Re: What Samuel Johnson Can Teach Us About Separating Art from the Artist

I'm reminded of a visit to the SFMOMA some decades ago, where the docent spent a lot of time talking about an artist and the meaning this implied in a picture of apparently random color daubs and squiggles on a canvas. The art world seems to expend a lot of effort convincing the "uneducated" public about the worth of some art. And not for nothing are the inflated auction prices for art and artifacts by known creators, when the vast majority of amateur art or artisanship is equally good but by a no-name creator. Art is truly in the eye [and modified by the mind] of the beholder.

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Re: Vaccines. If Doctorow's numbers are even partway correct, it suggests that large national governments should ensure spending perhaps a $tn a year making vaccines for every variant of infectious viral disease that appears, so that quick testing and distribution can be applied to try to stop outbreaks early. Of course, this will always run into "vaccine hesitancy" and plain anti-vax opposition too. [Are some nations trying to eliminate themselves from the future - or is this an example of social Darwinism in action?]

Given that mRNA delivered in a variety of ways to generate antigens is a promising approach to treat a variety of diseases such as various cancers, such facilities could quickly produce the needed material for research, especially for the larger phase III trials.

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Re: What a Blue State Really Gets Wrong

Is this not a good example of 1st order thinking? As Mencken would say: "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

If we were to take the solution - keep creating new [low cost] housing, this would simply maintain population growth in the state. Now if we didn't farm, then maybe the state has enough water (absent desalination) for say 100 million residents. The cost would be a landscape like exurban LA. We can see the issues of this sort of policy in Europe where room to expand is limited, or in China where the population 5-6x the US population.

At some point, there has to be population stabilization. In CA, we are seeing a rise in homelessness, and the US version of shanty towns cropping up outside cities like Sacramento. MIMBYism is clearly a problem in zoning, but I have seen first-hand plans to develop low-rise apartments in San Jose and the sort of problems that result from traffic and pollution. For Californians wanting to reside in Texas, I say, let them go. It is a Fool's Paradise that has an expiry date. To see Paradise ruined, just visit the Kona coast on Maui - wrecked by overdevelopment. Much of that done in the last 3 decades.

To remain livable, California needs to maintain more than just a few beauty sites. The population needs to stabilize. Farming needs to use far less land and water - the central valley is becoming a "hellscape" with health problems, dustbowl conditions as surface irrigation is restricted, and a farm population demanding more water for profits by building dams at taxpayer expense while destroying ecosystems by diverting every last drop of fresh water from natural watercourses.

Watch midcentury Hollywood movies of the Bay Area and it is clearly becoming hellishly crowded and far less congenial to live in unless you like that sort of living.

Now I don't know what the economically rational solutions are (as opposed to utopian), but clearly, constant development to increase low-cost shelter supply ahead of demand suffers from Jeavons paradox and clearly has a limit. Nth-order effects need to be considered as part of a rational, sustainable solution.

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That everything has a limit does not mean that we are up against that limit right now. People in California are 40% more productive than people in Mississippi across the board. But because of artificial zoning-created housing shortages, housing costs are triple—which means that if you are paying more than 20% of your income for housing, moving to California is a bad financial deal. As the share of income you spend on housing falls with income, that means that California is still attractive to the top 30%, but not to people any lower in the income distribution.

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"that means that California is still attractive to the top 30%, but not to people any lower in the income distribution."

Sounds rather like the immigration policies of some countries - Australia, Canada, Britain... Is that necessarily a bad thing? As the old NZ joke about Australia, exporting the low IQ from NZ to Australia raises the average IQs of both countries. If only California's emigration to Texas was similar. *end rather poor taste comment *

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No doubt farmers need to use less water. But drinking water can be supplied (more expensively) by desalinization. CA has an essentially infinite supply of salinated water (the Pacific Ocean), so that isn't really a constraint.

As for housing, CA definitely needs more, but we need to build up rather than out. Cities should be authorizing more apartments and condos especially on transit lines.

That will not create a "hellscape". CA's population density is only 11th in the nation, and it's much less dense than hellish Belgium (that was sarcasm; Belgium has almost 4 times CA's density). There's plenty of room here.

Building more housing is also critical to solving the homeless problem. Plenty of studies show that providing housing should be the first step in getting people off the streets. That can't be done unless housing gets a lot cheaper, and building more is the key to that. NIMBYism will be the death of the state.

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I agree that desalination could provide more expensive water, but as farmers still use 60%+ of the state's water and this water is very cheap compared to municipal water, they represent the biggest problem regarding water use.

Regarding density. As an ex-Londoner, I am well used to higher density living. I also recall my days sitting on the Bay's Area's parking lot...err, HWY 85 during rush hours. SF is almost undrivable at certain times of the day. To solve the problem there needs to be some better planning for public transit, Most people in London use the Underground or the buses to commute. This is as fast as using a car. Only SF in my experience has a halfway decent bus service. Towns where population expansion is occurring have abysmal public transport. I know that the bay Area solution was to build apartment blocks along the CalTrain line to make it easier to commute to the city. That is a solution. The Bart stations in Central CA have huge parking lots, but even they fill to capacity.

So just as air travel has become "hellish compared to the 1960s, so has the general degradation of physical transport and living conditions in CA. Do we really want to make an extended exurb like LA, or the incredibly dense living of Hong Kong (still gives me claustrophobia from a short week's stay there). I accept that some people like dense urban living, but I prefer not. I want open space nearby, National parks that you can still enjoy without booking ahead for an entry permit if you go by car, Travel that doesn't require sitting in a traffic jam (c.f. Bay Bridge) to SF) and affordable living that doesn't make seniors on fixed benefits live in poverty, and in teh Central Valley require inhalers to counteract the foul air.

CA could return to being a much better place to live if we dealt with more than just the immediate needs of business, farmers.

One interesting change is that the pandemic has shown that telecommuting is doable on a large scale. This has resulted in people moving from the Bay Area to teh Central valley. I expect smaller towns alongside HWY99 to rapidly grow to accommodate these housing cost refugees. I can only hope that they bring a demand for better quality restaurants and amenities to offset the rising house prices and rents.

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CA should have lots of different housing options available: some folks like Hong Kong, New York, and San Francisco. The major cities should be zoned to increase density and improve public transit to accommodate that. That will help solve the affordability problem, and it's also much more efficient for the climate change issues.

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