Monday assorted links


Why nothing from Ray Lopez yet?

Power is out? Feeding chickens? He’s in a chess match?

These are the most obtuse link descriptions I have ever seen from a MR linkfest.

Maybe they are just unappealing to me. But what's the difference really?

If I had a disability that made straws necessary for hydration and nutrition, I would make sure to carry a few with me rather than relying on restaurants to supply them.

Yeah no kidding.

The whole straw flash - its not North American rivers disgorging all that plastic into the sea.

+1 This guy adapts!

Or just, ya know...wait til I got home to get a drink.

Yup. Similarly if you're traveling in Asia an don't trust the cleanliness of the chopsticks they have sitting around, you simply bring your own.

My wife has a thing for plastic straws. Can't say what it is since this is a family blog but it involves great acts of cuckoldry.

Yeah, this objection was an eye-opener for me:

"Why would a disabled customer have to bring something in order to drink while non-disabled people have the convenience and ability to use what is provided for free?"

So is it now considered socially unacceptable "ableism" to expect people with special needs to do ANYTHING to assist others in meeting those needs? When a paraplegic shows up at my restaurant, I shouldn't expect them to bring their own wheelchair, but should instead have dedicated staff on hand to carry them around?

Is this anything close to a mainstream position? Because it strikes me as more than a little absurd.

Plastic straws aren't wheelchairs (putting aside the question of how exactly the paraplegic gets to you in the first place without a wheelchair). They cost a heck of a lot less.

Hey, if we single out the disabled as having to bring their own if they want to drink, why not make it equal and make everyone bring their own cups in the first place? Heck, I'm sure anyone can also bring some utensils from home, amirite?

It seems like the straws issue is super easy to solve with a 'nudge'. Just put straws behind the counter only available upon request.

Easy to solve, but how did the straw get elevated to symbol-of-everything-wrong-with-plastic in the first place? It seems like these twitter memes explode so rapidly into social movements that nobody has time to get a word in to say "hey, um, I kinda need to use a straw" before you get city councils passing straw bans. Slow the fuck down and think, people.

"Slow the fuck down and think, people."

Come on now. Mankind invented the internet and the 24 hour news cycle to avoid that. ;)

The whole idea of reducing waste in the U.S. is a dumb idea. If you can't even figure that out, what hope do you have? 300 years of landfill space, impermeable barriers under the landfills, you don't think there's any technology that can be developed in the next 300 years to deal with waste, and even if not, you don't think there is more empty space in the world? If you consider yourself an environmentalist, and yet you spend your time dealing with a problem that is NOT EVEN A PROBLEM, you have failed. Utterly and totally.

Straw ban proponents themselves admit that the straw ban serves no meaningful environmental purpose. In something Not From The Onion, ban proponents say that straws are a "gateway plastic". Not making this up.

Please come by my house and I'll give you a bucket and grabbers to pick up the trash dumped out car windows on my street daily.

Living in no tax NH the government doesn't do pick up the trash.

See, this is what I'm talking about. The correct solution in a libertarian framework is for people living along roadways to get together and file a lawsuit against litter-generating industries. that way two things happen:
A) The people who are harmed by this sort of pollution, whether it's street litter or plastics that kill wildlife, get compensated
B) the cost of litter-producing products increases, so the cost is imposed on the consumers of said products instead of on everyone else.

I am reminded of the ban on feather boas at Burning Man. You can't have a feather boa because the feathers get everywhere and they have to be 100% picked up at the end of the event. So let's say we had a society that said "you can have a feather boa, but you are legally and financially responsible for picking up every fucking feather." or more precisely, "You can manufacture and sell feather boas, but we're going to hold you responsible for the feathers that end up clogging public sewers." Or to be super specific "You can make and sell straws, but you have to pay for the costs imposed on society of cleaning up straw litter."
In short, the progressive response is generally always "ban straws", while the libertarian response is "keep straws legal but make sure the costs are internalized into the price of straws on the market".

