Sunday assorted links

1. Gonzalo Schwarz reviews Stubborn Attachments.

2. Singapore: that was then, this is now, thirty years apart.  Perhaps it is politically incorrect for me to suggest this on MR, but many of the earlier images I find more attractive.

3. The airport where robots will park your car.

4. Coming out in world literature (NYT).

5. 3-D printed concrete bridge in Shanghai (does this matter?).

6. Are gondolas a transportation trend?


3. "(does this matter?)"

From the article:

"Tsinghua University claims the project cost a third less than a standard bridge of equivalent size."

Yes, it matters (if claims are true).

I don't know if the current technology allows rebar to be included, if it can it could be significant. Making a mold for a complicated bit of pre-formed concrete can be quite expensive so if this can be done at large scale it could make complicated new structures quite a bit less expensive. The gondola idea is one example. To insert such a system into a pre-existing environment usually requires quite complex designs. 3D printing might help there. By the way was anyone else confused by the title - I automatically thought of Venetian style gondolas and was wondering where these could be an efficient transportation solution. I think in most parts of the worlds they are called cable cars, which is less confusing.

"By the way was anyone else confused by the title - I automatically thought of Venetian style gondolas [...] I think in most parts of the worlds they are called cable cars, which is less confusing."

See other comments, which do indeed mention the confusion.

Including mine, but I still vote for "tram" because in the US, "cable cars" much like "gondolas" brings an instant image and connotation to mind: San Francisco and its railed vehicles.

3D printing became one of the most overused buzzwords so unless they specify in depth what kind of technology they mean by it it may not be that important.
That 1/3 of saving can originate from decreased labour costs which matter a lot less on large-scale infrastructure constructed with heavy machinery.

1. The world economy has flourished during the past 40 years due in large part to globalization and trade. While it's true that the benefits have not been evenly distributed, the greatest amount of flourishing has occurred in the places that were the poorest 40 years ago, resulting in a much more even distribution of worldwide wealth than was the case 40 years ago. So what's my point? Policies that retard trade will retard economic flourishing and growth. No, I am not referring to Trump's trade war, I am referring to the Trump administration's policy of blocking China firms from competing with American firms, not only here but across the globe. This is a dangerous development, much more dangerous than the trade war, which is small bore compared to blocking China firms from competing with American firms in global markets. It's dangerous because it risks not only economic flourishing but world peace. As Trump's political position deteriorates, I expect him to use this policy of blocking competition as a diversion by greatly exaggerating the security threat posed by China firms. What this will do is destroy the trust that is the essential ingredient for global economic flourishing.

Good grief, Trump's policies are minor. None of them are going to move the meter more than a percent. You're suffering from TDS.

"U.S. trade gap widens; deficit with China rises to record high"

Coolest dude in the room.

Let me say first that I think Schwartz's is the most positive review I have seen of Stubborn Attachments, because it extracts the most positive and humane message.

On the other hand, a conferred and embraced "Putin's rat" is going to go in the opposite direction, and grasp "TDS" as a final defense against a better (American) world.

ad otium fere pene mundantur

Good comments. I think there is a fair case that "a new cold war" is both premature and in some cases a calculated distraction.

I suggest one read the NYT article before coming to an an uninformed conclusion. There are two possible outcomes: one, the always wrong John Bolton isn't, in which case trade with China collapses and drags the world into a deep recession and possibly war, or two, the always wrong Bolton is wrong again, in which case trade with China collapses and drags the world into a deep recession and possibly war. Where else can it go when the U.S. accuses China of espionage on a global scale and drags its western allies into a direct confrontation with China by blocking China firms from competing with western firms in the most significant technological advancement of our age. This cannot end well. Those who don't appreciate what's happening here are uninformed or stupid.

Trump's trade negotiators went to China and demanded a veto power over China's fiscal policy. China's fiscal policy, including China's enormous investment in infrastructure, is unfair, but only unfair in the context of America's policy of not investing in infrastructure. But think of the arrogance: America demanding control over the fiscal policy of a another sovereign nation. If that's okay, then why can't China demand that America get its fiscal house in order, raise taxes or cut spending to eliminate the enormous deficits that distort international markets. What would be your answer to that demand? We are on a collision course with China. It doesn't have to be that way, as collaboration with China is the alternative to confrontation. Is collaboration even possible with Trump? No.

From the "strategic" right wing perspective, the centerpiece of both US-Chinese cooperation and conflict, cannot be named. To do so would be to engage with the missed opportunities and ongoing failures of the trade war.

