Friday, September 22, 2017

A Paragraph to Ponder

From Meeting of the Minds:


"Vegetation-related issues are a leading cause of electricity outages; PG&E has thus built out LIDAR gathering capabilities to help manage vegetation risk and now collects data within PG&E’s rights of way (capable of going down to 2-3 cm of accuracy). Such data could also be leveraged by cities themselves for asset monitoring, solar irradiation analysis on any PV facilities, or any number of other use cases potentially via options like licensing or cost sharing."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hurricanes Propel Forward Thinking on Risk, Resilience

Hurricanes Propel Forward Thinking on Risk, Resilience: Even as hard-hit areas of two of the country’s most developed regions push for normalcy after back-to-back hurricanes in early September, policymakers and construction industry experts are weighing the longer-term implications of the damage in Houston, Florida and the Caribbean from Harvey and Irma—and how and whether infrastructure resiliency can be accelerated and how that will affect coastal development.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Re-engineering Lego

Link to the article and podcast:


"Lego sets costing $100 or more face stiff competition from cheaper alternatives for today’s kids, Robertson pointed out. “Think about what you can get now for $10 – you can get a Raspberry Pi [computer], program it with a simple visual language program called Scratch, strap a couple of sensors and motors to it and for $30 you can do something pretty cool with it.” He noted that while Lego’s offering in that space called Lego Boost also teaches kids to program, the company has oversimplified that feature. Pricing is a critical issue for Lego because “$100 will buy you a pretty nice smartphone controlled drone,” he added.


Above all, Robertson wondered if the age profile of Lego’s target market is trending younger. “There are so many cool things for 8-year-olds and 9-year olds that weren’t there even five years ago,” he said. “I just wonder whether we are starting to see a shift in fundamental play preferences.”"

Why is Cement Exported?

Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of cement during 2016:
  1. China: US$692.4 million (7.6% of total cement exports)
  2. Thailand: $612.2 million (6.8%)
  3. United Arab Emirates: $544.4 million (6%)
  4. Turkey: $494.8 million (5.5%)
  5. Germany: $486.3 million (5.4%)
  6. Spain: $477.3 million (5.3%)
  7. Vietnam: $403 million (4.4%)
  8. Japan: $391.3 million (4.3%)
  9. Canada: $368.7 million (4.1%)
  10. India: $267 million (2.9%)
  11. Greece: $248.6 million (2.7%)
  12. Senegal: $209 million (2.3%)
  13. United States: $205.9 million (2.3%)
  14. Pakistan: $185.6 million (2%)
  15. South Korea: $162.9 million (1.8%)
The listed 15 countries shipped almost two-thirds (63.4%) of global exports in 2016 (by value).

The Last Centimeter Problem


Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Paragraph to Ponder

From an article in Forbes -

"Over the last couple of weeks, I was in Houston, Texas working with a Search and Rescue (SAR) team helping to find, recover, and relocate individuals affected by Hurricane Harvey. I traveled with a team from Harbinger Technologies Group (HTG), comprised of special operations veterans, law enforcement, EMT/Firefighters, communications, etc. Within 24 hours of the storm hitting, we were on the ground with two units—water and land rescue. Having been at the tip of the spear for several natural disasters over the past 20 years, it is amazing how the evolution of technology—especially the Internet of Things (IoT)—has matured and is saving lives. Although the severity of the disasters might increase, the loss of life has been greatly reduced by improvements in communications and the distribution of information."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Real Time Wind Speed Data

Link to the site.

European Economics 101

Graph of the Week

Daily chart

Export Update

From Brookings:
"Our new analysis of goods and services exports for 381 metropolitan areas shows that, in 2016, exports did not drive significant economic growth in most parts of the country. The export slowdown was linked to declines in manufacturing exports, particularly in the industrial Midwest.
The recent decline marks a departure from the national post-recession trend. Between 2009 and 2014, exports accounted for 26 percent of the growth in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). But U.S. exports declined in 2015 and again in 2016, hampered by a strong dollar and sagging global demand. Exports recovered slightly in the first quarter of 2017, but not enough to counteract losses in the previous two years."