I am basically in your camp that having people bear the true costs of their activities is the preferred outcome, BUT I also live in the world, and in that world I have noticed that people are very good at shifting costs and that our legal system is relatively bad at reversing that reality in any but the most egregious instances. My strong suspicion is more that progressives don't trust the system than that they prefer bans to pricing. (Which is pretty interesting, given that we usually describe progressives as more enamored of the system than libertarians.)

You could also just have a tax on disposable products, straws included. I like the liability solution better because it links the price to real costs, while a tax is open to abuse - politicians will just use it to raise revenue.

Hear, hear, Hazel Meade and dgold114!

1. The younger, childless, healthy, single people who make up the majority of progressive idealists seem to be incapable of imagining life as if they weren't young, childless, single, and healthy. A lot of the conveniences afforded the disabled are also helpful for people pushing strollers. Dense cities aren't great environments for children. Not everyone's ideal residential environment is a busy street lined with drinking establishments and music venues. People have shit to do other than walk back and forth to the grocery store 3 times a week to buy groceries in small amounts. Small children and cups without lids don't mix.

Whoever picked the straw as the symbol of unnecessary plastic crap obviously wasn't imagining life as someone who might have difficulty drinking from an open cup.

+1 I have no issue with most of what they want for themselves, it's just that they also want to include me, by force.

I wonder how many of the woke changed their minds when they found out Starbucks strawless cup takes more plastic than the other with the straw.

It's mostly the presumption that everyone should live in and enjoy dense urban settings that bothers me. I get that the college town atmosphere is great in your 20s, but eventually you grow out of it. Suburbs are boring if your single and looking to party and hook up, but they are great for raising kids. But talk to some millennial progressive activists and suburbs are some sort of hellscape that only exist because of evil capitalist mind control.
Same thing with straws - a failure to appreciate the benefits of/ reasons for the existence of a thing before it is condemned.

I think it was Chesterton who said don't tear down a fence until you know in detail why it is there in the first place.

Something that has become anathema to our political overlords.

Plastic straws, much like fast food in general, are symbols of the infantilization of much of modern life. That is why they make easy targets.

Yes of course it is progressives that don't care about the disabled. That explains why it is conservatives that champion the ADA.

Conservatives have trouble imagining life as someone other than themselves too.

As a libertarian I try to stay out of the way of people and let the market decide what sort of stuff people need, provided that the costs of their stuff falls on the consumer of said stuff.

In other words, i think the disabled should pay 5 cents for that straw (or whatever the net per straw environmental cost of straws is).

And before anyone says "straw tax" I mean that the environmental cost of the plastic should be assigned to the producers of plastic, preferably via some form of liability, and thus raise the price of plastic so that the price of straws increases.

The environmental cost of plastic straws in the U.S. is zero.

I'll dump the straws and stirrers i pick up dumped out car windowns on my street on your front lawn given you don't find them an environmental problem.

It might be really small, in which case the effect on the market price of straws will be nil.

Progressives would probably favor a law that *required* businesses to provide plastic straws for the disabled, so long as it was mandatory. What would be unacceptable would be if businesses chose not to provide plastic straws for cost reasons, even if it reduced plastic usage, nor if businesses chose to provide plastic straws because it was common practice, even if it helped the disabled. I suppose if a business were to make a big deal of announcing that it was providing plastic straws specifically to be inclusive of the disabled that might be acceptable to some progressives.

Ah yes a VAT. Because there is nothing libertarians love more than new taxes.

Who said anything about a VAT? Or a tax?

", i think the disabled should pay 5 cents for that straw (or whatever the net per straw environmental cost of straws is)."

I wonder who wrote that? Who could it be?

Did you read my other comment? Or not understand it?

Oh right I forgot that "libertarians" don't believe in externalities. Just like conservatives don't believe in evolution. So how's this going to work? Are angels going to make manufacturers pay a higher price? Will they take the money to heaven to give to the tooth fairy?

You've made excellent points about liberals, conservatives, and libertarians however as a cuckold, I feel our voices have been deeply marginalized by the mainstream. What do you have to say about us cuckolds?

