- Tent City Rapidly Growing in Sacramento – Wow, a tent city forming within Sacramento? What proportion of people ended up living in shantytowns and similar impromptu dwellings and communities during the Great Depression I wonder. Ironic and sad, given the absurd oversupply of housing is what in large part triggered this economic mess. (tagged: homeless economy depression sacramento california shanty )
- Wikileaks cracks NATO's Master Narrative for Afghanistan – For the love of god, even the Pentagon can't get its users to pick decent passwords? Classified messaging (propaganda) documents regarding Afghanistan posted on publicly accessible website, encrypted with the super-secret ultra-secure key: 'progress'. (tagged: propaganda transparency war pentagon military security internet )
- Nationalization for Beginners – A nice short readable set of the possible definitions of "Nationalization" in the context of the banking crisis. Opponents usually mean Soviet style State Banks, proponents generally mean FDIC style conservatorship. What we've got now is a horribly opaque mishmash. (tagged: bailout crisis finance fdic economics )
- Rep. John Conyers: A Reply to Larry Lessig – Conyers replies to Lessig's fairly aggressive critique of HR801 in public. Not convincing. (tagged: politics science openaccess hr801 lessig conyers publishing )
- Talk on China and the Global Internet at Harvard – Rebecca MacKinnon gave a talk on the future of China within the context of the global Internet. Haven't watched it yet, but downloaded to my iTunes, and her blog is good. Ethan Zuckerman blogged it. Interesting to see how different cultures evolve their relationship with the machines independently (and how it mediates our interactions with each other) (tagged: china internet technology transparency censorship harvard )
- If You Want to Know Bike Laws, Don’t Ask the California Highway Patrol – A great rundown of traffic laws as they apply to bicycles in California… and how unfortunately uninformed the police are. (tagged: bicycle transportation police law california )
- R3project: Sustainability in Barcelona – A blog recounting the story of remodeling (and living in) a previously abandoned 18th century apartment in Barcelona's old town, as sustainably (and cheaply) as possible. Available in English or Spanish! (tagged: green sustainability design architecture urban barcelona buildings )
- The Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds – 4.6 billion years of Earth history, boiled down into 60 seconds, showing the spectacularly non-linear nature of evolution. (tagged: non-linear video science evolution biology earth darwin history )
- EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Project – A tutorial from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on what you can do to protect yourself against snooping, government and otherwise. Now if only these things would become standard, default practice, around which all of our applications and workflows are designed. (tagged: politics technology privacy surveillance security law )
- Human flesh search engines – A phenomenon of internet vigilantes, kind of like paramilitary morality cops, in China. We've been doing this kind of thing to spammers and other "internet criminals" for a while now. Strange to see it leak out into the real world. A potentially interesting propaganda tool. Mob justice on command? (tagged: internet technology china vigilante politics )
- Long Beach’s State Senator Lowenthal Takes on Parking Requirements – Wow, how awesome would this be? Massive state wide overhaul of our insane parking requirements? Will be interesting to see the vote… (tagged: parking transportation policy california )
- Report on HR 801, Fair Copyright in Research Works Act | MAPLight.org – MAPLight takes a look at campaign financing in the context of HR 801 (that Conyers bill) which would prohibit the federal government from requiring open access to publications arising from publicly funded scientific research (along the lines of what is currently required for the NIH). Bill sponsors on the house judiciary committee got, on average, about twice what non-sponsors got. My rep, Adam Schiff got $6,000, which is more than the average contribution to sponsors. (tagged: politics transparency openaccess science )
- Welcome to the Future – An essay by Bruce Schneier, on the immediacy of panopticon style surveillance. All the technology is in place, it just needs to stitched together at the edges. In typical human style, we're going to bumble headlong into the mess, it seems. I'm not as sure as he is that it's ultimately bad for us though – when we lived in tribes and villages, privacy was rare. This transparency will, I think, only be a disaster if we can't watch those in power just as well. (tagged: technology privacy transparency surveillance )
- Livable Streets Education – Curricula and lesson plans for teaching Livable Streets topics in K-8 classrooms. Currently being used in NY, but available online for anyone, anywhere. (tagged: transportation green education open )
- A Brighter Shade of Green – A good essay on what it means to be "bright green", politically and philosophically. (tagged: green sustainability environment philosophy politics )
- USA CO2 emissions from fossil fuel – CO2 emitted, broken down geographically by county, and source of emission, fully zoom-and-panable in Google Earth! (tagged: energy maps visualization environment co2 carbon )
- In Amsterdam, The Bicycle Still Rules – The Netherlands spends about $6 each year per capita on bicycle infrastructure. California spends about about 18 cents. What would our state be like if we upped the ante? (tagged: bicycle transportation policy amsterdam california budget )
- Drones parked in our own backyard, to Bomb our own People – Ah, the People have their own Eye in the Sky now. Google Earth allows Pakistanis to find the CIA's predator drones, parked in an airfield in Pakistan! So much for their government's denial of involvement. (tagged: transparency surveillance google pakistan drone )
- Streams of Travelers – A one hour time lapse of a square filled with flowing pedestrians in Amsterdam. They're pretty dynamic, those walkers. (tagged: amsterdam pedestrian timelapse video flickr )
- Watching the Growth of Walmart Across America – Very cool animation of the spread of WalMart across America. Kind of like watching popcorn pop… (tagged: walmart maps economics visualization )
- Tinkering School – An awesome experiential school, at which kids are allowed to do dangerous things with power tools, in the name of learning to create things that work, and how to deal with frustration and failure. (tagged: education design ted school tinker )
