Sunday assorted links

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If the patent is expired on that drug, let DIY biohackers have at it. Its the regulatory apparatus that makes gene therapy expensive.

Indeed, the article can’t come out and say that the regulatory system is too expensive and does take digs at pharmaceutical companies, but with casually critical reading it is quite clear that the issue is almost entirely due to the regulatory framework.

This isn’t only a US/FDA issue.

it's not the regulatory framework, he's negotiating with the Canadian government over how much profit he should be allowed to make.
it's a single-payer system. There's one buyer, and one seller. Of course, the Canadian government thinks he should take a loss, and he doesn't.

As a related factoid, 42 percent of American cancer patients deplete their life savings during the first two years of treatment.

Does anyone want to argue that as an optimum equilibrium?

Yes. Resources must be paid for, and they are most efficiently paid for by the user.

You didn't think those billions of dollars spent on R&D and hundreds of millions spent on doctors and hospitals were free, did you?

So what you're saying is, those billions are correctly spent on research and development, and they are correctly limited by the patient's ability to pay?

Here is a kindred spirit.

They're going to be limited by somebody's ability to pay.

As another related factoid, something like a quarter of Americans have no savings at all, and less than 30% have around six months worth of expenses in bills. Given that, your little factoid is only surprising in how low the percentage is. I would've expected over 50%.

Ack, that was supposed to be anonymous above.

Can the patients not fly to another location outside of a tight regulatory regime and get the drug delivered there? Perhaps one of the South Asian countries - you can buy pretty much anything over the counter there.

So you trust that method of obtaining lifesaving drugs? No risk of fraudulent/fake ones? Bruh...

Bruh - even developing world countries have incentives not to kill their customers.

5. America is the world's leader in bicycle paths. I know, it's a difference in scale. Just the same, we are the leader in some forms of transportation. A reminder: Elon Musk is tunneling under America's cities so self-driving cars will have a safe place to provide transit for Americans who are too fat or lazy to ride bicycles.

Trying your hand at doing a Jonathan Swift, eh?

Right now there are probably plenty who are not too fat or lazy to ride bikes, but too timid and scared of riding in traffic with cars on the road.

Confirmed. But it actually barely edges out "I don't have a bike," so there is that.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2015/03/04/survey-100-million-americans-bike-each-year-but-few-make-it-a-habit/

I know two people who recently got into very bad accidents while riding on public roads. One dead another one paralyzed. Safe bike riding requires physical separation of motor vehicles from bikes.

' Safe bike riding requires physical separation of motor vehicles from bikes.'

Well, though that certainly helps, what it really requires are car drivers who actually pay attention to bicycle riders, along with a traffi law framework that automatically places at least partial blame on a car driver for any accident involving a bicycle or pedestrian, as the car driver has a higher level of responsibility to prevent the vehicle they control from hurting those not enclosed in a metal cage.

#2 and #5. I am pretty sure that no one among the writers or usual commenters here had any of the trivial geographic misconceptions related in #2. But it may still surprise some (maybe) that the US has actually, and by far, the largest railway system in the word. China's network is only half as large. Of course, in the US, it is used much more for goods than for passengers.

The US is just too spread out for long distance passenger rail to work well. Planes are a much better public transport system. I don't know if the rail system in China is economic vs planes - the construction lobby there is very strong so it probably doesn't matter.

Some people think different about the "spread out" thing, look for Brightline in Florida.

It's to soon to evaluate if it's a financial fail or success. What is known is that private investors founded it and fought against NIMBYs. So, it's a strong signal that investors expect nice returns for all the effort.

Distance isn't the issue, of course. It's time, and the Protestant/Puritan obsession with it as a commodity. While saving an hour on a trip is almost priceless, no one seems to be able to put a dollar figure on a good night's sleep.

#4 I forecast a wave of failures for these neo-banks too. Visa will just cut their fees. Plain and simple.

Visa will just buy one of those neo-banks, cut their fees and watch the others die.

The article reads as if the competition would be with large banks, not with credit card companies. PNC is mentioned. It's doubtful if large consumer banks can afford to easily cut their fees. Their existing financial structures preclude it.

