse* on one side of the theatre I volunteer at, and an *empty lot* on the other side. They were both owned by the same person. The warehouse, let me clarify, was the *personal warehouse* of someone, he kept boats and stuff in it.

              This was about 400 feet from THE CENTER OF TOWN. On a main road in and out of town. Between the town and the college, in fact. To the point that it would have made sense to build a street level shop on one end, and college housing below back to the other end. (The town side is higher than the college side by two stories. We’re a very hilly town.)

              Nope! Personal warehouse! And empty lot!

              He died a few years ago, and gave the lots to his two kids. The son appears to be an intelligent human being, he got the warehouse, and immediately built a *store* there on the street side. Wow, building a commercial building in the *center of town* to *make money*. What a strange and novel idea! Granted, half the stupid warehouse is still there, sticking out the lower back. Not sure what’s going on there. Also it’s inexplicably half general store, half *decorative mug* shop, which is…a very odd choice for a business premise, even in a tourist town. But it seems to make money, or at least he’s content to *lose* money with it, so whatever.

              The daughter still hasn’t done anything with her lot. Please note this town is *completely desperate for parking* and she could probably make a ton of money just putting up a pay parking lot, or selling it to the city for a parking lot.

              But I’m sure that completely empty lot that the city had to require her to maintain because she let it grow wild is bringing her great satisfaction.

              We also had some rich guy turn half a block into a memorial park for his late son. I mean, sad and all, but…really? That’s what we’re doing with property here now? It’s not like that was a park the kid loved or something, it was entirely built after he died. And there is the *actual* town park, taking up an entire block, one block away, so…did we really need another park right there? You know, dude, you probably could have paid to put up a pavillion or something in the existing park and named it after him.

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    • Well, I would certainly phrase it differently.

      Given where we are today, and ignoring for the moment how we got here, unless you’re fabulously wealthy all housing represents a set of compromises: cost, job, schools, family [1], lifestyle choices, etc. For ~55% of people, the suburbs offer the best compromise. If the ‘burbs didn’t, that many people wouldn’t live there.

      Lots of policies — and more importantly, preferences — have got us here. Rail made massive economies of scale possible in manufacturing, so manufacturing moved out of the city (but not too far, if you have 5,000 workers you need enough nearby housing). All-weather personal transportation quickly became enormously popular. Ubiquitous telephone and cars did the same thing for much routine white-collar work that rail did for manufacturing (I would argue that the huge movement of federal staffing to the suburbs and exurbs during WWII and shortly after was much more important than the Interstate system for that change). All-white public schools were very popular (enough so to pass state-level laws to lock most large urban core cities up such that they could no long annex). A set of preferences that could be realized in the ‘burbs, but not the urban core or rural areas.

      I encourage people who think 33/33/33 is a better split than 22/55/23 to convince enough voters to change things. I wish them luck if their plans would convert US cities to look more like Hong Kong — I think they’ll need it. I urge them to think about large complex systems that often react in unexpected ways when you constrain them. As an example, consider “Denver’s light rail system”, as coastal publications tend to phrase it — but when you look at the details, it’s really Denver’s suburbs building a light-rail system that will strengthen the inner-ring suburbs more so than Denver.

      [1] At this point in my life, I would prefer a 1200 sq ft hard loft, windows on two sides, most of my errands (groceries, sundries, hardware, library) within walking distance, high-speed data, space for one car. My wife would prefer a sprawling ranch out at the boundary between suburb and exurb. So, until one or the other of us’s knees give up and we have to settle it, we’ll stay in the modest two-story inner-ring suburb that fit our lifestyle from years ago.

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  3. [H2] The issue in the Bay Area is that there isn’t really any room to put more houses. I’m house shopping right now. If I were willing to go over one of the nearby mountain ranges, the price would drop by half. But, I’m not, and neither are most other people. That’s what the price signal says.

    I’m not a fan that characterizes this as Blue snobbiness, I must say.

    As for lack of building, my (and Google’s) home town, Mountain View, is building apartments/condos at a prodigious rate. And yet, of course, we read national stories about Palo Alto and how they hate any development at all, and how a tiny lot with a shack on it is worth a million and a half. But that’s Palo Alto. It makes good copy, and people will click on it. Meanwhile, the issue in Mountain View is going to be getting all those people in all those new apartments to work at Google. There are two overpasses over 101, they are jammed morning and night, as is the primary offramp from CA 85 in the morning. I think most of these apartment dwellers are going to take their bikes, or their skateboards (or I’ve seen a unicycle rider), or a Google-sponsored shuttle to work.

    Sunnyvale is building lots of units, too. As is Santa Clara and San Jose, I expect. Maybe Redwood City, too. We don’t really have the legal structure to force the Palo Altos and Athertons of the world (Why haven’t I seen pieces about how terrible Atherton is? It is terrible. It’s a bunch of giant estates, and no road maintenance. Major anti-development. But no, we have to talk about PA.)

    We are rapidly urbanizing. Now there are reports that rents are weakening. The cited piece is a year old, and the situation has evolved. Though I’ve heard something about rent control in MV, too. I’m not a big fan.

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    • Haven’t been there for five years or so, but I’m pretty sure I saw a bunch of single-family houses and/or duplexes out in Outer Sunset. There may not be vacant lots all over the place, but there’s room to build up.

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    • San Jose has a number of apartment units going up in the south end of town (and they are quietly inching towards declaring the old rocket-factory land “clean” so they can build there too.)

      These apartments are renting for $3000 a month. I bought a house in 2007 and my mortgage isn’t that high.

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  4. [H2]: One of the other issues is location, of course. Just like Frisco and other places, I live in an area that’s geographically desirable-good schools for the families, close to major gov’t/civilian employers. Ergo, housing costs a boatload. A 20 minute drive northwest yields lower housing prices by at least 50-100K.

    [H4] If I was “forced” to live in a city like Manhattan, this is exactly what I would choose. Assuming there is a landing pad for a helicopter.

    [Sc2]: Just say it like this: White women are racists. (76% of all teachers are women) That should be news to all the public school teachers fighting for “diversity”.

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  5. [H5] I found this a little irritating in tone. I mean, isn’t this the same line of reasoning my cousin made when complaining about how the Feds had to move in to help New Orleans after Katrina? There can’t not be a city where New Orleans is. It’s just something we have to cope with.

    But then, I find I agree with the policy prescriptions in this piece. Mandatory flood insurance, both for municipalities and homeowners. And mandatory disclosures of flood risk on home sale. CA already has this. I didn’t realize that Canada didn’t. So yeah. Do that.

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    • The piece is too Canadian centric to be that applicable to the U.S., at least regarding rivine flooding. The U.S. government’s flood insurance program has been used to require flooded homes to be improved against flooding, or they’ve been bought-out to be torn down. Whole cities have been relocated. (There was an article on Miami flooding that mistakenly suggested that the U.S. just relocated its first community due to flooding; this was merely the first coastal relocation) The program is also used to force local governments to zone against floodplain development.

      It also sounds like the flood-plain mapping is not as good as it is in the U.S.; the FEMA flood maps have long been widely available for planning purposes and are online. There probably needs to be a distinction made though between natural flooding and the type of urban rainfall events that can overcome a city’s drainage system.

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      • There’s a whole lot more we can do to build homes to survive flooding, but such things are expensive, and there’s a lot of people in flood prone areas who are barely middle class.

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  6. Ruh-roh.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors this week to seek the maximum punishment for drug offenses, in one of the clearest breaks yet from the policies of the Justice Department under the Obama administration.

    Question: Does anyone really want this? The public, I mean.

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      • Between the unpopularity of the AHCA, Comeygate, and Sessions new drug enforcement policy the Democrats may win the House merely with a bite-and-hold strategy and not have to undergo any huge strategic revision of platform and so on. They do have to actually field candidates and campaign in red districts and actually play to win, tho. Which is something they’re not very good at. So it’s not like a done deal. Never underestimate the incompetence of the DNC.

