Small Talk for Shared Urinal Cakes
• The continued growth of discount services like BoltBus and Megabus pushed intercity bus travel up 7.5 percent last year, according to a DePaul University study released January 5, making it the nation's fastest growing intercity transportation segment. By comparison, passenger rail service was up 3.5 percent, car and air travel up only 1 percent. Defenders of our automobile culture like to equate cars with freedom, and yet when given the freedom to choose between various transportation alternatives, more and more American travelers are choosing buses and trains. Go figure.
• KOIN in Portland, Oregon, reported this week that police have accused Caleb Grotberg, 32, of "using his dreadlocks to choke his girlfriend."
• This month marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In 2011, more state-level abortion restrictions were enacted than in any prior year, reports reproductive-health organization the Guttmacher Institute. The second highest number of restrictions was enacted in 2012. A decade ago, Guttmacher notes that one-third of women lived in states that placed onerous restrictions on abortions; now more than half of all US women of reproductive age (15–44) live in such states. Happy anniversary, ladies!
• Amid nationwide talks of gun control, gun sales reached a 14-year high in December, according to gun-buying background checks conducted by the FBI.
• On January 7, the Associated Press was hit with a wave of reader criticism after tweeting a relatively mundane ad for Samsung. Although mixing content with ads isn't unusual, what made the ad stand out was that it was written in the same style and format as the editorial content from AP's feed, causing readers to remark things such as "@AP u can't be serious bro" and just "stahp." The swift condemnation from readers illustrates the continuing tension between floundering forms of traditional journalism, which are clawing for new revenue, and the demands of their readers, who in less than two decades have come to expect their news for free.
• Ron Sims, former deputy secretary for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and previous King County executive, hasn't declared that he's running for mayor of Seattle. But for a man not in the running, he certainly has a lot of thoughts on how a mayor should run a city. When interviewed by enviro magazine Grist about what should be the top policy priorities of cities, Sims replied: "Chronic unemployment—that's gonna be really important. Dealing with climate change and adaptation from an urban level is gonna be critically important. I'd probably choose those two first."