What I'm Reading (Apr. 25)

Related articles

Why does the cost of housing reach such towering heights?
Do we measure our worth by the books we swiftly read
For generations past, law enforcement's been a tool; who wields the weapon now, and who plays the fool?
Amidst the flora's bloom and fauna's timeless dance, climate shifts course.

My children both want homes, but they, like many of their generation, find that this American dream is beyond their reach. Why is housing so expensive?

“The cost of housing comes from a variety of sources. In most cases, for both new construction and existing housing, the largest line item is the cost of constructing the home itself. For new construction this is on average 80% of the cost of a home (including hard and soft costs), while for existing construction it's still in the neighborhood of 60-70%. 

It’s only in dense urban areas that the cost of land begins to dominate the cost of new housing, driven by regulatory and zoning restrictions that limit how much housing can be built in a given area. Another way of looking at it is that in the areas that we need housing the most, zoning and regulatory factors are responsible for the lion’s share of housing costs.”

From Construction Physics, What Makes Housing So Expensive?


For the more avid readers - Do you find, as I do, that gamifying reading to have the most read or some other metric is more than bothersome?

“People stress about not having time to read—a fair complaint, but one that has a different tone when the subtext (or text!) is “I’m getting behind.” Behind on what, and to whom? Who is served by all this stress, by reading challenges and goals and lists and shelfies and book hauls? What is it for? What are we getting out of it? What difference does it make if you read a book that came out last week or one that came out last century?”

From Reactor Magazine, On Letting Go of the Idea of “Keeping Up”


The politicization of law enforcement has been in the news of late. Still, for a Boomer raised in the late 60s with the Chicago Democratic Convention, the Berrigan brothers, and Daniel Elsworth, law enforcement has been “weaponized” for decades – it is just which side controls the weapon that may have changed. Of course, throughout it all, big-deal white-collar crime seems to get a pass.

“A few days ago, it came out that the CEO of health care goliath UnitedHealth Group, Stephen Hemsley, sold $101.5 million of stock before a government antitrust probe of his company became public. Obviously there are unknown details, but trading on non-public information is a crime. Why would Hemsley do something so nakedly corrupt while under investigation by the Antitrust Division? The obvious answer is he doesn’t expect any consequences. Such an attitude is common among executives of prestigious companies, such as Boeing and Ticketmaster. They believe themselves above the law. And frankly, they usually are.

Why don’t they get prosecuted? There are many reasons, such as bad Supreme Court precedent, political corruption, and institutional sloth. But one little-explored problem is that the lawyers and cops at the FBI and Justice Department who go after the powerful can face serious career sanction.”

From Matt Stoller, The Silver or the Lead: How White Collar Crime Prosecutors Get Punished


One of the more subtle measures of our changing climate is the mismatch between how plants, stable in their geography, bloom and the migration of their animal helpers and predators from South to North.

“The tight coupling of the Haida calendar with the ecology of British Columbia is a testament to the more than 14,000 years they’ve lived there, during which time they’ve synchronized their lifeways with the lives of every other being. But the past reliability has become a source of vulnerability as anthropogenic climate change plunges April into February. What I’m saying is that the ecological calendar has inadvertently become an environmental indicator of global warming.”

From Nautil.us, A Revolution in Time