Welcome to Ecotopia

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In this era of tea-partying revolutionary-era dress-ups, one usually associates secessionism with the far right. But if things turn sour for the present majority in Washington, you should expect a whole new wave of separatism to emerge on the greenish left coast.

In 1975 Ernest Callenbach, an author based in Berkeley, Calif., published a sci-fi novel about enviro-secessionists called Ecotopia; a prequel, Ecotopia Rising, came out in 1981. These two books, which have acquired something of a cult following, chronicle--largely approvingly--the emergence of a future green nation along the country's northwest coast.  read more »

Ethics, Banking And The Coin of the Realm

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Many years ago, I wrote for a New York investment bank whose name has been semi-obscured by the epidemic of shotgun marriages on Wall Street in the intervening decades. Thus, the news that Goldman Sachs enabled the miserable financial accounting habits of Greece did not surprise me, nor, I feel sure, anyone who ever worked for one of the banks. As many characters on “The Wire” put it over five years of exquisite television, “All in the game, yo.” Or, in the words of a previous era’s television icon — JR Ewing, Texas oilman on “Dallas” — “Once you give up your ethics, the rest is a piece of cake.”  read more »

MILLENNIAL PERSPECTIVE: Kindle 101

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The rising Millennial Generation has been cast as the leading force in teaching current technological advancements, and in predicting what will come next. Labeled “Digital Natives” because of our familiarity with digital communications and media technologies, the rise of the Millennials has run parallel with the rise of the cell phone, the computer complete with Internet, and the launch of MP3 players. In keeping with expectations that we’ll provide leadership on the digital media world, here’s what to expect of the sophisticated technology of Kindle, the digital book:  read more »

Subjects:

The Nile Flows North

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"How can a river flow north?" the real estate lady asked me. "I mean, it's impossible." The offending river, within whose watershed I proposed to buy a house, is the Wallkill. It rises in Northern New Jersey – near Sparta – and passes by Middletown, NY, and through Montgomery, Walden, the eponymous town of Wallkill, New Paltz, Rosendale, and finally (with a complication) drains into the Hudson River at Kingston, NY – approximately 100 miles north of its source.

In defense of the American public school system, I add that my realtor was born and educated in Europe.  read more »

Subjects:

The Heavy Price of Growth Management in Seattle

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The University of Washington Study: Economist Theo Eicher of the University of Washington has published research indicating that regulation has added $200,000 to house prices in Seattle between 1989 and 2006. Eicher told the Seattle Times that “Seattle is one of the most regulated cities and a city whose housing prices are profoundly influenced by regulations.”  read more »

Creating a Pearl River Delta Megapolis, The Growth Story of the 21st Century

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In Southern China, the Pearl River Delta is giving rise to an urban super-power in the first rank.

In 2005, the wealthiest metropolises were still led by the thriving urban agglomerations of the leading advanced economies in North America, Western Europe and Japan; that is, Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris and London. The scale economies of these metropolises are as significant as those of many national economies. For instance, the estimated GDP of Tokyo and New York City, respectively, was not that different from the total GDP of Canada or Spain, whereas London’s estimated GDP was higher than that of Sweden or Switzerland.  read more »

Land Planning: Put Tech and Team on The Same Page

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Technological advances allow Civil Engineering and Land Surveying professionals to perform, in minutes, tasks that would have taken days or weeks before computer usage became widespread. I have been fortunate to have been part of the technology industry from its humble beginnings. In the 1960s, working for a Land Planning firm, I began inventing devices to reduce the time it took to draft plans. These contraptions would hang on the wall, jokingly labeled Rickometer1, Rickometer2, etc. My systems allowed me to get the plans out faster, but the designs were no better because of these devices.

Fast forward four decades and nothing has changed.  read more »

America's European Dream

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The evolving Greek fiscal tragedy represents more than an isolated case of a particularly poorly run government. It reflects a deeper and potentially irreversible malaise that threatens the entire European continent.

The issues at the heart of the Greek crisis – huge public debt, slow population growth, expansive welfare system and weakening economic fundamentals – extend to a wider range of European countries, most notably in weaker fringe nations like Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (the so-called PIIGS). These problems also pervade many E.U. countries still outside the Eurozone in both the Baltic and the Balkans.  read more »

The Compelling Case For The Cable Car

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Say the words “cable car” and most people think of trolleys being towed up and down San Francisco’s hilly terrain. Most view them as a charmingly antiquated heritage system for the tourists, not as modern mass transit. But cable cars are making a comeback.

Today, cable cars are one of a family of technologies collectively called Cable Propelled Transit (CPT). New generations of CPT not only include cable cars, but aerial trams, gondolas and funiculars as well.  read more »

"A" is for Avenue

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Pity poor Matamoras, PA, population 2,600, located on the Delaware River where Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey all come together. The town has only two named streets: Delaware Drive (parallel to the river), and Pennsylvania Ave. (perpendicular).

Other streets parallel to the river are numbered: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on, up to 10th. The avenues, perpendicular to the river, start with Avenue A in the north, and continue to Avenue S, in the south. Pennsylvania Ave., the main drag, is between “K” and “L”.

What a boring little town!  read more »