Saturday, March 27, 2010

Energy Intensity of Urban and Intercity Passenger Modes

Here are some more charts showing the energy intensity of various travel modes. The data comes from

Gagnon, Luc. Comparaison des options énergétiques: Options de transport. Hydro-Quebec. 2008.

I built these charts using the data in Gagnon's paper. (Actually, he had some charts in there as well; they were really good and look a lot like these. But they were in French, plus they were in PDF format, which often gives weird results when you swipe an image for, say, a PowerPoint presentation for a class you're teaching.)

If you want to make a point on energy and transport options to an English-speaking audience, feel free to use mine.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Obama and health care

As I write this, Barack Obama is scheduled to sign the new U.S. health care reform bill into law. As a Canadian with free access to high-quality, single-payer public health care, this makes me really happy. The barbarism of the system that is about to be replaced makes my head spin. ANYTHING would be better than what they have now.

But a lot of people, especially on the progressive/left end of things, are unhappy with the bill because it leaves out a lot of things they felt were important. I confess I agree, up to a point.

However, I would (grudgingly) suggest that the fact that the bill passed by such a narrow margin means it included exactly as much compromise as it needed and no more. In other words, whatever's in this bill is the absolute best thing that could have passed.

A lot of other people, especially in the mainstream media, are punditting around about how the cost of the bill (in money and in political capital) mean Obama won't be able to get much else done.

Let's leave aside the laughable notion that somehow his insistence on going ahead despite Republican opposition lowers his chances in the future of brokering bipartisan compromise (laughable because you can't go lower than zero.) What's striking, to me, is how time and again people have predicted Obama's failure at this and that, and how those predictions--once they were proven absurdly unfounded--were completely forgotten.

In early 2008 he was either not black enough or too black to win the nomination, depending on who you asked.

In late 2008 the Obama-Clinton primary fight had caused irreparable damage to the Democratic Party.

Now turning health care from something that was utterly intolerable into something that merely disappoints is going to be his political swan song.

We shall see.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Future shock in Rotterdam

Swans with porn shop.

Just cleaning out my camera after several weeks in Europe. I didn't think this one turned out and in a way it didn't, but in a more interesting way, it did.