February 28th, 2016

Chuck Schumer wants to regulate seat pitch

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-28/us-senator-wants-government-to-set-airline-seat-size-rules

On the one hand, the way you bring the price down on a product so that more people can afford it is you lightweight, reduce size, etc. So a world that requires all chocolate bars to weight at least a full ounce, and to have a minimum amount of cocoa solids, is a world where fewer people get to experience chocolate at all. On the other hand, Schumer has a valid point about sardines.

I don't fully understand the implications of seat pitch on health. So, for example, if you could convincingly show that being stuck in a short seat pitch seat for a cross country flight doubles your chance of dying or having severe health consequences from deep vein thrombosis, I think you could probably justify minimum seat pitch on longer flights. If, for example, short seat pitch seats were resulting in a greater amount of in flight crazy times (mental health triggers that end in the flight having to land unexpectedly early to debark the person who Just Couldn't Take It Any More) that were a threat to the safety of everyone on board that flight, that would be a solid argument for deeper seat pitch.

Another question I have: when people are trying to get seats with more leg room, are they consistently available? I haven't had a lot of trouble, when I planned ahead. If you _can_ get more leg room when you need it, the need for regulation would seem to be reduced. But if you cannot get more leg room when you need it (that is, if there are a lot of passengers willing to pony up for more leg room, but they can't buy it at any price), that's another solid reason to regulate more seat space -- or at least apply some pressure to airlines to provide more seats with greater leg room for those who need it.

ETA: My husband points out evac issues. Someone else has gone into this in considerably more detail than me!

http://elliott.org/advocate-this/government-thinks-shrinking-airline-seats-just-fine/

Read it -- it's really worth your time. Also, slightly terrifying.

Super Lice

I had no idea this had happened, but I guess I should not be surprised. There are permethrin resistant lice. Yuck!

So, screw that pesticide crap anyway, and ditch the comb. Get yourself to a licensed AirAllé / Lice Clinics of America and (as long as you're old enough and don't have contraindications) get the hour long heat treatment. Assuming you can avoid reinfestation (like from family members, so maybe have everyone done at once, or at least be assessed), it's one-and-done, and there's no reason to believe lice, "super" or otherwise, are going to evolve some sort of resistance to desiccation.

Inconveniently, the Seattle area option is on Bainbridge. There are numerous Boston area options. The Lice Clinics of America has a finder feature on their website.

There are lots of other things you can try, of course, but this is the first time I've ever run across anything that has had clinical testing (FDA approved!) and a guarantee.

ETA: Standard advice is to quarantine clothing and bedding for some unreasonable amount of time and/or run it through a dryer on high for 30 minutes to an hour. Judging by Ms. Flynn's research on ticks, I'm betting the already VERY low risk of reinfestation of lice from clothing and bedding can be reduced to zero with a lot less time than that in the dryer. 10 minutes on low will probably do it.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/03/31/braintree-student-tick-experiment-catches-attention-cdc-scientists/eH2Sga4HgeDandLJDFwQKI/story.html

Re: my husband's remark about shaving his head. Yeah, sure, but he does that occasionally anyway. _I_ would shave my head, too (at this point, I'm just looking for a good excuse anyway). But asking children or people with long hair to do so is probably cruel.

Bloomberg and electric cars

Last December, Bloomberg was producing an article about how Maine purchasers of electric vehicles were bummed about the performance degradation in cold weather (hey, I agree -- it is a bummer).

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-03/electric-cars-can-t-take-the-cold

Now, there's a video and article out suggesting that plug-ins could be a big enough deal in the 2020s to cause the same kind of mismatch between oil supply and demand that the most recent oil crash was caused by (in the 2014-6 case, it was oversupply; in the plug in case, the idea would be a decrease in demand).

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-02-24/the-peak-oil-myth-and-the-rise-of-the-electric-car

http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-ev-oil-crisis/

This is an interesting thesis. While the video gently mocks the Peak Oil thesis of years gone by, what it fails to note is that the Peak thesis had embedded in it two components. The dominant theme was too great demand and a failure of supply to respond -- and then a failure of demand to down-adjust. In its typical presentation, it was a stupid idea. Of course we were going to down-adjust. When the price of gas spiked in 2007-9, everyone started driving the lowest gas mileage car in the household, buying old good gas mileage cars, etc. I traded in my first Honda Fit for a second Honda Fit -- and the trade in value I got on the first Fit was _greater_ than the amount I paid for it when I bought it. Fits were _that_ highly desired in the market (partly due to low availability).

The primary theme had a lot of people betting on how the world would down-adjust. But a secondary theme was the idea of peak demand accompanying peak oil -- things weren't going to get that out of whack, the world would not end as we drove our gas guzzling SUVs to our subprime mortgaged exurban palaces until some sort of zombie apocalypse happened. A lot of the adjustments anticipated by that crowd indeed came to pass: a generation of people who had a variety of options where to live decided to opt for places with shorter commutes and better access to public transportation. MPG numbers became very important on new car sales. Etc.

Since putting the panels on the roof (thank you, SolarCity, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the feds for various tax credits and financial engineering that made the whole process ludicrously easy and a no-op in terms of cost) and buying the i3 (hey, I was due for a midlife crisis car), I've been pondering what happens if a whole bunch of other people do something similar (probably more along the lines of a Leaf, than a Tesla, but still). The tax credits were due to run out, and they got renewed at least once. The utilities have a tough problem on their hands, trying to manage a completely different pattern of usage than they are accustomed to, which requires re-engineering the grid to manage diffuse inputs -- and re-engineering the fees they charge to better reflect the services provided (power management, not just power supply). And while batteries steadily improve, there is no question that the i3 is no car to be driving long distances on a well below freezing day.

The Bloomberg article is an interesting way to think about the effect of plug ins -- which don't have to be pure play electrics. The Bolt, for example, could be a true game changer.

If it is going to take years for the oversupply to work itself out, and demand is expected to weaken in the face of plug-ins (never mind the slow to seep out effects of changes in CAFE regulations), will the oversupply _ever_ work itself out?