plant lover, cookie monster, shoe fiend
9483 stories
·
20 followers

As Americans get back into their cars, road-rage shootings are spiking | The Economist

2 Shares

AS TRAGEDIES GO, it was an all-American story. On November 20th Sara Nicole Morales, a 35-year-old librarian who lived in Orange City, Florida, drove her car into a 40-year-old motorcyclist, Andrew Derr. According to a statement issued by the police, Mr Derr was not injured or knocked off his bike, and followed her to an intersection to try to persuade her to stop and exchange details. Instead of stopping, she drove away to her home, with Mr Derr and two witnesses to the crash in pursuit. When they arrived Ms Morales came out of her house with a gun and pointed it at the group. Mr Derr drew his own concealed handgun and shot her dead.

Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.

She was pregnant, engaged to be married and had an 11-year-old daughter. “That girl tried to kill me,” said Mr Derr, in body-cam footage released by the police. “She pointed a gun at me. I’m so sorry.” The investigation continues and nobody has been charged. What motivated Ms Morales to drive her car at Mr Derr and then point a gun at him remains unclear. But a remarkable number of shootings begin with road rage.

According to research by Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun lobby group, 2021 is likely to see some 500 people injured or killed in road-rage shootings, more than double the number in 2016 (see chart). The researchers, Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kathryn Bistline, analysed data gathered from news and police reports to determine the number of road-rage shootings.

Why should the red mist be descending ever more frequently? It could be that driving has become more stressful. Before the pandemic stopped much of it, the number of miles driven during a year by Americans had been soaring, and congestion with it. But even when far fewer people were driving during lockdowns last year, the number of people killed in car crashes increased sharply, suggesting that people have been driving more recklessly.

In 2020 almost 38,700 Americans died in crashes, a 7% increase on the previous year. Now most cars are back on the road—the amount of driving over the Thanksgiving holiday was expected to be just 3% lower this year than it was in 2019—and the rise in recklessness seems to have continued. Changing commuting patterns mean that traffic may be worse than it was before.

However, says Ms Burd-Sharps, a more likely explanation is the availability of guns. Sales soared last year and have remained high this year. Almost 22m Americans now have concealed-carry permits, a 48% increase on 2016. Road-rage shootings are most common in southern states such as Texas and Alabama, where a lot of drivers go armed. In California, New York and Hawaii, where concealed-carry permits are hard to get, they are much rarer. Between them, guns and cars kill around 80,000 Americans a year, most of them young. Combined, they make for a particularly lethal combination.

For exclusive insight and reading recommendations from our correspondents in America, sign up to Checks and Balance, our weekly newsletter.

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline "Beep beep, bang bang"

Read the whole story
sarcozona
1 day ago
reply
mkalus
1 day ago
reply
iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
Share this story
Delete

'Red revert' intersections here to stay despite concerns for cyclists' safety

2 Shares

One Ottawa city councillor has tried but failed to get rid of a traffic-flow technology that he says endangers cyclists at intersections.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper asked his colleagues on the city's transportation committee Wednesday to do away with so-called revert red lights. All of Ottawa's 1,200 intersections are equipped with sensors that allow a vehicle or bicycle to trigger a signal change. The function isn't used at the 200 intersections where the timing of the signals is fixed.

If a vehicle or bicycle moves past the sensors in the asphalt too soon, the busier cross-traffic that had a red light for a few seconds can get a green light again. Leiper said that leads to close calls for cyclists.

"I'm not asking that we encourage cyclists to begin crossing when the light's not green, but I am asking that if they make a mistake that it's not a deadly one," said Leiper as he introduced his report.

The committee debated the topic for two and a half hours before rejecting his request in a 7-4 vote.

Councillors favour awareness campaign

Brett Delmage, a cycling safety instructor and former cycling advisory committee member, urged the committee to oppose it. Under no circumstance should a cyclist edge into the intersection before they have a green light, he said.

Councillors who voted against Leiper's report agreed they did not want to endorse cyclists entering an intersection illegally. Instead, they favoured an awareness campaign, such as putting up signs at key intersections to educate cyclists about red revert technology and how to enter an intersection safely and legally.

The technology is designed to help traffic flow along busy streets, added the city's traffic services director Phil Landry. If a vehicle or cyclist turns right, their green is no longer needed and the traffic on a main corridor can keep flowing to avoid congestion.

Revert reds an 'unacceptable risk'

Érinn Cunningham of Bike Ottawa argued that other cities don't have red revert technology, and right turns on red lights are even prohibited in Montreal.

"There's no reason to presume that streets in those cities don't move transit and emergency vehicles in a timely fashion," he said, arguing that red reverts pose an "unacceptable risk."

