Linky Friday: Flood ‘n’ Games

Texas:

Photo by ROOKIE23

[Tx1] Houston will probably be rebuilt and, even if we were to price in the geographic liabilities, will pay no mind to the danger.

[Tx2] Henry Grabar says that zoning would not have prevented much of the disaster. {More}

[Tx3] Besides, argues Nicole Gelinas, Houston has already done quite a lot.

[Tx4] Erica Grieder explains why Harvey wasn’t politicized.

[Tx5] Here is everything a grocery store chain in Texas does to stay open as much as possible during a hurricane.

[Tx6] Austin is growing like hot-cakes but their school district’s enrollment keeps declining.

[Tx7] Houston Texan (my heavens what a terrible team name) DJ Reader doesn’t believe in dinosaurs, and his teammates are not letting him hear the end of it.

Games:

Photo by KeithJJ

[Ga1] I am, of course, very supportive of a development league for football… but not very optimistic.

[Ga2] Urban Meyer has had it with college football coaches blaming the players they were left with.

[Ga3] Tim Tebow’s rookie season was not spectacular.

[Ga4] Ed Cunningham is stepping away from being a football analyst as something of a conscientious objector.

[Ga5] Women’s basketball in Somalia! (Seriously: Interesting story.)

[Ga6] Nintendo flips the bird to the trades and blue collar work.

[Ga7] Men are better than women at Scrabble because they practice useless skills. Phoebe-Jane Boyd complains that she cultivates useless skills, too.

Transportation:

[Tr1] Haley Byrd gives the run down on rest stops. I am pretty flexible on private opportunities as long as we never start seeing “No Loitering” signs.

[Tr2] Though it tickles the right spots ideologically, I have difficulty with variable congestion pricing in large part because cost predictability matters. I’m not opposed to tolls being different at different times of day, however.

[Tr3] This might end badly.

[Tr4] Pontevedra, Spain, didn’t need to ban cars. They just needed to move cars down to the bottom of the pecking order. Is Paris next?

[Tr5] Apparently some Uber/Lyfe drivers have been renting their car?

[Tr6] The good news is that there’s a new electric car that can go 30 kilometers on one change. The bad news is that you may not want the would-be drivers going that far.

[Tr7] The Chinese can’t have nice things, either.

Science:

twins photo

Image by Marxchivist

[Sc1] This is not irrational. In many (most) walks of life, what others think really is more important than what’s true.

[Sc2] Twins are proof that God loves science and wants it to prosper.

[Sc3] Tweetstorm: John Holbein makes a pretty valid point about “obvious” social science research.

[Sc4] It’s like Indiana Jones except with math.

[Sc5] I cannot emphasize how much I believe this to be true. It’s often the case that nobody is more dangerous than the wounded.

[Sc6] If you want scientists to open their data, instead of money or publication give them… badges?

[Sc7] Personal responsibility and self-criticism in the sciences of psychology.

Housing:

flood damage house photo

Image by Pam_Andrade

[Ho1] We have a housing shortage because we want one.

[Ho2] Peter Moskowitz has a breathtakingly simple solution to the housing crisis.

[Ho3] According to a new study, concerns that low-income housing negatively impacts nearby home values. Which is a little confusing, because if a perception is widespread enough you’d expect the market reflect that even if it has no other basis.

[Ho4] The Adam Smith institute explains how expensive homes make everyone poorer. I do like it when articles correspond perfectly to the things I am very uptight about.

[Ho5] This map seems to mostly be an artifact of when housing was built. You don’t usually expect Mormonland and the BosWash to be on the same end of any spectrum.

[Ho6] What if the housing crisis had nothing to do with subprime lending and everything to do with greedy capitalism?

[Ho7] How houses are triaged after floods.


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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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68 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Flood ‘n’ Games

  1. Sc5: Based on personal experience, concurred. My long bachelordom does not seem to have helped my generosity any. You still have the problem that nobody owes anybody anything. Nobody has to be your friend or romantic partner. Its a vicious cycle. Loneliness makes people greedy but being greedy increases the duration of their loneliness.

