Monday Required Reading

1A. These are the best (and most surprising) places to get a draft in a bike race. Important research to know before your next race.

1B. How to keep the bike boom from fizzling out. In Pete Buttigieg we trust.  

“The need for the bike boom to roll on beyond the pandemic is about more than the love of cycling. . . . You’ll literally breathe easier when you start replacing more car trips with bicycles. We’re talking less carbon emissions, less traffic congestion, and a healthier population — the essential ingredients that make people happier and less stressed out. In the World Happiness Report 2020, countries with high bicycle use tend to be among the happiest overall, like the Netherlands (ranked sixth; daily bike use: 43 percent), Denmark (ranked second; daily bike use: 30 percent), and Finland (ranked first; daily bike use: 28 percent).”

2. What to wear to Christmas parties this year.

3. Perhaps he has written more hit songs than anyone else.

4. New data shows residents fleeing California in near record numbers. Substantive reporting from the Sac Bee. Good to know some local papers are still alive and kicking.

5A. COVID-19 and the Failure of Swedish Exceptionalism

“Whereas American exceptionalism is about America’s unique place in the world, Swedish exceptionalism is about being immune to any disasters that may happen in the rest of the world.” 

5B. Younger People Get Vaccines First in Indonesia’s Unusual Rollout.

“There are no good choices, there is only the least-bad choice.”

 

 

 

Tuesday Required Reading

1. What if Some Kids Are Better Off at Home? Some will criticize this as an out-of-touch example of privilege, but that would be a mistake. Every educator should reflect on the “silent misery” of which Schroeder writes. More broadly, there’s a “less is more” outline for meaningful educational reform in her stories.

2. Watch Olympian Katie Ledecky swim with full glass of milk on her head. Hard to find a more dominant athlete in any sport. If I tried it there’d be broken glass on the bottom of the pool.

3. I’m Traveling, Even Though I’m Stuck at Home. What happens when Rick Steves is grounded?

“Travel teaches us that there’s more to life than increasing its speed.”

4. Money, Morality and What Religion Has to Do With It.*

“Some of the most interesting variations emerged when divinity and morality were juxtaposed with wealth. As the chart below illustrates, those living in advanced economies were less likely to link morality with divinity than those in emerging or developing economies. For instance, in Kenya — which had a gross domestic product per capita of $4,509 in 2019 — 95% said that belief in God was integral to being moral; in Sweden, where the GDP figure was $55,815, only 9% felt the same.”

I dig Kenya, but I’m siding with Sweden on this one.

5. Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny Explain QAnon. I cycled with Ben and Brandy Sunday evening. I dare anyone to listen to them and then argue the (dis)United States is not in decline. Are we even trying anymore?

6. Extra credit vid on epistemic trust. For the educators among us. And parents. And anyone that seeks to help others. I use “perspective taking” for “mentalizing”.

Thanks to DB and LG for #4 and #6.

Best And Worst Countries To Raise A Family

Top 35 according to a Los Angeles based travel website.

Two stories, one related to #5, and the other, #34. A year or so ago, one of my favorite PLU students from the early years reconnected with me via Zuck’s monopoly.* Her family had recently moved from London to Luxembourg. She posted this little Lux missive yesterday.

“Since the late 1300s they (Luxembourgers) have held a Fun Fair called Schuberfour down the road from us, in light of Covid it was cancelled. Instead they put up small carnival rides all over the city for the kids to enjoy for free. The bumper cars happen to be a 7 minute walk from our house. They also set up a drive in movie theatre where we were able to enjoy Back to the Future with the kids.”

Seven hundred year old fair, LOL. And walkable bumper cars is very tough to compete with.

Shifting gears to #34. Our church’s brand new pastor, who is in his early 30’s is leaving after one year. One of the primary reasons. . . his family can’t afford housing on his pastor’s salary. And Olympia is less expensive than Tacoma which is less expensive than Seattle. Reminds me of the personal finance retirement advice I often read when the topic is pre-medicare medical insurance, consider moving to another country.

* Teachers often have fav students. The statue of limitations of admitting SF was one of mine has long passed.

