Helicopter parent? We mock you. Not a helicopter parent? Handcuffs.

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One of the trends the media has been enjoying for *years* is making fun of so-called helicopter parents–parents who constantly hover around their kids, standing guard over everything they do. What worry-worts, right?

And yet, what happens when a parent lets their kid play outside in the park without a helicopter? They get arrested.

Is there any other developed country that hates its working poor as much at the U.S.A.?

What if the government provided your vehicle?

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I saw this tweet from Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) a few days ago, then read the linked blog:

Recommended. The LA Times follows up here, pointing out that we’ve reached “Peak Freakonomics” where our two authors seem to have run out of innovative ways at looking at subjects and should probably try to find a new niche to market.

But I was thinking about Yglesias’s proposition: What if the government bought your cars for you? How would that work? So here’s a thought experiment for that:

First, no frills. No leather seats, no iPhone dock, no super-quiet engine. There’s nothing wrong with those sorts of luxuries, but taxpayers won’t swing for them, so they’re out. If you want a DVD player for your kids to watch a movie, you have to spring for that yourself.

Second, how much will you be using your vehicle? Look, the government will be happy to give you a car to transport you places, but does it need to be idle all night while you sleep? Do you need to have it sit on your corporate campus for nine hours while you’re at work?

It would probably be cheaper for the government to pay for a chauffeur who would drive you to work, then go drive other people who needed rides, then pick you up after your shift. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be the same chauffeur!

Third, what if it’s not a one-person vehicle? Why should the chauffeur drive you and you alone to your destination when there are probably quite a few people who work where you work, or who would like to shop at that mall? Single-occupancy vehicles are wasteful and cause traffic jams. The government could streamline things by carrying several people at once.

Larger vehicles would be called for, ones with the capacity to move lots of people around. Perhaps some sort of schedule could be devised (and routes established) to maximize the movement of users.

Fourth, what about free-loaders? Obviously, there are those who want a car just for the thrill of driving. Would the American taxpayer be willing to subsidize that sort of purely-pleasurable but unproductive pastime? Considering how they act when food-stamp recipients buy soda, I doubt it.

Perhaps some sort of small co-pay could be required to discourage joy riding. We could call it a “fare.”

And you know where that takes us? To public transportation, which is certainly not perfect but is still used by millions of people every day. How would the Freakonomics guys feel if we increased its funding? I wish my transit system had more dollars.

Because the government is never going to allow people to walk into a car dealership and pick out any car they like. It’s ridiculous to even offer that as a thought experiment. But if the government thinks it’s important for people to have access to a minimum standard of health care, they will work that out. And if the government thinks people should be able to move around a community without driving a car of their own, they’ll work that out, too.

It won’t be extravagant, but it might make your society run better.

Randomness for 2/21

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1) Classic movies painted as Ottoman miniatures.

2) The six male characters women never get to see in movies. so many story ideas here.

3) Credit card company’s new terms and conditions allow them to show up at your home or workplace, or disguise their identity when they call.

4) Facial expressions of Olympic figure skaters. G forces take quite a toll.

5) Using two colors, this map shows where 50% of the GDP of the USA comes from.

6) A comic about economics and trade agreements. TW: mixed in with a lot of good information is some shitty treatment of Tea Partiers.

7) Ten Travel Tips for Japanese People Visiting the USA.

Randomness for 2/11

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1) An alternate history of “Flappy Bird” a successful game that was pulled from sale because of the gamers abused its creator.

2) Marvel opens its image archive and api to the public. I’m pretty sure this is cool, and if I were ten years younger I might understand why.

3) Calvin and Muad’Dib. Calvin & Hobbes cartoons with quotes from Dune to replace the dialog.

4) Teddy Roosevelt’s 10 Rules for Reading. Sensible guy.

5) Male artist creates art show with woman’s art, doesn’t feel he needs to name her.

6) An Infinity of Alternate Batmen.

7) Deleted.

