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Weekend Reading 12/7/12

The credible hulk, smashing polls, and sharing transportation.
This post is 85 in the series: Weekend Reading

Anna:

I was delighted by this modern-day take on the classic children’s book, Goodnight Moon. Goodnight, alpha parents, everywhere! (Yes, admittedly, it speaks to me on so may levels.)

Also from the New Yorker, a sturdy argument for a carbon tax replacing the payroll tax by Hendrik Hertzberg.

Finally, a friendly reminder (from pollsters themselves) that public opinion polling can never be a perfect measure of attitudes, in part because respondents don’t always know what their attitudes actually are! In this case, a new poll from Public Policy Polling included a bit of a trick. They found that an impressive 39 percent of Americans have an opinion about the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan. But at the same time fully one quarter of Americans also took a stance on the Panetta-Burns plan—a phony, non-existent plan.

Eric:

Dan Savage’s excerpt from “You Were Never In Chicago,” a memoir by columnist Neil Steinberg, was so good that I want to read the whole book:

Many more night shifts were spent at public meetings—though to be honest, the participants at zoning board hearings offer a dimmer view of human nature than murderers and whores do…

You can’t hope to jam a stick in the ground without all its potential neighbors jostling each other to be the first to explain exactly how the stick will destroy the quality of their lives; how, while playing, their children will stumble against the stick and be abraded, giving rise to fatal infections, or how the stick will eventually start to lean, undermining property values. At such hearings, the distinction between city and suburbs is effectively nil. In the suburbs, every new structure more complex than a mailbox is portrayed as the emotional equivalent of a pit lined with spikes and covered with a grass mat. In the city it’s no better…

…the addition of even one more person to their neighborhood would, it pains them to report, mark the advent of a nightmarish dystopian world of overload, gridlock, and social breakdown.

Clark:

Hulk smash your argument.

Alan:

Sightline has been promoting pay-by-the-mile auto insurance since 1995, and finally, actual by-the-mile auto insurance is hitting the market in Cascadia. So far, it’s only in Oregon, but still, it’s great news! BikePortland and the NYT have the story. We last wrote on this theme here and here.

Car-sharing is expanding fast in the Northwest, as Car2Go gets ready to launch in Seattle. It’s already big in Portland and Vancouver, BC.

Meanwhile, other transportation innovations that we’ve long promoted, including freeing up taxi licensing and real-time ride-matching (aka, high-tech hitch-hiking), are under assault from the taxi and town car businesses and their captive regulators. We expected this might be coming, but it’s infuriating. And a hotel-industry-driving crackdown on for-profit couchsurfing is also mounting, as we guessed might happen. Outdated rules enforced by cartel-like politics are a big barrier to affordable, green solutions.

On a happier note, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is starting to act like a leader who has 51 votes to reform the filibuster, which fills my filibuster-busting heart with anticipation.

A Tory cabinet member in the United Kingdom issued his staff a scathing edict on use of the English language, which made me want to stand up and cheer.

Oh, and Spanish flashmobs are classier than Cascadia’s — or maybe that’s just my soft spot for Beethoven’s Ninth asserting itself.

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Comments

  1. english rose says:

    Why is it considered bad English to begin sentences with “However”?

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