The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

January 29, 2012 at 1:30 am | In links | 3 Comments
  • Lincoln Institute comments on teardowns:
    …teardowns in established neighborhoods with good density can be a green concept — better than building something new in a cornfield miles away, smart growth advocates would argue. Teardowns take advantage of existing urban infrastructure. And while embodied energy is lost, demolition materials can be recycled; if the new building is energy efficient, so much the greener. Municipalities tend to like the increased property tax revenues from more robust assessments.

    tags: lincoln_institute teardowns infill built_environment

  • Right on.
    A few days ago, I was walking home with my 9-year-old son when I came upon a young woman standing in the middle of Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn, a block-wide island of green in the city’s downtown. She was staring fixedly at her smartphone, which she held up in front of her as if using it to sense a magnetic field, or perhaps radioactive contamination.

    As I passed, she turned to look at me suddenly, her face drawn and anxious. “Excuse me,” she said. “Can you tell me which way to the Brooklyn Bridge?”

    I turned around and pointed to the bridge entrance, which was in plain sight about 20 yards from where we were standing. “Thank you so much!” she said. “I just couldn’t figure it out with my GPS!”

    “Wow,” said my kid as we continued on. “That’s really sad.”

    tags: city_smarts urban_design gps navigation atlantic_cities

  • Via Taja Sevelle, so inspiring:
    Urban Farming began in 2005 with 3 gardens and a pamphlet. We now have planted and facilitated over 43,000 community, residential and partner gardens around the world.
    Victory Gardens ftw.

    tags: victory_gardens urban_farming taja_sevelle gardening

  • Bang-on analysis and critique of JSTOR:
    In theory, the point of publishing is to disseminate research for the development of knowledge. Further, many of those 3 million articles were built on data collected through publicly funded research. I have a hard time seeing how we can say the public is getting a solid return on its research investment when it still doesn’t have open access to research it helped funded over fifty-​years ago.

    tags: matt_bernius jstor opendata access

  • This could get interesting!
    Right now Adobe and WoodWing are charging magazine publishers something like six figures just for a system that will transform their magazines into apps that can be sold through Apple. And magazines are basically just enhanced ebooks. Meanwhile, companies like OnSwipe are trying to become the de-facto system for publishing content to tablets—but only on the web. Companies like Arcade Sunshine, whom I’ve written about before, are also limited to Apple’s App store.

    The Atavist Platform, meanwhile, promises to do all of that, and then maybe turn its competitors’ bones into bread when it’s done.

    tags: atavist e-books platforms publishing mit_techreview

  • Very effective video, and sobering commentary.
    And if you’re wondering about the link between CO2 and global warming, here’s what the data from NASA shows:

    The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, when the GISS global temperature record begins.
    By 1960, the average concentration had risen to about 315 parts per million.
    Today it exceeds 390 parts per million and continues to rise at an accelerating pace.

    While scientists don’t expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year, they do expect those figures to continue climbing over decades with extreme temperatures predicted in the next two to three years due to increased solar activity and the effects of El Nino on the tropical Pacific region.

    tags: climate_change nasa video smartplanet global_warming

  • Chad and Courtney Ludeman build LEED Platinum homes for ~$300K sales price. This is great, but consider building 3-BDR units so that people don’t move out when they’re expecting a second child?
    2012 holds much promise for Postgreen Homes. Despite suboptimal economic conditions, the company plans to construct 16 row houses, two condos and a retail space in a completely new area: South Philadelphia. Plus, Postgreen will try its hand at its first rental project and a six-unit co-housing building.

    tags: ludeman philadelphia leed green_buildings urban_development infill

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

New tricks

January 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm | In arts | Comments Off on New tricks

Last night I took my first drawing class in decades. It was a blast – and a real mental work-out. I left feeling positively cross-eyed, my brain having gotten a rewiring to remember.

The last drawing class I ever took was in Munich, with Peter Zeiler, …in the late 1970s. The late 70s, people, happened thirty-five years ago.

I took classes with Peter to prepare my portfolio for admission to the Staatliche Kunstakademie München (a school I dropped out of, by the way, before it was cool to drop out of school – maybe this is a clue to get back into the milieu…).

