The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Search Results

Amazing Falkirk Wheel replaces 11 boat-lifting locks

with 2 comments

OK, this is not exactly “Least, First” theme material.  But this dazzling canal lock story from Treehugger.com is too good to pass up.

Trace the traffic in the photo: Boats enter from the pool in the foreground (through the semi-circle) or the canal in the background (across the bridge), then ride the wheel—in a tray gizmo full of water—upstream or down. Yes, those tiny little windowy things way down at the bottom are the boats – pleasure barges.

Spawned by a design competition, the wheel’s balance is so perfect that it uses (with each four-minute rotation) only about as much electricity as it might take to boil a few tea-kettles.

clipped from www.treehugger.com

falkirk wheel overall photo

falkirk wheel animation
When I showed the amazing Peterborough lift lock, a commenter and Kottke both pointed out that the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland goes higher, faster. It was built as part of an attempt to regenerate canals in central Scotland, and replaces 11 locks that had fallen into disuse. It also is another example of the clever and original results that come from design competitions- it is now a serious attraction.
Like Peterborough, it relies on Archimedes principle to stay balanced; the weight of the boat displaces the same weight of water.

falkirk ring gear photo
The British government made a big investment in their canal system, (£17.5 million on the Wheel, £84.5 million on the canal revitalization). Unlike the proprietors of the Erie Canal in the States, they see that canals have a role to play in tourism and transportation.

falkirk wheel panorama photo
blog it

Zow, that is neat.  Wanna go?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Name 10 things the government does well

with 178 comments

A dear friend of mine left a challenge in a comment.  Here ’tis:

Other than the military, can you name 10 things that the government has done really well, better than the private sector?

It’s an important question, for skepticism toward all government (rather than reform of bad government) is not only common, but at the root of a couple of major political outlooks.  And because it’s important, it seemed worth a post of its own.

Here’s my quick response. Maybe you can do better:

You betcha. Off the top of my head, I’ll give you twenty, most of which are under-funded for the work they do:

  1. The FAA. Crashes are a rarity here, thanks to equipment safety tests and massively successful air flight controlling.
  2. Medicaid: private sector insurance companies make money by ditching their customers when they get very sick. Medicaid picks up the castoffs.
  3. Social Security: What if Mr. Bush had succeeded in privatizing SS before the markets crashed? Can you imagine how many old people would be working at WalMart, since their SS would have been cut in half? And did you know that before SS, thousands of older Americans simply starved to death?
  4. SCHIP: Healthcare insurance for children who would not otherwise have it – enormously preventive of school absence, long-term illness, loss of physical and mental development
  5. Read the rest of this entry »

Stimulus brings optimism to road building industry

leave a comment »

Money to states for road-building lifts an entire industry’s hopes, from quarries to equipment manufactures to the pavers themselves.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

For Sellers of Pavers and Cones, Stimulus Lifts Hopes After a Troubled Year

A road equipment display last week at the World of Asphalt show in Orlando, Fla. States are set to receive $27.5 billion in federal stimulus money for roadwork.

[A]t World of Asphalt, the industry’s annual trade show […]

With $27.5 billion in federal stimulus money heading to state transportation departments, the people who make their living by building highways … hope the money will begin to revive an industry that hit a rough patch last year […]

Lehman-Roberts Company in Tennessee … is becoming an illustration of the goals of the stimulus program  …

[Rick Moore, the company’s president] ordered five new pieces of equipment this month and has begun to bolster his staff. “We put an ad in the paper and had 200 folks apply for jobs,” he said.

The show provided a vivid window into what economists call the multiplier effect: how allocating money to let states hire road contractors will eventually benefit an entire industry, from the quarries that crush the rock and the manufacturers that sell them mining equipment to the companies that sell 2,000-watt halogen bulbs for night work or, in one company’s case, little mirrors that road workers can attach to their hard hats so they can see if cars are coming from behind.[…]

More Photos >

blog it

It’s a start!


Tags: , , , , , Monte Asbury

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Written by Monte

March 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Stimulus bill includes hi-speed rail! But where?

leave a comment »

Not to Iowa, unfortunately (reasonably, though, since Iowa has no multi-million-person population centers). But just imagine the tens of millions of people who could be served! Compared to auto or air, it’s a huge environmental savings.

And on weekends, think of, say, the football traffic on the Chicago Hub Network.

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

High-speed rail corridors

High-speed rail corridors

After much clamoring by energy hawks, who knows what it was that finally brought high-speed rail to the stimulus — perhaps a little nudge from ol’ Amtrak Joe? — but it got in, to the tune of $8 billion.
And now the question is, where will the expansion be?
the areas that will get a leg up should be the Federal Railroad Administration’s officially designated high-speed rail corridors
blog it

What possibilities do you see?


Tags: , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Pagan Abraham, father of three religions (part 1)

with 2 comments

A sermon (and a worship gathering sequence— Proper 8 A), preached in June of ’05 at home at New Oaks Church in Washington, IA.

Monte: [God] brought [Abram] outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15 NRSV)

But how? And when? Ancients thought of time differently than we do – what did it even mean?  And why millions of descendants?

If you could have one thing from God, would you ask for millions of descendants? Is that what you were aching for as you came in this morning?

Abram’s world, 4,000 years ago, was almost incomprehensibly different from ours. The birth of Jesus, 2,000 years ago, in a world so different from our own, is only halfway back to Abram.

I wonder what God was really saying to Abram. I wonder how Abram understood it.

And now, after 40 centuries, I wonder how it could possibly speak to me?

Pray Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

June 26, 2008 at 3:47 pm