Staff have also designed an "amber lock" that they plan to implement at more intersections. It would ensure that a side street gets a green light so long as a bike or vehicle stays within the sensor zone until the end of the main street's amber light.

That differs from a red revert, where all lights turn red for five seconds, requiring the bicycle or vehicle remaining detected on their sensor until the end of the all-red period. Cyclists can sometimes get caught in the middle of the intersection if they move early.

The city has programmed 34 locations with amber locks, and intends to do another 158 before next summer.

Read the whole story
sarcozona
1 day ago
reply
mkalus
2 days ago
reply
iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
Share this story
Delete

21 states poised to ban or severely restrict abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned

2 Shares
Activists and demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women

So-called "trigger laws" in 12 states would automatically enact an abortion ban if Roe is overturned. In nine others, bans that were blocked by courts or have long been unenforced could take effect.

(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Read the whole story
sarcozona
1 day ago
reply
dreadhead
2 days ago
reply
Vancouver Island, Canada
Share this story
Delete

Ed Yong talks to health-care workers with long COVID

2 Shares
dismissed by their peers, some medical professionals are re-evaluating how they've treated their own patients #
Read the whole story
sarcozona
1 day ago
reply
pfctdayelise
2 days ago
reply
Melbourne, Australia
Share this story
Delete

B.C. chiropractors vote for regulator to 'take a stand' against COVID-19 vaccine mandate

2 Comments
BEAR CREEK PARK VACCINE CLINIC

B.C. chiropractors voted overwhelmingly this week for their professional regulator to “take a stand” against a promised COVID-19 shot mandate, bringing a long-running conflict over vaccination back into the spotlight.

Read the whole story
sarcozona
1 day ago
reply
if you needed more evidence chiros are quacks
dreadhead
3 days ago
reply
Of course it is chiropractors.
Vancouver Island, Canada
Share this story
Delete

100 years of whatever this will be

4 Shares

What if all these weird tech trends actually add up to something?

Last time, we explored why various bits of trendy technology are, in my opinion, simply never going to be able to achieve their goals. But we ended on a hopeful(?) note: maybe that doesn't matter. Maybe the fact that people really, really, really want it, is enough.

Since writing that, I've been thinking about it more.

I think we are all gradually becoming more aware of patterns, of major things wrong with our society. They echo some patterns we've been seeing for decades now. The patterns go far beyond tech, extending into economics and politics and culture. There's a growing feeling of malaise many of us feel:

  • Rich, powerful, greedy people and corporations just get richer, more powerful, and more greedy.
  • Everyone seems to increasingly be in it for themselves, not for society.
  • Or, people who are in it for society tend to lose or to get screwed until they give up.
  • Artists really don't get enough of a reward for all the benefit they provide.
  • Big banks and big governments really do nonspecifically just suck a lot.
  • The gap between the haves and have-nots keeps widening.
  • You can't hope to run an Internet service unless you pay out a fraction to one of the Big Cloud Providers, just like you couldn't run software without paying IBM and then Microsoft, back in those days.
  • Bloody egress fees, man. What a racket.
  • Your phone can run mapreduce jobs 10x-100x faster than your timeshared cloud instance that costs more. Plus it has a GPU.
  • One SSD in a Macbook is ~1000x faster than the default disk in an EC2 instance.
  • Software stacks, governments, and financial systems: they all keep getting more and more bloated and complex while somehow delivering less per dollar, gigahertz, gigabyte, or watt.
  • Computers are so hard to run now, that we are supposed to give up and pay a subscription to someone - well, actually to every software microvendor - to do it for us.
  • We even pay 30% margins to App Stores mainly so they can not let us download apps that are "too dangerous."
  • IT security has become literally impossible: if you install all the patches, you get SolarWinds-style supply chain malware delivered to you automatically. If you don't install the patches, well, that's worse. Either way, enjoy your ransomware.
  • Software intercompatibility is trending toward zero. Text chat apps are literally the easiest thing in the world to imagine making compatible - they just send very short strings, very rarely, to very small networks of people! But I use at least 7 separate ones because every vendor wants their own stupid castle and won't share. Don't even get me started about books or video.
  • The most reasonable daycare and public transit in the Bay Area is available only with your Big Tech Employee ID card.
  • Everything about modern business is designed to funnel money, faster and faster, to a few people who have demonstrated they can be productive. This totally works, up to a point. But we've now reached the extreme corner cases of capitalism. Winning money is surely a motivator, but that motivation goes down the more you have. Eventually it simply stops mattering at all. Capitalism has become a "success disaster."

