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Let’s talk about earthquakes and the economy
Apr 5, 2024
Episode 1133

Let’s talk about earthquakes and the economy

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Plus, introducing "Kai's Absinthe"

Today, we’re talking earthquakes! First, our East Coast-based hosts react to the shaking on their side of the country. Then, we’ll examine how earthquake preparedness in Taiwan saved lives and prevented a big problem for the global tech economy. Later, we’ll weigh in on restoring blue check marks on X, New York earthquake memes and solar eclipse tourism in a round of Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart April 5, 2024 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kimberly Adams 

Let us do this thing.

Amy Scott 

Let’s do it.

Kimberly Adams 

Hello everyone, I’m Kimberly Adams. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense. It’s Friday, April the fifth.

Amy Scott 

And I’m Amy Scott, in for Kai Ryssdal one more day. Thanks so much for joining us on the podcast and on the YouTube live stream. This is of course Economics on Tap. Our weekly happy hour episode.

Kimberly Adams 

That’s right. We’re going to do some news. We’re going to take a little break. We’re going to play a round of Half Full/Half Empty. But of course, before we get into it, we want to know what you’re drinking. Hats off to Alcohol Responsibility Month. So, I hope everybody’s drinking responsibly this month and every month. But let’s see. Amy, what do you have?

Amy Scott 

I didn’t know that was a month. I have to disappear for a second to show you the bottle. So, I’m drinking a hometown favorite from Colorado Springs called The Decc. It’s a citrus clove liquor. They call it an après sport because you can see there’s a skier on the front, but it’s just a warm, delicious, yeah, Liquor. And so, I mixed it with some bitter, and a splash of soda and a cherry. And it’s nice.

Kimberly Adams 

You made yourself a proper cocktail. I see you.

Amy Scott

Yeah, you know, I stepped it up.

Kimberly Adams

Nice glassware and everything.

Amy Scott 

When I saw that you were going to do something fancy, I felt like maybe the Miller Light in my fridge wasn’t going to cut it. So, here we go.

Kimberly Adams 

Well, I feel like I’ve been kind of slacking on the cocktails lately. So, I wanted to actually try this week. So, I looked at what I had, asked ChatGPT for some advice, did some searching on the internet, and kind of comboed a bunch of different ideas. And I ended up with a cocktail that’s like whiskey, green chartreuse, some cherry blossom syrup that I still have, because I’m clearly, clearly still in cherry blossom mode. And what else is in this? Absinthe and some sparkling water and you know, I put a little dehydrated lime on the top. I don’t know if you can see it. If I tip, it’ll spill.

Amy Scott 

Fancy. Well, and that’s a beautiful glass.

Kimberly Adams 

Thank you. I got it at Goodwill.

Amy Scott 

Even better. Love it.

Kimberly Adams 

That’s where I get all my fancy cocktail glasses, but I have no name for it. So, I’ll rely on the chat and everyone’s imagination to see what I should call it.

Amy Scott

Oh fun.

Kimberly Adams

But I like it. I like it. Alright, let’s see what everybody’s.

Amy Scott 

Have you crowdsourced naming cocktails before?

Kimberly Adams 

Um, we did. I think we did. Yeah, when we did our stonks tales when everybody was doing the meme stocks. We did meme stock cocktails, and I tried to make several of them, and they were interesting. But let’s see what everybody’s drinking in the chat. Barbara’s got a southern Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. Lego Warrior, seltzer water and cherry juice. I love it because we’re still in cherry blossom. Thomas Morris drinking water. Oh, expat Mike says good morning from cherry blossom weekend in central Japan. I’ve never actually been to Japan or seen the cherry blossoms there. So, I’m very jealous of you, Mike. Let’s see Michael just finished a Mezcal Margarita. Oh, Chuck. I’m so sorry that you lost your brand cat this week. That’s a bummer. Tyler’s drinking an old fashion, the Wisconsin kind with brandy and sweet since you gave up alcohol.

