robertogreco + cars   297

Angie Schmitt 🚶‍♀️🚴‍♀️ 🚌 on Twitter: "If Uber and Lyft just went away over night (🤞🏼), vehicle traffic would decline 7% in D.C., 13% in San Francisco and 8% in Suffolk County (Boston). That is insane. https://t.co/jU46WKF2Bo" /
“If Uber and Lyft just went away over night (🤞🏼), vehicle traffic would decline 7% in D.C., 13% in San Francisco and 8% in Suffolk County (Boston).
That is insane.
https://medium.com/uber-under-the-hood/learning-more-about-how-our-roads-are-used-today-bde9e352e92c

Before anyone starts trying to mansplain Lyft and Uber to me, I know my shit.
Please read this first, which responds to all the common defenses of Uber and explains why, actually, no, it’s still bad.
https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/02/04/all-the-bad-things-about-uber-and-lyft-in-one-simple-list/

Uber and Lyft are used by poor people without alternatives! No. [image]

People use Uber and Lyft because transit is bad! NO.
People use Uber and Lyft almost exclusively where transit is GOOD.
Everywhere else, people mostly own their own cars have no use for Lyft except airport, maybe night of drinking if they have $$$$. [image]

The people who are clogging up our most congested cities in Uber and Lyfts are wealthy consultant types billing their companies and otherwise lots of them would be on the train. Bottom line.

Uber and Lyft help people with disabilities! Disabilities rights advocates had to sue them to even get them to accommodate wheelchairs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
https://www.accessliving.org/Uber-ADA-Lawsuit-Continues

Uber and Lyft reduce car ownership! No. A Chicago booth study found they INCREEASE vehicle registrations because they encourage would-be drivers to purchase cars.
https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/10/24/study-uber-and-lyft-are-increasing-traffic-deaths/
uber  lyft  cities  transportation  publictransit  2019  angieschmitt  cars  traffic  disabilities  inequality  safety  accessibility 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Beware the ethical car - macwright.org
"On Tuesday, Lyft released a dataset for self-driving car development, along with a blog post. Here’s a snippet:
Avoidable collisions, single-occupant commuters, and vehicle emissions are choking our cities, while infrastructure strains under rapid urban growth.

And that translates to an efficient ecosystem of connected transit, bikes, scooters, and shared rides from drivers as well as self-driving cars. Solving the autonomous vehicle challenge is not just an option — it’s a necessity.

And then the CEO’s quote:
Not only can self-driving tech save two lives every single minute, it is essential to combat climate change by allowing people to ditch their cars for shared electric transportation. Lyft is committed to leading this transportation revolution.

Here’s what’s they’re doing: by co-opting the language of climate change, companies are going to try and make cars ethical.

Evidence so far

We should be wary. First, because ridesharing has already claimed to reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and has done the opposite.

See, Lyft claimed in 2015 that their service harmonized with public transit, rather than competed with it. That didn’t work out. Not only have they stolen trips from public transit, they’ve reduced support for transit and replaced walking & biking trips, too. They’ve increased traffic deaths by 2-3%, while increasing the number of cars on the streets.

Improved cars are a suspiciously convenient change agenda

California, eager to top its subsidy of mansions as blindingly regressive policy, decided to subsidize electric cars to the tune of $7,500 each, in the form of a tax credit. Tax credits, of course, are wealth transfer from some taxpayers to others: and in this case, we’re transferring our money to the deserving buyers of $90,000 sports cars.

That isn’t enough: we also allowed electric cars to drive in HOV lanes for years, until too many did so, traffic built up again, and the perk was removed.

While we subsidize the rich, we subsidize public transit less than almost everywhere else and make a grisly show of cracking down on fare evasion.

Space and selfishness

Lyft links to two articles in their blog post - one to a Washington Post ‘brand studio’ (sponsored, ghostwritten) article, and the other to The Atlantic. The Washington Post article is there to substantiate the climate change claim and here’s the crux of its argument:
Fulton’s analysis found little societal or environmental benefit from driverless vehicles unless they are both electric and shared.

Which brings us to the question of self-driving technology: will it be used for shared, communal transit like public transit works today, or will it be a way for rich people to have private luxury rooms?

All current signs point to the worse scenario. Here’s the carpooling, from the Washington Post article:
Carpooling peaked during the 1970s energy crisis, then dropped to 9 percent in 2014 from 20 percent in 1980.

Here’s what Elon Musk thinks of public transit.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”

Would Musk encourage people to carpool in their self-driving Teslas? Do serial killers own Teslas? This hasn’t been an issue so far, because Tesla owners can drive by themselves in carpool lanes.

Or consider how people reacted to increasing vehicle efficiency, and were given the choice: save the environment, or bigger cars?
The global S.U.V. boom is a roadblock in the march toward cleaner cars that has been aided by advances in fuel-saving technology and hybrid or electric vehicles. Compared to smaller cars, S.U.V.s are less efficient, generally by about 30 percent.

*******

Cars are a broken format. We shouldn’t give them a lifeline, or a new coat of paint, and society shouldn’t find a way to assuage the guilt that surrounds them.

Sure, cars should be electric. There are a lot of places in the world where transportation infrastructure isn’t sufficient and cars are the native transportation medium. Maybe they should be self-driving too, if the technology is safer than human drivers. Right now, it isn’t.

But to a large extent this is a zero-sum problem. Ridesharing already has substantially hurt public transit. The blue sky dream of self-driving cars is spawning galaxy-brain reckons like replacing the subway with underground highways, or replacing the subway with tunnels. These dreams are built around selfishness: they always offer private pods flying through space. Hyperloop promotional material portrays it as an alternative to being on the surface, with all those other people.

Avoiding climate catastrophe is obviously necessary, and we should consider all the options. But it’s hard to believe in car-centric solutions that don’t come with a vision of social and cultural change."
cars  carpooling  carsharing  lyft  uber  elonmusk  electriccars  transportation  transit  publictransit  climatechange  technology  technosolutionism  space  selfishness  society  globalwarming  ethics  ridesharing  california  subsidies  policy  highspeedrail  trains  hovlanes  suvs  emissions  hyperloop  tommacwright 
july 2019 by robertogreco
The Philosophy of Low-Tech: A Conversation with Kris De Decker : Never Apart
“In a way, to talk about low-tech is more of a critical position. “Low-tech mainly questions the idea that ‘more tech is always better’.” Many proposed solutions are about adding more and more complexity. “Look at what we’re trying to do with cars,” says Kris. “The car is creating problems, so we make electric cars. We add layers and layers of complexity, by making it self-driving, putting even more infrastructure around it… that’s not going to solve the problem. It’s only going to make the problem worse. You introduce more complexities, you need to repair more afterwards.””
lowtech  krisdedecker  criticism  criticalthinking  growth  cars  2019  electriccars  low-tech  low-techmagazine 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Car Crashes Aren't Always Unavoidable - The Atlantic
"The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives."

...

"Further entrenching automobile supremacy are laws that require landowners who build housing and office space to build housing for cars as well. In large part because of parking quotas, parking lots now cover more than a third of the land area of some U.S. cities; Houston is estimated to have 30 parking spaces for every resident. As the UCLA urban-planning professor Donald Shoup has written, this mismatch flows from legal mandates rather than market demand. Every employee who brings a car to the office essentially doubles the amount of space he takes up at work, and in urban areas his employer may be required by law to build him a $50,000 garage parking space.

For those who didn’t get the message from the sprawling landscape that zoning has created, the tax code sharpened it by lavishing rewards on those who drive and punishing those who don’t. On its own terms, the mortgage-interest tax deduction is neutral as to the type of home financed, but—given the twin constraints of zoning and mortgage lending—the deduction primarily subsidizes large houses in car-centric areas. Those who walk or bike to work receive no commuter tax benefit, while those who drive receive tax-deductible parking. Another provision of the tax code gives car buyers a tax rebate of up to $7,500 when their new vehicles are electric or hybrid; buyers of brand-new Audis, BMWs, and Jaguars can claim the full $7,500 from the American taxpayer. Environmentally, these vehicles offer an improvement over gas-powered cars (but not public or active transit). Even so, 85 to 90 percent of toxic vehicle emissions in traffic come from tire wear and other non-tailpipe sources, which electric and hybrid cars still produce. They also still contribute to traffic, and can still kill or maim the people they hit. Why are we taxing bus riders to pay rich people to buy McMansions and luxury electric SUVs?"

...

"
Tort law is supposed to allow victims to recover for harms caused by others. Yet the standard of liability that applies to car crashes—ordinary negligence—establishes low expectations of how safe a driver must be. Courts have held that a higher standard—strict liability, which forces more careful risk taking—does not apply to driving. Strict liability is reserved for activities that are both “ultrahazardous” and “uncommon”; driving, while ultrahazardous, is among the most common activities in American life. In other words, the very fact that car crashes cause so much social damage makes it hard for those who are injured or killed by reckless drivers to receive justice.

In a similar spirit, criminal law has carved out a lesser category uniquely for vehicular manslaughter. Deep down, all of us who drive are afraid of accidentally killing someone and going to jail; this lesser charge was originally envisioned to persuade juries to convict reckless drivers. Yet this accommodation reflects a pattern. Even when a motorist kills someone and is found to have been violating the law while doing so (for example, by running a red light), criminal charges are rarely brought and judges go light. So often do police officers in New York fail to enforce road-safety rules—and illegally park their own vehicles on sidewalks and bike facilities—that specific Twitter accounts are dedicated to each type of misbehavior. Given New York’s lax enforcement record, the Freakonomics podcast described running over pedestrians there as “the perfect crime.”"

...

"All of these laws can be reversed directly by the legislative bodies responsible for passing them in the first place. However, a growing body of academic research suggests that, even when most people favor less restrictive zoning, local officials will side with wealthy homeowners who favor the status quo. In these cases, state legislators can be called upon to help. Reformers have succeeded in doing so in Oregon and have shown promise in California. Far less attention has been paid, however, at the federal level. Recently, several Democratic candidates for president have released federal plans to prod states and cities to relax their zoning.

Congress could condition a small share (say, 5 percent) of federal funds on the adoption by states of housing-production goals or Vision Zero design standards calibrated for safety. Conditional appropriations, which are how Congress goaded states into raising the drinking age, are already in use for numerous transportation programs.

Litigation for dangerous street design is another promising way to hold public entities accountable. So far, plaintiffs have mostly sought money damages, but they can also seek design changes through injunctive relief, including by class action. This has the potential to move not only laws and budgets but the entire discourse around street safety.

Finally, reformers could seek recognition of the freedom to walk. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act and state and local counterparts, as well as case law recognizing a constitutional right to movement, suggest such a right to mobility.

Americans customarily describe motor-vehicle crashes as accidents. But the harms that come to so many of our loved ones are the predictable output of a broken system of laws. No struggle for justice in America has been successful without changing the law. The struggle against automobile supremacy is no different."
2019  cars  law  zoning  accidents  insurance  policy  government  taxes  publictransit  pedestrians  parking  cities  urban  urbanism  transportation  transit  speedlimits  california  us  design  safety  health  risks  tortlaw  negligence  oregon  housing  litigation  gregoryshill 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Perpetual Motion Machines — Real Life
"The social impact could be broader than we expect. When we don’t have to look where we are going, we have to deliberately choose what we want to see. One of IDEO’s more radical visions of how automated vehicles could be used, the WorkOnWheels mobile office, is designed to allow employees to travel to new locations as they work. The pod contains office furniture and pull-down shades over the windows, letting workers choose which aspects of their surrounding environment they want to see, without having to visually process the travel in-between. Cityscapes become optional, consumable on demand rather than by necessity. Meanwhile, the mobile workplace’s controlled internal habitat would remain constant no matter where it was.

Such a vehicle would not have to travel any faster for us to perceive a dramatic reduction in travel time. The time once spent in vehicles inertly waiting to arrive could now be filled with the same sort of activities we’d be doing if we were already there — or had never left.

The opportunity to multitask while traveling could make the journey into the destination. Given the expanded possibilities of what one could do inside a vehicle, our existing distinctions between vehicles and buildings, between transit and destination, between static and mobile spaces, may begin to blur. Imagine commuting while sleeping, or socializing at happy hour while the bar transports you home. Imagine if a garage was also the car. If commuting entails being in a space that is functionally equivalent to being at home, one might eventually skip returning home, and commute perpetually. The journey to work could commence as soon we fall asleep. The idea of having a destination becomes as obsolete as drivers and cars. Highways would host listless roaming bedrooms, meandering through the night.

Our understanding of a house as a stable locus of physical and emotional shelter could become diluted. There would be no reason for homes to not also be vehicles. A range of new options for customizing these vehicle-home hybrids would emerge: Homes could be made up of modular docking pods, and specific rooms could be shared, swapped, rented out, or sent away for cleaning or restocking. Modern conveniences that we currently take for granted — such as being able to use a bathroom without needing to arrange for its presence in advance — could become tomorrow’s luxuries. The homeless would be the only people not constantly in motion, the people closest to retaining a fixed physical location called home. Stasis would become homelessness.

If vehicular interiors can accommodate the activities possible at most destinations — if the vehicle becomes a destination in and of itself, and destinations become other vehicles — the mediating experience of a journey between places would be eliminated. There will be no signs to point us anywhere. There would be no need to know directions, and no sense of what being “on the way” to somewhere looks or feels like. There will be no need to know how to get anywhere once we forget the concept of having anywhere to go."



"Once physical locations are rendered as abstract coordinates in a user interface, they effectively become arbitrary, as interchangeable as the retail spaces of big-box stores. The experience of inhabiting any particular interior space might become decoupled from its existence within a specific place, free from the baggage of associated historical and geographic context. Real estate would no longer need to be valued according to its location, because proximity would always be subject to change. Travel to visit or inhabit buildings still standing in fixed physical locations might join horses and antique cars as nostalgic hobbies for the wealthy.

Our memories of the spatial processions encountered while traveling through urban architecture — approaching the public facade of a building, the transition between the street and lobby, the awareness of landmark reference points on a skyline, the interstices between buildings — might eventually begin to fade. The experience of passing from one destination to another could become akin to watching the progress bar of a software download. Traveling to a different location, or having that location travel to you, would be more akin to updating an app.

The user interface for navigating space would no longer be a map, but a clock or calendar. Distances once traced on a map would be transmuted into blocks of time plotted on one’s daily schedule. Place would be synonymous with occasion, with movement through time corresponding to automatic movements through space. Frequent destinations such as “home” and “work” might transform into abstract zones differentiated mainly by when rather than where they happen. Our motives and desires would be foregrounded over the experience of traveling, shifting our conception of destinations to more closely resemble verbs rather than nouns. Your workout routine might take place in a different gym than it did the morning before, but you wouldn’t know the difference; they would be identically convenient. As soon as our scheduled time within one destination expired, we would be able to walk through a docking port into the next, like a cinematic cut skipping the passage of mundane events that might otherwise have unfolded between selected scenes.

Driverless passenger cars and delivery vehicles will further accelerate our current move to on-demand services that let us bypass those inconvenient interstitial moments of everyday life — walking to a store, standing in line, cooking a meal, and so on. The logistics of scheduling automated vehicles will ensure that even more of our time becomes consciously programmed and structured, optimized for maximum productivity. With each advance, our surrounding environment will become increasingly hostile to serendipity and chance meetings, known sources of creative breakthroughs.

Contemporary urban-planning guidelines are based on assumptions that the rich pedestrian life of a street or a park emerges from adjacencies with surrounding businesses. Driverless cars posit a possible future without street life and without spaces for spontaneity. As with previous planning mistakes in developing automotive-oriented cities, carmakers and technology companies are moving forward with their ideas without reckoning with the full range of potential social impacts. These futures must be imagined before they can be embraced or resisted. Otherwise driverless cars may steer society into a blind cul-de-sac, and we will discover we have nowhere left to go."
chenoeahrt  driverlesscars  2016  cities  transportation  cars  space  urban  urbanism  motion  movement  society  publicpsace 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Why The US Has No High-Speed Rail - YouTube
"China has the world’s fastest and largest high-speed rail network — more than 19,000 miles, the vast majority of which was built in the past decade.

Japan’s bullet trains can reach nearly 200 miles per hour and date to the 1960s. They have moved more than 9 billion people without a single passenger causality. casualty

France began service of the high-speed TGV train in 1981 and the rest of Europe quickly followed.

But the U.S. has no true high-speed trains, aside from sections of Amtrak’s Acela line in the Northeast Corridor. The Acela can reach 150 mph for only 34 miles of its 457-mile span. Its average speed between New York and Boston is about 65 mph.

