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Utne Reader Summer 2018

Since 1984, Utne Reader has been the vanguard of the alternative press, celebrating independent news and views from across the political spectrum. With ideas, trends and solutions you won’t see in the mainstream media for months or even years, those who want to know what’s happening next, read Utne Reader first.

United States
Ogden Publications, Inc.
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access_time2 min.
every day’s a birthday

I’M ABOUT TO celebrate one of the most significant mile-markers in adult life: turning 40. I say “celebrate” because I’ve decided after some significant soul searching that I’m actually looking forward to the event. A few of my best friends have already crossed this threshold, so I asked them about their experience. One cited the more frequent aches and pains that made him feel 40. Another said it was no big deal, that he hadn’t thought about it much, but explicitly requested that there NOT be a special party marking the occasion. The consensus was that it was hard to believe we were already 40. It seems like yesterday that we were still in high school. In fact, it probably was yesterday that we did something to make our wives wonder if…

access_time5 min.

RESPONDING TO “DIGGING FOR NOTHING,” (SPRING 2018) Lovely writing and reminiscences. I had a childhood home with good soil as well. It’s perfectly reasonable to dig holes. mmburke33 via online comment RESPONDING TO “PITFALLS OF PROGRESS” FEATURE PACKAGE (SPRING 2018) Well, the writers of “Power Shift” and the “End of Progress” did not do anything to “Cure Ignorance” when it comes to new renewable energy sources. In “Power Shift,” mentioning that the embedded cost of renewable energy (solar and wind) are not tallied, while not mentioning that embedded fossil and atomic costs are not counted and almost never recouped is a disservice to the renewable technologies. Wind and solar embedded costs are recouped in months! Also, wind power now provides cheaper energy, compared to drilling for $75 per barrel oil. As an economist, while I…

access_time4 min.
building the cure for range anxiety

Gerald Espinosa vividly remembers his anxiety-riddled drive up Colorado’s McClure Pass in May 2015, watching the charge on his fully electric Fiat 500e plummet as he inched toward the 8,755-foot summit. He was in the final stretch of what normally would have been a four-hour jaunt from Denver to Paonia, in the western part of the state. With charging stops, it ended up being a two-day trip. His car packed with bikes and clothing, he spent the last few hours charging the battery in his electric vehicle, or EV, in Carbondale. As he climbed, the remaining range on his charge dropped from 70 miles to 40 to 30. “I was just panicking,” Espinosa recalled. When he reached the top, he had just 16 miles of charge left — and 33 miles…

access_time6 min.
23andme and your genetic status

As the gastroenterologist wrote up orders for bloodwork for my infant son, whose liver function was out of the normal range, she said, “Don’t worry too much. If he has one of these disorders, it would be like getting struck by lightning twice.” In about a week, we got the lightning-strike results: My son not only has cystic fibrosis but also another rare genetic disorder—alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, or Alpha-1. That means his father and I are both carriers of the Alpha-1 mutation. While many have probably never heard of the disorder, it’s estimated that some 23 million people in the U.S. are carriers, and an estimated 100,000 people have Alpha-1 itself, meaning they have two copies of the mutated gene that causes the disorder. People with two mutated genes have low levels of…

access_time7 min.
null hypothesis

Alex Tabarrok is no one’s idea of a big-government liberal. A libertarian economist at George Mason University, he’s best known for cofounding Marginal Revolution, one of the most popular economics blogs on the internet. A deep skeptic of government bureaucracies, he has written favorably of private prisons, private airports, and even private cities. That’s why a study he co-published earlier this year is so noteworthy. When Tabarrok and his former grad student Nathan Goldschlag set out to measure how federal regulations impact business growth, they were sure they’d find proof that regulations were dragging down the economy. But they didn’t. No matter how they sliced the data, they could find no evidence that federal regulation was bad for business. Economists—like politicians, arguing spouses, and, yes, journalists—tend to interpret evidence in a way…

access_time13 min.
debt is not the end

In early 2013, Congress entered a death struggle—or a debt struggle, if you will—over the future of the U.S. economy. A spate of old tax cuts and spending programs were due to expire almost simultaneously, and Congress couldn’t agree on a budget, nor on how much the government could borrow to keep its engines running. Cue the predictable partisan chaos: House Republicans were staunchly opposed to raising the debt ceiling without corresponding cuts to spending, and Democrats, while plenty weary of running up debt, too, wouldn’t sign on to the Republicans’ proposed austerity. In the absence of political consensus, and with time running out, a curious solution bubbled up from the depths of the economic blogosphere. What if the Treasury minted a $1 trillion coin, deposited it in the government’s account…