Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height
- Could dark matter be hiding in plain sight in existing experiments?
Particles called axions could be creating noise in superconducting devices: Axions were not originally proposed as a solution to the dark matter problem. Instead, they are a possible way to solve a pressing problem in quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of the strong force, which governs quarks and their interactions. Most interactions in physics work [...]
- Obama Joins the Patriarchy
The Obama White House continues to pay its women staffers less than its men:
- Last Friday’s Fonts
How the 70s saw the future? This site has Free Font Friday, usually worth taking a look at.
- How Much Is Enough?
We are constantly being told that the US doesn’t spend enough on education. Compared to whom, exactly?
- Obama at Saban
Lee Smith thinks the issue is settled, that Obama has taken the military option off the table: One early clue that the administration had already discounted the military option was its opposition to imposing sanctions. The strategic purpose of sanctions was not to destroy the Iranian economy, or even just to force the regime to [...]
- Israeli Startups Funding Using OurCrowd
A different startup crowdfunding model: That’s where the hybrid model comes in, with OurCrowd, an Israeli crowdfunding platform that allows only accredited investors to invest in startups that have been curated by the OurCrowd team. This allows startups to gather lower financial commitments, but from a larger pool of investors, while still maintaining the focused [...]
- The Democrats’ Civil War
Jacob Heilbrunn in the National Interest: But the notion that discontent is a basis for governing is another matter. Just because these sentiments are passionately and genuinely held does not mean that they are practical or even beneficial economically or politically. The fact is that Third Way has performed a valuable service by calling out [...]
- Vintage Skeeball Game
I wouldn’t want one in my house, but the lines are gorgeous:
- Harry Reid’s House of Lords
I’ve complained before about how Harry Reid’s fealty to the administration is doing lasting damage to the Senate as an independent institution. Someone else has noticed, as well, as he’s now obstructing the NDAA: The real culprit here is Sen. Reid, who seems more intent on running interference for the administration than legislating the people’s [...]
- Democrats vs. the Self-Employed
Joel Kotkin: Why is this the case? Ironically, this may be a reaction to expansive regulatory regimes that tend to both reduce corporate employment and also encourage some individuals “to take their talents” solo into the marketplace without having to deal with, for example, labor laws and environmental regulations. … Obamacare is only one aspect [...]
- 3D Imaging Reveals Details of Volcanic Flows
Not exactly volcano-lancing, but it’s a start: To collect the data, researchers equip airplanes with hundreds of thousands of lasers that scan the terrain at a perpendicular angle to the ground. The lengths of the laser beams indicate the height of the flow, and when multiplied hundreds of thousands of times, the scans can be compiled into [...]
Listening to Ezekiel Emanuel try – on Obama’s behalf – to weasel out of the president’s infamous promise about our being able to keep our insurance and keep our doctors brought to mind this thumbnail sketch from Witness, Whittaker Chambers’s autobiography and exploration of the mentality of the Left:
…if that person fell from grace in the Communist Party, Harry Freeman changed his opinion about him instantly. That was not strange; that was a commonplace of Communist behavior. What was strange was that Harry seemed to change without any effort or embarrassment. There seemed to vanish from his mind any recollection that he had ever held any opinion other than the approved one. If you taxed him with his former views, he would show surprise, and that surprise would be authentic. He would then demonstrate to you, in a series of mental acrobatics so flexible that the shifts were all but untraceable, that he had never thought anything else. More adroitly and more completely than any other Communist I knew, Harry Freeman possessed the conviction that the party line is always right.
To some extent, all party loyalists are at risk of falling into the trap of defending something they had attacked before, or vice-versa. It is well that very few possess the ability to do so with full awareness of what they’re doing, and an utter lack of shame in doing it.
Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height
- Quantum Entanglement Gives Rise to Wormholes?
That’s the theory, anyway. But what enables particles to communicate instantaneously—and seemingly faster than the speed of light—over such vast distances? Earlier this year, physicists proposed an answer in the form of “wormholes,” or gravitational tunnels. The group showed that by creating two entangled black holes, then pulling them apart, they formed a wormhole—essentially a [...]