California’s high-speed rail system is under construction, but whether it will ever get completed as intended is uncertain.

Watch the video to see why the U.S. continues to fail with high-speed trains, and some companies that are trying to fix that."
rails  trains  us  history  transportation  highspeedrail  2019  cars  lobbying  aviation  politics  policy  airlines  ideology  infrastructure  highspeed  rail 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Why we have grass lawns - Curbed
"With the invention of mechanical mowing, the lawn no longer required a small army of groundskeepers, and the once-unattainable lawn of the moneyed classes became available to the middle classes, which were now buying and building homes along streetcar lines outside of the city, in the first suburbs. The density of these suburbs relative to their later counterparts kept these lawns rather small, and the largest lawns tended to belong to those with large houses, keeping the big, grassy expanse aspirational.

With the massive car-based sprawl of the postwar era, the modern grassy, treeless lawn came into its own. The lawn, at this point, became part of American suburban culture: white and middle class, inextricable from the mundanities of conventional nuclear family life and the act of childrearing. Cold War paranoia placed a larger emphasis on surveillance in child-rearing, and the fenced-in, treeless backyard made it easier for parents to keep a continuous, watchful eye on their children.

Perhaps the most pervasive myth of the lawn is the oft-touted idea that lawns and fenced-in, grassy backyards are somehow safer or better for the activities of children than any alternative. This belief comes from a place of fear and isolationism. It subtly admonishes the decisions of non-suburban parents and erases the experiences of those children who grow up in the city or in rural areas. The idea that the woods or the city are unsafe for children is silly, as children have grown up in these environments for as long as people have lived in them. Rather than equipping children with the knowledge they need to be independent and adaptable to these environments, the de facto logic has been to eliminate all risk by only allowing children to play in a closed-off patch of turf grass.

Urban children may not have lawns, but they have public parks where they interact with other children from diverse backgrounds. Children (myself included) who grow up in rural places or near or in the woods are raised with information about the hazards of such environments and are taught the skills necessary to be self sufficient, such as plant and animal identification, navigation, first aid, and outdoor preparedness. The idea that children need a lawn, a cultural invention of the postwar era, is absurd.

Lawn care and horticulture are powerful industries whose future profits rely on the endurance of these myths and the persistent advance of sprawl. Many folks who enjoy the feeling of tending to land that the lawn gives them might scowl at me. The good news for people reading this and saying “what can I do?” is that wonderful alternatives to lawns are gaining momentum.

In desert climates, the most absurd places to have a lawn, xeriscaping—cultivating yards using native plants that require little irrigation—is becoming more and more popular because it saves time and resources. For others, taking space away from lawns and giving it to pollinator gardens, edible gardens, and vegetable beds, as well as gardening only with native plants that require much less fuss to keep alive, are great alternatives to the tyranny of the lawn, alternatives that not only save time, effort, resources, and money, but are good for the environment as well. Getting rid of turf grass and replacing it with native grasses, prairie, or whatever natural ground cover happens to be inherent to the place you live and that doesn’t require fertilization, pesticide use, or mowing is a great start. Allow native trees to grow, remove any invasive plants (sorry, folks, that means English ivy) from your yard, and the results will soon bear fruit, whether literally or figuratively, through the return of songbirds and pollinators to your outdoor space.

If you’re at all concerned about climate change and what you can do to help make the world a more habitable place for the millions of plants, animals, and people that live here, start by getting rid of your turf grass."
multispecies  plants  lawns  climate  ecology  monoculture  suburbia  2019  katewagner  cities  urban  urbanism  sustainability  xeriscaping  horticulture  children  safety  parks  cars 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
401(k)s, abortion, youth football: 15 things we do now that will be considered unthinkable in 50 years - Vox
[via: https://kottke.org/19/04/what-do-we-do-now-that-will-be-unthinkable-in-50-years ]

"Youth tackle football
Bosses
Eating meat
Conspicuous consumption
The drug war
The way we die
Banning sex work
401(k)s
Ending the draft
Facebook and Google
Abortion
Self-driving cars
Our obsession with rationality
Abandoning public education
The idea of a “wrong side of history”



"Some 50 years ago, in 1964, 42 percent of Americans smoked cigarettes. Smoking in bars and offices was normal and cigarettes were given to soldiers as part of military rations. Half of American physicians smoked. Ads for cigarettes bombarded the American public. That year, the surgeon general released a report outlining the health risks of smoking. Two years later, only 40 percent of Americans said that they believed smoking was a major cause of cancer.

Today, we know that smoking is bad for our health. We’ve banned smoking in most indoor public spaces. We stopped allowing tobacco companies to advertise and forced them to put warning labels on cigarette boxes. By 2001, 71 percent of the country said they recognized smoking was a major cause of cancer, and by 2017, the rate of smokers dropped to 14 percent. The habit is now looked at as a relic of the past, something we’ve come to accept as unquestionably harmful.

When we think about what common habits, social norms, or laws that are widely considered unthinkable in today’s world, a variety of past atrocities come to mind. We could point to bloodletting, Jim Crow-era segregation, and drinking and driving as being on the “wrong side” of history.

But what modern practices will we one day think of as barbaric? It’s a framework invoked frequently in political or scientific beliefs: Actor Harrison Ford recently said leaders who deny climate change are on the “wrong side of history.” President Barack Obama said Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine was on the “wrong side of history.” Filmmaker Spike Lee said that President Donald Trump himself is on the “wrong side of history.”

So what, by 2070 — some 50 years in the future — will join this group? We asked 15 thinkers, writers, and advocates to take their best guess.

Bioethicist Peter Singer says people will stop the habit of conspicuous consumption. “The ostentatious display of wealth, in a world that still has many people in need, is not in good taste. Within 50 years, we’ll wonder how people did not see that,” he writes.

Historian Jennifer Mittelstadt predicts that our volunteer army will be widely considered a mistake: “Fifty years from now Americans will observe with shock the damage to both foreign policy and domestic institutions wrought by our acceptance of an increasingly privatized, socially isolated, and politically powerful US military.”

For philosopher Jacob T. Levy, the very idea of there being a “wrong side of history” is wrong itself.

Other answers range from kids playing tackle football to expecting workers to invest in 401(k)s."
us  future  obsolescence  barbarity  draft  cars  self-drivingcars  retirement  saving  drugwar  football  americanfootball  conspicuousconsumption  capitalism  consumption  rationality  scientism  publiceducations  publicschools  schools  schooling  education  facebook  google  abortion  war  military  sexwork  death  dying  meat  food  howwelive  predictions  history  petersinger  kristatippett  jaboblevy  jennifermittelstadt  haiderwarraich  kathleenfrydl  meredithbroussard  chrisnowinski  adiaharveywingfield  bhaskarsunkara  horizontality  hierarchy  inequality  jacobhacker  economics  society  transportation 
april 2019 by robertogreco
‎The War on Cars on Apple Podcasts
"The War on Cars brings you news and commentary on the latest developments in the worldwide fight to undo a century's worth of damage wrought by the automobile and to make cities better. Hosted by Doug Gordon, Sarah Goodyear and Aaron Naparstek and produced by Curtis Fox. Music by Nathaniel Goodyear."
cars  podcasts  transportation  cities  urban  urbanism  douggordon  sarahgoodyear  aaronnaparstek  curtisfox 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
"Driving is ruining our lives, and triggering environmental disasters. Only drastic action will kick our dependency"



"One of these emergencies is familiar to every hospital. Pollution now kills three times as many people worldwide as Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Remember the claims at the start of this century, projected so noisily by the billionaire press: that public money would be better spent on preventing communicable disease than on preventing climate breakdown? It turns out that the health dividend from phasing out fossil fuels is likely to have been much bigger. (Of course, there was nothing stopping us from spending money on both: it was a false dilemma.) Burning fossil fuels, according to a recent paper, is now “the world’s most significant threat to children’s health”.

In other sectors, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen sharply. But transport emissions in the UK have declined by only 2% since 1990. The government’s legally binding target is an 80% cut by 2050, though even this, the science now tells us, is hopelessly inadequate. Transport, mostly because of our obsession with the private car, is now the major factor driving us towards climate breakdown, in this and many other nations.

The number of people killed on the roads was falling steadily in the UK until 2010, at which point the decline suddenly ended. Why? Because, while fewer drivers and passengers are dying, the number of pedestrians killed has risen by 11%. In the US, it’s even worse: a 51% rise in the annual death rate of pedestrians since 2009. There seem to be two reasons: drivers distracted by their mobile phones, and a switch from ordinary cars to sports-utility vehicles. As SUVs are higher and heavier, they are more likely to kill the people they hit. Driving an SUV in an urban area is an antisocial act.

There are also subtler and more pervasive effects. Traffic mutes community, as the noise, danger and pollution in busy streets drive people indoors. The places in which children could play and adults could sit and talk are reserved instead for parking. Engine noise, a great but scarcely acknowledged cause of stress and illness, fills our lives. As we jostle to secure our road space, as we swear and shake our fists at other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, as we grumble about speed limits and traffic calming, cars change us, enhancing our sense of threat and competition, cutting us off from each other.

New roads carve up the countryside, dispelling peace, creating a penumbra of noise, pollution and ugliness. Their effects spread for many miles. The deposition of reactive nitrogen from car exhaust (among other factors) changes the living systems even of remote fastnesses. In Snowdonia, it is dropped at the rate of 24kg per hectare per year, radically altering plant communities. Wars are fought to keep down the cost of driving: hundreds of thousands died in Iraq partly for this purpose. The earth is reamed with the mines required to manufacture cars and the oil wells needed to power them, and poisoned by the spills and tailings.

A switch to electric cars addresses only some of these issues. Already, beautiful places are being wrecked by an electric vehicle resource rush. Lithium mining, for example, is now poisoning rivers and depleting groundwater from Tibet to Bolivia. They still require a vast expenditure of energy and space. They still need tyres, whose manufacture and disposal (tyres are too complex to recycle) is a massive environmental blight.

We are told that cars are about freedom of choice. But every aspect of this assault on our lives is assisted by state planning and subsidy. Roads are built to accommodate projected traffic, which then grows to fill the new capacity. Streets are modelled to maximise the flow of cars. Pedestrians and cyclists are squeezed by planners into narrow and often dangerous spaces – the afterthoughts of urban design. If we paid for residential street parking at market rates for land, renting the 12m2 a car requires would cost around £3,000 a year in the richer parts of Britain. The chaos on our roads is a planned chaos.

Transport should be planned, but with entirely different aims: to maximise its social benefits, while minimising harm. This means a wholesale switch towards electric mass transit, safe and separate bike lanes and broad pavements, accompanied by a steady closure of the conditions that allow cars to rampage through our lives. In some places, and for some purposes, using cars is unavoidable. But for the great majority of journeys they can easily be substituted, as you can see in Amsterdam, Pontevedra and Copenhagen. We could almost eliminate them from our cities.

In this age of multiple emergencies – climate chaos, pollution, social alienation – we should remember that technologies exist to serve us, not to dominate us. It is time to drive the car out of our lives."
cars  georgemonbiot  2019  environment  safety  health  policy  transportation  emissions  freedom  climatechange  globalwarming  society  cities  urban  urbanism  isolation  pollution  alienation  masstransit 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Why the West Coast Is Suddenly Beating the East Coast on Transportation - The New York Times
"When Seattle’s King County Metro won the award in September, it was praised as “a system that is expanding and innovating to meet rising demand” — not to mention a program that offers lower fares for poor riders that has served as a model for New York and other cities. Transit ridership in Seattle is growing, and car use is down.

One key difference is the West Coast has the ballot measure, while New York State does not allow voters to directly approve measures like transit funding. In 2016, both Los Angeles County and the Seattle region approved measures to boost transportation funding. The Los Angeles proposal, known as Measure M, won nearly 70 percent of the vote, greenlighting $120 billion in spending by raising the sales tax.

“The ballot initiative allows them to proceed without the political angst you’d have in Albany,” said Jon Orcutt, a director at TransitCenter, a research group in New York. “It takes some pressure off politicians. The voters go out and do it, and that creates political cover.”

Los Angeles plans to build 100 new miles of rail — essentially doubling the Metro system, whose first rail line opened in 1990. There are now six lines and 93 stations. Huge machines recently began digging new tunnels for a Purple Line extension to the county’s Westside — part of a plan to attract younger people who are more likely to favor transit and worry about the environmental impact of cars.

“We had a political miracle,” Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, said in an interview. “A permanent 1-cent sales tax.”

Mr. Garcetti, a Democrat, hopes the new rail lines will boost transit ridership. The number of train and bus trips in Los Angeles has dropped in recent years, though he blamed that on low gas prices and national trends in declining transit ridership.

Mr. Garcetti makes a point of using the subway. He took the Red Line recently, from City Hall to MacArthur Park, to visit Langer’s for the city’s “best pastrami sandwich.” He is also deciding how best to regulate the electric scooters that have flooded Los Angeles."
losangeles  nyc  policy  politics  maintenance  repair  seattle  infrastructure  publictransit  transportation  subways  lightrail  cars  2019 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Very Slow Movie Player – Bryan Boyer – Medium
"Walking around Brasília some years ago I had the distinct feeling that I was doing it “wrong” because, of course, I was. The center of Brasilía is organized along the Exio Monumental, featuring an array of government and other important buildings that form a long spine. This is a place designed to be “read” at the speed of a vehicle, so taking in Brasília by foot is like watching a movie in slow motion. It turns out, both can be rewarding in unexpected ways.

With a little bit of patience, the details of both reveal unexpected and delightful moments. In Brasília, pedestrians are rewarded with an opportunity to discover the subtle variations between what look to be mega-scaled buildings. Rhythmic reflections and shadows bring surfaces to life under the tropical sunlight in beautiful and nuanced ways. Just don’t forget to put on sunscreen, because the distances are intended to be enjoyed from the comfort of a motor vehicle.

On the other hand, watching movies in slow-mo is not something that I’ve had experience with outside of seeing the occasional Bill Viola installation. Until, that is, I started to tinker with ePaper components and Javascript in the depth of Michigan winter, looking for a way to celebrate slowness.

Can a film be consumed at the speed of reading a book? Yes, just as a car city can be enjoyed on foot. Slowing things down to an extreme measure creates room for appreciation of the object, as in Brasília, but the prolonged duration also starts to shift the relationship between object, viewer, and context. A film watched at 1/3,600th of the original speed is not a very slow movie, it’s a hazy timepiece. A Very Slow Movie Player (VSMP) doesn’t tell you the time; it helps you see yourself against the smear of time.

I’ve described VSMP in more detail below, but watch this video [https://vimeo.com/307806967 ] explains it more readily."
bryanboyer  slow  film  brasília  brasilia  modernism  urban  urbanism  raspberrypi  class  diy  movies  billviola  vsmp  cars  travel  movement  time  moments 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Superblocks: How Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars - YouTube
"Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians."
cities  cars  transportation  pollution  2016  airpollution  noise  noisepollution  urban  urbanism  superblocks  urbanplanning  air  pedestrians  ildefonscerdà  classideas 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Chromeography
[via: https://buttondown.email/robinrendle/archive/2af7d428-6961-46be-b34b-966f8fe01290 ]

"In praise of the chrome logos and lettering affixed to vintage automobiles and electric appliances — those unsung metal emblems and badges that are overlooked, forgotten, damaged, lost to time or the dump."
typography  lettering  photography  cars  via:robinrendle  design 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Baugruppen model ditches developers so that apartment buyers save
"Baugruppen. It might sound like a mouthful but this German word could be the answer to Australia’s housing affordability woes — or at least a new way to look at the problem.

If you can’t afford a freestanding house in Australia’s capital cities, the choices for an apartment alternative are generally expensive and limited. Many of the units available are targeted to investors and are often said to be of poor quality.

Literally translating to “building group”, baugruppen in effect cuts out developers from developments. The idea is that a group of interested purchasers come together and collectively fund their own multi-unit housing project. They are often helped or led through the process by architects, and they get a say in what their resulting homes look like. Generally, these homes have a focus on quality, sustainability and shared community facilities.

“At the moment, middle to modest income earners cannot buy a decent apartment because all the stock that’s produced is generally for investors,” says RMIT housing lecturer Andrea Sharam. “But there’s now a lot of interest in different models, particularly from younger people.”

Her research has shown that apartment buyers can save up to 30 per cent through such “deliberative development” (the opposite of speculative development).

