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76  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Gentrification on: November 10, 2014, 04:11:22 pm
But there weren't blacks or browns (which apparently now means Hispanics) living there before, no? Then I'm not sure the harpies would call that "gentrification".
77  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of the phrase "The People" on: November 10, 2014, 04:01:29 pm
In an Atlasian context: Freedom phrase

In a non-Atlasian context: ick
78  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Deus Naturae's signature on: November 10, 2014, 04:00:02 pm
I don't buy that graph, but I've always liked to think of the political spectrum as a Moebius strip.
79  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Gentrification on: November 10, 2014, 03:58:19 pm
Meanwhile gentrification wonderfully continues apace in my neighborhood, here replacing a gas station at the northwest corner of Central Park:

80  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Gentrification on: November 10, 2014, 03:46:36 pm
We need to develop large scale affordable housing areas around express transit nodes for easy access in and out of the city. But I don't see why we need to cut out commerce from those areas, rather we need to throw in large-scale housing in the mix. I keep on saying "large scale" because that's the only way reasonably priced housing could be conceivably be profitable without subsidization nowadays. But there are still large swathes of Manhattan than can be upzoned and built-up.

Also, I'm a small-minded Manhattanite, but more subways are always a good idea. You will probably eat me alive for saying this, but we should have built the Westway- not only would it have freed the West Side from unsightly traffic, but it would have created a lot of new land.

Selfish, Selfish San Francisco

California is an earthly paradise. Yet there is something badly broken about the Golden State. At its best, California is America’s America, where the young and adventurous go for a fresh start. The trouble is that housing in much of California has become so expensive that the young and adventurous have been priced out, leaving its most beautiful stretches to wealthy insiders.

Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of visiting the Bay Area, to see friends and to attend a conference. The conference was held in a beautifully-situated resort in Marin County overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, where a small number of low-rise buildings dotted a pristine landscape. And I thought to myself, as I often do, that it was insane that this land was not instead dotted by massive high-rises housing thousands of people. The beautiful town of Sausalito has a population of just over 7,000 within its 2¼ square miles. But would it be any less lovely if it were home to twice as many people, or 10 times as many even? Or would it be lovelier still if graceful towers full of young families sprouted on land currently devoted to, of all things, golf courses?


I know a lot people here have taken exception to under-density here, myself included, but I don't know if Sausalito per se is the best place to be doing that. South of Market, though, and other places, more than merit increased density. And it's not even as if this necessitates tall towers everywhere, but just rowhouses would do the trick- I once read that a neighborhood of single-family townhouses could produce a density of 50,000 people/sq mi. We need to move towards a more efficient, graceful, and overall sustainable (in all senses of the word) way of living. And we cannot afford NIMBYs raising hackles at every corner.

The solution is fairly conservative- let the free market (reasonably regulated to protect the character and quality of neighborhoods) take control and meet demand. But a lot of people seem hell-bent on rent control as the answer, despite the fact pretty much every introductory economics class uses it as an example of the distortions of price ceilings- literally, textbook. That and wage increases which are, as the article points out, are not effective.

I support more high rises. I just think in a place like San Francisco there are a lot of places where they'd essentially be killing the patient with the cure. That might be because of the nature of the city. But in a place in Manhattan, there a places all over calling for up-building. And I feel the solution calls for a good heaping dose of conservatism- weakening "community boards", loosening union's strangleholds, rolling back rent regulations, fast-tracking approval procedures, pursuing transit projects with a Moses-esque singleness of purpose and regard (or more properly lack thereof) for "community needs", pursuing neighborhood renewal and "gentrification" with vigour, selling off and redeveloping public housing projects, using eminent domain for private developers liberally, and generally riding roughshod over naysayers.

There are a lot of places that could benefit from this rapid up-building in NYC that I can think of, the Far West Side, southern Harlem, Yorkville, Chelsea, Hunters Point, Astoria just to name a few.

Also, my problem with new development might stem from the fact that modern architecture, the pedestrian sort and not your star-chitect's work, is just awfully banal and bad. I'd have no desire to live in any building like that.