I believe in internalizing externalities. I think some environmentalist group or coalition should launch a big lawsuit against the plastics industry to pay for the environmental costs of plastics in the environment. If you can come up with a dollar amount, then sue them for that amount on behalf of people involved with cleaning it up - maybe even municipalities for little cleanup along roadways and such.

I don't believe you. Every conservative and libertarian (I don't see much of a difference betwixt) is in favor of tort refort that reduces liability and legal reforms that limit the ability to engage in large lawsuits. You, sir, are a liar.

Conservatives want to limit liability. Libertarians not so much. Don't get them confused.

Yes of course it is progressives that don't care about the disabled. That explains why it is conservatives that champion the ADA.

They don't champion the ADA because it strips employers of the discretion to weigh costs and benefits. It also imposes absurd costs on service providers. One employer of mine was compelled to reduce inventory by a considerable amount to make shelves accessible for the wheel-chair bound who could have been assisted by staff. We had very few wheel-chair bound patrons and those we did have still couldn't reach the top shelves even with the widened aisles.

"seem to be incapable of imagining life as if they weren't young, childless, single, and healthy"

Thank you for proving my point. That was the goal with your post, right?

Lessee, I criticized a vaguely worded law which didn't do a damn bit of good in my workplace for it's intended clients and can impose (selectively) huge costs on employers. Ergo, I'm 'unable to imagine blah blah'. I'm sorry for the people who have to contend with you in meatspace.

Yeah yeah. And I didn't even write that quote. Are you some sort of retard? Is your job just some make work program to get a tax write off for hiring a retard?

"Are you some sort of retard?"


I am liking this Hazel Meade a lot.

Don't worry, I have several personalities. I'm sure I'll find one you won't like.

But these restrictions only count for native born Americans citizens no matter what their race, gender, or sexual identity.

If 10,000 Guatemalans wheelchair their way to the border then we owe them money, Medicaid, TANF, section 8, and anyone who disagrees is a fascist racist Nazi.

LA Unified SD only spends 57% of their budget on special education and pensions. Viva la migración and we can get It to 90%! ¡Si se puede!

There's no where saying that when I leave my house, everyone has to do everything to make me comfortable. If a restaurant decides not to provide straws (no matter how stupid a justification), whatever. They're under no moral obligation to provide them. As a parent of two, I love being able to walk to bars and music venues. If a place of business doesn't have a door that opens automatically, oh well. I either open the door myself or someone kindly opens it for me.

I get that the group known as society might want to design public space and economic exchange to smooth things out a bit, but at some point you might just need to realize that no one has to look out for your comfort. So yeah... put in some cut outs in the sidewalks to make it easier for all those pedestrian wheel chairs and strollers you see out there. But if someone doesn't want to provide you with a plastic straw, bring your own stash if you really need one or (if you're a parent) bring a sippy cup for your kid (that's what I do).

"But if someone doesn't want to provide you with a plastic straw, bring your own stash if you really need one or (if you're a parent) bring a sippy cup for your kid (that's what I do)."

Agreed. However, you left out a third option. Go to another place of business that doesn't have the same rules. IE, don't drive into a city with rules that effect you. Granted, the person in the story probably doesn't have that kind of choice. However, she can always relocate to another state.

'who make up the majority of progressive idealists'

Idealists, maybe. Voters, not so much

You do know who supported ADA, right? It was those who could very easily imagine not being young and healthy (the childless and single part is not as defining, for any number of reasons - for example, being widowed is probably an acceptable definition of single, even in this comment section).

I'm thinking mainly of 20 something hipsters here. No grasp of why people with kids aren't giving up automobiles and biking to work. Why would some with two kids need an SUV (a gas guzzling abomination invented by satan)????

Well, Hazel Meade, I was with you in this comments section until the part about the SUV.

Why, indeed, does somebody with two kids need an SUV? I've raised four without ever owning one or feeling the least bit of inconvenience for not having one. A sedan offers just as much people and cargo space with better fuel economy. Frankly, SUVs_are_ gas guzzling abominations. (Being an atheist, I won't attribute their invention to Satan.)