The model that took off in Germany (predominantly in Berlin) has made its way to Australia, with a handful of baugruppen-esque projects popping up throughout the country.

Two recent examples have come out of Western Australia. One is a co-housing project that was launched by the council in Fremantle, the other is an innovative collaboration between the WA government’s land development agency, LandCorp, and the University of Western Australia. Located in White Gum Valley near Fremantle, that project is targeting a 15 per cent saving for buyers.

It’s basically like paying wholesale prices on homes, rather than the marked-up retail price.

“[A group] is fundamentally assisted to become their own developer, and in doing that they save themselves the developer’s margin and the marketing costs,” says project leader Geoffrey London, Professor of Architecture at UWA.

Mr London, who was also the former Victorian government architect, says the main aims of the project are to provide more affordable higher density options, provide more sustainable unit designs, establish a community, explore shared amenities and improve the diversity and quality of designs available.

There are a few things holding the model back from taking off completely in Australia, according to Dr Sharam. One of those is the significant financing barriers, especially the high level of equity required to obtain debt financing from the banks.

Dr Sharam says this will require a whole shift in thinking from conventional development lending, understanding that buyers in baugruppen projects are not at the same risk of settlement defaults.

“It’s a whole different ball game,” she says. “Even if one buyer falls out for some reason, say they go through a divorce and can’t go through with the purchase, then you have a waiting list; a group of people waiting in the wings to come in.”

That has been true of popular baugruppen-style developments in Melbourne, such as the Nightingale series, where a waiting list was more than 800 strong.

“One of the other really big things holding us back is that prospective purchasers are failing to understand it’s up to them to initiate it,” she said.

Gerard Coutts, a project management consultant with an interest in bringing baugruppen to Australia, is on a tour of Europe studying co-housing models. He says there’s much Australia can learn from them.

“I think there is a compelling movement [towards baugruppen models] as land supply dwindles and people are pushed outwards,” Mr Coutts says. “Older people, who wish to stay in areas familiar to them, this may be the type of solution to that assists.”"
housing  germany  2017  baugruppen  community  parking  cars  development  apartments  sustainability  melbourne  commons  transportation  australia 
june 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



"Apple Park isn’t the first high-end, suburban corporate headquarters. In fact, that used to be the norm. Look back at the 1950s and 1960s and, for example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance HQ in Hartford or John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. “They were stunningly beautiful, high modernist buildings by quality architects using cutting-edge technology to create buildings sheathed in glass with a seamless relationship between inside and outside, dependent on the automobile to move employees to the site,” says Louise Mozingo, a landscape architect at UC Berkeley and author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. “There was a kind of splendid isolation that was seen as productive, capturing the employees for an entire day and in the process reinforcing an insular corporate culture.”

By moving out of downtown skyscrapers and building in the suburbs, corporations were reflecting 1950s ideas about cities—they were dirty, crowded, and unpleasantly diverse. The suburbs, though, were exclusive, aspirational, and architectural blank slates. (Also, buildings there are easier to secure and workers don’t go out for lunch where they might hear about other, better jobs.) It was corporatized white flight. (Mozingo, I should add, speaks to this retrograde notion in Levy’s WIRED story.)

Silicon Valley, though, never really played by these rules. IBM built a couple of research sites modeled on its East Coast redoubts, but in general, “Silicon Valley has thrived on using rather interchangeable buildings for their workplaces,” Mozingo says. You start in a garage, take over half a floor in a crummy office park, then take over the full floor, then the building, then get some venture capital and move to a better office park. “Suddenly you’re Google, and you have this empire of office buildings along 101."

And then when a bust comes or your new widget won’t widge, you let some leases lapse or sell some real estate. More than half of the lot where Apple sited its new home used to be Hewlett Packard. The Googleplex used to be Silicon Graphics. It’s the circuit of life.

Except when you have a statement building like the Spaceship, the circuit can’t complete. If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”"



"The problems in the Bay Area (and Los Angeles and many other cities) are a lot more complicated than an Apple building, of course. Cities all have to balance how they feel about adding jobs, which can be an economic benefit, and adding housing, which also requires adding expensive services like schools and transit. Things are especially tough in California, where a 1978 law called Proposition 13 radically limits the amount that the state can raise property taxes yearly. Not only did its passage gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

Meanwhile California cities also have to figure out how to pay for their past employees’ pensions, an ever-increasing percentage of city budgets. Since they can’t tax old homes and can’t build new ones, commercial real estate and tech booms look pretty good. “It’s a lot to ask a corporate campus to fix those problems,” Arieff says.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try. Some companies are: The main building of the cloud storage company Box, for example, is across the street from the Redwood City CalTrain station, and the company lets people downtown park in its lot on weekends. “The architecture is neither here nor there, but it’s a billion times more effective than the Apple campus,” Arieff says. That’s a more contemporary approach than building behind hills, away from transit.

When those companies are transnational technology corporations, it’s even harder to make that case. “Tech tends to be remarkably detached from local conditions, primarily because they’re selling globally,” says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studies cities. “They’re not particularly tied to local suppliers or local customers.” So it’s hard to get them to help fix local problems. They have even less of an incentive to solve planning problems than California homeowners do. “Even if they see the problem and the solution, there’s not a way to sell that. This is why there are government services,” Arieff says. “You can’t solve a problem like CalTrain frequency or the jobs-to-housing ratio with a market-based solution.”

Cities are changing; a more contemporary approach to commercial architecture builds up instead of out, as the planning association’s report says. Apple’s ring sites 2.5 million square feet on 175 acres of rolling hills and trees meant to evoke the Stanford campus. The 60-story tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco has 1.5 million square feet, takes up about an acre, has a direct connection to a major transit station—the new Transbay Terminal—and cost a fifth of the Apple ring. Stipulated, the door handles probably aren’t as nice, but the views are killer.

The Future

Cupertino is the kind of town that technology writers tend to describe as “once-sleepy” or even, and this should really set off your cliche alarm, “nondescript.” But Shrivastava had me meet her for coffee at Main Street Cupertino, a new development that—unlike the rotten strip malls along Stevens Creek Blvd—combines cute restaurants and shops with multi-story residential development and a few hundred square feet of grass that almost nearly sort of works as a town square.

Across the actual street from Main Street, the old Vallco Mall—one of those medieval fortress-like shopping centers with a Christmas-sized parking lot for a moat—has become now Cupertino’s most hotly debated site for new development. (The company that built Main Street owns it.) Like all the other once-sleepy, nondescript towns in Silicon Valley, Cupertino knows it has to change. Shrivastava knows that change takes time.

It takes even longer, though, if businesses are reluctant partners. In the early 20th century, when industrial capitalists were first starting to get really, really rich, they noticed that publicly financed infrastructure would help them get richer. If you own land that you want to develop into real estate, you want a train that gets there and trolleys that connect it to a downtown and water and power for the houses you’re going to build. Maybe you want libraries and schools to induce families to live there. So you team up with government. “In most parts of the US, you open a tap and drink the water and it won’t kill you. There was a moment when this was a goal of both government and capital,” Mozingo says. “Early air pollution and water pollution regulations were an agreement between capitalism and government.”

Again, in the 1930s and 1940s, burgeoning California Bay Area businesses realized they’d need a regional transit network. They worked for 30 years alongside communities and planners to build what became BART, still today a strange hybrid between regional connector and urban subway.

Tech companies are taking baby steps in this same direction. Google added housing to the package deal surrounding the construction of its new HQ in the North Bayshore area—nearly 10,000 apartments. (That HQ is a collection of fancy pavilion-like structures from famed architect Bjarke Ingels.) Facebook’s new headquarters (from famed architect Frank Gehry) is supposed to be more open to the community, maybe even with a farmers’ market. Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle, some of 10 million square feet of office space the company has there, comes with terrarium-like domes that look like a good version of Passengers.

So what could Apple have built? Something taller, with mixed-use development around it? Cupertino would never have allowed it. But putting form factor aside, the best, smartest designers and architects in the world could have tried something new. Instead it produced a building roughly the shape of a navel, and then gazed into it.

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
crap futures — Back to nature
"We live on a remote island - mountainous, mid-Atlantic, still heavily forested and pretty wild - and for that reason nature sometimes sneaks into our otherwise technology-centred work. It is hard not to think local when you live in a place like this. We’re neither farmers nor pioneers - except in the sense that resident aliens on this island are few - but lately our reading has got us thinking about ancient paths and rural places. We’ll discuss the paths today and save most of the farm talk for a future post.

Paths v roads

In his 1969 essay ‘A Native Hill’, Wendell Berry - the American writer, farmer, activist, and ‘modern Thoreau’ - makes a useful distinction between paths and roads:
The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around. A road, on the other hand … embodies a resistance against the landscape. Its reason is not simply the necessity for movement, but haste. Its wish is to avoid contact with the landscape. … It is destructive, seeking to remove or destroy all obstacles in its way.


Aside from conversation as usual, the reason we are talking about Berry is the arrival of a new film, Look & See, and a new collection of his writing, The World-Ending Fire, edited by Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain Project fame. Berry and Kingsnorth, along with the economist Kate Raworth, were on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week recently chatting about the coming apocalypse and how it might best be avoided. It is a fascinating interview: you can actually hear Berry’s rocking chair creaking and the crows cawing outside the window of his house in Port Royal, Kentucky.

The normally optimistic Berry agrees somewhat crankily to read ‘the poem that you asked me to read’ on the programme. ‘Sabbaths 1989’ describes roads to the future as going nowhere: ‘roads strung everywhere with humming wire. / Nowhere is there an end except in smoke. / This is the world that we have set on fire.’ Berry admits that this poem is about as gloomy as he gets (‘blessed are / The dead who died before this time began’). For the most part his writing is constructive: forming a sensual response to cold, atomised modernity; advocating for conviviality, community, the commonweal.

Paul Kingsnorth talks compellingly in the same programme about transforming protest into action, although in truth no one walks the walk like Berry. Kingsnorth says: ‘We’re all complicit in the things we oppose’ - and never were truer words spoken, from our iPhones to our energy use. In terms of design practice, there are worse goals than reducing our level of complicity in environmental harm and empty consumerism. Like Berry, Kingsnorth talks about paths and roads. He asks: ‘Why should we destroy an ancient forest to cut twelve minutes off a car journey from London to Southampton? Is that a good deal?’

It’s a fair question. It also illustrates perfectly what Berry was describing in the passage that started this post: the difference between paths that blend and coexist with the local landscape, preserving the knowledge and history of the land, and roads that cut straight through it. These roads are like a destructive and ill-fitting grid imposed from the centre onto the periphery, without attention to the local terrain or ecology or ways of doing things - both literally (in the case of energy) and figuratively.

Another book we read recently, Holloway, describes ancient paths - specifically the ‘holloways’ of South Dorset - in similar terms:
They are landmarks that speak of habit rather than of suddenness. Like creases in the hand, or the wear on the stone sill of a doorstep or stair, they are the result of repeated human actions. Their age chastens without crushing. They relate to other old paths & tracks in the landscape - ways that still connect place to place & person to person.


Holloways are paths sunk deep into the landscape and into the local history. Roads, in contrast, skip over the local - collapsing time as they move us from one place to the next without, as it were, touching the ground. They alienate us in our comfort.

Here in Madeira there are endless footpaths broken through the woods. Still more unique are the levadas, the irrigation channels that run for more than two thousand kilometres back and forth across the island, having been brought to Portugal from antecedents in Moorish aqueduct systems and adapted to the specific terrain and agricultural needs of Madeira starting in the sixteenth century.

Both the pathways through the ancient laurel forests and the centuries-old levadas (which, though engineered, were cut by hand and still follow the contours and logic of the landscape) contrast with the highways and tunnels that represent a newer feat of human engineering since the 1970s. During his controversial though undeniably successful reign from 1978 to 2015 - he was elected President of Madeira a remarkable ten times - Alberto João Jardim oversaw a massive infrastructure program that completely transformed the island. Places that used to be virtually unreachable became accessible by a short drive. His legacy, in part, is a culture of automobile dependency that is second to none. The American highway system inspired by Norman Bel Geddes’ (and General Motors’) Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair almost pales in comparison to Jardim’s vision for the rapid modernisation of Madeira.

But when you walk the diesel-scented streets of the capital, or you drive through the holes bored deep into and out of towering volcanic mountains to reach the airport - and even when you think back in history and imagine those first settlers sitting in their ships as half the island’s forest burned, watching the dense smoke of the fires they lit to make Madeira favourable to human habitation - it’s hard not to think what a catastrophically invasive species are human beings.

Bespoke is a word we use a lot. In our vocabulary bespoke is not about luxury or excess - as it has been co-opted by consumer capitalism to suggest. Instead it is about tailored solutions, fitted to the contours of a particular body or landscape. Wendell Berry insists on the role of aesthetics and proportionality in his approach to environmentalism: the goal is not hillsides covered in rows of ugly solar panels, but an integrated and deep and loving relationship with the land. This insistence on aesthetics relates to the ‘reconfiguring’ principles that inform our newest work. The gravity batteries we’ve been building are an alternative not only to the imposed, top-down infrastructure of the grid, but also to the massive scale of such solutions and our desire to work with the terrain rather than against it.

Naomi Klein talked about renewable energy in these terms in an interview a couple of years ago:
If you go back and look at the way fossil fuels were marketed in the 1700s, when coal was first commercialized with the Watt steam engine, the great promise of coal was that it liberated humans from nature … And that was, it turns out, a lie. We never transcended nature, and that I think is what is so challenging about climate change, not just to capitalism but to our core civilizational myth. Because this is nature going, ‘You thought you were in charge? Actually all that coal you’ve been burning all these years has been building up in the atmosphere and trapping heat, and now comes the response.’ … Renewable energy puts us back in dialog with nature. We have to think about when the wind blows, we have to think about where the sun shines, we cannot pretend that place and space don’t matter. We are back in the world.


In a future post we will talk about the related subject of sustainable agriculture. But speaking of food - the time has come for our toast and coffee.
2017  crapfutures  wendellberry  paths  roads  madeira  bespoke  tailoring  audiencesofone  naomiklein  sustainability  earth  normanbelgeddes  albertojoãojardim  levadas  infrastructure  permanence  capitalism  energy  technology  technosolutionsism  1969  obstacles  destruction  habits  knowledge  place  placemaking  experience  familiarity  experientialeducation  kateraworth  paulkingsnorth  darkmountainproject  modernity  modernism  holloways  nature  landscape  cars  transportation  consumerism  consumercapitalism  reconfiguration  domination  atmosphere  environment  dialog  conviviality  community  commonweal  invasivespecies  excess  humans  futurama  ecology  canon  experientiallearning 
may 2017 by robertogreco
jay nelson | san francisco on Vimeo
[previously: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:20fe18f26fad ]

"Jay is a surfer, artist, husband, father and creator of super rad ‘functional sculptures’.

He lives a few blocks away from the sea in a special little place in San Francisco called the Outer Sunset district.

When it comes to Jay’s work he values aesthetics, but appreciates imperfections and practicality more.

This is his story thenouncollective.com"
outersunset  sanfrancisco  art  artists  cars  campers  boats  classideas  jaynelson  2016  sculpture  space  life  living  aesthetics  imperfections  practicality  sunsetdistrict 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Future of Cities – Medium
[video (embedded): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOOWk5yCMMs ]

"Organic Filmmaking and City Re-Imagining

What does “the future of cities” mean? To much of the developing world, it might be as simple as aspiring to having your own toilet, rather than sharing one with over 100 people. To a family in Detroit, it could mean having non-toxic drinking water. For planners and mayors, it’s about a lot of things — sustainability, economy, inclusivity, and resilience. Most of us can hope we can spend a little less time on our commutes to work and a little more time with our families. For a rich white dude up in a 50th floor penthouse, “the future of cities” might mean zipping around in a flying car while a robot jerks you off and a drone delivers your pizza. For many companies, the future of cities is simply about business and money, presented to us as buzzwords like “smart city” and “the city of tomorrow.”

I started shooting the “The Future of a Cities” as a collaboration with the The Nantucket Project, but it really took shape when hundreds of people around the world responded to a scrappy video I made asking for help.

Folks of all ages, from over 75 countries, volunteered their time, thoughts, work, and footage so that I could expand the scope of the piece and connect with more people in more cities. This strategy saved me time and money, but it also clarified the video’s purpose, which inspired me to put more energy into the project in order to get it right. I was reading Jan Gehl, Jane Jacobs, Edward Glaeser, etc. and getting excited about their ideas — after seeing what mattered to the people I met in person and watching contributions from those I didn’t, the video gained focus and perspective.