I'm imagining a far larger swathe of town-houses and 4-6 story condo buildings than we have at present, eating up what used to be tracthouses, like so:

81  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Gully Foyle's African News Thread on: November 10, 2014, 03:37:03 pm
Continuing the continental tragedy:

Dozens killed in school bombing in Yobe State

At least 46 students have been killed by a suicide bomber at a school assembly in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Potiskum, police have said.

A suicide bomber dressed as a student is believed to have caused the blast at the boys' school in Yobe state .

Police suggested the militant group Boko Haram carried out the attack.

Yobe state's governor has shut all public schools around Potiskum and criticised the government for not tackling the group.

In a statement governor Ibrahim Gaidam said: "Urgent action must be taken right now to restore a fast-waning public confidence by doing whatever it takes to stop the escalating violence."

Boko Haram has targeted schools during a deadly five-year insurgency aimed at establishing an Islamic state.

Meanwhile Uganda just won't quit:

Uganda planning new anti-gay law despite opposition

Uganda plans to introduce a new anti-gay law that will withstand any legal challenge, a government minister has told the BBC.

It will not explicitly refer to homosexuality, but will rely on the penal code which prescribes a life sentence for "unnatural acts", he said.

Activists say the plan is more draconian than anti-gay legislation annulled by the courts in August.

The US and other donors cut funding to Uganda in protest against the law.

Uganda is a deeply conservative society where homosexual acts are already illegal.

New legislation against gay people will increase the government's popularity, says the BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala.

Way to focus on the important things. I wonder if Salim Saleh will take over.
82  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Gully Foyle's African News Thread on: November 10, 2014, 03:33:02 pm
83  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama saves net neutrality, orders broadband be classified as vital service on: November 10, 2014, 03:28:58 pm
I don't see the need for it.  We keep increasing bandwidth to keep pace with new applications.  We have 100 gb/sec optical fiber being adopted.

That's the problem. Tragedy of the Commons.

The same concept cited by Democrats when they argue that low gasoline taxes and lack of use-taxes have led to sprawl and over exploitation of real estate for roadways. It's actually low property tax and incompetent use of income tax, but that's for another time.

If we are going to invite tragedy of the commons, we have to develop a game plan for the efficient expansion and utilization of bandwidth.

What evidence is there to conclude we are facing some sort of common-use problem in terms of internet bandwidth? I'm curious if there are any empirical findings or games modelling usage patterns that would support this.
84  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama saves net neutrality, orders broadband be classified as vital service on: November 10, 2014, 03:21:45 pm
However I approve of Obama's increasing use of executive orders; not that I necessarily agree with what actions he is taking with them, but I wholeheartedly support his using them.

We need more bandwidth, more gigabit networks, I'm not an internet expert but if this helps I'm all for it.
85  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Will Governor Bruce Rauner (R-IL) be indicted on felony charges at some point? on: November 10, 2014, 02:06:24 pm
86  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: 6th Circuit Upholds Gay Marriage Bans in MI, OH, KY, TN on: November 10, 2014, 02:03:40 pm
Gay marriage is a reality in July 2015, and the real battle begins then.
87  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama saves net neutrality, orders broadband be classified as vital service on: November 10, 2014, 01:57:50 pm

I don't really know what "net neutrality" is but I am under the impression it limits the ability of the government to restrict the internet so this is bad news. What ever happened to Liberman's kill-switch? We need that.
88  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Opinion of Chris Christie on: November 10, 2014, 01:55:06 pm
Get this nonsense out of here and back into Individual Politics where it belongs.
89  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: in other good news, GMO labeling loses in OR and CO on: November 10, 2014, 01:53:38 pm
Everyone cheering this should be ashamed of their shilling for Monsanto. Disgusting.

Any decent human being should stop and think at least ten times before deciding to take the same position on any issue as Monsanto, probably the most evil corporation not directly involved in fossil fuels.