Your Digital Office Mate

From Customer Think -

"Digital assistant technology has a long way to go, and their current usage patterns only provide some degree of insight into what their long-term capabilities will be. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the meta-platform battle for digital assistants is going to have a significantly broader and longer-lasting impact than the OS platform battles of yore. That, by itself, will make them essential to watch and understand."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Burgess & Niple presents at WVDOT/MPO/FHWA Transportation Planning Conference

Burgess & Niple presents at WVDOT/MPO/FHWA Transportation Planning Conference: Burgess & Niple presents Get Ahead of the Curve: Combatting Run-Off-The-Road Collisions

Rethinking the STEM Gender Gap

From NBER

"Women who graduate from university are less likely than men to specialize in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). We use detailed administrative data for a recent cohort of high school students in Ontario, Canada, combined with data from the province's university admission system to analyze the dynamic process leading to this gap. We show that entry to STEM programs is mediated through an index of STEM readiness based on end-of-high-school courses in math and science. Most of the gender gap in STEM entry can be traced to differences in the rate of STEM readiness; less than a fifth is due to differences in the choice of major conditional on readiness. We then use high school course data to decompose the gap in STEM readiness among university entrants into two channels: one reflecting the gender gap in the fraction of high school students with the necessary prerequisites to enter STEM, and a second arising from differences in the fractions of females and males who enter university. The gender gap in the fraction of students with STEM prerequisites is small. The main factor is the lower university entry rate by men – a difference that is due to the lower fraction of non-science oriented males who complete enough advanced level courses to qualify for university entry. We conclude that differences in course-taking patterns and preferences for STEM conditional on readiness contribute to male-female differences in the rate of entering STEM, but that the main source of the gap is the lower overall rate of university attendance by men."

When Bad Weather Does Bad Things

Friday, September 8, 2017

News from the BBC

"The BBC have already taken some steps towards producing content in virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree video. Now that has been solidified with the creation of BBC Reality Labs, a division of BBC R&D focussed on creating content in VR and augmented reality (AR).

BBC Reality Labs will be extending the work the BBC has already done in the VR area and looking into how VR and AR technologies can improve the BBC as a whole. The BBC Reality Labs team plans to work with the W3C web consortium as well as continuing to use the open-source WebVR standard to produce high-quality VR content that is viewable using only a web browser.

Part of the plan for BBC Reality Labs is to further developer WebVR content and examine how web browsers can be used to deliver VR content to audiences."

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Paragraph to Paragraph

From the Sacramento Bee -

"John France, the leader of the forensic panel, told reporters Tuesday that hints of Oroville Dam’s problems were embedded in records dating to the late 1960s. These include reports of cracks in the concrete right after the dam opened in 1969, documents showing uneven thickness in the concrete slabs and signs that the drains were handling more water than they should have. All were clues that could have foretold the spillway’s failure, France said."


Clashing With a Coworker


Graph of the Week

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

An Engineering History Lesson

From the AP --

"A report released two decades ago about the Harris County reservoir system predicted with alarming accuracy the catastrophic flooding that would besiege the Houston area if changes weren't made in the face of rapid development.

The report released in 1996 by engineers with the Harris County Flood Control District says the Addicks and Barker reservoirs were adequate when built in the 1940s.

But it notes that as entire neighborhoods sprouted over the years around the reservoirs in western Harris County, as many as 25,000 homes and businesses at the time were exposed to the kind of flooding Harvey has now brought.

Engineers proposed in the report, obtained by The Dallas Morning News , a $400 million solution that involved building a massive underground conduit that would more quickly carry water out of the reservoirs and into the Houston Ship Channel.

Arthur Storey, who in 1996 was director of the flood control district, says he's embarrassed that he "was not smart enough, bold enough to fight the system" and implement an action plan to prevent the damages of Harvey from occurring."

