Wednesday Links - 6 April 2016

Yikes, I was remiss in my linkage for a while there. It's been a period of transition—well, still is—so there's that. This week it's a potpourri of land-and-water economics, science fiction that people usually don't think of, super cartoonishly racist dystopian books, super cartoonishly stupid ways to serve food, and more!

One of the things I started getting really interested in is urban planning. Yeah, like literally zoning laws and transportation policy, which is weird because those are exactly the things that six-year-old me couldn't understand about SimCity 2000. Yet it probably shouldn't be that weird: given that I live in Seattle, one of the current crucibles of urban-planning debates, it should come as no surprise that I'm starting to find this fascinating, nor that Seattle has some really good blogs covering the ins and outs of good policy. See now this article in The Urbanist, explaining an alternative economic model to the supply-demand curve that seems to better explain housing patterns. Read it while riding the new Link light rail between Capitol Hill and the University of Washington!

And in the lighter side of bad urban planning, our very own Federal Way has made it into StreetsBlogUSA's "Parking Madness" Final Four! Yay? (But really, check out the aerial photo. It's embarrassing.

The invisible hand tickles some fish: setting quotas and giving out fishing permits is, according to a new study, the best way to save the world's fisheries from annihilation. Better yet, with proper regulation they could bounce back to full and sustainable health as early as 2050. It turns out that, at least for dynamic resources like fish (that tend to be hard to monitor closely) it can be a good idea to adopt a trust-but-verify strategy: the vast majority of fishers will want to continue fishing and not lose out, so they will also want to report bad actors.

Sometimes Twitter can be a force for good after all: it helped to deconvert a member of Fred Phelps' notorious Westboro Baptist Church.

From The Week: "The dystopian, anti-immigration book The Camp of the Saints is really racist. So why are a bunch of smart conservatives praising it?" I feel like "So why are a bunch of smart conservatives praising it?" has been a common question about a lot of things recently. See also the Trumpenstein.

We Want Plates is a photo blog documenting the absurdities that some restaurants serve their food (or "victuals," or "edibles" or...) on—anything but a simple plate, no matter how impractical. I think "wasabi spongecake on a tree" is perhaps the most sublime.

David Brin makes a case for the Sixth Amendment (Specifically, its guarantee of the rights of accused persons "to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him [and] to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor [...]") as the best weapon against "Big Brother"-style abuses of surveillance power, rather than the oft-cited First Amendment. Meanwhile, some people have looked at the Third Amendment (basically the twelve-sided die of the Bill of Rights amendments), but the arguments there are much more circumspect.

The other thing I've been getting into more (though it's always been obvious) is science fiction, its history, and its genre norms. One odd thing is that many criticisms often mistake sf literature as being only (or at least mostly) Buck-Rodgers-type pew-pew-guns-and-robots-and-save-the-space-princess stories of Manly Men of Science. Well, that stuff exists, but the best sf (and there is a lot of it) is much more interesting and complicated. It should come as no surprise that movie studios and radio/television producers grabbed the pew-pew stuff, because it's easy. (Mass media settling for easy over quality? What a shock!)

To that end, here are two lists of diverse-er sf stories, from African-American and feminist authors, respectively. I think "African American genre fiction" is probably a safer description of the first list, as (notwithstanding the author's well-taken point that many black people weren't allowed to access the kinds of sub-cultures that gave rise to sf) many of the stories were written in the 19th century, whereas I think one can justifiably argue that sf really got its start as a 20th-c. (post-WW1) phenomenon. More amusingly, I have books by several of the authors on the black sf list, and I didn't even know they were black! So I guess that's sort of part of the problem, isn't it...