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          • You can make a lot of political hay out of something people hate, and very successfully, while being super-vague about what you’ll do instead. Often that’s much better politics than the alternative.

            See, “Obamacare is bad!” vs. “Let’s replace Obamacare with the AHCA!”

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        • Ya know that bizarre feeling when you encounter a belief so distant and seemingly confused as to be almost incomprehensible? I feel like that about folks who think pot should be criminalized to the fullest extent of the law.

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          • I feel similarly. I’d like to think that there isn’t really a constituency for it among regular voters and it’s more inertia, law enforcement, and general gut preference for politicians who are ‘tough on crime’ but who really knows?

            Edit to add there are a lot of people who maybe don’t want their kids doing it but don’t really understand the way prohibition works. I guess that could be a big bloc of support.

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          • It’s not really that alien. When it quickly became clear that the Volstead Act was unenforceable and Prohibition needed some liberalization to include beer and light wines, the Drys refused to give an inch. To them Prohibition meant no alcohol and they were not going to bend. It’s the same with Drug Warriors.

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    • I’m not certain, but I’d venture to guess there is some segment of the population that wants this through some combination of A) thinking the effects of drugs Reefer-Madness style, B) seeing the use of drugs as a moral failing, and C) somehow remaining fairly isolated from the very real effects of drugs and drug prohibition.

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      • Sure. But it’s a losing proposition politically, seems to me. That’s why I find Sessions’ decision here so interesting. Since cracking down on the reefer is politically dicey at best and a disaster in legalized/decriminalized states at worst, he’s unilaterally decided to take the war on drugs to a new level without regard to the political costs. I mean, we already know what happens: it doesn’t curtail drug use, it increases incarceration rates for victimless crimes, and it doesn’t address the underlying social problems drug use creates. Couple it with reduced funding for opioid addiction programs and you’ve got the potential for a policy disaster, one easily attacked by Dems and moderate conservatives.

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        • Sessions is something people say they want in pol’s. He is a True Believer. That’s great when he is on your side but looks like a freakin maniac on the other side. He is simply sure that he is correct. He probably has Dirty Harry playing constantly on a loop in the back of his mind.

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                • Then you are both No Fun and incapable of pushing representatives around. Perhaps you should try the carrot, if you won’t use the stick?
                  $1000 is about the going rate for a “bribe” (sent to the reelection effort).

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                  • I think Kimmi has confused ‘blackmail’ with ‘extortion’, and pillsy hasn’t.

                    For some reason, that’s a very common mistake. Blackmail is a form of extortion, but all extortion is not blackmail.

                    pillsy, like most of us, want to be able to *extort(1)* our elected officials, by threatening to unelect them if they don’t do what we want.

                    1) This is not technically extortion, which requires illegal or unethical behavior as the threat. But whatever. It’s a metaphor.

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                    • David,
                      Realpolitik, kiddo. You got a whip, someone else has a bigger bullwhip. Who you THINK gonna get listened to?

                      (In actuality, if you can get enough people grumpy, pols will listen. But it takes BIG SHIT to piss enough people off).

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          • Sessions is something people say they want in pol’s.

            But how many people? That’s my question. I know there are lots of folks on the reactionary right who think more punition will solve our current cultural crises, but I think they are fewer than their outsized voice implies. Eg, Trump’s voters are not in favor of these sorts of policies. As are most Dems.

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          • Ahh. I shoulda been a little clearer in the above question. What I was interested in is whether Sessions’ policy change helps the GOP win more elections. Seems to me it won’t and that it’s another example of the GOP advocating policies which the base rejects. (Which is why we have Trump!)

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            • What strikes me as oddest is that the tide is, seriously, turning on this.

              29 states plus DC have legalized Medicinal.

              That not the magic number of 38, but we see a definite shift in public opinion.

              Perhaps legalized recreational is a pipe dream on a national level… but Schedule 3 isn’t.

              I don’t understand it.

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              • Jeff Sessions and other conservatives believe drugs are bad and people should be punished for using them and either think the support for pot is overrated or they don’t care.

                It’s not that complicated.

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                • I don’t think this is quite right. I think a Rubio Administration or something—an ordinary White House staffed by ordinary professionals—wouldn’t have their AG haring off after this stuff, even if their AG were a dyed-in-the-wool Drug Warrior.

                  Conservatives may will still have a negative reaction to drugs and want drug crackdowns, but that doesn’t mean there’s a big constituency for it. Even Lawn Order [1] conservatives seem to be much more focused on other kinds of infractions these days.

                  [1] There is an actual landscaping business called Lawn Order around here. They even have the “Produced by Dick Wolf” font on their signs!

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                • They also think that the law is the law, and giving people “leeway” allows them to decide that certain groups deserve special favors.

                  See below re: “zero tolerance”. Like, white teenagers get “he’s a good kid who’s learned his lesson”, black adults go to prison for ten years.

                  I’m sure the guys at Popehat can tell you all about prosecutorial discretion and how great it isn’t.

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                • Certain drugs, obtained in certain ways. Haven’t heard Sessions calling out MDs who overprescribe opioids with threats of jail time. Where do most Americans with an opioid problem get their drugs? Big pharma. How can you approach that problem? Statistics in the states that have legalized marijuana, after the distribution system is set up, suggest that legal weed helps. There’s a reason the drug company that holds the most patents on synthetic opioids spent big dollars in California opposing legalization.

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              • Session’s policy doesn’t have anything to do with pot legalization. It’s about how to charge people who have committed multiple crimes. (Charge the highest unless fairness dictates otherwise, in which case make a record and get the approval of the office supervisor)

                Whether this is politically popular or not, we’re mostly talking about nudging prosecutorial discretion (which is mostly independent of DC anyway) within a Congressional framework. It’s the laws . . .

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  7. So my side can sometimes be silly. A Republican Senator improvised on TV and suggested that Merrick Garland replace Comey as the head of the FBI. Most lefty media pointed out that this is a horrible idea because:

    1. Merrick Garland has a lifetime appointment as a DC Circuit Judge.

    2. The Head of the FBI can be fired at will.

    Yet Larry Summers and Amy Koblacher and maybe some other people tweeted that Garland would be a wonderful replacement pick. What’s going on here? Is there just a deep denial of the clown in the White House and deep partisanship/negative feelings.

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  8. [Sc4] I recall P.J. O’Rourke: “To be fair, the Tri-Delts and B-School grinders weren’t interested in that stuff any more than I was. They crammed and took their Econ final and then forgot everything in the book so that they could get a diploma and then get a job from someone else who’d crammed and took his Econ final and then forgot everything in the book.”

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  9. Sc7 – I believe it was either Beavis or Butthead who once said, “why don’t they make movies about what schools are really like, where the teachers don’t care and nobody learns anything?”.

    Saved By The Bell showed us that Elizabeth Berkley can’t act, and that turned out to be true in real life.

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  10. [Sc2] This is, by the way, the only other good reason for Zero Tolerance policies–because administrators do, in fact, treat black students differently from white ones. White students get “he’s a good kid really”, “do we want to wreck his future”, “I’m sure he’s learned a lesson”, “it was only this one time”. Black students aren’t allowed to graduate with the rest of their class.

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  11. [Sp4] I wouldn’t say this is new, it’s been flying since the mid-2000s (and was designed back in the 90s) but two years in orbit followed by autonomous reentry and landing is pretty cool.

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      • Not so much keeping it quiet than just not having a PR rep assigned to it. There were some pretty well publicized failures of similar tech some years ago, once burned and all that.

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        • Skimming over stuff, I think I read that amateur orbital hobbyists have tracked this thing, but that news never really made it out of the hobbyist forums. Which is weird in this day and age, when any random tidbit will get picked up first by conspiracy sites, then more mainstream pubs.

