Wandering Eye

Outgoing Maryland governor Martin O'Malley (D) recently gave the green light to hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, better known as fracking, and incoming governor Larry Hogan (R) supports the controversial policy. But here's something Free Staters may want to consider, should fracking start in their neighborhood: Data increasingly show it causes earthquakes. The Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America published a new study concluding that 77 earthquakes last March in Poland Township, Ohio, were directly caused by fracking, and one of them was "potentially one of the largest earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing in the United States." The online trade publication EnergyWire, meanwhile, looked at federal earthquake data to discover that frack-booming Oklahoma in 2014 had "564 earthquakes of magnitude 3 and larger, compared with only 100 in 2013" and an average of one to three between 1975 and 2008. The link between fracking and earthquakes has been a simmering discussion, and, given the emerging data, look for it to heat up. (Van Smith)

The Economist weighs in on the "sharing economy" (now aka the gig economy) in this long-winded paean to techsploitation. As is the trope, it starts with an app-based company—Handy—and claims its workers make a decent living—$18 an hour. Then it dollies back: "in San Francisco—which is, with New York, Handy's hometown, ground zero for this on-demand economy—young professionals who work for Google and Facebook can use the apps on their phones to get their apartments cleaned by Handy or Homejoy; their groceries bought and delivered by Instacart; their clothes washed by Washio and their flowers delivered by BloomThat."

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There's no mention of the class-action suit two Handy workers filed against the company for misclassifying them as "independent contractors"; The Economist prefers the gee-whiz-golly approach, along with the claim that governments must now adjust to the new reality: "This boom marks a striking new stage in a deeper transformation. Using the now ubiquitous platform of the smartphone to deliver labour and services in a variety of new ways will challenge many of the fundamental assumptions of 20th-century capitalism, from the nature of the firm to the structure of careers." Right: the old "inevitability" argument our trade/tech/douchebag overlords trot out every damn time. So here's a new aphorism, updating Samuel Johnson, which you can use for free if you promote my brand: arguing "inevitablity" is the first refuge of the scoundrel who has already wrapped himself in the flag. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

We're saddened and outraged to note that 12 people were killed when terrorists attacked the offices of a French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris this morning. The New York Times describes Charlie Hebdo as "part of a venerable tradition in France, deploying satire and insolence to take on politicians and the police, bankers and religions of all kinds, including this week a mock debate about whether Jesus existed or not." In other words, it is a French cousin to the alt-weekly. The paper, which was founded in 1970, was firebombed in 2011 after an issue that was supposed to be guest-edited by the "Prophet Muhammad." This attack was seemingly provoked by a cover story featuring the (fake) predictions of Michelle Houellebecq, the controversial author of books such as "Elementary Particles," who stood trial several years ago for calling Islam a "stupid" religion and whose most recent novel is about a France run by Muslims. A number of editors—including the editor in chief—and cartoonists were killed, as well as two police officers. The attackers, who entered the building with machine guns, have not been apprehended. The paper's website now reads "Je Suis Charlie" in a black square. In honor of the freedom of the press and in solidarity with the press under fire, today, we are all Charlie. (Baynard Woods)

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