Published! The Best of Aguanomics

I thought I’d have this book out last May, but it takes a lot of time to choose 445 posts (out of 5,460), edit them into a manuscript, and then make editing corrections (with the help of nearly 20 people). 

But now that process is done, and The Best of Aguanomics is available! 

What does that mean to you? Read on…

Should you buy it? 
Not unless you’re going to read it. I am selling the book at cost (Amazon has added its 60 percent markup but that’s not money to me), so don’t buy it to send me money 😉

Should you read it?
The book is nearly 700 pages, but it’s not meant to be read cover to cover.  I included posts if they contributed either to discussions on important topics  or to exploring how I developed my thinking on ideas over the 11-year history of the blog. For examples of “important,” consider posts I wrote on agricultural policy, water auctions, important books, psychology, political corruption, academic failure, and many other topics (MOT). For examples of “development,” consider the collections I wrote on pricing water, climate change, and MOT. See below for MOT.

My main goal with this book was to summarize the best out of a massive body of work. I think it’s best read as a sampler that gives you a new topic each day (the average post is 500 words).

The book is available in paperback only on Amazon.com ($15.40), Amazon.co.uk (£12.80) and Amazon.de (€16.00). FYI, I am not providing kindle or PDF versions of the book because I want to encourage people to sit with a physical thing and think at their leisure about interesting ideas. 

Here’s a short video introduction to the book:

How about a sample to give me an idea of MOT?
This PDF has the table of contents, Introduction and bits of 2 chapters.

Bonus: This spreadsheet has links to all 445 posts, grouped by chapter. You can use this as a “cheat” way to read the book, but I don’t recommend it because (1) there are so many posts and (2) I wrote a little bit about every post to put it into context (see the PDF sample). 

Enjoy!

Weekend reading

  1. Down and Out in New York’s Bowery
  2. Sustainable (non-animal) foods are finally taking market share via taste and value (instead of guilt). This is a tipping point.
  3. How bad is it in Venezuela? So bad that the indigenous people (you know, the people who have lived there for thousands of years) are fleeing. That says something about their adoption of modern life styles (consumption), but also about the loss of their traditional means of mitigating risk.
  4. Turkey’s dam projects are destroying the environment and thousands of years of heritage to deliver profits to construction companies. (The photographer was arrested for a month by Turkey’s paranoid government, which imprisons more journalists than any other country.)
  5. Bitcoin miners are on track to use all the world’s electricity. Something will change, but I have no idea.
  6. What happens when women win election? Good stuff. Keep going, I say!
  7. The war on sugar — an interesting podcast
  8. If you want to learn more about water (conflict) between Israel and Palestine, then I suggest reading this very interesting paper on wastewater management in the region. The authors are also looking for feedback, so free free to contact them!
  9. Plan on dying at 75. Your life will be more enjoyable and less hopeless. Related: Genes determine only about 6 percent of life expectancy.
  10. I’m pleased to see an initial international effort to police ocean pollution

 

 

Weekend reading

  1. Most medical academic studies are wrong… due to a bias of publishing exciting (outlier) statistical results.
  2. How one Amsterdam neighborhood saved itself from homeless junkies… only to lose itself to tourists attracted to its quaint charm
  3. Silicon Valley is driving the technology that’s creating a “useless class” — and they don’t mind. Related: Fascism simplifies life (before it destroys it)
  4. Metabolism affects our weight, but it’s hard to “manage”
  5. The value of “do nothing” on your to-do list. Related: Slow down your internet life to enjoy your real life
  6. In a randomized control trial, psychologists show that people who limit social media use are less depressed than those who do not. 
  7. Nature vs commerce on the Mississippi
  8. Some Trump supporters are betting Iraqi dinars will suddenly rise in value. That’s as likely as Trump telling the truth. Related: Authoritarianism.
  9. They should read “5 principles for making better life decisions
  10. Tim Cook: “For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound.” Related: The AI Cold War (see also my discussion)

Weekend reading

  1. Watch this YouTube on African innovation, which is only starting to recover from centuries of colonial destruction.
  2. Anti-terror laws in the UK are shutting down academic debate
  3. Social media encourages lazy thinking. How bad might it get? Read this (perhaps) fictional piece on how people are set off against each other.
  4. Sir David Attenborough is covering up, rather than exposing, environmental destruction
  5. Joseph Stiglitz: ‘America should be a warning to other countries‘ …in failing to reduce inequality
  6. The Rise, Fall, and Restoration of the Kingdom of Bicycles
  7. Canada’s health system continues to fail First Nations (as was planned)
  8. Tyler Cowen explains why “demand slopes down” is so important (and central to all social sciences). Also, listen to his interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google Alphabet and a really clever guy (unlike the CEO of the US).
  9. American telecoms companies promised that they would invest more if they got tax breaks and an end to net neutrality. They aren’t.
  10. The Catholic Church struggles with its dogma over celibacy

Weekend reading

  1. The trouble with American politics is that the Republican-Democrat duopoly (like any monopoly) is more interested in profits than adding value
  2. Trump is also screwing with water management in the West. That’s no surprise to me, given the brown-nosing of Devin Nunes.
  3. I was in California last week and I gained a kilo from the excess of food that results from eating out. We know that caloric intake is more important than exercise for maintaining weight (exercise is good for many other things!), but we don’t know much more than that. Listen for more.
  4. If you care about online security, then swap SMS for 2FA authentication. Speaking of security, the USPS has made identity theft easier, weak passwords are your fault, and how a Dutch company lost $20 million to a (spear)phishing scam.
  5. Want better sex? Pay attention.
  6. We’re learning more about how marijuana affects us (and the news is good)
  7. Scientists are trying to save the Internet from greed and censorship, but their methods (voluntary restraint) might not protect the commons.
  8. Students are stressing themselves out chasing perfection
  9. The longer Bannon spoke, the clearer it became how empty the populist program is
  10. Forget occasional vacation: Try everyday leisure.