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    • Yes, it is indeed, or at least seem like, a vicious cycle. I remember being told, “all you have to do is be more secure, more open, and have self-confidence,” but it’s the lack of a sense of security and lack of self-confidence that in large measure the problem. Not that it’s wrong, but it’s not “advice” in any useful sense. It’s one thing to know one needs self-confidence. It’s another to know how to go about attaining it.

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          • It was developed for borderline personality disorder, so it’s a pretty “big” system of interlocking skills. Basically it tries to reboot your personality, based on mindfulness and wisdom, with further skills to build “a life worth living.” So yeah. It was exactly what I needed.

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            • I may sometime write about my experiences (not with DBT, because I haven’t tried it), but with those things in my experiences that make me think DBT might be a good idea for me. However, I find myself worried that 1) I tend to be more thin-skinned on that issue than on most others and that 2) I’m not sure how much others would be interested in reading about it.

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  2. Sc5 [loneliness leads to selfishness]: I have mixed feelings about the message of that article, though not necessarily about the study, though, which I’m assuming roughly tells us what the article says it tells us.

    On the one hand, I see it. I spent my teens, my 20’s, and some of my 30s single, and through much of that time felt very lonely (and self-conscious, embarrassed, frustrated, etc.). It was only when I started having relationships–and especially the relationship with the person who is now my spouse–that I realized how selfish and self-centered I am/was/could be. There’s something about the everyday compromises of living with someone that challenges one’s selfishness. I’m not sure how well this tracks with what the underlying study was trying to discern or what that article was trying to draw from it, but at an intuitive level, it sounds right.

    On the other hand, I see how this type of finding (though, again, not the study itself or the article about it) can be used to portray lonely people as peculiarly selfish, maleficent, and otherwise to be shunned or set aside. It can be used as a way to blame the victim/wounded person.

    On the third hand, I come to this by thinking of “loneliness” as lacking a romantic partner or life partner. There are other ways not to be lonely. Re-reading the article, though, it’s not clear how that study defines “lonely.” At any rate, there are, I’m sure, other ways to challenge one’s loneliness and the allegedly correlative selfishness and self-centeredness.

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    • THIS. I don’t have a romantic partner but I see lots of people – and interact with lots of people – every single day: students, colleagues, friends, people from church. I’m hoping that staves off whatever incipient “selfishness” I may develop.

      This is kind of how our culture privileges romantic love over almost all others (love of one’s children perhaps being an exception) – it doesn’t “matter” that you love your parents or your siblings or your friends or try to love humanity (which, I find that last, very very hard some days). If you’re not bangin’ someone, you’re loveless and therefore worthless. Feh.

      Though I will say there have been a hell of a lot of evenings these past few months when I wish there was someone there for me to talk to, and someone whose well-being I could be concerned about instead of being concerned about the state of the world…

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      • This is kind of how our culture privileges romantic love over almost all others (love of one’s children perhaps being an exception) –

        I see that a lot.

        For example, if a guy is very close friends with another guy, or a woman with another women, I see people choose to believe it’s either not that close of a friendship, or it must be a gay relationship that the friends are just trying to keep under wraps. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “I see people choose to believe”….I do it, too.

        Though I will say there have been a hell of a lot of evenings these past few months when I wish there was someone there for me to talk to, and someone whose well-being I could be concerned about instead of being concerned about the state of the world…

        That’s a valid, human need, and I remember feeling it a lot during my single years and also remember people telling me how it wasn’t so great to be in a relationship and how I didn’t really need to feel like I had someone to talk to or to care about.

        I will say that one thing I’ve noticed, and which I would have thought very unlikely before, is that I’ve found it dangerously easy to take having that for granted. Sometimes it’s easy for me to lose sight of what I have, and it’s important to be reminded.

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    • Gabriel, great point on your third hand there. Living alone or being single does not have to equate to loneliness!