- Play-i Crowdfunds $1.4 Million
We mentioned these robots last week in a post about teaching kids programming. Here’s a fuller description of how they’ll work: The app presents visual sequences of actions and simple commands on the iPad that kids can then perform — like clapping, waving their hand or shaking one of the robots — that compel the [...]
- Abandoned Building Photography
And not ruin porn from Detroit, either:
- Bike Service At Your Service
Beeline Bikes Like Uber? He started Beeline Bikes, which is kind of like an Uber or Homejoy for bike tune-ups. They have mobile vans, outfitted with all kinds of parts (see below) and trained mechanics that can fix up many bikes over the course of a day. The nine-person startup has three initial vans and the [...]
- Healthcare.gov: Unrealistic Technology Expectations
Gee, ya think? The fiasco with the $600 million federal health insurance website wasn’t all bureaucratic. Forcing slow and disparate databases run by government and insurance companies to work together in real time—and then launching the service all at once—would have challenged even technology wunderkinds. In particular, the project was doomed by a relatively late [...]
- Misshapen, F1-Inspired Electric Motorcycle Is Coming to the U.S.
Hey, innovation looks different. Get used to it. The concern isn’t the look, it’s the handling, along with the recharge time and range issues that are endemic to electric vehicles. I still think the right model is battery-swaps.
- Russians Zipline a Car
Across a River: There’s video, too. This might seem crazy, but it’s very similar to how Indian Bridge at Lee’s Ferry in Utah was built. The nearest crossings were a long way upriver and downriver, so for a while, they were loading up cars with material and sending them back and forth over the canyon [...]
- Grand Canyon Temperature Inversion
Doesn’t happen often, even less often on a sunny day.
Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height
- Canadian Cabin
In my old line of work, “Stealth” meant something else entirely. But here at the Glimpse, we love cabins as clever, cozy getaways. Stock them with a few dozen hundred books, and we’re all set.
- The Classical Liberal Constitution
Richard Epstein describes his new book: More specifically, the proper scope of the police power is tied to the two reasons that lead people to join a political compact in the first place. The first reason is to control the use of force and fraud. The second is to allow state taxation and coercion to [...]
- Cool Bus Stops
Denver’s got its share of odd bus stops, especially out in Lowry, but nothing like this: There’s been a lot of talk about making bus stops more functional, including announcements, apps that show when the next bus is due, and so on. I don’t think it’s as important to make them fun and interesting, but it [...]
- Income Equality Is A Bottom-Up Problem
A look at the household demographics of income inequality, from AEI’s Mark Perry: Most of the discussion on income inequality focuses on the relative differences over time between low-income and high-income American households, but it’s also instructive to analyze the demographic differences among income groups at a given point in time to answer the question: [...]
- Why Square Designed Its New Offices To Work Like A City
Trying to encourage spontaneous, serendipitous interactions at work. The design of the office “motivates people to move around the office and interact in casual, unscheduled ways,” he explains–just like the well-planned public spaces of a great city. Early concepts for the office were motivated by old 18th-century maps of cities. “When I think about a [...]
- Another Take on Burke-Paine
This one from Ira Stoll: Mr. Levin acknowledges that, 200 years later, America’s right-left arguments don’t always map so neatly onto the Burke-Paine diagram. I found myself recognizing the libertarian hero Milton Friedman of “Free To Choose” fame in Mr. Levin’s description of Paine’s emphasis on the individual and choice. Mr. Levin refers once to [...]
- The Pope’s Half-Truth
A more nuanced rejoinder to the Pope’s comments on capitalism. As Rev. Robert Sirico points out in a recent interview, Pope Francis is from Argentina where “free market capitalism” isn’t, in fact, all that free. The economic system in his home country is plagued by corruption and cronyism, which have greatly limited real economic freedom. Perhaps this [...]
- Why Are Gas Prices Falling?
Alexis Madrigal posted this graph-filled gem about three weeks ago, but it’s still relevant. At least some of the answer may be increased diesel demand in Europe.
