Saturday, December 31, 2016

Term of the Day / Border-Adjusted Tax

Putin and the U.S. Electric Grid System

Beer, Bait and Biodegradable Ammo

Image result for beer bait ammo shop signs pictures

From DOD:

"DESCRIPTION: Currently the US Army manufactures and consumes hundreds of thousands of training rounds. These rounds are fired at proving grounds and training ranges in the United States and around the world. In addition, special forces conduct day and night training exercises utilizing these training rounds. These rounds include low velocity 40mm grenades; 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars; shoulder launched munitions; 120mm tank rounds; and 155mm artillery rounds. The projectiles, and in some circumstances the cartridge cases and sabot petals, are either left on the ground surface or several feet underground at the proving ground or tactical range. Components of current training rounds require hundreds of years or more to biodegrade. Further, civilians (e.g., farmers or construction crews) encountering these rounds and components do not know if they are training or tactical rounds. Proving grounds and battle grounds have no clear way of finding and eliminating these training projectiles, cartridge cases and sabot petals, especially those that are buried several feet in the ground. Some of these rounds might have the potential corrode and pollute the soil and nearby water. The solution sought by this topic is naturally occurring biodegradable material to replace the current training round materials, eliminating environmental hazards. This SBIR will prove out the technology and replace current training round components with biodegradable parts. The biodegradable materials identified can be utilized by private industry to manufacture biodegradable water bottles, plastic containers, or any other composite or plastic product(s) on the market today. The US Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) has demonstrated bioengineered seeds that can be embedded into the biodegradable composites and that will not germinate until they have been in the ground for several months. This SBIR effort will make use of seeds to grow environmentally friendly plants that remove soil contaminants and consume the biodegradable components developed under this project. Animals should be able to consume the plants without any ill effects."

Another Step Toward Blade Runner 2049

The Next Great Ridley Scott Scifi Movie

From the December 19th issue of Bloomberg Businessweek on Chinese agricultural practices -

"The Chinese government is well aware that the use of antibiotics has gotten out of hand.  In 2001 it initiated a campaign to reduce antibiotic use in humans, and since then the sale of antibiotics in Shanghai has fallen 31 percent.  As last month's ban on colistin suggests, there's a new seriousness about antibiotic use in agricultural production as well.  Nevertheless, China's rates of drug resistance remain among the highest in the world.  Surveys across the country have found 42 percent to 83 percent of healthy people carry in their bowels bacteria that produce extended-spectrum beta-lactamases, or ESBLs, which create reservoirs of potential pathogens that can destroy penicillin and most of its variants.  The aquaculture products sold in Shanghai teem with bacteria that can't be killed by common antibiotics.  In almost a third of random seafood samples collected in Shanghai from 2006 to 2011, researchers found salmonella, a major cause of gastroenteritis in people.  A closer examination of the germs showed that 43 percent of the samples harbored  multidrug resistant strains of bacteria."

Image result for ridley scott of alien set

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Engineering the S*** Out of Climate Change Consequences

"The Norwegians coined a phrase for such projects, calling them stormannsgalskap, or “the madness of great men.” While the term was meant to be disparaging, it might very well become a badge of honor in the future. If rising carbon levels are left unchecked, the world will need pioneering innovation. It will need great individuals who are willing to defy governments and do what is necessary to make hard, bold choices.
But better yet, let’s do that now.
Even if one of these massive geoengineering projects could be developed, financed, and implemented in the future, the question arises whether it will do more harm than good. When you’re talking about trying to control climate via an engineering project, there are a thousand variables at play. Pull the wrong string and everything could unravel. An international team of researchers ran models for a dozen different geoengineering projects and concluded that such massive endeavors would likely have disastrous unintended consequences. Their final conclusion was even more disturbing. Even if a project was successful at controlling carbon levels for 50 years, once the project was stopped, the rebound effect could actually accelerate climate change."

Is Amazon Working on the Sky Warehouse?

Graph of the Week

A Key 2017 Question for Engineers

Not just engineers - - will be the key question for everyone in 2017 and beyond.

How should we compensate the losers from globalization?