      Finding myself single in middle age, I had fears of becoming one of THOSE women, living alone with my too many cats, getting weird (not the fun kind of weird) and bitter. But I engaged in hobbies that got me out of the house (theater), got involved in community service, actively set up regular dinners out with friends. Don’t get me wrong, I sort of didn’t want to do any of it…I made myself do it.

      Didn’t worry about trying to have an intimate relationship, just platonic ones. Although the theater involvement did lead to meeting one of my partners and we’ve been together for six years now.

      We know from longitudinal studies that quantity and quality of social circles is in the ONLY constant predictor of longevity — and that’s social circles, not just being in a romantic relationship. (Not to mention, I can attest, just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you don’t feel alone.)

      That friend you’d like to see more of? Make it a point to meet them for dinner every month.

      Feel like you don’t have any friends local enough to do that? Try Meetup.com. It’s a great place to find ongoing activities without the pressure of it being all about people hooking up. Don’t get me wrong, also met another partner through one of the local hiking groups — but that’s not the point of them. Everything from outside activities to lectures to just a monthly pub gathering of like-minded people.

      Being lonely is awful.

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      • Thanks for the comment, Toad. I can say that one of my challenges is that I don’t have a wide social circle. Aside from my spouse, I have very few friends. Most of the friends I do have are either not very close, or are work friends, or are friends on the blogosphere. I have a vague feeling that this is something I should try to address. But on another level, I don’t really want to. Whether or not to try is something I need to make up my mind about.

        (My wife, however, is much better at socializing, and she enjoys hanging out with friends.)

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  3. Tx2: “zoning would not have prevented much” because zoning regulations are about segregating land uses into residential, commercial, or industrial districts. People talk about the problems of zoning when they wonder why a city cannot grow more dense — the zoning districts mandate single-family residences with minimum lot sizes or existing uses in general.

    What people seem to be talking about are building permits, government purchase of land for parks/green space/drainage ditches, or government construction and maintenance of adequate stormwater drainage. Not zoning issues.

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    • FWIW, while my city city stayed relatively dry (after Allison, we passed a large bond and improved an already good flood control system), I know of two sets of multi-residential properties that are being refused permits to rebuild.

      They’ve flooded too often, and the run-off is causing problems for other multi-residential areas. The city just doesn’t think it can be upgraded to fix this. I’m not sure what the long-term plan is (park? Run-off pond? I dunno) but people won’t be living there anymore, and whatever will be built there will be designed to help drain the surrounding areas — or at least be a negligible problem when flooded.

      It’s a real PITA for several hundred residents, though. :(

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      • Apparently FEMA has a residential buyback program where it will reimburse cities who buy flood prone properties and either improve the area for better flood survival, or just let it return to nature.

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        • Right after torrential flooding is probably the best time to do it. People are going to complain a lot less having the city effectively seize flooded, ruined properties over dry, pristine ones.

          I mean some people will complain. People always complain. The government can give out free food, and someone will complain that they deserve a better cookie than the one they got.

          So my city is pretty good, they’re working on the few flood-prone areas left. Houston, I dunno. They’re going to have to do something, but the sheer scale of it….

          On the bright side, Houston is pretty high up (80 feet) from sea level, it’s just the sheer flatness….

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          • One thing that gets overlooked, particularly at Marginal Revolution where some of Will’s links originate, is that the National Flood Insurance Program has carrots in the form of subsided flood insurance, but it has sticks that are intended to give incentives for local governments to enact proactive policies (none of which I think are called zoning). I can tell from Houston’s website that it has a program intended to meet these requirements. It may meet the challenges of normal flooding or it may be utterly deficient, but my terminology annoyance is that the “no zoning in Houston” pretty much closes the discussion.

            If your city is really proactive, it is possible that those multi-residential properties being refused permits to rebuild never received a dime of flood insurance money. They’ve simply used up their allowance of building repairs and lost their grandfathered status.

