“A revival of ultrafast supersonic passenger jet travel is inching closer to reality …”

Boom:

Will the fake photos of the Boom Supersonic XB-1 ever get real? Will I live long enough to photo Concorde 2.0 over London? It’s starting to look like they and I might.

How noisy will it be? I absolutely do not care how loud it is, but others will, so actually: I suppose I do.

The USA aerospace industry is having a magnificent renaissance now, and of course I have libertarian friends who have been chattering to each other about little else for years. I agree with them, even as I have taken more of an I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it line. But now that we’re starting to see it, this could be the big take on 2020 when the historians look back at it. Plagues and riots? What’s new about that? They’ll surely get a mention, if only for the panic-stricken reactions. But, meanwhile: Supersonic travel is back! Space travel is back! Last time around, as I now enjoy saying, it was money no object Cold War dick-waving. Now it’s getting real.

Unicorn island

According to this January report, this has just begun being built, in Chengdu, China:

This great agglomeration of Things was designed by Patrik Schumacher, for Zaha Hadid Architects. (Although maybe that just means that Schumacher was in charge of all the people who actually designed it. I genuinely don’t know about that, i.e. what “designed by” means in a context like this.)

It will be most interesting to see how the relationship between ZHA and China develops in the next few years. Will the above weirdness ever get finished in the above form? I rather doubt it, somehow.

Meanwhile I note with approval that ZHA have managed to make designboom refer to them as ZHA rather than zha, despite designboom’s capital letters phobia (“patrik schumacher”, etc.). There should be a campaign to start calling designboom dESIGN bOOM.

Will AI become intelligent enough to figure out how to perfectly organise our economies?

Alex Tabarrok:

No …

The main reason is that AIs will themselves be part of the economy. …

One of the things I’m doing today is getting rid of lots of interesting links that have hung about on my computer since I don’t know when, without actually getting rid of them, in other words by putting them here. The idea was I’d have clever things to say, somewhere, about each of them, but all I really have to say about all of them is: Hmmm interesting.

Scott Adams asks …

His question, and his answer:

If invading space aliens shut down the economy of Earth and forced us to become breeding slaves for our conquerors, how many deaths would humanity be willing to risk to regain its freedom? If your guess is fewer than a billion, it sounds low to me.

Cheer up mate, it may never happen.

Bryan Caplan – Hayek Memorial Lecture – photos and an instant summary

Earlier this evening, I (and a great many other people) attended the 19th Hayek Memorial Lecture:

Photo 1: I got there very early, hence all the empty seats.

The Official Photographer was Jean-Luc Picard. Not really, but photo 3 makes him look a bit like the noted space voyager.

Photo 4: The (large) room fills up.

Photo 5: Celeb sighting. Dominic Frisby. And is that his dad Terence he’s talking with? I think it just might be.

Photo 6: Syed Kamall, a recent IEA appointment. He gave someone a prize.

Photo 7: IEA boss Mark Littlewood does the intro.

Photos 8 and 9: Professor Bryan Caplan gives the lecture.

Photo 10: The first questioner was Vera Kichanova, one of the very few people in the audience whom I recognised.

Photo 11: Someone else photoing from the audience.

So, what did Caplan say? Briefly: poor country governments are often to blame for their bad economic policies, rich countries are often to blame for their bad immigration policies, and poor people, especially poor people in rich countries, are often to blame because they make bad decisions, especially bad decisions which hurt their children. That last one is the one you aren’t allowed to say, but most people still think this. When questioned about this, Caplan pointed out that refusing ever to blame poor people for their poverty is often a cause of bad policies. Instead of doing nothing (because it should be up to many poor people to help themselves), governments often do bad things. To “help”.

Another interesting thing about this lecture was that big multi-national enterprises came out of the story very well, basically for doing very well in poor countries, thereby proving that lots of people in poor and otherwise badly governed and badly managed countries could be doing far better, if they got the chance. That being why restrictive immigration policies do so much harm. They are keeping people who could do far better out of well governed countries.

There was also a guy videoing everything, so you won’t have to rely for ever on me to learn what Caplan said.

“Bill – do not do this!”

This is a Tweet where you have to show it all or it makes no sense:

(LATER: In the first version of this posting, it said “22 people are talking about this”. And I put, at this point: “Make that 23”. Ho ho. But now I note that the above manifestation of this tweet automatically updates itself. Blog and learn.)

Maybe, to you, that tweet still makes no sense. Well, on the right there is a black-and-white fifties British film actor, saying all that stuff. And on the left, William Hartnell, about to become the very first Doctor Who.

It was surely this attitude, that television didn’t matter and would never amount to anything, which was all part of why some of those early Doctor Who episodes went missing. Shame. Selfishly, I don’t much mind, because I never got excited about Doctor Who when it first happened. But I have a friend who still does mind.

Palfinger Epsilon

Indeed:

That’s a detail in the middle of a device I spotted on a lorry in Victoria Street this afternoon. It’s a grab crane.

Here’s the lorry:

As you can perhaps see, the job of Palfinger Epsilon is to grab bags of bagged aggregate.

I have taken to always having a fictional book on the go, and currently that book is Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky. Palfinger Epsilon sounds like one of the characters in this story.