I wouldn't outlaw SUVs. But I would make sure that the price of gas reflected the environmental damage it does.

"A sedan offers just as much people and cargo space with better fuel economy."


Just get the minivan.

Now, THOSE are an abomination, concocted by Satan to destroy America.

A van is the ultimate solution to the problem of moving a family and its stuff by road.

- Seats up to 8 with real third row seats that fit adults, due to lower floor than SUV.

- Far easier exit and entry to rear two rows by sliding doors and lower floor.

- Sliding doors allow easier ingress and egress in tight mall parking spots (or my narrow Brooklyn street). And kids can't ding neighboring cars throwing doors open.

- Interior volume is phenomenal. Cadillac Escalade with all rear seats down--94.2 ft^3. Suburban--121.7 ft^3. Ford Expedition EL--130.8 ft^3. Chrysler Pacifica--a whopping 140.5 ft^3!

- Quieter than your average SUV/crossover (some large lux SUVs are quite quiet but not the crossovers or truck based SUVs in (or close to) the minivan price point)

- Manufacturers of modern SUVs have done very well at improving fuel efficiency and smaller SUVs and crossovers may equal the rated MPG of most minivans. But of course in terms of size, you should be comparing the minivan to the Suburban or Escalade, not the RAV 4 (or even 3-row crossovers). And these modern minivans make nearly 300hp! Motor Trend got a Pacifica to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds--basically the same number as the famous E36-generation BMW M3 and a Ferrari 328.

- You almost certainly do not need 4wd or ground clearance. A few people need to tow, and some live in places with frequently unplowed roads. Some have to get into real backcountry. But if you cannot get a modern minivan w/ snow tires around in all but the roughest winter weather

As a reasonably serious car fan who spends some time in the online community, I am happy to see that the minivan is coming back among real aficionados. Interestingly, and contrary to the stereotype of the middle age man lusting after a flashy convertible to recapture his youth, my anecdotal experience is that husbands who are car guys frequently push to buy a minivan, but the wife rejects the idea out of hand. So the family ends up with a much less useful, but far cooler (ha!) Toyota Highlander. Not sure why that dynamic exists. Any thoughts?

BTW, if you really, really don't want a minivan, but need a practical family car with street cred, you get a wagon, not an SUV/crossover. An E63 S Wagon? Lordy.

"Unexpectedly", the station wagon was killed by environmental fuel efficiency regulations (CAFE). Auto makers could meet a different number for trucks, which SUVs and mini-vans could be classified as, but station wagons had to be counted among their car averages. So to meet the standards, they had to stop making station wagons. See also or a bunch of other articles you can Google.

After reading your post, I will consider the minivan option.

Someday I want to go camping again though.

Well, if you plan to regularly do serious overland camping trips, then yes, you may want something with 4wd, more ground clearance, lockers and/or good electronic traction control. But:

1. Growing up, my family did a some serious backcountry camping in the pacific northwest and later the southwest out of a Chevy Celebrity wagon. It takes a bit more guts and skill to get a fwd wagon/van through the rough stuff, but they are a lot more capable than you think. Plus, vans are AWESOME for camping. If you end up out in the middle of the desert 60 miles northeast of Moab at night on an old dirt road, and don't feel like setting up a tent, you can just put the seats down and sleep in comfort! And nothing will hold more gear if you are going with a crew of friends and family. And if you are backpacking, in my experience nearly all trails can be reached by improved roads anyway.

2. If occasional overland camping or jeeping is on the agenda, why not just rent something designed for that? For most people, it makes little sense to drive around 99.5% of the time in a car only necessary for that other .5% of the time. Obviously if you are going into serious backcountry every weekend, it makes more sense to own than rent.

To each her own, but it makes me sad that the beautiful utility of the minivan is ignored in favor of crossovers and wimpy car-based SUVs.