Monday, September 4, 2017

Putin on AI

From The Verge -

"Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” said Putin, reports RT. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

Facing Up To The Facts

From the New Yorker -

"Politicians from New York and New Jersey have been quick to say that they will not mess with Texas the way that Texans messed with them. “I’ll vote 4 Harvey aid,” Representative Peter King, a Republican from Long Island, tweeted during the storm. Lawmakers from the Northeast should vote for aid to Houston, but with conditions. In the place of spending cuts, they should demand that Texas lawmakers and the President face up to the facts. The earth is warming, fossil-fuel emissions are the major cause, and the results are going to be far from “beneficial.” The U.S. needs to radically reduce its carbon emissions and, at the same time, prepare for a future in which storms like Harvey, Sandy, and Katrina increasingly become the norm."

A Paragraph to Ponder

From the Texas Tribune -
"State crews managed to clear roads four days after Ike. Hurricane Harvey lingered in Texas for nearly a week, resulting in record-breaking rainfall and extensive flooding. The longer duration of Hurricane Harvey is expected to have caused more damage to the state's transportation system than Ike.
“I think we're safe to say that it's going to exceed the $25 million,” Williams said."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Smile to Pay

From the South China Morning News -

"At KPRO, a new KFC restaurant that serves salads, paninis and fresh juice instead of deep-fried chicken in Alibaba’s home base of Hangzhou, customers can authenticate their payments by having their faces scanned."

Coke an AI

Link to the article - http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2017/08/30/how-coca-colas-ai-approach-to-customer-experience-can-boost-its-performance/#1649f3bb59c9

Big Data Update

From the Marginal Revolution -

"Newly minted sociologist Sarah Brayne spent two and a half years studying the LAPD as it shifted from traditional methods to what she calls big data surveillance.
This article examines the intersection of two structural developments: the growth of surveillance and the rise of “big data.” Drawing on observations and interviews conducted within the Los Angeles Police Department, I offer an empirical account of how the adoption of big data analytics does—and does not—transform police surveillance practices. I argue that the adoption of big data analytics facilitates amplifications of prior surveillance practices and fundamental transformations in surveillance activities. First, discretionary assessments of risk are supplemented and quantified using risk scores. Second, data are used for predictive, rather than reactive or explanatory, purposes. Third, the proliferation of automatic alert systems makes it possible to systematically surveil an unprecedentedly large number of people. Fourth, the threshold for inclusion in law enforcement databases is lower, now including individuals who have not had direct police contact. Fifth, previously separate data systems are merged, facilitating the spread of surveillance into a wide range of institutions. Based on these findings, I develop a theoretical model of big data surveillance that can be applied to institutional domains beyond the criminal justice system. Finally, I highlight the social consequences of big data surveillance for law and social inequality."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Sentence to Ponder

From the Wall Street Journal today -

"The World Bank reckons that by 2050, 16% of the world's will live in large coastal cities exposed to cyclones, hurricanes and earthquakes, up from 11% in 2000."

Machine-learning earthquake prediction in lab shows promise

Machine-learning earthquake prediction in lab shows promise

Houston Area Transportation Infrastructure Largely Still Unusable

Houston Area Transportation Infrastructure Largely Still Unusable: Airports, rail and bus service in the Houston area were still being assessed Aug. 30.

Hurricanes and Debt Limits

From Fortune -

"The government's cash reserves are running low since the nation's debt limit has actually already been reached, and the Treasury Department is using various accounting measures to cover expenses. Billions of dollars in Harvey aid are an unexpected cost that at least raises the potential that Congress would have to act earlier than expected to increase the government's borrowing authority."

Friday, September 1, 2017

Still Looking Up

From the Washington Post -

"Forget the soaring stock market. Here's the real evidence the U.S. economy is getting better: Food stamp usage is down, and spending on entertainment — everything from Netflix to Disney World trips — is up."