Surely many of them will fail to be profitable. But this is just the latest wave of new-bank entrants. I had Netbank in the early '00s. It failed soon after I moved my money to Chase because Chase gave me some free money.

The real problem is still consumer resistance to change. Charles Schwab has been doing online-only banking for at least a decade. This has been since before you could deposit checks by taking a picture with your smartphone because it was before smartphones. They don't nickel and dime you with fees. I think they do it as a loss leader for their brokerage service, but even that is cheap.

All the big banks I've interacted with except Chase have completely incompetent websites. Even Chase has only recently become OK. Chase recently gave me some more free money (I'm not special, the letter offering the free money was addressed to "Dear Neighbor") and after I kept the account open long enough to collect the money, I promptly closed the account.

English competitive ploughing with Japanese tractors. Sad.

🚜 😢

Sad if you're a dim bulb, perhaps. Most interesting is that the vegetable food for both humans and domestic animals is produced over almost all of the world by guys on tractors, something most people don't think about. Without modern agricultural practices life would truly be nasty, brutish and short. Any thanks made over the holidays should be directed to the agricultural community.

"without modern..."

Not true. A large portion of that production is devoted to ethanol, along with corn sweeteners and other garbage calories. And the waste in the system - food literally thrown away at all stages - is monumental.

Ag production with low-intensity decentralized methods are completely achievable, but require a reordering of priorities and subsidies.

Not unlike decentralized energy generation/distribution; the system we have now is not the only conceivable system.

It's doubtful if you yourself could produce all the food that you eat through your own efforts. Misguided government mandates mean corn is made into ethanol rather than tortillas. "Garbage calories" is pretty much your own personal opinion. Waste is a concept expanded by Puritan philosophy to describe anything that's not put to economic use by man, preferably Puritan man.

Decentralized energy generation has been tried. For instance, the gas used for home illumination was once produced by generating stations in each neighborhood. No doubt you'd like to live next to an explosive process. Eventually intelligent people discovered that natural gas could be economically piped from a distance for use in heating and cooking and no one has come up with a better method. Boulder, CO has made an effort to remove itself from the Xcel Energy grid and generate their own power in a more something or other manner. It has come to nought.

That's quite a of of fallacies and strawmen for two paragraphs.

Your initial premise was that we can't feed ourselves without modern agriculture. My reply is that a large volume of contemporary output is either (1) not food, or (2) not eaten. This has nothing to do with puritanism, it's just simple math.

Not only do I not want to live next to a 100 year old gas facility, I don't want to live next to a forty year old nuclear facility. Or a modern hog farm. This too, has nothing to do with alternatives to our current power grid or ag system.

Modern agriculture is mechanized agriculture, ie. tractors and other engine-powered equipment planting and harvesting crops. Since only a small number of Americans work in this area, far fewer than when horses ruled the day, people seem to be unaware of how their arugula and broccoli arrives at the table.

Almost all agricultural production can be used as food. Maybe not cotton. Or hemp. But no one goes to the trouble of raising it if doesn't serve a purpose. "Waste" is a particularly human centered concept. It might be possible for you to eat orange and banana peelings, pork skin, fish heads, etc. but you probably don't. Something else down the food chain will happily devour it and if not, it will return to the soil. There's no simple math in this situation.

You might want to google food waste. It's not just fish heads. Vast amounts of otherwise edible crops rot due to supply-demand mismatches, or are thrown away in the grocery and food services sectors, or at the consumer level. Estimates are as high as 40% of all crops produced don't get eaten. The only food chain much of that goes down is in lined landfills.

Add to that all the corn that is turned to energy or corn syrup, and you have a system that is massively over-producing food, compared to nutritional demands.

Ahh, those darned supply-demand mismatches. Obviously the answer to that problem is central planning and control. It's always worked well in socialist countries, hasn't it?

More strawmen

So you won't be eating bacon in your cold and dark home.

Not as cold and dark as your imagination seems to be

I was referring to their sponsorship by Kubota.

