The decline in U.S. fertility


A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle
I wonder why this photo was chosen for the article?

The decline in population growth in the U.S. from 2010 to 2020 is part of a broader national trend linked to falling birth rates, but also immigration changes and other factors. In May of 2021 the scope of that change became clear, with a record low of 55.8 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age in 2020, a 4% drop from 2019. Other countries are facing similar slowdowns in population growth.

This shift has been underway in the U.S. for many years.

Economic opportunities, social norms and changing gender roles – especially expanding education and employment options for many women – help to explain why fertility has slowed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. That change has repercussions for trends in workforce numbers, employment, health care, housing and education.

And that’s about as much of this article as I care to reproduce (pun intended!). Maybe I missed something; but, the authors avoided the everpresent question in our young(ish) republic. Do we continue to obey the instruction set we receive from religious leaders — or not!

When my father’s family moved here from Canada they hadn’t yet reached their ultimate family size of 10. That’s Grandma, Grandpa, and eight kids. My parents had two of us. Birth control overruled the priest at St.Charles Church on East Main Street. And after my sister and I related our first-day-in-catechism class…how fortunate we were not to be whipped by the nuns who performed that task for the priest in charge…that Sunday morning journey came to an end. My mom…very much self-taught like my dad…picked society-oriented books, fiction and non-fiction, for us to read every week and we discussed them Sunday mornings instead of taking that walk to church.

Over time, we went different ways, different conclusions. My sister married and had two lovely children. I eventually decided marriage could work. My parents example proved that to me. I had no interest in children since I didn’t set out to set the world on economic fire, anyway. Stronger political struggles in the (then) new and growing post-war civil rights movement served as primer for an ever-expanding materialist philosophy. Got a vasectomy when I was 22 years old. The Doc just about freaked out. I never looked back.

Read both the articles I linked to. Make up your own mind. It’s your life to build.

Unvaccinated? You’re in trouble!


David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

As much of the country emerges from masking and social distancing, undervaccinated pockets in the U.S. still threaten to bring the virus roaring back.

Less than 25% of the population is fully vaccinated in at least 482 counties, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by Bloomberg News. Many of these counties are more rural and less economically advantaged than the rest of the U.S., and a majority of their voters in the last presidential election chose Donald Trump, according to the analysis of 2,700 U.S. counties.

Though more than 174 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, accounting for about 64.6% of the adult population, such averages belie stark gaps in vaccination rates at a local level. With more contagious versions of the virus like the delta variant taking hold, this creates opportunities for further spread.

Hidden pockets of low rates of vaccinations at the local level have been a challenge before in the U.S. “When you start to look at communities, you start to really unveil very, very low vaccination rates that tend to get averaged out when you’re looking at the entire country or even on an entire state,” said Maimuna Majumder, a health informatics researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital. Viruses don’t spread at a national or statewide level, she said, but among friends, family and neighbors in a community, passing it to each other as people go about their daily lives.

I find it difficult to write polite phrases about people who choose to remain unvaccinated. Whatever the reason. It matters not whether religion or ignorance, fear or just plain stupidity governs your decision-making. You’re not only risking your own life. Apparently, you don’t care if you kill your children, your neighbors or the folks who live down the street.

The reasons for getting vaccinated aren’t new. I had to learn about them the first time I was vaccinated. That was in 1947. This is nothing daring. It doesn’t take anymore brains than stopping for a red light.

Sweden shuts down their last coal-fired power plant

Just days after Austria shut its last coal power plant, Sweden has followed suit with the closure of Stockholm Exergi AB’s Värtaverket plant, two years ahead of schedule. Belgium shut down its last coal power station in 2016…

“The closure of KVV6 means that all planned use of coal will cease and thus Stockholm Exergi’s CO2 emissions will be reduced by about half…Our goal is for all our production to come from renewable or recycled energy. This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time. Today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan.”

They won’t miss it. More important, their children and grandchildren will thank them.

Cute, Minimal, Economic in every way


Will Americans “Get It?”