Randomness for 2/6

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1) Supervillain lair in Joshua Tree for sale. So incredibly gorgeous.

2) Here’s that bad advice you were looking for.

3) Frito-Lay crowdsources potato chip flavors, with the expected results.

4) Scientist who took on pesticide finds his reputation under assault from the corporation who makes it.

5) “Motherfuckers live in places that don’t exist, and it comes with a map. My God.” Ice-T records the audiobook for a Dungeons and Dragons novel.

6) The case for a big budget Hawkman movie. Video.

7) How to sneeze in ten languages.

Photographer goes to Kiev to get the real story (translated to English)

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It’s obvious the guy writing this is a photographer, but I’m not sure if he’s a journalist, activist, or curious citizen. In any event, his own words:

I came to Kiev. I came to see for myself what is happening here. Of course, an hour after arriving at Maidan, you begin to understand that everything what you’ve read in dozens of articles, saw in TV news reports is total crap. In the upcoming reports I will try to, as objectively as possible, to sort out this new wave of Kiev revolution.

via Sherwood Smith

Randomness for 1/6

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1) A 1600-Year-Old Viking Board Game.

2) Thor is the New Superman. Yet another screw-up by DC.

3) 160-Year-Old historical documents deliberately destroyed in North Carolina. Covering up old crimes? There are followup posts.

4) 4 Things I Learned from the Worst Online Dating Profile Ever.

5) The top 20 most annoying book reviewer cliches and how to use them all in one meaningless review.

6) Here’s Exactly How Much the Government Would Have to Spend to Make Public College Tuition-Free.

7) “There’s a book inside of you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Randomness for 12/24

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Not Christmas-related. Isn’t that a relief?

1) Skyrim mod replaces dragons with Thomas the Tank Engine. Video. Maybe that should be in a story seeds post.

2) Mountain goats climb nearly vertical dam for the salt.

3) Iron Moon. Video. via Kurt Busiek.

4) The world’s largest mall has an occupancy rate of less than 1%. via Fred Hicks.

5) How long it takes a typical worker to earn as much as their company CEO makes in an hour.

6) Story Corps, Animated. Video. If you have been listening to Story Corps here and there, you’ll know why this is something not to be missed. If not, Story Corps is a project where two people sit with a microphone to permanently record (for the Library of Congress) a personal story from their lives. If the news has you thinking people are mostly awful, Story Corps will change your mind.

7) Chief O’Brien At Work.

Six Things Make A Post

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1)

2) Ten Things Food Banks Need But Won’t Ask For. At first I thought it was a little late for me to be posting this, but then I smacked my forehead. People are hungry all year round, not just during the holiday.

3) At first, I thought this was satirical, but when I saw that it was Conservapedia, I believed it. Those people are too far gone to satirize: Extreme right wingers rewriting Bible because it’s not conservative enough.

4) Why Marketers Fear The Female Geek. As a marketing category, “geek” is not truly going to come into its own until every kind is welcomed.

5) U of C study demonstrates that “drug-sniffing” dogs do not actually sniff drugs. What they actually do is respond to the K9 officer’s signals on when to alert, essentially giving police the power for warrantless searches.

6) Downtown Seattle’s PERSON OF INTEREST technology. Okay, so it’s not quite POI, but what the SPD has installed (and won’t talk about) is creepily invasive.

Randomness for 11/19

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1) 16 People talk about the things they didn’t know about the U.S.A. until they moved here.

2) A girl draws self-portraits before and during an LSD high.

3) Man Buys 10.000 Undeveloped Negatives At a Local Auction and Discovers One of The Most Important Street Photographers of the Mid 20th Century.

4) Fate Core Kickstarter price breakdowns, in detail.

5) Attn: Screenwriters: Man makes explosive from items purchased in the post-TSA area of an airport. h/t @hradzka

6) Yearbook photos of heavy metal and rock musicians.

7) A long study that measured the harmful effects that video games have on kids.