Sunday Reading – 02/15/15


The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Sources: MLB could alter strike zone as response to declining offense – Major League Baseball is considering altering the textbook definition of the strike zone for the first time in nearly two decades, fearful that the proliferation of the low strike has sapped too much offense from the game, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Concern around baseball about the strike zone filtered down to the MLB’s Playing Rules Committee, which must formally adopt a rules change before it’s implemented. The committee will pay close attention to the size of the strike zone in 2015 with an eye on change as early as 2016 after studies showed it has expanded significantly since 2009, coinciding with a precipitous dip in run scoring. Of particular concern, sources said, is the low strike, a scourge not only because it has stretched beyond the zone’s boundaries but is considered a significantly more difficult pitch to hit.

Runs per game fell to 4.07 in 2014, the lowest mark since 1981 and the 13th fewest since World War II, and studies from The Hardball Times’ Jon Roegele and Florida professor Brian Mills pegged the low strike as a significant culprit.

Since 2009, the average size of the called strike zone has jumped from 435 square inches to 475 square inches, according to Roegele’s research. The results: Pitchers are throwing more in the lower part of the zone, and hitters are swinging at an increased rate, knowing the tough-to-drive pitches will be called strikes. Read More > in Yahoo! Sports

What’s Up With That: Why Do Cats Love Boxes So Much? – Your cat’s continued indifference toward her new Deluxe Scratch DJ Deck may be disappointing, but there is an object that’s pretty much guaranteed to pique her interest. That object, as the Internet has so thoroughly documented, is a box. Any box, really. Big boxes, small boxes, irregularly shaped boxes—it doesn’t matter. Place one on the ground, a chair, or a bookshelf and watch as Admiral Snuggles quickly commandeers it.

So what are we to make of the strange gravitational pull that empty Amazon packaging exerts on Felis sylvestris catus? Like many other really weird things cats do, science hasn’t fully cracked this particular feline mystery. There’s the obvious predation advantage a box affords: Cats are ambush predators, and boxes provide great hiding places to stalk prey from (and retreat to). But there’s clearly more going on here.

…Ethologist Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands is one of the latest researchers to study stress levels in shelter cats. Working with domestic cats in a Dutch animal shelter, Vinke provided hiding boxes for a group of newly arrived cats while depriving another group of them entirely. She found a significant difference in stress levels between cats that had the boxes and those that didn’t. In effect, the cats with boxes got used to their new surroundings faster, were far less stressed early on, and were more interested in interacting with humans. Read More > at Wired

It makes sense when you consider that the first reaction of nearly all cats to a stressful situation is to withdraw and hide. “Hiding is a behavioral strategy of the species to cope with environmental changes and stressors,” Vinke said in an email.

Extreme drought in Northern California just got 10% better – In rare good news on the California drought, extremely dry conditions in northern parts of the state improved by 10% after a series of strong storms..

This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor reports extreme conditions throughout the state dropped from 77% last week to 67%. The positive change occurred mostly in northwestern California and the Santa Cruz Mountains between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. The northern half of the Santa Lucia Range, which is along the Central Coast, also saw drought conditions improve.

…The storm system dumped 3 to 15 inches of rain across the Northern California region. Three to 10 inches fell in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Runoff from the storm, however, added 500,000 acre-feet of water to California’s four major reservoirs – Folsom, Oroville, Shasta and Trinty, he said. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

Ice breaker rushes to free stranded fishing vessel stuck in thick Antarctic ice – A rescue vessel is rushing to free a damaged Australian fishing ship with 27 people aboard which has become trapped in thick Antarctic ice.

The 207-foot ship, the Antarctic Chieftain, suffered propeller damage after hitting a chunk of ice on February 7 in an isolated region near the Ross Sea, south-east of New Zealand. The ship, which is used for harvesting Patagonian toothfish, became stranded in ice floes up to 10 feet thick and lacked the power to break free.

Les Scott, managing director of Tasmanian-based Australian Longline, which owns the ship, said an underwater video inspection showed three of the four propeller blade tips were damaged. None of the crew has been injured. Read More > in the Telegraph

Hayward Uses Humorous Road Signs to Curtail Speeding – The city of Hayward recently placed new traffic signs along a downhill boulevard to encourage drivers to reduce their speed. But these aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill road signs. Oh, no.