"The first proper traction engine, in the form recognisable today, was developed in 1859 when British engineer Thomas Aveling modified a Clayton & Shuttleworth portable engine, which had to be hauled from job to job by horses, into a self-propelled one. The alteration was made by fitting a long driving chain between the crankshaft and the rear axle."

I hope any US competitor was on a John Deere!

https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/tractor-sales-breakdown-john-deere-still-out-in-front-but-kubota-is-charging-up-the-outside-18529

Perhaps the Deere software license is void if used in a competition.

Besides, how did we make it through this topic without talking about self-steering autonomous tractors?

Tractor nationalism...

Quoting from the neo banks article:

“In consumer banking, you have what is one of the largest industries in the United States, in terms of profits, and at the same time one of the least disrupted industries, and the most unpopular with consumers,” said Andrei Cherny, the founder of Aspiration, a neo-bank that has attracted nearly a million customers. “Those three things create a perfect storm for disruption.”
-------------------

The problem for banks is that they are replaceable with a spreadsheet function. What has prevented this replacement in the past was unsavory borrowers who borrowing consumed so much bank risk management. This is changing rapidly as new customers have smart card capability in their mobile digital wallets. New customers can agree to have their smart card manage spending budgets and report to the bank when the customer is in dangerous territory. So the new smart card capability 'favors cash in advance' because customers cards follow the budget, customers become pre-qualified. Once we have pre-quals working, we insert the spreadsheet function to match deposits and loans, presto, a web site can serve as a profitless S&L bank, a few hundred lines of code at the server, presto, no humans needed to manage the bank.

This whole revolution revolves around mobile, hand held devices to manage our accounts.

Here is an example of a web wallet having cash in advance:

On Friday, Nov. 23, the developers behind the Wormhole project announced the launch of the Wormhole Cash wallet. The application allows users to store, send and receive BCH, WHC and any type of token created with the Wormhole software. Additionally, the new client allows users to burn BCH for WHC alongside the ability to crowdfund and create token assets.
--------------

It an create a token, like a stock certificate, and issue them with safety because there is a smart contract enforcer that forces correct accounting upon the issuer, or reports a violation.

Issuing tokens is that same is borrowing cash in advance, in fact there is an economic theorem that says so. So when do all the banks become spreadsheets? As soon as we can spread the smart contract technology to everyday users. There will always be a safe lending rate for anyone as long as the spreadsheet function has faith in customer budget controls. The economy will see an immediate 2.0% growth spurt as the cost of banking drops to nearly zero.

The hold up is the NSA and other politicians who do not believe in financial freedom. These institutions have to worry about getting the 4% of GDP needed to cover federal interest costs, and the humans powers in control are barely aware of what is going on in fintech.

3. Apparently the publicly-funded research system is not offering up the fruits of our labor to private commercializers on a sufficiently generous platter

5. Yes, banking is ripe for disruption. But firmly entrenched in controlling the money supply and controlling the government. It will be interesting to see how the upstarts sort out, given that the regulatory structure is literally populated by banking executives and attorneys.

The industry was able to beat back the challenge of non profit credit unions and state run banks, which are proven models. My guess is this will pan out sort of like index funds and low-friction stock trading. The banks will adapt, co-opt, and acquire their way into continued dominance.

I would not; however, say that fees are the only compliant the public has about banks. But yes, no one will shed a tear if they go away...

"So it’s easier for North Americans to think of Europe as due west ...." Was this a typo? I certainly think of Europe as due east.

Later on: "If you draw a line on a flat map from Washington D.C. to Shanghai, China, the most direct route appears to be due west over the United States and the Pacific Ocean" makes sense but people certainly do not think of Asia and Europe as both being in the same direction, west.

'makes sense'

Actually, it doesn't, but mainly because we live on a globe, and not the 2D representation which most people seem to think represents our planet.

Or to put it a bit differently, the shortest distance between two points on a globe is not the same as a straight line on a piece of flat paper.

I think you missed my point Clockwork.

Or I was not explicit enough in pointing out on a globe, anything can be seen as being both west and east at the same time, unlike on a 2D map.

Most of these geographic misconceptions are pretty much based on the fact that geography is taught using 2D surfaces.