Weekend reading

  1. Climate disruption is hitting Antartica hard
  2. Japan’s system for taxpayer-directed budgeting
  3. Our un-natural history sitting in chairs
  4. Forget supply as a business model. Many companies (e.g., Uber, Airbnb, Amazon) are making their money controlling (aggregating) demand
  5. CBD oil is everywhere, but nobody knows if it works or what dose to use
  6. The public (good) value of sharing our social information (start at 45:00)

Weekend reading

  1. The rise of the administrative state — a move that aided populist revolt.
  2. What Ayn Rand really meant by “selfishness”
  3. Great podcast on creativity (and how to protect it from “the system”)
  4. Know with the Flow” shows how to use tech to teach people about water
  5. Ride-share drivers make about $15 per hour, but they want more
  6. An update on Italian wines… and politics
  7. China’s social credit system might improve public behavior and interactions in the commons, but it also isolates and punishes. I predict that it will cause groups of excluded individuals to revolt.
  8. How futurists get it wrong (too much tech bros)
  9. Where will the next financial crisis come from? Views from me and 25 others
  10. CIty and utility bonds are getting downgraded as climate change risk grows.

H/T to MM

Stuff I wrote for other places…

Some industry blogs and magazines look for “thought bites” — short opinions on a topic. I wrote two recently that might interest you. (No sense in waiting for publication somewhere obscure 😉

Question from Source Magazine: Facing diminishing health, access, and supply-side options, how can water professionals ensure that markets become increasingly attractive, effective, and equitable?

My answer: Water markets, like markets for houses, cars, phones, etc., depend on clear property rights and low transactions costs to move water to its highest and best use. Water’s bulk, low value per unit, and dependency on green/gray infrastructure for storage and movement means that markets will only work at the wholesale level, i.e., among farmers and/or water/wastewater utilities. This structure can work as well for retail customers as the current structure for distributing oil works for consumers of gasoline. Equity in water markets is more tricky due to a past negligence for quantifying rights, missing information on the quantity of water available in time and place, and a failure to set aside environmental flows that should be owned in common (Public Trust). In cases where right remain with the State (and thus the people), some water should be reserved for the commons while the rest is sold to the highest bidder and revenues are distributed among citizens (the real owners of a nation’s water). In cases where rights are private property, some rights should be taken back from current owners and restored to the commons they should never have left.

Question from FE Insights blog: It’s been said that there’s a financial crisis about every 10 years. Currently, it’s been about a decade since the last one and with many analysts forecasting the global economy to begin slowing in the near future, we were wondering if you’d care to comment on when you think the next financial crisis will hit and what the catalyst(s) will be.

My answer: The next crisis has already begun, but we do not yet see the signs. The most likely sources of stress are opaque accounting and questionable governance at Chinese firms, Donald Trump’s fiscally irresponsible tax cuts for the rich and corporations, and the rise of various other populist leaders (besides Trump) who prefer mercantilist trade policies. Other factors of interest are over-compliant central banks that value economic growth over economic stability and the rising costs of climate disruption. In terms of a global recession, I think that corporate debt markets might be the first to run into trouble either due to fraud or regulatory interventions that reduce liquidity or the perceptions of risk. Although the international trading system is fairly robust relative to the situation in the 1930s, I could see a Trumpian-style war of all-against-all as a likely first casualty of any sizable macro disruption, in the same way that rising tariffs in the US (Smoot-Hawley) and elsewhere were erected in the years after 1929’s Black Friday. Although companies with large domestic revenues might appear as beneficiaries in an isolationist world, I think that their share prices will fall after a brief increase as they experience disruptions and other collateral damage from populist policies.

Here are all the answers from me and 25 other people

What would you answer to either of these questions? 

Weekend reading

  1. 250 things an architect should know… after a lifetime as a dilettante (fun)
  2. Bankers being bankers (ripping off citizens via legal fraud in Europe)
  3. The story of Ubernomics
  4. The World Bank launches a much-needed “human capital index” that should help clarify educational and health priorities in nearly 200 countries. How is yours doing?
  5. A few ideas on reshaping cities for people (rather than cars)
  6. My colleague Paul explains why carbon capture is more hope than solution
  7. A well-meaning, but counterproductive climate regulation on roofs
  8. Florida’s “tire reef” is now an environmental disaster
  9. The revelations of a first time (and not last time) hitchhiker
  10. Carl Bauer reviews Water Policy in Chile.

H/T to CD

Weekend reading

  1. How selfies are changing gym workouts
  2. When CEO Pay Exploded
  3. Amazing video showing Amsterdam’s mix of music, culture, technology and sustainability. 
  4. End cyclist injuries by re-learning how to open your car door
  5. The origin of modern computers: “Second World War, a conflict — unparalleled in history in the degree to which it yoked entire peoples, body and mind, to the chariot of war — permanently transformed the relationship between states on the one hand, and science and technology on the other, and brought forth a vast array of new devices.”
  6. Global ecological disasters: “How to Write About a Vanishing World
  7. “The Water Point Data Exchange is the global platform for sharing water point data” (an example of what I was trying to do with my water data hub)
  8. Desire paths: People vs planners
  9. Time to fight back against Russian spies?
  10. The guy who fought back against fake reviews