Weekend 201.0 (WSJ Edition+)

Passenger Car(1) Mastermind of the Mega-Coaster

(2) Great Books Matter

Culture – A catchall for any group of things or persons that one wants to link together for the purpose of discussion.

(3) Building a Better Future

(3a) Back to the Future

(3b) “There were two factions of TMRC (Tech Model Railroad Club). Some members loved the idea of spending their time building and painting replicas of certain trains with historical and emotional value, or creating realistic scenery for the layout. This was the knife-and-paintbrush contingent, and it subscribed to railroad magazines and booked the club for trips on aging train lines. The other faction centered on the Signals and Power Subcommittee of the club, and it cared far more about what went under the layout, This was The System, which worked something like a collaboration between Rube Goldberg and Wernher von Braun, and it was constantly being improved, revamped, perfected, and sometimes “gronked”—in club jargon, screwed up. S&P people were obsessed with the way The System worked, its increasing complexities, how any change you made would affect other parts, and how you could put those relationships between the parts to optimal use.”

(3c) “Imperfect systems infuriate hackers, whose primal instinct is to debug them. This is one of the reasons why hackers generally hate driving cars—the system of randomly programmed red lights and oddly laid out one way streets causes delays which are so unnecessary that the impulse is to rearrange signs, open up traffic-light control boxes…redesign the entire system.”

(3d) Peter Samson

Excerpts from Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy

(4) Tom Sachs

(5) How Harrisburg Borrowed Itself Into Bankruptcy

“The Harrisburg case raises fundamental questions about the way cities and states increasingly use debt to finance speculative development that private investors or lenders won’t touch. From minor league stadiums to arenas, museums, downtown redevelopment and waste plants with unproven technologies, billions have been spent on schemes of questionable value. Some projects are backed by unrealistic economic projections, which leave taxpayers on the hook for bond payments or operating subsidies. These deals are one reason why state and local debt outstanding has ballooned from $1.3 trillion to $2.5 trillion in the last decade, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.”

(6) Quote: “Passionate love, I take it, rarely lasts long, and is very troublesome while it does last. Mutual esteem is very much more valuable.” — Anthony Trollope

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