The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

December 29, 2013 at 9:30 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Theda Skocpol on the Tea Party’s awful hold on US politics.
    QUOTE
    Here is the key point: Even though there is no one center of Tea Party authority—indeed, in some ways because there is no one organized center—the entire gaggle of grassroots and elite organizations amounts to a pincer operation that wields money and primary votes to exert powerful pressure on Republican officeholders and candidates. Tea Party influence does not depend on general popularity at all. Even as most Americans have figured out that they do not like the Tea Party or its methods, Tea Party clout has grown in Washington and state capitals. Most legislators and candidates are Nervous Nellies, so all Tea Party activists, sympathizers, and funders have had to do is recurrently demonstrate their ability to knock off seemingly unchallengeable Republicans (ranging from Charlie Crist in Florida to Bob Bennett of Utah to Indiana’s Richard Lugar). That grabs legislators’ attention and results in either enthusiastic support for, or acquiescence to, obstructive tactics. The entire pincer operation is further enabled by various right-wing tracking organizations that keep close count of where each legislator stands on “key votes”—including even votes on amendments and the tiniest details of parliamentary procedure, the kind of votes that legislative leaders used to orchestrate in the dark.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: theda_skocpol usa politics tea_party

  • Agree.
    QUOTE
    “You recognize that you’re going in blind, that there’s no model,” Snowden said, acknowledging that he had no way to know whether the public would share his views.

    “But when you weigh that against the alternative, which is not to act,” he said, “you realize that some analysis is better than no analysis. Because even if your analysis proves to be wrong, the marketplace of ideas will bear that out. If you look at it from an engineering perspective, an iterative perspective, it’s clear that you have to try something rather than do nothing.”
    UNQUOTE

    tags: edward_snowden nsa democracy

  • Urban noise/ traffic noise *is* horrible.
    QUOTE
    The long-term health effects of noise in modern cities are only beginning to be understood, although anyone who has ever lived in a city knows intuitively how stressful the constant din of motorized traffic can be. The new wall at Brooklyn Bridge Park provides a bit of respite from the assault. But it’s only a few hundred feet long. Its greater value may be in the way it makes us aware of the destructive and unpleasant sonic reality we take for granted every day.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: atlantic_cities bqe highways parks noise_barriers liveability

  • Slideshow documenting the transformation of a surface parking lot into an urban infill development complete with bioswale for cleaning run-off to a creek that has seasonal salmon runs. The architects, Mithun, are among the good guys.

    tags: slideshow seattle malls parking surface_parking_lots urban_development

  • Eye-opening…
    QUOTE
    Google, for one, would love to build housing near its campus in Mountain View. They have tried to get it permitted and it has been rejected, while at the same time the city has approved additional office space. In fact, the city of Mountain View expressly forbade housing in its citywide general plan for the area around the Bayshore Campus. This would have put large numbers of Google employees walking distance from work, while also providing a walkable neighborhood near a light rail station. Google has also started investing in affordable housing, including one project in Mountain View, but unfortunately it’s only 51 units. The truth is that suburban communities don’t want to build more housing, and Prop 13 gives existing owners little reason to care about increasing housing prices.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: san_francisco google buses public_infrastructure suburbs planning zoning

  • Cool, but double-edged forces here, too…
    QUOTE
    There’s a strain of thinking afoot, embodied in the Tea Party, that pushes for restricting government to the barest of services. This has played out most recently in the idea that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is doomed because government cannot pull off something that complex. At the same time, there’s a clamor for the private sector to get involved in the sort of activities we once limited to government.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: airbnb third_places spaces san_francisco libraries

  • On the benefits of walking.
    QUOTE
    Garrison emphasized that walking should be a natural part of our daily lives, rather than something we add on specifically for exercise, health or recreation. “I have the pleasure of walking every day to the store, the dry cleaners, the post office, to the park with my husband. That’s no accident,” she said. It’s the result of deliberate urban planning that locates important destinations within walking distance —a traditional common-sense idea called walkability, which is at the heart of making our communities more safe, comfortable and convenient for walking.

