Brian Skinner, a University of Minnesota grad student (and not the NBA player by the same name), presented a paper at the 2010 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference about how a basketball offense is like a traffic network. And he used some of the theories that help cars get around cities more easily to understand how the ball can get around NBA offenses more easily.
(Worth noting is that in a pickup game on the Sunday morning after the conference, at least while I was guarding him, Brian’s offense seemed pretty darned efficient.)
In any case, the University of Minnesota has wisely produced a little video in which Skinner explains the point of his research, the idea of which is that giving the ball to the best player every time is just not smart, just like having every car drive on the best road into the city makes everyone late to work. You have to spread the action around to make it most efficient for the most people.
Adobe, which makes Flash, is complaining about Apple Computer ensuring that only its own compilers be used for developing software on the iPhone OS,. This story from MarketWatch quotes an Adobe executive comparing Apple to the railroads (which strangely enough, I just did in the previous post in a completely different context. Apple like railroads in 1800s: Adobe tech chief
“Apple’s playing this strategy where they want to create a walled garden” around the Internet, Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch remarked at a tech conference in San Francisco. He then compared the company’s moves to the deployment of railways with varying gauges in the 1800s, which precluded compatibility with the trains of rivals.
“If you look at what’s going on right now, it’s kind of like railroads in the 1800s,” Lynch said.
Continuing on thoughts on high speed rail, we get to the question of rights-of-way. Acquiring rights-of-way for new HSR corridors is likely to be expensive. The owners of the best rights-of-way are freight railroads. Of course many of those lines are used for freight travel.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway recently purchased BNSF for $28B. Buffett Rides The Rails
Current market capitalizations for major US railroads are (from yahoo finance):
So these six RRs (assuming BNSF at $28B) could be purchased for a mere $122.5B. (Which is apparently nothing in the modern world of Washington, and less than the market value of Apple, Inc.)
Then, the good passenger tracks for both HSR and urban transit could be stripped, and the remainder of the RRs re-privatized for some large (but not quite as large) sum of money.
I posit this would be cheaper than negotiating for lines on an individual basis. To illustrate, the cost of merely running rights for the Northstar Commuter line on BNSF track for about 40 miles, plus paying BNSF to operate the train was $107.5M. This is not grade separated, and even more importantly, has to share tracks with freight, prohibiting high-speed operation. This is well less than 1/1000 of the scope of a national HSR network (which has been estimated at $2T), (though perhaps more than 1/1000 of the distance).
At any rate, if HSR advocates are serious, they should contemplate nationalizing the freight RRs, and stripping them of RoW rather than negotiating piecemeal.
Mind you, I do not think this is a good idea.