“Downhill: Use eyes, brakes, brain,” one of the signs of the reads.

“35 – It’s a speed limit, not a suggestion,” says another.

One sign even asks users to cross the street before updating their Facebook statuses.

“The idea is for people to do a double take and then realize, ‘Oh, they want me to be careful on the hill,'” said city spokesman Frank Holland of the comical road signs. “Standard traffic signs often become white noise. … We wanted to use humor to get people to take a second look and think.”

So far, it seems to be working. Residents admit the slapstick warnings have certainly caught their attention—for now. But make no mistake: city officials say speeding is no laughing matter. In fact, police in Hayward are cracking down on speeders, and violations of those quirky signs will cost you $205 a piece. Read More > at California City News

California’s Affordable Housing Crisis Is a Crisis for Business – Proposition 30, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), not reforming education post-Vergara v. California, and AB 32 – are all easily identifiable policies contributing to California’s struggling business climate. But let me add another one: California’s housing affordability crisis.

California’s housing affordability crisis extends not just to those wishing they could become homeowners, but also to renters. The average renter makes about $18 per hour in California, yet to afford the state’s fair market rent requires an average wage of about $26 per hour. For would-be homeowners, there is a similar affordability gap. The median home sale price in California is just under $401,000, but the annual salary needed to afford such a home (assuming typical monthly payments) requires a salary of $77,000, which is about $16,000 above California’s median household income.

California’s knee-jerk response has been to relieve the symptoms, but ignore the disease. Rent control, inclusionary zoning (the practice of setting aside a certain percentage of new units for low-income tenants), and targeted subsidies all help individuals afford housing in a world without consequences, but as logic dictates, there are always consequences when governments meddle with prices. As one would expect, these subsidies increase demand. In fact, rent control and inclusionary zoning are both forms of price ceilings, which actually decrease supply, thus exacerbating the underlying problem further.

California’s affordability crisis isn’t a market failure; it is a government failure and one of our own doing. By restricting supply artificially through bad public policy, Californians are being priced out of their own state. Read More > at Real Clear Markets

How a driverless car will benefit you – …The ‘driver’ will be able to choose whether they want to be in control, or to hand the task of driving over to the vehicle itself. This represents a major opportunity – allowing drivers to safely use the journey time however they wish, from reading a book, to surfing the web, watching a film or just chatting face to face with other passengers.

Human error is a factor in most collisions. Failing to look properly, misjudging other road users’ movements, being distracted, careless or in too much of a hurry are the most common causes of collisions on our roads, accorrding to the report.. Automated vehicles will not make these mistakes.

They use a range of sensors which will constantly monitor their surroundings.

Driverless cars will be required to obey all road traffic laws and The Highway Code and are expected to substantially reduce collisions, deaths and injuries.

Driverless vehicles will offer the promise of better use of road space, reducing congestion and providing more consistent journey times, through the use of “connected vehicle” technologies.

“Connected vehicles” would communicate with each other and their surroundings to identify the optimum route, helping to spread demand for scarce road space. Vehicles could also communicate with roadside infrastructure such as traffic lights and use this information to minimise fuel consumption and emissions. Read More > in the Telegraph

Broke California cities can slice pensions – …The judge was clear: When California cities go bankrupt, pensions can be cut. After Klein made that point in his verbal ruling in October, CalPERS shot back in a statement: “The ruling is not legally binding on any of the parties … or as precedent in any other bankruptcy proceeding ….” Now it seems legally binding and precedential.

The rest of the ruling elaborates on that simple point, but Klein’s dressing down of CalPERS makes for entertaining reading – and might keep it in its place when other cities face pension-driven fiscal ruin. It’s been widely reported that when Vallejo and San Bernardino went into bankruptcy, city officials agreed not to reduce pension benefits out of fear of facing CalPERS’ legal fist and bottomless bank account.

