Thursday assorted links


#2 seems to be battling a straw man that I do not see in my or nearby cities. They certainly do not believe there is "quantifiable proof that we should use bike lanes in all circumstances." Our cities use a great number of techniques matched to road and ridership. The rules along Huntington Beach for instance are ride slow on the board walk, get out and ride faster on the PCH bike lane, or turn off and just use any number of streets that have neither.

Of course, he's attacking a strawman, calling pedestrian walkways "bike lanes".

Why are pedestrian lanes drawn in roads?

Because mandating property owners pay for building sidewalks to replace the roads that served pedestrians, those on foot, for thousands of years, is seen as government overreach.

It was bicyclists who lobbied for tax funded road paving starting circa 1870-1880 in the US in the Good Roads Movement.

It's the motor vehicle drivers who are taking away people's rights to safe roads for people on foot, or on human powered wheels, or low power light wheel vehicles. At least the Interstates, like the parkways, were built and paid for by drivers in parallel with existing roads to move cars off the roads.

#6 was very good from the standpoint of Silicon Valley history, but also in describing the culture now in place.

#2 Go to Europe and learn how to build proper bike lanes...

Or to São Paulo.

Step 1:
Transplant Dutch or Danish driving culture to the US.

Nothing on Google Deepmind winning in Go? I am disappointed.


"DC’s U Street, which was known as “Black Broadway” now looks like Auburn University’s Toomer’s Corner at night, college street USA."

Hahahaha, so true.

Black people living in suburban slums far away from economic activity will look back one day at their ancestral communities in the cities, now populated by high rises and yuppies, and ask themselves "how the hell did we f*** that up?".

2. and 6. Why does the bike lane have so little success while the internet lane took off like a rocket (Andreessen's metaphor)? Andreessen reveals something about the early days of the internet I did not know: commercial activity was prohibited. That's because it was a government enterprise the purpose of which was to facilitate research and other academic pursuits. Andreessen's genius was to foresee the commercial potential of the internet, to exploit the internet to sell everything from dog food to cab rides. That, I suppose, makes Andreessen a genius, which explains the obvious man crush by Ritholtz. What if the internet had taken off in the direction intended by its creators, as a tool to facilitate research and other academic pursuits. Peter Thiel captures the lost opportunity: "We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters". Maybe we are looking at this all wrong: the internet isn't an astonishing success, it's an astonishing failure. Thanks to the genius of Marc Andreessen.

"2. and 6. Why does the bike lane have so little success while the internet lane took off like a rocket"

Just as a guess, I'm leaning towards the "because bike lanes are vastly more expensive per user" argument.

That's only because we don't know how to estimate the cost of the user of the internet. Overall it's in the trillions. Revenues for one side of the ledger are expenses on the other.

Either way, it's virtually certain that the cost per time used per user for bike lanes is vastly more expensive than the cost per time used per user for the internet.

And in any case, this is a bizarrely Apples to Oranges comparison. No, it's not even that. It's more like a Rock to Meatloaf comparison.

Meatloaf rocks!

One could say that the "dark fiber" of the 2000s was like unused bike paths, but out of sight, out of mind.

Ridership on bike trails is tricky, because I think they last a really long time. Bicycles don't break roads to potholes very quickly at all. A cute graphic here:

Who says "bike lanes" didn't "take off like rockets"?

Bike users were the big movers behind road paving starting from circa 1870-1880. The Good Roads Movement.

In a popular magazine in December 1884:

GOOD COMMON ROADS AND HOW TO MAKE THEM. All bicycle and tricycle riders are in favor of good roads. No other class are so earnestly and personallv interested in having good roads. Bicycles and tricycles cannot be used except where there are good roads. Bicvcle and tricycle riders propel their vehicles with their own mus cles ; hence they know by personal expe rience what good roads are. Good roads mean easy work and rapid speed for them ; poor roads mean hard work and slow speed ; bad roads mean no riding at all. There are probablv 50,000 to 60,000 bicy cle and tricycle riders in the United States; of whom 25,000 ride habitually, and are owners of costly machines. Their num bers are rapidly increasing. The amount of capital invested in their machines and accessories in the United States is not far from five millions of dollars. The amount thus invested is at present increasing at the rate of about a million dollars a year ; and this rate is itself rapidly accelerating. To supply the demand for these vehicles wealthy manufacturing companies have been established, giving employment to many workmen ; and the importation of machines from England forms a consid erable item of the national customs statis tics. The owners and riders of these machines constitute a body of intelligent, active, and thrifty voters, mostly of the middle class — that is, of those who are sufficiently prosperous to be able to pur chase these costly machines, but not wealthy enough to keep horses and car riages. Nine-tenths of them are active and pushing business men, many in the employof business houses, many themselves estab lished in business, and others professional men, as doctors, lawyers, editors, clergy men, architects, civil engineers, etc. A more intelligent body of voters than these does not exist in the country ; and their earnest and united influence in favor of good roads will inevitably soon make itself strongly felt in legislation. By uniting with other classes who are also in terested in having good roads, a general reform of our several State road systems may be more speedily brought about. Of the need of such reform there is no room for question. The common roads of the United States, as a rule, are worse than those of any country of Europe except Russia, and are far behind those of Can ada, notwithstanding the fact that the United States is the richest country in the world, and the best able to make desirable public improvements."