          (Like not even Russian propanda news picked this up, and it’s right in their wheelhouse. I mean, they call one of their pubs Sputnik!)

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  12. [H2] An interesting bit is the fact that Democrat-voting regions are also the most unequal.

    So maybe the reason that Democrats are so concerned about economic inequality is that they’re concentrated it around themselves, where as Republicans are less concerned because they’ve moved to regions with economic statuses similar to their own.

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  13. H6 – Sure, you *think* giving the homeless a home would reduce their homelessness, but they’d probably just spend that home on drugs and booze.

    W5 – Here’s a fun question: Why does wage theft require a *lawsuit* to correct? Whereas a worker stealing from the register is a *criminal* offense?

    Someone’s about to point out that wage theft is a consensual agreement. The worker *agrees* to work below min wage, he *agrees* to clock out andf keep working, etc. It’s an *illegal* one, but an agreement nevertheless.

    But this is a somewhat dubious distinction…so is prostitution, drug trade, etc, and yet *those* are criminal offenses.

    Moreover, some of those ‘wage thefts’ already seem to be *criminal* thefts, like ‘the boss pocketing tips’ story in the article. To quote the U.S. Department of Labor: Tips are the property of the employee. The employer is prohibited from using an employee’s tips for any reason other than as a credit against its minimum wage obligation to the employee (“tip credit”) or in furtherance of a valid tip pool.

    It’s not legal for companies to take tips from employees. This even applies to employees *who aren’t supposed to be tipped*. The company can say an employees cannot accept tips, and fire them if they do accept them, but they cannot make that employee hand over these ‘unallowed’ tips to them. The tips are, again, literally the property of the person who is tipped, barring a *very specific* exception in the law for tip pools that have to be run in a specific way under certain rules…and even with a tip pool the company cannot *keep* any of the tips, just give them out to other, different employees.

    And, no, this wasn’t a tip pool, which a) would only include staff customarily tipped, but b) more importantly, requires tips be distributed equally based on time, not one guy taking them. (I mean, I’m sure there’s some hypothetical situation where some jackass manager calls himself a ‘host’ or something and claims he is eligible for a share of the tip pool, despite not doing anything or even being on the floor. But that’s not the situation described here.)

    So why was this guy *sued* and had a judgement against him? Why wasn’t he *arrested for theft and thrown in jail*? I mean, he wasn’t stealing much at a time, but *in total* he stole a hell of a lot of money. We’ve had people arrested for stealing $20 a day for month from a register, why not a guy stealing $50 in tips a day from the employees?

    Oh, right. Because we *care* when employees steal from businesses, but not when businesses, or business owners, steal from employees.

    Likewise, that article, for some reason, completely avoids the ‘doctoring the books’ form of wage theft, where employers either change the hours worked, or just do the math wrong.

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      • 1) There is a difference btw/ a right to money and possession of money. If the person does not possess money, then it cannot have been stolen. Its the same reasoning with bounced checks. I pay for goods with a check that bounces, I didn’t steal the good, I simply still owe for it.

        2) States have passed laws criminalizing wage theft (and bouncing checks). In my state wage theft is a misdemeanor on the first offence, a felony on the second.

        3) When there are both civil and criminal avenues available, prosecutors may be reluctant to press charges when they feel the primary harm is to the individual, who has adequate civil remedies (particularly where there are attorney fees and penalties available to the victim).

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        • 3) When there are both civil and criminal avenues available, prosecutors may be reluctant to press charges when they feel the primary harm is to the individual, who has adequate civil remedies (particularly where there are attorney fees and penalties available to the victim).

          That cannot possibly make *less* sense as a justification.

          For one thing, almost all wage theft is done to *poor* people, who are *exceptionally* unable to pursue civil remedies.

          For another thing, pursuing this in court, almost by definition, requires people *leave their job*, or at least risk being fired, to start this suit, which is not a particular good choice even for non-poor people.

          For a third thing, the *individual returns* are usually very low. If someone working min wage is having their two legally-mandated 15 min paid breaks stolen and also being asked to work thirty minutes off the clock every night, for an average hour of stolen wages…that’s about $50 worth of wages a week, which means recovering a month of those wages would give them $200, or approximately *one hour* of a lawyer’s time.

          Recovering $200 a month is a lot to a min wage worker. It’s not particularly a lot to a lawyer.

          And saying ‘they can recover attorney fees’ doesn’t change anything, because a) that requires they win, and b) they probably don’t *know* that, and aren’t going to pay a lawyer to find out! Oh, and c) sometimes even if they win, as the article points out, they *still* won’t get any money from it because the place folds.

          Or, to put it another way…if this problem was so easy to solve with lawsuits, we *wouldn’t have more wage theft than all other theft combined*.

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          • For one thing, almost all wage theft is done to *poor* people, who are *exceptionally* unable to pursue civil remedies.

            It happened to me. Company with held money for benefits and 401k (and taxes), and didn’t deposit it. Some combination of being evil and incompetent. I didn’t pursue it because life is too short and I thought they wouldn’t have any money after the IRS took theirs.

            A group of others did and eventually got like 15%(ish) back on the dollar, so I left money on the table but whatever.

            They managed to destroy their business, several ended up in jail, they would have gotten thrown off the worksite if all of their employees hadn’t quit first (Fortune 500’s don’t like it when their Contracting Companies pull this kind of nonsense).

            Massively ugly shitshow but I’m not sure how, or even why, we increase the level of punishment on things which already ended so badly for the scum in charge.

            But that level of drama is both a problem and an opportunity. I coldly ignored the drama and used the situation to get a really large raise with a different contracting company.

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      • Wage theft is also treated like a civil suit because its seen as falling under the realm of contract and labor law rather than criminal law. The employer is breaking their contract with the employees by not paying them the agreed upon wage or salary. The employees do not have the money in possession as PD Shaw pointed out but merely aren’t given what they were promised, so the employer isn’t taking from them in the literal sense like if the employer broke into their car and ran off with it for some reason.

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        • Wage theft is also treated like a civil suit because its seen as falling under the realm of contract and labor law rather than criminal law.

          That’s just begging the question. *Prostitution* is clearly a contractual situation (Although verbal.), and is literally a form of labor, but *it* is a criminal offense.

          If you can make people consensually agreeing to money in exchange for sex labor illegal, you can make people consensually agreeing to *not enough money* in change for any labor illegal!

          Hell, if you can make *soliciting* prostitution illegal, you can make *asking* someone to take less than min wage illegal.

          The employees do not have the money in possession as PD Shaw pointed out but merely aren’t given what they were promised, so the employer isn’t taking from them in the literal sense like if the employer broke into their car and ran off with it for some reason.

          Erm, how is breaking into a car and taking the employee’s money from that any different than the boss walking up to the table and taking *the employee’s money* from that? Because that seems to be what the article is talking about with ‘pocketing the staff’s tips’.

          As I said, and the Federal courts have made crystal clear, if someone tips you money in return for a service, that money is, legally, 100%, now your money. Even if your boss says otherwise. (Although you may be required to turn it over to a properly operated tip pool.)

          Doesn’t matter if it’s still sitting out on the table and hasn’t been collected yet…people don’t have a right to just steal money on the grounds ‘It was just laying around’, especially when it’s clear who the actual owner is and they’ll be there shortly to get it. (I.e., it’s clearly not abandoned in any sense.)

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          • “If you can make people consensually agreeing to money in exchange for sex labor illegal, you can make people consensually agreeing to *not enough money* in change for any labor illegal!”

            Keep going with this, I’m looking forward to you getting all the way to Freeman On The Land.

            “As I said, and the Federal courts have made crystal clear, if someone tips you money in return for a service, that money is, legally, 100%, now your money.”

            What I assume is that customers were paying by credit card and adding an overpayment for “tip”, but the restaurant owner was keeping that money instead of disbursing it to the employee. So it was never actually the employee’s money; it was paid to the restaurant with the intent that it be passed on the employee.