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          • Right after torrential flooding is probably the best time to do it. People are going to complain a lot less having the city effectively seize flooded, ruined properties over dry, pristine ones.

            One thought I had today was how, if things were just a bit different politically, now would be the perfect time to put in some choo choo trains. If you’re ever going to do it, now is the time for touching up the city’s design because the bulldozers will already be around most likely.

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  4. Sc4 – “Dating from 1,000 years before Pythagoras’s theorem, the Babylonian clay tablet is a trigonometric table more accurate than any today, say researchers”

    not really

    (I think this was already in a tech tues maybe?)

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    • If I recall correctly, the integral (and thus rational) Pythagorean triples are fully recursively computable, thus we can write a simple computer program to generate everything on that tablet and in fact exhaustively produce all such triples. In other words, the contents of this tablet are not a big deal to modern mathematics. That said, it’s certainly interesting in a historic context.

      Reading the article the first time, I didn’t realize it was that Wildberger, which yeah, that guy is a delightful kook.

      I’m actually pretty sympathetic to his views. In fact, I’m more or less a finitist [1]. It’s just, I try not to be weird about it.

      [1] Although I accept the law of the excluded middle when applied to semi-decidable computations. A Turing machine either halts or it does not halt, even if we can’t wait forever to be sure.

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      • That said, it’s certainly interesting in a historic context.

        From time to time one of my non-mathematician friends will read one of the periodic articles about the ancient Egyptians or Greeks inventing calculus in the sense of doing successively finer approximations to the area-under-a-curve or tangent-to-a-curve problems. I have learned to listen attentively and tell them, “Yes, fascinating.” Also learned that it’s a waste of my time and theirs for me to try to explain how those ancients didn’t get the important parts. Or that around 1850 we had to toss Newton/Leibniz and rebuild analysis from the ground up. (Granted, it has since been shown that Newton/Leibniz’s infinitesimals can be made rigorous, but that ain’t the way it’s generally taught.)

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          • Diversity is good. I’m a metric and topological space sort of guy*, so the standard analysis treatments work well for me.

            * A boss who dragged me to a series of meetings as a technical expert — if needed, and to sit outside for the most part, since I wasn’t “cleared” for much of the discussion — was once asked by a marketing type if I would be bored just sitting there waiting. “No,” said my boss, “He’ll entertain himself folding Hilbert spaces in his head.” The same boss was once irritated by a senior executive who was trying to micromanage a set of technology demos, and was on the phone demanding to know if we had really brought enough cables. “Will you relax?” said my boss. “We’ve got Mike Cain and pennies. We’ll make the f*cking cables if we have to.”

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            • — Heh.

              Funny story, years ago I was doing an installation at a precision machine shops down in Florida, whose customers included NASA. Anyway, I lost a tiny little screw I needed to install a drive. The guy I was working with said, “Well, give me one of the other screws. We’ll make a copy.”

              It was pretty cool.

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    • As a trig table, the shortcomings are pretty obvious once you skim through the usage. It still depends on linear (or something more complicated) interpolation, and there’s a limited set of angles. The approach might be useful for geometry, but there’s a lot of applied math where it’s critical that the trig functions are just that — continuous real-valued functions.

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  5. [Ga7]: When you generalize, you make an ass out of you and me. Or something like that. (Useless hobbies are my LIFE. I knit sweaters that take months even though I live in a climate so hot I can only wear a sweater maybe 8 weeks out of the year, I am learning Irish Gaelic which is a nearly-dead language, I read books like “Moby-Dick” for fun…. even my career is deemed pretty useless by many).

    [Tr1]: recently, one of the Indian nations in the area took over running the rest stops, because my broke-ass state couldn’t afford to any more. I haven’t stopped at one (most of the trips I make are very short) but from the outside, they look in better condition and like the new operators are doing a better job than the state did. (The tribe has casino money. They are apparently the only ones in the area who have any money. And I suppose they see the rest stop as a means to advertise, perhaps, as well as doing a bit of public service).