- ASICMINER’s Threat to Bitcoin’s Model
All your Bitcoins are belong to us: How much of an impact on the difficulty of Bitcoin mining such super miners will have is difficult to say. The Bitcoin algorithm adjusts the difficulty every 2016 blocks to keep the rate at about 10 minutes to solve a block. It the hardware improves then the difficulty [...]
- Zappos Turns Baggage Claim Carousel Into Wheel of Fortune
This sounds like fun: This Thankgsiving Eve, travelers through Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport found their baggage claim conveyor belt festooned with what appeared to be Zappos advertising banners, but which were in fact prize markers for clothing, appliances, accessories and gift certificates. I would gladly trade the grisly post-apocalyptic set of murals at DIA [...]
- The Return of Iceball
Some climatologists are now worried about global cooling: According to the scientists, the oft-cited “stagnation” in rising global temperatures over the last 15 years is due to the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean oscillation cycle, which lasts about 65 years. Ocean oscillation is past its “maximum,” leading to small decreases in global temperature. The de Vries [...]
- Pssst. Wanna Buy a Phone?
Apple previews iBeacon in its stores today: If you own any iPhone more recent than the 4, walk into any US Apple retail store today and you’ll get a taste of the possibly-dystopian future of retail and the internet of things. That’s because Apple just rolled out a technology called iBeacon in all 254 of its [...]
- Caution on the Yuan
Reports of the yuan replacing the euro are greatly exaggerated: At most, around 15% of China’s trade (paywall) is currently settled in yuan. Either a big chunk of global trade—more than half—would need to come from China for 8.7% of global trade to be settled in yuan, or companies outside China would need to be [...]
Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height
- Robot Navigation and QR Codes
Programmers won’t like the lack of an algorithmic solution, but this looks like a good idea: Interesting though these problems are, there is another way of doing things. Most robots navigate around a “built” environment and there is no reason why we can’t simply augment the environment so that the robot finds it easier to [...]
- The Obama Language Wars
Tim Carney on politics and the English language: After Chait implies Hillyer is like a slaveowner, he writes something actually defensible: Critics of Obama should be careful not to use language that will come across as racially tinged…. But here’s a point for Chait: The worst possible way to cultivate racial sensitivity is by haphazardly [...]
- Desert Cabin of Wood and Mirrors
In Joshua Tree, California:
- Cut-and-Fold Artwork
Like you’ve never seen it before:
- Nanotech to the Rescue Against MRSA?
Another idea for how nanotech could rescue us from our post-antibiotic future: Nanosponges that soak up a dangerous pore-forming toxin produced by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) could serve as a safe and effective vaccine against this toxin. This “nanosponge vaccine” enabled the immune systems of mice to block the adverse effects of the alpha-haemolysin toxin from [...]
- The Bombe That Beat The Enigma
From Bletchley Park, the computer that helped break the Enigma codes: The small size here doesn’t do it justice. This was truly an awesome, beautiful machine in the way that only mid-century technology can be.
- Quantum Gravity and the Proton Radius
Using quantum gravity to resolve differences in measurement? This inconsistency between proton radius values, called the “proton radius puzzle,” has gained a lot of attention lately and has led to several proposed explanations. Some of these explanations include new degrees of freedom beyond the Standard Model, as well as extra dimensions. Now in a new [...]
Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height
- Who Really Betrayed Detroit?
From Steven Malanga at City Journal: Most press accounts note that city-worker pensions in Detroit are modest. They rarely mention that, for two decades, the city supplemented those pensions with annual, so-called “13th checks” for retirees—an additional monthly pension payment. Pension-fund trustees—themselves city workers, retirees, city residents, and elected officials—handed out nearly $1 billion in [...]
- Paging Cleavon Little
Obamacare isn’t helping Democrats with white women: Remarkably, only 16 percent of blue-collar white women have a favorable view of Obamacare. They disapprove of it by a 4-1 ratio. (The poll found 21 percent did not know enough about the ACA to hold an opinion.) These voters are by no means a strongly Democratic group: Obama [...]
- A New Maunder Minimum?
