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

 

 

Forgetting things past

Under the GDPR, EU residents have gained several important rights over their data. (Privacy laws are weak in the US and non-existent in China.) 
 
One of them is the “right to be forgotten,” which tries to balance the right to privacy against the public’s need to know history. 
 
This post is not about these rights, but the actions that we can take to improve our remembrance of things past, i.e., removing details that might have been interesting for a few days or months but no longer matter to us.
 
As examples, consider emails you wrote to someone you no longer date, silly photos of events long ago, or tweets in reply to a once-urgent-but-now-forgotten conversation.
 
The main idea of deleting, cleaning or summarizing your past is not to whitewash it but to align with our natural tendency (or ability) to forget events (both good and bad) over time. This tendency is very useful, but it loses its power if our digital detritus is saved and shown to us (or others) when we (they) are looking for something else.
 
Even worse, the rise of artificial intelligence means that companies that are storing our data on various clouds (dropbox, iCloud, google drive, etc.) are increasingly likely to mine those data to build algorithms that they will use to make money.
 
Thus, in the past few years, I have:

(Note that I have kept copies of all these deleted items on a back-up hard drive — just in case — but I kinda doubt I’ll ever look at that stuff. Years ago, I threw away the negatives from a few thousand rolls of film I shot while traveling for five years. I’ve not missed them. I still have most of my travel diaries from that period, but I have no temptation to read the detailed scribbles of my 25-year-old self.)

My one-handed conclusion is that you should take control of your digital memory, first to protect yourself from the bots and second to free your memory to keep what’s really important. This control takes more effort than letting things pile up, but the resulting privacy and calm should make the effort worthwhile.