According to Klein, it is doubtful CalPERS, which administers municipal pension plans but doesn’t guarantee any payouts, even has the authority to get involved in these proceedings. As the judge noted, CalPERS doesn’t face much risk of loss in a bankruptcy. The agreement is between Stockton taxpayers and current and future retirees. Read More > in The San Diego Union-Tribune

California’s 2014 Voter Turnout Was Even Worse Than You Thought – For a state whose political leaders pride themselves on being focused on the future, California’s 2014 elections seem to have decidedly been driven by its past — as in, its older voters.

Or put another way: It was the Year of the Grandparents.

“Not only was the average voter older than the average Californian,” says political data expert Paul Mitchell. “The average voter was older than the average Californian’s parents.”

…And most glaring in the research, it seems, is the issue of age. Young voters were almost nowhere to be found: only 8.2 percent of Californians age 18-24 cast a ballot in November.

…Mitchell’s analysis found that only 28 percent of registered Latino voters showed up last November in California — compared with 37 percent turnout of registered Asian-Americans, 32 percent of registered African-Americans and 49 percent of white voters. Read More > at KQED

Gavin Newsom takes first step toward run for governor in 2018 – Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom took the first formal step Wednesday toward a 2018 run for governor, announcing the creation of an exploratory committee to help him bank the millions of dollars he’ll need for a campaign.

Newsom said he couldn’t put a dollar figure on how much he’d require, but that forming the committee allows him “to put together a compelling strategy for California” and to focus on a campaign theme — “how we can once again reinvigorate the California dream.”

Newsom said economic development would be “the foundational issue” of a campaign that will also focus on climate change, education and reform of drug laws. Newsom, who supports the legalization of recreational marijuana, intends to release a report next month by a task force he set up to address “some of our harshest critics” on the subject. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Infected commuter could have exposed thousands to measles – The first case of measles in a county east of San Francisco could mean tens of thousands of commuters have been exposed to the highly contagious virus.

A Contra Costa County resident who had contracted the disease commuted from home to work in San Francisco while infectious, Contra Costa Public Health officials said Wednesday.

During peak commute hours across the San Francisco Bay Area, there are over 50,000 riders on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, train system.

A California-centered measles outbreak that had its epicenter at Disneyland has so far sickened at least 123 people in 11 California counties, seven other states and Mexico, according to the California Department of Public Health. Read More > in USA Today

Denver Is Better Off Without Peyton – The Denver Broncos franchise is in a state of transition that’s as important as any offseason they’ve had since 2009 — and that’s even when assuming that Peyton Manning will not retire.

The Broncos have all new coaches across the board under new head coach Gary Kubiak, including offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who will be switching the base defense to a 3-4. In addition to the massive overhaul of the guys making the calls on the sideline, Denver could be unloading some of the biggest names on the free-agent market this year if they don’t lock up some of their own guys before March.

Basically, the Broncos pushed hard for a Super Bowl championship in 2014, and ended up falling a full three wins shy. Now, how can they assure themselves success not just in the upcoming season, but for the near and long-term future?

It all comes down to Manning. The best thing for the franchise may be if the quarterback calls it a career before March 9. Here’s why.

But if Denver doesn’t clear up any cap space, they will not be a major factor in the free-agency market. And that’s going to be difficult to do considering how many core players need to be re-signed.

…Unless a big chunk of change opens up, like with the retirement of Manning, they’re going to lose some players this year that played key parts on the 2014 team. The money just isn’t there right now. Read More > at Sports in Earth

The robots are coming: What they mean for our economy – Call it the rise of the machines.

A new report says that more cheaper, better robots will replace human workers in over the next decade, pushing labor costs down 16 percent.

This is good news if you own a manufacturing plant. Maybe not so good if you have a manufacturing job.

We’ve seen how these trends play out in California, where our percentage of the nation’s manufacturing output has remained constant over the last several decades, but manufacturing jobs have plummeted as a percentage of the overall workforce.