    [Sc6]: I’m not gonna trot out the tired old “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”/ “Blazing Saddles” line here but really? I am a grown-ass adult. I do science. I’m not going to be happy with a cheap pinback (or worse, an image file I can post on my faculty webpage) as “recognition” of my work. Stop trying to gamify things, people! Some of us don’t like it. I’m not going to take on more unpaid work (e.g., doing more peer review) just because someone offers me a stinkin’ badge…

    And yeah, “We’ll give you a badge in return for your data but you won’t get to count it as a publication” will NOT fly in the American university system, where it’s still “publish or perish.” You can’t pay your rent with badges.

    Instead, the whole publishing system in academia needs to be fixed: so the journals don’t charge enormous fees for viewing content, AND require their authors to sign over copyright, AND (as some of them still do) require “page charges” be paid to publish. It feels very much like a racket, and those of us at small, cash-strapped schools often face challenges in getting published/getting articles we need…

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    • I am a huge fan of useless hobbies. Come on! I am an expert in nineteenth century baseball! The difference is useless skills as a competitive activity. I lost interest in chess when I realized that being serious about it meant a lot of brute memorization. Competitive Scrabble is even worse. Within the respective communities, go for it! But we should keep in mind that being the top chess or Scrabble player simply means that you were better at this otherwise useless stuff than the guy you beat, and at the end of the day all this means is that you are the top player, until you aren’t anymore. Compare this with, say, knitting sweaters: At the end of the process, you have a sweater. Or hard-earned expertise in nineteenth century baseball: I can write about stuff that some small number of people find interesting, even if they don’t want to take the time to themselves acquire the expertise. Everybody should have a useless hobby, and chess and Scrabble are perfectly legitimate choices. But chess, and to a lesser extent Scrabble, lay claim to prestige far beyond what makes any sense.

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      • I was just kind of annoyed by the “Women are so much more practical than men” angle.

        Honestly, what’s more useless than doing laundry or cleaning house, which is traditionally been “women’s work.” It’s not FUN, it doesn’t stay done, and often, people don’t even notice it until it’s not done. (And I live alone, and yet it distresses me how my house will. not. stay. clean. so I have to keep re-doing it)

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        • When I worked in tech, I was always perplexed by the people who seemed to love doing the same job over and over. For example, running the same program to generate quarterly report X. I suppose there was a job security aspect to it, especially if they had written the program and no one else knew how to use it. Myself, I was much more interested in “Here’s a cool new way to look at that problem, here’s a program that tells us a variety of different useful information, and here’s the documentation so someone else can run it and I can go off and work on something else.”

          One of my complaints about my legislative staff job was that so much of what outsiders thought of as the important parts — setting actual numbers in the budget — was rote application of existing stuff. Opportunities to do new stuff in policy or methods were few and far between.

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    • Richard is right, useless hobbies are the best! I am getting into traditional woodworking, not because I think I can make “better” objects that way, simply because it is more interesting to me. Also, ridiculously long projects give one (at least this one) a nice sense of time and motion.

      The need to finish things NOW! is, to me, not conductive to truly learning something, as that requires the ability to age with something, to see it through the seasons so to speak. And I think you will find many lovers of Moby Dick here at OT, for it is truly a book one can spend a lifetime with.

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      • Here, Choctaw is coming back from the near-dead, which makes me happy to see. (Not part of my heritage, but it is for a lot of my friends).

        However, my campus (which teaches it) refers to it as a “foreign language,” which bothers me, as Choctaw was spoken (in whatever form it existed) on this continent before English was. (Really, I think departments need to refer to either “second languages” or “additional languages” in lists of course requirements. I know at my grad school some programming languages counted as a “second” language)

        (I am learning Gaelic because my three main heritages are Irish, German, and French. I already know French and am at least bordering on fluent in German, so…)

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        • Similarly there are at a least a half dozen US states where a lingua franca of Spanish predates English – but I’m fine with public universities in those states classifying language study as either ‘foreign’ or ‘English’. Now, if further demarcation was required, then yes, a more precise schema should be used.
          (I’ll say I’m not a big fan of the thing you mentioned on Twitter where some university used computer programing languages as a satisfactory way to meet a foreign language study requirement – *that* is a category error that defeats the purpose of the requirement)

          Eta – oops sorry I didn’t see you mentioned it here to. That probably Means Something.