    “Walkable communities are the key to a strong American Third Century,” observed Tyler Norris. “They help protect us from spiraling health care costs in great part driven by preventable chronic disease, while creating vibrant communities that are fonts of equitable prosperity.”
    UNQUOTE

    tags: project_for_public_spaces jay_walljasper walkability walking health happiness

  • Good point(s)…
    QUOTE
    By the same token, if micro-apartments are indeed the wave of the future, Saegert argues, they increase the “ground rent,” or dollar per square foot that a developer earns and comes to expect from his investment. So over time, New Yorkers may actually face more expensive housing, paying the same amount to rent a studio in the neighborhood where they used to be able to afford a one-bedroom. With the gradual erosion of zoning rules, the micro-apartment could very well become the unit of the future, the only viable choice for a large number of renters.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: microhomes crowding apartments nyc atlantic_cities

  • QUOTE
    But even John Mackey, the Whole Foods C.E.O., has acknowledged his company’s knack for identifying neighborhoods on the cusp of gentrification. In an interview with CNNMoney in 2007, Mackey said, “The joke is that we could have made a lot more money just buying up real estate around our stores and developing it than we could make selling groceries.” What’s more, Mackey is a staunch libertarian and free-market devotee, as Nick Paumgarten wrote in a 2010 New Yorker Profile, and his attacks on unions and government-supported health care have alienated some of his liberal customers.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: gentrification newyorker elizabeth_greenspan brooklyn whole_foods

  • Agree.
    QUOTE
    Coal plants have put far more radioactive emissions into the air than the world’s 430-plus nuclear plants ever have.

    If a nuke so much as burps, the authorities in many countries close it. But coal plants as well as coal and gas producers have for years been free to radiate in plumes (modern scrubbers may be minimizing the amount). Their emissions include things like uranium, thorium, potassium 40, radon, radium and others. Mutter those words in a nuclear context, and you’ve got a posse of angry mothers on your doorstep. From the fossil fuel industry, those same radioactive elements fall on deaf ears as they land silently in public lungs.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: coal japan nuclear_power pollution smartplanet

  • QUOTE
    A safer city street will trade long, indirect crosswalks for shorter crossings and pedestrian islands.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: street_usage safety pedestrians atlantic_cities eric_jaffe

  • QUOTE
    New-old architecture is like a magnet for the Tea Party. Its leaders invariably live in suburban McMansions of various sizes, built recently but gussied up to look old and distinguished. A recent news reports showed a pro-immigration reform group staging a rally at one politician’s house. It looked like a flock of zombies descending on a generic American homestead in a Walking Dead episode.

    New-new architecture is a no-no, however. Anything innovative or vaguely European-looking is abhorrent.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: nimbyism tea_party architecture smartplanet modernism

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

December 22, 2013 at 4:30 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Some excellent points in this article (see quote extract), but also so many contradictions/ so much wrong. E.g., there’s a trickle-down supposition (if you build more housing stock, prices will fall): in desirable urban centers, however, that doesn’t seem to happen (enough). Then, a praise for the super-talls (b/c they’re also super-thins), but at the same time a recognition of the street wall (which you can’t have with a super-tall, at least not in that recognizable way). And so on…
    QUOTE
    Tall buildings need to create not only an aesthetic contribution to the skyline but also street-level value so they’re more likely to be embraced. But we also need to prioritize what we’re building tall: Right now, housing, in any form, should be encouraged, and cities need to work harder to allow this kind of development to occur.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: allissa_walker gizmodo skyscrapers cities urbanism los_angeles

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

December 15, 2013 at 10:04 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

December 8, 2013 at 9:08 pm | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • This “street area calculator” could be really useful in determining context-specific redevelopment…
    QUOTE
    Price has created a “street area calculator,” that allows you to plug in a street width and block size. Using this tool, you can come up with some basic figures to compare different grids and how they apportion a city’s land. To take two of the extreme examples calculated by Price using rough figures gleaned from Google maps, Portland, Oregon, has streets that are 60 feet wide (building face to building face, including the sidewalk) and blocks that are 200 by 200. Compare that to Salt Lake City, where the streets are 130 feet wide and the block are 660 by 660.