Amy Scott 

I didn’t know there was a Wisconsin kind.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh gosh, that was a whole thing. Wait a minute. If you gave up alcohol for lent, how are you having a brandy old fashioned? I don’t understand. Anyway. Oh. Mighty Unlikely is having an Aldi’s blackberries seltzer. And let’s see what else we have. Margie is drinking a pineapple White Claw. Felicia with the dragon’s milk mocha mint. Okay. I don’t know what that is but sounds interesting. Oh, Adam says I should call it the “Kai’s Absinthe,” or Phil says it should be the “Make Me Smart tail.”

Amy Scott 

Am I picking up on a pun there? I like it.

Kimberly Adams 

I didn’t get that. Thank you, Amy. Yes, “Kai’s Absinthe.” I get it. I like that, Adam. Good job

Amy Scott 

That is a good one, but you can only drink when I’m on the show.

Kimberly Adams 

Although Phil says, “how about the Make Me Smart tail?”

Amy Scott

That’s good.

Kimberly Adams 

There’s an idea.

Kimberly Adams 

Let’s see. Let’s see what else? What else? What else? Homebrew sighs on. Water before that. Let’s see what else. Peg is drinking mango ginger tea. All right, so I’m going to hop really quickly over to the Discord to see what y’all are drinking over there. Ah, okay. Bob from the future has the Free Merlot, which is a non-alcoholic red wine, which I’ve tried before. And that’s for the weekend. Shout out to the non-alcoholic wines, which have gotten a lot better I think, over the years and I saw a story in the Washington Post, I think, but how the non-alcoholic beers have gotten so much better as well. Steve’s drinking a Diet Coke. Tim has a Karbach Hopadilla IPA. The names on these beers are so weird. Okay. Any who, let’s do some news. Amy, what you got?

Amy Scott 

Okay, well, I was thinking maybe you should name it, like the earthquake special or something.

Kimberly Adams

Oh right. We both felt that today.

Amy Scott

You felt the earthquake here today, right?

Kimberly Adams

Yes. Did you feel it?

Amy Scott

Yeah, no, I didn’t. I’m in Baltimore. The earthquake was centered in New Jersey, but my husband upstairs did feel it. So, I’m thinking what’s wrong with me? I was actually in this closet tracking a story. So, maybe I was just concentrating or used to the earth moving when I narrate. Anyway, so yeah, there was this 4.8 magnitude earthquake in the Northeast today. And thankfully, there was no major damage. Several airports did ground flights for a little while just to be safe. But I was, of course, thinking about earthquakes and Aleezah Hasan sent me this story from Vox about the much bigger earthquake in Taiwan a few days ago. As you know, that was a much more serious earthquake. 7.4 magnitude, at least 12 people were killed, hundreds are injured. But I think what’s remarkable about that is that the damage wasn’t more severe. It was the strongest earthquake in the country in 25 years, but they’ve adopted really strong building codes, and they conduct earthquake drills, and the tallest building apparently moved barely, just because of how it was constructed.

Kimberly Adams 

Is that the one with the big ball hanging in the middle?

Amy Scott 

Yeah. Yes, that is really interesting technology. And the story points out that, you know, not only does this preparation save lives, but there could have been a much more significant global economic impact because so much of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing is based in Taiwan. Taiwan makes 80% to 90% of the most advanced computer chips. You know, a lot of that takes place on the other side of the island away from the epicenter. So, that’s part of it. But in 1999 apparently, an earthquake basically shut down the electronics industry for a few weeks. And of course, back then computer chips were not quite as critical to the global economy. So, it just kind of speaks to the fragility of the supply chain and how concentrating industry in high-risk places can be risky.

Kimberly Adams 

Well, I mean, but given the world, what’s not a high-risk place?

Amy Scott 

Very few. Yeah. I mean, Silicon Valley, is on how many faults? So yeah, it’s not a problem that’s going to be easy to solve, but I think it does speak to how preparation really pays off. And strong building codes.