If I hired a production services outfit to help me film Mumbai, it would actually be a point of professional pride for the employees to deliver the Mumbai they think I want to see. If some young filmmakers offer to show me around their city and shoot with me for a day, we’re operating on another level, and a very different portrait of a city emerges. In the first scenario, my local collaborators get paid and I do my best to squeeze as much work out of the time period paid for as possible. In the second, the crew accepts more responsibility but gains ownership, hopefully leaving the experience feeling more empowered.

Architect and former mayor of Curitiba Jaime Lerner famously said “if you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeros.” It’s been my experience that this sustainability often goes hand-in-hand with humanity, and part of what I love about working with less resources and money is that it forces you to treat people like human beings. Asking someone to work with less support or equipment, or to contribute more time for less money, requires a mutual understanding between two people. If each person can empathize for the other, it’s been my experience that we’ll feel it in the work — both in the process and on screen.

Organic filmmaking requires you to keep your crew small and your footprint light. You start filming with one idea in mind, but the idea changes each day as elements you could never have anticipated inform the bigger picture. You make adjustments and pursue new storylines. You edit a few scenes, see what’s working and what’s not, then write new scenes. Shoot those, cut them in, then go back and write more. Each part of the process talks to the other. The movie teaches itself to be a better movie. Because organic is complicated, it can be tricky to defend and difficult to scale up, but because it’s cheap and low-resource, it’s easier to experiment. Learning about the self-organizing, living cities that I did on this project informed how we made the video. And looking at poorly planned urban projects reminded me of the broken yet prevailing model for making independent film in the U.S., where so many films are bound to fail — often in a way a filmmaker doesn’t recover from — before they even begin.

Jane Jacobs said that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” I’ve worked on videos for companies, for the guy in the penthouse, for nobody in particular, in the developing world, with rich people and poor people, for me, for my friends, and for artists. I’m so thankful for everybody who allowed me to make this film the way we did, and I hope the parallels between filmmaking and city building — where the stakes are so much higher — aren’t lost on anyone trying to make their city a better place. We should all be involved. The most sustainable future is a future that includes us all.

“The Future of Cities” Reading List

(There’s a longer list I discovered recently from Planetizen HERE but these are the ones I got into on this project — I’m excited to read many more)

The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs
The Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward Glaeser
Cities for People and Life Between Buildings by Jan Gehl
The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life by Jonathan Rose(just came out — incredible)
Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck
The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life by Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World by Wade Graham
Connectography: Mapping The Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
Low Life and The Other Paris by Luc Sante
A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook
Streetfight: Handbook for the Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow
Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-Term Change by Mike Lydon & Anthony Garcia
Living In The Endless City, edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic

“The Future of Cities” Select Interviewees:
David Hertz & Sky Source
Vicky Chan & Avoid Obvious Architects
Carlo Ratti: Director, MIT Senseable City Lab Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati
Edward Glaeser: Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University Author of The Triumph of the City
Helle Søholt: Founding Parner & CEO, Gehl Architects
Ricky Burdett: Director, LSE Cities/Urban Age
Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer, City of Boston
Pablo Viejo: Smart Cities Expert & CTO V&V Innovations, Singapore
Matias Echanove & Urbz, Mumbai
Janette Sadik-Khan: Author, Advisor, & Former NYC DOT Commissioner
Abess Makki: CEO, City Insight
Dr. Parag Khanna: Author of Connectography
Stan Gale: CEO of Gale International, Developer of Songdo IBD
Dr. Jockin Arputham: President, Slum Dwellers International
Morton Kabell: Mayor for Technical & Environmental Affairs, Copenhagen
cities  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  bikes  biking  cars  singapore  nyc  losangeles  janejacobs  jangehl  edwardglaeser  mumbai  tokyo  regulation  jaimelerner  curitiba  nantucketproject  carloratti  vickchan  davidhertz  hellesøholt  rickyburdett  laurenlockwood  pabloviejo  matiasechanove  urbz  janettesadik-khan  abessmakki  paragkhanna  stangale  jockinarputham  slumdwellersinternational  slums  mortonkabell  urbanization  future  planning  oscarboyson  mikelydon  anthonygarcia  danielbrook  lucsante  remkoolhaas  dayansudjic  rickyburdettsethsolomonow  wadegraham  charlesmontgomery  matthewclaudeljeffspeck  jonathanrose  transportation  publictransit  transit  housing  construction  development  local  small  grassroots  technology  internet  web  online  communications  infrastructure  services  copenhagen  sidewalks  pedestrians  sharing  filmmaking  film  video  taipei  seoul  santiago  aukland  songdo  sydney  london  nairobi  venice  shenzhen  2016  sustainability  environment  population  detroit  making  manufacturing  buildings  economics  commutes  commuting 
december 2016 by robertogreco
California Today: The Rise of a Design Capital - The New York Times
"Overseas, California as a brand is now a crucial selling point for product makers when it comes to technology, automobiles and architecture.

“If you’re able to say, ‘Hey, this is truly Californian,’ there is a real appeal to it,” said Kevin Klowden, the executive director of the Milken Institute’s California Center.

That cachet, of course, has been supercharged by Silicon Valley. Design scholars point to Apple’s devices. Even as its manufacturing moved overseas, the company added a line to its products: “Designed by Apple in California.”

But what does California design say to consumers?

Simon Sadler, a professor of design at U.C. Davis who is principally interested in architecture, talked about the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Coast Highway, the open style of modern homes, as well as an intangible sense of “magic and possibility.”

“We don’t do monuments, we do nodes,” he said. “And this is how we end up with the most famous California design of modern times, which is the iPhone. You know, it’s barely there. It’s always just an interface.”

Kevin Starr, the California historian, said global enthusiasm for the Golden State was in some ways recasting landscapes well beyond the state’s borders. On the roads, cars by nearly every automaker that sell in the United States are now designed in California.

And take a look at architecture around the world, Dr. Starr added: “Places like New Zealand, Australia, Argentina — they are all beginning to increasingly look like California. It’s the internationalization of design out of California.”

Many design experts still point to New York, with its recognizable monuments, as America’s design capital. There has long been a feeling in architectural circles that New York looked down on California. But that may be changing.

“What is surely exasperating for our colleagues on the East Coast is whether or not we’re ditsy, we’re onto something,” Professor Sadler said. “And the ascent of California as a center of design has been unstoppable.”"



[and at the end]

"In the 1960s, when a new bridge bisected the largely Mexican-American neighborhood of Barrio Logan in San Diego, residents were outraged.

They responded by painting colorful murals on the bridge’s concrete columns that depicted Chicano heritage and heroes. Over time, Chicano Park, as it was named, became home to dozens of the soaring artworks along with sculptures and landscaping.

Now, a campaign is underway to designate the park as a national historic landmark.

Representative Juan Vargas, a Democrat in San Diego, introduced a bill last year that would require the secretary of the interior to assess the park’s suitability for the designation.

On Wednesday, the measure was unanimously approved by a congressional committee.

Nominees for the National Historic Landmarks program are chosen for their historical as well as aesthetic value. In California, 145 structures bear the designation, among them bridges, forts and churches.

In a statement, Mr. Vargas said Chicano Park deserved to be included, calling it “a cultural mecca that highlights the activist and artistic contributions of our local community.”"
california  design  2016  architecture  technology  apple  simonsadler  kevinstarr  iphone  cars  homes  barriologan  chicanopark  sandiego  modernism  nodes 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Jalopy: The Best Game Ever - YouTube
[via: "Jalopy is a David Lynchian videogame about an Eastern European roadtrip in a shitty car"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/772481747543924736 ]
via:tealtan  2016  cars  videogames  games  gaming 
september 2016 by robertogreco
10 Lessons Learned by Rereading Jane Jacobs – Common Edge
"1. The mythical “ballet of the streets” motif is a tiny portion of the book.

That section, which occurs early on, is electric. It’s like an early John Cheever story. But the rest of Death and Life is a dense, meticulously constructed attack on the city planning orthodoxies of the day. Today it reads as a sort of literary polemic, fused with an urban planning and economics manual for cities. No wonder everybody’s head exploded in 1961.

2. Having said that: Jane’s magic world of Hudson Street feels as distant as Colonial Williamsburg.

It’s a Lost World. Her famous house at 555 Hudson Street sold in 2009 for the “bargain price” of $3.5-million.

3. Jacobs was remarkably prescient on gentrification.

She didn’t invent the term or even use it. But she observed (and I don’t know how, since most cities were in decline at the time) that lively diverse neighborhoods are always at risk for becoming victims of their own success, because newcomers invariably alter the characteristics that made these neighborhoods appealing to them in the first place. Today this seems obvious and self-evident, but that’s largely because of Jane Jacobs.

4. Jacobs won the battle of Ideas, but countervailing forces, including suburbia, won the war on the ground.

The conventional wisdom is that Jacobs ultimately prevailed. But did she really? Locally, she defeated Robert Moses, no doubt, but America sprawled and suburbanized for a half century, pretty much unimpeded, and many of the urban planning ideas that she so soundly debunked have had a Zombie-like resilience. Jacobs created a durable moral compass. Shamefully, it’s a best practices handbook that developers, especially, feel free to cite and then ignore when it suits them.

5. Jacobs-style urbanism (diversity of uses, scales, buildings, people) may be impossible to achieve with current development models.

New urban neighborhoods—even ones that at least attempt to adhere to her principles—often feel cold and sterile. They just can’t replicate the intricate web of relationships that Jacobs celebrated. These develop over time and at multiple scales, even small ones. It’s precisely these smaller scales, in fact, that give our best neighborhoods soul; unfortunately, when you’re building new, the haberdasher and the dry cleaner don’t pencil out economically.

6. Everyone, neighborhood activists and developers alike, cherry picks her ideas.

Many of her ideas were abused, like standard songs that have been covered (far too often) by inferior artists. It’s precisely why developers and activists who constantly evoke her should occasionally re-read her.

7. While the book’s lessons are indeed timeless, the examples she uses to illustrate them are now historic.

Truth be told, the examples—if you’re a native New Yorker of a certain age—border on the nostalgic. (The Italian butcher. The experimental theater. The candy store!) It makes reading the book in 2016 both fascinating and a bit rueful.

8. She was amazingly on-point about the effect of cars on cities.

Her remedy—what she called “car attrition” (making it more difficult for cars to operate in cities, rather than outright banning them)—predates the work of Jan Gehl and ideas like congestion pricing by several decades.

9. Despite what NIMBY-ists would like to believe, Jacobs was not anti big buildings.

She was against large, stand-alone, single-use buildings. Big buildings, surrounded by other structures of different sizes, scales and uses, were perfectly OK (even dreaded sports arenas).

10. Although it’s a fun parlor game for urban geeks, no one really knows which projects Jane Jacobs would have “approved” of.

But here’s a safe bet for what she would have surely opposed: anything that involved the use of eminent domain."
janejacobs  via:jarrettfuller  urban  urbanism  gentrification  2016  cities  martinpedersen  nimbys  nimbyism  development  eminentdomain  cars  transportation  jangehl  congestion  neighborhoods  community  diversity  scale  suburbia 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Don't Get Screwed Buying A Used Car | Donut Media - YouTube
"Before you buy a used car, there’s a lot of things to check-out before you drive away with your new baby. Check every inch of the car; be thorough, be smart, don’t get screwed!"
cars  usedcars  2016 
may 2016 by robertogreco
How a Car Engine Works - Animagraffs
"Did you know that your car will take in 20,000 cubic feet of air to burn 20 gallons of fuel? That’s the equivalent of a 2,500 sq. ft. house! If your only experience with a car engine’s inner workings is “How much is that going to cost to fix?” this graphic is for you. Car engines are astoundingly awesome mechanical wonders. It’s time you learned more about the magic under the hood!"
motors  encines  visualization  animation  cars  jacobo'neal  illustration 
april 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — counter-constraint #1: non-progress dogma
"The world’s fairs also offer their insights into this dichotic system. For example, Futurama’s hidden agendas are strikingly revealed in E. L. Doctorow’s novel World’s Fair (1985). As a family leaves the exhibit, the father says: ‘“When the time comes General Motors isn’t going to build the highways, the federal government is. With money from us taxpayers.” He smiled. “So General Motors is telling us what they expect from us: we must build them the highways so they can sell us the cars.”’

Bel Geddes’s vision of super-highways largely came true, but so did various dystopian imaginaries that were generated out of the Futurama vision. In ‘Futurama, Autogeddon’, Helen Burgess describes the way in which ‘a messy, always-under-construction, polluted highway system, beaming cheerfully forward into the future, is reflected back to us in the second half of the century as a degraded landscape in J. G. Ballard’s Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition. In these tales,’ Burgess writes,

Bel Geddes’ optimistic narrative of the Interstate has collapsed … because the Interstate system is unsustainable - both narratively and ecologically. The ghosts of the highway call back to us from these future narratives, reminding us that death is just around the next bend.

Progress dogma as an eternally recurring phenomenon

The progress boosterism in the West of the 19th century was followed by two highly regressive world wars. Yet the postwar period saw an almost immediate return to … optimism! Progress dogma was reborn! America, isolated from the worst ravages of the two World Wars, kept blowing the trumpet for progress, and the other western countries followed. The lessons of history continued, and continue, to fall on deaf ears.

Designing counter-constraints

We realise now that we’ve not set ourselves an easy task. These are massive, complex systems that are more easily identified and critiqued than challenged with alternatives. But inaction is no solution. So we’ll go on, inspired by historical examples of how critical approaches have impacted on specific research directions and undermined progress dogma. The public inquiry into genetically modified food development in Europe and the consequent demonising of an entire scientific area (‘Frankenstein foods’) led by certain newspapers is one example of technology being steered away from its intended trajectory. In that case, however, the approach was problematic because the debate was simplified as a contest between good and evil, dystopia vs. utopia, rather than being an open and constructive dialogue. As this article suggests, the reality is often more nuanced and complex than a simple binary opposition can express.

So how do we move toward a more constructive approach to counter-constraints?
Here, as a discussion starter, are some first steps:

1. Stop assuming that, through technology, the future will be better than the present.
2. Be wary of too-positive presentations of technological future solutions.
3. Don’t assume that any of society’s problems will be solved by technology alone.
4. Do assume that for every benefit a new technology brings there will be unforeseen implications.
5. Remember to ask: ‘Progress for whom?’
6. And: ‘What in this specific case does progress actually mean?’
7. Remember that progress is easily confused with automation. Or efficiency.
8. Watch Adam Curtis’s The Century of the Self (and then watch it again).
9. Find ways of encouraging a critical perspective in others, without being a dystopian dick about it.
10. Actively start building the future you want, with or without technology.

One approach where we have first-hand experience and that begins to address point 10 is speculative design, which aims to facilitate a more critical and considered approach to future-formation. By countering the constraints that limit normative design to slavishly serving the market, speculative design is free to present futures that are neither explicitly utopian or dystopian. Using this approach we can explore possible scenarios when specific emerging technologies collide with everyday life. Or we can see what happens when we apply alternative configurations of contemporary technologies or systems to generate fresh perspectives on particular problems (a counter-constraint to constraint no. 2: legacies of the past, which we’ll return to in a future post). Speculation is time well spent.

We’ll give further thought to counter-constraints over a game of ping-pong on our rough-hewn autoprogettazione table, followed by coffee and toast. More, much more, to come. "
crapfutures  counter-constraints  futures  speculativedesign  design  2016  technosolutionism  technology  progress  progressdogma  automation  efficiency  normanbelgeddes  eames  productification  utopia  dystopia  resistance  richardbarbrook  processfatigue  eldoctorow  helenburgess  interstatehighways  cars  history  optimism  sustainability  boosterism  adamcurtis  thecenturyoftheself  statusanxiety  bladerunner  pollution  traffic  futurama  world'sfairs  1939  1964  ibm 
february 2016 by robertogreco
How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult - Vox
[via: https://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-54-nominative-determinism ]

"In the Atlantic, Julie Beck has a great new piece on "How Friendships Change in Adulthood." [http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/how-friendships-change-over-time-in-adulthood/411466/ ] It will ring true for Vox readers of, uh, a certain age. Like my age, for instance. Old, is what I'm saying.

I do think, however, that Beck left out an interesting piece of the puzzle. Our ability to form and maintain friendships is shaped in crucial ways by the physical spaces in which we live. "Land use," as it's rather aridly known, shapes behavior and sociality. And in America we have settled on patterns of land use that might as well have been designed to prevent spontaneous encounters, the kind out of which rich social ties are built.