    These configurations mean that Salt Lake is using its space more efficiently by one measure, with only 30.2 percent of area devoted to streets, which must be maintained and are not “productive” in terms of tax revenue. Portland, in contrast devotes nearly 41 percent of its area to streets. Most street space goes to cars, with sidewalks taking up a relatively small fraction.

    But when you look at how much street frontage a city’s grid creates within a half-mile walk of a certain point – one potential measure of walkability – Portland has nearly 160,000 feet, while Salt Lake has just under 60,000.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: street_usage street_grid andrew_price atlantic_cities

  • More than 10 years ago I said that continually pumping more PhD graduates into a rapidly downsizing job market, as academic leaders everywhere were doing, was immoral. This excellent essay backs me up from yet another angle.
    QUOTE
    The academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders. Even if the probability that you might get shot in academia is relatively small (unless you mark student papers very harshly), one can observe similar dynamics. Academia is only a somewhat extreme example of this trend, but it affects labour markets virtually everywhere. One of the hot topics in labour market research at the moment is what we call “dualisation”[3]. Dualisation is the strengthening of this divide between insiders in secure, stable employment and outsiders in fixed-term, precarious employment. Academic systems more or less everywhere rely at least to some extent on the existence of a supply of “outsiders” ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of uncertain security, prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail[4].
    UNQUOTE

    tags: academia alexandre_afonso socialcritique

  • I just started reading Vaclav Smil’s latest book. Good stuff.
    QUOTE
    His conclusions are often bleak. He argues, for instance, that the demise of US manufacturing dooms the country not just intellectually but creatively, because innovation is tied to the process of making things. (And, unfortunately, he has the figures to back that up.)
    UNQUOTE

    tags: vaclav_smil wired_magazine manufacturing economysocialcritique

  • The real reasoning behind Amazon’s drones?
    QUOTE
    …if Amazon can become the first company with significant resources to invest in consumer drones, it could corner the market on cheap unmanned aerial vehicles the way it’s cornering the market on cheap computing power. And so far, investors have rewarded Bezos for putting long-term, wide-ranging ambition before short-term profits. Which means that however distant they are right now from Amazon’s core business, drones could become a much larger part of it.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: amazon drones quartz

  • This article is about planning and placemaking and stuff, and also deeply philosophical. Good read.
    QUOTE
    When I covered sports as a newspaper reporter, I got into a discussion with a highly successful football coach about his obsession with control. By the time a coach reaches the upper tiers of his profession, he or she has experienced hundreds of ways to lose. So they become students of failure, of where they missed opportunities to choose a better way to prepare a team or respond in a game situation. They hate surprises, even though they can’t think of many contests where they weren’t surprised at some point. They know that talented players will at some crucial moments in a contest improvise with success, perhaps even with game-winning success. But that’s not something they can control. And coaches are control freaks. So they drill their teams for near-instinctual responses to situations in order, they hope, to minimize the necessity for innovation. To control what’s within their power to control.

    I remember what the football coach told me about strategies for optimizing flexibility, for withholding commitment to rules, for keeping an open mind. “Well, I guess an open mind can be a good thing,” he told me. “But you have to be careful that your mind’s not so open that your brains fall out.”
    UNQUOTE

    tags: flexibility predictability planning placemakers

  • We knew this already (well, some of us did), but this article is really worth a close read.
    QUOTE
    This points to an emerging disaster in street psychology. As suburban retailers begin to colonize central cities, block after block of bric-a-brac and mom-and-pop-scale buildings and shops are being replaced by blank, cold spaces that effectively bleach street edges of conviviality. It is an unnecessary act of theft, and its consequences go beyond aesthetics, or even the massive reduction in the variety of goods and services that results when one giant retailer takes over a block. The big-boxing of a city block harms the physical health of people living nearby, especially the elderly. Seniors who live among long stretches of dead frontage have actually been found to age more quickly than those who live on blocks with plenty of doors, windows, porch stoops, and destinations. Because supersize architecture and blank stretches of sidewalk push their daily destinations beyond walking distance, they get weaker and slower, they socialize less outside the home, and they volunteer less. Studies of seniors living in Montreal found that elderly people who lived on blocks that had front porches and stoops actually had stronger legs and hands than those living on more barren blocks. Meanwhile, those who could actually walk to shops and services were more likely to volunteer, visit other people, and stay active.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: atlantic_cities street_appeal cities biophilia facades built_environment charles_montgomery

  • Powerful article.
    QUOTE
    Perhaps the greatest danger today is that of fatalist apathy. People do not think there is a viable alternative. They are wrong.