Peter Zeiler was the luckiest Munich find I made in the late ’70s (aside from that guy I married, of course) – an absolutely amazing teacher. I see that he’s no longer in Schwabing (where I took classes), but his studio and school are still going strong. The banner announcing that this is the oldest private art school in Munich (50 years!) makes me rapidly move from feeling cross-eyed to historical, though. Where in hell does the time go? And why didn’t I keep up my drawing practice?

That’s what I asked myself last night as I clunked my way through Lynn Kitagawa’s excellent Figure Drawing class at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. I’ve got seven more evenings to reconnect to that muscle memory (including the ever-lazy-and-lazier eyeball muscles).

You asked: Usana is my vitamin supplement of choice

January 24, 2012 at 11:56 pm | In health | Comments Off on You asked: Usana is my vitamin supplement of choice

The other day, Raul Pacheco-Vega asked via Facebook whether any of his friends recommend taking vitamin supplements, and if ‘yes,’ which ones. Instead of just replying on his wall, here’s a quick post about my supplement of choice, Usana, and why it works for me.

As the company’s corporate blog notes:

USANA Health Sciences is a worldwide leader in the field of health and nutrition. Our mission is to develop and provide the highest quality, science-based health products, distributed internationally through network marketing, creating a rewarding financial opportunity for our independent Associates, shareholders, and employees.

“…highest quality, science-based health products” means the supplements are rigorously tested and backed by research, and come with a guarantee that what’s on the label is actually in the bottle. Usana is manufactured in line with pharmaceutical-grade standards, not just food-grade standards, which isn’t the case with every supplements manufacturer (see Usana’s potency guarantee).

Compared to ~1,500 supplements manufactured in Canada and the US, Usana supplements consistently win the top spots in Lyle MacWilliam’s The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. This publication:

…seeks to educate consumers about the science and value of nutritional supplementation, and to provide them with a simple, reliable tool with which to compare nutritional products. (…)

Section I of this guide discusses the theories of aging and the intricate links between aging, oxidative stress and degenerative disease. The remarkable protective powers of the endogenous and dietary antioxidants and their role in mitigating the aging process are examined. Five degenerative disease processes are highlighted, including recent scientific evidence supporting the use of nutritional supplementation as a preventive measure.

Section II: Criteria for Advanced Supplementation

Section II reviews the substantial scientific evidence employed in developing the fourteen analytical criteria imbedded in the product-rating methodology used in this comparative guide.[from the 2003 edition description; current edition is from 2007]

The business angle described in the Usana’s corporate blog, that the products are “distributed internationally through network marketing, creating a rewarding financial opportunity,” tells you that the company’s business model is based on network marketing and direct sales. You typically can’t buy the supplements in stores because they’re meant to be distributed (ok, sold) through Usana’s network of associates …and that’s where some people see red. There is a lot of money in the health and wellness business, and the industry is growing every day. Companies old and new launch products constantly, and the majority of them are sold at supermarkets, drug stores, and health-food stores. Consumers don’t seem to mind perusing the miles of aisles at their favorite store, purchasing a bit of this and a bit of that like magpies pecking at glitter. But if you tell them that you’re ‘sharing’ products based on network marketing business model, many of those same consumers think it’s a scam.

It’s not. There are plenty of direct sales companies that work on this model, do not require a big financial commitment (I fill my own monthly subscription, which keeps my business center ‘open,’ with the products I buy for myself and my family, for example), and they’re not pyramid or Ponzi schemes because actual products are involved and exchange hands.

But the combination of a network marketing business model with health-and-wellness products brings out the worst suspicions in some people, not least because there is just so much damn money to be made in this industry and it’s pretty easy to produce a shady product. The history of snake-oil is a long one.

This is in part why Lyle MacWilliam’s book, The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, is so useful. It’s an impartial guide – but of course it, too, was attacked early on.

The attack on MacWilliam’s guide in the early 2000s is a testament to the contested (and not a little vicious) climate of the health-and-wellness industry. Nutrisearch (the publisher) wrote an excellent rebuttal, here, which closes with the following description of the author’s credentials:

Mr. MacWilliam is a trained biochemist and kinesiologist and a contributing author to leading health publications. He has served, at the behest of Canada’s Minister of Health, on an expert advisory team for natural health products, which developed a new regulatory framework to ensure Canadians have access to safe, effective and high quality nutritional products. His wide-ranging consulting experience includes work for the British Columbia Science Council, Environment Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, and Health Canada. He has been invited by companies, organizations and individuals around the world to speak on nutrition and lifestyle issues, including presentations on adults’ and children’s supplementation needs, the prevention of degenerative disease, and the need for lifestyle change to promote optimal health.


