Links and Short Takes

Tom Bozzo

finds that insufficient blogging time is clogging up his copies of Firefox and NetNewsWire with almost-blogged articles. Here are a few things that have caught my attention recently, in no particular order…

Fascinating dispute between Cerberus and Daimler over the sale of the troubled littlest member of the Detroit Three. Shorter private equity sharps: we wuz robbed! There may be reasons to forestall Chrysler’s demise, but none to save Cerberus’s equity.

Fiscal Fission: The Economic Failure of Nuclear Power” (warning PDF, via Grist), a Greenpeace-sponsored report on nuclear power subsidies — using authoritative sources notwithstanding the interested sponsor. I’d been looking for quantifications of nuclear subsidies after a MR post accused wind producers of subsidy farming and Alex Tabarrok suggested that the obvious green power solution is nuclear. I can countenance expanded atom-smashing for some reasons, but freedom from explicit and implicit subsidies isn’t one of them. Related: a European Union report (PDF) on external costs of electricity production.

Here’s Yochal Benkler at TPMCafé on bringing fiber to the home so Americans in general can enjoy first-world intertubes, and an older post by Pitt’s Martin Weiss on Verizon’s policy of cutting FiOS subscribers’ copper loops. Modernization is an element of the Obama economic plan; both posts raise interesting issues regarding infrastructure ownership. Seems obvious to me that there’s a big divergence between social and private returns for fiber to the home, and little evidence of coherent policy on infrastructure financing and/or ownership. Also: the chicken-vs-egg problem for 100Mbps home internet.

James Wimberly has smart grid do’s and don’ts at the RBC, given that any such technology must be robust to dumb users. I dunno if the payoff to having smart appliances negotiating with the smart grid is generally worth the hassle versus just pursuing obvious efficiencies through standards (lighting, older appliances, energy vampires) — cf. Ezra Klein. Most of the needed smarts are already in the systems many utilities use (and market to widely varying degrees) to shed hot-day peak loads by briefly cutting off air conditioners. The same technology could keep future car chargers from kicking in at economically undesirable times. Remember, a lesson from old-style regulation is that the best way of dealing with unsophisticated consumers is simplicity.

Chris Clarke brings a report on the Bush Administration’s efforts to undermine the Endangered Species Act. What saints. Don’t let the shoes hit you on the way out.