It still astonishes me that people (moi included) can get into heated debates about the shape of a product that Apple hasn't even says might exist. But here is one more example: Apple Executives Share Thoughts on e-Book Market, iPhone Profits - Mac Rumors.
One issue in dispute is whether a "super-sized iPhone" would be any big deal. I say "Yes indeed."
And screen size 3-4 x current would do it.
A quantitative change (larger screen) creates a qualitative change --- it allows the one thing an iPhone doesn't: easy reading of long-form contenti.e. books and long articles.
(And yes I have done my share of reading on an iPhone -- an entire book in fact -- and while it is not bad, it is not a game changer as might an iTablet.)
My guess is that Jobs would like his name to be linked with Gutenberg's as a major cultural figure (and who wouldn't?) and that is not a far-fetched goal for him. A device with a screen 3-4 times larger than an Phone (but with few or any additional features) would be a profound societal game changer, transforming so much it's hard to know where to start.
Seattle faces an interesting election. The two-time incumbent (Nickels) didn't make it into the finals. Pretty amazing considering that he had been a 'not bad' mayor. Arrogant, maybe. But a perfect-pitch Seattle liberal with no financial or sex scandals (his own or in his city government entirely) in his 8 years in office. Amazing and admirable, even if I disagreed with much of his policy.
So now we have two guys running for Seattle's top job — neither of whom has held or even run for any public office. Since they agree on so much, the debate comes down to two prongs: the deep-bore tunnel and basic competence.
Here's a plug for Mr. McGinn: The Party of the Future. My own take on his opponent Mr. Mallahan:
I was at the Maple Leaf election meeting last night and I asked Mr. Mallahan how he expected us to pay for the tunnel’s cost overruns.
His response was that with his leadership as Mayor there wouldn’t be any cost overruns.
Such an answer is absurd and patronizing.
What strikes me about Mr. Mallahan is that he simply is not a smart politician. A smart politician would have said something like “Wait a second. I am committed 100% to the tunnel but we do have to clarify this issue of cost overruns. I am fiscally responsible and I want to make sure that Seattle is not stuck paying for management errors when we are not responsible for management.”
Such an answer would have reassured the tunnel advocates AND the tunnel waverers (though not tunnel adversaries, I admit.) But as it was, Mr. Mallahan’s answer made him look like a patronizing fool — trying to tell us that HE can prevent cost overruns. Talk about arrogance.
The speaker describes an interesting technique for (potentially) repairing/regrowing(?) piling under Venice. But her sneering characterization of current building methods as "Victorian technologies" is vast over-reaching, too-too trendy and it seemed to me a bit shallow.
With reference to Better Transit Information:
In general one of the best things a city can do these days is simply open information flows up so that third parties can develop interesting applications. If Google can access your city's public transit scheduling data, then people can use Google Transit to figure out how to get where they're going and your agency doesn't need to worry about coming up with a better map-making program than Google's. But by the same token, if some rival firm does invent a "better than Google" mapping program, they'll be able to access your data too and launch a competing product.(emphasis added)
Absolutely so. The issue far transcends transit, Google maps etc and into open government. I'd love to see the City of Seattle. which is the only local government I watch very carefully and which largely drives me nuts, open up its data base(s) (and virtually everything the city does is on that data base and has been for years) to Google et al.
Then we'd have real open government and the City might even save some money by minimizing its own web page efforts.
On a non-insane level, the idea of trying to build machines that suck CO2 out of the air and then somehow store it is pretty clearly worth researching. That said, trees already do this quite well and our tree-planting technology is fine. Rather than wait around for the hypothetical "artificial trees" of the future why not just plant more trees? It seems to me there are lots of places in America where trees could be growing but aren't.
Which comes around to the overarching point that the term "geoengineering" often obscures more than it reveals. There's a world of difference between offering financial incentives for people to build high-albedo roofs and building a miles-long hose to pump sulfur into the upper atmosphere. Do I get to be a bold contrarian thinker if I propose that surface parking lots should have more tree cover? Somehow it seems I don't. But it makes much more sense to focus on practical deployments of proven technology (trees, white paint) than on trying to dream up the most fantastical possible solution.To sum up so that the larger message should not be lost in the droll humor:
Do simple things first.
Then, if you need to, go back and do the difficult. Cherry pick. Grab low-hanging fruit. etc etc
In his plain-spoken book on how to create vibrant commercial streets through urban design, David Sucher gives only three rules:
Build buildings to the sidewalk.
Use windows and doors (not mirrored) to connect the inside of the building to the outside.
And prohibit parking lots in front of the building.
Whether or not they've read "City Comforts: How To Build an Urban Village," the folks who designed the new Playhouse on the Square follow nearly all its principles.David Sucher didn't devise the principles. He simply observed them and their power, under the right conditions, to generate urbanism.