    On the technological side, techniques such as anonymization and pseudonymization allow the development of personalized services that don’t invade privacy on a mass scale – yes, targeted investigations can extricate identifying information out of such masked data, but we want targeted investigations to remain possible. Indiscriminate dragnet surveillance is the problem here.

    Technologists and developers need to implement privacy by design. They need to minimize the data they collect, because their advances are the very tools that can be turned against people. They need to mask that data where they can, and make it 100 percent clear to their users what data is being collected, why it’s being collected, and what’s going to happen to it. Also, we need encryption everywhere.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: privacy surveillance gigaom police_state

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

But grandma, what big teeth you have…

December 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm | In yulelogStories | 2 Comments

Had to go to the mall this afternoon – what a nightmare. Store upon same store, selling the same stuff over and over again …it was like Kafka meets Dante in one of those hellish circles. In the course of my twenty minutes there, I amused myself by taking photos of some of the advertising in store windows. Specifically, I took photos of the always toothy smiling women. Here’s the collage:

The lipstick model’s smile is actually not as outrageously big as the bright red lip color makes it seem. But check out the extreme chompers on the model at the top left, as well as the image directly below her. And what about the trio of ladies, top right? That seems to be Christy Turlington (?) on the left, whose bite seems positively velociraptor-ish. The Asian model next to her has a smaller enameled area, and instead displays an alarming expanse of pink gums.

I remember a time before Julia Roberts (who, we all know, has a perfect smile) when it didn’t seem necessary for every model to have quite such a huge abundance of dental matter. A smile didn’t have to be – what’s the word?, “incandescent,” I believe they call it? But we’re all Americans and therefore more of a good thing is always better. Therefore, what was merely incandescent yesterday must today be positively atomic, radioactive, literally radiant, blow your mind big. ‘Cause bigger is always better, right?

Perhaps we used to think only of horses as having huge teeth – and maybe of chimpanzees, too. Maybe we didn’t see chimps on an everyday basis, but lots of Europeans (and Americans of yore) saw horses a lot, as well as mules and donkeys and asses, all of which have gigantic teeth. And often those animals only showed their teeth when they were frightened or about to bite.

So how is it that we now want all women to look like this? Disclaimer: I’m not saying these models aren’t beautiful. They are beautiful; they have beautiful teeth. But, is it just me, or does all that toothiness sometimes starts to look a little scary? Just a bit? My point-of-departure here is that such a biting display of dental prowess didn’t become the norm until fairly recently, and I can’t help but marvel at how quickly the norms have changed. A big mouth used to be considered a flaw. No more.

Here’s a great article, The Serious and the Smirk: The Smile in Portraiture, which puts the smile into an art historical context (e.g., “…in the long history of portraiture the open smile has been largely, as it were, frowned upon.”). (n.b.: art history is good; you learn tons of stuff.)

Anyway. There you have it, a small collage of big teeth. And here are some quotes and links about women or teeth or smiles (or all three). Enjoy.

…it is suggested that whilst the teeth of both sexes act as human ornament displays, the female display is more complex because it additionally signals residual reproductive value. (source)

Within female saints’ legends the tortured body parts are often sexualized and utterlygendered. Thus, this paper will argue that the gorge and its components are not only treated asa “door” through which beliefs and vocation are uttered, but also metaphorically as a vagina or vagina dentata. The teeth play a crucial role as they function as the only visible barrier  between inner and outer body, as a symbolic “hymen”, which is “deflowered” in the legend of St. Apollonia among others by pulling the teeth out. Within the legends of female saints – mouth and vagina – the two culturally established entrances to a woman’s body seem to beused interchangeably. (source)

…the Victorians thought of open-mouthed smiling as obscene, and nineteenth-century English and American slang equated “smiling” with drinking whisky. (source)

