Kristin

Ancient Stoic tips for the Modern workplace: don’t make things harder than they need to be, don’t blame others for your emotions, protect your peace of mind, and others.

The workplace is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. The author of Dying for a Paycheck says:

It’s worse than I thought. And obviously these workforce things that cause ill health do not fall equally on the population. If you are less educated, you have more economic insecurity, the likelihood of receiving benefits is lower, your ability to control your work hours and your job are worse, and so health outcomes are worse. But I didn’t think it would be as bad for as many people.

What do we know about gun ownership and gun violence? Just three percent of Americans own half the guns. Gun owners are overwhelmingly white men, particularly white men who are economically secure and less-religious, because guns make them feel more powerful and respected. They are also often fathers, because they want to be the “good guy” and protect their family. Gun violence moves through social networks, so creating more healthy social networks—where people feel connected and have a sense of meaning and purpose—might help.

Eric

The best decision I’ve made recently is grayscaling my smartphone:

If you have lots of color and contrast then you’re under a constant state of attentional recruitment. Your attentional system is constantly going, ‘Look look look over here.’

Silicon Valley is in a battle for our attention, and often I feel like the last person in charge of my own eyes. After going to grayscale, I’m not a different person all of a sudden, but I feel more in control of my phone, which now looks like a tool rather than a toy. If I unlock it to write an email, I’m a little less likely to forget the goal and tap on Instagram. If I’m waiting in line for coffee, this gray slab is not as delightful a distraction as it once was.

Just as advertised, a gray phone really is helping me break my addiction to it — and I’m enjoying my attention’s return to a vibrant and colorful world.

Alan

Good results so far from Anchorage’s vote-by-mail program. Will all of Alaska go next, joining Oregon, Washington, and (for a referendum this year) British Columbia?

For half a decade, Sightline’s climate program has been about two-thirds efforts to fend off new infrastructure for fossil fuels (The Thin Green Line, we call it) and about one-third efforts to put a price on carbon pollution. This allocation has been by careful design. The former is a key climate policy approach and politically tractable. The latter is a key climate policy approach and politically difficult.

In this article, the inimitable David Roberts summarizes an academic paper that finally validates our strategic reasoning. Not that we’ve ever doubted, but it’s nice to have the academy finally come around to what we’ve been saying all along.

Ed

There were plenty of remembrances/reflections/meditations marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, but I found this one in the New York Daily News to be the most forceful and thought-provoking. It’s a great reminder of what time can do to a legacy, if we let it.

Fascinating look into the generational tensions at the New York Times these days, which are only magnified by the current political climate. I worked there at a young age between May 2002 and December 2005 (ages 24-28) during what was an eventful time (9/11 had just happened, the war in Iraq ramped up, President Bush was re-elected) so it wasn’t like there wouldn’t have been flashpoints. But I can honestly say I don’t remember it ever being like what’s described in this Vanity Fair piece.

I’m still savoring the drama and intensity of what was the greatest Women’s Final Four ever, and with good reason. Just watch the end of last Sunday’s championship game, in which Notre Dame beat Mississippi State, 61-58.

Aven

Good news continues to come out of the renewable energy sector, as the cost of wind and solar continues to fall. According to a new report by the Bloomberg New Energy Finance research group, renewables will be cheaper to run than coal plants in most places by 2023 and costs will continue to fall until at least 2040. Including batteries, renewables could start to compete with gas plants on price, even in places like the US where gas is cheap and plentiful. In short, “the economic case for building new coal and gas capacity is crumbling”, which seems like a pretty good reason to stop doing it.

Here’s another good reason:

Gallup’s annual Environment survey yields two broad conclusions about Americans’ views on the U.S. energy situation. First, Americans’ concern about energy, based on multiple measures, is at or near its lowest level in two decades or more. Second, Americans continue to voice preferences for environmental protection, energy conservation and developing alternative energy over producing more traditional energy supplies.

Having grown up in a very rural part of the country in a house full of guns, I related strongly to this essay in the New York Times about the ways that modern society and technology have twisted gun culture.

  • And speaking of guns, if you’re wondering if all the protesting and marching is going to have any effect on gun policy: it already has.

    John

    Earthjustice is representing a conservation coalition of organizations petitioning Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to enforce its “bad actor” mining laws against Hecla Corporation and its CEO, Philips Baker, Jr. As background, the coalition alerted DEQ that Baker previously held top leadership positions with Pegasus Gold, Inc. and several of its subsidiaries. But in 1998, during Baker’s tenure, those companies declared bankruptcy, shifting tens of millions of dollars in reclamation liabilities at their abandoned cyanide-leach gold mines to Montana taxpayers.

    Earthjustice reports that, “DEQ responded to the conservation coalition’s enforcement request on March 20, 2018, by issuing violation letters to Baker and Hecla,” advising those parties that they can comply with “bad actor” provisions of Montana mining law by repaying the State of Montana in full for reclamation expenses at the abandoned mines, “or by demonstrating that Baker and any entity under his direction and control will not conduct mining or exploration activities in Montana.”

    Three Hecla subsidiaries responded by suing the state, and the coalition on April 4 requested to intervene in the lawsuit.

    With regard to another mining adventure, in a follow-up to our article on Pebble Mine and Bristol Bay, the company has now filed for a federal permit to begin construction activity. The US Army Corps of Engineers, which will review the permit application, has scheduled public hearings in nine Alaska communities, and has set a deadline of April 30 for public comments on the scope of an Environmental Impact Statement. Critics include Alaska Governor Bill Walker, who believes salmon should take priority over the mine, and his administration has asked for up to four months to review the mining proposal and submit scoping comments. Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program is campaigning to Save Bristol Bay, and invites citizens to sign on to the group’s comments, or add their own personal touches, at this embedded link.

    John Abbotts is a former Sightline research consultant who occasionally submits material for Weekend Reading and other posts.