4. Exciting. True prediction markets? We'll see if the fork mechanism can handle high stakes.

6. Yes, "some aspects" of Girard. I'm no Girard expert, far from it. My impression is informed mostly by Peter Thiel, who recognized mimetic desire to great profit for himself (Thiel's, not Girard's). Thinkers, promoters of isms, on the other hand, rely on Girard to promote their particular ism. Jesus was crucified as a human sacrifice (the Temple cult of sacrifice taken to its logical extreme), as Sam Harris likes to say. Scapegoating as the response to unsatisfied mimetic desire (because people can never have what their neighbors have, which is true even in the Hamptons!) is class warfare turned upside down: beware those below for they may at any time explode against their betters. It's better to turn those below against those below them, than for those below to turn against their betters. It's easy to see why Thiel was drawn to Trump, isn't it? And it's easy to see why libertarians and authoritarians are drawn to each other, isn't it?

I have never used straws, but probably for a different reason than those who frequent Starbucks. When I was growing up, my grandfather told me that straws were for p**sies, and that no man looked cool sucking on one. That message has stuck with me today, though I don't approve of the language.

Real men aspirate their Ensure!

His grandfather died of pneumonia

Rule #1: All opinions are held.

(Somebody holding an opinion means neither that it is correct nor that a significant share of the populace holds it)
(this is in respect to #1)
(More interesting is to think of the incentives facing the editors; same goes for the WaPo "OK to hate men" article)

Interesting that newspapers (#5) have become less relevant than drinking straws

So that is the straw that broke the plastic camel's back. America has become a plastic tiger.

That was funny, +1

Or is it tragic?

Nope, just funny.

1: Yeah, the hysteria against straws has gotten silly. But the better article to read is has a link on that page: various food writers eulogizing Jonathan Gold.

I'm a bit surprised that Tyler hasn't mentioned Gold's passing; Tyler does some of what Gold did. Gold reviewed plenty of haute cuisine restaurants but his specialty was finding Mom-and-Pop immigrant hole-in-the-wall places and connecting food and culture.

What's probably mixed in is bias against wheelchair people. Presumably many places will try their best to serve them in the least best way that nevertheless avoids the shitstorm. They don't want to be seen as a place where many wheelchair people hang out. Too many of them, they presume, will scare away all the others.

Really? I don't think there are enough such people for that to be a concern.

It happens. Some people I know used to go to a pub that had a regular karaoke night for years. Apparently great fun until a group of mentally disabled people started showing up regularly (with their assistants) and insisted on taking part. Nobody wanted to stop them for risk of causing offence but the singing was so bad that the whole idea was scrapped after a month, patronage went way down and never really recovered.

5. Maybe the newspapers would be able to afford US newsprint if we were not deforesting the southeast United States by exporting wood pellets to Europe so they can play their ghastly little game of make-believe greeen energy.

“With my neuromuscular disability, plastic straws are necessary tools for my hydration and nutrition.” Hard cheese: virtue-signalling takes priority.

We were just talking about the proper and improper uses of the words "virtue signaling. My position iss that VS is supposed to be a criticism of things that do not actually improve the world and *only* signal.

To be honest soda straws might almost pass this test. Or barely not, it is a close call. There is a real problem of improperly disposed plastic in this world.

Is this "gateway reduction" or distraction? That is a question, if you want to approach it in a practical way.

But you know, don't pretend plastic for sea turtles is good, yum yum.

The non virtue signal position would be that we should heavily tax all plastic products.

Because they don’t break down within a reasonable time frame and end up in the oceans.

I’d support a heavy tax on plastic disposable products.

I think you skated over a few issues. Plastic products are in many cases great. Whether we can effectively recycle them, or they have to go to the landfill, is a real question.

But I think the most fundamental question is about improperly disposed plastics. They are out there damaging the biosphere and our food chain.

"Whether we can effectively recycle them, or they have to go to the landfill, is a real question."

Is it a relevant question? Most plastic recycling is useless at best.

I may not be really current, but this is the way I remember it. At first some people wanted to recycle, but there were no re-manufacturing solutions. Then people started to figure out a few things like making floor tiles or carpet underlayment or whatever. Maybe those were the gglory days. But more and more people started recycling, swamping all of those re-manufacturing options. Soon plastic started to be sent to the landfills because while it "could" be recycled it was too much of it.