- Interactive Atlas of the World's Endangered Languages – Most of the world's surviving human languages (of which there are currently about 6000) will go extinct in my lifetime. Here's a map of where they are, who speaks them, and what they're called. (tagged: language extinct culture human atlas maps )
- Mo(NU)mentum: a future urban drill core – A hypothetical drill core from the future, showing urban sediment through the ages: stone, to brick, to concrete, to asphalt, and finally plastic. Ever more refined and energy intensive materials, in thinner and thinner layers, until the present, at which… we note… sedimentation stopped. (tagged: art green construction urban )
- Final CA Budget Cuts Gas Tax Increase, Still Nothing for Transit – Happy St. Fuckers day: the republican senator from Orange County finds sales and income taxes more acceptable than gas taxes. All state funding for public transit nixed. Gas to remain cheap. What a crock. (tagged: streetsblog california politics energy transportation taxes )
- Los Angeles Bike Summit March 7th, 2009 – Los Angeles Bike Summit! Networking cyclists and bike advocacy organizations. Being put on by the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. (tagged: bicycle advocacy los angeles bike transportation )
The idea is certainly good, but there’s a lot of bookkeeping that will need be done within the myriad supply chains that create the products, that isn’t getting done now. Does California have enough clout to force it to be done? Seems unlikely (even if we are the Nth largest economy on earth, where N is small). Really we need to partner with the EU, and other like-minded bodies to come up with a single standard we can all adhere to. This is the kind of thing the WTO should (for instance) be about.
It currently appears likely that the “stimulus” package to be passed as soon as congress reconvenes will dump tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into the budgets of the state transportation departments, because they’re the ones with “shovels in the ground” ready projects capable of mindlessly absorbing that much cash. The problem is, those projects are all about cars, and the feds have virtually no oversight of where the money goes once it’s in the state DoT coffers. This is a recipe for waste, not forward looking investment. It is the worst of spending, for spending’s sake – which is what the “stimulus” is all about, let’s be clear – but if we’re going to spend for the sake of spending, why oh why can’t we also do it in a thoughtful way? Because when there’s a crisis, it’s the ideas that are laying around, most accessible, that get implemented. The plans that are on the books, ready to go. The wishlists of those in power.
The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor, State of California
California State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Support: AB 1358 (Leno)
I am writing to encourage you to lend your support to the Complete Streets legislation (AB 1358) which has just cleared the state assembly. Changing the built environment within our cities to accommodate non-automotive modes of transportation is a crucial step that California must take in reducing our per-capita greenhouse gas emissions, as well as helping our citizens to reduce their dependence on increasingly expensive foreign petroleum products.
As gas prices have risen, more people than ever in California are choosing to leave their cars behind, and explore cycling, walking, and public transportation options. Unfortunately, all too often they discover that their cities have been designed and built with little consideration for those who are not driving. I know, because I have been commuting by bicycle in southern California since 1993.
Complete streets aren’t just about cyclists though, they’re better for the elderly, and for children too, as well as those for whom car ownership, maintenance, and insurance are a significant economic burden.
I was recently disappointed when the LA Metro board refused to commit to spending a portion of the money to be raised by the proposed sales tax increase (measure R on the ballot this fall) on pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Per dollar invested, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure moves more people to and from their destination than any other mode of transport. The climate and topography of southern California are gentle, and ideal for cycling and walking, but apparently, our city planners will not invest in that infrastructure unless they have been mandated to do so by the state. I hope you will help create that mandate by signing AB 1358 into law when it crosses your desk.
Zane A. Selvans
Last week Congress left DC for its summer vacation without extending the federal tax credits for investments in renewable energy. This is an abject failure on the part of our elected representatives. Without these tax credits, the booming renewable energy industry will grind to a halt come December 31st. Already, companies like EI Solutions in Pasadena, that design and build large solar installations, have been forced to stop signing contracts for projects that cannot be completed before the end of the year. For years these tax incentives have been renewed only on an annual basis, and sometimes only at the last minute, or even retroactively, making it impossible for the industry to develop long range business plans and investments.
At the same time, we reliably subsidize the mature, well capitalized, and fabulously profitable domestic fossil fuel industries, encouraging our dependence on polluting, finite, and often foreign resources. This doesn’t make any sense, because the oil, gas, and coal companies already have they capital they need to make investments in additional production capacity, but they choose not to, and instead return their profits to their shareholders. On the other hand, tax credits for renewables currently make or break the industry.
Which should we be doing? Pouring money into the pockets of ExxonMobil shareholders, or fostering the emergence and growth of a domestic, renewable, clean, energy industry, that can provide thousands of new jobs in California. I think the choice is clear. Evidently, Congress feels otherwise. An army of lobbyists paid by the fossil fuel industry has made sure of it. We don’t have to depend on fossil fuels forever, but unless we demand change from our elected representatives, they are going to keep listening to the campaign contributions.