News

Landmark Links February 17th – Boring

 

Lead Story… I’ve been completely slammed this week so not a whole lot of extra time to write the blog.  That being said, I found this article from Bloomberg about billionaire Elon Musk taking matters into his own hands when it comes to infrastructure in general and tunnel digging in particular due to LA’s horrific traffic (emphasis mine):

The pit is at least 15 feet deep and more than 50 feet wide. It’s in a nondescript lot at Crenshaw Boulevard and West 120th Street, not far from Los Angeles International Airport. If not for the huge pile of dirt next to it, you’d never know it was there. Seen from the top of the parking garage at SpaceX, the aerospace startup founded by Elon Musk, the hole is an eyesore among eyesores—a crater in asphalt, fenced in by rusty-looking steel plates.

But Musk, the chief executive of both SpaceX and the electric car company Tesla, is quite proud of this pit. He started digging as a spur-of-the-moment thing one weekend at the end of January. The idea came to him while sitting in a traffic jam early on a Saturday morning in December. “Traffic is driving me nuts,” he tweeted. “Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging.” Within an hour, the project had a name and a marketing platform. “It shall be called ‘The Boring Company,’ ” he wrote. “Boring, it’s what we do.” Two hours passed, and Musk tweeted again: “I am actually going to do this.”

So, Elon Musk is getting into the tunnel digging business as a private infrastructure play.  Apparently it’s something that he’s been pondering for quite a while:

Musk wasn’t joking. At least that’s what he tells me as we sit in the SpaceX offices in Washington. For years he’s been thinking about tunnels—both out of a personal fascination and because they’d be an important component of the Hyperloop, the fanciful high-speed rail system he proposed in 2013. All the while he’s been quietly encouraging anyone who asks him about new business opportunities to consider digging for a living. “I think they were hoping I’d say some sort of iPhone app that they could make,” he says with a smile. “I would just say, ‘Do tunnels.’ It would obviously solve urban congestion—and we wouldn’t be stuck in soul-destroying traffic all the time.”

I can see some benefit to something like this in LA – assuming that you could permit and engineer such a thing and that regulators and environmentalists wouldn’t go berserk – obviously, this wouldn’t be needed in cities with existing mass transit options like NY.  It does sound a bit crazy but is it really that much more so than the flying cars that many in Silicon Valley tout as a traffic solution or, for that matter, Musk’s own quest to send humans to Mars?

Economy

Breakout: CPI came in substantially higher than expected in January, paving the way for more Federal Reserve rate hikes in the near future.

Never Let a Good Crisis Go To Waste: The Oroville Dam crisis has given the Trump administration an opening to push one of it’s primary campaign promises: an economy-stimulating infrastructure spending bill.  Bottom line: we need to start spending money on our aging infrastructure yesterday. But See: Federal laws, rare species and NIMBYs all pose challenges to Trump’s potential infrastructure plans.

Ceiling: Shale drilling is booming again and filling the void left by OPEC production cutbacks.

Commercial

Controlled Experiment: Amazon is using Seattle as a laboratory for new retail concepts.  See Also: How Amazon is infiltrating the physical world.

Residential

The Playing Field: The housing market in 2017 is shaping up to be a battle between rising mortgage rates and low inventory (especially at the entry level.).  See Also: Zillow is predicting a buyers market…..in 2019.

Profiles

Everything Old is New Again: Playboy is bringing back nude pictorials just one year after they stopped publishing them.  Apparently no one reads the articles after all.  Shocking.

Unintended Consequences: Facebook Live has become an outlet for violent criminals to live-stream their crimes.  The app recently outdid itself for depravity, streaming four murders in one day.

Un-Dead: The Sears zombie apocalypse is upon us.  Good riddance.

Chart of the Day

Shoutout to the great state of Florida for being the only place in North America where cannibals still exist.

Where in the world cannibalism has spread to

WTF

Surprise Gift: Burger King is giving away sex toys in a special Valentines Day-themed “Adult Meal.”

Not What He Was Expecting: Meet the 909er car thief who returned a van that he had stolen  from a Riverside Morgue after finding a corpse in the back only to get busted after he stole a second van (which I assume was corpse-free).

Can’t Win: A woman who won the lottery is now looking to sue that same lottery for “ruining her life.”  Welcome to 2017.

Landmark Links – A candid look at the economy, real estate, and other things sometimes related.

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