Still not very many sunspots: But scientists are watching the sun carefully to see whether cycle 24 is going to be an aberration—or if this solar calmness is going to stretch through the next cycle as well. “We won’t know that for another good three or four years,” said Biesecker. Some researchers speculate this could [...]
- Flashback: Orchids
From January, 2009: “He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.” Coloradoans, right now, as I write this, it’s -9 in Denver. Minus. Nine. Remember this when you get [...]
- Top Complaints About Offices
Noise. Everything else is practically non-existent by comparison: The worst part, according to the data, is that these office workers can’t control what they hear — or who hears them. Lack of sound privacy was far and away the most despised issue in the survey, with 60% of cubicle workers and half of all partitionless people [...]
- Obama Changes Course, Accepts China Air Defense Zone
And people wonder why the world thinks we’re unreliable: Japan, a vital American ally, has expressed fury over the Chinese move and ordered its commercial airliners not to provide information about their flight paths to the Chinese military. By contrast, the United States made a point of flying a pair of B-52s through it last [...]
- Unbuilt London
Urban transport as it never was. Some of these are pretty cool, others are a little silly, and some are outright desecrations.
- What is Gene Therapy?
An explanation of why it’s so hard: Several early efforts at gene therapy have focused on diseases of the blood, inherited anaemia, immune deficiencies, and blood clotting disorders. In these cases, the theory is relatively simple. But, in practice, gene therapy has proved much harder than we might have expected. Lots of promising technologies never make [...]
- Perils and Promise of Working Remotely
From a company that waded in at the shallow end, and is now trying it full-time. The good, and the bad. NO COMMUTING! Cutting out the commute means that if you’re working from home, you can spend the time you would be commuting exercising, gardening, cooking, or whatever it is you’d rather be doing than [...]
- Wittes on Drones
Benjamin Wittes takes Eugene Robinson to task for getting just about everything wrong about drones: Over at the Washington Post, columnist Eugene Robinson has a piece decrying the morality of drone strikes—a piece that expresses with an admirable economy of words nearly every conceptual error one can make on the subject. Let’s dissect…. …“I don’t see how drone strikes [...]
- Theodore Dalrymple on the Pope’s Economics
While sympathizing with the impulse to find consumerism disotasteful, Dalrymple points out what ought to be obvious by now: He writes, inter alia, that ‘Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed on the powerless.’ This is demagoguery of the purest kind, the kind that ruined [...]
- Political John Doe Investigation in Wisconsin
In a link-filled guest post for Legal Insurrection, Wisconsin Watchdog report Matt Kittle details what looks like abuse of prosecutorial discretion in Wisconsin, operating secretly but within the law, targeting Governor Scott Walker. There’s a secret war being waged in Wisconsin, and the outcome could have national ramifications on free speech and the rule of [...]
- Shazam for Neo-Nazi Music
German police are building an app that will identify right-wing music: Many themes and ideas can get media placed on the list including, “indecent, extremely violent, crime-inducing, anti-Semitic or racist material,” as well as “media content that glorifies National Socialism… and to media content that discriminates against specific groups of people.” This is the law [...]
- Triathletes And Pain
Apparently, they handle it differently from the rest of us: In the tests, the triathletes could discern pain just as well as non-athletes, but they felt it with less intensity and were able to withstand it longer. The researchers explain that detecting pain is a relatively straightforward sensory experience, whereas evaluating pain and being willing [...]
Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height
- Liberals Lose Effort to Defund the Right Via SEC Disclosure
Via Bainbridge, quoting Marc Hodak: Mary Jo White, former United States Attorney, is bringing a strong prosecutorial agenda. This shift in priorities appears to have manifested itself in a new Rule List that, at least for now, drops the push for disclosure of corporate political contributions. The pro-regulatory crowd is not going to be happy. … Corporate political spending [...]
- Using Nanographene Oxide to Destroy Tumors
More nanotechnology promises: Scientists have learned over the years that the cells in cancerous tumors are more sensitive to heat than normal cells in the body (it makes them more porous). To take advantage of this property, researchers have developed techniques for heating such cells before applying other techniques meant to kill them—heating tumors before using chemo or radiotherapy [...]