We get by with a little less help from our friends

It's a familiar tale that Beck tells: Early in life, friendships are central to our development and sense of self. This is true right up through to those early post-collegiate years, when everyone is starting out in their professional lives.

And then people get married. They have kids. Their parents get older and need more care. They settle into careers. All those obligations — spouses, kids, family, work — are things we have to do. Friendships are things we choose to do. And that means, when time contracts and things get busier, friendships get bumped.

So as we get older, time with friends tapers off. "[In a study we did,] we asked people to tell us the story of the last person they became friends with, how they transitioned from acquaintance to friend," researcher Emily Langan told Beck. "It was interesting that people kind of struggled":
In a set of interviews he did in 1994 with middle-aged Americans about their friendships, [researcher William] Rawlins [of Ohio University] wrote that, "an almost tangible irony permeated these adults' discussions of close or ‘real’ friendship." They defined friendship as "being there" for each other, but reported that they rarely had time to spend with their most valued friends, whether because of circumstances, or through the age-old problem of good intentions and bad follow-through: "Friends who lived within striking distance of each other found that… scheduling opportunities to spend or share some time together was essential," Rawlins writes. "Several mentioned, however, that these occasions often were talked about more than they were accomplished."


This is a sad story. People almost universally report that friendships are important to their happiness and well-being. They don't want to lose touch with friends and stop making new ones. They lament it constantly. (I can testify to all of this firsthand.)

But as the habits of family and work settle in, friendships become an effort, and as every tired working parent knows, optional effort tends to get triaged.

Is this an inevitable state of affairs?"
cars  housing  sociology  suburbs  aging  2015  friendships  parenting  work  life  happiness  well-being  juliebeck  davidroberts  williamrawlins  baugruppen  baugruppe 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 54: Nominative Determinism
"EPICYCLES:

[…]

Probably what I appreciate most about the holiday break is not commuting. When I started driving in suburban Boston, I almost immediately generated a working hypothesis about why dense urban areas tend to lean left politically and why suburban areas lean right (in my hometown of Toronto, there was a pronounced political divide between the city proper and the surrounding '905ers', named after the area code for the immediate suburbs). Living in a city teaches you that strangers can co-exist and even cooperate (like everyone standing aside to let subway passengers disembark, for example). But if you live in the suburbs, your primary interaction with strangers is almost certainly in your car, and cars are sociopathy machines: people do many things in cars (like cut into a line) that they would never do on foot. Driving in the suburbs sends the message that, given the opportunity, a significant fraction of people put their own interests first regardless of the effect on others, so it doesn't seem like a big step to deciding that you need political systems that do similarly to ensure that you don't lose out to the people around you. Whereas living in cities, especially ones with good public transit, make it clear that strangers can work together and that homophily is not a requirement for everyone to benefit from shared resources; hence, left-wing. Getting a few days' break from driving definitely helps me with that seasonal 'good will towards one and all' thing. [While we're into amateur theories of political sociology, I'm a fan of the zombie apocalypse vs utopian future [http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory-of-the-political-spectrum/ ] dichotomy.]

ON FRIENDSHIPS, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND HOUSING: Speaking of the suburbs, I was struck by this article [http://www.vox.com/2015/10/28/9622920/housing-adult-friendship ] on how American choices in land use affect their ability of adults to make and maintain friendships: the norms of single-family homes and driving mean that social interactions need to be deliberately scheduled (or, in many sad cases, not scheduled). The evidence is that there are two key requirements for friendships to form: repeated, spontaneous interactions, and an environment where people can confide in each other. There's been a lot of discussion in my circles recently about the modes and affordances of social media sites, and a quiet exodus from public Twitter to small private accounts, or to Slack, or to mailing lists, or to, yes, newsletters. For many of us, Twitter was--and remains--an excellent place for those repeated, spontaneous interactions. But it's shifted from the 'small world growth phase' [http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/File:SNSPrivacy.png ] to one where our experience is dominated by context collapse [http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/Context_collapse_in_social_media ]. It's therefore no longer a safe environment for that second component of a nascent friendship, sharing with others, as the norms of civil inattention [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_inattention ] fail to keep pace with the site's phenomenal growth (This was most memorably demonstrated to me when a well-known author and speaker jumped into a conversation that a friend of mine and I were having about relationships to inform us--and the rest of his many followers--that 'women like bad boys'. Welp.) So this type of trust-building personal sharing is moving to more private fora. In my case, because I travel a fair bit, that includes the offline world. This use of Twitter and travel probably goes a long way to explaining why I'm an outlier in that, while I have a few good friends that I made in and kept from my teens and early twenties, I also have a number of very close friends that I've made in the last five years or so (the second major reason is likely because I do live in a dense urban walkshed where I run into friends spontaneously, in a city that draws out-of-town friends to visit). But I'm interested in seeing how people use different types of social media differently in the near future."
debchachra  2016  friendship  socialmedia  twitter  cities  cars  suburbs  sociopathy  housing  thewaywelive  urban  urbanism  toronto  boston  commuting  sociology  politicalsociology  suburbia 
january 2016 by robertogreco
urko sanchez designs a secure village for children in djibouti
"located in the horn of africa, djibouti is a country that suffers from persistent droughts and continuous water scarcity. within this context, urko sanchez architects was asked by SOS kinderdorf to complete a children’s village comprising 15 individual houses. the complex responds to the region’s extreme weather conditions as well as local community traditions.

the design team sought to understand housing in similar cultural and climatic environments, before basing their plan on three key principles. firstly, it was essential that the development formed a safe environment for children, with no cars permitted inside. consequently, this allows the scheme’s narrow streets and squares to become constant places of recreation. secondly, it was decided that there should be plenty of open space, with public and private areas clearly defined. finally, the team wanted to integrate natural vegetation, with inhabitants encouraged to take care of their own plants and trees.

all houses follow the same layout, but are arranged in different ways — placed close to each other in order to offer shade. natural ventilation was also taken into consideration, with chimneys positioned to discharge heat where needed. the project was possible thanks to an international team, with local builders helping in the village’s construction."

[See also:
https://vimeo.com/135959412
http://urkosanchez.com/en/project/19/sos-children-s-village.html ]
architecture  homes  cars  djibouti  children  houses  design  safety  urkosanchez 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Marcus Lyon’s best photograph: the 12-lane road in Dubai that we are all on | Art and design | The Guardian
"I was in Dubai in 2010, doing a speech for a charity, when I discovered the amazing Sheikh Zayed Road. It has 12 lanes, tall buildings and skyscrapers on either side, and stretches right through the middle of the city. I booked a hotel next to it so that I could get up on to the roof. I was probably up there for about an hour and a half, hanging over, shooting straight down. You get a bit dizzy doing that.

The photograph started out as a little sketch in a book, though, just some lines, dots and ideas. Initially, I wanted to do something more music-based, but it morphed into a representation of my petrol-using life. It’s a composite of about 1,000 photos, and it took three months to make. I have a whole team of people who work with me to create an image like this, although I’m in charge of the idea. There are 750 vehicles in the end result, and they are meant to stand for the 750,000 miles that I and the average car-owner will drive in a standard lifetime.

Part of the thinking behind the work is that people are too visually literate and the world too fabulously complicated for me to say what I want in a single shot. So I bring multiple images together to create a greater truth. I think an image taken at 125th of a second is kind of a lie: it’s a moment captured in time, but then it disappears. With multiple images, I can go deeper, be subversive. So when people see this mega road I’ve created, they instantly ask questions. Is that really the world we live in? Is this image real or not? Where do I fit in to all of this?

Although I cut my teeth on large-format photography, I now use digital cameras and computer manipulation. But I think it’s essential to make sure the perspective is still correct and the image works from one point of view. So, at the top of this picture, I made sure that you see slightly more of the sides of the buses than you do at the bottom, where you would be looking straight down on them.

In the modern world, photography is instantly disposable. What I think is fascinating about images made this way is that they are really gluey. You get mesmerised by them. Your eyes are drawn to the whole composition, yet they can’t quite settle anywhere. As a final touch on all my creations, I insert a little Marcus. In this one, I’m in the top left-hand corner riding a bicycle."
dubai  photography  marcuslyon  traffic  cars  transportation  sheikhzayedroad 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The 5, the 101, the 405: Why Southern Californians Love Saying 'the' Before Freeway Numbers | LA as Subject | SoCal Focus | KCET
"Southern Californians have a distinctive -- "Saturday Night Live's" Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig might say funny -- way of giving directions. To get from Santa Monica to Hollywood, take the 10 to the 110 to the 101. Burbank to San Diego? The 134 to the 5. And, if you can, always avoid the 405.

Why the definite articles? After all, a resident of the Bay Area enjoys coastal drives along "101" or takes "80 east" to Sacramento. Most of North America, in fact, omits the "the" before route numbers.

The answer begins with the region's early embrace of the freeway. Long before the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 gave most U.S. cities their first freeways, Los Angeles had built several. These weren't simply extensions of federal interstate highways through the city; they were local routes, engineered to carry local traffic and (partly) paid for by local funds. It only made sense that, as they opened one by one, they'd get local names, ones that succinctly denoted their route or destination. The freeway through the Cahuenga Pass thus became the Cahuenga Pass Freeway, and Angelenos knew the freeway to San Bernardino as the San Bernardino Freeway.

State highway officials did affix route numbers to these freeways. But clarity dictated that Southern Californians continue to use their descriptive names. In their early years, most Los Angeles-area freeways bore signs for multiple numbered highway routes. The Pasadena Freeway, for example, was Route 6, 66, and 99, all at once. The Harbor Freeway carried both Route 6 and Route 11. The Hollywood, Route 66 and 101. Who wouldn't prefer the simplicity of a name over a confusing array of numbers?

Soon a shorthand emerged for describing a route through the city. Joan Didion captured this Southern California vernacular in "Play It As It Lays" (1970), in which Maria "drove the San Diego to the Harbor, the Harbor up to the Hollywood, the Hollywood to the Golden State, the Santa Monica, the Santa Ana, the Pasadena, the Ventura."

How, then, did that morph into "the 405 to the 110, the 110 up to the 101, the 101 to the 5, the 10, the 5, the 110, the 134"?

Two developments convinced Southern Californians to refer to freeways by number rather than name. In 1964, the state simplified its highway numbering system, ensuring that, with few exceptions, each freeway would bear only one route number. Around the same time, a flurry of new construction added unfamiliar freeway names to the region's road maps. Drivers found it easier to learn new numbers like the 605 or the 91 rather than new names like the San Gabriel River Freeway or the Redondo Beach Freeway.

Although the transition was gradual -- numbers only eclipsed names in common usage in the late 1970s, and Caltrans still included the old names in signage through the 1990s -- Southern Californians eventually joined the rest of North America in referring to freeways by number. But when they did, they retained their old habit of prefixing a definite article, the, giving rise to a regional idiom that still confounds and amuses outsiders today."
socal  freeways  losangeles  sandiego  language  history  transportation  cars  names  naming  roads 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The hidden inequality of who dies in car crashes - The Washington Post
"The underlying issue here is not that a college degree makes you a better driver. Rather, the least-educated tend to live with a lot of other conditions that can make getting around more dangerous. They own cars that are older and have lower crash-test ratings. Those with less education are also likely to earn less and to have the money for fancy safety features such as side airbags, automatic warnings and rear cameras.

The number of trauma centers, the researchers point out, has also declined in poor and rural communities, which could affect the health care people have access to after a collision. And poor places suffer from other conditions that can make the roads themselves less safe. In many cities, poor communities lack crosswalks over major roads. The residents who live there may have less political power to fight for design improvements like stop signs, sidewalks and speed bumps. As a result, pedestrian fatalities in particular are higher in poor communities.

"It's true that there are big differences in the quality of the residential environments that people have in terms of their risks of accidental death as pedestrians," Harper says.

The role of behavioral differences is murkier. Some studies show lower seat-belt use among the less-educated, but seat-belt use has also increased faster among that group over time, meaning socioeconomic differences there are narrowing. Data on alcohol use is also conflicting.

The chart above, based on National Center for Health Statistics data used by the researchers, captures miles traveled not just by car, but also bus or other motor vehicles (the poor are more likely to use transit, while the wealthy travel more by private car). The fatalities, though, also include the deaths of pedestrians and cyclists struck in car crashes.

In 1995, these death rates — adjusted for age, sex and race — were about 2.5 times higher for people at the bottom of the education spectrum than those at the top. By 2010, they were about 4.3 times higher. That means the inequality of traffic fatalities is getting worse, even as it looks nationwide as if our roads are getting safer.

As we increasingly fantasize about new technologies that will save us from our own driving errors — cars that will brake for us, or spot cyclists we can't see, or even take over all the navigation — we should anticipate that, at first, those benefits may mostly go to the rich."
cars  safety  health  us  poverty  inequality  cities  roads  2015 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Smartphones and the Uncertain Future of 'Spatial Thinking' - CityLab
"Your brain is indeed relaxing. In a handful of studies conducted over the last decade in the United States, England, Germany and Japan, researchers have shown that GPS navigation has a generally pernicious effect on the user's ability to remember an environment and reconstruct a route. Toru Ishikawa, a spatial geographer at the University of Tokyo, quantified the difference in a study published earlier this year. Asked to recall various aspects of their surroundings, participants using GPS navigation performed 20 percent worse than their paper-map peers.

As Ishikawa pointed out to me, these findings raise questions beyond urban anthropology. Spatial thinking helps us structure, integrate, and recall ideas. It's less an independent field of study than a foundational skill; a 2006 report from the National Research Council called spatial literacy the "missing link" in the K-12 curriculum at large.

Navigating is among the greatest incubators of that ability. A sophisticated internal map, as a famous study of London cab drivers showed, is tied to greater development in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for spatial memory. In another study, participants with stronger hippocampus development tended to navigate with complex cognitive maps, while those with less developed spatial memory memorized turn-by-turn directions.

Isn't it ironic: the easier it is for me to get where I'm going, the less I remember how I got there. As a conscious consumer of geographic information, should I be rationing my access to navigation tools—the mental equivalent of taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator?"



"It's too early to toll the bell for human navigation. GPS remains a clumsy accessory for a pedestrian, frustrating on a bicycle, and impossible on a motorcycle. There are indications that regular car commuters, too, may be impervious to the commands of the dashboard gods. "In general, the reason there's traffic is that people take the same way even if there's a different route," says Julie Mossler, head of global communications and creative strategy at Waze. Old highways die hard.

It seems that digital maps haven't rid wayfinding of its personal touch; rather, they are just beginning to properly incorporate it. New products in consumer mapping respond to the hegemonic efficiency of tools from Garmin, TomTom, and others. A handful of services cater solely to joggers. Yahoo Labs is attempting to quantify a nice walk based on crowd-sourced impressions of the city. A Dutch cartographer aims to chart the streets you have or haven't traveled. Every few months, it seems, some entrepreneur is embroiled in controversy over a map service showing neighborhoods that the user should avoid. The worldwide map, like the sprawling territory of the Internet itself, is balkanizing into a set of increasingly specialized "maplications."

The casualty of this gradual fine-tuning, I think, is chance. Routes were once conceived in a febrile mix of logic, accident, and instinct. Today's data-driven apps have mastered logic. They have registered road traffic, train delays, and the other accidents of travel. They have also, by explicitly catering to each of our effable desires, rendered human navigational impulse an eccentricity.

It's still possible, of course, to take a walk or go for a drive; to open your mind and let the city deliver, in Walter Benjamin's phrase, its "hints and instructions." The reverie of wandering, on foot or on wheels, can't be calculated by an algorithm or prescribed by an app.

But technology doesn't go away when you don't use it. From now on, an aimless jaunt is marked not only by openness to the stimuli of the physical world, but by the strain of blocking out their virtual counterparts. Contingent on technophobic self-control, wandering has lost its essential ease."
spatialthinking  cartography  mapping  maps  navigation  2014  via:shannon_mattern  gps  smartphones  orientation  wayfinding  walking  googlemaps  driving  cars  publictransit  memory  henrygrabar 
july 2015 by robertogreco
How our cars, our neighborhoods, and our schools are pulling us apart - The Washington Post
"Americans are pulling apart. We're pulling apart from each other in general. And, in particular, we're pulling apart from people who differ from us.

The evidence on this idea is varied, broad and often weird.

We are, as Robert Putnam famously put it, less likely to join community bowling leagues.

We're more likely, as I mentioned yesterday after a police confrontation with a group of black teens at a private swimming pool, to swim in seclusion, in gated community clubs and back-yard pools that have taken the place of public pools.

