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by Mat Stein

[NOTE: This article is adapted from When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival]

What should you do if you are stuck in your car during a killer snowstorm?

In mid-December of 1992, unusually dry conditions had people cancelling their reservations for Christmas in Tahoe, but then the weather changed. A couple days before Christmas, it started snowing, and for the next three months it seemed to barely ever stop! The week between Christmas and New Year's, we averaged two feet of snow each day at our home in Truckee, and at nearby Donner Summit they averaged around four feet a day! The storms were so bad that at one point Highway 80 over Donner Summit was continuously closed for three days.

As the storm increased in intensity, the stream of bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic heading toward Reno moved slower and slower, eventually slowing to a complete stop. The snow kept falling at a rate of more than two inches an hour, burying thousands of stranded vehicles. Highway 80 over Donner Summit had turned into a 75-mile-long parking lot! Emergency vehicles could not get through. Snow plows could not get through. Cars ran out of gas from people idling their engines in attempts to stay warm. It was a three-day process to painstakingly remove each snow-bound car, one by one, along 75 miles of freeway. The restaurants and stores in Truckee ran out of food, and there were no available beds at any of the inns and hotels. Hundreds of stranded travelers slept on their jackets on the local high school's gymnasium floor and they were the lucky ones compared to those who had been stranded in their cars, out of gas and freezing cold!

Every winter, thousands of people are stranded while driving in the snow. On more than one occasion, I have been overly confident in my abilities to drive in hazardous icy and snow covered roads, forgetting that while I may know how to drive in the snow, that does not mean the other guy does. When driving in winter weather, it is best to heed the old Yankee saying: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

Car Survival Tips for a Blizzard
by Mat Stein

[NOTE: This article is adapted from When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival]

What should you do if you are stuck in your car during a killer snowstorm?

In mid-December of 1992, unusually dry conditions had people cancelling their reservations for Christmas in Tahoe, but then the weather changed. A couple days before Christmas, it started snowing, and for the next three months it seemed to barely ever stop! The week between Christmas and New Year's, we averaged two feet of snow each day at our home in Truckee, and at nearby Donner Summit they averaged around four feet a day! The storms were so bad that at one point Highway 80 over Donner Summit was continuously closed for three days.

As the storm increased in intensity, the stream of bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic heading toward Reno moved slower and slower, eventually slowing to a complete stop. The snow kept falling at a rate of more than two inches an hour, burying thousands of stranded vehicles. Highway 80 over Donner Summit had turned into a 75-mile-long parking lot! Emergency vehicles could not get through. Snow plows could not get through. Cars ran out of gas from people idling their engines in attempts to stay warm. It was a three-day process to painstakingly remove each snow-bound car, one by one, along 75 miles of freeway. The restaurants and stores in Truckee ran out of food, and there were no available beds at any of the inns and hotels. Hundreds of stranded travelers slept on their jackets on the local high school's gymnasium floor and they were the lucky ones compared to those who had been stranded in their cars, out of gas and freezing cold!

Every winter, thousands of people are stranded while driving in the snow. On more than one occasion, I have been overly confident in my abilities to drive in hazardous icy and snow covered roads, forgetting that while I may know how to drive in the snow, that does not mean the other guy does. When driving in winter weather, it is best to heed the old Yankee saying: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

by Gregor Macdonald

Executive Summary

  • The transition back to an electricity-centric economy is regressive
  • Declining net energy and peak expansion are co-incident
  • Change that substitutes labor without providing a higher use for it is deflationary and results in inequality
  • Our challenge is to find sustainable work for society

If you have not yet read The Siren Song of the Robot, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Capitalism demands fast gains in productivity. Capitalism seeks revolutionary change. But it’s not clear whether a revolution in machine intelligence leads to a deflationary boom, per Schumpeter, or a deflationary bust.

Writers such as Paul Krugman have perhaps moved too quickly, too easily, to conclude that a massive increase in production from such technology leads sustainably to large growth in GDP without severe consequences. Indeed, in a recent essay responding to Robert Gordon's paper on the end of growth, Krugman takes the view that (positive) returns from technology are just beginning to unfold.

I conclude that Krugman is actually concerned about and open to the possibility that an enormous wave of disruption to manufacturing from robots could produce higher GDP initially and also problems thereafter. What happens to wages in the broader economy?

One does not have to be a Luddite about technology to fear yet another huge new round of wage deflation. The West has already been treated to an era of “cheap, quickly manufactured goods that enhance people’s lives” during the past two decades. And it’s not clear that a flood of goods has necessarily improved well-being.

While I certainly wouldn’t make the curmudgeon's case that electronic devices have reduced well-being, it’s not clear that the I.T. revolution has accomplished much in the way of delivering to consumers cheaper and better quality energy, food, or health care.

Why the Robot Age May Create a Massive Deflationary Bust
PREVIEW by Gregor Macdonald

Executive Summary

  • The transition back to an electricity-centric economy is regressive
  • Declining net energy and peak expansion are co-incident
  • Change that substitutes labor without providing a higher use for it is deflationary and results in inequality
  • Our challenge is to find sustainable work for society

If you have not yet read The Siren Song of the Robot, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Capitalism demands fast gains in productivity. Capitalism seeks revolutionary change. But it’s not clear whether a revolution in machine intelligence leads to a deflationary boom, per Schumpeter, or a deflationary bust.

Writers such as Paul Krugman have perhaps moved too quickly, too easily, to conclude that a massive increase in production from such technology leads sustainably to large growth in GDP without severe consequences. Indeed, in a recent essay responding to Robert Gordon's paper on the end of growth, Krugman takes the view that (positive) returns from technology are just beginning to unfold.

I conclude that Krugman is actually concerned about and open to the possibility that an enormous wave of disruption to manufacturing from robots could produce higher GDP initially and also problems thereafter. What happens to wages in the broader economy?

One does not have to be a Luddite about technology to fear yet another huge new round of wage deflation. The West has already been treated to an era of “cheap, quickly manufactured goods that enhance people’s lives” during the past two decades. And it’s not clear that a flood of goods has necessarily improved well-being.

While I certainly wouldn’t make the curmudgeon's case that electronic devices have reduced well-being, it’s not clear that the I.T. revolution has accomplished much in the way of delivering to consumers cheaper and better quality energy, food, or health care.

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