NYC Second Avenue Subway

From Curbed - nine U.S. transportation projects to watch in 2017:
"The first major MTA subway expansion in 50 years, the oft-delayed Second Avenue Subway line is set to start the new year off right with a January 1, 2017 opening. Originally discussed in the 1910s and subsequently delayed by the Great Depression and a lack of post-war funding, the Second Avenue Subway’s first bout of construction started in 1972 but was halted again in 1975 due to a fiscal crisis in the city.
Work on the line restarted in 2007 and the MTA promised transit riders the project’s first phase would be open by 2017. Now, it looks like the line will make its deadline, with full service of the $4.5 billion line beginning on January 9. Phase two—which would run from 96th to 125th streets—won’t begin until at least 2019 and could cost a staggering $6 billion to finish. Still, this moment can’t be overstated.
As Curbed NY writes, “Nearly a century after the idea of a Second Avenue line was first proposed, and a decade after construction actually began, the Second Avenue subway is this close to becoming a reality.” Head over here for more info."

Question for 2017 - Should a CEO be on Twitter?

Land Development in the Middle East

Exponential Laws of Computing Growth

Exponential Laws of Computing Growth from CACM on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Human Technology Shopping

Shopping in an app-free world!!!

2017 Watch List - The Mosul Dam

The continuing deterioration of the Mosul Dam in Iraq and the risk of failure.  A great article in the New Yorker.

2017 Water Update

The Art of Wooden Yacht Building

2017 Texas Transportation Watch

From the Texas Tribune - -

"A private company’s plans to build a bullet train between Dallas and Houston continued drawing ire from rural Texans, who are fiercely opposed to Texas Central being able to use eminent domain to take needed land for the project. Grimes County officials added bureaucratic requirements, though company officials said the new permitting rules wouldn’t dramatically hinder the project. But both supporters and opponents appeared to spend the year gearing up for a bigger showdown: the 2017 legislative session. Opponents have said for months they intend to try to get legislation to Abbott's desk blocking the project next year. And Texas Central in December encouraged Texans to write their legislators in support of the plan."

The Presidential Push for Manufacturing

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Will Trump Listen to Santa Claus?

From the Washington Post-

"The core idea here begins with the fact that the Arctic is warming up faster than the mid-latitudes and the equator, and losing its characteristic floating sea ice cover in the process. This also changes the Arctic atmosphere, the theory goes, and these changes interact with large scale atmospheric patterns that affect our weather (phenomena like the jet stream and the polar vortex). We won’t get into the details yet, but in essence, the result can be a kind of swapping of the cold air masses of the Arctic with the warm air masses to the south of them. The Arctic then gets hot (relatively), and the mid-latitudes — including sometimes, as during the infamous “polar vortex” event of 2013-2014, the United States — get cold."

A Gondola Future

From the AP-

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Instead of fighting traffic or waiting for a taxi, rail travelers arriving at New York's capital may one day soar across the Hudson River in glassy pods suspended from cables.

That futuristic image could become a reality if an engineering firm's urban gondola plan comes to fruition. It's one of several aerial cable projects being pitched in cities from Austin, Texas, to Washington, D.C., to solve public transportation problems by going above the existing maze of congested highways, bridges and rails.

"We haven't seen any major adoption in North America, but there has been so much change and such growth in the technology in the last decade that it's only a matter of time," said Toronto-based urban planner Steven Dale, who created The Gondola Project to provide technical assistance for such ideas.

Cable-propelled urban gondolas are similar to those used for decades to transport skiers up mountains. While there are only a couple used for public commuter transit in the U.S. - Portland, Oregon's Aerial Tram and New York City's Roosevelt Island Tramway - the technology is quickly gaining traction in European countries such as Italy, Germany, Portugal and France.

Medellin, Colombia, launched the first aerial gondola mass transit system in South America in 2004, and Mexico City inaugurated its new Mexicable gondola transit system in October.

Peace and Good Will to All

From Vox-

"To calculate the cost of all the gifts in "The 12 Days of Christmas," I'll turn to the PNC financial services group's annual Christmas Price Index, which PNC has been putting out since 1984 (and which occasionally makes its way into school lesson plans). The index calculates the cost of all the gifts in the song based on current market rates; 2016's total comes to a hefty $34,363.49, or $156,507.88 if you count each mention of an item separately (which would amount to 364 gifts in all)."

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Who Really Cares About Ohio?