- Origins of Common UI Symbols
Not all of them got their start with Tech.
- A New Book On the Mumbai Massacre
The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark gets a favorable review at Lawfare. The Siege discloses a new intriguing wrinkle about Headley. The two British authors’ investigations in Pakistan, India and the US led them to believe LeT and the ISI became suspicious that Headley was a double agent, secretly [...]
- LA’s Former Forest of Oil Rigs
LA used to look like this: They’re still there, often hidden under a building or a decorative shell, but there are some down near the airport, if I recall. I do remember a season of 24 opening with Jack working at one of today’s oil pumps.
- 3D-Printed Modular Cell Phones?
So say Motorola and 3D Systems: Last month, Motorola announced a plan for a modular smartphone. Project Ara, the company said, will be a simple way for users to individualize their phones, swapping out parts like the battery and camera until users have a phone that’s just for them. How do they plan on doing that? With 3-D [...]
- The 5 Coldest Places To Live
Congratulations, Fraser, Colorado!
- Pensions, Midwestern Style
Detroit finally gets a break: Rhodes — in a surprise decision this morning — also said he’ll allow pension cuts in Detroit’s bankruptcy. Rhodes emphasized that he won’t necessarily agree to pension cuts in the city’s final reorganization plan unless the entire plan is fair and equitable. Illinois is considering its own pension reform plan, and [...]
- Thanksgiving, The Founders, and Religion
There’s a reason that religious liberty was specifically written into the 1st Amendment. If we seek evidence of the broadly shared public view of the meaning of the Establishment Clause at the time of the Founding, we find not an insistence on strict separation of church and state but instead a largely uncontroversial willingness to see the [...]
- How Elon Musk Thinks
Reason things out from “first principles” rather than by analogy: The benefit of “first principles” thinking? It allows you to innovate in clear leaps, rather than building small improvements onto something that already exists. Musk gives an example of the first automobile. While everyone else was trying to improve horse-drawn carriages, someone looked at the [...]
- Young Adult Readers ‘Prefer Printed To Ebooks’
Hope from, of all places, the youth of Britain: Sixteen to 24-year-olds are known as the super-connected generation, obsessed with snapping selfies or downloading the latest mobile apps, so it comes as a surprise to learn that 62% prefer print books to ebooks…. The top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital products were: “I like to hold the [...]
- Happy 250th, Touro Synagogue
One hundred years to the day before the completion of the Capitol Dome, the current building of the recipient of Washington’s famous letter was dedicated. Documents associated with the letter are much sought after by collectors today, not least because contemporary printings of Washington’s letter in Rhode Island newspapers, the Newport Mercury and the Providence [...]
- Someone Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe
Along with everyone else: So almost everywhere in Europe, people are living longer but having fewer years of healthy life. Only in the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands did people buck this trend with the numbers of years of healthy life increasing in these places since 2003. That raises an obvious question: what happened in [...]
In 82 BCE, Sulla returned to Italy, and touched off three years of Civil War. By the end, he had killed tens of thousands of people, entered Rome by force, butchered thousands in civic buildings, and ordered the deaths of perhaps 5000 of the most prominent Romans. He not only broke the taboo against using legions against Rome itself, he killed pretty much any Roman who had even thought to oppose him, and many who hadn’t. As a result, he was able to leave office voluntarily, and wander the streets of Rome unprotected by any bodyguard. His reforms took Roman governing law back to the rules it had operated under prior to the rise of Tiberius Gracchus about 60 years earlier, while still trying to deal with the land and military issues that led to Gracchus’s rise in the first place.
Sulla used radical means to achieve arch-conservative ends. And yet, in the end, it was the radicalism that endured and the restoration that was forgotten.
To listen to the Denver Post, you’d think that the Colorado recalls were a similarly seminal moment in the destruction of our Republic. And some Democrats agree.
Whatever the merits of using unconventional, if perfectly Constitutional, means to achieve politics ends, the Democrats have no room to complain.