And so right leaning pundits are more likely to tell a story that leaves it out, and elevates much smaller Chinese projects and trade relationships to center stage.

We are China's largest trading partner. That means we are China's largest cooperator.

Maybe the China/US "relationship" is analogous to a married couple that hate each other, but stay together for pecuniary considerations; maybe to collect funds out of a, say, testamentary trust.

If a war (trade or otherwise) breaks out, China's billion people will suffer from economic collapse; which the Party knows means the end of the party. If the Chinese (largest holder of publicly held UST bonds) short the US Treasury bond, Uncle Sam's debt disaster blows making Krakatoa look like a fart.

Both are caught between the Devil and the deep blue seas.

Anyhow, in two years, Trump cannot have as many missed opportunities as Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama in the past 24 years.

You dudes make a sweet duet.

We owe 20+ trillion on the books, probably more than that in unfunded pensions and healthcare, China has $1T in treasuries, and we are supposed to worry about them selling?

Two things could happen with these treasuries - the Chinese could sell them to someone other countries in return for goods or assets in that country - in which case no impact on the US. Or they could use them to buy goods or assets in the US, in which case increasing the economy of the US. I guess there is a third case in which they simply burn them - in which case the US is automatically better off by several trillion.

"Maybe the China/US "relationship" is analogous to a married couple that hate each other.." [SNIP]

I'd rather masturbate with a cheese grater.

Regarding the presidents, nice scene from the funeral of the first one:

I think things were going pretty good, until the mood affiliation hit that they were "terrible, the worst ever, the horrible trade deals."

Not the real deals, mind you, the ones between Nike and a shoe factory. The imaginary deals, which no one ever made, government to government deals, state commu-capitalism in a way that never happened. The command and control economy none of us actually want.

The imaginary deals in which China cheats "us" even as it delivers those shoes per Nike's price and specifications.

rayward: As Trump's political position deteriorates, I expect him to use this policy of blocking competition as a diversion by greatly exaggerating the security threat posed by China firms.

None of the Huawei stuff was driven by Trump. At all.

So you reconcile yourself to accepting that this actually comes from the US security establishment itself and is serious (and hey, you kind of have to if you're accepting their line on the Russians, and the rest, avoiding hypocrisy and all that), or you go on believing that it's overblown. But either way, you're not pinning this on something ginned up by DJT.

To repeat and underline, pretty dodgy tactics of you to try and taint a security concern that has actually happened, which we know doesn't come from Trump to fulfill any sort of popularity agenda, with the idea that "Oh, he might use this for political gain in future, so let's ignore what's happening now.".

Trump reneged on the old deal with Iran, which paved the road to the Huawei situation. It is not driven by him and I personally don't believe it was intentional as rayward believes but its a stretch to say Trump had nothing to with it. He is the POTUS and therefore owns the unintended consequences of his policies.

So Trump got into a time machine and went back to 2013 when the investigation started into Huawei using Sky (owned entirely by Huawei of course) to bypass International sanctions against Iran?

Orange Man bad!

Yes I agree, but blame him for actual shit he’s done. Like trying to slow down illegal immigration. That is entirely his fault.

Not directing Obama’s DoJ in 2013.

Abolish ICE!! Warren-Harris 2020. Impeachment now!

There were and are problems, but they should have been addressed diplomatically (literally) as differences between trading partners. A long game rather than a "crisis."

Basically the right has taken an eastern Brexit approach here instead, creating a crisis and discarding advantage much faster than gaining .. anything.

Don't be too hard on him. He believes what is written in the New York Times. Who knows maybe some Chinese government agent wrote the article.

There are lots of things going on in China that have nothing to do with Trump. For a decade or more the equivalent of their trade surplus value has been moved out of country surreptitiously. That flow seems to have slowed down substantially since mid year. The Chinese president now has power for life. The economy has slowed down, and even more remarkable seems to have switched from export based to serving the consumers in country.

The reaction of the Chinese to Trumps demands are to make lots of noise then submit.

I suspect there will be lots of things going on in that country over the next decade as their sudden change from third world to first world gets digested in the political economy.

I was waiting for one of the useless journalists to ask all the candidates in the last Canadian Federal election what measures were they going to take to protect the banking system from the real estate collapse triggered by the flow of Chinese money drying up. I don't think that has crossed their minds. It was far more interesting and profitable to be bought by the Chinese as our ambassador seemed to have been. Wasn't one of Feinstein's staff a chinese agent?

