Winter Reading Tips

If you found yourself wondering during President Obama's State of the Union speech last week why he thinks the United States is ready to speedily build some high-speed rail infrastructure, you'll want to consult the nicely illustrated feature in the February issue of Wired magazine--and for some news updates, you might search our blog posts as well. But note: while text to the Wired feature is accessible online, to get full benefit of the excellent graphics you'll want to look at the magazine itself.

To judge from communications from organizations representing the left-liberal flank of Obama's constituency, nothing in his speech went down worse than his call for more nuclear energy. If you're seriously interested in nuclear prospects you'll want to have a look at the fall issue of Daedalus, the high-brow journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Two of the contributors to that report--Richard A. Meserve, the physicist-lawyer who served as head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon--also are serving on a blue-ribbon panel that Obama has set up to review nuclear waste disposal options. In the budget request due out this week, Obama is expected to ask for a tripling of Federal loan guarantees for nuclear construction, consistent with Energy Secretary Chu's complaints that current guarantees are not ample enough to jump-start a nuclear revival.

Obama claimed he's still determined to get a carbon cap-and-trade bill through Congress, though skeptics are beginning to wonder about how seriously he means that. For a withering critique of offsets trading, take a look at Mark Shapiro's article in the current issue of Harper's, though you have to be a subscriber or buy the magazine to see the whole thing. For Spectrum's take, the online feature by Melissa Checker is still worth a look too.

Spectrum contributor Peter Fairley  was quick to recognize how key Boliveia will be in supplying lithium for the batteries expected to power hybrid and electric cars. As it happens the current issue of Technology Review has a stunning photo essay on what Bolivia's nascent lithium industry looks like. There too there's no substitute for the magazine itself.

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