            I am in no way saying this should happen, but this is how it could be the case that keeping tips could be a civil suit rather than a criminal issue.

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            • Keep going with this, I’m looking forward to you getting all the way to Freeman On The Land.

              I’m really going the wrong direction for that. They’re using it to show the government’s ability to outlaw private consensual action is near infinite and thus wrong, I’m saying the government’s ability to outlaw private consensual action is near infinite and thus…there’s no logical reason to apply it only to sex.

              So it was never actually the employee’s money; it was paid to the restaurant with the intent that it be passed on the employee.

              No. The courts and laws are very clear about that. That’s the employee’s money.

              It might be in the *possession* of the restaurant, it might even be in their back accounts…but it’s still literally the employee’s money.

              You’re thinking this is failure to pay them money *owed* to them. It’s not. *A tip is their money* from the second it is given. So this is failure to *give people something that is legally their property*, which is an entirely different thing.

              Moreover, just refusing to give the property over is bad enough, but then they use the property for themselves.

              This literally defined as ‘theft’. It is not the common theft by taking, it is called theft by *conversion*. Taking property that legally belongs to someone else, that you have possession of for some entirely legal reason, and instead of handing it back, or keeping it for them, you ‘convert’ it into your own property with the intent of never giving it back.

              That is a crime most commonly called embezzlement. Or sometime it’s still under theft.

              If an employee happens to be in possession of money that an employer legally owns (For example, if they are a cashier that has just been handed it in exchange for goods), and instead of turning it over to the employer(1), they keep it for themselves, that’s theft by conversion, aka, embezzlement.

              Likewise, if an *employer* happens to be in possession of money that the *employee* legally owns (For example, if they run a credit card system that an employee’s tip has been run through), and instead of turning it over to the employee, they keep it for themselves, that is *also* theft by conversion, aka, embezzlement.

              One of those behaviors gets investigated by the police and people are prosecuted for embezzlement. The other is completely ignored by the police.

              1) If they ‘turn it over’ by putting it in the till, and then take it back out later, that can be interpreted as normal ‘theft’ from the till, but if they pocket the money when first handed it and it never makes it to the ‘possession’ of the store, it’s technically embezzlement instead. (And really both are embezzlement, because the premise of embezzlement is the thieve has permission to possess the money, just not to turn it into their own money…and cashiers have permission to physically take money from the till as part of their job duties.)

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  14. As for microagressions…I think a rather serious mistake was made, at the start, in *naming* it that.

    And then, as the article points out, there were entire houses built in clouds about them, all sorts of claims that, frankly, could not be true or basically everyone in existence would be a mess.

    There *are* things, accidental things, that certain people have to put up with *all the time*, and it is, indeed, nice for people to learn ‘Hey, maybe stop assuming all people of Asian ethnicity are from another country and being being surprised when they were born in America. That is *really damn annoying*, and racist. We know you’re not *meaning* it to be racist, you have no malicious intent…but *really is* racist, so stop.’

    Likewise, not every disabled person want to give long explanations of their disability, and they certainly don’t want to have to *justify* how disabled they are because you think they’re not disabled enough to park in that handicapped space.

    Would you ask anyone else about the state of their junk? No? Then why are you asking trans people?

    I mean, these things are real, they are actual hassles minorities have to put up with, and people need to learn not to do that. Stop assuming things based on race or ethnicity or disability or whatever. Not just negative things…just stop assuming shit about people, period, because that person is spending *days* of time every year having to deal with people like you. Even positive assumptions! Even innocent questions.

    We are a pluralistic nation, so perhaps the go-to conversational topic *shouldn’t* instantly be ‘How this person seems slightly different than a straight cis white person’ 50% of the time. I suspect they’ve, uh, gotten tired of talking about that. Stop trying to make everything about them be whatever ‘difference’ they have. (And have you ever noticed you *don’t* seem to do that to white people: *walks up to blonde person* So, you from Sweden?)

    So the idea of ‘microagressions’ is reasonable. It’s just prejudice, and it’s not even the ‘malicious’ sort of prejudice…it’s just a constant low-level annoyance with well-meaning idiots.

    And the word ‘prejudice’ could have been used, or, even better, a word with *less* negative connotations than it. Like, oh ‘presumptions’. ‘Stop being so ‘presumptive’ about people. People who are slightly different have to face and correct all sorts of presumptions from random people, near-constantly…don’t be one of those people. Just let them be. Even if it’s interesting to you, *it’s almost certainly not interesting to them*.’ That works.

    But instead the name went in the exact *opposite* direction, making it, frankly, sound worse than outright discrimination. It’s not just discrimination, it’s an *aggression*. (Please note the definition of aggression *requires* hostility or violence, aka, some sort of malice, whereas the entire concept here is *non*-malicious acts. The name is a deliberate lie!)

    Moreover, it seems to encompass anything from completely innocent things, to deliberate offensive things….which already *had* a perfectly good term of ‘bigotry’. I can’t imagine how this regroup is helping.

    And then, on top of that, it turned into a giant incestuous nonsense in academia, with all sorts of supposed ‘work’ and ‘theories’ done on it before anyone outside really understood it at all. Yeah, that was really stupid.

    But I won’t say ‘this might backfire on minorities’, because that’s utter bullshit in two ways:

    1) minorities are always asked to be polite until they get their rights, and then nothing happens. I won’t ask anyone to delay anything.

    But, while not saying ‘minorities should wait to fix it’, I will instead say ‘while everyone is being taught about this, and behavior corrected, perhaps nonsense shouldn’t be made up about it by academics’.

    This is basically a *politeness tweak*. People are basically being unwittingly rude. They will probably stop if they’re just taught that.

    People being *deliberately* rude to minorities are something else entirely, and are mostly disapproved of…which is why *also* calling that microagressions is not helping anything! (And if that deliberate rudeness *isn’t* disapproved of by people around them, it’s hard to see the concept of ‘microagressions’ making any ground at all with them, so not really sure of the point there.)

    2) that seems to assume that *minorities*, in some weird collective sense, are behind the idea of microagressions, which is, uh, racist. (Duh.) Minorities didn’t do this. This is some academics who turned this thing into gibberish and gave it the name and all sorts of things.

    *Minorities* just pointed out ‘Look, everyone seems to innocently do X to us, and we know there’s no harm intended, but we have to deal with it constantly. And we wish people knew that and would stop.’. That was an entirely reasonable thing to point out. It was even reasonable to pull all those Xs together and maybe try to correct them all at once in a generalized way.

    It was some tiny fraction of people, some who probably aren’t even minorities, who invented this entire framework around it, decided it was the worse thing ever, and ran off into lunacy with it.

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    • Solid comment. “This academic work about people being thoughtlessly rude and prejudiced is half-baked,” is a very different statement from, “There’s nothing wrong with being thoughtlessly rude and prejudiced.”

      Actually quantifying the badness of even the most self-evidently bad things isn’t so easy, but is often not so necessary.

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      • Actually quantifying the badness of even the most self-evidently bad things isn’t so easy, but is often not so necessary.

        Indeed.

        I’m sure it is reasonable, at some point, to try to figure out exactly how this sort of thing effects people.

        But, well, it’s just inadvertent rudeness. The thing that people *actually* need to be taught is that certain, seemingly friendly things, are annoying as hell to the people who have to put up with them all the time.

        We don’t run around assuming the black guy wants to eat fried chicken, because we understand, while perhaps not being a *negative* stereotype, it’s still somewhat stupid and racist.

        Likewise, if someone said ‘You know, maybe don’t assume the ‘foreign looking guy’ is from another country. Don’t instantly make their origins the topic of conversation.’, we could easily learn to deal with that too!

        In fact, I managed to hear *that* at some point, in high school, twenty years ago, way before this ‘microaggression’ concept happened. And it doesn’t hurt, in college, to make those sort of assumptions about people the topic of discussion at some point, and ask white people how *they* would feel if half the people they ran into assumed incorrect things about them based on how they looked, and they constantly had to explain the same things over and over.

