Growing What Money Can’t Buy

Living in Northern California at a time when the tech industry is booming and at a time and place where the faux “sharing economy” (websites that let you buy and sell any service you can imagine) is all the rage, I’m reminded quite frequently how people expect that they can buy anything. It’s just a … Continue Reading

Efficiency as a Vice

In modern economic thought, efficiency is paramount. The goal of economic systems, and entities within those systems, is to maximize efficiency. Policymakers are supposed to remove impediments that are making markets inefficient, and cut government inefficiency. Even those that claim not to buy into such thinking often still do without realizing it. There have been … Continue Reading

The Societal Cost of Computer Science

It’s often said as a joke among computer scientists (especially among those who work on systems, as opposed to theory) that there are really only two ideas in the field: abstraction and indirection. I’d like to explain what happens when these ideas (more about which in a moment) are applied not just in the abstruse … Continue Reading

The Energetic Basis of Wealth

Last year I did an analysis to try to understand whether it’s possible to feed the world sustainably. Today I’d like to try to understand what happens to countries as they must rely upon the sun for energy (and, indirectly, wealth). An old proposition in the sustainability community is that the material wealth we enjoy … Continue Reading

We Can Feed the World / No We Can’t / No We Won’t

There are, and have been for a few decades now, competing narratives about food, hunger, and population. And supporting these narratives are a large number of divergent arguments from people with an even larger array of ideological perspectives. I’ve been puzzled for some time that these narratives not only have co-existed for as long as … Continue Reading

Observations and Questions

For some time I’ve been accumulating observations and questions on a variety of topics but have felt the need to have, for the former, deep analysis, and for the latter, answers. I don’t have much in the way of either, but I’d like to share them nevertheless. Cause and Effect. Is technological progress driving prosperity, … Continue Reading

The Decline of Falsifiability

Recently there has been much discussion and debate on the revelations of government surveillance programs. While I think the specifics of those revelations, and the debate around them, are interesting in themselves, I think the manner in which the debate is happening points to a deeper issue that our society is facing that I haven’t … Continue Reading

Go Directly to Defeatism, Do Not Stop at Responses

About a year ago I mentioned that it seemed likely that in the next few years we’d see a transition from climate denial to climate defeatism or worse climate engineering: I imagine that a number of those who previously denied that climate change was a problem will quickly shift to “it’s too late to do … Continue Reading