Yeah, looks like a bizarre typo. I say bizarre because although anyone can unthinkingly say "west" when they meant to say "east", an article about geography should not screw that up.

In elementary school decades ago each year we'd spend a month or two with workbooks that taught geography: great circle routes (I don't know why the article failed to use the term for the shortest route from DC to Shanghai), the distortions of the Mercator projection (so why use it? Because if you want to trace a route where you travel say north by northwest in a straight line, the Mercator map will show your route as a straight line), etc. etc.

I've read articles that claim that geography is yet another subject that is now taught less frequently in school; a disservice to the students if true.

And I'll give a random plug for an excellent book, _The Lost Art of Finding Our Way_, by a physics professor John Huth. Gives excellent examples of how some tragedies could be avoided by just a little more geographic awareness, as well as descriptions of navigational systems from many different eras and regions. Some islanders in Polynesia use a sort of virtual parallax to estimate where they are (in addition to looking for subtle changes in the sky and ocean). Their word for being disoriented is wiwijet -- and it's also their word for panic.

The china tunnel headline is misleading. It's just the first undersea tunnel in *China's* HSR network. What's special about that? The Seikan tunnel opened in 1988, the Eurotunnel in 1994, and the Gotthard Base Tunnel last year... Heck the Mont Cenis tunnel opened in 1871 to what was "high speed" at the time.

Editor Vs Journalist conflict.

The first line of the article is perfect: "China will build its first undersea tunnel for high-speed trains".

Somehow this coverts into ambiguous click-bait.

5. I have used an Ally bank account for several years. I don't see how the "neo banks " are different from Ally and similar "internet" or "online" banks.

#3. “The drug works...he problem was the price.”

so allegedly that drug (Glybera) is not "commercially viable" at less than $1M per dose ??

Makes no sense. All the development/testing/ approvals have been successfully done -- and are sunk costs. Production costs can't be anywhere even near $1M. Zero sales = Zero profit and zero ROI.

The article is poorly written and very long-winded. It never addresses the critical question of the price to commercially manufacture & distribute Glybera.
The 'Supply" factor of Supply & Demand & Price analysis is completely missing.

The first rule of drug price analysis in the media: never talk about the actual cash cost of production to pharmaceutical companies.

It never addresses the critical question of the price to commercially manufacture & distribute Glybera.

Actually that's all it (long-windedly) addresses. You just don't like the result.

And it is always correct to play defect in a prisoner's dilemma, sure.

If governments are willing to let people die rather than pay a cost which is likely less than their expected pancreatitis hospitalizations, why exactly would you expect said governments to not grab the next tranche of profit?

The truth is if glybera could be profitable at some cheaper price point, then it would be. Pharma sells rights all the time and anyone who could make the numbers work would simply go up to the patent holders, make an offer, and then go to work.

The truth is clean rooms alone run over $1000 per square foot. Running the plant to get the 5,000 or so doses of worldwide demand is going to require an astronomical amount of money because that same equipment and manpower could be making another drug.

Ultimately nothing stops the EU from putting in a bid and manufacturing the drug themselves. The patent is a depleting resource so only the most spiteful pharma executive would sit on it rather than get cash out one way or another.

The article doesn’t address the question of why governments aren’t willing to pay for the drug. What the patent holders are doing makes sense on the face of it; they are trying to make money on a drug for a rare disease on which they had spent hundred of millions of dollars to bring to market. It is action of the governments that doesn’t make sense if it is true that the cost of the drug is less than alternative treatments. My guess is that government health insurance doesn’t actually cover replacement therapy in most countries, but just treats the acute symptoms of the disease.

It seems likely that this is a coordination problem with an opportunity for an intermediary—essentially a large scale international Groupon.

First you get precommitment for a larger pool of patients and insurers. Then you buy en masse to minimize production costs.

After all the company might reasonably provide 1 dose for $1 million. But they might ALSO reasonably provide 400 doses for 100 million—at which point you’re less than the yearly cost.

Run that group buy once every few years. Everyone wins.

What was the shelf life? It didn't sound very long.

