Favorites December 21st 2023
This is such a great policy, I did not realize 8 states have already done it, and California is one of them! Means-testing things is a mess, especially in the context of public school which is already free, and the program is actually relatively cheap, it increases uptake of free school lunches even among folks who were already eligable. And just to blow your mind, studies have actually shown that it's not inflationary.
The passport stat used to be cited as an example of how little Americans know of the rest of the world. Matt Darling asked "what's changed?". The answer as it turns out is that Americans got richer, and since the pandemic, they explicitly are making plans to travel abroad.
Honestly, the highlights from this post were enough, I couldn't get through the whole NYTimes article. But I will note that propublica found that Clarance Thomas threatened to quit SCOTUS because the compensation was too low, so Republican politicians arranged for Billionaires to shower him with gifts to keep him on the court. From a letter to Thomas: "As we agreed, it is worth a lot to Americans to have the constitution properly interpreted." The letter also misquotes Kant.
Amazing, they turned soccer into ping pong! Seems like it'd be more fun to watch than normal soccer. Just the good parts!
• A nice short article from Tim Lee about Waymo, based on new data which shows that they really are safer than human drivers. Relatedly, Waymo has begun attempting the hardest task for an AV Taxi: pickup/dropoff at airports. They're starting with late night only. (src)
Flotsam and Jetsam
– India has installed a ton of electricity and internet services in the last ten years. (src)
– Steve Hoskins has a great index of all the studies of the effects of zoning on the cost of housing. TL;DR: the effects are "large and clear" (src)
– Cat lifespans have doubled since 1980, from 7 years to 15, with some surviving to be 30. (src)
– Summary of new legislation to improve electricity transmission in the US. And an explainer article. (src)
– Genetic cause for extreme morning sickness discovered (src)
– I liked this article about how modern national wealth doesn't come from stealing from other countries. There was a time when this was true, but not for at least a century or two, and it's taking forever for leaders to realize this. (src)
– Netanyahu saying he's proud to have stopped the establishment of a Palestinian state is a real "I ordered the code red" moment. (src)
– Fun modification of Warhol for comedians: "comedy is getting away with it". If people are angry at you after you make a joke instead of laughing, you didn't get away with it. (src)
– It's not capitalism that breeds fascism, the most right-wing parts of europe are the former communist regions. (Look at voting patterns in Germany) (src)
– Situation is Sudan is continuing to look pretty tragic. (src)
– Putin is using paramilitary groups to try to undermine NATO in the Balkans. (A longish thread) (src)
– The Chevy dealership in Watsonville naively added ChatGPT as their website representative, and someone convinced it to sell them a car for a dollar, "no takesies backsies" (src)
– I had not previously known that Arabs raided Africa for slaves for over a thousand years, and managed to be more genocidal than the transatlantic slave trade. History is horiffic, and only began to get less so with industrialization. (src)
– Canada is moving towards $10-a-day childcare, pretty impressive. (src)
– Recent investigation indicates that Tesla drivers get in the most crashes, but follow-up analysis indicates they have fewer crashes per mile, which seems like a more reasonable measurement than crashes per driver. (src)