Kimberly Adams 

It really doesn’t. Yeah, if you get a chance to look at some of the articles about this. I’ve seen some sort of illustrations and videos showing this giant ball like, literally hanging in the middle of the size skyscraper that absorbs the shock of it, which is absolutely wild to me. Okay, cool. I have two health related stories. The first one is, even though Kai’s absent he would relate to this, which is about allergies. Yes, Kai’s Absinthe. I’m going to be laughing about that for a while. Story in CNN that says, “It’s not just you. Here’s why pollen allergies are worse than ever.” And it says, “Recent studies have revealed that growing zones in the US are shifting as the climate warms, allowing plants and trees to expand their ranges. Rising temperatures also allowing plants to bloom earlier and longer, prolonging pollen seasons. Increased rainfall means plants release more pollen when they bloom, and higher numbers of thunderstorms cause pollen grains to burst, making them more irritating and worsening symptoms. Shifting wind patterns in some parts of the world are carrying pollen over longer distances, too.” Let’s also add in that they planted all those male trees in so many cities because they didn’t want female trees because fruit and that yeah. I say this as I wipe my eyes because allergies, so it is not just you.

Amy Scott 

I know. I’m feeling it coming on.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes, I know. I feel like it’s psychosomatic in some ways, like talking about it made my eyes itch. So, that’s one thing. I feel very validated as I’ve been like, you know, popping allergy pills like candy. But the other story is a lot more serious, but good news. The Food and Drug Administration is making plans I’m quoting here from The Wall Street Journal “to significantly expand the number of gay and bisexual men who can donate sperm anonymously, similar to the rules that banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood for a long time. They were also prohibited from donating sperm under certain circumstances because of fears of the spread of HIV.” Obviously, newer research and more up to date information shows that that’s not as big of a risk as people thought it was. And so, “under a proposal it is drafting, the FDA would eliminate the broad band, and instead adopt more pointed screening questions to assess HIV risk, according to people familiar with the agency’s decision. The proposed changes would also apply to donations of all other cells and tissues, such as heart valves and ligaments, all things that people need in emergencies. This is supposed to be finalized by the summer.” I think this is particularly, you know, important because there is really a shortage of sperm donors for people who are trying to have kids. I mean, there was a story in the Washington Post a while back about how it’s particularly difficult for people, for Black women who are trying to find Black sperm donors to get you know what they need. And so, like I’m trying to see here, it’s right, sperm banks. This is back in the Wall Street Journal, “sperm banks have been experiencing shortages of donors, especially donors of color. The COVID 19 pandemic exacerbated the problem as young professionals and university students who often compose a large portion of prospective donors left to cities.” So, this is going to mean a lot to a lot of families who rely on sperm donors to have their kids assuming that IVF is still allowed in the future. But clearly, we don’t know. There’s that.

Amy Scott 

Yeah. And so those policies really came out of the 1980s AIDS epidemic and the less reliable testing. So, the way that officials dealt with it was by just banning the entire group from donating sperm and that that’s really outdated because testing has come a long way. And so, it’s great to see this change for many reasons, as you pointed out.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. Okay, well, that is it for the news. We are going to take a quick break when we come back. We’re going to play a round of Half Full/Half Empty, and we will be right back. All right, welcome back. It is now time to play our game, Half Full/Half Empty hosted by the wonderful Drew Jostad. Drew, take it away.

Drew Jostad 

All right, first up, are you half full or half empty on X restoring some blue checkmarks to users that had them taken away?

Kimberly Adams 

Kai was so upset.

Amy Scott

Kai got one.

Kimberly Adams

Did you have a blue checkmark before?

Amy Scott

I did have one before, but I didn’t get it back. I’ve basically abandoned X altogether. So yeah, I don’t have a huge following. I’m half empty because what is even going on at that place? I mean, you know, it’s ridiculous. It seems like an attempt to stay relevant. And, you know.

Kimberly Adams 

I mean, they got themselves back in the headlines. They got a bunch of people to log back in who probably hadn’t logged back in a while just to check and see if their blue checkmarks were restored. So as a gimmick, I guess that works. Half empty. Twitter has, I’m sorry, X is not what it needs. It’s not doing what it needs to be doing, shall I say? But I was very entertained by all of the reactions to it. Michael Harriot had the most entertaining response. Let me see if I can pull it up quickly. Michael Harriot is a writer who writes a great deal about sort of race and ethnicity and culture and things like that. And let me find it because I sent it to Kai because I was entertained.

