NYC

I just booked a flight to NYC for my birthday in July! This might have to be an annual trip – I have been in July at least 4 times since 2007.

New York is a great example of population density, public transit, architectural styles, racial and linguistic diversity and large central parks. I could lose myself in the city more than once a year but for now that’s all the time and money I have.

Gandhi’s List of Blunders

This list contains “the seven blunders that human society commits, and that cause all the violence,” according to Mohandas Gandhi.  He gave it to his grandson in 1947, 3 months before he was assassinated.

Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principles.

60 years later, human society has not made much progress in these areas. Hopefully, younger generations are learning from our mistakes.

American Interference

 

It is amazing to see how much the government has interfered with the politics of other countries – and this only documents interventions since either 1939 or 1945 (start and end dates of WWII).

A few summers ago I made a chart of wars the United States has been involved in since 1776 along with duration and causalities. It wasn’t pretty. I have the chart somewhere, if I can find it I’ll post it.

Thoughts on Car Commercials

I don’t understand all the car commercials – isn’t a car supposed to be a durable good? These ads suggest that a new car should be bought every few years! These companies went bankrupt because supply was much higher than demand and the plants were losing money. Declining revenues yielded job loss, which is apparently unacceptable, even in a dying industry (see shift to new urbanism and pedestrianism). If American car companies were on the same level as foreign autos, maybe they would have had better success. Again, America’s paradigm involves quantity > quality, which cannot be sustained. The solution is not to produce more cars and spend millions of money on advertising (thanks, Clint Eastwood, I thought you would know better) but to create a better product and branch out into other environmentally-conscious modes of transportation.

If Women Counted – a book on feminist economics

If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics

“This is a revolutionary and powerfully argued feminist analysis of modern economics, revealing how woman’s housework, caring of the young, sick and the old is automatically excluded from value in economic theory. An example of this pervasive and powerful process is the United Nation System of National Accounts which is used for wars and determining balance of payments and loan requirements. The author has also written “Women, Politics and Power” and is a formidable force in the politics of New Zealand, serving three terms in Parliament and helping bring down a Prime Minister. She holds a doctorate in political economy and was a visiting Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.”

This perked my interest – women always seem to be left out since they have not traditionally been the money makers. Imagine the impact if all women left the homes and communities to join the work force. I hypothesize that society would suffer greatly if there is not a citizen at home, working without wages towards the betterment of their communities – male or female.

Public Art in Switzerland

Each year artists are allowed to use public space in the village of Vercorin as their canvas. This is a great way to get the public to interact with their public spaces and  bring color and new perspectives to the village.

Lang/Baumann’s Street Painting #5

Felice Varini, Cercle et suite d’éclats, Summer 2008

http://www.architizer.com/en_us/blog/?s=vercorin

Lesson Plan

Perhaps we could endeavor to teach our future the following:

  • How to focus intently on a problem until it’s solved.
  • The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
  • How to read critically.
  • The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
  • An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
  • How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
  • Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
  • Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
  • An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
  • Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.

— from Seth Godin

Savannah, GA

I was in Savannah over a long weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it. The layout of this city, America’s first planned city, is superb for getting around town quickly – especially on a bike. (It was a little rough on the cobblestones but next time I might take a wide, knobby-tread bike instead of my old road bike.)

The downtown area is divided into wards – each intended to be its own self-sustaining urban neighborhood.  The ward was cut into 8 blocks, surrounding a central public square. Today, the square serves as a roundabout making the city bike and pedestrian friendly while keeping stop signs and lights to a minimum. If you lived and worked downtown there would be no need for a car. Forsyth Park lies at the southern end of downtown. I caught a rugby match, had a few beers (open container laws) and read a book while people were playing ultimate frisbee, tennis and basketball.

The main tourist spots are crowded but once you find the way around the squares and onto side streets it quiets down, leaving time to coast and building-watch. I’ve only been in the fall and spring but I can’t imagine it being too hot during the summer because huge gnarled oaks lining the streets and in covering the squares.

*map from savannahmeetings.com