In animals, the exposure of teeth, which may bear a resemblance to a smile and imply happiness, often conveys other signals. The baring of teeth is often used as a threat or warning display—known as a snarl—or a sign of submission. For chimpanzees, it can also be a sign of fear. (source)

On one hand, it goes without saying that teeth are signals and status symbols. One of the first things people will say about a lower-class person is that they are either missing teeth (typically mentioned of whites) or are wearing grills or gold caps (typically mentioned of blacks). And rich people and nearly all celebrities get extensive work done on their teeth.  Having good teeth is so important to perceived sexual and overall social attraction that it affects peoples’ ability to get jobs. (source)

Smiling makes its entry into Western art primarily in the Renaissance “vanitas” paintings depicting the folly of human existence and the temptations of the flesh, from sex to gambling to cheating, observes Richard Estelle, a Philadelphia artist who, along with his wife, Camille Ward, has studied the art history of smiles. The only folks grinning in those pictures are the fools about to have their wallets lifted or their money taken by cardsharps. To the old masters, smiles were for losers. (source)

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

December 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The day after Thanksgiving. No, wait. Thanksgiving.

November 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm | In business, social_critique | 3 Comments

Today is Black Friday. It has for a long time been the start of the Holiday shopping season, and, went the thinking, if retailers could get shoppers into stores today – the day after our Thanksgiving holiday – they had a reasonable chance of getting “in the black,” that is, having a profitable season.

Black Friday was supposed to be a kind of litmus test that would indicate whether consumers were willing to spend enough in the remaining days of the holiday season to bring up retailer profits (or whether there would be any profits at all).

Well, that’s obviously all gone out the window because now some stores are opening on Thanksgiving. In a seemingly continuous non-stop race to the bottom, Thanksgiving, which had a certain magic about it because it was non-religious and non-gifting (i.e., not linked to shopping),  is now removed from that privileged place of non-consumption. Instead, it’s more and more a day like any other: Go forth and shop.

As one 18-year old Thanksgiving shopper put it while standing online with a pal at a suburban Chicago mall, “Thanksgiving dinner is over…  And there’s nothing else to do.” (source) I seriously expected her to say, “Thanksgiving dinner is so over,” that is: we’re not doing that anymore.

Which brings me to another pet peeve: the so-called politically correct crowd that gets its kicks from pointing out that white settlers screwed the indigenous population, that this happened at “the original” Thanksgiving, and that therefore all Thanksgiving festivities are a sham if not outright a white man’s plot to keep injustice alive.

I have news for you, dear Leftie comrades of mine: you are the latter-day stirrup holders of the bourgeoisie, except now you’re holding the stirrups for the oligarchic disrupter class. Your corrosive criticism of Thanksgiving as a “white man’s” holiday that somehow represents the oppression of Native populations is the hand that reaches across an ever-diminishing Thanksgiving gathering table to shake the hand of today’s ultra-capitalism.

Hey, if Thanksgiving is just a sham, if Thanksgiving isn’t actually the nice holiday we were told it was, then why not turn it into a day like any other? And so the capitalist disrupter smiles, sits down to his fully-larded table, while the rest of us are harried into ever-greater sacrifices …for the effing economy!

Excuse me while my head explodes.

To whit: yesterday I read an article in one of my favorite news sources that claimed it was ok to shop on Thanksgiving because the economy needs it. (source) Who is this “economy” and why does it need my blood? Ok, that’s a silly rhetorical question because of course I know why it needs my and your blood. But really? This is the best case the writer can make? It was also interesting to me, an immigrant twice over (first to Canada, then to the U.S.) to see the author, who was born in the U.S. but is of Indian extraction, born to immigrant parents, bolster her case this way:

Some countries actually embrace the US system of more work, less pay. Multinationals especially deal with large variances in different countries’ holiday calendars. Their solution often is to offer a more liberal number of personal days so employees can pick and choose the holidays of importance to them. In countries such as India—which, like the United States, has a polyglot of faiths and cultures across its workforce—some state governments have been trying to limit the number of official holidays. [emphasis added]

Well, if you don’t celebrate any religious holiday, I’m fine with that. But Thanksgiving was never an expressly religious holiday – it has nothing to do with “polyglot[s] of faiths and cultures.” It was simply a holiday: a day to stop, cook a good meal, sit down together, break bread, be peaceful (just for a bit), and give thanks. That’s all.