The Associated Press reports, “The Boston Consulting Group predicts that investment in industrial robots will grow 10 percent a year in the world’s 25-biggest export nations through 2025. That’s up from 2 percent to 3 percent a year now. The investment will pay off in lower costs and increased efficiency. Read More > at the Grizzly Bear Project

Silicon Valley’s Sex Workers Are Being Priced Out of the City By Their Own Clients – It’s a story built for headlines: Monied men in Silicon Valley create a demand for highly compensated sex work that can easily be coordinated using the same apps and services they create at their desk jobs. As a narrative, it contains the holy trifecta that has come to replace sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll: sex, tech, and the hollow optimism of neoliberal capitalism. There’s just one problem: It’s not exactly true.

For the last two years, the media has been fixated on the idea of a mutually beneficial arrangement between Silicon Valley employees and sex workers. The reports follow a familiar pattern: Time-crunched Silicon Valley employees have a large amount of disposable income and the tech-savvy, Square-enabled sex workers who provide services for them are reaping the rewards, potentially earning upwards of a million dollars. Even after the FBI raided and shut down the escort advertising website MyRedbook.com last June, citing child trafficking as the rationale, tabloids and high-profile media outlets alike continued to promote the image of a “prostitution boom” driven by Silicon Valley’s money.

It’s undeniable that the tech industry has had an economic impact on sex work in the Bay Area. But between scrutiny from law enforcement and the tech-driven gentrification of San Francisco, sex work in the Bay Area is currently caught between a rock and several hard places. News outlets showed up last year for the sexy headlines about an FBI raid, but the economic fallout of that raid has proven to be far less titillating. To learn more about the situation on the ground, I checked in with three current and former Silicon Valley sex workers who painted a much different picture of the state of their industry than the image the media circulated last year. Read More > at the Daily Beast

Jackie Robinson West Stripped Of National Title – Little League Internationals officials have stripped Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West team of its national title from last summer’s Little League World Series, for allegedly adding top suburban players in violation of residency rules.

Little League officials determined “the Jackie Robinson West Little League and Illinois District 4 Administrator knowingly violated Little League International Rules and Regulations by placing players on their team who did not qualify to play because they lived outside the team’s boundaries.”

As a result, Jackie Robinson has vacated all its wins from the 2014 Little League tournament, including its regional and U.S. championships. The U.S. title from the Little League World Series will go to Mountain Ridge Little League of Las Vegas. Read More > at CBS Chicago

Unsure You Need a Measles Shot? Get Vaccinated – Everyone born before 1957 is assumed to be immune to measles, because virtually everybody caught it and became immune before the vaccine became available in 1963. It is possible to have a blood test to look for antibodies, which will tell whether you are immune; if you aren’t, you can get the shot. However, it is cheaper, easier and faster to just get the shot. Even if you were vaccinated or did have measles, there is no harm in being vaccinated again.

In addition, some people who were vaccinated between 1963 and 1967 may have inadequate protection because they received a killed measles virus vaccine, rather than the more effective attenuated live virus vaccine, said Michael Sennett of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 600,000 to 900,000 people received the killed vaccine, compared with more than 400 million doses of live vaccine that have been administered since the vaccine was licensed, he said. Read More > in The New York Times

The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol – The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption.

The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of “excess dietary cholesterol” a public health concern.

The new view on cholesterol in the diet does not reverse warnings about high levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.

But the finding, which may offer a measure of relief to breakfast diners who prefer eggs, follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that for a healthy adult cholesterol intake may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease. The greater danger, according to this line of thought, lies in foods heavy with trans fats and saturated fats. Read More > in The Washington Post

First Take: Handwriting on the wall for gay marriage – The Supreme Court will decide whether to allow same-sex marriage nationwide later this year. But it’s leaving little doubt which way it’s leaning.

The latest evidence came Monday, when the high court denied Alabama’s request that gay marriages be blocked while the state appeals a federal judge’s ruling that allowed gays and lesbians to wed.

That was the same decision the justices reached in Florida two months ago, allowing the Sunshine State to become the 36th in the nation where same-sex marriage is legal. Alabama now becomes the 37th.

But things were different last year, when the Supreme Court temporarily blocked gay marriages in Utah in January, and in Virginia in August, while the legal issue played out. Why the change?