You don't understand the application of sunk costs. Sunk costs are irrelevant at the MARGIN of decision making. Yes, the R&D costs are irrelevant in determining whether to produce one more unit, but they are not irrelevant in the initial investment decision. If firms cannot reliably expect returns on R&D, they will cease doing it. The returns appear to be ex post justification, but that justification is crucial for future R&D decisions. Investors won't get fooled twice.

The returns on R&D also have to compensate for risk. Only one drug in 20 makes it to market and becomes profitable.

Price equal to marginal cost is a measure of production efficiency but not allocative efficiency. And one cannot expect production efficiency in a monopoly market.

Giving away the drugs at marginal cost would mean no more drugs to give away.

I believe the point here is that the public funded the r&d. Then licensed off the results.

The real costs of R&D are the clinical trials.

There are three layers here. First someone coming up with the idea and proving that it is worth pursuing further.

Second is to test the drug in the real world. There is a real possibility that it fails.

Third is to get approval to sell the thing.

Which is the most expensive? I would suggest the cheapest step is the initial development.

At any point the idea could fail. The trials could show serious side effects, or limited efficacy. The regulatory agencies could decide that it isn't worth approving.

The european company invested money into getting approvals. It was an unusual drug, something not seen before, so it was lengthy, risky and difficult.

There are real costs here. Someone has to pay for them. Obviously the Quebec health system doesn't want to pay it. No surprise there.

I have no way of evaluating the cost of basic R&D, short of assessing the budgets of every university and public health grant and subsidy system.

You mention how investors are cautious around the cost of clinical trials, but of course they generally won't even touch basic R&D. They lack the patience and forgiveness necessary for that stage of research, which of course would never survive a true fully-loaded cost allocation system, and more tan defense spending could.

Well, the writer doesn't realize that the whole thing is an elaborate negotiation over the price of the drug. The company naturally wants it's investors to make some money (so they can get new investment in the future), and the Canadian government wants to use it's monopsony power to get the lowest possible price, regardless of whether anyone makes money or not. So in a way this is like a giant post-facto cost-plus government contract where the company is negotiating what profit margin it is going to be allowed to make.

If you are going to write an article poking fun at people's geographic misconceptions it might be best not to trot out your own climatological misconception "Western Europe is relatively warm for its latitude thanks to the Gulf Stream, which brings warmer water from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic".

Seems like we could charge them for that. It, despite its name, is our Gulf and any streams from it, too.

Yeah. If London's being warmer than Chicago in winter was mostly caused by being heated by warm water from the Gulf Stream, then London would be hotter than Chicago in summer as well, since the Gulf Stream doesn't somehow go away in summer.

The major thing is that oceans have vast thermal inertia, and the rotation of the Earth means winds generally pass west-to-east. So higher-latitude places just east of an ocean (Seattle, Vancouver, London, Paris) have milder climates than lower-latitude places with large amounts of land to their east (Beijing, Chicago). "Milder" as in both warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Europe as a continent of peninsulas generally have any impact here? I'd guess not as NE Canada seems similarly ragged though.

@dearieme:

blasphemy. AGW is sacred dogma.

Official NASA global temperature data states that from February 2016 to February 2018, "global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius."
That is the biggest two-year drop in the past century.

{a whoops to dogma, but AGW is eternally non-falsifiable}

True but a textbook example of cherry-picking. From the Nasa:
Feb 2018 "was +0.78°C warmer than the average February of the 1951-1980 period. The only months of February warmer than that occurred in 2016 (+1.34°C), 2017 (+1.12°C), 1998 (+0.90°C), 2015 (+0.87°C), and 2010 (+0.79°C)." Source: https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2694/february-2018-was-sixth-warmest-february-on-record

Cherry-picked in the choice of the the year 2016 as a comparison with 2018 -- 2016 is the hottest year on record. Cherry-picked in the choice of February, where the difference between 2018 and 2016 was big. Other months in Winter and Spring 2018 were also cooler than the same month in 2016, but in general by less than 0.3 degree, and all those months were among the six hottest on record. As a whole, 2018 seems on path to be the fourth hottest year on record.

Joel just destroyed DHj there.

The poster states that it's "the biggest two-year drop in the past century".

