Archive for May, 2008

A problem or a solution?

Yesterday, The Daily Galaxy had this article about the apparent trash continent forming in the Pacific Ocean. After reading some of the things mentioned in this article, I have a hard time believing this isn’t getting the same level of attention as greenhouse gasses.

For example, this quote from Clean Up The World founder Ian Kiernan is especially disturbing:

“It was just filled with things like furniture, fridges, plastic containers,
cigarette lighters, plastic bottles, light globes, televisions and fishing
nets,” Kiernan says. “It’s all so durable it floats. It’s just a major
problem.”

Now, greenhouse gasses and global warming might be problems, but large appliances floating in our oceans is definitely a problem, and one that needs immediate attention.

The article also mentions the amazing quantity of plastic bags located in the plastic continent, which release toxins when they break down, especially scary because these toxins are finding their way into the food that humans eat. My parents always told us not to throw plastics onto bonfires, but apparently throwing them into the ocean to poison fish is OK.

This may not be totally a problem though. If the continent gets large enough and solid enough, we might just be able to move people onto it. Since the ice caps are going to melt and flood our major cities (or so Al Gore wants us to think), a continent that floats and changes with the tides may be just the solution we need.

In all seriousness, this is a problem that could have some very good benefits. A whole industry could come to life to fix it, and frankly, it would take an entire industry to fix it. Much money could be made recycling that plastic and selling that old furniture, and there’s probably enough out there to ensure we wouldn’t have to make any new plastics for many years.

May 31, 2008 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

My latest Letter to the Editor

Next time you’re filling up your gas tank, shedding tears over the rising prices, try to think about who is really to blame for your empty wallet. Gas companies, federal officials, or overseas suppliers can be easy targets, and glamorous ones in the media, but they aren’t the ones to point fingers at.

The fingers should be pointed back at ourselves, the consumers, who despite what we’re paying for gasoline, still continue to buy it. What reason do gas companies have to lower prices when we’re just as happy to pay 4 dollars as opposed to 2 or 3?

Next, point the finger at your county government, which can’t seem to understand that development further from centers of population means one thing: more driving.

Give kudos to your city government, which at least created a buzz around the benefits of moving closer to the city center (Lower Town, Fountain Ave). Don’t praise them too much, though, because they’ve failed miserably at providing adequate public transportation and bike lanes.

Here’s the solution: we all have got to start demanding alternatives to driving, and our local officials have to start offering them. Citizens must demand an adequate and convenient bus system that would combine resources from city and county governments. We must demand bike lanes on all major roads. We must not vote for any official that will not promise these things and work hard to deliver them.

More than anything we must change ourselves and stop allowing new development that stretches further into the county. There should be a mass migration to denser areas of the city, where jobs and residence are located closer together and mass transit is available and convenient.

May 28, 2008 at 10:33 pm 1 comment

Why I tweet

The road to Twitter for me was a strange one, one that started in middle school when I started watching “The Screen Savers” on what was then ZDTV (then TechTV, the G4 TechTV, then G4 which then cancelled the show). Feeling nostalgic I looked up some of the people I remembered as hosts from that show to see what they were up to, and found the amazing site of internet-basesd TV, revision3.com. Many of the people I remember from TechTV were hosting shows on that site, and after watching a few episodes of “Diggnation”, I kept hearing “Twitter” this and “Twitter” that.

The one story that sparked my interest was probably the same one that really put the service on the map…you know, the one about the student that sent the tweet “Arrested” to Twitter, and subsequently was released from the Egyptian jail in which he was being held..

Well anyway, I joined, and added those hosts I was watching on revision3, and convinced a couple friends to try it out, and suddenly it became something I needed to check frequently. While I’ve never met a lot of the people I follow, I suspect a lot of people on the site fit that same mold…people who want to know more about people. That’s where I find Twitter to be so much more interesting than other social sites like Facebook.

Getting to know what goes on in other parts of the country, and how other people spend their time, and the sites and things that people are finding on the internet is a fascinating new aspect of this “Web 2.0” philosophy of sharing what you do on the internet. As someone interested in geography, getting to understand people in other places and how they interact with those places through their eyes is a great way to learn.

