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Everything posted by julius

  1. julius


    Yes, I am very skeptical of all the hullabaloo about the gold apple watches. The math doesn't add up. Either there's not going to be much gold, or you have to be convinced that $10k watches that will be obsolete in 2-3 years will sell like hotcakes. Speaking of King World News, are they still doing their podcasts? The RSS feed went dead. I see at least they've revamped the website.
  2. Thanks, I wish I had seen this a few days ago. I'll look out for this when it's trading.
  3. I would think a few times before hosting 100kwh of batteries in my basement, particularly of an untested technology. That aside, obvious this is a rather prospective area for research and batteries could be hosted more centrally as well.
  4. Yes, and many of the pictures you have posted are beautiful. One unfortunate thing is that these communities frequentely bring along the HOA baggage and can make gardening annoying and having animals impossible.
  5. I'd like to see a greater diversity of housing types in general - currently, it's a herculean effort to build something not envisioned by the local zoning codes. I would point out that many folks do like to live in less dense communities and the major thing that would change their minds is going to be the cost of such an option. Higher gasoline prices will definitely be a factor there, but increased telecommuting could counterbalance that.
  6. It's a great book, and your posting of those review has reminded me that I really should read it again. It's sort of proto-New Urbanist, as it was published in 1977. It crystallized a few things about house design and got me thinking about the different levels of structure in human communities. (Though I don't always agree with all the patterns, the smaller ones in particular make a lot of sense. The larger ones I am more dubious about, but I'm not coming at it from a New Urbanist perspective.) I haven't read (and don't have yet) any of his really recent stuff. I need to go to a bookstore and flip through a copy.
  7. Yes, there will be fewer "rich" people, but there will still be relative differences in what people can afford. I think one's viewpoint here depends on exactly how bad things will get. If you read the Oil Drum website, many folks there are essentially calling for something close to the end of modern civilization. I'm not that pessimistic at this point, though I think it's possible. (Note that modern civilization doesn't mean any particular government or nation.) A lot of why I am not quite that pessimistic is I think some of the doomsayers underestimate the adaptability of humans. But maybe that discussion belongs in a different thread. I think a lot of people choose suburbs because the cities have one or more of expensive housing, high crime, high taxes, and horrible schools. At least the last three aren't inextricably linked with the concept of cities, but in the US they usually are. Many also don't like the density, but the combination of all these factors tips them over the edge. And then once you need a car to get to a job, the city becomes either very inconvenient or very expensive, or both. It may be worth pointing out that the flexibility of workplace granted by automobile transportation is a significant benefit for anyone with specialized skills. HOA regulations almost always have things to say about what color you paint your front door, but in my area they also require, for example, permission for gardens, and forbid them entirely in front of the house. (Since one is also generally only permitted to cut down a tree per year, the lack of sun sometimes renders the garden problem irrelevant anyway.) In the condo I used to live in, one was not permitted to store bicycles or dry laundry on the porch to maintain a certain "atmosphere". All of this tends to drive me nuts, though that's mostly a matter of personal taste.
  8. DrBubb, have you read Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language? If you are interested in the New Urbanist movement, it may be worth your while to check out.
  9. julius


    Faber's strength is his grasp of market history and willingness to call out people who are being stupid, I think. I subscribe to his GBD report, and while I don't necessarily get a lot of interesting actionable trades out of it I do like his overall analysis and the guest articles. His book (Tomorrow's Gold) is cheaper and definitely worth a read.
  10. I find the idea of Kondratieff cycles interesting, but I'm a bit skeptical - what's the best reference on this? I recently read The Coming Generational Storm by Kotlioff and Burns, and while it is focuses on the fiscal issues that will specifically hit the US due to demographic change, it touches on the general aging trend through the developed world. It seems to me that Europe is more vulnerable since if you don't feel like paying German taxes, you can leave, but it's not that easy for the US. (As an aside, the book really drove home why government-financed retirement provision is pernicious and socially destructive - at least in my opinion.)
  11. julius

