Via Yelp via the Washington Post

The Des Moines Register:

Everyone has an opinion on who makes the best pizza, and to that end, the Washington Post took a different approach to determine the tops nationwide. The editors there started with the 7.5 million Yelp reviews of 85,000 pizza establishments nationwide, developed a formula to figure out the best — taking into consideration the rating, number of reviews, and how often reviews mentioned that particular pizza style, the Post said — and then presented it to the public.

The Des Moines Register, winner 17 Pulitzer Prizes, was once a proud newspaper. Now they run stories rewriting data journalism about pizza from the Washington Post.

Rating Apples

It should be no surprise I love an obsessive strong opinion about something that doesn’t really matter and so I love Apple Rankings. That I disagree with it is only better.

Personally, I’m thrilled it’s Zestar season, so I’m stocking up on local ones.

It’s Gonna Be BANANAs

Iowa City is considering a zoning code change to open up more properties for “accessory apartments,” a rediscovered solution that might help our housing crisis.

The City of Iowa City explains:

Accessory apartments, or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), are small, self-contained dwelling units located on the same lot as a primary home. ADUs can be attached or detached and come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and configurations.

You’re going to hear a lot of folks oppose this with a lot of the same tired arguments we’ve heard from team NIMBY1 for years:

  • It will hurt (my) property values
  • It won’t fit the “neighborhood’s character”
  • It alone can’t solve the affordable housing crisis
  • Something something families
  • Something something corporate take over

You will almost certainly hear this from folks who — staunchly — say they support affordable housing in a vague sort of way and are definitely not opposed to change (just this change) or density (just this density).2

They have, in fact, already started.

The truth is this: building more places for people to live in necessary, but insufficient, to solve the housing crisis, and we need to find ways to do it on land folks already own in a way that reduces the power of the people living there to keep new people out.

This is one of those changes.

  1. My preferred term is BANANA, for build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything. ↩︎
  2. It might sound something like this: “We would be eager to work to come up with buildings that contribute to a healthy balance of affordable rental and owner-occupied housing without compromising the character of the neighborhood.” ↩︎

Local Coffee Notes

A local note: Daydrink is opening a new, second location, in what was the original location of New Pioneer Coop.

This is just a note about how much I love the aesthetic of the teasers they posted to their Instagram account.

I don’t get coffee from a shop as my daily drink (that’s a subscription to Brass Ring’s rotating single-origin beans), but Daydrink is exactly the kind of approachable coffee snobbery I envision for my imagined post-retirement coffee shop (but I’d go with different hours).

You’re a Cyclist Who was Just Struck by a Car. Here’s Why it was Your Fault.

Chas Gillespie:

You didn’t signal properly.
I mean, no, I don’t have any “evidence” for that, but you must have done something wrong for an upstanding citizen like the driver of a Ford Focus that looks like it got into a fight with a forklift to strike you. The stats are on my side. Sixty-six percent of drivers routinely commit moving violations, compared with 5 percent of cyclists when they have somewhere safe to ride. That’s why I believe drivers.

Waterloo City Council Moves to Rapidly Repeal its Conversion Therapy Ban

The Courier, in an unbylined article:

Months after a conversion therapy ban was put in place, the City Council could repeal the divisive ordinance Monday.

A special session will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall during which an amendment to the city code will be considered to repeal the conversion therapy ordinance. If the repeal is passed by the council and the rules are suspended to allow the second and third readings, the change could be adopted Monday.

The council approved a ban on conversion therapy within the city May 15 in a 6-1 vote, with Dave Boesen dissenting. Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change someone who doesn’t identify as heterosexual to become heterosexual.

The approval came months after the polarizing proposal was first introduced. People packed the council meetings where it was on the agenda with many making public comments in favor of or against the ordinance.

This story was published on a Saturday for a meeting called for Monday. Waterloo’s website doesn’t seem to indicate when the agenda was published (24-hour notice is required by law), but it would allow the council to immediately pass the repeal instead of taking the usual month and a half.1

Neither the article nor the agenda packet — which includes two pages of rules for public participation and an outline of city’s community vision — indicate why there’s a rush to repeal the ordinance.