Friday, August 11, 2017

The Body Language of Power

The Body Language of Power: In a world of bullies and machos, Angela Merkel keeps ending up on top. Andreas Kluth, our editor-in-chief, deconstructs how.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Engineering Permanently Temporary

From Meeting of the Minds -
"A ubiquitous travel trailer is the building typology that’s most resilient to rising sea level. A coastal resident can park her dwelling unit right on the waterfront and then, as the water level rises, simply tow it uphill.To make maximum advantage of the resilience of recreational vehicles, perhaps we should design coastal communities that operate more like long-term campgrounds than permanent cities. But do we really want all of our shoreline cities to look like RV campgrounds?"

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Update on The Yield Curve

From the New York Times:
"That is probably not what most people want to hear — stock investors especially. In the first half of the year, after all, stocks have performed spectacularly. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index returned 9 percent through June, churning out gains so regularly that it may seem churlish to note that clouds are appearing on the horizon.
Yet like a long-range forecast about a possible storm, an old and trusted financial indicator is telling us that trouble may be looming.
Simply put, while the Federal Reserve has been raising short-term interest rates since December, the bond market hasn’t gotten the memo. The longer-term rates that are set through bond market trading have, for the most part, been declining, though there was a brief reversal in the last few days. But the disconnect over the last few months is a sign that bond investors believe economic growth and inflation are still weak and the Fed’s actions are premature."
A good primer on The Yield Curve - -

App - The Human Story

An Idea Worth Considering - Owning Your Social Media Data

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mind Game of the Week - How Would Jeff Bezos Run a [Fill in the Blank]?

No Longer Accustomed to Manufacturing

From The Atlantic - article on Chinese investment and management of manufacturing operations in the U.S. - -

"It’s possible that the U.S. workforce is not as skilled at manufacturing as it used to be. Many of the people who worked in manufacturing in the 1980s, before the wave of offshoring, have since retired, and younger people don’t have as much experience in factories. The economist Tyler Cowen has argued that Americans are more averse to adjusting to change than they were in the past, which potentially makes them less likely to take jobs in new fields. “You could say we got a little spoiled” as America created better and better jobs, Cowen told me. While Cowen sees this as a negative, it’s the result of a positive development: American workers are no longer interested in low-paying, backbreaking jobs like picking crops, for example. “People are not willing to become a wreck by age 60 or 65 anymore,” he said. But it makes life more difficult for employers who don’t want to (or can’t) pay workers more or improve the jobs that are available.

Cowen also pointed me to a study published last year in the Journal of Hand Therapy that indicates that today’s workers might be physically weaker than American workers of the past, which would explain some of why it’s harder to find good factory workers. Men younger than 30 have weaker hand grips than their counterparts in 1985 did, the study found. Grips might have gotten weaker because men are no longer accustomed to working in manufacturing or farming, but are instead prepared to sit at desks and work on computers."

Modeling the Oroville Dam Spillway Failure

The Impact of AI on Sports Viewing

Summer Reading List

New to the book bag - -

  • The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World by Brad Stone
  • Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival by Jeffrey Gettleman
  • One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams by Chris Fussell
  • Qatar: A Modern History by Allen Fromherz
  • Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas Ricks
  • CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping by Kerry Brown
  • Island People: The Caribbean and the World by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

Wheat Outlook

The Big Four of Transportation Trends

Great overview in Meeting of the Minds:
"The general press and transportation specialty publications are bursting with reports of new developments in four major disruptive transportation technologies:
  • Shared rides
  • Electric vehicles
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Connected vehicles
As we look back on the auto revolution since 1945, we have spent trillions of dollars on cars and related infrastructure. These investments transformed our country and greatly assisted us to an unprecedented level of prosperity. Yet there are many things we would no doubt do differently with 20/20 hindsight to shape the use of cars in relation to other modes of travel and in relation to the urban forms we want to live in. As we look on in amazement at the current technological prowess on display in the auto and mobility industries, it is important that we learn from the automobile revolution of the last 75 years. We can learn from the past to shape new developments to meet shared goals as these technologies unfold, rather than suffer the impacts of unintended consequences."

