8 Aug 2014

Anything but water

Intentionally ugly
  1. Real estate development in Saudi Arabia is often "greenfield" (i.e., on bare land) rather than the "brownfield" type that replaces an existing building on land closer to the city center. This pattern results in sprawl as well as blight, as the city stretches further out for new locations while leaving behind abandoned or decaying properties near the center. Who wins from this pattern? Real estate developers who own empty land. Who loses? Citizens facing an ugly, sprawling city AND owners who could sell their property based on its development value instead of its decaying economic prospects. This policy probably suits Saudi rulers, who own a lot of land. The same pattern appears in many American cities but not as often in the Netherlands, where land is too valuable to abandon to ruins

  2. This paper [pdf] argues that the British government's LACK of control helped railroads develop. On a related note, I see that the University of California has "rescinded the policy that prohibited the University from investing directly in companies commercializing technology based on UC research." This is a terrible idea, as it moves the university into the venture capital, which has nothing to do with its central roles of research and (sometimes!) education

  3. This post on slow food service (as a result of people talking/playing/imaging with their mobile phones) may be made up in terms of data, but NOT in terms of our changing social relations. Put the phones down, people. Talk to each other. That reminds me of a recent presentation I saw on redeveloping an old Dutch navy base into a park. The best angle, to me, was jamming electronic devices in the park to ensure that people there are THERE. (I was surprised to see that people were much more social when I was at embassy parties in Saudi Arabia. Yes, they were drinking, but their phones were also left behind at security)

  4. Some guy claims that libertarians "must deny climate change" to prevent a challenge to their "property rights everywhere" views. This is unrepresentative and naive. As a semi-libertarian, I am happy to protect rights to private property, but I acknowledge the existence and benefit of property in the commons. That property can and should be protected --- for the benefit of libertarians and heretics alike :)

  5. Read this brutal pre-mortem describing just how broken the United States is -- and how Rs and Ds are just working for the oligarchs. I'm not sure if Americans are not caught in a Russian-scale web of lies
H/Ts to BB and RM