Amy Scott 

Kai’s response was an expletive when got the news.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, we’re not going to say. So, Michael Harriot responded to someone who was complaining about the fact that they were getting charged an annual premium for their blue checkmark, but all these other people were getting their checkmarks for free. And Michael Harriot says, “Why are you mad that some people don’t have equal access to the same privileges? Now you want X to repay you just because you helped to build their platform? It was a different time! Instead of begging for a handout and whining about Blue supremacy, maybe you should pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get more followers. Aren’t you people tired of playing the victim?”

Amy Scott 

Oh, that’s good.

Kimberly Adams 

I was chuckling quite a while as a result of that one. Any who. All right, what’s the next one, Drew?

Drew Jostad 

Half full or half empty on the enduring popularity of denim jeans?

Amy Scott 

Oh, I love that story. Yeah, Elizabeth Trovall did a great piece about how like even though Gen Z tried to kill jeans, they haven’t succeeded. This was when Levi’s reported its earnings, and they were down actually, but better than expected and you know, I’m wearing a pair right now. What can I say? That’s my thing. That’s my uniform. So, I’m half full.

Kimberly Adams 

I have like one like, kind of base level uniform that I wear from like September to May, which tends to be some version of boots, jeans and a top and/or a jacket to go with it. It was funny. One time when Lizzie O’Leary who used to host Marketplace Weekend, I ran into her at the New York Bureau, and we were wearing literally the same uniform and we were like, is this is this the journalist lady uniform? But anyway, I love jeans. It is because I’ve seen you wear that too.

Amy Scott 

Oh, yeah, that’s pretty much what I live in. Except yeah, when I have a fancy interview, which doesn’t seem to happen anymore because it’s all remote. You know, I do worry about the future of jeans though. Because my children, who are just two kids, but I think pretty representative, don’t wear hard pants, what they call hard pants. The youth like comfort and you know the whole athleisure trend. It’s you know, it really has eaten into the jeans appeal among younger people. So, we’ll see if they come around.

Kimberly Adams 

I have to say. As I think about it, all of my jeans are stretchy jeans. I don’t know that I have any hard pants at all.

Amy Scott 

Well, they don’t understand that they don’t have to be hard.

Kimberly Adams

I know it’s like.

Amy Scott

It’s like anything with some form is restricting.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, but I also don’t have the body shape to pull off like a tapered leg jean type situation. Anyway, half full on jeans. I’m all here for it. They’re comfortable. They’re durable. Hopefully we can lessen their climate impact.

Amy Scott

Yeah, good point.

Drew Jostad 

Okay, from 1971 to 2021, multi-generational households, the number of multi-generational households in the United States has quadrupled. Are you half full or half empty?

Amy Scott 

Oh, I’m half full. I mean, I heard. Was it Chris Farrell’s piece this morning on the Morning Report interviewing a family that lived together, an immigrant family, and talking about how that is a huge support network. And I mean, there are some less positive reasons. I think this is happening because of the cost of housing and the unavailability of housing. But I mean, I think being close to different generations is great for happiness, and wellbeing, generally speaking. So, as long as it’s not like forced multi-generational living, I’m half full.

Kimberly Adams 

I’m half full on multi-generational housing. I think, you know, when I was living abroad, I saw this in practice, and it really was helpful in a lot of ways. And it also taught people, I think they had better ways to manage interpersonal relationships. Because if you’re sharing space with people across generations, you kind of have to find a way to communicate and talk to people and manage and maintain boundaries and things like that. As long as, you know, there’s no like, you know, weird dynamics. But I will say, one of the things I think Chris pointed out in that piece was that some of this has to do with caregiving. And because we have such a shortage of caregivers, whether it be childcare or elder care, some of this multi-generational family is as a result of people just needing to be in the spaces for care assistance. And I would rather see better social support for that. But on the other hand, only because I know so many people, especially people my age, who would like to be out in the workforce more fully but are now in situations where they have to provide elder care. And even though they love their older loved ones, they would rather there be a system to take care of them. Similarly, you know, friends of mine who would rather not have their in-laws or their parents all up in their space, but they need their help with childcare.

Amy Scott 

Yeah, that’s why the shed is a good option. If you have a backyard, there’s a little separation.

Kimberly Adams 

To put the in-laws or?

Amy Scott 

Whoever needs to be there. I’ll take the shed maybe.

Kimberly Adams 

All right, what’s next?

Drew Jostad 

Half full or half empty on earthquake memes?

Kimberly Adams 

I’m all the way full. I enjoyed it. I especially love the dynamic of all the West Coast people trying to cast shade on the East Coast people for reacting to the earthquake. And I’m on Bluesky more than I’m on Twitter now. And there were all of these scientists saying like look, the East Coast is bedrock and shakes travel further when it hits a rock as opposed to on the west coast where you really don’t feel it in a meaningful way when it’s a 4.8 or whatever. Anyhow, I don’t know any of these things. I’m not an expert in this field, but I’m entertained by the discourse. I’m entertained by the memes. Half full.

Amy Scott 

Okay, so I missed all the memes. I was not on social media today; somebody give me a sample.

Kimberly Adams 

So healthy. I mean, it was just people reacting, basically talking about how people on the East Coast lose their minds when there’s a mild tremor compared to people on the West Coast who just like, eh it’s Tuesday.

Amy Scott 

And that’s true. I was telling somebody. The last one that I felt here in Baltimore was in 2011, I think. And I used to live in California. I know better. But the earth started shaking and what did I do? I ran for the door. Like you’re supposed to stop and protect yourself, right? Take shelter. You’re not supposed to, like most injuries happen trying to exit the building. So, like wherever it happens, it’s kind of scary. So, you know, go easy on us West Coast people.

Kimberly Adams 

The funniest one I saw only because I related so deeply is someone said my tornado alley-self felt an earthquake and ran to the basement because we’re trained in a disaster to go to the basement to protect yourself from danger, and that is not what you want to be doing in an earthquake.

Amy Scott 

Yeah, we should post some like, news you can use for people. Don’t go to the basement.

Kimberly Adams

Don’t go to the basement.

Amy Scott

Don’t run out the door. Find a sturdy piece of furniture, get under it, or a doorway. Right? Are we right, Drew?

Kimberly Adams

Yeah, what are the rules, Drew? Tell us.

Drew Jostad 

I think the doorway thing might actually be a myth. I think that you’re just supposed to like, cover your head. Get under a table. Yeah.

Amy Scott

Okay. Interesting. It’s funny how those things change.

Okay, is this the last one, Drew?

Drew Jostad 

Not 100% on that though I probably should be. Yes, this is the last one.

Kimberly Adams 

All right, folks in the YouTube Live Chat, do not take our advice on emergency preparedness. Get that information from your local emergency management source of whatever that is not us. And if you’re in the YouTube livestream, please get ready to vote in our poll. And while you’re there, if you can give us a like or a thumbs up, or all the things, we’d appreciate it. Alright, let’s go.

Drew Jostad 

Are you half full or half empty on traveling for the solar eclipse?

Kimberly Adams 

My mother is traveling for the solar eclipse because the solar eclipse. What do they call it? The path of totality. Thank you. The path of totality. Oh, wow, that closed super quick. Let’s reopen it again. Reopen the poll because it closed like, very quickly. Anyway, the path of totality passes through Bloomington, Indiana where my mother and her siblings spent a lot of time growing up. And so, she and some of her siblings are going up to Bloomington to watch a solar eclipse for the day. I do not envy them. The traffic. I’m going to be very content with my partial eclipse here in DC and look at it with glasses, and I’m going to go get from the library tomorrow. But yeah, I am not going anywhere. Are you traveling at all?