        Some sort of roleplay, perhaps, where minority students just keep making assumptions (non-offensive, but still assumptions) about white students. ‘Are you from England? You barely have an accent.’ and ‘Do you speak German?’, and ‘Do you like that weird Norwegian rotted fish food?’ and ‘Are you circumcised?’

        But we don’t need to pretend it’s the most horrible thing ever, especially when there is plenty of actual *malicious* racism going on.

        And it turned, weirdly, into *specific instances of things to attack people over*, despite literally the entire premise being ‘a large mass of people are being slightly, inadvertently rude, and don’t realize it, and it wears the people down who have to deal with it’.

        The entire point is that it is a collective problem that slowly causes cumulative harm to people who have to deal with it constantly, so…yell at the first random guy you can see doing it? Huh?

        This is akin to screaming at some guy driving a car for causing pollution. I’m…pretty sure it’s not him specifically, people. I don’t think he’s causing pollution in any measurable sense, and if we want to reduce pollution, we have to change *the system*, either by reducing average pollution of cars, or creating alternatives. Not demand that guy right there stop driving.

        Now that guy over there whose operates a junkyard and disposes of tires in an ongoing tire fire, aka, the deliberately malicious racists, yeah, call *them* out, that’s entirely reasonable.

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    • Minorities have talked about things they have to put up with, such as being followed around a store, but the people who took and ran with the “microaggressions” concept were lily white, pampered one percenters in academia, the same people who feel the need to be offended on the behalf of people they would never hang out with. Yet we are never told that it’s a microaggression to assume the guy with the Ducks Unlimited sticker is a hunter, or that a guy wearing an Alabama hat is a hick, or that a guy in a MAGA hat is a racist bigot.

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      • These complaints would be a lot more credible if they ever stopped before the, “And how dare you think Trump supporters are bigots!” part.

        But nope, it’s never enough to combat class prejudice or prejudice based on accent or regional origin which are totally real and bad things and could probably be profitably understood as “microaggressions” [1]. By the end of the paragraph, it’s always revealed as a scam to provide political cover for the most vile American political movement in decades.

        [1] Well, if anything can be profitably understood as “microaggressions”, which is unclear.

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        • And there you go. Have the country is irredeemable xenophobic racist sexist bigots, including more than half of white women, apparently because they don’t live in big cities that give out free needles or something.

          It couldn’t have anything to do with the Democrats running the most power mad, vile, corrupt person in human history.

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          • Have the country is irredeemable xenophobic racist sexist bigots, including more than half of white women, apparently because they don’t live in big cities that give out free needles or something.

            Half the country doesn’t wear MAGA hats, dude, and more people who voted for Trump live in New York City than the whole state of Montana. You—like the smug misery tourists who write profiles of down-on-their-luck Trump voters from Middle America—decide that you’re going to conflate enthusiastic bigoted support for an enthusiastic bigot with being rural, being working class, or even drinking mass market beer or some such nonsense.

            So bang-up job promoting the stereotype you claim you’re trying to fight.

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            • Half the country doesn’t wear MAGA hats because they don’t want to make America great again. They want to ruin it. They want to cut off the energy sector. They want to fill it with Somalis, Syrians, Saudis, and Palestinians, who they hope will purge the Jews and homosexuals and put women back in their place – in the harem. They want all the union workers replaced by Guatemalans. They want all the movie studies run by Chinese communists. And of course they want the country run by the mega banks. They are the same people who let Goldman Sachs pick Obama’s entire cabinet. That would be the same Goldman Sachs that pays Hillary for secret speeches. That would be the same Hillary who put Omar Mateen’s Taliban-supporting father right behind her in the VIP section at her Orlando rally, because what’s wrong with slaughtering 50 people in a gay nightclub while swearing allegiance to ISIS? I mean, everybody does that, don’t they?

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    • — The left in general sucks at naming things. For example, can you imagine all the nonsense we could have avoided if we had named “rape culture” instead “sexual pursuit culture.” Same idea, better name.

      But anyway, most of the real-world conversation about “microaggressions” or “unconscious bias” are perfectly reasonable, if people would only listen.

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      • “Rape culture” does convey a greater sense of urgency when it comes to solving the problem than “sexual pursuit culture” though. “Rape culture” sounds like something that needs to be solved right now but “sexual pursuit culture” doesn’t sound bad or sounds like something that could be put off until next week.

        The same is true for “micro aggressions”, it suggests some thing that can be resolved and must be resolved. “Unconscious bias” seems like something trickier to tackle. It sounds like something that can only be done by self-examination by the holder of the unconscious bias. A microagression is something that can be tackled externally by aggressive truth-telling.

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      • Why does the left always have to make up words? There already are words like “chastity” and “hatred”. The left rejects the old concepts, then creates new theories and gropes for words to describe them.

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        • The answer is simple. I took a jurisprudence class in law school and one one the things I learned is that the language that you use is part of how you frame and win an argument. I won’t ever use the word assault rifle bc that is the liberal scare phrase they came up with to help win the argument. Don’t ever forget that words make a difference.

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          • Assualt rifle is a translation of the German word Sturmgewehr for the type of weapon they invented in WW2. Its a standard military phrase for a definable family of objects.

            You’re confusing it with assault weapon, which has no real meaning, yet is the name of a bill of legislation. So you’d be refusing to use a correct term because you’re mistaken about what is a real term and a related fake one.

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            • What i wrote should have been clearer. Yes assault rifle refers to a particular class of weapons, however, liberals have referred to weapons that don’t fit into the original definition of assault rifle as assault rifles to make their case for gun control. In the case of assault weapon it is an entirely made up term, meaning whatever they want it to. I try to avoid using either term.

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  15. E1: The need for on demand peak power is an interesting wrinkle for the energy storage question. How much do you store? How quickly can you bring that stored capacity to a grid? If you are storing power, what idle losses can you tolerate?

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    • Many engineers put the limits on renewable energy production at a nameplate capacity of below 20% of the gird, or about 5% or so of delivered power, though this depends on the mix of conventional sources powering the grid.

      It might make some sense to have a separate renewable grid that powers things that can handle intermittent service, such as crushing gravel, pumping water that’s not for immediate use, or running batch chemical processes where production capacity naturally outstrips demand.

      Basically, types of tasks where people are employed to load the inputs into the hopper or feeder or some machine, then a few days later they show up and empty the output bins.

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      • A big off-peak possibility for homes is water heaters. I think I’ve mentioned this before here.

        Water heaters are currently *absurdly* energy efficient, because they are very very well insulated, far past what people think…I took a shower once in a house where the power had been off for almost 24 hours (Obviously, with city-pumped water) and it was nice and warm, I barely turned the hot water up higher than normal, and it was not close to getting cold at the end. Call it maybe 80% of what it normally was…after sitting for a *day*.

        If we would make them slightly larger than we make them, large enough to provide enough hot water a house needs for an entire day, we could run them just once a day, whenever electricity was cheapest.

        Or, instead of bigger, we could make them smarter…right now, we refrain from making them super-hot because we don’t want to people (Especially children) to have the option of burning themselves with 200 degree near-boiling water. But the obvious solution there is to heat the water super-hot, but automatically mix in cold water on the output side until it reaches 130 degree or whatever the reasonably-safe-for-humans level is. (Along with an automatic cutoff if the cold water isn’t there.)

        If we’d make them bigger, or hotter, once a day water heating is entirely plausible. It’s really plausible *now* in houses with one person that, usually, just take one shower and maybe use a bit of warm water at the sinks.(1) And, of course, we can still have some sort of ‘if it drops below this temp, turn the water heater on regardless of the time’.

        1) Except, of course, that water heaters almost never have on-off switches, so if you do live alone, and try to only use your water heater at night, you have to flip the *breaker* off during the day. And that’s bad for the breaker. Breakers are not switches.