But now, here we are: in all, Thanksgiving has been “exposed” by my Leftie friends as a vile white man’s holiday whose origins lie in the oppression of Native populations; youthful “innovators” tell us that the economy needs us to go shopping; and “disrupters” of all stripes tell us that we live in an age of extreme personalization, whether it’s in the Quantified Self movement or our social media personae, so why shouldn’t I pick and choose the holidays, too? I mean, isn’t social media all about creating my tribe, man, that ultra-personal self-expression of mine that’s just about the effing same as everybody else’s, except I can spend personalized money on mine? If I’ve got my tribe, why should I bother with something as corny (and destructive to our holier-than-thou 1%-enriching economy) as a non-gifting, non-shopping, boring old dinner-based holiday? (And by the way: if everybody is off in their personal and personalized tribe, there will be no more unions, and without unionized bargaining power, there will be more oppression of people, irrespective of whether their skin color is white or brown or black or anything in between. Continue to splinter into tribes, children, and The Man will eat your effing lunch.)

As for the argument that shopping shopping shopping consumption consumption consumption is absolutely necessary to keep the economy going, ask yourself what kind of economy we’re enabling. Heck, back in the day that swine Henry Ford at least made sure his workers made enough money to buy a family car. Today’s equivalent industry moguls? Not so much. (see this) We’re all in love with the Creepy Crawleys of Downton Abbey, worshiping their wealth and “glamor.” But even they took better care of “their” workers than the Waltons of Wal-Mart do.

Was tun? you may ask. Well, there is Buy Nothing Day, although I have to admit it always sat the wrong way with me (not sure why).  And there’s the buy local movement (see Katrina Scotto di Carlo’s excellent talk at Portland Oregon’s Creative Mornings).

Beyond that, it’s up to government and law makers to create protections for workers. Not sure however that there’s much to be done about the sheeple who take advantage of all the glorious opportunities to buy ever more junk no one (not even they themselves) need.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

November 24, 2013 at 8:20 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • No doubt there are some flaws in this study, but the conclusions are intriguing. Is it the commute? Is it the isolation that commuting often entails (sitting singly in one’s car, or avoiding eye-contact on public transit)? We forget how to be social when we commute?
    QUOTE
    The longer the commute, the less likely people are to participate in politics through behaviors like voting, frequently talking about politics, or giving to political campaigns. And the authors believe this is a causal relationship, not merely a correlation between people who travel long distances to work and those who live in cloistered bedroom communities.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: commuting atlantic_cities emily_badger cars socialcritique politics

  • Beautiful article. Here’s to polymathy.
    QUOTE
    The average job now is done by someone who is stationary in front of some kind of screen. Someone who has just one overriding interest is tunnel-visioned, a bore, but also a specialist, an expert. Welcome to the monopathic world, a place where only the single-minded can thrive. Of course, the rest of us are very adept at pretending to be specialists. We doctor our CVs to make it look as if all we ever wanted to do was sell mobile homes or Nespresso machines. It’s common sense, isn’t it, to try to create the impression that we are entirely focused on the job we want? And wasn’t it ever thus?

    In fact, it wasn’t.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: aeon_magazine robert_twigger polymath monopath neuroscience

  • Great article.
    QUOTE
    If one was to judge by sheer wealth, the last half-century should have been an ecstatically happy time for people in the US and other rich nations such as Canada, Japan and Great Britain. And yet the boom decades of the late 20th century were not accompanied by a boom in wellbeing. The British got richer by more than 40% between 1993 and 2012, but the rate of psychiatric disorders and neuroses grew.
    (…)
    As much as we complain about other people, there is nothing worse for mental health than a social desert. The more connected we are to family and community, the less likely we are to experience heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression. Connected people sleep better at night. They live longer. They consistently report being happier.

