Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom ran a two-year randomized experiment tracking 500 employees of CTRIP: half were assigned to work from home and other half to continue working in the office. Guess what? Working from home massively improved employees’ productivity. And their job satisfaction—quit rates decreased by 50 percent in the work from home group. And of course, society benefited from less pollution and traffic from all those commutes. Article here and Bloom’s TEDx talk here (skip to 7:10 for discussion of the study).
Great 6-minute video on how redlining led to racial segregation not just in housing, but in health, educational opportunity, and criminal justice in America.
This article links to a series of four articles by a conservative thinker about why conservatives need to grapple with America’s racism.
On this podcast, the author of “Sex at Dawn” talks about how anthropologists had a hard time recognizing matriarchal societies because they were looking for the inverse of patriarchal societies, expecting women to dominate and oppress men through violence, the way that men oppress women in patriarchal societies. But it turns out that when women have as much power as men, the society has a different structure—collaborative and supportive and not dominating. He talks about how science has made much of Chimpanzee social structures because they fit our dominant narrative of how primate (our) societies work—patriarchal, hierarchical, dominant, violent, and using sex for dominance and violence. But science covered up and ignored Bonobos, who offer a different narrative of how we work—collaborative, non-violent, and using sex for connection and cohesion.
I don’t know whether this fact puts a positive or a negative light on Facebook, but the company claims to have closed a staggering 538 million fake accounts in the first three months of 2018 alone.
The sex robots will be here soon. Are you pro or con?
I realized, reading this article about the return of elephants to one of Chad’s beleaguered national parks, that I haven’t heard any positive conservation news in a really long time. There have been the occasional “Devastating Coral Bleaching Event Still Bad, but Maybe Not Quite So Bad As Initially Feared”, or “Deforestation Still Rampant, but Critically Endangered Species Found Thriving In Unexpected Micro-Climate” kind of stories, but I can’t remember the last time I actually felt optimistic about anything conservation-related. Probably before the 2016 election, if I had to guess. But this one actually seems like good news—the elephants of Zakouma National Park are bouncing back not because some war killed off or drove out all of the humans in the region, and not because some American NGO bought the place and then kicked all the indigenous people off the land, but actually because of good nonprofit management based on solid community development principles. My inner sustainable development wonk is swooning. It’s been a while since I felt the urge to go back to Africa, but Zakouma may well be at the top of my list for my next international destination (you know, maybe when my toddler is a teenager…).
Not to get carried away, here’s another worthy essay about the lack of evidence for the outdoor recreation industry as an effective promoter of either conservation or leave-no-trace principles.
But, not to be too gloomy either, the Yale Program on Climate Communication recently released its most recent Politics & Global Warming report, which finds that “[w]orry about global warming has increased among liberal/moderate Republicans by 15 percentage points since May 2017 and by seven points among conservative Republicans since October 2017”, which seems downright miraculous at this point.
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To round out your emotional rollercoaster this weekend, I also present a moving treatise from Ford Foundation President Darren Walker: With Four Freedoms, Four Responsibilities: A Defense of Democratic Values.
A1 gives us another interesting interview, this time with the authors of The Great Revolt: Inside the populist coalition reshaping American politics. One interesting morsel: Trump’s presidential campaign announcement speech (and perhaps his campaign talking points much more generally) were much closer to Bill Clinton’s than Hillary Clinton’s.
Psychologists at Yale find that Americans, and higher-income whites in particular, “vastly overestimate progress toward economic equality between blacks and whites.” No great excuse for my shock at hearing that “for white people living in the Boston area, the median net worth for their household is $247,500. For African-American households, the median net worth is eight dollars.” It’s not just Boston, obviously. “For every dollar in wealth that white families have, black families hold just five to 10 cents.” This is according to The Takeaway. It’s not shocking to me because it’s new information but because it’s so shameful, awful, and overwhelming. But, while William “Sandy” Darity, a public policy professor and director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, talks about the violence and prejudice that got us here, from lynching as the most brutal sort of property appropriation to redlining, he also discusses solutions like baby bonds. The Takeaway is doing a week long look at the state of wealth in America, and how decisions and policies made over 200 years ago continue to affect us today.
Two items this week from Democracy Now!:
One is a report on surprising results in May primary elections in Pennsylvania.
A second segment covers ongoing efforts, backed by billionaires, in Oregon and Washington state, to convince members of public sector unions to stop paying dues. Depending on the results of a US Supreme Court decision expected this year, similar efforts could spread across the country.
John Abbotts is a former Sightline research consultant who occasionally submits material for Weekend Reading and other posts.