Neither the author, Lyle MacWilliam, MacWilliam Communications Inc., nor NutriSearch Corporation have any fiduciary ties to any of the companies or products listed in the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements or its sister publications; nor do they profit in any way from the sale of nutritional products listed in the guide. In addition, production of the guide is not funded by any nutritional manufacturer or other public or private interest.

The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements is is the sole creative effort of the author and NutriSearch Corporation.

Irrespective of this, attacks on Usana – and often enough on the supplements industry as a whole – probably won’t abate any time soon. Take them with a grain of salt and do your research.

So let me tell you why I use Usana, and why I think the products rock.

Since we (family) have started using The Essentials about a year and a half ago, neither one of us has had a single cold. Prior to this, I almost always had at least two major colds per year, in addition to a bunch of annoying cold viruses that left me in varying stages of distress. What happens now is this: whenever I feel some kind of bug trying to take hold, I’ve got it beat within 12 hours. Not kidding. My immune system is just that much stronger now – and it’s not because I’m such a saint when it comes to overall health, either. The spouse (also on The Essentials) is equally hale, so it’s not just me. The offspring take Body Rox, and while the daughter is a skeptic with regard to supplementation, she did take the vitamins while she spent 8 months in China, surviving there with just the occasional cold, one incidence of food poisoning, and a slight case of the persistent pollution-caused cough known as “China Lung” (which her body managed to avoid for the first 6+ months – a not insignificant feat).

We also use some of The Optimizers, especially Vitamin D – and I’m a big fan of Procosa and Hepasil, too.

I could go on to praise the Personal Care line (Sensé), but this is about vitamins and nutrition.

Of course the question arises: why supplement at all? As someone on Raul’s Facebook thread noted, “Source your nutrients from food. Taking suppliments [sic] just covers up the in adiquicy [sic] of the diet…. and learning how to eat naturally.” That sounds reasonable enough, but you would have to eat like an organic saint these days to get all your nutrients from food. Our farming methods, transportation/ storage/shipping methods, and the fact that some areas have depleted soils (or natural deficiencies) all contribute to food alone not always being able to deliver all of your body’s nutrient needs. For example, what are you going to eat to get Vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin, when you’re in the Pacific Northwest in winter? Or Helsinki? Or Hamburg? You get the point. And did you know that some places – like Vancouver Island, British Columbia – have soil that is naturally deficient in critical minerals like Selenium? Even if you eat organic and local, your food will not have the nutrients your body needs if it’s grown in soil that doesn’t contain those elements.

But there’s another reason I use supplements: as insurance. I reason that my generation is the first to have the chance to go healthily into relatively old age (see the various articles about Jane Fonda, now that her latest book is out). It used to be the case that people hit 60 or 70 years of age and were considered …well, old. Like, really old, as in retirement material. And by retirement, I mean useless. Who, in my generation (I’m 55), would acquiesce to that? Once upon a time, you hit a certain age and, boom!, degenerative diseases (caused by oxidative stress) meant that you shuffled, slowed down, and wore out. Had a heart attack. Gave up. Died. If supplementation can make even a small dent in slowing down oxidative stress and degenerative disease, sign me up. (Oh wait, I already am!) So check in with me 10 years from now, see if I’m still making tracks. I bet I will be. Meanwhile, ask me what vitamins I take.



The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

January 22, 2012 at 10:30 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Not as powerful, perhaps, as photos of Detroit’s ruins, these aerial shots of nature overtaking formerly built-up urban areas is startling in its own way:
    As with many industrial cities in America at the time, post-war St. Louis experienced a rapid decline of its inner city. Desperately seeking solutions before the decay could absorb downtown, local planners and politicians saw slum clearance as the best option.