From NewGeography-
"The just released Census Bureau population estimates for the nation, states and the District of Columbia indicate a population increase for the South of 7.7 million between 2010 and 2016. The West gained 4.7 million. By contrast, the Midwest grew 1.1 million, while the East was even lower, at 900,000 (Figure 1).  
Combined, the South and West accounted for 87 percent of the national growth. In 2011, the South and West captured 82 percent of the national growth. By 2016, the South and West had risen to 94 percent of the national population increase. The South, alone had 57 percent of the growth, up from 52 percent in 2011. The West also had a strong gain, from 31 percent in 2011 to 36 percent in 2016."

Will 2017 be the Year of the Conference Room Table?

Good link -

How Will Civil Engineering Utilize Blockchain Technology?

Maybe in terms of project management - ownership/updating of contract documents.  This is a great introduction to the technology -

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dear Fort Worth Engineers - You Voted For Him

From the Texas Tribune-

"It started this month, when President-elect Donald Trump tweeted: “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”
He since met with executives from Lockheed and rival Boeing and added to the anxiety on Thursday with a follow-up tweet, indicating he might pull back on the F-35 manufacturing in lieu of a Boeing aircraft.  
“Long term, it would be catastrophic,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said of the economic impact of canceling the F-35.
Veasey and many analysts say there is no comparison to the F-35. Pointing to the plane's ability to evade radar detection, he said the fighter can do things that military aircraft from the previous generation can't do."

Thinking About the Beer Industry

From Vox - think about this as you head toward the beer section of your local grocery store this holiday season:

Wu points to the beer industry as a perfect example. “People may not realize this, but domestically, there are two companies that sell 75 percent of the beer in the United States — Molson Coors and Anheuser Busch, both owned by foreign companies,” he says. “That is an industry that used to have five or six actors and now has two.”

No Signs of Stagnation

From Fast Ccompany-

"When Maple launched its first location in April, it served around 50 meals per hour at peak times. Less than a year later, on average it is now serving 800 meals per hour from each of its four kitchens. A few days before I visited in February, it had set a new record: 1,100 meals cooked and delivered in one hour.
Some of Maple’s insane improvement in meal-per-hour productivity can be chalked up to increasing demand—more people know about Maple now than did during the first week after it launched—but the company has also invested heavily in technology in hopes of beating the efficiency of brick-and-mortar restaurants like Chipotle. While most food-delivery companies use smartphones to connect customers with couriers, Maple owns the entire restaurant and delivery system, which means it can also use mobile tech and data science to optimize its entire workflow."

The Art and Science of Designing Alarms

The Culture That Is West Virginia

From Tyler Cowen - moving from exporting coal to exporting used herion needles:

Arguably, the true malaise is largely cultural, resulting from a mix of mediocre outcomes relative to expectations, drug and alcohol abuse and dysfunctional white identity politics. To cite one striking fact, one West Virginia source reported, “In six years, drug wholesalers showered the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, while 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers.” That works out to about 433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia. There are plenty of poorer regions in history, including the earlier West Virginia, without comparable levels of drug abuse.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Numbers Behind Your Professional Network

From HBR-

"Some experts suggest having 10 people you’re in regular contact with, 50 you reach out to every quarter, and another 100 you’re in touch with once per year. When you do reach out, find ways to show that you’re interested in their lives. Ask how you can be helpful to them. Every six months or so, regroup and make sure you’re in touch with the right people. It’s natural for your list of professional ties to change as your career progresses."

Another Step Toward Blade Runner 2049

From recode-

"The French postal service will soon start a new drone delivery program to carry parcels on a set nine-mile route following approval from the French aviation regulatory authority.
It’s just an experiment for now, not a fully launched program, and will only operate once a week. But it is the first time a federal postal service will use drones to deliver on a regular route."

A Paragraph to Ponder

From the Washington Post-

"Donald Trump believes that those who aspire to the most visible spots in his administration should not just be able to do the job, but also look the part.
Given Trump’s own background as a master brander and showman who ran beauty pageants as a sideline, it was probably inevitable that he would be looking beyond their résumés for a certain aesthetic in his supporting players. 
“Presentation is very important because you’re representing America not only on the national stage but also the international stage, depending on the position,” said Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller."

Minimizing Disaster Insurance Risk

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Future of Vacationless Engineers

From The Upshot-

"Andrew F. Puzder, Mr. Trump’s pick for labor secretary and chief executive of CKE Restaurants, extolled the virtues of robot employees over the human kind in an interview with Business Insider in March. “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case,” he said."

Is Trump Really All That Interested In Infrastructure?