It’s also simple, since tweets are limited to 140 characters and nothing more, which means you don’t get the fluff of Facebook, where you have hundreds of applications each with notifications and begging for your information to “make them better”. It’s simply for sharing the answers to “What are you doing now?” That’s why I tweet.

Also Read:
Why Twitter Matters
AJ Vaynerchuk’s Response

May 15, 2008 at 11:34 pm Leave a comment

My perfect presidential candidate

So I’ve been listening to the candidates lately, and there really isn’t one that I agree with totally, though John McCain will most likely be the lesser of evils come election day.

If I personally could create a party/candidate, here’s what they’d stand for (in quasi- order of importance):

  • Support of NAFTA, as well as free trade with any country that would agree to it with us.
  • Support of global free labor movement, which would allow US workers to go where the jobs are, and allow foreign workers to come clean up our shit, or whatever illegal immigrants do here these days. This would probably make US goods cheaper and make the value of the dollar go up a little.
  • Support for English as the official US language.
  • Pro-choice.
  • Someone who would make it illegal to have laws based on any sort of lifestyle choice. (AKA, the government has no place deciding if it’s right or wrong to be gay)
  • Every grade K-12 should be harder, faster paced, and better tested.
  • Failing schools should be the ones getting the money (never thought I’d be against vouchers, but I guess I’ve come around)
  • Social security should be abolished starting for anyone younger than 35. Not paying the taxes for it alone would save us all a lot of money.
  • Abolish the minimum wage. Or at least scale it to allow employers to pay workers based on their skills. A new worker in a new field (usually teens) doesn’t give 7 dollars worth of productivity to a firm. This would do wonders for unemployment, as well as allowing people to increase their training and skills.
  • Two words: fair taxation. Tax me based on what I consume rather than taking money away when I produce.
  • Eliminate earmarking in federal bills. States can earmark all they want. Better yet, have people pay a tax based on how much their representative gets for their district. They don’t want to pay the tax? Get a representative that won’t earmark for them.
  • Totally overhaul the energy policy of the US. At least 50% of US energy should be renewable by 2025.
  • CAFE standards should be 50 MPG at the very least.
  • It should be illegal for the government to bail out any company that is stuggling.
  • If Iraq is still on the agenda in 2010, we should spend 500 billion dollars to bomb the living hell out of every place that could conceivably have a terrorist, then pay for food and water and some infrastructure and never go back with the military unless it’s a UN decision.

So that’s just a list of what I can think of right now. I think the person that rolled out that agenda wouldn’t make it past the first debate, but hey, a boy can wish, right?

May 9, 2008 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

Lenovo says "Suck it, Apple"

This is an amazing ad by Lenovo (the personal computer part of IBM). I orginally saw this posted on Om Malik’s site GigaOm.

May 4, 2008 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Creating another world.

New York Magazine’s Entertainment section had a great article this Friday about Grand Theft Auto 4’s creation of ridiculous replica of New York City.

Rockstar Games’ Dan Houser on Grand Theft Auto IV and Digitally Degentrifying New York

This article is especially appealing to me as a student of urban planning and design. In the same way the SimCity line of games allowed for a god-like creation and management of cities (and became a major reason why I became interested in the field), GTA 4 actually lets you live and interact with a city that’s almost as real as it gets without actually going there.

Google Earth/Maps allows us to look in on real cities (with much similarity to the perspective of SimCity), and while those still shots from outer space can give planners and curious citizens unique looks into their surroundings, the technology in GTA 4 could easily be transported to modelling cities and being able to “live” in them to understand exactly how a planning decision will affect how the city behaves and how it’s used. Seeing new development in a first-person real context would be a huge leap for the field.

A lot of decisions in the planning field have impacted people (especially the poor) in negative ways. Maybe this technology can finally allow planners to see the problems that could be caused, and allow residents to see the positives that new development might bring.

May 4, 2008 at 4:56 pm Leave a comment

The downfall of modern civilization

May 4, 2008 at 1:17 am Leave a comment

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