        Here’s the thing I’m not sure why we haven’t figured out yet: Some way to *inform* things inside a house when electricity is cheap.

        It is trivially easy to use power lines to transmit data. I do not understand why no one has invented a simple protocol to transmit, hell, a single value, from 1 to 10. Or 0-7 would be a more logical binary thing, so let’s go with that. Where it roughly translates into the cost of power…where 0 is the cheapest, and 7 is the most expensive.

        And then energy efficient appliance could have some sort of intelligence where they attempted to run when it was the cheapest. Like, the AC lets you get an entire two degree off at 6 before cutting on, five degrees off at 7 (Which is some sort of power emergency), but only half a degree off at 0. And you could also buy thing like those power timers they currently sell, but that work on the current power number instead.

        It’s not rocket science, it’s barely complicated at all. People would probably be okay with it even if, like at my house, power cost *isn’t* based on time of day…because I know that the less *peak* power I use, and the more that I voluntarily shift to elsewhere, the less *power plants* get built and operated (And the less already-built giant turbines have to be turned on.), keeping my bill down.

        I know they have super complicated smart meters and whatnot at some places, but for some reason it seems to *either* be that, or *no information at all*. Heaven forbid the power company just attach a $2 relay to their transformers that send a trivial standardized signal to everyone saying ‘we would prefer you use power now’ or ‘we would prefer you not use power now’ or any number in between, and we put cheap-ass chips in power supplies to read that.

        This would actually help in all sorts of circumstances. In an emergency situation of power grid problems, bam, flip the grid manually to 7, and suddenly everyone’s cloths dryer isn’t working. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be able to *override* that, but there should be some ‘We are currently in a power emergency, please refrain from doing power-wasting shit unless it’s necessary’ prompt. (Make the start button a dial instead. You can set it to 2, and it will come on in the middle of the night, or you can leave it at 5, so it comes on usually immediately, and if it’s a power emergency you can be an asshole and turn the dial to 7 so it *still* starts.)

        Likewise, to get back to your idea, , perhaps at 0 all the water pumping and gravel crushing come on line. It’s easier and saner than trying to operate another grid.

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        • Or just go tankless. I insisted we do that when we built our last house. It was more expensive upfront but the wife has all the hot water she wants for her bathes. Plus we aren’t heating water 24/7.

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          • Tankless is great for saving water. People waste a hell of a lot of water while waiting for it to heat up.

            But it’s the opposite of useful when trying to save electricity. (Assuming it’s electric, of course.) You have to run it the second you need the heat, you cannot shunt it to non-peak cycle at all.

            As I said, people assume that a lot of heat gets wasted heating those things 24/7…but the reality is, the modern ones are astonishingly well insulated. The water really just gets heated once, just like tankless.

            Of course, in some weird world where houses could cost infinite money, but water and power were limited, the least wasteful solution would be *both* a tankless heater and a tank. The water is instantly warm thanks to the tankless, but eventually the hot water from the tank makes its way over and the tankless heaters already have temp sensors in them…presumably they won’t heat *at all* if the water is already hot enough. And also you wouldn’t have to worry about running out of hot water and making sure the tank cuts on if it gets too cold…the tankless would cut back on and heat the water there.

            But that’s an absurdly expensive system.

            Although…you know, tankless heaters vary in cost based on the minimum incoming temp of the water. If your water might come in a 40 degrees, you need a higher capacity one than if it comes in at 60 degrees.

            I wonder if anyone’s in, say, North Dakota has ever grabbed some cheap, used low capacity tank water heater to heat water up to the lowest setting, say, 80 degrees (Which, if the water heater is *inside*, is functionally not going to lose any heat at all to the surrounding 70 degree air, even if it is an old, poorly insulated water heater. And, hell, if they did lose some heat, all they did was heat up the house, which they were doing anyway.), *before* handing the water over to their tankless heater, and thus were able to buy the lowest cost tankless heater, the sort normally sold to people in Florida, where their water enters their house at room temperature.

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            • My father did this with our house in Pennsylvania. The well water came into a cheap, uninsulated tank next to the wood furnace, then went to the water heater. So, the theory went, it got warmed to room temperature (or functionally higher, given the proximity to the furnace), before being heated for hot water.

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            • Seems to me tankless saves both. Why spend money on heating water all the time when i can make it on demand? Today even the electric tankless designs are supposed to be pretty good. Mine is gas and I would buy it again. Yes folks waste water while waiting for the hot water to get to the spigot but I saw a recirculator at at a box store which could help with that.

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        • California has some kind of smart meter, but I haven’t looked into it because I live in Kentucky where electricity is so cheap they just wire it right into your home.

          You could easily just make appliances that connect to the Internet to get electricity supply and price information, although that would mean your family could be held hostage by Hungarian hackers.

          My batch process idea would be having wind or solar powering local factories that produce energy-intensive products like glass, concrete, or aluminum. Almost all the cost on those is the energy to run the process, and if the intermittent energy is essentially “free” then it might make economic sense. Another application would be upgrading other energy sources, such as supplying external energy to more efficiently converting coal to liquids.

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          • You could easily just make appliances that connect to the Internet to get electricity supply and price information, although that would mean your family could be held hostage by Hungarian hackers.

            Well, yes, but that’s absurdly expensive to add to appliances, not to mention the Internet of Things is super stupid and dangerous at this point anyway.

            And if anyone was *actually* going to do that themselves, they’d just look it up themselves and put the appliances on timers.

            I am saying, if there was some sort of easily decodable standard that appliance manufactures could assume was often there (Say in more than half of houses.), and it could be read by some cheap chip 30 cent chip attached to power (As opposed to an actual computer that has to be put on wifi and is insecure.), it might actually be used.

            And once it starts being used, power companies can actually do it more intelligently. Like instead of leaving everyone at 5 during peak times, send a quarter of the houses a 4 for five minutes, staggering them around. See if you can get fridges and ACs to cut on at that point to spread themselves out more.

            It wouldn’t be *perfect*, at some temperature fridges and AC have to cut on regardless of the signal, but if you could get *most* of them following along, most of the time, you might lower the max power demand at any point. Because that max demand was just sheer random unluckiness in timing cycles where 60% *could* decide to operate at once, whereas now it might be only 40% or even 30%.

            Again, just as a sort of ‘hinting’ for things that need to run *often*, at all hours of the day, but it’s not particularly important *when* they run, and a few minutes isn’t going to make any different.

            (Really, at this point, a more complicated protocol is in order, not 5s and 4s, but whatever.)

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            • As a couple of people have mentioned, the technology to do all these things at the domestic home level already exists. Smart meters are even mandatory in several places.

              There’s however three reasons why no one seems to be pushing the idea:

              1. From the point of view of the distribution utility (the “wires on the poles” one), they would have to bear the cost of setting up all this technology (even if individual pieces of technology are cheap, we are talking a boatload of wires), but they don’t have the risk of the price spikes. That risk is borne by the generation companies and the retail power traders. So the utility would save nothing by doing all this investment. The local regulator would have to approve a tariff increase for the utility to cover it.

              2. The generation/trading companies are not interested because, even though there’re millions of domestic customers, individually they are (almost) all very small. The transaction costs associated with handling millions of individual customers that, at the end of the day, even in the aggregate, would not move the needle much, are too high. They’d rather focus on the 20% of customers that represent 80% of the demand.

              3. Because the generation market does not care much about the domestic loads one way or the other, the tariff structure doesn’t have incentives for domestic users to do peak shaving. Large industrial loads could (and in many places do) offer load shedding services. Their large, non essential loads can be shut off remotely, and they will receive a payment for all the energy not consumed. As renewables (in reality, only wind) add more uncertainty to the grid, it’s much more efficient and economic to pay large customers to shed their big loads than to pay 5,000 $/MWh to a peaker (*). But no one is offering to pay individual customers a quarter for them to reduce their A/C load.