Marching Toward Zombieland is political? So says James Howard Kunstler.
The "people" across this big country may not have a clue how any of this is done, and there may be much to fault them on from the care-and-feeding of their own bodies to the content of their dreams, but you can't argue with the fact that they are heavily armed to an extreme. And although it may be hard to measure with precision, one might venture to state that they are increasingly pissed off. How else explain popular entertainments like "Zombieland?" (italics added)Because the movie is funny? Which it is.
Only someone who hasn't seen it or with excess of imagination could think that there is any political content at all in Zombieland. I saw it Saturday night and I thought it was very funny and with no political message whatsoever except....well I can't find one even by reaching. OK. Maybe "Zombies are bad." How is that for trenchant political insight? The movie doesn't even start to suggest reasons why the country was laid waste by zombies beyond, I think it was, "a bug."
However I do agree that the Goldman Sachs profits were scandalous and will have political repercussions. And the appointment last week of a Goldman Sachs employee — all of 29 years old — to be head of an important enforcement division at the SEC was comical, no matter how bright he might be.
...the Central Library, smack in the heart of downtown. It's fascinating architecture; in fact, The New Yorker called it "the most important new library to be built in a generation." From the street level, it's an imposing building — so much so that it probably violates Seattle-based blogger David Sucher's t . But despite my initial misgivings about the building's scale...
While the Central Library certainly does violate the Three Rules and in fact does not contribute to the walkability of downtown Seattle (except as eye candy) the tragedy is that it could have been both: brilliant eye candy and also adhering to the Three Rules so that it contributes to a lively sidewalk. I am sorry that the two are posed as if they are inherently in opposition.
There is no inherent conflict between starchitecture like Koolhaas' Central Library and walkable urbanism. In practice of course very little startchitecture is designed to enhance the walkability of its neighborhood. But it doesn't have to be so.
We can have both starchitecture (to the degree we really want i) and walkable urbanism. The tragedy is that there is an assumption that we can't and so we let starchitects run wild and ignore the need/desire for buildings which support walkable urbanism.
As a side issue, I am a bit by about the use of the word "scale," above. In fact the Central Library is not very big — certainly vastly lower than the office towers which surround it in the Seattle CBD. I can't quite follow the argument that the Library is too big — if anything it is too small and doesn't use the building envelope which zoning makes available to the site.
....from the point of view of things progressives are actually trying to accomplish on a policy level, it’s generally desirable to build as densely as is feasible on already-developed parcels. And that’s often what jackass developers are trying to do, and it’s often what local activists are trying to block. The developers are not, of course, out to save the environment, it’s just greed. But the activists, too, are basically being greedy—they’ve got theirs already. (italics added)Acknowledging that self-interest is the primary motivator of human activity and a legitimate one does not mean that there are no better (or worse) things in the world. There are indeed situations in which the greed of one group is better (or worse) — and I mean in a very objective sense — than the greed of another for the nation or world or whatever community you choose to use as your frame of reference. So yes there is a "good" and "bad" in the world and policy is not just a matter of opinion. Atlantic Yards (the mega-project in Brooklyn) is a bad idea insofar as it needs the power of condemnation and even though the people against it are motivated by their own self-interest in preserving their community, in fact in the big picture what they urge (limiting use of eminent domain) is better for the world. Or so I would like to have you believe.
Every few months I see articles and posts about congestion pricing as a means of "solving congestion." For example: How Does Congestion Pricing Work? and A Terrible Argument Against Congestion Pricing.
Why such interest in something which has no future? Serious consideration of congestion pricing is so far out of step with popular political sentiment in the USA that wonks who suggest it might very well be more interested in policy than getting anything done.
Traffic in much of the country — and I write from Seattle which has terrible traffic for a non-Manhattan situation — is simply not bad enough to tilt popular will to consider pricing streets. What goes along with congestion pricing MUST be vast investment in mass transit. Such investment is nowhere on the horizon. By and large people like it the way it is and do NOT want the sort of spatial structure in which congestion pricing might work.
In other words, Manhattan is sui generis. OK maybe throw in downtown San Francisco. Every place else if you charge for going into a downtown then you will simply shift trips to a non-charging location. Ultimately you have to charge for street use throughout a whole region and that is not going to happen. Period. Full stop.
In most cases urban planning should be focussing on the micro details of making/enhancing neighborhood walkability. Far too few people have the taste for urban living and you need that core of people who want to live in a walkable neighborhood before you can (speaking of Seattle, anyway) muster the political strength for something as far-out as the mass transit investment which has to go along with congestion pricing. The vast vast part of the time in Seattle you can drive around just fine everywhere. So it is only relatively few hours per week streets are annoyingly busy so that If we congestion-priced the streets then people would simply shift trip timing or route. So you end up needing to price every street in a very large area to make it effective and it would have to be dynamic pricing which adjusts for different demands etc. Too complicated.