We're more likely to spend time isolated in our cars, making what was historically a communal experience — the commute to work — a private one. In 1960, 63 percent of American commuters got to work in a private car.

Now, 85 percent of us do. And three-quarters of us are riding in that car alone.

Within large metropolitan areas, we live more spread out, more distant, from each other than we once did. The population density in central cities plummeted by half after the 1950s, as many residents left for the suburbs.

As a result, writes economist Joseph Cortright in a new City Observatory report, in metropolitan America we now have fewer neighbors, on average, and we live farther from them than we did five decades ago.

It's little wonder, then, that we now socialize with them less often, too.

Add up all of these seemingly disconnected facts, and here you are: "There is compelling evidence," Cortright writes in the new report, "that the connective tissue that binds us together is coming apart."

The shared experiences and communal spaces where our lives intersect — even if just for a ride to a work, or a monthly PTA meeting — have grown seemingly more sparse. And all of this isolation means that the wealthy have little idea what the lives of the poor look like, that people who count on private resources shy away from spending on public ones, that misconceptions about groups unlike ourselves are broadly held.

Cortright's underlying point is the same as Putnam's 20 years ago. We're receding from the public realm in ways that could undermine communities and the will that arises when people within them know and trust each other.

We're even living further apart from each other within our own homes. As our houses have gotten bigger — and the size of the average household has declined — we're a lot less likely today in America to share bedrooms.A particularly curious data point Cortright unearths: In 1960, 3.5 percent of U.S. households lived in a home where bedrooms outnumbered occupants. Today, 44 percent of households do.

Here's another: We no longer even share the same experience of public safety. In the 1970s, Cortright points out that there were about 40 percent more private security officers in this country than public law enforcement officers. By the 1990s, there were twice as many. And their presence — monitoring gated communities, private clubs, quasi-public spaces like shopping malls — marks a kind of "anti-social capital." It implies that private guards must manage communities where that missing "connective tissue" can't.

When we retreat into these private spaces and separate enclaves, now increasingly sorted by income, too, we have less and less in common. And when we have little left in common, it's hard to imagine how we'll agree on fixes to big problems, or how we'll empathize with the people touched by them.

This familiar argument is particularly relevant now to many of the bitter debates we're having around racial unrest and even poverty. If rich and poor, black and white, don't share the same commons — if they attend separate schools, live in separate neighborhoods, swim in separate pools, rely on separate transportation — then there's little reason for them to mutually invest in any of these resources.

Historically in American cities, the ghetto didn't just separate black homes from white ones. It ensured that the rest of the city would never share in the concerns — shoddy trash pickup, weak policing, meager public investments — of the people who lived there.

The relationships that run between social capital, trust and the public realm, as Cortright writes, are complicated (likely even more so by modern technology). But they feel tremendously relevant today.

"Arguably," he writes, "the decline in social capital is both a cause and an effect of the decline of the public realm: people exhibit less trust because they have fewer interactions; we have fewer interactions, so we have lower levels of trust and less willingness to invest in the public realm that supports it.""
segregation  us  cities  urbanism  urban  cars  transportation  schools  education  2015  emilybadger  robertputnam  race  class  commuting  josephcortright  neighborhoods  community  communitities  isolation  trust  publiccommons  gatedcommunities  social  capitalism  security  lawenforcement  income 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Warren Ellis Esquire Essay - Warren Ellis Technology Column
"Regardless of what you think of Uber and its corporate behavior, the lesson should not go unlearned: If you build your business on top of someone else's system, eventually they're going to notice. Just last week, the livestreaming app Meerkat, which uses Twitter to transmit, felt a cold breeze pass through the room when Twitter bought the competing system Periscope, which will doubtless be baked into Twitter as soon as possible. Digital businesses can murder and haunt their own parasites.

In the midst of all this? Rich, crazy Elon Musk, who intends to put large and efficient electric batteries into people's homes. Which may not be one of his weird side projects, like Hyperloop, especially since Apple is hiring his car-makers away, and their car sales and shipments are under the projected numbers. And because it fits right in with the "disruption" thing. You know Musk has a solar panel company, right? This seems quite clever: SolarCity will let you lease their panels, or you can take out a 30-year loan with them. SolarCity doesn't charge you for installing or maintaining the system, and you pay SolarCity for the power the system generates, thereby paying off the loan. Electricity as a mortgage. Now, combine that with a rechargeable fuel cell in your home that could probably power your house for at least a week all on its own. Welcome to Basic Utilities Disruption.

Have you been reading this and thinking, Hmm, I'm not very interested in technology and disruption and ghosts and whatever else the hell you're talking about? Well, I bet you're interested in a future where it remains cost-effective for your local electricity substations to be maintained even after a critical number of homes in your area have gone off the grid, or, in the extreme open-market scenario, if it remains cost-effective to even supply electricity to your town at all. And what unforeseeable haunting might happen in the chilly aftermath...

We only sleep at night because Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Elon Musk don't want our businesses. Yet.

Facebook and Google fighting with balloons and drones to bring internet to Africa. Apple making Big Phones. Android NFC wallets versus Apple Pay. iCloud and Amazon Storage. You know what'll happen once these self-driving consumer-facing services go online? They'll be doing same-day purchase deliveries, going head-to-head with Amazon in cities, a fuller and faster version of Google's piloted Shopping Express. Jeff Bezos owns a rocket development firm, by the way, so maybe go carefully with that. Oh, and Apple apparently want into enterprise support business, which will put them against Amazon, where all the enterprise data is stored, and, of course, sleepy, old Microsoft.

Keep breathing. Stay warm. Things are going to get weirder yet."
warrenellis  2015  elonmusk  tesla  energy  publicutilities  utilities  solar  apple  google  microsoft  amazon  facebook  uber  technology  capitalism  competition  electricity  batteries  cars  self-drivingcars  solarcity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Commune | Daily: Dogs Chasing My Car in the Desert
"Occasionally, while working in the Morongo Valley, John Divola’s car would get chased by a dog. When Divola saw one coming towards him, he would pre-set his camera, stick his arm out of the window, and expose the film. Sometimes, he admits, if the dog was especially enthusiastic, he would loop around for a second pass."
dogs  animals  cars  photography  johndivola 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Laws | Free Range Kids
"Wondering if you can let your kids walk to the park or wait in the car for a few minutes — legally?

This list should help.

At Free-Range Kids, we believe parents are the best judges of what their kids are ready for, when. But the sad fact is, some loving and responsible parents have found themselves in legal trouble when a busybody or law enforcement official perceived their actions as unacceptable.

Until the day we see the Free-Range Kids and Parents Bill of Rights become the law of the land — a bill stating kids have the right to spend some time unsupervised, and parents have the right to let them — here’s a guide to state child welfare laws.

You’ll see that 19 states have specific laws about when it is legal to leave a child in a car. Five states have laws that specify what age a child can be home alone, and 10 states have “guidelines.” For states that don’t have these, the child neglect laws are the next most relevant sources of information. You can find those here.

This list is not a legal document and some localities have rules and guidelines even when the state does not. But we hope this at least provides a starting point. It was compiled by my incredible assistant, Paul Best, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. If you have any questions, inquiries or local laws to add, please contact him at pkinb21@gmail.com."
law  us  homealone  parenting  children  cars  childwelfare  lawenforcement 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Auto Correction: L.A. rethinks its car culture. - The California Sunday Magazine
"No one is more pleased than Aaron Paley to see Los Angeles morphing from a sprawling, car-dependent metropolis into a series of interconnected neighborhoods served by transit. In 2010, Paley introduced CicLAvia to his hometown. Modeled on Bogotá’s street festival Ciclovía, the event drew an estimated 100,000 residents on foot, bike, scooter, Rollerblades, and skateboard to a seven-and-a-half-mile stretch of car-free road between Boyle Heights and East Hollywood. The daylong festival has expanded from an annual event to a quarterly one and is now an L.A. institution, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood.

As we meander through Down­town’s Bunker Hill on a drizzly Satur­day morning, Paley is explaining CicLAvia’s rise. He believes the event’s popularity is emblematic of L.A.’s transition to a post-car city. “It took 27 years,” he says, “from the closure of the trolley lines in 1963 until the opening of the first light rail in 1990. During that time, Los Angeles essentially finished its freeway system and became the automobile capital of the planet. And during that time, you could answer any ‘How long does it take to get there?’ question with ‘Twenty minutes or less,’ and it was true. But then it wasn’t any longer.”

Compact and energetic, Paley is 57 years old with a salt-and-pepper beard. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley and was trained as an architect and urban planner. For the past 26 years, he has been president of an orga­­ni­­zation he cofounded called Community Arts Re­­sources (yes, cars for short), which puts on art and street festivals throughout the area. Our route through Bunker Hill is not direct. Instead of streets, we take the tucked-away staircases and escalators that weave between the hill’s high-rises. Along the way, Paley points to the sky bridges that were built in the 1970s in anticipation of a never-constructed people mover. “That idea of separating the pedestrians from car traffic goes back to the middle of the 20th century,” Paley says. “It made for great science fiction, but it’s a terrible idea.”

After grabbing breakfast at Grand Central Market, we sit down at one of a handful of outdoor tables on South Broadway. Buses go by, a lot of buses, and lots of people are riding them. Where public transit in L.A. used to be the mode of necessity for those who couldn’t afford a car, it’s become a lifestyle choice for increasing numbers of residents. Former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his successor, Eric Garcetti, have promoted an aggressively bold campaign to make transit a cornerstone of the region’s growth and development. In 2008, Los Angeles County voters approved a half-cent sales-tax increase that will raise $40 billion over 30 years to expand light-rail, subway, and bus lines, more than doubling the current system.

We walk down Spring Street, head­ing for the Metro Red Line that will take us to Union Station, the gorgeous 1939 Mission Revival train depot that is now the city’s transportation hub. “The past 40 years have brought hundreds of thousands of immigrants who had no alternative to get to work or school aside from mass transit,” Paley says. “Kids found other ways of staying in touch with their friends aside from cruising down Van Nuys Boulevard. It’s socially acceptable now for a 16-year-old kid not to get her driver’s license on her 16th birthday. That was unheard of in L.A. 20 years ago. A generation is opting to get their licenses later or opting not to get them at all. All these factors meant that by the early 2000s there was a mass of folks taking transit, a burgeoning bike culture, and more and more people saying that they wanted to live in a walkable neighborhood.”

Dodging raindrops, Paley and I take in some of Downtown’s greatest hits: the Bradbury Building (the 1893 landmark that starred in Blade Runner), the Last Bookstore (only a decade old and California’s largest used and new bookstore), and the Angels Flight funicular (the now-shuttered 298-foot railway that once delighted generations of Angelenos). We then hit upon a hidden treasure. Behind a roll-up door on Sixth Street is a vaulted room covered with custom tiles depicting scenes from Holland, which Arts and Crafts pioneer Ernest Batchelder created in 1914 for a soda parlor called the Dutch Chocolate Shop. We never would have been able to experience all this from a car.

I ask Paley if he worries that mass transit, especially the subway, will lead to the gentrification of L.A.’s poor neighborhoods, as it has in cities like Washington, D.C. “What we’re really talking about is the unwilling displacement of people and communities,” he says. “It’s occurring in every city throughout the world, and I don’t know one that has dealt with it effectively. In L.A., you have this weird symmetry at either end of the wealth spectrum. In richer neighborhoods, residents want everything to stay just as it is, and this form of nimbyism prevents transit stations from opening and affordable housing from being built. And in disadvantaged areas, the fear that good transit might lead to gentrification has led to the opposition to new lines in transit-dependent areas.”

Before we depart, Paley pulls out a map of Los Angeles he’d picked up on a recent trip to Berlin. It not only shows yet-to-be-completed subway lines. It depicts Downtown as the city’s center. Santa Monica, indeed the whole coastline, is an inset, an afterthought. That California-loving German tourists would be drawn not to the fantasy of Los Angeles but the Los Angeles of bikeshare and sidewalks amuses Paley. “I can only wish,” he says, “that urbanism has supplanted movie stars, but I’m sure that our worldwide identity as the home of Hollywood is firmly entrenched. The truth is, I’m far less concerned with how the rest of the world sees us and far more interested in how Angelenos themselves see their own city. If we can figure out how to move to the next incarnation — a place with viable transportation alternatives — then we’ll offer a new model to emulate for all those cities that followed our lead into the car century. There are a lot more cities that look like L.A. than look like San Francisco, Paris, Copenhagen, or Manhattan.”"
alisonarieff  losangeles  bogotá  colombia  cars  bikes  biking  walking  aaronpaley  ciclavia  ciclovía  tranporation  urban  urbanism  cities 
march 2015 by robertogreco
What if the Police Treated Murder Victims Like Pedestrians? — SD YIMBY
"Given that the fourth San Diegan this year was killed by a car while walking in San Diego yesterday, the San Diego Police Department has decided it is about time to do what they can to halt this disturbing upward trend in deaths. To avoid further deaths, SDPD issued the following tips:

Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety
A reminder for pedestrians and drivers
• Cross streets at a corner, using traffic signals where available and crosswalks
• Always look left, right, and left again before crossing a street and keep watching as you cross. Be aware that drivers have differing levels of eyesight and skill in operating motor vehicles.
• Pedestrians should be especially careful at intersections, where drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while turning onto another street
• Make sure you are seen: Make eye contact with drivers when crossing busy streets, wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking near traffic at night, carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
• Walk on the sidewalk
• Walk defensively and be ready for unexpected events. Know what is going on around you and don’t allow your vision to be blocked by clothing, hats or items you are carrying.
• Watch the pedestrian signals, not the traffic signal and follow the “walk/don’t walk” lights.
• Watch out for parked vehicles. Parking lots can be dangerous
• Avoid alcohol and drugs as they can impair your ability to walk safely
• When crossing, use all of your senses and don’t use your cell phone for calls and texting
• Use particular caution when crossing driveways and alley entrances. Drivers may not expect you to be there or see you
• Adults should supervise children when crossing streets or walking in parking lots. Smaller children may be difficult for drivers to see and young children may not be able to judge whether it is safe to cross
• Walk dogs on short leashes
• MOTORISTS NEED TO BE VIGILANT OF PEDESTRIANS AND PEDESTRIANS NEED TO BE VIGILANT OF MOTORISTS. Although motorists have more responsibility under the law when operating a motor vehicle on city streets, pedestrians have more at stake

Whatever means of transportation, please travel safely.

Because obviously, when one group of people is killing the other, the best police tactic is to blame the victim. Luckily, SDPD has decided to take the same approach to murder in the City. Below is a dispatch from SDPD:

CITIZENS: Recently, the fourth San Diego resident was murdered this month. Shortly after the shooting, the murdered told us that he just didn't see his victim until the last minute and was so tired after working a long day at work that he couldn't suppress his anger. Makes sense, so we let him go. To help avoid more murders, SDPD offers the following advice. If everyone can follow these easy tips, no one will get murdered and life will be great in San Diego.

Taking Steps to Not Get Murdered

• MURDERERS NEED TO BE VIGILANT OF CITIZENS AND CITIZENS NEED TO BE VIGILANT OF MURDERERS. • Although murderers have more responsibility under the law, citizens have more at stake.
• Only walk during the day, as murderers tend to come out at night.
• Be especially careful walking during the day, because murderers will know you have your guard down.
• Small children won't be able to recognize murderers, so it's best to leave them inside until they turn 18. But if you're elderly, you're also probably not fast enough and can't see far enough to avoid murderers. If you are elderly and venture outside, you're basically asking to be shot.
• While living your life, focus solely on not getting murdered. Don't eat or drink, talk on a phone, listen to music, talk to friends, or do anything that will impair your ability to see a murderer.
• Live defensively and be ready for unexpected events. Murderers can come from anywhere, so don't do anything that may block your vision. Don't wear clothes, hats, or carry anything.
• Make sure you are not seen. Wear camouflage, avoid eye contact, dart between bushes and large objects.
• Every now and then, we will flash signs when it looks like the coast is clear. But this is also the most likely time you'll get murdered, because it's easy to pick off unsuspecting prey.
• Always look left, right, and left again before leaving the house. Be aware that murderers have different anger levels before they snap, so you can't trust them not to shoot you even if you are nice.
• Watch out for people with guns, knives, and clubs. But also be vigilant for people with none of these things, because they might be concealing their weapons. Concealed weapons are especially dangerous because you don't see it coming.
• Use particular caution when outside a building. Murderers will not expect to see you there and may get trigger happy.
• if you fail to do any of these things, be ready for the newspapers to say, "Sure, Jane got murdered, but it was her fault for trying to walk during the day and not wear camouflage." Also, SDPD will assume you were asking for it if you don't follow our tips. We really wish there was something we could do to protect citizens against murder and prosecute murderers, but murder is just a fact of life, ya know?
• Maybe the best bet is to just stay inside your house and not get murdered. Unless a family member is a murderer. I guess there is nothing to be done. Sorry!"
sandiego  sdpd  motorists  cars  safety  victimblaming  pedestrians  walking 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Pedestrians As Safety Hazards - John P Anderson
"Enough anecdotes about the incredible amount of land we dedicate to vehicles only, which is a constant and physical reminder of what we place value on. On to the seemingly well-intentioned note from the SDPD to help keep pedestrians safe which is shown in full below. What are we keeping pedestrians safe from? Other pedestrians? I don't recall the last pedestrian killed by another person walking. Of course the danger that is obliquely referred to is the motor vehicle. For some reason the onus is put on the pedestrian - the most vulnerable and least detrimental form of transport known to humankind.