Tuesday Required Reading

1. Does Diversity Matter for Health? Experimental Evidence from Oakland. This 35-minute podcast blew me away for its clarity, specificity, and importance. It has broad implications for anyone trying to diversify the teaching profession, businesses, really any sector of life where people of color are underrepresented.

2. Fighting for racial justice in . . . Sweden.

“We have huge integration problems in Sweden.”

3A. Nevermind about my “New Car Math“. Farhad Manjoo has seen a future without cars, and it’s amazing.

3B. World’s first’ 3D-printed unibody electric bike.

4. The case for Elizabeth Warren. I will not “give it a rest”.

“Her campaign cared about targeted solutions but didn’t restrict them to the usual narrow areas. When I walk up to the voting booth, my priority is to support harm reduction for my community—through robust policy initiatives, not lip service. It isn’t just about bail reform; I want to know how candidates will be addressing the fact that Black people are less likely to own their home, or be forced to take out predatory loans, or attend segregated schools. Warren embodied these principles by offering nuanced remedies for those issues as well as environmental injustice and health disparities.”

Not For Sale

These are strange days. The Good Wife kicks off most with an early morning walk through the hood, visiting assorted animals, and then stopping at Jim’s at the end to pick wild flowers.

We never met Jim, who lived two houses away, he died before we moved in, but his story lives. He was generous to a fault, much more committed to caring for others than himself, which explains his dilapidated home that’s now owned by some bank. Like Jim, his yard keeps giving even in its natural state, especially in its natural state—apples, pears, and amazing flowers.

The GalPal should’ve been a florist because she is a natural at arranging flowers. And they bring her incredible joy. She just beams at them. I’ve tried talking her into setting up a table out front where she could sell her bouquets to passersby so that I could buy more raspberry chocolate gelato as the weather warms, but she has no interest in homegrown laissez faire capitalism.

Probably because she studied abroad in Sweden in college. Whatever the reason, do not look to her to jumpstart our moribund economy. But by all means, do look to her for natural beauty.

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New Year’s Assorted Links

1. Most memorable sports images of the decade.

2. Unconventional strategies for practicing Spanish.

3. The culture that is Sweden. Lunch lady slammed for food that is ‘too good’.

4. What will you do to stay weird?

5. How TV predicted politics in the 2010s.

“Shows like ‘Veep’ and ‘House of Cards’ offered a new, darker theory: The system can never work if everybody in politics is terrible and venal and self-serving—and the very nature of Washington makes people terrible and venal and self-serving.

‘Veep,’ a kind of inverse of ‘The West Wing’ that premiered in 2012, was a farce about ambitious politician Selina Meyer and her marginally competent, politically hungry staff. . . . And her disdain for the actual public is glaringly obvious. (“I’ve met some people, some real people, and I’ve got to tell you, a lot of them are f—ing idiots,” she says in the first season.) Where the staffers in ‘The West Wing’ were fast and loyal friends, Meyer’s staffers mock and undermine one another other without mercy. The closest thing Meyer has to a friend is the devoted body guy who brings her snacks on demand and whispers useful facts in her ear in public settings. In the series finale, she sets him up to take the fall for a political scandal—and watches FBI agents haul him away, out of the corner of her eye, as she delivers a nomination acceptance speech at the party convention.”

Youngest is still not over Selina’s sacking of “devoted body guy”.

6. California is booming. Why are so many Californians unhappy? There’s more to it than UCLA basketball bottoming out.

The Decline of the United States of America

One of a series.

I drive under the bridge that the Amtrak train tragically jumped the track on in Dupont, Washington over 300 times a year. A considerable part of the coverage was surprise at how fast the train was going. “Even faster than the freeway traffic.” Turns out it was maxing out at 80mph or 129kph. The train lacked the “smart” self-stopping brakes that are de rigueur on trains in other developed countries.

Here’s some perspective for the globally challenged.

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At 320-350 kilometers an hour, Seattle to Portland would take about 50 minutes. Once up and running again, our new, ten minute faster train, will still take over three hours. Plain and simple, we’re getting our ass kicked.