A Paragraph to Ponder

From the New York Times:

"For example, about half of all Canadian immigrants arrive with a college degree, while the figure in the United States is just 27 percent. Immigrant children in Canadian schools read at the same level as the native born, while the gap is huge in the United States. Canadian immigrants are almost 20 percent more likely to own their own homes and 7 percent less likely to live in poverty than their American equivalents."

A New Rule of 3s for Survival

My new rule of 3s for survival - - three weeks without food, three days without water, three minutes without air, and three seconds without an Internet connection!!  From Fast Company - the impact of the Internet in your pocket and how it changed everything.
"In 2007 we were still thinking, “Why would I want the internet in my pocket when I’m walking around? If I want to get on the internet I’ll sit down in front of my computer.” So 50 years from now, we’ll look back and see the iPhone as the demarcation point between when the web was growing, and the era when the web was ubiquitous and something where everybody, even your grandmother, is using it–not only daily, but on an hourly basis.
And 2007 is around the same time that Facebook was discovered by everybody. I think it’s really the combination of the iPhone/smartphone and the rise of social media that really leads to the internet as we understand it today. I’m looking out on the street in Manhattan right now, and seven out of 10 people walking by are looking down at their screen."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Round One of the Driverless Revolution

From Medium - - might be where the initial wave of driverless investment is focused.

Rethinking Toll Roads


The iPhone Anniversary

Great stats from The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant - -

Sales by brand in the best selling categories - - Toyota Corolla (43 million units), Sony PlayStation (382 million units), Harry Potter series (430 million books) - - and the iPhone with one billion units.

Sell or No-Sell: Design Firms Weigh Choices for Future Growth

Sell or No-Sell: Design Firms Weigh Choices for Future Growth: In a more dynamic marketplace, architects, engineers and consulting firms take stock on why being acquired or staying independent best fits growth plans and culture.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The New American Heartland

A 10-Year Education Plan

A Paragraph to Ponder

From TPM Cafe:

"Like most everything with Trump, I think there is a significant element of truth in the causes that he picks up. He is addressing some real grievances. But then the manner in which he addresses them is completely bonkers. So in the case of Germany, I do think Germany is the world’s greatest mercantilist power right now. It used to be China. China’s surplus has gone down in recent years, but Germany’s trade surplus is almost 9 percent of GDP. And they are essentially exporting deflation and unemployment to the rest of the world... it is not a trade problem. It is a macro-economic problem. The solution is to get German consumers to spend more and save less and the German state to spend more and to increase German wages. It is not the trade policies of the US or any other country that is going to be able to address this issue. It is similar to the way Trump has picked up grievances about how trade agreements have operated in the United States. These agreements have created loses, and grievances that have not been addressed, and I think there is a lot of truth to those kind of things, but I don’t think he has any realistic way of dealing with those things."

The Grenfell High-Rise Fire: A Litany of Failures?

Highlights the disfunctional nature and building environment we work in - - The Grenfell High-Rise Fire: A Litany of Failures?

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Paragraph to Ponder

From the Wall Street Journal by Lawrence Haas - a review of Edward Luce's The Retreat of Western Liberalism -

" . . . every single of America's 493 wealthiest counties, almost all of them urban, voted for Hillary Clinton.  The remaining 2,623 counties, most of them suburban or small-town, went for Donald Trump."

Graph of the Week

The Golden Age of Landscape Architects


Monday, June 12, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Paragraph to Ponder

From MIT Technology Review:

"When Lois Seed wakes up in the morning, one of the first things she says is “Alexa, what is the weather?” Seed, who is 89 and has low vision because of macular degeneration, finds it convenient to get weather information by speaking to the Alexa voice-activated assistant on her Amazon Echo. She also asks her Echo to tell her the time and to play classical music from her former hometown radio station.

“Life is more enjoyable [with Alexa],” she says, proving that the recent Saturday Night Live spoof about Alexa and seniors couldn’t be further from the truth."

The Future of Retailing?