In 1900, 300 bicycle manufacturers were producing a million bikes per year. And by the 60s, a much smaller number were producing 5 million per year. Around 1897, a couple of bicycle makers started making cars based on a lot of bicycle technology, and by 1902 there were almost ten thousand cars. To millions of bicycles.

I see who gets to use the roads as a kind of "Net Neutrality" conflict.

The same people who want to ban cars and end funding for pedestrian and cyclist travel infrastructure are also those who are opposed to Net Neutrality, calling for vendors like Comcast to have the right to limit access to the Internet to only their approved tolled traffic. Those are basically the same people who opposed any commercial use of the Internet and limiting networking to AOL, MSN, Sprint Data Services, MCI data services, etc, each using proprietary codes.

Where's the payoff for the bike lane? For the internet, it's ads, ads, ads, ads, ads, and more ads, generating billions upon billions of revenues. The genius of Adressessen is that he figured this out early. The tragedy is that he did.

#1 Indians are much like children, one never knows what will strike their interest. When I was a boy, I used to play chess, but I was never too good at it.

I have an in-law who has essentially the same set up but uses it to sort the crawfish he raises in Louisiana. Watching the air jets shoot the mud bugs into their appropriate bags as they glide down the conveyor belt is strange enough but hearing him direct his coder son to "adjust the classifier" so that a premium specie of the crustacean (who knew?) can be identified (to a not quite six sigma level but impressive nonetheless) and properly redirected was almost too much. He's very pleased with the set up and the two part time seasonal sorters they once employed are no longer needed. But thanks to state retraining programs they're probably sitting in a classroom somewhere learning to implement Markov chain models in R. /eyeroll The good news is that there'll be no Luddite uprisings as the modern looms are invisible and quite beyond the comprehension of crawfish sorters.

4. It's interesting how much the current belief in random Darwinian evolution depends on simpleminded belief.

From the article:

"Assuming that life did not parachute in, fully formed, from elsewhere, a number of authors12,​13,​14,​15 have argued that the transition from non-life to life took place in the context of geochemical energy, with the ability to harness sunlight evolving later."

Fred Hoyle, the famous astronomer and proponent of the "steady state theory", considered it highly improbable that life arose on Earth and endorsed the theory of panspermia, that the earth had been seeded by an extraterrestrial agent. His argument is laid out in "Evolution from Space" in which he demonstrates how unlikely it is that even a single enzyme could arise by chance ( 1 in 10^20). To develop the roughly 2,000 that were identified at the time of the book's publication was much less (1 in 10^40000).

Hoyle was an atheist who disliked the Big Bang theory because it smacked of supernaturalism. He also wrote a a book "Mathematics of Evolution" that went into more detail about these improbable processes.

If you conclude that living beings were not the result of chance, but rather of design, the standard retort is that you are a "creationist" implying that you believe in the Biblical account in the book of Genesis. But that does not follow - the identity of the designer is not automatically implied by belief in design (see Hoyle).

The reason that such a poorly documented theory such as RDE is so widely held is that is a bulwark against belief in God. If it were to collapse, where would the atheists go for support?

So after life magically appeared on Earth, did random Darwinian evolution took over or we go all back to Genesis or Daniken? Exactly where Hoyle thought life would have more chances of appearing through materialist means than on Earth?

Few theories are as well documented as Darwinian evolution.

Darwinian evolution has absolutely nothing to do with the initiation of life, which in turn has absolutely nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory

Darwin might not have explicitly stated life evolved from nothing but random chemical interactions fueled by temperature differentials, but it's certainly clear that this is the implied origin of life. If one reasons life becomes more varied and diverse and complex by random mutation, going backward, you must conclude that it started with "life" So primitive it would be hard to call it life, but that would have a complexity from random evolution from less complex compounds.

And Big Bang is likewise the reversal of the evolution of the universe which is both the ongoing inflation and the clear evidence of simple particles randomly combining under temperature to form more and more complex units of matter. Reverse the process that lead to uranium and lead and you get back to hydrogen which evolved from more primitive particles, and reverse inflation, and you end up at a point from which stuff came out to evolve over billions of years into our universe with everything from protons and electrons to uranium and lead spread out over 14 billion light years.