Pointing out the worst case and clearly marking it as exceptional is not cherry picking.

In regards to how far north Africa and Europe really are, I realized this when I discovered this is why sunrise in Dublin in Ulysses is an obscenely early 3:33 AM.

#2 And Maine is the US state closest to Africa.

It appears that Glybera was a bargain for patients, insurers and governments; but it also appears that the drug’s corporate backers didn’t make a good enough case for the product. Marketing, and in this case lobbying, is at the heart of commerce, and the article suggests that Glybera benefited from brilliant science, but suffered from sub-optimal business support. This may be a story of market and regulatory failure, but it could also be a straightforward example of deficient capability at a small group of companies.

hydrangeas, cochlear implant, ripples shady side stipple creek stella artois, the rhyme scheme in seam upstream hedge row, murderer's row; albatross 3 kinds, the Pacific, the Nautilus Destroyer

#2 There's a part of Canada that's further south than a part of California.

#3

If you draw a line on a flat map from Washington D.C. to Shanghai, China, the most direct route appears to be due west over the United States and the Pacific Ocean. But Robinson says he’s been on plenty of flights to Asia where people are surprised to hear the pilot say they’ll be flying over the North Pole. When looking at a globe instead of a flat map, it makes sense.

Actually, there are "flat maps" that make it clear the shortest routes to Asia are over the North Pole, rather more effectively than a globe with its axis on the poles make the point. Try an azimuthal equidistant projection centered on the North Pole.

Interesting that it is much closer between Newfoundland and Casablanca than Florida and Casablanca.

#5 China Infrastructure

Here is a toughie for free-marketeers, and doubly so for libertarians.

China builds infrastructure. An authoritarian state with no property rights can build infrastructure quickly, and quality depends on how smart the authoritarians are.

A libertarian state? How does infrastructure get built if property rights are supreme? A single landowner can thwart any pipeline, rail, or road. Groups of property owners can claim mere noise and congestion infringe on their sacred property rights. Toss in the right to zone other people's property (evidently accepted by all) and you have...stagnation.

It may be China's dirigiste economy will surpass that of the United States'. Obviously, it already has in terms of building infrastructure and industrial capacity.

Oh well, let us clutch onto our totems ever more tightly.....

France also builds great infrastructure without being totalitarian. You just need to take your time, organize consultations and have expropriation laws with fair compensation.

I would imagine also that in France the center of gravity in popular opinion is that the state is still trusted to do this sort of thing, and that it is a legitimate use of public funds and power.

Yeah, those current tax riots in Paris would tend to be a counter argument.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-fuel-tax-protest-paris-demonstration-police-emmanuel-macron-latest-a8649761.html

Libertarians would probably claim that freer property rights would generate enough income and growth to buy off and persuade objectors, and that in the long run this results in similar infrastructure with more positive sum trades.

NIMBY using group pressure to restrict individual building based on congestion, character, etc. is also not normally what people believe characterizes a libertarian state. Indeed, such people can be more empowered by an authoritarian state, if they have some supporters or alliances with it. We don't have a housing stagnation in the West because of excess libertarianism.

Libertarian states could also claim that authoritarian states are at least as obstructionist as they are developmental, and that no one has any power to oppose or challenge them, while at least private individuals and concerns can trade and haggle.

This is not to say that I agree fully with what the libertarian arguments would be, but you are certainly presenting a rather rosy picture of authoritarian states as developmentally capable here. In situations other than where they are trying to "catch up" and the benefits are obvious to all because they've been done (most of China's catch up), there is no evidence that authoritarian capitalism is particular capable compared to other models of capitalism. Belt and Road for example may be a colossal and expensive f-up; much of Soviet high modernist infrastructure building at state direction was, and what wasn't ended ultimately leading to a highly dysfunctional model of capitalism when their system collapsed and it was bought up at ultra cheap rates by the oligarchs.

Well, there's two strains of libertarianism, there's the theoretical academic version that lives on blogs, and there's the popular version that's been co-opted by tax-whiners, deregulatory lobbyists, and don't-tell-me-what-to-do man-children.

