27 January 2015

Anything but water

  1. The American Water Works Association has taken my advice, five years later, to open its future article archive to everyone. Now all they need to do is make past articles available. The world will benefit from knowledge and authors will benefit from the dissemination of their ideas. I doubt that the AWWA makes much on reprint charges (I saw this when my book went from five paid downloads per month to five-hundred-plus free downloads), so what's keeping them?
    Addendum: They are making the archive available for free late this year!

  2. I gave a talk a few weeks ago, "Russia's economic failures and geopolitical risks" (PDF slides and 40 min MP3) at LUC. Do you think Russia will implode silently, invade or turn into a democratic paradise?

  3. A fascinating article on drug addiction and its probable cause: social isolation

  4. The Yes Men (known for posing as businessmen or bureaucrats who announce major, pro-social changes in policy) have taken on the Dutch over the racism inherent to Zwarte [Black] Piet, announced a plan to move the US to 100 percent renewables distributed on a Native-American-owned grid, and exposed Transcanada's anti-insurgency citizen campaign of disinformation

  5. Coyote points out the "miracle" of gasoline (its low price compared to other liquids) before suggesting that gasoline taxes should be diverted from public transit to roads. He's right about the miracle, but wrong on his suggestion. Gas taxes should be set to cover road costs ("user fees"), reduce the negative impacts of pollution and congestion ("Pigouvian fees"), AND generate revenue ("progressive taxation"). The Economist, fortunately, makes the case for removing energy subsidies (cash and non-cash) worldwide

  6. A fascinating PDF with insights (?) on mega-projects in the Middle East (esp. GCC):
    On a cultural analysis level, the inferiority complex towards the West, with its roots in Orientalism, often inspire developing Arab countries to show that they are utterly modern in order to combat prejudices of Arab backwardness. Furthermore, and perhaps given less attention, is that these megaprojects are manifestations and legitimization of power in a somehow unstable political setting, for instance with threats from Islamists and democratic human rights movements. The projects can also be seen as articulation of the interior competition between the different emirates and other Arab oil states based on the traditional prestige society (i.e., the tribal kinship society)
    Related: US tolerance of corruption fuels resentment that increases retaliation and terrorism (in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere) -- as I said on 12 Sep 2001
H/T to EF


  1. What do you think is the appropriate subsidy for transit? I am torn on this, because while not a fan of driving, I realize that very few transit systems around the world are profitable, and at least in the US, several studies have found them to not even be socially beneficial outside of a few dense cities. And Europe isn't much better operationally even with more compact cities and much more expensive gas.

    1. Good question. There are two types (at least) of subsidies. One would give preferential access to space for "public" commutes (buses or bikes over cars), which can have a bigger impact than the other -- cash subsidies. Most cost/benefit studies ignore "the matrix of institutions (culture or physical space)" in favor of cash flows. They miss the point: You can't spend enough money on lipstick if it's going on a pig (e.g, LA's streets for PubTrans vs NYC).


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