Both are based on random inevitably of existance as we know it. Are there an infinite number of universes with life based on different laws of nature? At this point, the best we can say is its randomly inevitable. People are trying to figure out how to prove of disprove it based on the big puzzles we can't solve today. Like what is the hidden source of gravity that's inflating the university faster than we think it should? We see the evidence for gravity pulling the universe apart, but we can see the cause of the gravity..

Rich, there are no biologists who believe in random darwinian evolution.

Putting the effort into finding out what they actually think can be very rewarding!

Then you'll understand what is going on here:

#1...Reminded me of a fine film by Ray called "The Chess Players." Saeed Jaffrey stars in it


why link to mentalfloss? that's just a thin wrapper over the excellent blog post JacqueM wrote himself about it


#5: "you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth"

What, Lego comes in different colors these days? Oh boy, what a wonderful time to be alive!

1. A testament to the value of community to build solidarity and enhance one’s estimation of worth.

4. Any story that spans 3.8 billion years is bound to rely on speculation. No photos, written observations, or recordings survived the trip. A scientist must utilize the fossil record and prevailing theories of chemistry, biology, and physics to convey the most likely scenario. Is it perfect? No. We constantly struggle with the unknowable and recognize that tomorrow could bring information that upends our theory.

The moral of this story is that we inhabit a niche. Humans like countless species before us live at the leisure of our environment, our solar system, and the universe. This delicate balance should leave us in awe of our existence. It should also caution us to the perils of the Anthropocene.

Arnold Kling has is right: "Urban bike lanes are green religious monuments." It's crazy a third of the road is devoted to bikes when they are outnumbered 200 to 1.

In major European cities like London bike lanes are carrying more people than car lanes in far less space. An advantage of cycling for cities is that it uses space much more efficiently. It's crazy that so much city space is devoted to its least efficient users. And it's crazy that US traffic lanes are so much wider than they need to be, using more space and making it more dangerous. Narrowing lanes in NYC created space for bike lanes without removing any car lanes, and made it safer for drivers as well as cyclists.

Andreessen is always fantastic--the best interviewee EVER. Ritholz interrupts far too much. Not as bad as, say, Charlie Rose.

I got an idea. Tyler should jettison and cancel all interviews and just interview Marc. His interview podcast might turn out to be quite interesting. Tyler lets person finish there thoughts.

I don't really mean cancel all other interviews. Noting Marc's recommendation of Robert Sapolsky's latest book, give Marc a break and interview Robert Sapolsky--then get back to interviewing Marc.

Will then be the greatest podcast on the internet. Believe me.

Suffice it to say, the ONLY two interesting folks with something to say are Marc Andreessen, Robert Sapolksy, and Sean Carroll (Cal Tech physicists).

Three, not two. Sean came to mind, and cannot ignore this guy. Always great.

4. is very interesting but I have difficulty understanding what they call "Epoch 3: Oxygen": my chemistry is too rusty. They write: "Oxygen is a rich source of energy: the use of oxygen as an electron acceptor releases more energy per electron transfer than that of any other element except for chlorine and fluorine". Okay, but who are the electron donors then? How did the organisms of that epoch did find them?

A further question: whatever these donors are, call them X, it is the reaction X + Oxygen that generates energy, not Oxygen alone. Why then call the epoch "Oxygen" rather than "X" or "Oxygen and X"? Knowing what X is may resolve the question, but maybe not. For Epoch 4, "Flesh", I have the same problem. Of course, the chemical reactions involved here are for example of the form carbohydrate + O_2 -> CO_2 + H_2O, since "carbohydrate" is one of the substance you find in the flesh of plants or animals. But again, why do they call this Epoch 4 "flesh" rather than "oxygen". Is there a chemical way to state that most of the energy comes from the carbohydrate, not the oxygen molecule? Or is it simply an economist' point of view, they call Epoch 4 "flesh" because it is the rarer factor, oxygen being very abundant at that time (we animals spend more time chasing flesh than oxygen)?

If you are truly interested:

Thanks. But I am still very confused. The reaction giving organisms of Epoch 3 their energy are redox energy. The oxidant is the Oxygen, now present in the atmosphere and oceans. Still, what was oxidized? The first link you give mentions many situations, one of them being fatty acids or amino-acids being oxidized to produce energy-stocking ATP. Is that what the article on the 5 Epochs is talking about? But then, where do these fatty acids and amino-acids come from?

Wrong indentation, this was an answer to Evans_Ky above.

1. When we were kids, we all went through a phase where we all played chess. Big deal.

2. Bike lanes were developed by democrats who spent all the taxpayers' money on graft and couldn't maintain the infrastructure. Rahm Emanuel is a master of bike lanes.

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