    Decades later, the results are nothing to celebrate. An aggressive demolition policy failed to create a better neighborhood. Instead, it led to a different kind of stigmatized inner city. The chaotic, dirty and declining urban condition of the mid-20th century gave way to the urban prairie of the 21st.

    tags: atlantic_cities st_louis slums urban_renewal urban_forest

  • On retooling old expressways in urban cores:
    The hearings and the public process on these three interventions have revealed a cultural clash: old vs. young, bicyclists vs. solo drivers, yuppies vs. townies, and so on. The fight is in the trenches, in long discussions and blog posts on traffic counts, state modeling and projections, and the methodology of license plate surveys. Everyone’s voice must be heard, a legacy of the exclusion of citizens in the original construction of the roadways, but seemingly a guarantee of paralysis when it comes to repairing the damage they have caused.

    tags: anthony_flint atlantic_cities transportation highways traffic

  • On the question of earth’s changing tilt as a contributor to climate change, don’t discount CO2 yet:
    Though his [Peter Huybers] work suggests that orbital configuration contributes to the loss of glacial ice, Huybers was quick to emphasize that it is only one factor among many.

    “It could also be that orbital forcing causes a rise is atmospheric CO2, and that it’s the increased CO2 that drives the loss of ice sheets,” he said. “In all likelihood, both CO2 and increased summer radiation contribute to deglaciation. They’re both expected to push the climate system toward less ice.

    “Another important aspect to consider is that the orbital configuration we now have is almost exactly where it was 20,000 years ago, during the Last Glacial Maximum, but this time we’re near a glacial minimum,” he said. “If you think about what the difference is between then and now, it’s not the orbital configuration, it’s the CO2. I think that’s important to keep in mind, because it shows that glacial changes are not a simple function of the orbital configuration.”

    tags: harvard_gazette climate_change glaciers peter_huybers ice_age

  • Looking forward to reading Susan Cain’s forthcoming book. Signed, An Introvert.
    The New Groupthink has overtaken our workplaces, our schools and our religious institutions. Anyone who has ever needed noise-canceling headphones in her own office or marked an online calendar with a fake meeting in order to escape yet another real one knows what I’m talking about. Virtually all American workers now spend time on teams and some 70 percent inhabit open-plan offices, in which no one has “a room of one’s own.” During the last decades, the average amount of space allotted to each employee shrank 300 square feet, from 500 square feet in the 1970s to 200 square feet in 2010.

    Our schools have also been transformed by the New Groupthink. Today, elementary school classrooms are commonly arranged in pods of desks, the better to foster group learning. Even subjects like math and creative writing are often taught as committee projects. In one fourth-grade classroom I visited in New York City, students engaged in group work were forbidden to ask a question unless every member of the group had the very same question.
    If you’re not mouthing a silent “ugh!” at that last paragraph, you’re not one of us!
    Check out her remarks on the internet:
    The one important exception to this dismal record [of brainstorming’s failures] is electronic brainstorming, where large groups outperform individuals; and the larger the group the better. The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.

    tags: introverts susan_cain nyt psychology groupthink

  • Fascinating article on Robert Hughes’s take on Rome. The closing section deals with the negative effects of mass tourism.
    But the threats to Rome’s survival did not slink away with the Nazis. Two ruthless forces menace the city today, and Hughes is fierce in attacking them both. One is mass tourism, by now such a significant force in the Roman economy that it seems unlikely to come under control. The other is mass indifference, brought on by the distractions of contemporary life. Indifference is hardly a modern invention. Alaric and the Visigoths rampaged through Rome in 410 without giving a care to its beauties or its cultural significance. The German Landesknecht mercenaries who sacked the city in 1527 occasionally thought of themselves as religious crusaders, but any motives other than bloodlust and greed were really afterthoughts. Steve Jobs and Silvio Berlusconi have taken different tacks; but they, too, are old news in Rome. The ancients were also obsessed with decorative gadgetry, and perhaps an outmoded clepsydra, or water clock, looked as sad to them as an outmoded Mac today. As for Berlusconi’s bimbos, the ancient playwright Terence complained already in the first century BCE about losing his audience to the rope dancer in the theater next door.

    tags: ingrid_rowland nyrb robert_hughes rome tourism arthistory

  • Brilliant explanation of just how bad SOPA and PIPA are.

