Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Links


  • The above map shows the likelihood of a child from the bottom fifth of the income distribution rising into the top fifth, and is from a fascinating article about the geography of income inequality in the NYT.  The underlying study is available, and you can get the raw data there too.
  • Shipping goods from western China to Europe by rail.  This seems like an interesting development as it might help China to continue developing its interior, which lags considerably behind the big coastal cities.
  • Interesting op-ed on the difficulties of growing food in the climate of the future with increasingly severe and prolonged heat waves.
  • Last year's collapse in natural gas prices appears to be over:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Links

  • The above is New York's real-time wholesale electricity prices showing the effect of the current heat wave in the North East.
  • The challenges of making changes to the US electric grid, which has over 500 owners.  This subject is really important to our ability to transition to a carbon neutral economy.
  • New startups working on energy storage options.
  • Juan Cole has some interesting thoughts on automation and globalization in the context of Detroit.
  • Finally, Paul Krugman has a column arguing that China is hitting the wall.  Some of the assertions in there I'm not too sure about.  For example, arguing that China is running out of peasants seems inconsistent with the fact that urbanization is still only 50%, versus 80%+ in developed countries.  For context, below are the GDP growth data (annual through 2010, quarterly after that).  While it's clear that China is slowing down somewhat relative to the mid 2000s peak, it's still a high growth rate by the standards of any other country.  This is far from a hard landing, at least for now.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Links

  • The above is European industrial production.  Things were looking a bit more positive for a few months, but the last month's data is down again.  Retail trade was a bit better though - see graph at bottom.
  • It doesn't matter where in the world we do it, killing people without proper due process will brand us as hypocrites and do us far more harm than good in the long run.
  • Solar panel plant in Nevada canceled due to lack of demand.  If you as an individual don't yet buy your electricity from renewable generators, but could, now would be a great time.  This also suggests it's time to up the renewable portfolio standards in some of the states.
  • Nation states now the major buyers of computer vulnerabilities, says the NYT.
  • European retail trade:

Finally, I'm back from vacation so blogging should improve.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wednesday Links

  • The NSA is recording and storing one billion cellphone calls per day.
  • Wow on the diversion of the Bolivian President's flight so his plane could be searched for Edward Snowden.  Suddenly Julian Assange doesn't sound so paranoid any more.  I think we are all getting an object lesson here in how the world really works, and it's not pretty at all.
  • Glenn Greenwald's speech on meeting Snowden worth reading in full.
  • Morsi government in Egypt overthrown by military.  More unrest in Middle East is not great for the rest of us, but of course the main hope would be for a decent life for the Egyptian people.  I'ts very unfortunate that it has come to this.
  • And the Oil Drum is closing down for new content.  That was where I first started blogging back in 2005.  Sad to see it go (though I confess I haven't been a regular reader in a number of years).
Finally, I mentioned the other day that I was using Vienna to read news.  It turns out that Vienna was in the background relying on Google Reader in ways that I didn't realize.  It totally fell apart and became useless once Google Reader was turned off.  Grrr.  It may take me a while to have a functioning blog reader set-up again.

Randy Udall, RIP

Randy Udall died last week while on a backpacking trip in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.  His body has just been found after an extensive search.

Randy was a co-founder of ASPO-USA.  I certainly didn't know him well enough to attempt a proper obituary, but I will say that he was a regular reader of this blog, and frequently emailed me with thoughts or questions or interesting links.  I always felt it an honor that someone like him found my blog worth his time.  I had met him a number of times at ASPO meetings and he had impressed me as one of the finer human beings I have known.  He was very smart and knowledgeable about the world, but retained an almost childlike quality of enthusiasm for it.  He was funny, charming, and had a knack for finding unique ways to communicate his concern for this planet we share.

I am deeply saddened at the news of his passing, too soon, at the age of 61.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Links

  • Above is European/Eurozone unemployment.  Still not stabilizing.
  • Europe is really, really steamed over US spying now.  Spying on your friends and allies is not the greatest idea.  French greens are pressing for Snowden to be given asylum in France (you heard it here first). "The Americans justify everything with combatting terrorism," said the Luxembourg foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, who on Sunday described the latest allegations as disgusting. "The EU and its diplomats are not terrorists."  And this:  The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said in a statement that he was “deeply worried and shocked.” He added, “If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on E.U.-U.S. relations.”  Does anyone seriously doubt that these allegations will prove true?
  • On a side note, this situation is going to be very bad for Britain's relations with Europe also.  The British appear to have been functioning as very important enablers of American spying, and this is not going to forgotten or forgiven quickly by the Germans, French, etc.  (Of course, I don't doubt that the French at least are up to their ears in their own version of this stuff too).
  • NY Times confirms that Snowden was involved in cyber-offense for the US government.  I first hypothesized that this must have been the situation three weeks ago.  The tone of the NY Times coverage is starting to shift.  They are realizing that the Obama administration has been materially dishonest in this area and therefore its denials cannot be trusted going forward.  The linked piece has a good discussion of the weakness of the administration's shifting defenses.
  • Washington Post is also realizing it's been lied to.
  • Egypt is definitely falling apart again.