The turning point came in October, when the court allowed federal appeals court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage to go unchallenged in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Indiana. The justices could have intervened and scheduled one or more of those cases for argument. Instead, they stood aside. Read More > in USA Today

Parents Reportedly Throwing ‘Measles Parties’ To Infect Their Unvaccinated Kids – Some parents in California are reportedly considering hosting “measles parties” — social gatherings where unvaccinated children can come into contact with infected kids — to build up their children’s natural resistance to the infectious disease.

Julie Schiffman, who has chosen not to vaccinate her two children, told KQED’s California Report that she was recently approached by a friend who invited her to a measles party. The friend offered to arrange a play date with a child who currently has measles. Schiffman turned her down.

“I would want that to be something they decide on their own, when they’re older and are more capable of assessing the risks and dangers,” she said. “When they’re teenagers, I’d say, ‘okay, you have a choice, you can get vaccinated or you can get the measles, what would you rather?’”

Before the development of the chicken pox vaccine, this particular “natural infection” tactic used to be popular among parents who wanted to give their children the virus while they were still young and the infection would be less severe. Now, despite the fact that there’s a vaccine available to prevent that disease, the practice has persisted among some parents who are skeptical about following the government’s recommended immunization schedule. Read More > at Think Progress

Yes, California, there is a death penalty – What happened to California’s death penalty? There has not been an execution since 2006, when a federal judge ruled against the state’s three-drug lethal injection protocol. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld three-drug executions. It didn’t matter. Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris both personally oppose capital punishment, but as candidates promised to uphold the law. In real life, they’ve let things slide. Fed up, two men related to murder victims have filed suit to push the state to carry out the law.

Kermit Alexander wants to see the law work on Tiequon Cox, convicted of killing the former football player’s mother, sister and two nephews in 1984 — Cox went to the wrong address for a $3,500 contract killing. Bradley Winchell is sick of waiting for the execution of Michael Morales, who raped, hammered, strangled and stabbed to death his 17-year-old sister, Terri, in 1981. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shellyanne Chang ruled in their favor Friday after Harris challenged them on the dubious grounds that crime victims and the general public “lack standing” to sue the state.

Brown had directed the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in April 2012 to develop rules that should pass court muster. What’s taking so long? Spokesman Jeffrey Callison answered that his department has been working on “a single drug protocol” but “nationwide, there is a problem with access to execution drugs and that is complicating efforts.”

California has used lethal injection since 1996 to spare condemned inmates unnecessary pain. Even still, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel stayed Morales’ execution as the judge perceived a 0.001 percent chance the convicted killer might feel pain. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Uber CEO explains his company’s highly ambitious goal to end car ownership in the world – Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, believes his company will ultimately go neck and neck with car dealerships. He wants to make Uber so affordable that riding Uber consistently becomes cheaper and easier than actually owning a car.

“Our intention is to make Uber so efficient, cars so highly utilized that for most people it is cheaper than owning a car,” Kalanick said Saturday morning on Twitter. Kalanick was responding to a reporter who questioned whether or not Uber would keep rates low once there are fewer ride hailing competitors.

For some drivers, Kalanick’s logic might make sense. But what about for road trips or running errands where people don’t want to be chauffeured?

Kalanick has already said Uber’s future will probably include driverless cars. So that could take a potentially-awkward chauffered grocery shopping experience off the table eventually. Uber is also launching new initiatives like UberPool, a ride-sharing service, to make trips more affordable by splitting fares. It’s easy to see a service like this being popular for longer distance trips. Read More > at Business Insider

The Great American Dream, Still Deferred – The housing market has shown signs of life recently. Prices have risen, mortgage rates are very attractive and construction is reviving.

But recall where the market has been over the last 20 years and you’ll start to see a less cheerful picture. In fact, from a longer perspective, it appears that the housing market, as it stands now, isn’t stable or sustainable. It is, arguably, still on artificial life support.

Return for a moment to November 1994. That’s when President Bill Clinton told the National Association of Realtors that many more Americans should own their own homes, because homeownership went “to the heart of what it means to harbor, to nourish, to expand the American dream.” He called on the nation to embark on a public-private effort to lift the homeownership rate, which then stood at just above 64 percent.

In Mr. Clinton’s vision, so-called government-sponsored enterprises — the mortgage-financing giants known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — were to play an outsize role in providing affordable home mortgages to ever-widening groups of people.