So now in the worst case, different trucks take things from the black bin and the blue bin the same landfill.

Sorry, your last line alludes to that.

I think there are studies would show restrictions on "take away" plastic do reduce plastic released into the wild.

I travel a lot and I only see serious issues with plastic pollution in the developing world. It is probably because they are poor and are lower down Maslows hierarchy. We know how to make people less poor- just adopt neo-liberal economic policies. If people really cared about plastic pollution in the Ocean they should advocating strong capitalism for developing countries. Instead there will be silly taxes imposed on rich countries. Fortunately in the long run strong AI will make all this irrelevant, but it is annoying.

I just saw something that said that, and maybe studies would prove it, but for what it's worth I do live near the mouth of a California river, and the first winter rains do bring down an awful lot of plastic.

Indeed. Googling images of "plastic trash in los angeles river" gives this as the first hit:

And if you snarkily say that LA is part of the developing world, the search for "plastic trash in the hudson river" gives this as the third hit (the first two for some weird reason are about the Delaware River and Australia).

The straw one has always seemed like the most idiotic of virtue signalling.

For better or worse Americans, and most of the world, like sugary drinks. These drinks are known to cause teeth decay and straws are known to mitigate that decay.

Even a trivial increase in cavity rates is going to lead to thousands of additional cavities. This in turn leads to thousands of pounds of plastic waste. It also means thousands of doses of avoidable doses of antibiotics to the people who end up needing dental work.

We can then expect an increase in resistant bacteria and some poor sods (e.g. organ transplant patients) are going to end up in the ICU and burn through millions of dollars in care from endocarditis.

All of this will burn through plastic at a quite alarming rate as everything in medicine is packaged in plastic.

I don't even want to think about how many more people are going to die from increased communicability from drink sharing when grandparents would share a drink, but not a straw, with a grandchild.

Hopefully this will just be an expensive boondoggle where everyone swaps to some overpriced paper & wax replacement. But I am told that the R&D is not done on that (let alone the supply chain).

Hopefully the death count will only be in the teens.

"I don't even want to think about how many more people are going to die from increased communicability from drink sharing when grandparents would share a drink, but not a straw, with a grandchild."

That was a bridge too far, straw manufacturer's lobbyist!

(everybody make sure the grandparents are not out there kissing anybody.)

A progressive guy I know railed against our city council for seriously considering a plastic straw ban. Finally! ... first they came for our sugary sodas, then our plastic shopping bags, ...

It was less that we came for your plastic bags, prying them from your cold dead hand, the handles having kind of cut off your circulation 'cuz you were carrying heavy things - than that we came for the bags that were snagged all over barbed wire fences out in windy West Texas, and making flotillas in the reservoir.

But the governor said no: the bags must stay on the fences, on the mesquite trees, in the lake.

There's no accounting for taste.

I can't recall ever seeing a plastic bag in the wilderness.

And I can't recall ever seeing a reservoir or a barbed wire fence in the wilderness.

How often do you get out of your house?

2. Not about to shell out $24 to see the study but am very curious how they manage to distinguish the difference between Medicaid expansion work incentives and Section 1115 work-related waiver incentives.

Sadly, newspapers, and the people that write for them, deserve the problems they now have. Technology and tariffs haven't harmed them as much as the bad product that they continue to produce.

Progressive: "Tyler, you must believe X"
Tyler: /puts legs behind his ears hoping thereby to believe "X".
Progressive: "Tyler, you must smile while I give you Nietsche's gift"
Tyler: /grabs his ankles, pulls harder, and grins.
Progressive: "Homina, homina, homina, homina"
Tyler: "Are you sure you're Mr. T?
Progressive: "Homina, homina, homina, homina"
Tyler: "Cool, dude; are we winning yet?"
Progressives: "Homina, homina, homina, homina"

So the newspapers that have been banging on about man made global warming and CO2 now complain about a tax that would reduce the consumption of trees in an industry where a better alternative to tree-based products exists (read your newspaper in digital form)?

Many years ago, when I lived on my own without a car, I needed plastic bags to carry my groceries home.

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