    tags: video khan_academy sopa pipa government internet

  • Great insights from Adam Gopnik. Loved these passages, near the end of the article, especially regarding a technology’s descent from omnipresence to …just something:
    Now television [once the object of jeremiads about the disintegration of modern life] is the harmless little fireplace over in the corner, where the family gathers to watch “Entourage.” TV isn’t just docile; it’s positively benevolent. This makes you think that what made television so evil back when it was evil was not its essence but its omnipresence. Once it is not everything, it can be merely something. The real demon in the machine is the tirelessness of the user. A meatless Monday has advantages over enforced vegetarianism, because it helps release the pressure on the food system without making undue demands on the eaters. In the same way, an unplugged Sunday is a better idea than turning off the Internet completely, since it demonstrates that we can get along just fine without the screens, if only for a day.
    And: “Thoughts are bigger than the things that deliver them.” Truer words (etc etc)…

    tags: adam_gopnik newyorker internet socialcritique

  • Illuminating article on how the phrase “one nation under God” snuck its way back onto dollars…

    Atheism looks better every day… I mean, “Christian Libertarianism”? The implied concept of submission reminds me of *other* religious fundamentalisms, none of which are any good.
    Christianity, in Mr. Fifield’s interpretation, closely resembled capitalism, as both were systems in which individuals rose or fell on their own. The welfare state, meanwhile, violated most of the Ten Commandments. It made a “false idol” of the federal government, encouraged Americans to covet their neighbors’ possessions, stole from the wealthy and, ultimately, bore false witness by promising what it could never deliver.

    Throughout the 1930s and ’40s, Mr. Fifield and his allies advanced a new blend of conservative religion, economics and politics that one observer aptly anointed “Christian libertarianism.”

    tags: nyt socialcritique kevin_kruse religion libertarianism

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


January 18, 2012 at 9:45 am | In copywrong, guerilla_politics, politics, web | 1 Comment

In lieu of changing code in my header template (not even sure I can do that with a multi-user [MU] WordPress blog like this one) which would black out this blog completely, I’m instead posting a small badge as a reminder to keep pushing Congress to do the right thing.

As the Oatmeal points out, do it for the jet skis and the kittens.

For a more detailed analysis, check out Doc Searls‘s commentary.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

January 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm | In links | 1 Comment
  • Interesting article about the Boston foodie culture, and how it measures up to other cities.

    tags: restaurants boston foodies

  • I looked at the video included here, and I thought, “this is simultaneously retarded and brilliant.” Chris Burden reminded me of Robert Moses (implied in Burden’s artistic construct is an infrastructure for automated cars that can easily obliterate any neighborhood in its vicinity), and at the same time I think he’s on the right track (no pun intended) in predicting the end of driver-controlled driving. So, on 2nd thought, scratch “brilliant”…
    “It’s a hopeful future,” Burden says. “Cars will have an average speed of 240 miles per hour as soon as Google gets all their cars up and running. Because the future of automobile transportation is that there won’t be drivers anymore.”

    tags: atlantic_cities chris_burden cars infrastructure sculpture installations video

  • I left a comment on this:
    Not every society reacts to pedestrian congestion the same way. A recent comparison of Germans and Indians revealed that although people from both cultures walk “in a similar manner” when alone, their behavior varies greatly in the presence of others. As one might expect given the densities of their respective countries, Indians need less personal space than Germans do, according to the researchers. As a result, when Germans encountered traffic during a walking experiment, they decreased speed more rapidly than Indians did. “Surprisingly the more unordered behaviour of the Indians is more effective than the ordered behaviour of the Germans,” the study concludes [PDF].
    My comment:
    Re. the Germans slowing down when in a crowd vs the Indians not lessening their pace as much: I’m really curious to know whether Moussaid’s research has anything to say on who arrives at their destination most efficiently / quickly? Is it more efficient to act counter-intuitively to your body “needs” and just to continue plowing through a crowd, body contact and all, even if your acquired cultural norms demand more distance? Since the study says the “unordered” behavior is more effective, it suggests it does get the job of moving from A to B done more efficiently, yes? This is fascinating, I think.

    tags: cities atlantic_cities eric_jaffe walking pedestrians socialtheory

  • Interesting. Evidence suggests the opposite of what most people have been conditioned to believe (that public transit allows crime to seep into neighborhoods).
    The fear that crime follows transit – or worse, that transit breeds crime – is a common one. The general public is often quick to assign causality whenever a crime takes place in or around a transit station. Anecdotal theories are many: transit stations attract city criminals to a new population of victims; criminals can linger at public stations freely without suspicion; travelers may not be familiar with their surroundings and therefore susceptible to crimes. But the empirical studies are few, and many of those that do exist have found no transit-crime connection.