    There is a clear connection between social deficit and the shape of cities. A Swedish study found that people who endure more than a 45-minute commute were 40% more likely to divorce. People who live in monofunctional, car‑dependent neighbourhoods outside urban centres are much less trusting of other people than people who live in walkable neighbourhoods where housing is mixed with shops, services and places to work.
    (…)
    Stutzer and Frey found that a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office. On the other hand, for a single person, exchanging a long commute for a short walk to work has the same effect on happiness as finding a new love.
    (…)
    “…we adapt quickly to the joy of a larger house, because the house is exactly the same size every time. But we find it difficult to adapt to commuting by car, because every day is a slightly new form of misery.”
    UNQUOTE

    tags: cities walkability cycling happiness commuting sustainability the_guardian

  • Big Brother scariness taken to the nth…
    QUOTE
    Capable of geo-locating smart phone and computer users across the city, Seattle acquired its “mesh network” the same way other cities got theirs: the Department of Homeland Security helped pay for it, a private contractor built it, and the city council approved it without public debate. Then The Stranger ran a lengthy exposé in which a member of the Seattle PD responded to a question about rules governing the use of the mesh network by saying, “[We’re] not comfortable answering policy questions when we do not yet have a policy.” (The Stranger also published a list of questions the Seattle PD refused to answer.) Roughly a week later, Seattle PD Sgt. Sean Whitcomb told the alternative weekly, “The wireless mesh network will be deactivated until city council approves a draft policy and until there’s an opportunity for vigorous public debate.”
    UNQUOTE

    tags: atlantic_cities seattle surveillance big_brother policing cities

  • Love it just for its take-down of Malcolm Gladwell. (The rest of the article is good, too!)
    QUOTE
    On a basic factual level, Gladwell doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about. Contrary to his claim in Outliers, the Beatles didn’t have to wait until 1964 to enjoy “their first burst of success.” They scored their first top 20 hit in late 1962 and their first number one single in either February or May of 1963, depending on which chart you consult; as of New Year’s Eve, they had notched two additional U.K. chart toppers and sold nearly 300,000 copies of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in the U.S. By the time 1964 began, Beatlemania was blossoming on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Gladwell seems confused by his own statistics, too. According to Lewisohn, The Beatles played roughly 1,110 hours of music in Hamburg, the equivalent of three hours every night for a full year; when Gladwell writes that they “performed live an estimated twelve hundred times [emphasis mine],” he’s either mixing up his measurements or claiming that the Beatles averaged more than one show per day from the time they went professional until the day they invaded America. The former seems much more likely. Finally, the Beatles weren’t the only act to play endless hours in Hamburg. So did Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and Tony Sheridan, who landed in Germany before the Beatles and stayed on long after they left. None of them became the Fab Four.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: malcolm_gladwell the_beatles daily_beast andrew_romano

  • QUOTE
    If Ronald Reagan was the first Teflon President, then Silicon Valley is the first Teflon Industry: no matter how much dirt one throws at it, nothing seems to stick. While “Big Pharma,” “Big Food” and “Big Oil” are derogatory terms used to describe the greediness that reigns supreme in those industries, this is not the case with “Big Data.” This innocent term is never used to refer to the shared agendas of technology companies. What shared agendas? Aren’t these guys simply improving the world, one line of code at a time?
    UNQUOTE

    tags: evgeny_morozov faz internet ideology silicon_valley

  • QUOTE
    Leute, die bezahlt werden, das Internet zu studieren, bekommen im Grunde ihr Geld nur, um dessen Logik, Vokabular und Weltsicht zu perpetuieren. Es ist lächerlich, das Internet erklären zu wollen. Was erklärt werden müsste, ist das beständige Bedürfnis, das Internet zu erklären, als wäre es eine theologische Kraft mit Bedeutung. Eine selbsternannte Priesterklasse hat sich formiert, um das Wesen und die Auswirkungen des Internets zu erklären. Ich halte das für ein moralisches Denken und Reden, das man besser vermeiden sollte.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: evgeny_morozov internet faz

  • QUOTE
    Simitis knew even in 1985 that this would inevitably lead to the “algorithmic regulation” taking shape today, as politics becomes “public administration” that runs on autopilot so that citizens can relax and enjoy themselves, only to be nudged, occasionally, whenever they are about to forget to buy broccoli.