Its 2019 & you're still living in your shit hole country helmed by your gender flexible Prime Minister?

2. Perhaps if you had to use the buildings and infrastructure regularly, you'd find the new more attractive.

The 1991 pictures look like they are from hispanic american city, they even remind me a little bit of pictures of Cuba with these decrepit old buildings of 2-3 stories.

If you look at the urban landscapes of Asian countries actually the only one that really looks like a developed country is Japan. The others, even though their cap GDP might be already higher than Japan's, still looks more like third world.

Apart from the city-state Singapore, the only Asian country with a GDP per capita higher than Japan at $43,000 is Taiwan at $50,000.

South Korea should be pretty close to Japan in per capita GDP.

If you cherry pick, you can certainly find parts of large Asian cities that look 2nd or 3rd world. But then you can probably cherry pick certain parts of large American cities that look 2nd or 3rd world. My hometown of Hong Kong, for example, has the swankiest and sleekest as well as the most decrepit and worn-down neighborhoods.

Poverty is cool, attractive, but I do like modern Singapore better. Note the extensive use of underground electrical conduits, which they also use in Arlington County, VA, which looks aesthetic but from an engineering viewpoint is inferior to above ground unsightly cables.

Bonus trivia: Arlington County is the smallest county in the USA.

I only checked one county, but Arlington County is about 14% larger than New York County, NY.

Then I looked it up. Arlington County is 4th, after Kalawao County, HI, NY County, NY and Bristol County, RI

Why are underground conduits inferior?

Lapis lazuli (/ˈlæpɪs ˈlæzjʊli, -laɪ/), or lapis for short, is a deep blue metamorphic rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense color.

KL still looks almost the same as the older pictures of Singapore. So if you like that sort of shabby chic look, KL is not far away. Personally I would prefer to live in modern Singapore - the best cities for living in are not necessarily the best ones for visitors to admire. Houston is a great example of this, great place to live, terrible place to visit for tourists.

That's the perfect description: shabby chic.

For the first photo, I think the people living there enjoy more a waterproof roof instead of the shabby one.

The issue here is imposing our own aesthetic values on other people's property. Until this day some people denies the magnificent Greek white marble sculptures where painted with colors. With colors they look so...."tribal".

Why is the people in Singapore taking all the charm away? Why do they prefer functional spaces instead of a soul? /s

As someone who grew up there and remembers the buildings as they were, I think 2018 Singapore is way more attractive than 1988 Singapore.

Unlike the West which has seasons, Singapore is very humid and buildings acquire a moldy exterior in no time, making them unattractive in a span of only a few years.

Saying the 1988 Singapore is more attractive is akin to someone going to the blighted areas of Detroit and saying it's urban-blight-chic.

3-D printed concrete bridge in Shanghai

3D concrete printing has been around for 65 years, I have seen the concrete pushers in work when I was a kid, you have all seen them, they spew concrete from a hydraulic manipulated tube, generally mounted on a crawler with power pump.

Not really the same thing - a mold has to be created for this kind of approach which takes quite a bit of skill to create and also such molds can only make fairly simple shapes. Imagine a pre-formed set of concrete blocks that come from the factory production line that you just ship to location and then bolt (or glue) together. The biggest use could be in bridges and other infrastructure which needs to be shoehorned into existing urban landscapes. Little use is made of elevated roadways now because they are expensive to construct. But if this could be made cheaper you can imagine things like elevated bike tracks being cheaply added into cities like London and New York.

So is the 3-D printed object a plastic mold?

#4...That was excellent. Thanks.

#6: Seems like it could be useful in a hilly city like Pittsburgh or LA.

Wicklow County Councillor, Jimmy Miley, during a meeting regarding Blessington Lake. When the meeting proposed putting a gondola on the lake, he remarked: "That's all very well, but who's going to feed it?"

Me too. I was disappointed when I saw the "gondolas" were not single-oar propelled water craft.

3) what is about her, and possessive pronouns that you cannot escape in writing fiction? It is so different to write than to read and yet when one reads and thinks from her own point of view, is she not in the 1st person? When a band performs and thinks not of themselves but of the crowd, or some omniscient present, are they nothing thinking in the third person?

#6...I was intrigued and excited until I got to the story and found that the "gondolas" are not the ones what I was hoping for.

I have a liking for this vaporware:

Is there a chance the track could bend?