Writing all this down, you know what? I'm kind of mad about it too. Not so mad that I'll go chasing obviously-ill-fated scurrilous rainbow financial instruments. But there's something here that needs solving. If I'm not solving it, or part of it, or at least trying, then I'm... wasting my time. Who cares about money? This is a systemic train wreck, well underway.

We have, in Western society, managed to simultaneously botch the dreams of democracy, capitalism, social coherence, and techno-utopianism, all at once. It's embarrassing actually. I am embarrassed. You should be embarrassed.

"Decentralization"

I'm a networking person and a systems person, so please forgive me if I talk about all this through my favourite lens. Societies, governments, economies, social networks, and scalable computing all have something in common: they are all distributed systems.

And.

And everyone.

Everyone seems to have an increasingly horrifically misguided idea of how distributed systems work.

There is of course the most obvious horrifically misguided recently-popular "decentralized" system, whose name shall not be spoken in this essay. Instead let's back up to something older and better understood: markets. The fundamental mechanism of the capitalist model.

Markets are great! They work! Centrally planning a whole society clearly does not work (demonstrated, bloodily, several times). Centrally planning corporations seems to work, up to a certain size. Connecting those corporations together using markets is the most efficient option we've found so far.

But there's a catch. People like to use the term free market to describe the optimal market system, but that's pretty lousy terminology. The truth is, functioning markets are not "free" at all. They are regulated. Unregulated markets rapidly devolve into monopolies, oligopolies, monopsonies, and, if things get really bad, libertarianism. Once you arrive there, every thread ends up with people posting about "a monopoly on the use of force" and "paying taxes at gunpoint" and "I'll run my own fire department" and things that "end at the tip of the other person's nose," and all useful discourse terminates forevermore.

The job of market regulation - fundamentally a restriction on your freedom - is to prevent all that bad stuff. Markets work well as long as they're in, as we call it in engineering, the "continuous control region," that is, the part far away from any weird outliers. You need no participant in the market to have too much power. You need downside protection (bankruptcy, social safety net, insurance). You need fair enforcement of contracts (which is different from literal enforcement of contracts).

And yet: markets are distributed systems.

Even though there are, in fact, very strict regulators and regulations, I can still enter into a contract with you without ever telling anyone. I can buy something from you, in cash, and nobody needs to know. (Tax authorities merely want to know, and anyway, notifying them is asynchronous and lossy.) Prices are set through peer-to-peer negotiation and supply and demand, almost automatically, through what some call an "invisible hand." It's really neat.

As long as we're in the continuous control region.

As long as the regulators are doing their job.

Here's what everyone peddling the new trendy systems is so desperately trying to forget, that makes all of them absurdly expensive and destined to fail, even if the things we want from them are beautiful and desirable and well worth working on. Here is the very bad news:

Regulation is a centralized function.

The job of regulation is to stop distributed systems from going awry.

Because distributed systems always go awry.

If you design a distributed control system to stop a distributed system from going awry, it might even work. It'll be unnecessarily expensive and complex, but it might work... until the control system itself, inevitably, goes awry.

I find myself linking to this article way too much lately, but here it is again: The Tyranny of Structurelessness by Jo Freeman. You should read it. The summary is that in any system, if you don't have an explicit hierarchy, then you have an implicit one.

Despite my ongoing best efforts, I have never seen any exception to this rule.

Even the fanciest pantsed distributed databases, with all the Rafts and Paxoses and red/greens and active/passives and Byzantine generals and dining philosophers and CAP theorems, are subject to this. You can do a bunch of math to absolutely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your database is completely distributed and has no single points of failure. There are papers that do this. You can do it too. Go ahead. I'll wait.

<several PhDs later>

Okay, great. Now skip paying your AWS bill for a few months.

Whoops, there's a hierarchy after all!

You can stay in denial, or you can get serious.

Western society, economics, capitalism, finance, government, the tech sector, the cloud. They are all distributed systems already. They are all in severe distress. Things are going very bad very quickly. It will get worse. Major rework is needed. We all feel it.

We are not doing the rework.

We are chasing rainbows.

We don't need deregulation. We need better designed regulation.

The major rework we need isn't some math theory, some kind of Paxos for Capitalism, or Paxos for Government. The sad, boring fact is that no fundamental advances in math or computer science are needed to solve these problems.

All we need is to build distributed systems that work. That means decentralized bulk activity, hierarchical regulation.

As a society, we are so much richer, so much luckier, than we have ever been.

It's all so much easier, and harder, than they've been telling you.

Let's build what we already know is right.

Read the whole story
sarcozona
2 days ago
reply
acdha
3 days ago
reply
Washington, DC
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories