24 Apr 2017

Monday funnies

If this productivity was normal (it's an excerpt from a commercial) then the Japanese wouldn't work so many hours!

Dayum Japan, work it.

22 Apr 2017

Flashback to April 2010

These posts are still relevant after 7 years!
  1. Earth Day according to George Carlin (but We can learn from savages)
  2. Blind bureaucracy (thank you TSA), Polling the Tea Baggers and Tax Day
  3. Futuristic plastic is present-day pollutionMy talk on oil and water in SoCal and The Story of Bottled Water (is wrong)
  4. Food Inc -- The Review. Plus Travelblog: Unsustainable agriculture in NZWater Policy in Spain -- The (mini) Review and Floral externalities (true, even though the carbon footprint of growing flowers in Africa and flying them to the Netherlands is lower)
  5. Tolerance - The Dutch are not the same as Californians (and vice versa!)
  6. I'm in the right club (i.e., water MDGs are poorly defined and hard to achieve). Related (a human right to water): Forbes and the market for ideasBureaucratic goals and others obligations and Clean water for Nigerians
  7. Co-equal fiction -- and realistic solutions (my solution to California's "Delta problem"). Related: MWD says pricy water is cheap and 20x2020 is wrongheaded and doomed to fail
  8. Anti-Westlands hysteria and Westlands is lying
  9. The US can improve -- still true, in so many small ways
  10. Water managers don't look for bargains probably b/c they don't pay attention to Poll Results -- Water Solutions which leads to California desalination costs over $2,000/af*. Better to restrict demand: Bolinas Water Meters to prevent Cheap water for the rich means less water for the poor (due to Water is scarce because ideas are scarce, e.g., Politics, lies and opportunism)
  11. The sorrow of West Virginia -- seems to be ongoing, qua Trump and opiate deaths
  12. My talk to the environmental engineers
  13. A Modest Proposal for Carbon (Chinese hunger and US obesity). Related (the children!): Dear Pope -- It's a Catholic problem
I've changed my mind on these

  1. Hail James! A great way to price water -- nope. Just set one price. My water use leaves less for you.

20 Apr 2017

Happy 4/20 from the Netherlands

Where it's legal to grow some flowers but illegal to grow the ones you smoke.

A view from my commute (train between Amsterdam and Den Haag)

How badly will I flood?

I always tell visitors that our Amsterdam flat is safe from floods if the dikes should break because we are on the second floor. Luckily the ministry managing water levels has a slightly more scientific approach on the "Overstroom ik" site.


The site (the name translates as "Will I be flooded?") is in Dutch but take a look. The message on the bottom translates (roughly) as "you have less than a 1% chance of facing this 0.5m flood in your life, but it might happen tomorrow." On the right side, it says I'd lose water, internet, etc., but says stay in the house for a few days, as the roads would be a mess.

Does your government provide such information on an ongoing -- and climate-change-changed -- basis?

18 Apr 2017

How Airbnb can help communities

I got a few ideas on how to address Airbnb's main problem of disrupting communities while talking to a reporter* about my post ("Airbnb is harming Amsterdam's communities").

First, Airbnb should require that any owner get the permission of their neighbors before they can list their apartment or condominium on Airbnb. In most cases, this will happen via a home-owners association (it's verenigingen van eigenaren or VVE in Dutch, meaning "association of owners"). The requirement for permission will force neighbors to agree on who, how and when Airbnb should be used.

Second, Airbnb should allow the neighbors to see who is staying in a place at any given time, to reduce (our normal) fear of strangers. In most cases, neighbors and guests will not interact, but the knowledge that they can see each others' profiles and have each others' contact information will make it easier to say "hi" (or "hola") and harder to be mean.

Airbnb can connect each host with neighbors' Airbnb accounts or new "neighbor" accounts. The neighbors would then check the "I-approve-my-neighbor's-participation" box to let the flat appear. Those neighbours would then see who is coming and when.

Neighbors who have bad experiences with guests (or their neighbor/host) could withdraw their permission at any time, for any reason. Is this too much power to give neighbors? I think not if Airbnb actually wants to strengthen communities. This system would also help Airbnb avoid lawsuits, bad press and bans by various city governments upset by Airbnb's impact on communities.

Bottom Line A neighborhood is made of connections, rights and duties among its neighbors. Airbnb can protect neighbors and preserve neighborhoods with a few simple changes to its platform and contracts. If Airbnb prefers instead to make profits by damaging communities, then it should be banned as an anti-social vandal.
*Addendum: Here's the article (in Dutch). The title is "Why drug dealers run their business better than Airbnb."