Weekend Reading 1/11/13

Macklemore agrees with us, Australians' evaporating gasoline, and more.
This post is 89 in the series: Weekend Reading

Eric:

In the wake of the fiscal cliff debate, Public Policy Polling released (apparently serious?) survey results that are, hands down, the funniest opinion research I’ve ever seen. To wit:

When asked if they have a higher opinion of either Congress or a series of unpleasant or disliked things, voters said they had a higher opinion of root canals (32 for Congress and 56 for the dental procedure), NFL replacement refs (29-56), head lice (19-67), the rock band Nickelback (32-39), colonoscopies (31-58), Washington DC political pundits (34- 37), carnies (31-39), traffic jams (34-56), cockroaches (43-45), Donald Trump (42-44), France (37-46), Genghis Khan (37-41), used-car salesmen (32-57), and Brussels sprouts (23-69) than Congress.

Congress did manage to beat out telemarketers (45-35), John Edwards (45-29), the Kardashians (49-36), lobbyists (48-30), North Korea (61-26), the ebola virus (53-25), Lindsay Lohan (45-41), Fidel Castro (54-32), playground bullies (43-38), meth labs (60- 21), communism (57-23), and gonorrhea (53-28).

More importantly, statistics guru Nate Silver predicts that the Seahawks will not only beat Atlanta at home this weekend, but that they’ll go on to win the NFC championship and meet the Patriots in the Super Bowl. You can’t argue with Silver. He’s a genius.

Finally, check out this video about Seattle’s new Bullitt Center. In it, Denis Hayes makes an important point: deep green building techniques are actually illegal in most places. The upshot, of course, is that we need to make sustainability legal.

Alan:

Solar projects fill the online San Francisco Energy Map, where you can zoom in and find out what’s getting installed where.

Ah, parking. It’s a secret key to urban sustainability: so mundane, so taken-for-granted, and so critical. Here’s a little article about Parking Panda, a start-up company that’s helping people market their unused parking spaces. Creating functional markets for parking spaces is part of a plan for parking reform that Sightline will be describing as 2013 unfolds.

I have been studying RelayRides person-to-person car-sharing listings for Seattle. It’s amazing how many vehicles are already available all over the city. Dozens and dozens of them are offered for rent by the hour or the day by neighbors, and many of them are much cheaper than Zipcar or Car2Go. The closest is half a mile from my front door. This is growing so fast! It’s an amazing complement to Zipcar and Car2Go.

Anna:

If you haven’t seen it yet, Bill Moyer’s interview with Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, is a must see.

Matt Taibbi is on a tear, uncovering secrets of the bank bailouts that will make you want to scream.

I know by now you may be sick of hearing about my year of buying nothing new, but here I am on online radio talking about it again. (Before me is the awesome octogenarian who spearheaded the municipal plastic bottle ban in Concord, MA, and after me is one of The Minimalists, the guys I wrote about recently.)

And, the irony here is beyond twisted: It’s so hot in Australia that gasoline is evaporating before people can pump it into their cars.

Clark:

Intercity bus travel is booming – with service increasing nationally by 7.5 percent in 2012 alone. Last year was no outlier: bus service has grown by at least 5.1 percent per year, every year since 2006; and it grew by nearly 10 percent in 2008 alone. There are all sorts of reasons for the trends. New cut-rate bus services between major cities (including Bolt Bus, which services Vancouver BC, Portland, Seattle, and Bellingham, WA) has made bus travel cheaper and faster; the internet has made it more convenient to find schedules and reserve seats; and on-road internet service on some routes has made bus trips a little more pleasant. But perhaps most of all, the high price of gas is encouraging people to look for alternatives to driving. And it makes sense that they’d turn to buses: based on research we did a few years back, intercity buses are one of the lowest-carbon ways to travel.

In case you missed this in Sightline Daily on Monday, Mother Jones has a fantastic article on the link between lead in gasoline and crime rates. It’s well known that lead trims kids’ IQs and affects their executive functioning—and that those effects can last a lifetime. And if current research is correct, the decline in childhood lead exposure in the 1970s played a huge role in the reductions in crime in the 1990s. Which puts all the blather about crime—the broken windows theory, the Freakonomics theories about legalized abortion and crime, the drive for longer prison sentences and larger prison populations—in a new and unflattering light.

Is the pace of technological innovation slowing down?  The Economist looks at the evidence.

Finally, Seattle’s rapper laureate Macklemore has some interests in common with Sightline: thrift shops (explicit language alert) and marriage equality.

 

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