From ENR-

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to tamp down expectations last week, telling reporters he wants to avoid "a $1 trillion stimulus." And Reince Priebus , who will be Trump's chief of staff, said in a radio interview that the new administration will focus in its first nine months with other issues like health care and rewriting tax laws. He sidestepped questions about the infrastructure plan.
In a post-election interview with The New York Times, Trump himself seemed to back away, saying infrastructure won't be a "core" part of the first few years of his administration. But he said there will still be "a very large-scale infrastructure bill.""

Is This How The STEM Professions View the Working Class

From The Atlantic-

"That cuts right to it. The modern economy privileges the well-educated and highly-skilled, while giving them an excuse to denigrate the people at the bottom (both white and nonwhite) as lazy, untalented, uneducated, and unsophisticated. In a society focused on meritocratic, materialistic success, many well-off Americans from across the political spectrum scorn the white working class in particular for holding onto religious superstitions and politically incorrect views, and pity them for working lousy jobs at dollar stores and fast-food restaurants that the better-off rarely set foot in. And when other sources of meaning are hard to come by, those who struggle in the modern economy can lose their sense of self-worth."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

AlphaSense - Helping Engineers Search for Information

From Fast Company-

"For Kasandra Davis, a senior manager in investor relations at Applied Materials, which supplies tools to computer chip manufacturers, AlphaSense’s tool makes it easy to search for information on the semiconductor industry—and quickly organize information about what the company’s own executives have said at conferences on particular topics without laborious searches through individual transcript files.
"I would have to go into the transcript of each one of those conferences and search for those words," she says. "You can imagine what that would have been like from a time perspective."
And, she says, she recently used the tool to locate information comparing video sizes for ultra-high-definition TV versus virtual reality. That's something that was hard to find through a nonspecialized search engine."

Will Trump Fix the Problem?

From Vox-

"Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in practice. The states that were pivotal in the 2016 election have their share of problems, of course, just like all places do. But it’s not a particularly distressed region, and efforts to target assistance to electorally crucially Midwestern industrial states would end up bypassing the places that are most in need. The deepest distress, meanwhile, comes in states that are so deeply red that neither party has much electoral incentive to achieve marginal improvements."

Friday, December 16, 2016

In Defense of Engineering Cosmopolitanism

JQ - Winner of Best Electronic Holiday Card

JQ 2016 Holiday Card from Meagan Loughrey on Vimeo.

Keeping an Eye on Trumbull County Ohio

Trumbull is a good example of a post-manufacturing mid-western rust belt county that switched to Trump and voted solid Republican.  Let's keep an eye on the population over the next four years as proxy data for Trump performance.

Term of the Week - Intersectional Problems

Engineering Goes on a Diet

From the Financial Times by Peggy Hollinger - How to beat a weight problem:

""If you take 1,000 lbs (454 kg) out of the weight of an engine that is worth 1 per cent of fuel.  It is a big financial savings but also good for the environment," says Ric Parker, former director of research and technology at Rolls-Royce and now chairman of the EU's Clean Sky Initiative.  "Anything you can do to reduce weight is a good thing.""

Three Ways to Measure President Trump

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How to Make it in a Non-Linear Profession


The Era of Conversational Interfaces

Dam Resiliency

Sunday, December 11, 2016

No Recovery - Our Productivity Problems

Link to the Pew report.

U.S. Students Continue Decline

PISA 2015 average scores V2

Strong Headwinds for Trump's Manufacturing Plans

It will be interesting to see how a strong dollar hurts manufacturing - - and Trump's reaction.  From the current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek:

"Donald Trump has vowed to bring back manufacturing jobs, but the dollar's rise since the election will make U.S. manufactured goods less competitive in world markets.  Here's how: (1.) A 10% move in the value of the dollar changes the inflation-adjusted trade deficit by about 1% of gross domestic product. (2.) The Dollar Index is up about 4 percent since the election, so that's a hit of 0.4% of GDP, or about $75 billion. (3.) The U.S. loses about $5,300 jobs for every $1 billion added to the trade gap. (4.) That means the dollar's rally could cost the U.S. about 400,000 jobs over the next two or three years in the part of the economy exposed to trade.  More than half those jobs are in manufacturing."