So what advice does the SDPD have for pedestrians to keep themselves out of harms way? Essentially to dress like a traffic cone and give vehicles priority whenever possible; this is also known as 'defensive walking'. Pedestrians should dress in bright colors, carry a flashlight, look thrice before crossing the street and do so only at corners. Pedestrians should also not assume a car will stop - aka wait on the curb until there are no cars in either direction. These sort of instructions make walking seem dangerous, inconvenient and unpleasurable. Walking is great exercise, safe, and healthy - we should be encouraging it as much as possible! Repeat after me: "Motorists are dangerous, pedestrians are not". Again, no one is being killed or injured by pedestrians. Our neighbors and friends are being maimed and killed by motorists every single day of the year. Pedestrians are not the problem, they are a key part of making where we live safer and more enjoyable.

If we were serious about keeping our neighborhoods safe for pedestrians we would take effective action against the biggest danger, motorists, and not penalize and scare people that might otherwise walk. Lower speed limits would be a great start. Another powerful tool would be penalizing drivers that kill people. Running over an old man crossing the street in an unmarked crosswalk should not be chalked up to 'oops, my bad'. Running over an elderly woman walking on the sidewalk should not result in no ticket. These are real tragedies happening right where we live. The same police department that is scolding pedestrians for their flippant and unsafe ways is letting motorists walk away from a dead body without even a basic traffic citation. There is no clearer example of how much we will prioritize the car over all, we don't even take killing someone seriously when it is done with a car.

Will the SDPD be posting safety tips for motorists to Nextdoor as well? I won't be holding my breath but hope so. I would suggest posting safety tips for each mode of transport in proportion to the amount of people killed by that mode in the past year. Obviously this would result in an incredibly high amount of safety tips for motorists as compared to pedestrians, bicyclists, and bus riders. This would be appropriate because motorists are the biggest danger by a very, very wide margin to others. The safety tips below are like addressing second smoking by advising non-smokers to wear masks, avoid areas where smokers may be, and at the same time granting the majority of public land to smokers. It's farcical and year, in regards to transport it is exactly what we are doing over and over in nearly every facet of our society.

It's time to stop stigmatizing safe transport and giving dangerous transport a free pass. Motorists are dangerous, pedestrians are not."
sandiego  cars  safety  2015  sdpd  pedestrians  walking  motorists  johnanderson  victimblaming 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Chain restaurants are killing us: Billionaire bankers, minimum-wage toilers and the nasty truth about fast-food nation - Salon.com
"At both the corporate and the franchise level, industry officials are keeping their mouths shut about the strike, and for obvious reasons. Acknowledging worker discontent is a no-win situation for enterprises that have invested so much in depicting themselves as enclaves of family-friendly happiness. I mean, nothing deflates a carefully constructed brand image like an angry worker standing out front screaming about not being able to vaccinate her six-month-old on said brand’s lousy pay.

However, the industry’s D.C. attack dog, Rick Berman, felt no such compunction, and commenced snarling immediately. On the day of the strike in August 2013, his Employment Policies Institute ran a full- page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal featuring a big photo of a Japanese kitchen robot. The fast-food protests “aren’t a battle against management,” the ad proclaimed, but a “battle against technology.” Should workers push too hard for super-size wages, shiny automatons might well be deployed in restaurants across the country, making you-know-who totally redundant.

The ad’s implication was that companies employ humans as an act of charity. If those ingrate humans mouth off too much, those noble companies will just go ahead and take the bottom-line steps they’ve magnanimously refrained from taking until now. “Hard work” and an “honest living” actually mean nothing in this world; capital means everything. Look on my technology, ye powerless, and despair!

I thought about that nightmare of automation for quite a while after Berman’s ad ran. It has a grain of truth to it, of course. Journalists have been replaced with bloggers and crowdsourcing. Factory hands have been replaced with robots. University professors are being replaced with adjuncts and MOOCs. What else might the god Efficiency choose to de-skill?

Here’s a suggestion: the ideological carnival barkers in D.C. As I watched the creaking libertarian apparatus go into action, sending its suit-and-tie spokesmen before the cameras to denounce unions and order fast-food workers to shut up, I wondered how long capital would tolerate its old-fashioned existence. In many cases, these people haven’t had an original thought in years. Their main job is to appear concerned on Fox News and collect a six-figure sinecure at some industry-subsidized think tank. To say that they “work hard” for an “honest living” is to bend meaning to the point where its fragile chicken bones snap beneath its rubbery flesh. In a sane world, they are the ones who would be most profitably replaced, their space in the CNBC octobox taken by Hatsune Miku–style projections, attractive Republican holograms whose free-market patter could be easily cued up by a back-office worker in Bangalore."
fastfood  2014  thomasfrank  chains  economics  capitalism  globalization  banking  minimumwage  us  technology  ideology  health  cities  urbanism  urbanplanning  urban  cars  deproffessionaliazation  automation  efficiency  productivity  obesity  power  control  inequality  work  labor 
january 2015 by robertogreco
10 (Not Entirely Crazy) Theories Explaining the Great Crime Decline | The Marshall Project
"Over the course of the 1990s, crime rates dropped, on average, by more than one-third. It was a historic anomaly; one that scholar Frank Zimring dubbed “the great American crime decline.” No one was sure how long the trend would last. Then, in 2010, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced that the homicide rate had reached a four-decade low. (Since then, overall crime rates have remained relatively flat.)While everyone agrees this is fantastic news, no one, least of all researchers and experts, can agree on exactly why it happened. Below are 10 popular theories for the decline, from abortion to lead to technology to the broken windows theory, with unvarnished views from three leading researchers—Zimring; Richard Rosenfeld, chairman of a National Academy of Sciences roundtable on crime trends; and John Roman of The Urban Institute—on which are the most plausible.

The “abortion filter” […]

The happy pill thesis […]

The lead hypothesis […]

Aging boomers […]

The tech thesis […]

Crack is whack […]

The roaring ’90s (and Obama-mania) […]

The prison boom […]

Police on the beat […]

Immigration and Gentrification […]"
crime  theories  theory  marshallproject  abortion  lead  prozac  ritalin  behavior  moods  babyboomers  population  demographics  technology  airconditioning  television  tv  cars  debitcards  currency  transactions  crack  drugs  economics  unemployment  greatrecession  recession  prison  incarceration  police  lawenforcement  gentrification  immigration  boomers 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Where Roads Collide — re:form — Medium
"Like an organic art form growing from commuter demands, local politics, and the brains of engineering teams, traffic interchanges are mesmerizing in their complexity. With more than half the world’s population now living in urban areas, car use is growing in countries once dominated by bicycles, motorbikes, and overcrowded buses.

Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the bizarre of global traffic management."
freeways  transportation  cars  losangeles  milwaukee  dallas  buenosaires  hongkong  bangkok  tokyo  shanghai 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The future resident of Helsinki will not own a car
"Ten years from now, transportation in Helsinki may operate very differently from the current system.

The service will be run by transportation operators, through which the regular citizen can buy all they want with a click. This does not only entail public transportation within the city, but also carpool, taxi, a train ticket to Tampere or parking fees in the city centre.

Few want to own their own car in future, when everything can be shared. If one wishes to travel from Puotila to Pukinmäki, the "route planner" of 2025 will provide information on where to change the city bike for a car due to impending rain, in addition to information on the fastest connection.

The City of Helsinki believes in the model so strongly that it plans to test it at the turn of the year with a few major employers in Vallila. Employers are being persuaded to join in by building a platform that enables employees to buy transportation services with their own funds.

Later, the experiment will also cover Kalasatama, or another new area."
cars  helsinki  transportationn  transit  mobility  urban  urbanism  finland  2014 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch at Pasadena City College - YouTube
[Questions that burn in the souls of Wesch's students:
Who am I?
What is the meaning of life?
What am I going to do with my life?
Am I going to make it?]

[See also: http://mediatedcultures.net/presentations/learning-as-soul-making/ ]
education  teaching  michaelwesch  identity  cv  soulmaking  spirituality  why  whyweteach  howweteach  learning  unschooling  deschooling  life  purpose  relationships  anthropology  ethnography  canon  meaning  meaningmaking  schooliness  schools  schooling  achievement  bigpicture  counseling  society  seymourpapert  empathy  perspective  assessment  fakingit  presentationofself  burnout  web  internet  wonder  curiosity  ambiguity  controversy  questions  questioning  askingquestions  questionasking  modeling  quests  risk  risktaking  2014  death  vulnerability  connectedness  sharedvulnerability  cars  technology  telecommunications  boxes  robertputnam  community  lievendecauter  capsules  openness  trust  peterwhite  safety  pubictrust  exploration  helicopterparenting  interestedness  ambition  ericagoldson  structure  institutions  organizations  constructionism  patricksuppes  instructionism  adaptivelearning  khanacademy  play  cocreationtesting  challenge  rules  engagement  novelty  simulation  compassion  digitalethnography  classideas  projectideas  collaboration  lcproject  tcsnmy  op 
july 2014 by robertogreco
MARLEY DAWSON - Hemphill
"Australian artist, Marley Dawson, approaches the studio environment as a test laboratory, and the gallery or public space inevitably turns into a hall of wonders for experimental objects. He is attracted to materials and processes with veiled significances that suggest the possibility of interaction, i.e miniature rockets created with the same ballistics technology used in weapons manufacturing, and aerodynamic, turned wooden objects made from rock maple baseball bat blanks."

[via: http://darklyeuphoric.tumblr.com/post/78496002441/australian-sculptor-marley-dawson ]
marleydavidson  art  artists  sculpture  aerodynamics  rockets  motorcycles  cars 
march 2014 by robertogreco
‘Where They Raced’ Details History of Los Angeles Auto Racing | Only A Game
[See also: http://www.wheretheyraced.com/WHERE_THEY_RACED/Where_They_Raced.html ]

"Northeast of downtown L.A. there’s a neighborhood called El Sereno. One weekend morning not long ago, El Sereno’s serenity was broken by the sound of a 1926 Winfield Ford. The vintage racecar tooled down today’s city streets, but the route they were on follows the racetrack of one of L.A.’s most storied speedways.

“That was such a thrill to be able to bring back a car and sort of reunite a car with its track,” filmmaker Harry Pallenberg said. “Where we are now, this is called Legion Ascot. It was a great track from the ’20s, and we were able to bring back a car that was one of the most winning cars here, and we sort of took a lap around the neighborhood. Some of the neighbors were screaming at us because those racecars were very very loud, but most of the neighbors were coming out and were like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe there was a racetrack here,’ or ‘My grandfather told me about it, and that’s awesome.’”
At the turn of the last century, Los Angeles, like today, had great weather, but back then there were very few people, meaning there was a lot of empty land. That made it perfect for auto races, like the one they held a 100 years ago in a town called Corona, 50 miles east of L.A. In the film, driver Brian Blain drove down the original course in a vintage National racecar.

“There was a half a dozen or so sites of races in Southern California that drew huge crowds,” Blain said. “Corona was one of the first and one of the biggest. If you can imagine, this town had a population of 3,500 people. And in 1913, they held a race and 100,000 people came. It’s just amazing.”

But car racing started here 10 years earlier, on a track south of downtown L.A. Harold Osmer, the film’s host and author of the book “Where They Raced” is based on, says that’s where one of the most famous names in early racing, Barney Oldfield, drove one mile in 54 seconds.

“The next day,” Osmer said, “the Los Angeles Times reported, ‘Oldfield’s attempt to commit suicide only resulted in a compound fracture of the world speed record.’”

Osmer writes that he started searching for what he thought were L.A.’s 10 to 15 racetracks, but, to his amazement, he found more than 100. Auto races were used to publicize Southern California, and speedways were used as placeholders for real estate, sometimes absurdly so."
cars  racing  carracing  losangeles  elsereno  film  history 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Infovore » First Read / Second Read
"Disclaimer: like so many of the so-called “smart things” I’ve ever said, this is basically a Matt Jones paraphrase.

Jones once explained, talking in the studio one day, a theory that had come from car design: First Read / Second Read.

What I remember him saying:

to design a really memorable car, you need a strong first read. A really strong first read. That’s the single shape, barely a single line that you remember at a glance. Like this:

You know what car I’m showing you already.

But: it’s not enough to have a strong first read. Then, when you’re closer, or double-taking, you need a strong second-read: that detail echoed, firming up the original shape, but making the coherence clear:

And then, on the third read, once you’ve encompassed the detail therein, you still need something to satisfy the eye: details to take in, subtleties and shapes.

The Beetle is an obvious way of showing this, but it really works: it’s not just that strong first read that makes the Beetle so beautiful; it’s the strong first, second, and third reads all co-existing at once that make it work quite so well. Detail that you never get sucked into won’t work; a striking first impression that goes nowhere won’t work.

And Jones, astute as ever, would point out this applied to many forms of design: often, getting the strong first read would be hard, sucking someone into the detail we’d made – but sometimes, you’d also have to focus on backing up that first read with detail."
design  tomarmitage  mattjones  layering  details  zoominginandout  2014  subtlety  engagement  games  gaming  attention  cars  via:tealtan 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The right to live in the suburbs | Great Streets San Diego
"Low density developments are essentially government subsidizes. Land Use in low density areas is so financially unproductive that it is impossible to build and maintain the infrastructure needed for them to exist. Not only do the streets, sewers, water, utilities, etc cost more to initially install, suburbs do not generate the tax revenue required to maintain them. The suburbs are draining city government coffers at an alarming rate. Is it any wonder San Diego has $3 billion dollar infrastructure deficit?"

[via: http://manso.jed.co/post/75082699785/the-right-to-live-in-the-suburbs ]

"I’d add that low density development also subsidizes the auto industry. It costs about $9,000 a year to own a car. If you live in a place that requires you to own a car, you’re effectively required to pay $9,000 a year tax in the form of car payments, insurance, and gas.

Don’t forget: people should have the right to not pay for a car. Communities that require cars eliminate this right."
subsurbs  suburbia  infrastructure  2013  cars  density  subsidies  government  california  landuse  development  taxrevenue 
january 2014 by robertogreco
New! Carbon Footprint Maps | CoolClimate Network
"Interactive carbon footprint maps from the CoolClimate Calculator. Find out how you compare to local averages and create a personalized climate action plan for you or your community. See info on recent Jones and Kammen paper and FAQ below.

Average Annual Household Carbon Footprint by Zip Code
Average Household Energy Carbon Footprint by Zip Code
Average Vehicle Miles Traveled by Zip Code"

[via: http://ucresearch.tumblr.com/post/73463951301/coolclimateucbmaps ]
data  energy  maps  cars  climate  carbonfootprint  2014  us  mapping 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Google cars versus public transit: the US’s problem with public goods | ... My heart’s in Accra
"There’s something very odd about a world in which it’s easier to imagine a futuristic technology that doesn’t exist outside of lab tests than to envision expansion of a technology that’s in wide use around the world. How did we reach a state in America where highly speculative technologies, backed by private companies, are seen as a plausible future while routine, ordinary technologies backed by governments are seen as unrealistic and impossible?

The irony of the Google car for my circumstances is that it would be inferior in every way to a train. A semi-autonomous car might let me read or relax behind the wheel, but it would be little faster than my existing commute and as sensitive to traffic, which is the main factor that makes some trips 2.5 hours and some 4 hours. Even if my Google car is a gas-sipping Prius or a plug-in hybrid, it will be less energy efficient than a train, which achieves giant economies of scale in fuel usage even at higher speeds than individual vehicles. It keeps me sealed in my private compartment, rather than giving me an opportunity to see friends who make the same trip or meet new people.

