Weekend Reading 2/24/12

Google Maps driving cost errors, why we don't elect scientists, and more.
This post is 49 in the series: Weekend Reading

Eric dP:

As inspiration for the upcoming Mercer Island Half Marathon, I read Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” in which he describes his discipline of long distance running.

Literary types will recognize that the title is a nod to Raymond Carver, whose work Murakami has translated into Japanese. That Murakami is a student of Carver’s writing has always seemed to me to be entirely fitting. Both writers pare their language down to something so lean and unadorned that it can seem flat at first. And then you catch the quiet cadence in the prose, get fixated by something uncanny in it, and everything else begins to seem cloying and cluttered in contrast. (Fellow Murakami fans may also enjoy this long NYT profile, which I just discovered.)

I enjoyed reading the brief history of Fort Lawton on the occasion of its final closure. (Not mentioned in the official account is that my dad was briefly stationed there in the early 70s.) Fort Lawton is, I think, the last remaining military site in the city of Seattle and it will soon become entirely subsumed by Discovery Park.

I also encourage folks to check out “Energy Democracy,” a new report from the good folks at the Center for Social Inclusion. It details some of the ways that people of color can lead the way toward community-based clean energy solutions.

Alan:

Sightline and I had visits from Naomi Devine, an audacious woman from the northern Cascadian city of Whistler, BC, who is riding her bicycle to Brazil for the Earth Summit + 20. Follow her progress.

Sightline friend Tim Colman sent this clever little video on the true cost of bottled water. “Do you want change?”

Alex Steffen geek-rants against Google Maps’ driving cost calculator.

Of everything I’ve read this week, the most important piece is Bill McKibben’s treatment of fracking in the New York Review of Books. It’s chilling.

Anna:

This infographic from Third Way says it all about the US “commitment” to a new, healthier, more secure clean energy economy. China is going to win this bet—because the dice are loaded in their favor and their chips are down.

Third Way, flickr

Check out this report on trends in interracial marriages in the US.

Here’s an interesting question: Why don’t Americans elect scientists? Scientists lead many powerful countries, including China and Germany (Chinese president Hu Jintao was trained as a hydraulic engineer and Premier Wen Jiabao as a geomechanical engineer; German Chancellor Angela Merkel has a doctorate in physical chemistry), but a science trained POTUS seems to be out of the question.

Clark:

Particles traveling faster than light? Check your cables.

Confessions of a recovering traffic engineer.

[T]he engineer first assumes that all traffic must travel at speed. Given that speed, all roads and streets are then designed to handle a projected volume. Once those parameters are set, only then does an engineer look at mitigating for safety and, finally, how to reduce the overall cost (which at that point is nearly always ridiculously expensive)…If we delivered what society asked us for, we would build our local roads and streets to be safe above all else. Only then would we consider what could be done, given our budget, to handle a higher volume of cars at greater speeds.

 

We are a community-supported resource and we can’t do this work without you!

Comments

  1. Eric de Place says:

    I believe Jimmy Carter is the nearest example in recent US history of a scientist as president. He did graduate work in nuclear physics.

  2. Lawrence says:

    When did engineers become scientists?

Leave a Comment

Please keep it civil and constructive. Our editors reserve the right to monitor inappropriate comments and personal attacks.

*

You may add a link with HTML: <a href="URL">text to display</a>