More good stuff on the open frontiers – 10/25

A few of the articles on the open frontiers of energy, education, and technology that caught my interest.


10/6 – The Freeman – Who’s Afraid of the Workers’ RevolutionThe sharing economy is booming. Services like Lyft, Uber, or Airbnb give individuals the opportunity to provide goods and services other people want. This is upsetting the established powers. Author now sees an intellectual pushback against entrepreneurial activity and the empowerment of workers.

Good read for background of how entrenched corporate interests (often these are crony capitalists), self-proclaimed socialists, and free market capitalists look at the radical change around us.

10/4 – Economist – Wealth without workers, workers without wealth – Tremendous wealth is being created in new tech companies that employ very few people. As I’ve mentioned before, the IT revolution is making it harder for poor countries to jump to manufacturing on their way out of poverty. After bemoaning the lack of jobs from the tech revolution, the article makes it very clear that our lives are radically better off today.

The massive challenge is figuring out how to bring along on the journey those people who today don’t have the skills to make the jump to a high-tech world.

10/9 – Schneier on Security – USB has a variety of cufflinks with USB storage devices built-in. Three different designs. Ideal for carrying 2GB, 4GB, or 16GB of data out of secure locations where your bags and phones are searched.


Following article is more towards the downside of the energy revolution, but since I haven’t started a separate series on bad thing in energy outside the slice/dice/fry sector, will need to include it here…

10/10 – Million Dollar Way – On the Road to New England; Cost is Trivial; the Grid May Fail – Turns out the EPA’s rules on curtailing use of coal won’t reduce capacity by only 10GW as previously predicted. More likely will be 70GW of capacity that is taken off-line when the EPA’s rules limiting emissions go into full effect. Article suggests that is such a severe drop in electricity capacity nationwide that it could make the entire electrical grid unstable, potentially failing at peak demand. In the January/February 2014 timeframe, coal plants picked up almost all of the spike in usage.

10/24 – Bloomberg – Bershire’s BNSF to Add Surcharge on Older Oil Tank Cars – Tidbits of trivia of interest to me:

  • transition to newer tank cars (referred to as CPC-1232) from older (DOT-111) is well underway with several refiners having already transitioned their fleets to new design and BNSF placing order for 5,000 more.
  • railroad tank cars typically carry 700 gallons of crude
  • cost to ship from Bakken to east coast is in range of $9 to $10 a barrel
  • number of oil tank car shipments in ’13 was 415,000, up from 9,500 in ’08


10/21 – Insider Higher Ed – U. of Michigan Gets Accreditor Approval for Competency-Based Degree – A master’s in health professions will not be available based on tested competency, not how many classes you sit through. The purpose of a degree is to show you know something. That can be done by passing a series of tests to document knowledge. Progress.

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