Boom XB-1

Resiliency Term of the Week - Rewilding

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Unit 8200 - - What Military Organizations Will Look Like in the Future

Inside Israel's Secret Startup Machine via @forbes

From the Forbes article - -

"More critically, Israel felt it could no longer risk depending on others--specifically, the American tech industry--to give it access to new technologies. So 8200 became the country's internal R&D hub--the fuel for Startup Nation--with staffing numbers that grew apace and an expanding mission in an Internet-driven world. While Israel's Mossad spy agency is as legendary as 8200 is anonymous, "90% of the intelligence material in Israel is coming from 8200," says Yair Cohen, who served 33 years in 8200--the last five (from 2001-05) as its commander. "There isn't a major operation, from the Mossad or any intelligence security agency, that 8200 is not involved in." When Yasser Arafat claimed he had nothing to do with the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985, which resulted in the murder of an American, 8200 provided an intercepted phone conversation that proved otherwise. When Israel bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, 8200 provided integral intelligence. The Stuxnet computer worm that destroyed nuclear centrifuges in Iran three years later? A CIA and 8200-driven coding masterpiece."

Image result for logo unit 8200

An Economics Fact Trump Cannot Ignore

Seasteading - Engineering Growth Market

GIF of the Week

Dallas Mayor Talks About Investing in the Future while Paying for the Past

Rex Tillerson - Civil Engineering Secretary of State

News reports have Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as the leading candidate to become our next Secretary of State.  Have we ever had a civil engineer this high in the federal government?  From his Wiki page:

Tillerson was born on March 23, 1952 in Wichita Falls, Texas. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout[5] in 1965.[6] In 1970, he graduated from Huntsville High School in Huntsville, Texas. He received a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975.[7] During his time at UT Austin, he was involved with the Tejas Club,[8] Longhorn Band,[8] and Alpha Phi Omega.[9] In 2006 he was named a Distinguished Engineering Graduate.

Image result for rex tillerson pictures with drill rig

Car Tubes

Friday, December 9, 2016

Will an Engineer Run Foggy Bottom?

Alan Mulally is being considered for Secretary of State.  From his Wikipedia page - -

Mulally graduated from the University of Kansas, also his mother's alma mater,[1] with Bachelor of Science (1968) and Master of Science (1969) degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. He was also a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He received a Master's degree in Management (S.M.) as a Sloan Fellow from MIT's Sloan School of Management[11] in 1982.

Image result for picture of alan mulally on factory floor

Jeremy Clarkson in the Self-Driving Era

From the Financial Times by John Gapper - Why would you want to buy a self-diving car?:

"Then there is driving pleasure: the exhilaration of a fast car that can be accelerated along roads with a comforting roar.  Anyone who doubts this visceral appeal need only watch The Grand Tour, the global motoring show presented by Jeremy Clarkson and his entourage on Amazon Prime."
Image result for jeremy clarkson pictures in car

Why AI Will be A Game Changer for Engineering Managers

Agglomeration in Los Angeles

Agglomeration in Los Angeles

Term of the Week - Video Analytics

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Seven Types of Global Cities

Charles Koch - Engineering Intellectural

From The Economist:

"Mr Koch has used his reading to forge a theory of management which the Charles Koch Institute, his think-tank-cum-philanthropic outfit, has trademarked as market-based management or MBM. The main idea is that market signals should operate just as vigorously within organisations as between them. Workers should be paid according to the value they add rather than their position in the hierarchy. Koch Industries keeps base pay low (it is regarded as just a down-payment on the year’s value-added reward) and workers are often paid more than their bosses. Companies should grant “decision rights” to those employees who have records of making choices that boost profits.

As Mr Koch’s philosophy took shape, so his company boomed. When he took over as chief executive from his father in the late 1960s Koch Industries was a small company centred on oil and gas with $200m in yearly sales and 650 employees. Today it is the second-largest private firm in America, with $100bn in annual revenues and more than 100,000 employees. It is one of the world’s largest commodities traders, operates three ranches covering more than 460,000 acres, processes some 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day and produces a wide range of materials such as paper towels, nylon and spandex. Koch Industries estimates that its value has increased over 4,500 times since 1960, outperforming the S&P 500 index by a factor of nearly 30.