              (*) As a separate matter, but sort of inside basebally (sic), I strongly disagree with the concept of energy only markets supported by the article. Plus, I’ve seen a couple of those fail and move to capacity/energy as separate products. The vast majority of those 5,000 $/MWh peakers are legacy plants. Very few investors will go through the cost (and permitting) of installing new fast to run/expensive to run power plants on the expectation of making $ 5,000 per MWh a couple of hours a year, and no revenue otherwise.

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              • But no one is offering to pay individual customers a quarter for them to reduce their A/C load.

                I have no idea how common the practice is nationally, but my local utility — still largely vertically integrated due to circumstances — will pay me $40/yr to let them install a switch on my A/C compressor that lets them turn it off for 15-20 minutes at a time. I’ve been tempted — we seldom use it, and the times when we do use it tend to be outside of the normal window when they are looking to shed load.

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                • See, it just blows my mind they’d willing to pay that much money, *and* physically install a switch, instead of utility companies getting together and coming up with some sort of signaling standard and get the large, load-heavy appliances to use it by default.

                  And, yes, I know homes are rarely metered for demand-based pricing, hell, most of them don’t even manage *time*-based pricing…but, honestly, 90% of home customers would probably go along with it *anyway* even if it didn’t save them any money, some in an attempt to keep the prices generally low, and probably just as many because they can’t be arsed to figure out how to override the defaults, or literally didn’t even know it was going on. (Who even pays attention to when their AC runs as long as it keeps things basically the correct temp?)

                  Sure, there will be 10% of people going ‘If they want me to use less power on their say so, they can *pay* me to do that, and until then, screw their suggestions!’ and tell all their stuff to ignore it, but whatever.

                  But, as J_A pointed out, the lack of integration in power makes this very tricky.

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                  • …the lack of integration in power makes this very tricky.

                    And this lack of integration is intentional federal policy. I find it amusing that some of the things I like best about my utility — demand management, priority dispatching for renewables — are things made possible largely because we’re so geographically isolated [1] that the state can ignore some of the federal policy.

                    On the good news side, last year the courts finished upholding FERC’s rule that allows utilities to bid demand reduction in the short-term power markets. Given the statutory language, I was pleasantly surprised.

                    [1] The major demand center closest to Front Range Colorado is Salt Lake City, 400 miles and three mountain ranges away.

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                  • On the “why pay that much money” thing, I can speculate about it. The decision — at least here — was made 25 years ago. Appliances were dumb — people like me predicting that “put a microprocessor in everything” would be a thing were relatively rare. The utility could install a thousand switches a week — in two years they could guarantee that they could shed significant load. Opt-in minimized legal risks. The PUC was willing to put cheap switches in the rate base.

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    • Lots of interesting questions, including that conventional generators are really interested in making sure that they are not selling power cheaply to someone who is using it to pump water uphill during off-peak hours, then running the water back downhill to generate power during peak periods. For market-based solutions, I’d suggest looking to see what PJM is doing — they are always tinkering with their model, adding markets in new categories. As a side note, some of the people who publish through Cato have concluded that the necessary number of markets needed — hour-ahead, day-ahead, spinning reserve, total capacity, transmission — results in higher costs than a well-regulated/run vertically integrated utility.

      To George’s suggestion on the percentages of renewables that can be incorporated, Xcel in Colorado is already delivering 20%, thinks 30% is easy, and occasionally hits 50% during certain hours. That said, their situation is unusual. Local wind resources are very good, enough so that if they buy 100% of the output from a wind farm, the farm owner can price the power at less than Xcel’s cost to generate in thermal plants. So they sign 20-year contracts to take 100% of power from the wind farms, and dispatch their own generation as needed. Most of the country doesn’t have the same rich wind resource and geographic isolation to make that feasible. Spain uses renewables at surprisingly high percentages by the same sort of thing in formal dispatch rules — everyone else holds back to the degree needed to use 100% of the available renewables, no matter what the contracts say.

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      • Wind plants are the only renewables that have a significant degree of short term uncertainty in their output. Solar plants are extremely predictable, and hydro plants have good seasonal predictability. Even wind is fairly predictable on a seasonal basis, and normally it picks up of dies down at such a rate that the dispatch can ramp up thermal generation reasonably well without needing to bring in the super fast peakers. Nicaragua operates fairly well (to my surprise) with 40% wind generation.

        Though hydro generation output is affected by drought events, these are not sudden episodes that require to turn on super fast generation. It’s true, though, that droughts can last very long and deplete the reservoirs, but that’s a different problem, that triggers a long-term and not a short-term price signal.

        Colombia has, in normal yeas, more than 80% hydro generation, but in Niño years the water availability drops substantially, low enough that blackouts were common. The solution was to install thermal plants under long-term (10 to 20 years) contracts for capacity only, paid in by a surcharge in the tariff of all customers (*). Some of these plants might not run for years, and then run baseload on a Niño event. This is an example of looking ahead and following the long-term, and not just the short-term price signals.

        (*) Brazil has a similar mechanism, paid also by a tariff surcharge, but not as well run as Colombia’s.

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  16. New term going around the twitters. “Baizuo“.

    I’ve seen this essay tweeted by some hardcore libertarians as well as some hardcore accelerationists.

    The essay itself is written from the perspective of “I can’t believe that they’re saying this! It must be part of government propaganda!” which strikes me as being a defense mechanism on the part of the writer, but I reckon that you’re going to be sick of this term by the end of the summer.

    To the point where “you can’t be racist against white people” might even be retconned out.

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  17. Suppose four things:

    1. Comey was fired to obstruct the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia.
    2. Trump will only nominate someone on the expectation of personal loyalty to Trump rather than to the constitution.
    3. Trump’s nominee will sail thru the Senate confirmation process without defections from GOP senators.
    4. No institutional check exists to prevent 3 from occurring.

    Question: Do 1-4 constitute a constitutional crisis? The prevailing answer appears to be that it does not, that a constitutional crisis would only result from 1-3 in fact occurring, rather than merely potentially occurring.

    It seems to me this is wrongheaded in that it relies on the mere possibility that 2 and 3 do not obtain. But all the evidence available at this time suggests that both 1 and 2 are true, and that 3 is very likely true. Further support of 3 is the near zero-percent likelihood that a truly independent, non-Trump-loyalist would accept a position from which he or she could be fired merely by maintaining an already existing investigation. So from my pov, the fact that 2 and 3 are likely to the point of certainty and given 4, I’m inclined to think we’re already there.

    Thoughts?

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          • If he’d just fired Comey, he’d be fine.

            But he fired Comey in order to interfere with an investigation into his own presidential campaign. He said as much in a TV interview!

            I have a feeling he did this because he’s an irascible toddler who wanted to make the mean man on TV go away, not because of consciousness of guilt [1], but I might be wrong, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t a defense anyway.

            [1] Is there any evidence that Trump has ever experienced guilt, or for that matter consciousness?

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        • An investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russian electioneering by definition will extend beyond the bare issue of collusion to include other motivations upon which collusion might have come about. So the scope isn’t restricted to merely the electioneering issue.

          Whether Trump is guilty-and-obstructing or innocent-and-obstructing is irrelevant wrt the legal consequences of obstruction as it is understood right now, given the evidence we have. Ie., the only way Trump’s personal innocence can be determined is if the investigation he’s trying to quash continues unimpeded. Same goes for those in his campaign or his appointees, etc.

          And that’s where the worry I expressed upthread comes in: Does the absence of a constitutional mechanism to prevent institutionalizing obstruction of an ongoing FBI investigation into actions of the person who appoints the Director overseeing that investigation constitutes a constitutional crisis? Seems to me it does.

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          • Stillwater: Does the absence of a constitutional mechanism to prevent institutionalizing obstruction of an ongoing FBI investigation into actions of the person who appoints the Director overseeing that investigation constitutes a constitutional crisis?

