Category Archives: people

Sprawl Introduction

Today I finished reading Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream today. I’ve been reading this book for ages because, well, law school gets in the way of things.
For some reason, sprawl is one of the issues that I am most passionate about. I really think our country is needlessly headed in the wrong direction. Most people I’ve talked to don’t like huge suburban subdivisions, shopping malls, traffic, etc., but no one seems to think they can solve the problem. (I don’t think too many people really think of it as a “problem”.) However, the problem (as I’ve learned from this book) is much larger than one would think. On the surface there are arguments about pollution and style, but lurking below are far greater problems. The loss of community, segregation of socio-economic classes, and traffic (stress, loss of time, pollution, etc.) are all worsening as a result of sprawl.
What can be done? I support local business as much as possible. I support the T. (Boston’s mass transit – MBTA.) And I don’t ever plan to live in a sprawling suburb that has not made an affirmative design effort to create a community. For example, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to demand that local governments require high density, mixed use zoning, transit and pedestrian friendly layouts, and at least some subsidized housing. If it were my world I would probably tax drivers for the use of the roads, let them fight their own oil wars, and hold them responsible for the 43,200 yearly automotive related deaths. I’ll take it slow though.

Airline Observations

I’m back home in Seattle this week – an uneventful trip so far. Traveling is always interesting. While it is amazing that we can get from one side of the continent to the other in half a day, it shouldn’t be overlooked that half a day of flying is painfully boring. I was wedged between two guys who both crossed that armrest line. I found myself overanalyzing the details of the airport experience.
A couple observations: (a) Travel observations are out control. It makes total sense that people would analyze the experience, there’s so much time to think. (I’m doing it right now.) But it’s amazing what people will talk about. “There’re two planes in front of us, a Delta and British Air. There goes the British Air. Now it’s just the Delta.” How booorrring. (b) Airport announcements are out of control. “If your car is parked in a no parking area, it will be towed.” Have you ever seen someone react to that? “What!? Towed!? I gotta run! Bye grandma!” Those type of announcements just dilute the announcements that are actually important. (c) Why are the ticket agents so stressed? There always seems to be this huge rush, yet flying is really one of the slowest paced things I can think of doing. Where else do you show up an hour or two ahead of time to be herded into a seat? Why is there so much paper at airports? Tickets come in five different types, each of which contains 90% undecipherable code. Why do the agents have to shuffle so many papers around when you check in? It seems needlessly complicated.
Anyway, travel is pretty efficient overall. I took a picture of my meal for but I forgot to bring the USB cord for my camera so I might not be able to post it until I get back.

Most Creative Cities

According to Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, I am on a tour of the most creative cities in the U.S. My former domicile, San Francisco, comes in first place, followed by my current domicile, Boston, at number three. Seattle is number five.
Florida created a “Creativity Index” for each city based on “Creative Class” (workers who primarily produce creative content), High Tech, Innovation, and Diversity. Check out the rankings and the maps.

Pointless Protest

My outline for contracts class consumed most of my day, but I took some time out to go to an anti-war rally and march. I don’t go to a lot of these things, not because I don’t agree with the cause, but because I can’t figure out what the cause is. Today’s rally was pretty much structured around promoting peace and peaceful resolutions of the “war on terrorism”. Of course, there were many other messages being thrown around. The march was set to coincide with the big protest in Washington DC, but weren’t they protesting the Israel / Palestine conflict? Or was it the World Bank and IMF?
The problem with these things is that there is no clear message. The point of a protest is raise awareness, but media reports focus on the number of protesters, the nature (violent / non-violent), the police action, and the local impact (closed roads etc.). They don’t mention anything substantive. Why? It’s not the media. It’s the protesters. We can’t decide what goal we’re furthering.

Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is tommorrow. I never really gave much thought to marathons, but seeing that Beacon Street is part of the route, I thought I’d look into it a bit. There’s a pretty cool video showing the entire route in high speed. I really like time-lapse photography. This one isn’t that amazing, but I think it’s worth a look. I’ve seen a similar video of the drive from Bristol to Portishead (yes, Portishead is a place) on the Portishead (now referring to the band) video. The music in the Portishead video is obviously much better than the Boston Marathon video.