The new MOTIV city car from Gordon Murray Design is red on top, white on the bottom, and can only hold one passenger at a time. It’s an autonomous electric pod that contains its occupant when in transit, and pops open to release them when it’s time to go to work…

The single-seater street car is designed to provide a method of travel for the people who often commute solo (most of the world) which has as little impact on the environment and traffic patterns as possible. It’s just 64 inches tall, 100 inches long, and 51 inches wide, meaning it’ll take up less room on the road, and perhaps most importantly less room in parking situations…

The point of this thing is to reduce carbon emissions for commuting through busy cities, aiming to replace emissions-heavy single occupancy in a large combustion engine vehicle with this little electric pod. That said, it is configurable to allow two passengers…can be adapted for wheelchair transport, and can be emptied out completely for 39 cubic feet of goods delivery…

Crucially, the MOTIV has not been developed with the autonomous software installed, but it has the high-voltage wiring harness and processing power built in to adapt any company’s stand-alone autonomous digital architecture. This wouldn’t be a bad way to start implementing geofenced autonomy, if you ask me. I’d consider taking a ride across town in a Poké Ball shared mobility pod thing. It has most of the convenience and eco-friendliness of taking an electric scooter, but with a roof to keep you out of the weather. Why not?

In the 46 years I worked fulltime, one job or another, here and there in the GOUSA, there was less than 1 year I can recall where this wouldn’t have been practical for me. And that was because of a commute to and from work a tad over 45 miles one-way. Otherwise, like most folks, I never shared that drive with anyone else. Critter would have saved me a whole lotta nines!

Do yourself some good – get a flu shot!

Dr. Thomas Bollyky, Director Global Health Program
Council on Foreign Relations

Essentially, the Doctor says – if you’re sincerely concerned about health, get a flu shot. On average, about 30,000 Americans die every year from flu strains – and we do a mediocre job of getting our families vaccinated.

No surprises. Just common sense from a knowledgeable source.

These guineafowl have tiny brains and elaborate social networks — Sound familiar?


James Klarevas

❝ A new study published this week in the journal Current Biology about an East African bird species with a pretty small brain reveals that animals may not necessarily necessarily need to be smart to be social…

❝ Farine and his colleagues decided to study the gorgeous blue-feathered, turkey-like species in depth…They found that the local population was divided into 18 distinct social groups numbering between 18 and 65 birds each…

The groups were remarkably stable, anchored by several breeding pairs. They also found that certain groups liked hanging out with one another, meeting up at certain times of the day and around certain features in the landscape. Some groups would also spend most of the day off on their own, then meet up with another pack of bird friends to roost at night. In other words, they exhibit the same type of multilevel society as big-brained mammals…

❝ Farine (says)…these particular birds aren’t particularly intelligent.

“They don’t only have small brains relative to mammals,” he says. “They also have quite small brains relative to other birds.”

Social networking may be more of an elemental survival skill than something requiring smarts. RTFA. Reflect on critters who dash around trying to be recognized as members of the “correct” group.

Waste not, want not – in Oakland

❝ The red plum’s presence confounds the third grader. She didn’t want the fruit in the first place, yet there it is. She doesn’t want to eat it, but she knows that tossing it into the garbage at Oakland’s Hoover Elementary School is wrong. Standing before containers for trash, recyclables, compostables, and unopened entrees, milk cartons, and whole fruit, the girl’s decision-making matches her Disney-movie hijab — Frozen.

Fortunately, Nancy Deming, the school district’s sustainability manager for custodial and nutritional services, is supervising the sorting line today. “If you’ve started eating your fruit, it goes in the compost,” she reminds the girl with a smile. “If you haven’t taken a bite, it goes to Food Share.” The girl glances at the plum, then carefully places it in the clear bin, from which students can take whatever unopened or unbitten foods they please. Anything left will either be offered the next day or donated to a local hunger-relief organization.

❝ For decades, students here and there have made use of designated tables in school lunch rooms to leave or pick up unwanted whole fruit, packaged foods, or other meal items. Although rare in most school districts, Deming has standardized the practice and made it mandatory for schools serving some 37,000 students in Oakland. As the only school employee in the country whose sole responsibility is fighting food waste, Deming has transformed the Oakland Unified School District — and somewhat reluctantly herself — into a national leader. With her help, the district has arguably done more than any other in the country to minimize excess food, redistribute edible leftovers to people in need, and compost the inevitable inedibles.

Always nice to see someone in a craft often practiced casually – managed by cheapass bureaucrats – build sensible frugality into successful management.