You'd think Monsanto was some gargantuan monopolistic parastatal judging by the obsession some people have about it...
90  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Is Detroit fixable? How would you fix it? on: November 10, 2014, 01:35:04 pm
I love Detroit. I've never actually been there, but I love it none the less. My ideas:

STOP TEARING DOWN BUILDINGS (certain ones, at least): seriously, why are they doing this? I've been following Detroit since the fourth grade, and every time I think this city has turned the corner, they go and tear down some new skyscraper. Seriously, they go and reject bids for development and tear these stuff down. The city even helps "developers" tear down buildings in defiance of courts (see the Madison-Lenox case in 2005- was it so long ago?1). The historic building stock is one of Downtown Detroit's strong suits, and it's a shame that it's being lost. It's shooting yourself in the foot. Tear down the rotting houses in the outer city! I'd place a moratorium on all demolitions in the city center.

URBAN FARMING? PAH!: One of the big ideas I hear these days is this "urban farming" on the "urban prairie", i.e., vacant lots. So, let me see, it's suggested that you have a half-deserted urban core, surrounded by farmland, surrounded by suburbia, surrounded by farmland again? You're only going to further the isolation of Downtown Detroit from the hinterland. Rather than farmland, why not extend the suburbia into the city? Southeast Michigan- ideally "Metro Detroit"- needs to be integrated further, and so I propose:

TAKE BACK THE CITY, ONE NEIGHBOURHOOD AT A TIME: Detroit will not repair itself overnight. We all know that. What needs to be done is to re-urbanize the city, ideally at a population of 1,500,000-2,000,000 people. This could be accomplished by focusing on certain neighborhoods and areas for development in stages- such as the New Center, Eastown, Brush Park and the areas south of Jefferson Ave. from Downtown to just past Belle Isle. Following the principles of New Urbanism, these regions could become fairly large "towns" themselves (well, the New Center would be a Jersey City-esque edge city2). Development would spread out radially from those areas, which would see particular investment in security, education, and general quality-of-life-improving services, until the city is generally covered.

A FEDERAL DETROIT: This new Detroit would be divided into wards with great deal of autonomy in regards to education, policing, and the like. This would allow the districts to redevelop at their own pace and not be dealt with misguided investment. It would also be helpful towards regional integration, which is sorely needed.

PUB-PUB-PUBLIC TRANS-PORT-PORTATION: It might be as foreign to conservatives as is Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan, but what Detroit needs is public transportation. Give the Big Three a monopoly on providing the transports, sure, but the Woodward Light Rail project not only needs to be built, but expanded. I want to see Hub-Hub service, and local services in the new "towns". And, for God's sake, fix up Michigan Central Station3. It just is really depressing to look at. I imagine a city full of young, crunchy types, who would love public transportation. I would to- as long as the trolley goes to Boston-Edison4.

KILL THEM ALL!: I'd lay off 80% of the city staff, and hire back half the amount. The city is full of patronage posts, the result of 30 years of cronyism (only stalled by Dennis Archer's term, and then resumed with a fury under Kilpatrick- ask my dad how much I despise that guy). Crack the unions' backs, fire the the illiterate DPS chief5 (let's gun for Michelle Rhee, or maybe just Betsy DeVos), and reorganize the whole thing.

[1] http://www.forgottendetroit.com/madlen/index.html
[2] http://www.newcenter.com/images/home/New_Center_night.jpg
[3] http://detroiturbex.com/content/downtown/mcs/index.html
[4] http://www.historicbostonedison.org/
[5] http://www.detnews.com/article/20100304/OPINION03/3040437/1409/Does-DPS-leader-s-writing-send-wrong-message?
91  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: in other good news, GMO labeling loses in OR and CO on: November 07, 2014, 10:51:29 am
Yes, we don't want to give consumers this info because in likelihood they will choose GMO-free food and that would be awful for society.

Exactly. As we know people are terrible, and this would be terrible for starving people who need more food to be produced.
92  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: The Red Northwest on: November 07, 2014, 10:48:18 am
Go on!
93  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: in other good news, GMO labeling loses in OR and CO on: November 07, 2014, 10:34:07 am
Yea, how is this bad?  I'm not saying GMOs are inherently bad, but what's wrong with giving people information?  Is there something tangible we can compare this to? 