Any fast ground transport has a certain risk during an earthquake, in most cases mitigating all the risk is not worth it.

On the other hand, Skytran seems to be like fusion power, just around the bend.

Not on your life, my Hindu friend!

#6...That is kinda Jetsons.

2. I was visiting Singapore when they were starting to "preserve" the merchant streets as in the first photo. It struct me as more fantasy reimagining than preservation .. but I think they had their hats so firmly set for progress that's the best they could do.

#1...I'm waiting for "My neighbor Bob reviews Stubborn Attachments."

I’m generally pro trade. (Trade-trade is even better than jaw-jaw, which is better, in turn, than war-war.) Trade benefits. But in contradistiction to the tiresome rayward (above), I think we should assess our relationship with China even if it is Trump who is in charge of the reassessment.

Trade is like a marriage; it should be mutually beneficial. Bring married to China is like being in an abusive relationship with someone who spys and cheats.

They sell us cheap stuff. We sell to them expensive stuff. The balance might not square but its still a good deal to me. Also, we spy and cheat too, so let's not pretend we are so innocent. If trade is a marriage, Trump is literally the worst possible marriage counselor. Impeach him and put in some grownups that won't fold so easily.

2: Ty, "politically incorrect" refers to the fact that you should not say something true if it offends Democrats.

You're quite safe in stating your preference for old, decaying buildings, big guy. In fact, you are actually sucking up to Democrats by doing this, with your virtue-signalling about how much better everything was before modernization.

Nice try, though. If you ever do come even close to saying something actually politically incorrect, I will give you five dollars.

#2: TC: "Perhaps it is politically incorrect for me to suggest this on MR, but many of the earlier images I find more attractive."

Hah, depends on who you talk to. I think even the left would be split here on whether to be against this - "Typical privilege to romanticise Asia in an unthreatening under-developed state!" - or agree - "Yeah, the older pictures are so real and ungentrified. Got to hate the plastic fakeness that corporations and governments are imposing on our cities. (Probably hitting a "straitlaced cosmopolitan ethnic professionals" left vs "semi-libertarian hipsters and artists" left faultline there).

For better or worse the older pictures do stir a kind of nostalgia in me (for an era and place I didn't actually participate in!). But I find photos of showa era Tokyo street scenes and 70s-80s London and New York nice to look at as well. (Would I prefer to actually live in that urban architecture? I'd take it for the cheap rents and mortgages, but all other things equal, quite probably not.)

#2: The enormous expansion of the subway is what really got me. What a disruption that must have been.

2. Yet another meaning for the term "politically correct". A preference for the architecture of Singapore a generation ago.

But I suppose this could be shoehorned into the "Cranky elderly person" definition.

2: The main thing that struck me was how little had changed in many of the photos. But that was probably due to sample selection; with proper selection of which photos to display one can tell almost any story about a city (modernization, decline, crime is up, crime is down, etc.).

6: As other commenters have noted, "gondolas" is a confusing name to use. Portlanders call theirs the "aerial tramway" or just the "tram" for short.

"Tram" is also a word that could cause some confusion, but on a much smaller scale, Americans just don't use the word very much. Whereas "gondola" brings instant images and connotations to an American.

6. Are gondolas a transportation trend?

My invention works here the trebuchet pitch and catch. Computer controlled so you mostly arrive safely. A bit like Jai alai, four per gondola, wind up, a ballistic trajectory, well within two sigma of the catcher.

4. Just seeing these unfamiliar book cover designs is nice.

6) Those lifts run at speeds of 10-20 mph. They're not exactly fast. They're cheap to install because they can be placed above existing infrastructure, but then the maintenance costs are going to be similar to an LRT system which is also a lot faster.

It seems like a good solution when gaining a right of way would be really expensive, and you also don’t have enough money for large capital expenditures, and the streets are so congested that a gondola would be faster than a bus. And if the streets are that congested, completing a 10 mile trip in a half an hour is pretty good. But I don’t know if the SF bay metro meets those criteria.

How dare those Singaporeans remodel and repair their buildings and destroy their Disneyesque decrepitness so that orientalist tourists who pop in on holiday have a less "authentic" Instagrammable experience!

#2 Almost exactly coinciding with Tyler's comment on how the "more third world looking" old Singapore is better, New York Times comes up with this on the brutalist architecture in the city state:

2. They did preserve for real the hawker centers which is true Singapore culture (food culture). Unfortunately the young generation don't want to go into the business, too hard and does not pay well.

Jovita steel

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