Diesel powered passenger cars are finally coming back to the US. Audi/VW and Mercedes ramping up diesels that meet emissions testing in all 50 states for the 2009 model year. Honda may have a diesel Accord in the same. Suburu and Nissan have their eye on 2010 for diesel releases. Toyota is conspicuously not mentioned, which is a shame. My biggest complaint about my Yaris is that Toyota didn't bring the diesel engine available in Europe to the US market. The article also mentions the big three not pursuing diesel for the passenger car segment.
Krugman has a piece on a renewed interest in urban living in the US that mentions how much greener (and less expensive vis a vis energy costs) urban living is over suburban living in the US. This dovetails quite nicely with an Atlantic article from a couple months ago that argued the suburbs will be the slums of the next generation. The most interesting thing to me about the latter article was Leinberger's point about the quality of construction of the McMansion boomlet. Today's inner city slums are filled with the mansions of yesteryear, which were built to last, being converted to multi-family dwellings. The new crop of McMansions in the suburbs won't be economic to do that with as they aren't built anywhere nearly as solidly. This will be interesting to see play out.
Ted Sorensen was on the Diane Rehm show last week to promote his new book Counselor and made an interesting point about Clinton's campaign to be POTUS. He remarked that he would think that a woman being a serious contender for the presidency would be a larger step forward if the woman in question wasn't a former president's wife. The wife of a term-limited former president running for office has a certain air of nepotism. (I think he actually used the term banana republic, but I may misremember.) I'm not one of those who is dead set against political dynasties, especially not in the US where being the heir apparent buys one little more than name recognition, but I think I agree with Sorensen's larger point. It would be far more of an unambiguous victory for social progress if Clinton wasn't the wife of '42.
As it's pledge week at my usual local source for radio news coverage, I've been bouncing around the FM dial during my commute. Landing briefly on WNKU's morning country program, I stumbled across The Hiders. If the reset of their stuff is as good as the one song I heard (Penny Harvest Field), they are made of awesome. Just don't tell anyone that I'm recommending a country band. At least their from a northern town.
While bouncing around the stations, I also heard two good examples of perverse incentives on the talk radio dial. I like hearing about perverse incentives as I think they're a good example as to why policy should be thought through more thoroughly. The first example was of Canadian marijuana growers and distributors. They fully support the US war on drugs because it keeps marijuana prices artificially high at the wholesale level to the risk premium. The war on drugs, then, actually encourages entrepreneurs going into the drug trade at the wholesale level due to the artificially high profits. The other example was in health care. Some policy wonk on a different show compared costs per patient in the last six months of care for terminal patients between two of the best clinics in the US. Without any difference in the quality of the care or the outcome, one clinic spent twice as much per patient. The wonk opined this is because the US system rewards quantity of care provided rather than quality of care provided. Clinics have a financial incentive to provide a high quantity of care without regard to whether or not the patient actually needs the care being provided.
I took out a large chunk of my arm the other night. The gouge is about 2mm deep (at its deepest) and 3cm in length. I did it falling into bed and smacking my forearm on the metal hook that holds back the draperies. It hurt like a banshee, but not enough to get me to look at it before morning. Should be an interesting scar when it heals.
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