Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Stripes on those parking lot pillars: urban design

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

I was parking in a tiny parking spot today and suddenly noticed these stripes at side view mirror-height on the pillar I was squeezing next to. Multiple scrapes in different colours, on a paint job masking previous scrapes. While it’s true that some people don’t know where their cars are in space (I want to start looking at people’s side view mirrors now before I get into their cars), I think it’s also fair to say that when parking spots are much too small, you’re inevitably going to get cars mashing concrete.

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Endangered 5000 year old ancient practice of making silk made from mollusc slime

Friday, January 15th, 2016

“Haste doesn’t live here,” says one sign on the door. Another inside says “Nothing in this room is for sale.” An Italian woman named Chiara Vigo is the last living master of the ancient textile tradition of spinning “baysuss” or silk produced from the fibres exuded by a giant mediterranean mollusc. The craft is referenced in the holy books of more than one religion and is said to go back 5000 years.

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Balafire flicker bulb

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

This is a “flicker light” from my childhood. The green lacquer coating on the bulb is coming off, but amazingly it still works. It makes a soft tinking sound as the filaments hit the glass on either side. You can still find these on occasion, though increasingly seldom as they burn out one by one.

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Harvey Molotch’s “The City as Growth Machine”

Thursday, November 12th, 2015


Sociologist Harvey Molotch
“A city and, more generally, any locality, is conceived as the areal expression of the interests of some land-based elite.”

Harvey Molotch‘s seminal 1976 article “The City as Growth Machine”—which is equally applicable today—just happened to be published the same year of the UN Habitat Conference on Settlements that took place in Vancouver (and is the subject of my upcoming book).

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The Tudor house, colonialism, white gold and toothache

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

“This is why we love the Tudor period so much, because it’s the age of discovery, and there’s a sense that anything was possible.”

“Discovery”? That’s one way of talking about colonialism.  This BBC documentary, Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home, outlines how the sudden change in house architecture and lifestyle in the Tudor era for the middling rich—merchants and yeoman farmers—was made possible by merchant trade with conquered colonies.

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Keep it in the ground! Guardian animation on solar power

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Short animation by the Guardian on solar power, as part of their “Keep it in the ground” campaign against fossil fuels. The price of solar panels has come down by 75% since 2009, and other interesting facts.

This is part 2 of the Guardian’s fight against fossil fuels and climate change, focusing on the switch to solar and hope.

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