To a surprising extent, that vision became reality. The homeownership rate began to soar — census figures show that it peaked in 2004 at a little above 69 percent. That was during the Bush administration, which also embraced the dream of expanding homeownership. Anyone who was awake during those years knows that America had a colossal housing boom, followed by a monumental bust that shook the global economy. Read More > in The New York Times

The College Loan Bombshell Hidden in the Budget – In obscure data tables buried deep in its 2016 budget proposal, the Obama administration revealed this week that its student loan program had a $21.8 billion shortfall last year, apparently the largest ever recorded for any government credit program.

The main cause of the shortfall was President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to provide relief for borrowers drowning in student debt, reforms that have already begun to reduce loan payments to the government. For more than two decades, budget analysts have recalculated the projected costs of about 120 credit programs every year, but they have never lowered their expectations of repayments this dramatically. The $21.8 billion revision—larger than the annual budget for NASA, or the Interior Department and EPA combined—will be tacked onto the federal deficit.

The 40 million Americans with student loans are now saddled with more than $1.2 trillion in outstanding debt. And with higher education costs rising much faster than inflation, the already massive program has been growing at a spectacular clip; direct government loans alone increased 44 percent over the last two years despite an aura of austerity in Washington. The Obama administration has tried to ease the burden for some borrowers by reducing their payments to 10 percent of their income and forgiving their loans after 20 years; this year, the Education Department plans to make all borrowers eligible for that “pay-as-you-earn” relief. Read More > in Politico

Among New York Subway’s Millions of Riders, a Study Finds Many Mystery Microbes – Have you ever been on the subway and seen something that you did not quite recognize, something mysteriously unidentifiable?

Well, there is a good chance scientists do not know what it is either.

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College released a study on Thursday that mapped DNA found in New York’s subway system — a crowded, largely subterranean behemoth that carries 5.5 million riders on an average weekday, and is filled with hundreds of species of bacteria (mostly harmless), the occasional spot of bubonic plague, and a universe of enigmas. Almost half of the DNA found on the system’s surfaces did not match any known organism and just 0.2 percent matched the human genome. Read More > in The New York Times

The Pro Dumpster Diver Who’s Making Thousands Off America’s Biggest Retailers – Matt Malone doesn’t mind being called a professional dumpster diver. He tells me this a little after 2 am on the morning of July 7 as we cruise the trash receptacles behind the stores of a shopping center just off the Capital of Texas Highway in Austin. Given the image that conjures, though, it’s worth pointing out that Malone has a pretty good day job, earning a six-figure salary as a security specialist for Slait Consulting. He is also founder of Assero Security, a startup that he says has recently been offered seed money by not one but two separate investors. Nevertheless, the 37-year-old Malone does spend a good many of his off-hours digging through the trash. And the fact is, he earns a sizable amount of money from this activity—more per hour than he makes at his Slait job.

Malone stops his Chevy Avalanche next to the dumpster in back of an Office Depot. Within seconds, he’s out of the truck and sticking his magnetized flashlight to the inside of the dumpster’s wall. He heaves himself up onto the metal rim to lean inside and begins digging through a top layer of cardboard and packing materials. Half a minute later I hear what I will learn is Malone’s version of eureka: “Hell yes! Hell yes!” He comes out with a box containing a complete Uniden Wireless Video Surveillance System—two cameras and a wireless monitor—which normally retails for $419. A quick inspection reveals that it’s all in perfect condition, although someone has clearly opened and repacked it. “A return,” he says, then plunges back into the dumpster.

Ten minutes later, when he’s again behind the wheel of the Avalanche, Malone continues to tell me about the material benefits of dumpster diving. If he were to dedicate himself to the activity as a full-time job, he says, finding various discarded treasures, refurbishing and selling them off, he’s confident he could pull in at least $250,000 a year—there is that much stuff simply tossed into dumpsters in the Austin area. He lists a few recent “recoveries”: vacuums, power tools, furniture, carpeting, industrial machines, assorted electronics. Much of it needs a little love, he says, but a lot of it, like this Uniden system, is in perfect condition. Read More > in Wired

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About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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