Weekend Reading 3/7/14

24 hours of bus service, the financial innovation parasite, and more.
This post is 144 in the series: Weekend Reading

Alan

More of this please, Fortune 500: Apple CEO, visibly angry, tells science-denier stockholders to sell Apple stock if they don’t believe in climate change.

In 2009, former head of the Federal Reserve Paul Volker said, “I wish someone would give me one shred of neutral evidence that financial innovation has led to economic growth—one shred of evidence.” Here are some shreds of evidence to the contrary—some charts suggesting that the enormous growth of the financial sector has been parasitic, not productive.

Clark

Regardless of bladder size, all mammals pee for about 21 seconds at a time.

The all-time best visualization of bus service in King County.

Eric

Roger Valdez cuts through a cluttered debate with data showing conclusively that Seattle is adding far more housing than it’s demolishing. It’s true in every land use category, and it’s positively overwhelming in high- and mid-rise zones.

TransAlta, the lovely folks who run Washington’s sole coal-fired power plant, have apparently been taking a page from the old Enron playbook. The Calgary Herald reports that:

Top executives at TransAlta approved the strategy of shutting down power plants temporarily to drive up electricity prices for millions of dollars in profits—and company officials congratulated each other about how well it was working, according to documents filed with the provincial electricity regulator.

Way to keep it classy, guys.

I recommend taking a gander at Spencer Chumbley’s examination of the growing piles of petcoke emerging in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. A byproducts of refining tar sands oil, petcoke handling is a classic example of the way that the fossil fuel economy is pointed like a dagger at low-income communities and communities of color.

I was fortunate enough to see this in person, and  now it’s starting to make the rounds. I recommend watching Aji and Adonis Piper’s musical performance contra oil shipments at a recent Seattle City Council hearing.

On a recent Sunday evening, all I really wanted was to veg out with some explosions and action heroes. When I settled in with Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium though, I got so much more. It’s a terrific piece of dystopian science fiction that stands out as an allegory about immigration policy and the troubling relationship between rich and poor countries. (Plus, you know, explosions.) I highly recommend it.

Staring down the barrel of a colossal oil-by-rail terminal in their community, the editorial board at the Vancouver Columbian unleashed a righteously fire-breathing editorial at the oil industry. Among the better parts:

Meanwhile, the state House of Representatives has passed HB 2347 in an effort to cull basic information about the oil trains, but the bill has stalled in a Senate committee. This is unconscionable on the part of the Senate. If the state considers the safety of residents and the preservation of the environment to be paramount, then the Legislature must press oil companies for information despite the companies’ protests.

“This is a very competitive industry, and we want to keep that information that would be reported confidential,” said Frank Holmes of the Western States Petroleum Association. If the oil companies adhere to that stance, they should be told to take their trains elsewhere.

Amen.

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