You’ve been owned

October 29, 2012 at 11:01 am | In copywrong, politics | Comments Off on You’ve been owned

I’m supporting Demand Progress and others to support Supap Kirtsaeng in the Kirtsaeng vs John Wiley & Sons case.

You've been owned

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

October 29, 2012 at 10:50 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Provocative talk by Kent Larson. Covers “mobility on demand”; land utilization (which is better with shared vehicles); how to get 7 vehicles into the “space” of 1; democratizing access to bike lanes; re-thinking housing by probing development of micro-units and creating “technology enabled infill” (furnishings); approaching apartment infill (furnishings/ walls/ etc.) like vehicles, building robotic walls, etc. Larson notes that architects have been thinking about this for a while, and that what we need now are developments that can scale (meet demand in China, eg.). Most interesting take also on “personalizing sunlight.” Concludes: cities are all about people; what we need to focus on are people.
    In this TEDPrize City 2.0 talk Kent Larson, director of the MIT Media Lab Changing Places’ group, tackles the problems of increased congestion and pollution with new models for urban dwellings, shared-use vehicles, and responsive environments.
    See also tags: tedx kent_larson boston cities development video youtube

  • Another great article from Placemakers. Seven points, explained. See article:
    1. Good governance
    2. Walkable, connected, mixed-use character
    3. Parks and gardens
    4. Partnerships
    5. Programming
    6. Neighborhood-responsive schools
    7. Tree culture
    In sustainability’s triple bottom line of profits, planet and people, it’s people that tend to get the shaft. There’s an entire industry surrounding environmental advocacy and we can always count on business interests to fight for stable economies, but what about the social resilience of our communities?

    Personally, I consider the social leg to be the most critical, as I’m unconvinced that we’ll ever be able to effectively handle the challenges of the other two — especially at the local level in times of turmoil and change — in the absence of the rich social interdependencies that used to define us.

    Get reconnected first. Then save the planet and the economy.

    tags: scott_doyon placemakers urbanplanning liveability

  • Another great article, point-by-point form, with excellent visual comparisons, on the compensation analysis of placemaking:
    1. Pedestrian Propulsion
    2. Downtown Living
    3. Small Yard (or no Yard)
    4. Small Dwelling
    5. Master on the Main
    6. Freeway Removal
    7. Parking Deck
    (see article for full details and images)
    Call it “Fair Trade Placemaking” — complementing the quantifiable measures of economics with the qualitative ones people use in their ultimate perceptions of value.

    tags: placemakers nathan_norris urbanplanning cities liveability

  • Great article that outlines six ways that density and walkability pays:
    1. Building Equity: Commercial and Home Values
    2. Building City Coffers: Increased Tax Base and Decreased Costs
    3. Building Health: Cycling and Walking
    4. Building Connections: Social Capital
    5. Building Supply: Market Preference
    6. Decreasing Emissions: VMT and Gas Pump Bills

    tags: urbanism urbanplanning placemakers hazel_borys cities walkability trends

  • Interview with David Cay Johnston, author of The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use ‘Plain English’ to Rob You Blind. Must-read. Why are we so ignorant of what has been happening? One reason:
    SP: If this has been such a dramatic occurrence, why has the media failed to cover what’s happening?

    DCJ: We used to cover more of this, but the fastest disappearing job in America is journalist. In some cities 75 percent of the reporting jobs are gone. These deals also require journalists with high levels of skills who understand government, regulation, taxes and lobbying, but journalism wages are falling fast. One study showed the average reporter pay is now the national average for all jobs. Consultants have also told newspapers for years that readers want soft features and beautiful layouts more than hard news, which is expensive to produce. That our society worships corporations and the rich also detracts from serious coverage.

    SP: People aren’t exactly revolting against the system. What would compel the American people who believe as you do to act to change how the marketplace works?