    Uranium: Price is booming

    The UUU news today was quite interesting, and it's also interesting that as UUU went down, Denison went up.
  12. Buses can be electrified if desired. I don't know the capital cost of constructing the overhead infrastructure for it, but I'd still suspect it would be less than laying rail. (I think they are called trolleybuses if electrified. Unusual in the US these days, but common in a lot of the rest of the world.) I think $250/bbl oil, which seems quite possible to me within three to five years, would be painful but wouldn't end the suburbs as we know it. There is considerable room for people to economize on energy for transportation (less driving, more ridesharing, more hybrids & diesels - I still see lots of people driving vehicles that are probably sub-25 mpg) and HVAC. What it will do, though, is force less wealthy people who have decided to live 50 miles from work in order to afford a house with a yard to make some very difficult decisions. I would expect, therefore, that cheap housing in the middle of nowhere will get even cheaper. I'm not sure the expensive housing will suffer to the same degree, as many people interested in such things can probably afford higher energy prices. All this would lead me to believe that high-density, closer-in, decent housing may be much in demand in the mid- to long-term future. Perhaps some of those condo towers have a future after all... Generally, I believe people respond to incentives. Incentives over the last decade or two have been for more driving, bigger, less-fuel efficient vehicles, and housing out in the middle of nowhere. (The now-unwinding credit bubble had a lot to do with that - many folks were forced out of the close-in 'burbs by the ridiculous prices prevailing.) Now, the incentives are moving in the other direction, but I don't think we're even 20% down that path yet. As for the New Urbanists, I may be painting them all a bit too broadly. But things like this don't make me think they are open to market solutions: Smart Code On your two principles: 1) "Cars come last": No objection, but folks should be able to choose this if they want. The mobility granted by ubiquitous car use has been a great thing for many across the world, and cars will have their place for a long time to come. 2) "Mixed-use": Undoubtedly, but this is really a zoning problem, even more than #1. Zoning made it illegal to replicate Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco, or any place like it in most of the US, on nearly any scale. As discussed, this will eventually change. Let people decide what they want to build - it certainly won't be any worse than what governments pick. Note that working close to where you live isn't going to be helped much for specialized professionals with families by mixed-use development, though - your local shopping center isn't probably going to have all the varieties of jobs now spread across a major metropolitan area. p.s. For those of the NU faith open to voluntary choices, one challenge is to make dense housing appealing for families. Many people are fine with city living prior to marriage and kids, but they find the suburbs safer, more convenient, cheaper, etc. once they have a family. p.p.s. I personally find some of the NU design extremely attractive, but I have to admit I personally chafe under the typical HOA regulations that come with it. If you have a condo or apartment, it doesn't matter as much. (Though I have received nastygrams for the sin of keeping my bike on the balcony, back when I was living in a condo.)
  13. I think the focus on rail is misplaced, though it can make sense for some areas with particularly dense rail networks. The problem for other places is twofold: 1) The capital cost of building rail lines is simply ridiculous, particularly in a metropolitan area. Buses are both cheaper and more flexible - and can run on our rather comprehensive existing highway network. 2) In the US, few metropolitan areas are structured appropriately for rail. Rail works wonderfully to get folks to and from Manhattan from their homes in Long Island, New Jersey, or wherever. But it doesn't work nearly as well in cities where the employment centers are widely dispersed and not as dense as NYC. One may argue that the current way cities are structured now isn't the way they are going to be structured in the future, and that's undoubtedly true, one way or another. But it seems unlikely we will return to the same technology used in the 19th and early 20th century and use it in the same way. One important issue is how expensive oil is going to get. Are you thinking $500/barrel? $1000? Higher? p.s. I think the New Urbanists have some good ideas, but in the end they want to implement them the same way the system works now - by compulsory zoning. I would argue we should abolish zoning and let people build what they want where they want. Then we'd see some much-needed innovation.
  14. It does imply there is lots of cash on the sidelines. And of course, there's only so much they can sell... This is only tangential, but it may be worth noting that some of the real old-timers I have seen speak, and whom I have personally spoken too, really don't have too much of an opinion about the future for commodities prices. This is what they do, and the sun is shining at the moment, so they are making hay. That viewpoint may not leave them with much stomach to stay fully invested.
  15. One anecdotal datapoint I can add I picked up late last year from a fellow I met who lives in Vancouver and is in the business of investing in and promoting juniors. His comment on this topic was that in Vancouver all the old timers are expecting the bottom to fall out of the commodities any time now, because they are trained to expect that to happen after five years, and they don't want to be waiting tables in their retirements.