    Habits, activities, and preferences are compiled, registered, and retrieved to facilitate better adjustment, not to improve the individual’s capacity to act and to decide. Whatever the original incentive for computerization may have been, processing increasingly appears as the ideal means to adapt an individual to a predetermined, standardized behavior that aims at the highest possible degree of compliance with the model patient, consumer, taxpayer, employee, or citizen.

    What Simitis is describing here is the construction of what I call “invisible barbed wire” around our intellectual and social lives. Big data, with its many interconnected databases that feed on information and algorithms of dubious provenance, imposes severe constraints on how we mature politically and socially.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: evgeny_morozov privacy mit_techreview big_data democracy

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

November 17, 2013 at 5:43 pm | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Reread this great review of my 1995 book the other day; had to bookmark it, even if I am tooting my own horn here!
    QUOTE
    Inside the deliberately circumscribed limitations of her topic, Yule Heibel makes a profoundly sophisticated contribution to scholarship on post-World War II art history. Concentrating on German artists’ and critics’ efforts to reestablish viable cultural practices, she turns her evaluation of the relatively minor painter Nay into a discussion that has implications for a great range of visual art produced after 1945.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: johanna_drucker reconstructing_the_subject yule_heibel

  • This is frightening. A car where you have to rent the battery (i.e., you don’t own the whole vehicle), and if you let your contract lapse, it stops working?
    QUOTE
    As our friends at iFixit say, if you can’t fix it, you don’t own it. Users need the right to repair the things they buy, and that is incompatible with blanket restrictions on circumventing DRM.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: drm eff

  • Creepy. (Reading about this while reading Dave Eggers’s The Circle just makes me want to hurl…)
    QUOTE
    By adding an array of features to mobile devices including GPS trackers, cameras, apps and sensors that can improve and record our daily lives and browsing habits, the addition of personal cloud computing gives applications the opportunity to acquire knowledge over time and predict what we need and want in real-time.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: smartplanet smartphones ubiquity tracking dystopia silicon_valley

  • This is the stuff that Evgeny Morozov RIGHTLY would call creepy…
    QUOTE
    You’ve just tossed a jar of peanut butter in your grocery cart when your smartphone buzzes. You glance down at the screen to see a message that seems downright clairvoyant: Buy some jelly. Get $1 off.

    Convenient? Certainly. Creepy? Maybe.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: tracking mit_techreview retail shopping big_data privacy

  • Sad state of affairs:
    QUOTE
    Saratoga Springs in New York made national news some years ago when a middle school refused to admit a student who, on national Bike to Work day, bicycled to school with his mom. On the other side of the country, Laguna Beach’s schools declined to join the other 425 in California who participated in Walk to School Day in 2010 because walking to school, the decision-makers determined, was inherently unsafe, no matter how coordinated and supervised.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: atlantic_cities kaid_benfield childhood traffic cities

  • QUOTE
    Girls don’t ride bikes, Wadjda hears repeatedly from her mother and her (all-female) teachers. Such a ban isn’t superfluous from the point of view of controlling society; one feels independent and in charge when pedaling a bicycle, a state of mind that an authoritarian government frowns upon. But as Wadjda secretly practices her balance on Abdullah’s bike, she grows more determined to get one of her own. Her desire for spokes and wheels grows as she begins to realize everything else that girls and women aren’t permitted to do. She’s reaching the age where teachers want her to drape her face and hair on her way to school, lest she pose too much of a temptation to the catcalling men she meets along the way.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: nicole_gelinas city_journal saudi_arabia islam girls equality bicycles

  • Great video.
    QUOTE
    The truth is, no matter how hard some media outlets try to spin it otherwise, these new street safety projects have broad community support. And while the story of these changes often gets simplified in the press, the fact is that the benefits of the redesigns go far beyond cycling. A street with a protected bike lane also has less speeding, shorter pedestrian crossings, less lane-shifting and more predictable movements for drivers, and the opportunity to add more trees and plantings. Injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and car passengers drop wherever the new designs go in. And on the East Side, these improvements have been paired with dedicated bus-only lanes with camera enforcement, making service more convenient and attractive for thousands of bus riders.
    UNQUOTE

    tags: urbanism walkability vimeo

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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