Amy Scott 

Yeah, yeah, maybe. You may remember I went to St. Louis for the last one. I think you were in town, too.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh my gosh, we saw each other. That’s right. That’s right. It was all a blur because my sister had just passed, and you very kindly came by to visit me and my mom. But yeah, I actually watched the eclipse in St. Louis with my mom a really dark period of time. But that was so nice of you that you came and visited us. Yeah. But did you get to watch the eclipse there?

Amy Scott 

We did and it was, I mean, it was breathtaking. It was such an incredible experience that I kind of vowed that if I ever had a chance.

Kimberly Adams

Oh, that’s right. You bought me glasses.

Amy Scott

Yeah, we had an extra pair of glasses, right? Because there was a shortage.

Kimberly Adams 

Cause we couldn’t find them in St. Louis, and you brought us eclipse glasses. Oh my gosh, I’ve totally forgotten about that. Amy, you’re such a good person.

Amy Scott 

Well, you had a lot going on. But anyway, so and my husband is like, kind of ridiculous about wanting to see it. So, he’s booked a bunch of different options for us, and we’re watching the weather. It’s so, you know, if the weather is clear in one of the places we can get to, we are probably going to go. So, I’m setting up my answer, but should we see how people answered in the poll?

Kimberly Adams 

Yes. Okay. So solar eclipse travel. Half full 64%, half empty 35%. So, it looks like lots of folks are in favor of travel. But I’m curious if anybody is there. Anybody in the chat to tell us where you’re actually traveling? Debbie Donovan says we booked in August flights, car rental, hotel. Jen Peck says family heading to Albion for the day. Let’s see. Yeah. Okay. And where are you going, Amy?

Amy Scott 

So, it depends on the weather. We have a St. Louis plan. And we have a Boston plan because actually the weather’s looking better in the Northeast right now, like far north Burlington, Vermont, Maine. But I also have like, I guess I’m half full. But I also have some guilt about the climate implications of flying to see something. It feels very selfish, honestly, to me.

Kimberly Adams 

To see something that lasts four minutes.

Amy Scott 

And yeah, it’s such an extraordinary experience. I mean, I don’t know if you remember the experience.

Kimberly Adams 

Well, that’s okay. Celebrities have private jets. You’re going to be okay.

Amy Scott 

Yeah, I’m not flying my private jet. But anyway, yeah, this is a complex thing for our family. I’ve been feeling a little bit bad about all of these plane tickets that my husband has booked. We’ll see if we go anywhere. I’ll report back.

Kimberly Adams 

Cheryl Lindstrom says we’re driving 12 hours to Texas, but Cheryl has family there. Let me hop over to Discord.

Amy Scott 

I really hope the weather’s good in Texas. The forecasts have been a little iffy.

Kimberly Adams 

Let’s see. Merica from Kansas City is driving from Kansas City to St. Louis on Sunday but driving south at like 5am. Fair.

Amy Scott 

Oh yeah. The traffic.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. There are jokes about flying to the eclipse because it’s very high. Haha. All right, well, I’m going to leave it there.

Amy Scott 

Yeah. Good time for the music.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes. Everybody has jokes today. Kai’s Absinthe. Oh my gosh. You know what, I’ve decided that’s the name of it. That’s the name of the cocktail. Kai’s Absinthe.

Amy Scott

Cheers. Love it.

Kimberly Adams 

Cheers. That is it for us today. Kai will not be absent. He will be back on Monday with me. And in the meantime, if you have a question or a comment that you want to share with us, leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART or email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org. And we bounce. Make Me Smart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Today’s episode was engineered by Charlton Thorp, who was the only one who gives us a warning before we go live. And our intern is Thalia Menchaca.

Amy Scott 

The team behind our Friday game is Jamila Huxtable, Emily Macune, and Antoinette Brock. Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts. Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital and On-Demand.

Kimberly Adams 

And On-Demand. There it is. Thanks everybody who tuned in on the live stream. Y’all are always lots of fun. Let’s see. Oh, and there’s Jasper hanging out. He wants to be part of the show.

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