Car Code

 
"Twenty years ago, cars had, on average, one million lines of code. The General Motors 2010 Chevrolet Volt had about 10 million lines of code — more than an F-35 fighter jet.
 
Today, an average car has more than 100 million lines of code. Automakers predict it won’t be long before they have 200 million."

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Voting for Trump and Renewables

From the New York Times:
"Two years ago, Kansas repealed a law requiring that 20 percent of the state’s electric power come from renewable sources by 2020, seemingly a step backward on energy in a deeply conservative state.
Yet by the time the law was scrapped, it had become largely irrelevant. Kansas blew past that 20 percent target in 2014, and last year it generated more than 30 percent of its power from wind. The state may be the first in the country to hit 50 percent wind generation in a year or two, unless Iowa gets there first.
Some of the fastest progress on clean energy is occurring in states led by Republican governors and legislators, and states carried by Donald J. Trump in the presidential election.
The five states that get the largest percentage of their power from wind turbines — Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Oklahoma and North Dakota — all voted for Mr. Trump. So did Texas, which produces the most wind power in absolute terms. In fact, 69 percent of the wind power produced in the country comes from states that Mr. Trump carried in November."

One Reason for Our Infrastructure Woes

From economist Matthew Kahn - - 

"Yes, NYC has an old subway system but that doesn't explain the interesting fact presented in the NY Times today that the C trains are over 53 years old.   Binding budget constraints provide the explanation for why this rich city (that relies on public transit) isn't investing in public capital.  As we document in this NBER Paper,  progressive big cities generously pay unionized public sector workers.   Due to the Buy America Mandate, such cities also pay more than the international price for pieces of capital (read our 2015 JUE paper).  The combination of paying public labor a very high salary and benefits plus high capital purchase costs means that there is little $ left for investing in capital replacement and upgrading.  #budget_contraints_matter"

Should Engineers Study Seussism?

Cyborg Dragonfly

Leaders Make the Future

The Future of Work

Monday, June 5, 2017

Engineering in The World of a Declining Middle


Graph of the Week

A Paragraph to Ponder

From Trucks.com and the path to autonomous trucks - -

"Truck driving is among the deadliest occupations in America, with 745 drivers killed on the job in 2015, the latest year for which there is federal data. Trucking transportation occupations accounted for slightly more than a quarter of all work-related fatalities in 2015, more than any other U.S. job, according to an annual workplace fatality report from the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics."

A Story of Flutter


Monday, May 29, 2017

Civil Engineering and Infrastructure Cost Control

Points out the two major problems with infrastructure investment in the United States - - http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2017/05/saving_cost_con.html

Sky Robot

Embrace the Right Kind of Failure

India's Port Infrastructure


Graph of the Week


Roboats

Link to the website.


KFC Drones

Engineering the Perfect Conversation

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Death of an Oil Rig

Regulatory Barriers Stymie Onsite Potable Water Systems

Regulatory Barriers Stymie Onsite Potable Water Systems: California, Oregon and Washington are among the states moving forward with regulations and road maps for the construction and operation of building- and district-scale graywater capture and treatment systems for non-potable-water use, such as toilet flushing and irrigation.

The Impact of Declining Retail

From CityLab:

"Nationwide, sales taxes comprise nearly one-third of the taxes that state governments collect and about 12 percent of what local governments collect, according to Lucy Dadayan, a senior researcher at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, a New York-based research group. “The epic closures of the brick-and-mortar stores is troubling news for state and local government sales-tax collections,” she said. They’re already feeling the hit: States’ tax revenues grew just 1.9 percent between 2014 and 2015, after growing 5.8 percent in the previous four quarters, according to the Rockefeller Institute. Local-government sales-tax collections grew just 1.7 percent, after growing 7.5 percent in the previous four quarters. In Ohio, state tax revenues grew just 0.1 percent, when adjusted for inflation, between 2015 and 2016, according to Dadayan. When revenues don’t continue to grow, governments have to slow down spending and can’t readily invest in long-term projects."

The Big Book of Dashboards


Infrastructure Inc.


