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I do cartographic design and geographic data wrangling at Mapbox.

comment What does “foo” stand for in this PostGIS command?
Yes. Tech on the Net has a good explanation: "AS is optional. Most programmers will specify the AS keyword when aliasing a column name, but not when aliasing a table name. Whether you specify the AS keyword or not has no impact on the alias in PostgreSQL. It is a personal choice in PostgreSQL, unlike other databases." -- techonthenet.com/postgresql/alias.php
comment How to get the coastline from OSM?
Because of their complexity, separate tools are used to process OpenStreetMap coastlines into shapefiles instead of loading them into PostgreSQL. TileMill should have downloaded these automatically when you loaded your OSM Bright project. Find the layers named "processed_p" and "shoreline_300" in your project. Do they point to "tilemill-data.s3.amazonaws.com/osm/coastline-good.zip"; and "tilemill-data.s3.amazonaws.com/osm/shoreline_300.zip"; respectively?
comment Generating tiles for osm/esri shapefiles
If you like the styling available in TileMill but don't want to export to MBTiles, you can export to a Mapnik XML style file instead, and then use a different script to render it in whatever way suits your needs.