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  6. Ho2: It’s like he’s never heard of Housing Projects.

    I agree vacant housing that is held as an investment is a problem, but the solution is to discourage vacancy, not go full Communist.

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    • That article had more suggestions to try to follow in the spectacularly successful trail blazed by Hugo Chavez than it did evidence that there are anywhere near enough rental properties held vacant to really solve the problem.

      Also, encouraging cities making aggressive use of eminent domain to allow new development isn’t exactly the sort of thing that has a great record of helping out the poor.

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    • The problem with hoarding as an explanation is that even if it is true the very fact that people are doing it implies something funny is going on with the housing market. For holding vacant housing to work as an investment, prices have to be rising so rapidly that it makes sense to hold the house without any kind of cash return. That implies prices are rising rapidly in a way that isn’t explained by cash yields, which implies some dysfunction in the housing market.

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      • I can imagine a number of different mechanisms and incentives at work, but I have little evidence to support any of them aside from housing stock can not keep pace with demand because it is just not physically possible to do so without replacing lots of low density stock with higher density.

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      • The problem with hoarding as an explanation is that even if it is true the very fact that people are doing it implies something funny is going on with the housing market.

        What a strange comment. Of course something funny is going on in the housing market. We literally had the entire US economy crash a decade ago because something funny was going on, and we haven’t even slightly bothered to try to fix things.

        For holding vacant housing to work as an investment, prices have to be rising so rapidly that it makes sense to hold the house without any kind of cash return.

        Erm, no, for two entirely different groups of reasons.

        First, all something being used as investment requires is that it has a comparable rate of return vs. risk as other investments. The housing market had a better rate of return and less risk than the stock market for quiet some time…until it suddenly didn’t.

        Second, investors are often complete morons, and thus arguing what ‘works’ as an investment is a pretty silly direction to come at things.

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  7. Tx5: How much pressure was put on low-wage employees to get to work so HEB could be open? There was a story about a woman who did laundry and ironing in a motel going through very dangerous conditions in Harvey, just so she could get to work.

    Tr5: I’ve known about this. The issue with Lyft and Uber is that they are useful but don’t seem sustainable. Right now, both companies are subsidizing wages and fares through VC. Costumers benefit for now. There is some evidence that driver wages are decreasing because Uber and Lyft are always looking for more and more drivers. Maybe it is because I live in SF but I see and hear Uber and Lyft advertise for drivers all the time. Lyft is promising 1125 a week to anyone who does 80 rides a week (wonder what the caveats are). Uber is calling being a driver “the ultimate side-hustle.” I loathe how side-hustling has just become a given in American life. People shouldn’t need to side hustle to earn a living.

    Ho1: This I sadly concur is true. Too much of middle-class savings is wrapped up in home equity. The solution is either to find a way to transfer this wealth/savings or just rip the band-aid off. The second option is impossible in a Democracy.

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    • The flip side of this – and I meant to mention it in the item itself – is that apart from the EPA thing (which i consider to be questionable) things down there really went about as well as can be possibly expected in terms of managing the disaster and far, far better than expected… and the president got no bump at all. That’s… really something. Even Ted Cruz or Hillary Clinton would have gotten something out of this, I think.That’s one of those little weird things we haven’t really noticed because of all of the gigantic weird things.

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  8. Tx1: Houston should take advantage of the rebuilding and become less car dependent as a city.

    Tx5: What Saul said. During a natural disaster of an epic scale, safety always comes first.

    Ga6: Consider that English is one of the few languages with non-phonetic spelling, knowing how to spell many words correctly is not a useless skill.