Yet MBM has attracted remarkably few imitators. Mr Koch says that Morning Star, a California-based tomato producer, has also experimented, independently, with an internal-market system, but that hardly suggests a fashion. One reason may be that Koch Industries is based in the Midwest, away from the great business-theory factories such as Harvard or Stanford. Another is that it is easy to imagine MBM degenerating into a time-consuming bureaucracy. In any case, the firm’s success probably owes as much to Mr Koch’s managerial drive as to MBM (insiders joke that Koch stands for “keep old Charlie happy)”, and to two big insights: that its core competence in processing, transporting and trading can be applied to a wide range of commodities; and that the Midwest is full of first-class engineers and technicians educated in places like Murray State University and the University of Tulsa."

Burgess & Niple Moves Up on Trenchless Technology List

Saying Good Bye to the Bus Driver

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Losers Among the Winners

From The Atlantic:

"Louisiana, which Trump won by 20 points, faces the highest rate of sea level rise in the United States. If the country continues on its current emissions path, the mean sea level at Grand Isle, Louisiana, is likely to rise 1.9 to 2.4 feet by 2050—and 4.1 to 5.8 feet by the end of the century. Mean sea-level impacts are similarly dire: By 2050, $44.8 billion worth of Louisiana property could be below mean sea level."

Thinking About 2017 Resolutions - - Keeping an Eye on the Bond Market

Flood Town U.S.A.

Trump Tower Survives Climate Change Sea Level Rise

Link to the report - - Under Water: How Sea Level Rise Threatens the Tri-State Region.

Global Water Risk Tool 2030

Link to sign up for the model.

Engineering Better Economic Outcomes

Trumpism and the Prospects of Inflation

Babes In Trumpland: The Coming Rise Of The Heartland Cities

Babes In Trumpland: The Coming Rise Of The Heartland Cities

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

GOP Negotiators Announce Deal on Water Measure

GOP Negotiators Announce Deal on Water Measure: Senate Democrats object to provisions dealing with California drought and Buy America program.

What the Trump Infrastructure Plan Must Target

From Forbes -

"President-elect Trump and Congressional leaders should put a plan together that focuses on the infrastructure repairs and maintenance projects that provide the highest economic returns, meaning bridges, dams, levees, airports, and roads. By concentrating their spending on the most vital infrastructure in the most severe disrepair, taxpayers are protected against vanity projects and wasteful ideas that hope to take advantage of the spending boom to finally secure funding."

The Chinese Century

From the Washington Posr-

"U.S. student performance in the most recent assessment should serve as a “Sputnik moment” for U.S. leaders and educators, said Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Tucker pointed specifically to the results from Chinese students and said that the United States should study how a country that is still relatively poor can outperform students in the wealthiest country in the world."

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Avoid Variable Costs in the Short Term

From the Circle of Blue 2015 annual water/wastewater national rate survey:

Better Estimating Tools for Engineers

The Importance of Ports

From the Arup Connectivity blog (which I highly recommend adding to your reading list):
"Over 80% of the world’s products and services are transported via sea and depend on port infrastructure to transport products and commodities to and from their final destinations. But for an island nation like the UK, with over 500m tonnes of goods, food, materials, fuel and cargo delivered by sea every year, it might come as a surprise to learn that there’s no single institution championing the strategic interests of UK ports. I believe they need advocacy in order to adapt and prosper.  
Although shipping companies have relatively high profiles, the public remains largely unaware of ports themselves. In the UK, 80% of imports and exports are transported through the country’s top 15 ports. But organisationally the UK port industry is a patchwork of bodies and interests, a mixture of privately run enterprises or locally-held trusts. Ports also compete among themselves for business so have traditionally failed to speak with one voice.
Other countries demonstrate what’s possible. Denmark now hosts an annual global maritime forum that brings together the biggest names in ports and shipping, relevant policy makers and other influencers to debate the future of this vital aspect of the world economy. The UK should be taking a similar lead." 

Term of the Week - Ad Hoc Deal-Based Capitalism

From Larry Summers in the Washington Post:

"It seems to me what we have just witnessed is an act of ad hoc deal capitalism and, worse yet, its celebration as a model. As with the air traffic controllers, only a negligible sliver of the economy is involved, but there is huge symbolic value. A principle is being established: It is good for the president to try to figure out what people want and lean on companies to give it to them. Predictability and procedure are less important than getting the right result at the right time. Like Hong Kong, as mainland China increasingly imposes its will, we may have taken a first step toward a kind of reverse transition from rule of law capitalism to ad hoc deal-based capitalism."