What’s the rush to repeal something implemented just four months ago?

  1. Different city councils have different standards for when they’ll expedite action like this. I’m not familiar with Waterloo’s regular procedure. North Liberty’s council rarely waves readings, reserving it for cases where it is unavoidable, while Iowa City compresses the process with enough regularity that it has an appointed councilor with the move-to-suspend-the-rules motion language written down in a drawer at the dias. ↩︎

On the Reassessment of Parents

At this lake house, on this vacation with my parents and my child and their boyfriend and my brother and his girlfriend, there is a table tennis set.

I haven’t played a game with my child, as they recall, since they were 7 and taking swimming lessons at the local recreation center a decade ago. In their recollection, I am very good at table tennis.

I am very bad at table tennis. This is a long-standing fact, not due to a decline in a skill I once possessed.

Why I Picked My Bike

I’m always happy to talk up my ebike, which now has 4,000 miles on the odometer, and recently got a follow up email from someone looking at one asking how I landed on what I did. I thought it might be helpful here, too.

I have a Specialized Vado 4.0 (I think model year 2021) that I bought and have serviced at Geoff’s (we have bought a lot of bikes there over the years and like the folks there). My wife rides the step-through version of the same (I think if she were to do it again, she’d go with the traditional geometry). My kid rides a Specialized Como, which I wouldn’t choose for myself.

I landed here for a few reasons:

  • My notes from when I was looking ID’d that my primary use would be commuting and errands as a car replacement, and I decided I needed four things: battery capacity of at least 40 miles (to get me to work and back without battery anxiety); removable battery (our garage is unheated and detached and I have to bring it inside during winter because I can’t bring the bike in); fenders, racks and lights (for hauling stuff and safety during late fall and winter commuting); Class 3 (assistance up to 29 mph for practical speed needs)
  • I wanted to buy and get service locally, and that mostly meant an ebike from a traditional bike company like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, etc.
  • While there are some very nice looking ebikes from folks newer to bikes, and their software was probably better (Van Moof, for example), I just felt better with the local connection
  • I read a lot of reviews and forums, and found pretty helpful and comprehensive
  • I’ve always been in the buy-the-most-expensive-bike-you-can-afford camp. Mine was $4K, before any panniers, locks, etc, but compared to what we were paying for gas, registration, insurance, etc., I feel OK. Selling our second car this year more than paid for our two ebikes
  • I don’t think I’m a particularly vain person, but appreciate some of the pretty touches: integrated battery, internal cabling, not-too-upright geometry 

I haven’t found anything I really wish it had that it doesn’t. The built-in, app-driven lock feature isn’t really much of a theft deterrent (I use a heavy duty chain). I wish it eased up on pedal assist when shifting. The stock pedals are kinda lame. The bottom bracket might be a little lower than ideal. It’s heavy and bulky and I can’t take it on trips. The kickstand feels a little flimsy for the bike, especially when carrying any sort of load.

But I really find it a joy to ride, and it reignited my love of biking. I still don’t ride much recreationally, but I feel alert when I get to work and have a chance to wind down on the way home.

On Iowa’s Abortion Ban Bill

This bill outlawing abortion before the point most people would know they are pregnant will not lead to the end abortions in Iowa.

This ban will lead to unsafe abortions.

It will lead to unhealthy women.

It will lead to babies, known to be unviable while still being carried to term, to die outside the womb.

It will lead to dead would-be parents.

It will lead to unwanted or unsupported children.

It will lead to rape survivors being responsible for raising their rapists children.

It will not protect the living.

Instead it will force Iowans into childbirth.

If we trust Iowans, we must trust them with their own bodies, planning their own parenthood and their own medical decisions. The majority of Iowans — your constituents — believe abortion should be legal and safe.

Please oppose this bill.