    DCJ: Knowledge. If you do not know that you are being ripped off, and how, then you cannot focus yourself and others on a response. What I write about in THE FINE PRINT should have been page one news in papers across the country –and had it been many of these outrages would have been stopped. Information is power. The companies that profit from the new rules and laws know that so they work very hard to make things obscure and, if they become known to make them sound complicated. As I show, though, once you understand the principles it is all easy to understand.

    tags: capitalism david_cay_johnston smartplanet corporatism scandal

  • Thoughtful article about strip malls, and how they could be re-structured to resemble boulevards.
    While both the arterial and the multi-way boulevard handle lots of traffic, give stores parking in front, and serve as regional commercial corridors, the subtle difference of a connected high-quality pedestrian realm versus the disconnected individual access of a strip mall actually ends up producing a very striking contrast. Here is what the multi-way boulevard allows:

    The connected, pedestrian friendly sidewalk near the store encourages walking.
    Encouraged walkers will park once and access more stores and other land uses, thus reducing car trips on the faster moving center lanes.
    Happy pedestrian environments attract other possible building uses including office, hotels, and even residential.
    Because the parking lane is accessed at one point (at the beginning of every block) rather than at every parcel, there are fewer accesses interrupting the faster moving center lanes which makes traffic engineers and motorists happy.
    Stores that are asked to move up to the sidewalk and be more “livable” still get some parking in front of the store (with the rest in the rear for longer term and overflow parking).
    And the ultimate advantage? Economic development. The more attractive boulevard builds value for the municipality, increases livability, increases tax base per infrastructure, and becomes a destination for visitors. (Hey, apparently anyone can build a big dumb arterial street).

    tags: boulevards stripmalls urbanplanning placemakers geoff_dyer

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

Canada’s fateful next step

October 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm | In canada, green, justice, politics, resources, scandal | Comments Off on Canada’s fateful next step

Canada’s government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is about to sign into law a new trade agreement with China. The agreement has had no public input by the Canadian people or their elected representatives. One can only suppose that it’s designed to enrich Canada’s corporate class. It certainly impoverishes Canada’s democracy.

As The Tyee, in an article entitled Chairman Harper put it:

By Nov. 1 three of China’s national oil companies will have more power to shape Canada’s energy markets as well as challenge the politics of this country than Canadians themselves. And you can thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper for this economic treason. (source)

Read the article for more details, each of which is more stunning than the last. This agreement, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA), marks “Canada’s formal entry into the ranks of dysfunctional petro states,” as The Tyee puts it.

If you’re concerned about this and you’re Canadian, please sign LeadNow’s petition, Stop the Sell-Out – Canada is NOT for Sale.

The following is the response I received from Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada’s Green Party and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands:

Thank you for your interest in the Canada-China Investment Treaty. Although Stephen Harper prefers to keep Canadians in the dark about this Agreement’s grave implications for our sovereignty, security, and democracy, I am hopeful that we can force the issue into daylight. Your letter proves that you recognize the seriousness and urgency of what is about to take place behind our backs.

While the Canada-China Investment Treaty will likely be our most significant treaty since NAFTA, Stephen Harper plans to sign it into law as early as November 2nd, 2012, without any public consultation, any consultation with First Nations, any Parliamentary debate, or even a single vote in the House of Commons. I do not accept such blatant disrespect for either the will of Canadians or for our democratic institutions.

Sadly, in addition to the anti-democratic process to approve this Agreement, it is the actual content of this investment deal with which I am most concerned. For the first time in Canadian history, the Canada-China Investment Treaty will allow investors (including Chinese state-owned enterprises such as CNOOC or Sinopec), to claim damages against the Canadian government in secret, for decisions taken at the municipal, provincial, territorial or federal level that result in a reduction of their expectation of profits. Even decisions of Canadian courts can give rise to damages.

Realizing what the Conservatives were attempting to do, in secret and without debate, and realizing that we will be bound by this destructive Agreement for up to 31 years once it is ratified, on October 1st, 2012, I made a request in the House of Commons for an Emergency Debate to allow Canada’s democratically elected Members of Parliament to study the implications of the Canada-China Investment Treaty.

Although my request for an Emergency Debate was regrettably denied, we have not given up and are continuing to pursue all available options to stop the treaty’s approval. Given what is at stake, we hope that you will join us.

In addition to the tools found on our Canada-China Investment Treaty campaign site at, I urge you to push back against this sell-out of our sovereignty, security, and democracy, and help to educate Canadians by talking to your friends and neighbours, writing letters to the editor in local and national newspapers, calling in to talk radio shows, and filling up the comment boards of news website.

Crucially, this is not a partisan issue, and it is only by coming together to stand up for Canada that we will succeed in stopping this agreement.


Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada

I am so glad that May and Canada’s Greens are paying attention, and that the NDP is now also on board with stopping this incredible sell-out of Canada and its resources. Canadians: hewers of wood and carriers of water forever, eh? In whose interest, exactly?


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