Saturday, July 30, 2016

Why America Should Become Great Again

SOMETIMES SMALL stories capture large truths. So it is with the fiasco that is the repair of the Anderson Memorial Bridge, connecting Boston and Harvard Square. Rehabilitation of the 232-foot bridge began in 2012, at an estimated cost of about $20 million; four years later, there is no end date in sight and the cost of the project is mushrooming, to $26.5 million at last count.

The Anderson Bridge is approximately one-sixth the length of the bridge Julius Caesar’s men built across the Rhine in 10 days in 55 BC. Caesar’s feat is admired not just for its technical mastery but also for its boldness. An allied tribe had offered boats to carry Caesar’s troops across the river, to avoid the difficult task of bridge-building. Yet Caesar rejected this offer, on the grounds that it would not be “fitting for the prestige of Rome.”
"A lesson on infrastructure from the Anderson Bridge fiasco" by Larry Summers
Peter Thiel pulled an iPhone out of his jeans pocket and held it up. “I don’t consider this to be a technological breakthrough,” he said. “Compare this with the Apollo space program.”
No Death, No Taxes: The libertarian futurism of a Silicon Valley billionaire.
There are ways that the government is working far less well than it used to. Just outside my office is the Golden Gate Bridge. It was built under FDR’s Administration in the 1930s in about three and a half years. They’re currently building an access highway on one of the tunnels that feeds into the bridge, and it will take at least six years to complete.
"A Conversation with Peter Thiel" by Francis Fukuyama
It’s hard to remember this, but our government was once high tech, too. When I moved to Cleveland, defense research was laying the foundations for the internet. The Apollo program was just about to put a man on the moon–and it was Neil Armstrong, from right here in Ohio. The future felt limitless.

But today our government is broken. Our nuclear bases still use floppy disks. Our newest fighter jets can’t even fly in the rain. And it would be kind to say the government’s software works poorly, because much of the time it doesn’t even work at all. That is a staggering decline for the country that completed the Manhattan project. We don’t accept such incompetence in Silicon Valley, and we must not accept it from our government.

[...] When Donald Trump asks us to Make America Great Again, he’s not suggesting a return to the past. He’s running to lead us back to that bright future.
Peter Thiel’s Speech at the Republican National Convention
You know what the trouble is, Brucey? We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket.
Frank Sobotka from the Wire
In the United States, Federal Net Infrastructure investment last year, was zero. That was the lowest level since 1947 and it was zero. That cannot possibly be rational at a time of epically low interest rates.
"Reflections on the Productivity Slowdown" by Larry Summers
It's no secret that the MTA has been having some difficulty maintaining its century-old infrastructure—track fires, signal problems, and all-around calamity plague morning, evening, and off-hour commutes on a regular basis. And in a video released this week, the agency shows off just how horrifically ancient the machinery that runs one of the world's largest subway systems—most of the machines date back to the 1930s or before, and upgrades have been few and far between.
The NYC Subway System Is Controlled By These Vintage Steampunk "Interlocking" Machines
The MTA has a thankless and extremely difficult job: They have to keep the trains running. They have to do it with equipment from the 1930s, in a hostile funding environment, as administrations come and go, as public interest comes and goes, in the face of storms and accidents and pieces of aluminum foil. This they manage to do. 1.6 billion people every year take the New York subway.
Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks

Addendum:
The Straussian interpretation of the Republican Convention is the correct one, which is perhaps one reason why Peter Thiel will be speaking there. They are not saying what they are saying, in fact they are saying “the world is going to hell, and many of those amongst us have been traitorously disloyal. That is why we scream out stupidities, debase ourselves, and court attention by waving our arms in ridiculous ways. We are a small church seeking to become larger.” Is that not how many smaller churches behave? Is that not how some of the early branches of the Christian church behaved? Did they have any influence? See also the remarks of Cass Sunstein.
"Does Lucifer in fact inhabit the corpus of Hillary Clinton?" by Tyler Cowen

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