A Paragraph to Ponder

From Tyler Cowen:

"What’s also striking is that, if the Trump budget can work at all, the spending cuts are probably not needed. It would suffice to cut taxes only, and allow the economy to grow out of an even-greater budget deficit. In this regard, the Trump budget reflects a deep incoherence, and it inconsistently mixes various optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. If the spending cuts are required for fiscal stability, then we probably shouldn’t be doing the tax cuts.

This framework allows us to pinpoint the huge and, I would say, excessively dangerous gamble in Trump’s budget. There is no guarantee that the growth rate of the economy remains higher than the government’s borrowing rate. It is common in American history that government borrowing rates run 5 percent or higher, and the aging of the American population, or perhaps an unexpected catastrophe, such as a war, could lower the growth rate. 1 And once a government becomes addicted to borrowing, it is hard to shake the habit, as subsequent tax increases damage economies."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Graph of the Week

Not Looking Like the Road to Blade Runner 2049


Sand

From the New Yorker - The World is Running Out of Sand:

"Pascal Peduzzi, a Swiss scientist and the director of one of the U.N.’s environmental groups, told the BBC last May that China’s swift development had consumed more sand in the previous four years than the United States used in the past century. In India, commercially useful sand is now so scarce that markets for it are dominated by “sand mafias”—criminal enterprises that sell material taken illegally from rivers and other sources, sometimes killing to safeguard their deposits. In the United States, the fastest-growing uses include the fortification of shorelines eroded by rising sea levels and more and more powerful ocean storms—efforts that, like many attempts to address environmental challenges, create environmental challenges of their own."

Friday, May 19, 2017

This Cannot Be Healthy

Google Looks as AR

The Zero Sum Retail Game

From Wharton:
"More than a dozen clothing retailers that have traditionally populated the American mall landscape have announced bankruptcy, shuttered locations or closed down completely in the last several years, including Macy’s, The Limited, Wet Seal, Bebe, Guess, Payless ShoeSource, BCBG Max Azria, Abercrombie and Fitch — the list goes on. Those who haven’t shut down or scaled back are stagnant, such as Target and Kohl’s.
“The legacy retail business is in terrible shape,” Cohen says. “For big players like Macy’s — who are not in imminent danger of bankruptcy but, frankly, don’t have a strategy to go forward — this is breakage that is just starting to reveal itself. We’re looking at a paradigm shift that’s just getting started.”"

Graph of the Week

No automatic alt text available.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What Is Texas Thinking?

From City Lab:

"But Michigan’s strategy of linking research to AV development is unusual. More common are state initiatives that invite AV testing without building connections to universities. The Texas legislature, for example, introduced multiple bills to encourage AVs but declined to fund the Texas Department of Transportation’s request for $50 million in AV research for the University of Texas System and Texas A&M. If the state really wants to grow an AV industry, that doesn’t make a lot of sense."

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Paragraph to Ponder

From the Economist - 

"Two new aircraft—the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350—make it profitable to carry smaller numbers of passengers over long-haul routes. Secondary cities half a world away from each other can increasingly sustain direct connections. That eliminates the need to change planes in the Middle East. Big legacy carriers, in addition to long-haul, low-cost pioneers such as Norwegian and AirAsia X, are buying these planes in huge numbers. The fact that Airbus has 750 outstanding orders for its A350, compared with just 107 for the A380s that Emirates flies, shows where airlines think the future of aviation is heading."

The STEM Outlook in North Texas

What I Learned About the Dismal State of U.S. Retailing

From the Economist - Briefing American Retailing:

  • Last year 4,000 stores closed - in 2017, it is estimated that twice this number will close.
  • Standard & Poor's predicts more retailing defaults in 2017 than in 2009.
  • Since January, the retailing industry has shed 50,000 jobs.
  • To match demand - 30% of space could close permanently.  This would constitute job losses of potentially 4.8 million retail workers.
  • Retailing makes up 31% of all U.S. commercial property.
  • Just 20% of retail store workers have a college degrees.
  • Malls account for 8% of U.S. retailing.
  • Retailers have a market value of $1.6 trillion - how much will vanish during the structural correction?
  • By July 2018 retailing will have shed three times as many jobs as Amazon is due to create.
  • E-commerce jobs will require a college degree - - traditional retailing does not.  
  • More retailing jobs than coal mining jobs by a factor of 300.