There’s a logical response to my whiny demands for an easier commute: if there were a market for such a service, surely such a thing would exist. And if train service can’t be profitably provided between Pittsfield and Boston, why should Massachusetts taxpayers foot the bill for making my life marginally easier?

This line of reasoning became popular in the US during the Reagan/Thatcher revolution and has remained influential ever since. What government services can be privatized should be, and government dollars should go only towards services, like defense, that we can’t pay for in private markets. As the US postal service has reminded us recently, they remain open during the government shutdown because they are mandated by Congress to be revenue neutral. Ditto for Amtrak, which subsidizes money-losing long distance routes with profitable New England services and covers 88% of expenses through revenue, not through government support. Our obsession with privatization is so thorough in the US that we had no meaningful debate in the US about single payer healthcare, a system that would likely be far cheaper and more efficient than the commercial health insurance mandated under the Affordable Care Act – even when governments provide services more efficiently than private markets, the current orthodoxy dictates that private market solutions are the way to go.

The problem with private market solutions is that they often achieve a lower level of efficiency than public solutions. Medicare has tremendous power to negotiate with drug manufacturers, which brings down healthcare costs. Private insurers have less leverage, and we all pay higher prices for drugs as a result, especially those whose healthcare isn’t paid for my a government or private organization and who have no negotiating power. The current system works very well for drug companies, but poorly for anyone who needs and uses healthcare (which is to say, for virtually everyone.)"



"This unwillingness to consider the creation of new public goods restricts the solution space we consider. We look for solutions to the crisis in journalism but aren’t willing to consider national license models like the one that supports the BBC, or strong, funded national broadcasters like NHK or Deutsche Welle. We build markets to match consumers with health insurance but won’t consider expanding Medicare into a single-payer health system. We look towards MOOCs and underpaid lecturers rather than considering fundamental reforms to the structure of state universities. We consider a narrow range of options and complain when we find only lousy solutions."
government  infrastructure  politics  rail  transportation  ethanzuckerman  trains  googlecars  cars  self-drivingcras  2013  publicgoods  commuting  privatization  crowdfunding 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Chris Christie’s New Jersey Is Everything That’s Wrong With America - James Howard Kunstler - POLITICO Magazine
"These adjustments all hinge on the re-localization and downscaling of the major activities that add up to civilized life: we have to grow more of our food closer to home (as oil-based agri-business flounders); we have to move out of failing suburbia into more compact neighborhoods and towns; we have to prepare for the difficult, necessary contraction of our overgrown giant urban metroplexes (New York City in particular); we have to re-organize commerce away from the monocultures of car-dependent big box corporate despotism and rebuild resilient Main Street infrastructures of trade, and we have to do all these things with a kind of conscious and deliberate earnestness that amounts to a national sense of purpose—something sorely absent in these baleful days of Kardashians, universal obesity and comprehensive American anomie. In short, we have to become a lot less like New Jersey."
2014  urban  urbanism  suburbs  agriculture  chrischristie  newjersey  jameshowardkunstler  transportation  cars  publictransit  politics  policy  government  monoculture 
january 2014 by robertogreco
"Self-Driving cars are the answer. But what is the question?"
"Self-driving cars are a sticking plaster over existing conditions. They actually reinforce the 'Californian Ideology' that underpins today's mobility problems: suburban sprawl, based around the possibility of lengthy car-based commutes, in turn predicated on a highly individualistic view of society. It is an entirely conservative move. Self-driving cars provide a way of changing the veneer of this system, as no-one is brave enough to suggest changing the system itself. They replace who, or what, is holding the steering wheel, but not the underlying culture that contributes to mass depression, obesity epidemics, climate change and economic crises."



"Software-enabled sharing is far more radical than simply software-enabled driving. We have seen how bike-sharing schemes are beginning to redraw our urban fabric. We can see the growth in the community garden movements. We can see how shared space systems creates a safer, more engaged way of moving around. Self-driving cars have none of these dynamics, simply using software to reinforce what are actually pre-internet ideologies.

Folding self-driving systems into car-sharing schemes, as part of a wider rethink about how we live together in cities, however? I could share that vision. So again, what is the real question that suggests self-driving cars are the solution?"
danhill  carsharing  bikesharing  googlecar  self-drivingcars  cars  transportation  2013  software  systemschange  cities  urban  urbanism  parking  sharing  sharingeconomy  publictransit 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Could Electric Cars Be Bad For The Environment? | Here & Now
"For Zehner, electric cars are illustrative of a larger discussion that he says environmentalists are not having.

“We associate certain technologies with being clean,” Zehner told Here & Now. “These technologies have become a part of the environmental movement, a part of what it means to be an environmentalist, and we’re finding now that there are some questions that we haven’t been asking.”

For example, Zehner says much of the research into electric cars is funded by members of the automotive industry.

“I’m not suggesting that the corporate sponsorship leads people to massage their research data, but it can shape findings in more subtle ways,” Zehner said. “It influences the questions that get asked, and companies are interested in directing their money to researchers who are asking the types of questions that stand to benefit their industry.”"
ozziezehner  cars  2013  electriccars  sustainability  walking  walkablecities  cities  transportation  climatechange  environment  donanair 
july 2013 by robertogreco
How Google accidentally uncovered a Chinese ring of car thieves | The Verge
"The answer turned out to be even stranger. They were real cars, but they weren't really for sale. Scammers were taking pictures of cars on the street, and when a hapless customer showed up a few days later offering money, they'd steal the car and hand it over. By the time the mark realized he had purchased stolen goods, the sellers were long gone, taking his money with them. It's a lucrative scam, and in China, a well-known one — but to anyone looking at the ads, it just looks like one more crop of used-car ads.

For those who study fraud in China, on the other hand, this is far from surprising. "These people are very professional," says Dahui Li, an information systems expert at the University of Minnesota who specializes in Chinese online fraud. In the case of the car scam, he says the offline component is the most important part, as a way to assure skeptical customers that the sale is legit. "Chinese people want to see the product before they pay for it," Li says. "They have to see the car." So the criminal element developed a scheme that could show it to them."



:More importantly, it doesn’t take human prejudice into account. Baker and his team weren’t looking for cars or car thieves. But the algorithm saw a pattern of quick buys from new accounts, tied together with larger and more subtle patterns, and deduced something was up. It’s not an airtight system: more than a few valid accounts have had their orders delayed while the team checked them out. But in this case, it was able to reach across continents to suss out a scheme its engineers had never even imagined. Cultural differences could fool the humans, but they couldn’t fool the machine."

[via: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/google-algorithm-inadvertently-takes-down-ring-chinese-car-thieves ]
google  crime  adwords  china  2013  cars  algorithms  patterns 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Robert Moses vs. Jane Jacobs - WNYC
On not focusing on differences: "I think this focus on their clash does both of them something of a disservice ... We can fall into a trap thinking that 50 years later what we need to be doing is choosing sides in a battle." --Owen Gutfruend

On Moses' character: "He became an unchecked power that was counterproductive in many ways. He was meanspirited, he was megalomaniacal." --Owen Gutfruend

On changing how we talk about transportation: "Look at the nomenclature ... People still talk about, and journalists write about, investing in highways and subsidizing transit. Now, it seems to me we could do it the other way around. We could invest in transit because we've been subsidizing highways since the 1950s." --Roberta Brandes Gratz
nyc  janejacobs  robertmoses  via:tealtan  2010  cities  urban  urbanism  transportation  infrastructure  owengutfruend  cars  freeways  robertabrandesgratz  anthonyflint 
may 2013 by robertogreco
MINDDRIVE | Driven by the Future
"MINDDRIVE’S mission is to inspire students to learn, expand their vision of the future, and to have a positive impact on urban workforce development. The program is funded through the national sponsorships of Bridgestone, Hertz Corporation, SONIC®, America's Drive-In®, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), VML, and KCP&L as well as through local foundations and individual contributors.

MINDDRIVE serves 30 students from the urban core of Kansas City, currently working with 5 area schools; there are 21 students participating in Automotive Design Studio and 9 in Contemporary Communications. The students choose their course and also are given the freedom to align with the particular aspect of the project that gets them the most jazzed. Mentors play a huge role in finding what that spark is for each student, then figuring out a way to inspire them in that direction."

[via: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-05/22/electric-karmann-ghia-tweets ]
mentoring  cars  electriccars  kansascity  openstudioproject  lcproject  engineering  making  communication  socialmedia  design  automotivedesign  minddrive 
may 2013 by robertogreco
DMV to take orders for retro license plates - latimes.com
"The California Department of Motor Vehicles will start taking orders Jan. 1 for license plates that mirror ones issued from the 1950s to the 1970s.

The state needs 7,500 orders by Jan. 1, 2015, to print the "legacy license plates," which have either blue, black or yellow backgrounds. Drivers must fill out a form, which is available on the DMV website, and pay $50. If the state does not meet the order threshold, it will refund the application fees.

The start-up cost for the program, should it move forward, will be $385,000, which will be covered by application fees, according to a legislative analysis.

The program is intended, in part, to give classic car collectors a way to get plates that match the era of their vehicles, the analysis said."
retro  licenseplates  cars  2013  2012  california  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
TrafficCOM
"Now you can easily gather and share traffic count data for automobiles and bicycles"
urbanism  urban  datacollection  trafficcom  data  cars  biking  bikes  classideas  sensors  traffic 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Rich World's 'Peak Car' Moment: Car-Sharing, Carpooling, Car-Ignoring - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"Today's news of explosive car-pooling companies in Europe is a glimpse into a broader trend: Car-driving and car-owning metrics are peaking across the developed world"
europe  us  2012  transportation  peakcar  driving  cars  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
The Cooper Journal: The best interface is no interface
"Creative minds in technology should focus on solving problems. Not just make interfaces.

As Donald Norman said in 1990, “The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job.”

It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, & has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money & time to make these systems somewhat usable, & after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve w/ a major overhaul.

There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better."
glowingrectangles  via:maxfenton  screens  square  paymentsystems  nfc  everyware  ubicomp  calmtechnology  markweiser  ambercase  kevinashton  adamgreenfield  donaldnorman  goldenkrishna  computing  nest  ui  cars  interfaces  interactiondesign  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Peter Vidani on the Evolution of the Tumblr Dashboard
Most of the feedback comes from everyone in the company. I hope that doesn’t change. I feel like even when we were five people, we all knew when something was right or wrong because we use it so much. We still get feedback from the Support team. If Support’s getting thousands of emails about a design or functional piece, we can react to that.
The advantage of this system is we’re making all the decisions ourselves — we’re recognizing the problems and solving them ourselves — so when something doesn’t work, we know exactly why. When you’re A/B testing or solving problems for other people, and you ask for someone’s opinion, you’re not going to get an honest answer. You’ll get an answer because you asked a question. Also, you’re not going to recognize why you’re fixing something if you didn’t yourself recognize that it was wrong. You’re solving someone else’s problem.
For example, there is no longer a follower count displayed on the Dashboard. We moved that to the user’s blog page for two reasons. First, we wanted that column on the Dashboard to only relate to things you subscribe to — who you follow, who you like, tags you’ve subscribed to. Second, we wanted to take the focus off follower counts. It can be an intimidating number, and something to obsess over, and ultimately a huge distraction from why you’re on Tumblr. A high follower count is not a good reason to share something, and posting something purely as follower-bait is not ideal. You should post something that you like, to attract the audience that’s kindest and most similar to you.
But when we moved the follower count to another page, it bothered a lot of people. Data would show that the number of visits to the page dropped off dramatically. Both of those facts would indicate that we should move the page back up front, but we made a conscious decision: We just don’t want to show the number so prominently.
I’m a big fan of old car dashboards, like Volkswagen’s Mark I Golf. I love seeing dashboards in old concept cars. Car dashboards are fascinating because they’re supposed to be usable instantly. And a lot of it needs to be usable without even looking at it. Turning on a blinker, using the radio. Checking speed, fuel, hitting the horn, even steering — all usable at a glance or less. You have hundred-year-old technology that makes sense to anyone as soon as they sit in a car. These dashboards deal with colors, they deal with touch, they deal with language, they deal with ergonomics. The result when it’s done really well — when someone can use it without being told how to use it — is really beautiful. And yet it doesn’t need to be beautiful because no one’s really looking at it.
design  control  tumblr  feedback  cars  waggledance  via:tealtan 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Portable cathedrals - Design - Domus
"So the N9 is not so much a product as a pointer. It will soon be impossible, or perhaps pointless anyway, to buy. Meego is a dead man walking and the hardware will live on in a new cloned and cared-for body, as the Lumia…

The Citröen DS was ultimately destined to befall the fate of mummification as a 'design icon' rather than a major commercial success. Numerous beautifully-maintained examples are still just about running, maintained by obsessives who spend their Sunday mornings patching up fuel sumps, buffing white leather interiors and browsing eBay for increasingly rare spare parts.

Perhaps as with the DS 19, the N9 will also end up maintained by an army of enthusiasts, a lost classic filed away in some museum of digital artefacts, an open-source movement supporting and extending Meego as a kind of avant-garde alt.OS, augmented by 3D-printed replacement physical parts or modded components, as with Leicas and Polaroids."
software  industrialdesign  objects  objectsofdesire  cars  phones  mobile  rolandbarthes  2011  danhill  meego  citröends  portablecathedrals  n9  design  nokia  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Human Motor - YouTube
"The Human Motor: A Documentary on the San Francisco Critical Mass Bike Ride, created by Ellie Vanderlip, 2011"
via:javierarbona  carculture  cars  activism  transportation  biking  bikes  toshare  studentfilms  documentary  2011  history  sanfrancisco  criticalmass  ellievanderlip  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
“…than the evening of an Etruscan grove”: Soho in the bones « Adam Greenfield's Speedbird
"we are all of us making and remaking the places we live in on a constant basis, speaking them into reality through the things we say and the comments we leave on blogs, knitting them into being with bicycles and cars and our own two feet. We bring them to life with our custom and our traffic, our peregrinations and the exercise of our habits. And if we want to leave legends behind, we’d better get busy. These particular streets, richly shrouded in story as they are, demand no less."
adamgreenfield  memory  place  meaning  meaningmaking  soho  london  2011  subcultures  bike  biking  cars  cities  atemporality  change  evolution  urban  urbanism  pedestrians  walking  persistence  persistenceofmemory  legacy  living  life  reinvention  making  remaking  markmaking  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Debunking the Cul-de-Sac - Design - The Atlantic Cities
"Safest cities in America are the ones incorporated before 1930, when streets were laid out in grids. Fashion and regulation shifted then to favouring winding streets and cul-de-sacs. Which turn out to be inefficient and dangerous"
safety  urbandesign  urban  urbanism  cities  suburbs  suburbia  density  cars  transportation  cul-de-sac  california  research  normangarrick  wesleymarshall  patterns  comparison  grids  traditionalgrid  fha  design  urbanplanning  2011  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
Witnessing tools and resentment | slacktivist
"Mainly, though, car-fish aren’t really intended for witnessing. They’re not witnessing tools, they are tribal symbols. The Jesus-fish on a car is not an invitation, but a declaration of tribal allegiance. It’s a signal that the driver of this car is an “Us” rather than a “Them.” And that Us-Them symbolism has far more to do with conflict than with any attempt at conversion.<br />
<br />
This is true as well of many of the other things we tell ourselves are “witnessing tools.” One one level, they may be intended as conversation-starters, but on another level they’re also intended as conversation-stoppers — as attempts to win some implied argument. They’re not really designed for evangelism. They’re just the graffiti and propaganda of the culture wars."
religion  via:lukeneff  symbols  symbolism  witnessingtools  christianity  cars  tribalism  conflict  conversion  evangelism  propaganda  culturewars  conversation  allegiances  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Cooper Journal: Will Ford learn that software isn't manufactured?
"Automobile manufacturing companies like Ford need to acknowledge that they are no longer making automobiles with attached computer systems. In reality, they are making computer control systems with attached motion mechanisms. The digital computer is increasingly dominating the driver’s attention, even more so than the steering and brakes. If auto makers don’t give equivalent attention to the design and implementation of these digital systems, they will fail, regardless of the quality of the drive train, interior furnishings, and other manufactured systems…

Designing and building a better automobile cockpit is the tip of the iceberg. The biggest task facing Ford and other car companies is changing the way they think and the way they work."
design  cars  userexperience  interaction  typography  change  2011  business  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
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