    A new report in the December issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs goes a step further and suggests that not only do transit stations fail to increase crime – they may even impede it.

    tags: transit crime cities atlantic_cities eric_jaffe

  • I wrote about the same thing on my blog recently, with respect to the neighborhood centers in Portland OR: the really successful ones draw in plenty of visitors from *outside* the immediate neighborhood, and they become attractions for people from surrounding areas. See:… and scroll down to the section “Hungry and hungrier”…
    For the formula [of walkable, viable neighborhood commercial centers] to work, the businesses must also be large enough to draw some customers from outside the neighborhood:

    The tricky part is that the business concentration needed to encourage walking appears to be larger than most neighborhood residential populations can support. Given that, suburban regions should focus both on fostering pedestrian centers and on knitting those centers together with transportation networks, though such networks need not accommodate only cars.
    To be read in conjunction with Why Do Some Neighborhoods Get Overrun With Chain Stores, While Others Don’t?…

    tags: urban_design walkability retail atlantic_cities kaid_benfield

  • An argument for making neighborhoods/ streets “nicer” as a means of returning power to residents so that crime is lessened.
    Did these neighborhoods become safer because better housing telegraphed to the residents that their communities were valuable?

    “If there is crime in an upscale neighborhood, everybody would come together, people would be up in arms, they’d demand the police pay attention, they’d say ‘let’s get more patrols in here!’” Cahill says. “Low-income residents in a lot of poor areas, they’ve just given up on the police, they’re not treated well by the police. They feel like the problems are too large for them to address. This is returning that sense of power to the residents, increasing the community’s capacity to do something about their situation.”

    tags: crime urban_design atlantic_cities housing

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

How to avoid getting bumped

January 9, 2012 at 10:23 pm | In Portland | 2 Comments

How to avoid getting bumped? Get there earlier.

Today I was bumped from two events I had hoped to attend. It was my fault, solely: I misjudged how committed Portland residents are to local events.

First, I wanted to sign up to Creative Mornings‘ Portland event, ROUND TABLE WITH THE ADX CREW & COMMUNITY, which was slated to go live for ticket registration at 9am this morning. When I arrived at 10am, the event was already sold out. I got bumped to the wait list. (And, this, for an event at 8:30am on Friday the 13th…)

But I really wanted to learn more about ADX Portland, the folks scheduled to present at this particular Creative Mornings. Some other time, I guess… 😉

Next, I wanted to attend an event co-sponsored by the Portland City Club and Portland Monthly Magazine, Bright Lights: Discussions on the City with John Jay, global creative director for Wieden + Kennedy. The event was this evening – but when I got there at start time, the venue was packed, with an overflow crowd plugging up the entry. Couldn’t get in for love or money. Well, here’s hoping it’ll be on Vimeo soon… And next time? Get there earlier!

I briefly consoled myself with another unexpected Portland art gem in my neighborhood: a tiny (unmanned?) art gallery in what looks like a converted garage, up on Mississippi, just north of Prost/ Skidmore: good: an art gallery. The photo, below, gives an indication of its visual heft, albeit without conveying its aural dimension (there was music on the sidewalk)…

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

January 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Yes! Thank you Austin Williams. Chalk me up as another human tired of misanthropy.
    Q: In your book you argue that instead of worrying about the unsustainable growth of cities we should embrace urbanisation. Why?

    A: People are not the problem, they are the solution, but sadly we seem to have conceded that humans are the cause of the planet’s imminent demise. Sustainability has become a cloak for this misanthropic attitude. It suggests that we are a drain on resources, a harmful influence.
    Raising yourself above the immediate relationship with nature is a noble—and reasonably universal—one.