From Toilet to Tap

Indian Engineers

From the current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek on the tragedy of the murder of an Indian engineer in Olathe, Kansas:

"Because of a glut of green-card applications, Indian workers in the U.S. wait, on average, more that 10 years to gain permanent-resident status.  That's already prompting engineers, scientists, and students in India to seek other destinations or simply stay at home - a trend that may accelerate if Trump pursues tougher immigration laws."

Economists at Amazon

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Déjà Vu and the Dilemma for Planners

Déjà Vu and the Dilemma for Planners from NewGeography.

Education as How versus What

From the Tom Friedman column in the New York Times today - - Owning Your Own Future:
 
"If you think machines are smart today … wait a year. It’s this move from 14-nm to 10-nm chips that will help enable automakers to shrink the brain of a self-driving car — a brain that has to take in sensor data from 360 degrees and instantly process whether it’s a dog, a human, a biker or another car — from something that fills a whole trunk to a small box under the front seat, so these cars can scale.
 
When you get that much processing power, putting out that much data exhaust with ever-improving software, you create a world where we can analyze, prophesize and optimize with a precision unknown in human history. We can see trends we never saw, predict when engine parts will break and replace them before they do, with great savings, and we can optimize everything — from the most energy-saving flight path for an airplane to the ideal drilling path for a natural gas well."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Communicate on Their Level

From KelloggInsight on the challenges of managing and retaining US Army millennials - -

"“Leaders tend to get frustrated when millennials challenge them,” Carr says. “And it’s true that some millennials can be very outspoken. But usually what they’re doing is stretching, which isn’t always a bad thing. As a senior leader, you have to have the discernment to say: ‘This millennial isn’t challenging authority; they’re challenging the way things have been done,’ which forces you to be more agile, flexible, and innovative.”"

Has CVS crafted a promising new drugstore shopping journey? – RetailWire

Has CVS crafted a promising new drugstore shopping journey? – RetailWire

Blade Runner 2049 - Picking the Winners and Losers by Mid-Century


A Gallup Predicted World of Over 65-Year Old Engineers


Civil Engineering and the Tyranny of Sunk Costs


Black & Veatch 2017 Strategic Directions Report

Report from B&V with a focus on smart city strategic directions.

Your Next Project Management Assistant

Probably will include some of the following three features - link:
 

1. Make easy phone calls

We call them smartphones, but I know a few millennials who don’t ever make calls. They text all day, and when they do place a phone call, it’s maybe once per week. In the living room, if you could make a quick call, it would save time. “Hey Siri, find an appliance repairman and make the call,” would be much faster than using Google Chrome or scrolling through contacts. Today, that doesn’t really work on an iPhone, so the speaker would have to use added intelligence to parse out what you want to do.

2. Engage in real dialog

Siri is pretty dumb, actually. The voicebot doesn’t really engage with you, and the best bot we have for dialog is the Assistant on Google Home. You can ask a question like “Who is Steph Curry?” and then say “When was he born?” and that works. It doesn’t work with Echo or Siri today. Apple could go much further with the speaker and let it converse with you about a wide range of topics; that's important since the speaker will become such an important part of your day (and your morning and your evening).

3. Summarize my email

Siri lets you dictate a text message pretty easily, but I’m not as interested in that. What I really want it to do is summarize my texts and emails, and then I'll keep typing emails on my laptop. The bot should know which ones are important, based on my frequent interactions and machine learning. For example, the boss needs me to call her right now. I’d like Siri to be able to let me know when that happens. And, the bot could tell me a quick synopsis of less important emails, set reminders, and ignore email fluff.