Congestion pricing is a nice idea for a university seminar but it is not available. In the USA that I know it would simply create more political fights about boundaries and how to price etc. I haven't ever heard a convincing scenario of how it might actually work, (except maybe in parts of Manhattan.)
What's wrong with this list is that it is far too subjective to be meaningful and puts too much emphasis on the visible.
How it meets the sidewalk (does promote a walkable neighborhood around it) is the most important factor for travelers.
This list judges a building largely as eye candy rather than how building actually impacts the live of the people who use it or drive/walk by it.
A Humane Afghan City? (author's site)
....Today, what the public sees is the best park in Afghanistan, deservedly popular among upscale Mazar families, and a vision of what civil society here could look like as the country's fragile democracy stabilizes. On summer nights that are stifling in the city center, the park is a cool, clean, green retreat. Visitors--mainly those well-off enough to have a car--seem to be relaxing here in a way they don't anywhere else I've seen in Afghanistan. The beginnings of civil society are visible here: kids playing with kids who aren't their relatives, women and men eating together in public, groups of young girls strolling and perhaps looking at the groups of young boys nearby.
Mazar-i-Sharif Amiri, 48, a former logistics chief for Ahmad Shah Massoud, has turned his skills toward transforming Afghan society--with a gated community. The gates and guard, normal here at the homes of the wealthy, are necessary to reassure Afghans that they can relax here--an interesting angle for Westerners to consider. As Amiri says, "Creating a new culture takes a long time and a lot of work."
Built on 648 acres between the airport and the town center, the new town is planned to incorporate six sections, each with its own schools, market, mosque, clinic and park. It will be the only neighborhood in Mazar to have 24-hour electricity, a central water supply, septic tanks for each house and regular trash pickup. This is a stark contrast to Mazar's open sewers, litter and one-day-off, one-day-on electric supply.I think the author is a bit hard on Dubai, but otherwise worth reading.
The story was a big one several weeks ago. It was all over the British online press and even the NYT covered it. A Prince's Charity Is Investigated. But now that the British Charity Commission has issued its finding, no one provides a followup, at least according to Google News: Prince's Foundation Charity Commission. The initial reporting was terrible, providing no background on the legal issues involved, which research, btw, would have indicated without much deep investigation that the Prince's Foundation was acting well-within its brief. And now there is no followup. How odd for a story which started off with such bold attention.
The story was a big one several weeks ago. It was all over the British online press and even the NYT covered it. A Prince's Charity Is Investigated.
But now that the British Charity Commission has issued its finding, no one provides a followup, at least according to Google News: Prince's Foundation Charity Commission.
The initial reporting was terrible, providing no background on the legal issues involved, which research, btw, would have indicated without much deep investigation that the Prince's Foundation was acting well-within its brief. And now there is no followup. How odd for a story which started off with such bold attention.
Hope creates reality?
Steve Jobs has not even decided whether Apple should market a Tablet to compete with...just about everything (e.g. Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, and maybe Apple's own MacBooks) but the media is starting to go wild. The Apple PR machine must, I assume, be cooperating in generating iTablet (it's gotta be named that) rumors. Here are just two "for examples": Apple Working on Tablet Since At Least 2003 and Magazine Industry Already Preparing for Possible Apple Tablet.
Next step? People (I for one) will be besieging Jobs to go ahead with releasing the product. Talk about a marketing stroke of genius: the product is not complete, not even announced, not even a for-sure thing and Apple customers will be stamping their feet for it.
I have particular interest in the iTablet as I am working on new book titled The Three Rules of Main Street and am toying with possibility that it may only be "published" as 1. ebook and 2. print-on-demand (POD) for libraries etc which must have hard copy. My decision to go in such direction will of course wait until I am satisfied that the ebook reading device is satisfactory and my expectation/hope is that Apple will be the one to make the breakthrough. And soon.
Belief: But didn't President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to "wipe Israel off the map?"
Reality: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did quote Ayatollah Khomeini to the effect that "this Occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" (in rezhim-e eshghalgar-i Qods bayad as safheh-e ruzgar mahv shavad). This was not a pledge to roll tanks and invade or to launch missiles, however. It is the expression of a hope that the regime will collapse, just as the Soviet Union did. It is not a threat to kill anyone at all.That Juan Cole's lame attempt at a "reality" — (which really doesn't help much as "this Occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" still sounds pretty threatening.)
My question is why doesn't Ahmadinejad offer his own clarification — a benign and reassuring one? Wouldn't take but about 30 seconds and he could clear up whatever dispute there may be.
(Btw, criticism of Cole is not to support neo-con irrational perspective on talking with thine enemies. Remember what Godfather Don Corleone said: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.")
Update: Ahmadinejad's own ethnicity is not really relevant to this post.