            The constitutional mechanism to prevent a President from obstructing an FBI investigation, shooting someone in the middle of 5th avenue, or rebroadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent is impeachment. Like Jaybird said, if the House or Senate won’t do their job, that’s not a Constitutional crisis, that’s a dereliction of duty, which must and can only be corrected at the ballot box.

            I grant you at repeated derelictions of duty, you do change the Constitution – whence the 17th amendment.

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            • Like Jaybird said, if the House or Senate won’t do their job, that’s not a Constitutional crisis,

              Not according to some legal scholars. Here’s Whittington from the linky above:

              “both Congress and the White House have a responsibility to follow the FBI director’s removal with reasonable steps to maintain the integrity of the Department of Justice and the federal judicial system. The crisis, if it comes, will not be because of Comey’s removal, but because of how the system responds to Comey’s removal.”

              His view is that Congress’ failure to check a Presidential abuse of power suffices, at least in this context, for a constitutional crisis.

              I think I agree with him. (Hence my asking for people’s views about the topic.)

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              • His view is that Congress’ failure to check a Presidential abuse of power suffices, at least in this context, for a constitutional crisis.

                Wait until the voters refuse to do their own duty and revote these same senators/congressmen back in.

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                • I disagree.

                  First, Rothman rejects the idea that the Comey firing constitutes a constitutional crisis. So does everyone else. The crisis arises, insofar as the term is appropriate, from Congress ceding power to the President to appoint an FBI director for the purpose of quashing an investigation which may be personally or politically damaging to the President.

                  Second, Rothman writes, as a matter of political pragmatics, that “We need to save the concept of constitutional crisis for situations where there’s a fundamental breakdown in the structure of government.” But even on his own definition of the term it correctly applies if the above situation obtains.

                  Third, the fact that these issues can be politicized isn’t a reason to not talk about them. In fact, in this situation, it strikes me as exactly the reason we need to talk about them.

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                  • I suspect you skimmed this quickly and defensively, rather than really trying to take it in, not only because you got the guy’s name entirely wrong but also because you completely failed to understand his argument. What he’s saying (right or wrong) is that a “constitutional crisis” isn’t when the political actors are applying the rules incorrectly (even to disastrous effect), it’s when the entire framework of authority breaks down in some way. A crisis is like Andrew Jackson saying “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.”, or (Feldman’s example) Lincoln suspending the writ of habeas corpus unilaterally.

                    To use a sports analogy: pro basketball has a rule about carrying over, and recently there’s been some debate about Isaiah Thomas being allowed to get away with carrying over with impunity. You might strongly believe that this is true, and you could further believe that if this sort of thing is left unchecked, it could ultimately ruin the game. However, even if you’re right, while this is a big problem, it’s still not a crisis in Feldman’s terms — the accepted authorities (the referees) are interpreting the rules and applying them, however incorrectly, and the players and coaches are obeying them (though not necessarily without complaint). What might be a crisis is if the Wizards decided on their own that he was carrying over and stopped playing in protest, or forcibly took the ball from him, or otherwise rejected the overall structure of authority. They can’t even keep on playing the game, correctly or incorrectly, if both teams don’t accept the authority of the refs.

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                    • I did read it quickly, I didn’t read it defensively. He explicitly says that the Comey firing doesn’t satisfy the conditions required for a constitutional crisis, but no one is arguing that it does. So I think his focus is misguided. Here’s the quotation:

                      The Comey firing just doesn’t fit. No one thinks that the Constitution would prohibit the firing. There’s no lack of clarity about what the constitutional principles say, because they recognize executive authority to fire the FBI director.

                      Again, no one seriously thinking about this issue holds that merely firing Comey constitutes a CC but rather that it’s entirely within the legitimate authority of the President to do so.

                      Here’s his definition of a constitutional crisis:

                      My definition has two elements. First, for a constitutional crisis to exist, a country must face “a situation in which its constitutional principles offer no clear, definitive answer to a pressing problem of governance.”

                      Second, powerful political actors “have to signal that they are ready to press one course of action to its limits. Meanwhile, other comparably powerful actors have to be prepared to push the other way.”

                      Seems to me a situation in which Congress accedes to Trump’s desire to appoint a loyalist who will obstruct an investigation into Trump and his campaign et al satisfies both conditions. No clear resolution to a problem of governance, and serious pushback from powerful political actors.

                      At the end he says: The notion of a constitutional crisis implies a conflict between Trump and other parts of the government in which Trump would have the option of seeking decisive action that he would unquestionably claim to be justified even if it was unconstitutional.

                      Personally, I think he’s still talking merely about the firing of Comey, but even if we extend the judgment to include the situation I described upthread, I don’t see how this claim follows from his earlier definition (or even whether I understand the implied distinction between “justified even if unconstitutional”). In any event, that’s precisely what’s at issue. Whether there are clearer cases seems irrelevant. The issue is whether the conditions on the ground satisfy the definition. As I said, the hypothetical scenario I outlined seems to satisfy them.

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                      • Thinking about that some more, I think I understand what he means by “justified”: that Trump would appeal to the legitimacy of his actions even if the constitutionality of those actions was not only in dispute, but they were clearly unconstitutional. So yes, I think that the situation I’m describing, at least insofar as Trump actually DID assert that his actions fall under the power of the President as head of the Executive branch, would satisfy the conditions Feldman outlines.

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                      • I should apologize for the accusation of “defensive” absent any obvious evidence. You’re still not grokking his point, but I can’t think of any other way to express it that seems any clearer than what’s already been said , so I’ll leave off here.

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                        • Yeah. I already decided to leave it with my last comment regardless of how devastatingly you tore it apart in response. :)
                          I not a constitutional law scholar, nor am I familiar enough with Feldman’s general views to pick up on subtleties I’m undoubtedly missing.

                          Personally, even tho I don’t understand what you take to be that writer’s main point, I fully understand that opinions on the topic differ. Hell, no one yet has agreed with me.

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        • But he wasn’t under investigation, so no obstruction of justice.

          The investigation is looking at whether Russia tried to interfere with the election. But that’s not an offense they can prosecute, either. What are they going to do, put Russia in jail?

          Russia and other countries try to interfere in every US election. We do the same to other countries. Obama was blatant about it, sending his campaign veterans to places like Israel to advise opposition candidates.

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            • Yes he does. You see, the FBI is always investigating things. Firing the head of the FBI therefore will always be “obstructing” a range of investigations. That would mean that no President could ever remove the head of the FBI or DoJ, for any reason, without being impeached for obstruction of justice.

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                • Maddow’s clip of Trump:

                  Regardless of recommendation (from Rosenstein), I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it (fire Comey), I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’

                  And then she paused for effect, and started babbling that he’d just admitted that he obstructed justice.

                  The fuller interview segment that Maddow wouldn’t let you see was this:

                  Regardless of recommendation (from Rosenstein), I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it.
                  And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won. And the reason they should’ve won it is the Electoral College is almost impossible for a Republican to win. It’s very hard because you start off at such a disadvantage. So, everybody was thinking they should’ve won the election. This was an excuse for having lost an election.”

                  And that is exactly it. There was no collusion. Jake Clapper said there was absolutely no evidence of any collusion. Collusion wouldn’t even make sense. Trump is Putin’s worst nightmare. He’s not only standing up to Russia, he’s fracking like a madman and undercutting their economy.

                  But Hillary lost, and she lashed out at the Russians like she was the reincarnation of McCarthy. The media and the Democrats followed along and went the full red scare. They told us Trump got a golden shower in a Russian hotel. That was a lie, one pushed by and probably paid for by Comey.

                  And they’ve been lying ever since. The press told us that Rosenstein threatened to resign if Trump cited his recommendation as the reason to fire Comey. That was a lie. The press told us that Comey had requested additional money to continue the Russian investigation three days before Trump fired him. That was a lie.

                  There’s no end to it.

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