The Democrats are the party that invented changing the rules in the middle of the game, and it didn’t start with Harry Reid and the Magical Disappearing Rulebook, or the Florida Supreme Court’s creative ballot accounting.
This is the party that has, here in Colorado, weaponized vote fraud this past year. They’re the party who, in 2004, sued to allow anyone to vote a full ballot, non-provisional, in any precinct, without ID.
They’re the party that is suing its own citizens to overturn a 20-year-old Constitutional Amendment in order to raise their taxes without end. It is the party that filibustered its own redistricting bill because it preferred its odds in court to having to negotiate Congressional districts with the other party.
The Democrats are the party that passed out of the State House a bill to overturn the Electoral College, by joining an interstate compact without Congressional sanction. They cheerfully accepted out-of-state money for a popular referendum to apportion our Electoral votes proportionally, which would have reduced the value of winning the state from nine votes to one.
They sued to get an ineligible school board candidate declared “duly elected,” in order to have her disqualified, so that a favorable committee could appoint her successor.
It’s not as though Colorado Dems invented this game, they just learned it from their brethren elsewhere. They’re the party that popularized the recall election in Wisconsin, after occupying the state capitol failed to achieve the desired results. (I have half a mind to just blame this tantrum on recall-envy, given the different parties’ relative success in making the tactic stick.) There, too, they politicized a state Supreme Court election, in an effort to overturn the laws that caused the uproar in the first place. Most Wisconsinites weren’t aware that Supreme Court elections were partisan affairs, complete with allegations of physical assault.
In New Jersey, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg was only Senator at all because the party got a judge to agree that even though the law said they couldn’t replace Bob Toricelli on the ballot within 30 days of the election, it didn’t really mean it.
The Democrats will claim that this is just politics as usual, that the game is played by trying to change the rules on the fly. If so, it reduces the Republicans’ sin to one of not being sufficiently shameless.
In other words, of not being enough like Democrats.
Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height
- Greeks and Jews
For Hanukkah, via Mosaic. Leo Strauss on the separate missions of the Jews and the Greeks. Yet our intention to speak of Jerusalem and Athens seems to compel us to go beyond the self-understanding of either. Or is there a notion, a word that points to the highest that both the Bible and the greatest [...]
- Japan’s Solar Ring Around The Moon
Behold the power of this fully-operational substation! Shimizu, a Japanese architectural and engineering firm, has a solution for the climate crisis: Simply build a band of solar panels 400 kilometers (249 miles) wide (pdf) running all the way around the Moon’s 11,000-kilometer (6,835 mile) equator and beam the carbon-free energy back to Earth in the form of microwaves, which [...]
- Appreciating Bagehot
A review of a new biography of The Greatest Victorian, written in the form of memoirs. From what I’ve known of Bagehot, I’ve always liked him, now I have a better idea of why. Quoting from Bagehot’s actual writings, which assert that free institutions thrive among dullards, Prochaska goes on, “The English are unrivalled in [...]
- Time-Varying Pricing For Electricity
Pricing electricity by demand saves consumers money and encourages more efficient usage: Sacramento Metropolitan Utilities District (SMUD) has decided that time-varying pricing makes sense. It saves the utility money because it doesn’t have to buy as much expensive wholesale power during peak periods. And, it can pass these savings on to customers. It thus has [...]
- Curiouser and Curiouser
Practically nothing about quantum mechanics surprises me any more: In their proposed experimental set-up, the physicists show that a photon will travel through the left arm of an interferometer with 100% certainty, yet its polarization can be detected in the right arm, where there is 0% probability of the photon traveling. That is, the photon [...]
- Billionaire Lobbyists On Keystone XL
It’s not what you think: Billionaire Tom Steyer plans to renew his fight against Keystone XL in Washington on Monday. NextGen Climate Action, founded by Steyer, will host a summit where participants will argue the Keystone XL pipeline proposed by TransCanada Corp. cannot pass President Obama’s climate test…. Steyer is opposed to the pipeline project [...]
- How Partisan Are Your Representatives
A cool interactive info-graphic from Visualizing.org. In Colorado’s case, pretty partisan. If you’ve been listening to feminist propaganda about what the world would look like if women ran it, filter by Sex.