The Trump Message

Thursday, December 1, 2016

General Mattis on Risk

From a profile in Slate:

"Mattis is an evangelist for risk with two core principles. The first is that intellectual risk-taking will save the military bureaucracy from itself. Only by rewarding nonconformist innovators will the services develop solutions that match the threats conceived by an enemy that always adapts. The second is that technology cannot eliminate, and sometimes can't even reduce, risk. Mattis warns about the limitations of sophisticated weapons and communications. They can be seductive, luring military planners into forgetting war's unpredictable and risky nature, leaving troops vulnerable."

Image result for pictures of general mattis

Should Engineers Start Thinking about How They will Work with Non-Humans?

The Trump Dollar

From The Economist this week - -

"Parallels have been drawn with an earlier period of sustained dollar strength. The dollar’s 50% increase between 1980 and 1985 was brutal for America’s exporters. The pressure for higher trade barriers was only defused by the Plaza Accord of 1985, a rich-country pact to weaken the dollar. The biggest concern about the latest dollar rally is that it will spur not agreement but conflict. Mr Trump seems all-too eager to resort to protectionism in a misguided attempt to balance America’s trade. A stronger dollar might be the trigger for such a disastrous move."

DONALD TRUMP our 45th President on a Real Dollar Bill Money Cash Collectible

Asia's AI Agenda

Link to the MIT white paper.

Look for the AEC Industry to Embrace Voice Data Integration

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What Just Landed on My Car?

Engineers Should Take a Class on Data Journalism

Dallas to Build Largest US Urban Park

Engineering and the Growth of AI Deals

What Is SWAT?

Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How Engineers Might Look at Sex

Graph of the Week

Ann Bosche: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in the Internet of Things

Ann Bosche: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in the Internet of Things

Good Update on Autonomous Vehicles

The Texas Way of Urbanism

The Importance of 2049

The Year 2049 is looming large in human history.  We seem to be driving toward a convergence of two trends ending on 2049.  The first is 2049 represents the 100-year anniversary of the communist revolution in China.  One has to assume that China would like to mark this date as a celebration of their rise to being the #1 power (military, economic, political, etc,) in the world.  The second point to 2049 - it is the approximate point that the U.S. shifts to a white minority due to our changing demographics.  The percentage of white citizens in the U.S. will drop below 50% around this time.
Related image

What the Option Markets are Saying About Trump on Trade?

From the Financial Times:

"Market prices do convey important information about changing risks. For example, option prices suggest that Mexican assets are expected to deliver larger gains than losses, implying Trump won’t seek to impose headline-grabbing sanctions on the country. Although less pronounced, options market indicators are similar for China, Japan and emerging markets.
In short, the options market does not appear to view Trump as a protectionist but rather as someone who understands the value and importance of global trade."

Will Trump Privatize U.S. Airports?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

States Test Alternative Road Funding

States Test Alternative Road Funding: As the incoming Trump administration looks for ways to fund its massive $1-trillion infrastructure plan, it could find answers by looking toward the states—in particular, Colorado, California and Oregon.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

How Does Trump Define Infrastructure?

From CityLab:

"Unless! Unless the projects Trump’s team is talking about are not necessarily about “rebuilding” “infrastructure” in the regular sense—but rather, major new property developments. Could an industrial park primed to have a major, even transformative, economic impact on a region be considered infrastructure? Perhaps. And Donald Trump sure knows about developing apartments. Could new housing be considered infrastructure? What about all the sewers and utilities required to support new residential development? Think of the construction booms happening on, say, Roosevelt Island in New York City or Hunters Point in San Francisco. Developers often pay out of pocket through impact fees for water, power, and roads that accompany those kinds of lucrative developments. But perhaps under a Trumpian infrastructure scheme they’d be eligible for a whopping 82 percent tax credit."

The 750 - Year Replacement Schedule

From Circle of Blue blog:
"Youngstown’s population has fallen by more than 60 percent since 1960. Nearly all of the city’s 750 miles of water mains need to be replaced. In a money-saving move, the city is eliminating water and sewer service to abandoned areas and barricading roads that are empty of houses within a roughly one-square-mile zone in the city’s northeast corner. 
“It’s a mess,” Bill D’Avignon, deputy director of planning for Youngstown, Ohio, said with a hollow laugh during an interview with Circle of Blue. “It is an aging infrastructure that has not been on an adequate replacement schedule. We’re replacing about one mile per year. We’re on that 750-year replacement cycle.”"