Clark

Here’s a fascinating look at the number of jobs in the public and private sectors under the last 5 presidents. The upshot: when you strip out recessions, and possibly the nation’s response to the 9/11 attacks, there’s less difference than you might expect in growth in private sector jobs. But what’s truly anomalous about the last five years is the shrinkage in public sector jobs. The four prior presidents, including Reagan, presided over a substantial growth in public sector jobs. But public sector jobs have shrunk pretty substantially in the last few years. Most of the shrinkage has been at the state and local level…but still, the reality offers a sharp contrast to the oft-floated idea that we’re living through an unusual expansion in the public sector.

Alan

Cascadia has its own language, and I’m not talking about Chinook Jargon.

My Going Postal 2013 post generated a lot of discussion of the future of the US Postal Service. This article from Esquire is particularly illuminating.

There’s a surprisingly profound message about technology and art in this short article about a nomadic iPhone nature photographer. (Nice video, too.)

The classic Easter Island ecological catastrophe story made famous by Jared Diamond’s blockbuster book Collapse is probably wrong, notes Robert Krulwich of RadioLab fame. Citing Cascadia’s own J.B. MacKinnon (originator of the 100-mile diet), he recounts recent research which casts an Easter Island narrative at once more humane and more terrifying.

From Victoria comes the best Cascadian commencement address since Paul Hawken’s famous one at the University of Portland. And Patrick Lane’s includes mountain lions! (swoon)

Ivan Doig has spent his adult life in Seattle, but most of his books are set where Doig grew up, in central Montana. The Bartender’s Tale is about a saloon, a childhood, a father-son relationship, a Montana town, herding sheep, oral history, fishing, a missing mother, and an 11-year-old’s view of the world. Like all of Doig’s writing, it is a frolic with the English language, and like all of his works, it is well worth snuggling up with during the dark season we’ve now entered. First, though, you should probably read Bucking the Sun, from which the bartender’s tale branches.

Eric

Last week, reporter Curtis Tate unveiled a story that’s worth repeating: freight railroads benefit from huge taxpayer subsidies. In the Northwest, the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Obama administration is spending on high-speed passenger rail may simply grease the wheels for coal export schemes.

  • Why does energy forecasting go wildly wrong? There are several factors that contribute—and each is worth understanding—but in some ways the most important lesson here is that energy forecasting goes wildly wrong. Routinely. In fact, mainstream forecasters managed to completely miss post-2009 developments in coal, oil, and gas. Ouch.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates holds up Newt Gingrich as an exemplar of how not to be a racist. No kidding.

    I’m several weeks late on this one, but Dan Bertolet has what may be the single best take I’ve seen on the supply-side approach to affordable housing.

    Is Alabama a preview for the Northwest? Check out this video of oil spill cleanup efforts in the aftermath of that state’s recent oil train explosion.

    In Indian Country, a growing phenomenon that is all but invisible to those of us outside: mass disenrollment of tribal members. Ryan Seelau explains why it’s wrong with a special look at the Nooksack Tribe.