    Tr4: I think its a bit late for most places in the United States and maybe Canada and Australia to put cars at the bottom of the transportation pecking order. A lot of areas would need to be rebuilt to make walking, cycling, or transit efficient because they are designed around cars.

    Sc4: I think this has been debunked by Scientific America.

    Ho1: What a lot of YIMBY advocates forget is that land ownership is the oldest and most persistent form of human wealth. People are going to act in their self-interest and not destroy their property values. They aren’t going to buy arguments that people are going to be wealthier in general if homes are cheaper if they end up poorer.

    Ho5: 5.5 rooms seems like a small number for the United States. I’d figure that with McMansions, the number of rooms per house would be larger. What was interesting was that the number of rooms in the densest part of the United States is generally in excess of the average number of rooms per house. I’d also thought that houses in the North East would be older and have fewer rooms.

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  9. Tr3 – Heh. I just went out and got a credit card because I have, basically, no credit history. I’m renting off-the-books (By which I mean she’s not reporting to it to credit places, not that it’s illegal or anything.) from someone I know, I pay for my cars upfront (Much much cheaper if you can pull it off.), I paid off all my student debt a decade ago…my credit history is almost nothing. At any given point in time, I owe…insurance and utility bills, I guess. That’s about it.

    So I recently got a credit card and I plan on basically just funneling some large purchases through it, probably use it at Amazon.

    As I’ve said before millennials (And I consider myself one in spirit even if I seem to be a couple of years too old.) are some of the more fiscally responsible people in America, because they Do. Not. Borrow. (Thus apparently causing the breakdown of entire industries, because they don’t buy cars or houses.)

    This makes their ‘credit score’ almost pointless.

    Ho6 – Duh the housing crash wasn’t caused by subprime lending. Blaming it on home flippers is wrong, though, also. Fundamentally, the cause of it (As in, the thing it wouldn’t exist without) was the _banks_ deciding they needed millions of mortgages of whatever random quality they could find to trade around.

    If the banks didn’t create a demand for crappy mortgages, then crappy mortgages would not be issued. As the banks did create a demand for crappy mortgages, and thus banks and mortgage companies started issuing them, clearly _someone_ was going to be recipient of them.

    It’s as simple as that.

    The fact this wasn’t ’caused’ by subprime borrowers was the simple fact that crappy subprime loans were harder to package than crappy prime loans. And home flippers a) get a lot of mortgages, and b) were speculators so obviously a lot of them failed.

    But we really should stop looking at the _borrowers_ as if they caused it…it is, literally, illegally for banks to loan money to people they know can’t pay it back, exactly because people are bad at determining this sort of stuff.

    So perhaps we should correctly put the blame for the crash squarely where it belongs…on the banks.

    Ho3 – Housing is, and people forget this, an actual physical good that at least some people wish to own so they can live in them, and thus, no matter how woo-woo the idiotic ‘investors'(1) are, house can’t really fall below a certain value, because there is a certain point that non-investors will be ‘Well, that seems worth it for a roof over my head’.

    Dumbass investors can cause the prices to rise together, but it’s hard to make people care about trivial things (Thus affecting the price) that _actually do not matter_.

    The cost of housing near your house doesn’t matter in any sort of real world sense.

    1) And please note by ‘investors’ I mean like half the people who purchase a house, because a hell of a lot of home-purchasers have the idea that the value will go up and that fact controls how much they are willing to pay.

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  10. Re Tx 6 Austin like most major texas citys has a central city school district and ones that surround it. Partly this is because school districts boundries were set up to 110 years ago. Back then the Austin district covered what was the city of Austin and some surrounding areas. Austin has outgrown this and now spans a number of what were at one time rural districts. The same is true for the San Antonio ISD it is outlying districts on the north that have the growth while the central school district has falling environment. In Houston the growth again is in outlying districts while the Houston ISD becomes a haven for the poor (as most central city districts nation wide are) Dallas is the same also.

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