GMOs are seen as "scary" and this would provide no benefit to consumers. It would needlessly stigmatise an important innovation in food production. It's a dumb idea.
94  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: in other good news, GMO labeling loses in OR and CO on: November 07, 2014, 09:41:05 am
Excellent news!
95  General Politics / Individual Politics / Which of the two is more useless? on: November 06, 2014, 06:48:38 pm
Obviously both have a purpose but which one is a greater misuse of public funds/effort/resources?

World Trade Center Transportation Hub, New York City

Cost: $3.75 billion (likely more)
Time to build: 12 years, 6 months (likely more)
Reason for noteworthiness: World Trade Center, Calatrava design
Damning fact: Serves a grand total of two subway lines.

Bridge to Russky Island, Vladivostok

Cost: $1.1 billion
Time to build: 3 years, 7 months
Reason for noteworthiness: World's longest cable-stayed bridge span, brought leaders to 2012 APEC summit. 
Damning fact: Russky Island virtually uninhabited, previously so isolated that island's garrison once starved to death due to being forgotten, highway ends in dirt dead end.

While the WTC Hub is far, far too costly and large for what it is (it could have easily been a hole in the ground), I'm challenged to think it more devoid of purpose than the (affordable and timely) Russky Bridge.
96  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Don't look now but the oil market is collapsing on: November 06, 2014, 06:17:24 pm
Question, will this further hurt the coal industry?

Probably. Hopefully it will mean that gas will overtake coal in electricity generation sometime before 2035 (!!!) which is far too long.

I've often wondered whether it is feasible to simply export all our coal to China. I'd doubt it.
97  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Don't look now but the oil market is collapsing on: November 06, 2014, 06:08:40 pm
Also I'm actually writing a paper on another time the Saudis, this time with our backing, flooded the market with oil (or at least threatened to); this was the mid-1970s and my man, Shahanshah Aryamehr, had decided that the Iranian economy was going to grow 25% annually and needed the money to pay for the (inflated) Five-Year Plan. We balked and the Saudis made sure OPEC didn't agree to raise prices. The rest is history.

Now it seems to be repeating itself, funnily enough. But here, the Saudis deserve to be screwed over (well, so do most people who think they can get an economy to grow at 25% for five years straight, but I'll make an exception for the Shah).
98  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Don't look now but the oil market is collapsing on: November 06, 2014, 05:59:24 pm
You know the old Atlas adage, "as goes King, so goes the country."

One of the interesting findings of the report is that we are going to have to lift the export ban by 2015, because otherwise the excess supply would drive down prices to where it will become unprofitable and kill the boom. Of course that will be mitigated by the fact shale's breakeven price, as we get more infrastructure in place, may drop to $35 by 2020, which changes its economics completely.

I don't know how much of an effect on other sectors their forecast includes (the lower energy costs are, the more competitive our manufacturing sector becomes), but the idea of our trade deficit narrowing to 0.3% is tantalisingly close to zero. We'd become something of a petrostate. I'd support starting a SWF, actually, but we'd need to somehow get the politicians' hands out of the pot. Either way, we have a bright energy future ahead of us.

East Africa (no, not Ethiopia), is another area where they seems to be a lot of untapped potential, some of it might be coming online by then. Prices are going to be going down unless China or India sees an unforecasted spike in growth.

I agree with traininthedistance obviously, that we shouldn't use this an excuse to revert to the suburban idyll... ick. I really hope that doesn't happen. I'm also skeptical of the "green tech is growing because of coolness". There's a lot of hype, sure, but they'll be expected to really get near the costs of conventional power generation soon or there will be a bust. Tesla, anyway, is powered by electricity... powered by natural gas plants.
99  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Don't look now but the oil market is collapsing on: November 06, 2014, 05:40:05 pm
Citigroup seems to agree with King's bullishness.
100  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Don't look now but the oil market is collapsing on: November 06, 2014, 05:01:41 pm
I've read that OPEC lowering oil prices has nothing to do with staying competitive -- it's just Saudi Arabia trying to drive US shale oil companies out of business. It's basically dumping.

In a vacuum, yes, but it's a desperation play by the Saudis. US shale has the upper hand. They're panicked about North America's energy outlook.

Isn't shale only profitable around $65 a barrel, though? If they pump enough to get it below that we'd be the ones in trouble, no?
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