I do agree that most of those libertarians avoid overt NIMBY posturing, perhaps due to the fairly obvious contradictions. Not to mention the cognitive dissonance they experience when they realize that rapacious corporations can be every bit as unstoppably authoritarian, and they find their unlikely ally to protect their private property rights is the big government, with its array of hearings and regulations. And, as the private developer takes over their property (or less tangible property values like air quality, noise/odors, and traffic flow), in a process or price that rarely seems fair, these people rarely complain about too much regulation.

PS. What, or rather who, would you characterize as a "libertarian state"?

The true man-children are people like you who believe that other people's property exists for you to take. Didn't your mommy and daddy teach you that stealing is wrong? It makes sense that your inability to learn simple lessons requires you to have other people continue to tell you how to live your life correctly.

The proper role of the state is to protect property rights. Too often that same state is also used to violate them. I admit it's a conundrum - how do you constrain the state to only be able to protect property rights? How do you limit those protections to just the actual private property that people own and not allow it to turn into an amorphous "property value" protection scheme wherein people limit other people's property rights because they want to keep the market price of their own property high.

Personally I draw the line at saying people have rights over the market value of their house. The market value is made up of how much other people would pay for your property, and you can't have rights over things that exist in other people's heads. You have rights over your actual home, not what you can see from the window. That could cover smells and noise that enter your property line, but not so much traffic congestion levels in the street in front of it. of course there's always HOAs which govern things like making sure your neighbor down the street mows the lawn, but city regulations aren't quite like a big HOA.

I'd like to see coarse theorem applied and develops allowed to simply pay off the affected neighbors so they can build what they want without all the regulatory hassle.

#2 - Also:
The southness of South America. Coming from Australia, didn't appreciate this until I visited Patagonia and realised I was somewhere at the latitude of Macquarie Island.
The fact that Northern England is opposite Holland. I still always think of it as opposite Denmark, with Holland tucked down nearish to Kent and Norfolk.
The size of Japan. Often think of it as a larger British Isles.
The size of SE Asia. Overlaid on Europe it stretches roughly from the Atlantic to Afghanistan. This includes the size of individual islands like Sumatra.
How far west Kazakhstan reaches.

"The southness of South America. Coming from Australia, didn't appreciate this until I visited Patagonia and realised I was somewhere at the latitude of Macquarie Island."

My reaction is similar but perhaps opposite: the surprisingly equatorial latitude of Australia. Tasmania's around the 41st parallel, which is not very far from the equator by North American standards. Even New Zealand's around the 46th parallel.

For comparison, the 45th parallel in the northern hemisphere goes through the state of Oregon. Which most Americans would consider to be somewhat far north in the USA, but not extremely far -- there's also Washington state, then at the 49th parallel we reach the Canadian province of British Columba, then Alaska.

Tierra del Fuego with its fierce weather and seemingly close-to-the-pole location is around the 55th parallel. The 55th parallel north was around where some Americans wanted the border with Canada to be, back when the US and Britain argued about such things. The city of Edmonton is around that latitude, which Americans would certainly consider to be pretty far north but not anywhere close to Arctic.

IOW, Australia's not very far south, nor even Tierra del Fuego, compared to how far north even a humdrum location such as Oregon or Edmonton is.

#3. I think this guy is basically just negotiating. Since the health care system in Canada is single payer, the government can set the price it is willing to pay for the drug. Basiclaly, the Canadian government is saying "no" to $1 million per treatment, and this guy is using his monopoly power to negotiate. It's two monopolies playing chicken over which one of them is going to be more willing sacrifice the lives of the people who suffer from this rare disorder.

Also, "This is what monopsony looks like!"

Regarding the China undersea tunnel:
It seems India has already started work on an undersea tunnel for its high-speed railway line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and it is longer in length (21 km vs 16.5 km).

https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/work-on-country-s-first-undersea-tunnel-for-bullet-train-begins-in-mumbai/story-Tb3TzEmFehIJTsm1CChR8H.html

https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/bullet-train-work-to-start-near-thane-in-january-2019/story-kUFCRtcrsVbEHZfwO1gsHM.html

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