- Bad Time for Climate Alarmist Predictions
First, Roger Pielke, Jr. notes the relatively constant rate of US hurricane landfalls over the last century, which has culminated in a record time between Category 3+ landfalls: The red line in the graph above shows a decrease in the number of US landfalls of more than 25% since (which given variability, may just be [...]
- Cheap Cute Dog Post
Good to end the day with:
- No, Your GMO Corn Isn’t Killing You
The paper that gave so much hope to anti-GMO luddites is being retracted by the journal in which it appeared: All of these criticisms of the study could have been incorporated into the original press coverage, except for the fact that the people behind the study manipulated journalists to ensure that they were unable to obtain any [...]
- Howdy, Neighbor
The Solar Neighborhood, with locations, temperatures, and sizes of the nearest stars.
- More Openness, More Sales
So says a study showing a sales boost from removing DRM from music: According to Zhang, the 30% sales increase for lower-selling albums can be explained by the fact that DRM-free music makes it easier for consumers to share files and discover new music. The finding that removing DRM from top-selling albums has no effect [...]
That doesn’t even include tens of millions more that states have contributed for additional investment in ports and high-speed passenger trains that’s boosted the nation’s freight railroads….
The public dollars have built new overpasses to separate trains from one another, as well as cars and trucks. They’ve replaced aging bridges, laid new track and upgraded signal systems. They’ve paid to enlarge tunnels and raise bridges so that shipping containers may be double-stacked. They’ve built new facilities where cargo containers can be transferred from trucks to trains, or vice versa.
Supporters say these public investments, combined with private capital, are model infrastructure partnerships that will help take trucks off crowded highways, reduce pollution and improve the flow of goods to and from the nation’s seaports.
And another $450 million by the states. If you add up the numbers in the story, the total cost of the projects is about $5.7 billion, so governments have picked up about 17.5% of the overall tab. That leaves $4.7 billion in cap ex by the railroads themselves. In a properly functioning economy, they wouldn’t need the extra $1 billion to get most of these off the drawing board. But when the money’s available, and when the banks are doing better by leaving their money on deposit rather than loaned out in the world, this is what happens.
I work in the trucking industry, and I can tell you that intermodal traffic – freight that gets delivered to and from ramps from truck, but is delivered cross-country by train – is one of our fastest-growing businesses. It’s that way because over a long route, rail takes less fuel than trucks, given that most of the infrastructure is already in place. Rail, of course, is much more capital-intensive that road. But the Class I rails are long-since paid-for except for maintenance, and the containers tend to be owned by the shipping companies rather than the railroads.
But this is telling:
For all the public money that freight railroads have received, they haven’t talked much about it. The industry spent years trying to free itself from government regulation, and it doesn’t want federal money with too many strings attached.
No kidding. This is largely how they got into their mess in the first place, with massive land grants that left the door open for massive regulation. Then trucks and trains spent several decades battling each other over regulatory hegemony rather than on price and efficiency.
I’ve never been as hostile to good infrastructure spending as some other conservatives, provided that it’s not disastrously pointless spending like high-speed rail. There’s a good argument to be made that the transcontinental railway was a national security project as much as an economic one. Walter Russell Mead points out that in the 19th Century, by ship, San Francisco was closer to London than it was to New York because Brazil juts so far out into the Atlantic. There was some concern that unless we actually cemented our claims to the West Coast with people, the British might set up shop there and raise the price, or carve out some sort of permanent presence there a la Hong Kong or Gibraltar.
And while there’s always waste, sometimes you put up with some of that to create platforms that everyone can use. In the case of the railways, the platform was the land grant. In the case of the interstates, it was the roads themselves. Also, in the case of multi-user facilities like ports or urban rail crossings, there are property rights issues that need civil authority of some sort to work out, and better beforehand than in the courts for years.
Still, it seems as though most of this has gone not to resolving legal tangles, but to actual CapEx, and to protect Amtrak’s hopelessly outdated interests. So even at the cost of 1/800th of the “stimulus,” we probably overpaid.