    tags: austin_williams urbanism cities

  • Fascinating look at tactical urbanism.
    City-making may have happened all at once at the desks of master planners like Daniel Burnham or Robert Moses, but that’s really not the way things happen today. No single master plan can anticipate the evolving and varied needs of an increasingly diverse population or achieve the resiliency, responsiveness and flexibility that shorter-term, experimental endeavors can. Which is not to say long-term planning doesn’t have its place. The two work well hand in hand. Mike Lydon, founding principal of The Street Plans Collaborative, argues for injecting spontaneity into urban development, and sees these temporary interventions (what he calls “tactical urbanism”) as short-term actions to effect long-term change.
    “We’re seeing a lot of these things emerge for three reasons,” Lydon continues. “One, the economy. People have to be more creative about getting things done. Two, the Internet. Even four or five years ago we couldn’t share tactics and techniques via YouTube or Facebook. Something can happen randomly in Dallas and now we can hear about it right away. This is feeding into this idea of growth, of bi-coastal competition between New York and San Francisco, say, about who does the cooler, better things. And three, demographic shifts. Urban neighborhoods are gentrifying, changing. They’re bringing in people looking to improve neighborhoods themselves. People are smart and engaged and working a 40-hour week. But they have enough spare time to get involved and this seems like a natural step.”

    tags: nyt allison_arieff architecture tactical_urbanism urban_design urbanplanning urban_renewal pop_up

  • As an art history major (all the way to PhD), I approve of this message… Virginia Postrel nails it:
    The skills that still matter are the habits of mind I honed in the classroom: how to analyze texts carefully, how to craft and evaluate arguments, and how to apply microeconomic reasoning, along with basic literacy in accounting and statistics. My biggest regret isn’t that I didn’t learn Fortran, but that I didn’t study Dante.

    tags: virginia_postrel arthistory economy college trends bloomberg

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

A new year: what’s my tree?

January 1, 2012 at 8:52 pm | In authenticity, creativity, just_so | 1 Comment

Today I have no weekly Diigo links post on offer – I spent so much time on the road, and then resettling back into having the kids “home,” that reading fell by the wayside.

Note the scare quotes around the word home… We’re all quite unsettled, living in temporarily rented furnished quarters, without any of our familiar stuff  (utensils, tools, books, and/or equipment). It’s a bit like camping, albeit somewhat more comfortable.

But settled it ain’t.

The crush of what’s called The Holiday Season, spent alone, weighed much less heavily on the spouse and me, and consequently we felt quite liberated. But it wasn’t that much fun to drive around on Christmas Day, increasingly desperate as we looked for an open restaurant …knowing on top of it that the next day we would get up early so we could drive to Vancouver to meet our daughter at the airport (and the next day, our son)…

There’s a word that comes to mind – not one I particularly like since it has been associated with bad politics, but here it is: deracinated. I currently feel deracinated because of course I am uprooted (I’m totally in flux).

While you can uproot yourself anytime, doing so at the end of December – The Holiday Season – undeniably throws a peculiar seasoning into the mix. On the one hand, I experienced feelings of relief at being off the hook with regard to conforming to holiday rituals I can’t stand or believe in anyway, but on the other there was just a smidgen of regret at having my “fluxity” or deracination coincide with a seasonal marker that insists on traditions and O Christmas Tree roots…

Man-oh-man, the damn tree. Even in my non-Christian childhood household, the tree ruled – a veritable power-plant, no pun intended…

But on the question of power and energy, consider this: when I was pregnant with the first off-spring (and then again with the second), I had enough energy or strength to uproot trees. Seriously: I was a goddamn Amazon.

Of course, these days I think that I’d kill to have those energy levels because so often I feel like I’m stagnating as opposed to growing (like a tree). But that metaphor of uprooting trees interests me. Translate the phrase to German (that land from whence the Christmas tree hails), and “feeling strong enough to uproot trees” is: ich könnte Bäume ausreissen, and it’s a common expression.

Tear that tree out by its roots (deracinate yourself, ’cause change is good) …but then be sure to put it on display and pimp it out with lights. Because nothing says “change it up!” better than a tree that’s …well, you know: all lit up. It’s unnatural, when you think about it. But ever so human.

It’s a symbol. The uprooted tree, decked out in lights: a metaphor of your energy, and your (possibly aggressive?) ability to plant yourself (procreate) wherever you need be. A marker of your brand (lit up, pimped out, gorgeous), and simultaneously a memento of what you used to be: stuck in one place, rooted – before a human bent on deracination decided that designing nature would improve on it. How right she was.

The tree is dead. Long live the tree.

Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
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