Category Archives: General

My Year in Cities, 2012

As is my tradition, below is a list of cities I have visited in 2012. I count only cities where I spend a majority of the day or a night in. Cities with an asterisk (*) denote visiting the same city on non-consecutive days.

  • New York City *
  • Chicago, IL
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Mumbai, India *
  • Singapore
  • Delhi
  • Hyderabad *
  • Kerala Backwaters
  • Columbus, OH *
  • North Lawrence, OH
  • Bangalore
  • Milton, NY
  • Vijayawada
  • Chandigarh
  • Nagpur
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Preliminary notes to a diagram of Occupy Sandy

If I were you, I’d take some time to read Adam Greenfield’s Preliminary notes to a diagram of Occupy Sandy:

Occupy Sandy’s effectiveness constitutes both powerfully impressive testimony as to what ordinary people can achieve when organized in a horizontal, leaderless, distributed and consciously egalitarian network, and a rebuke to the seeming inability of the centralized, hierarchical and bureaucratic organizations to which our society has hitherto entrusted mission-critical disaster recovery functions to cope with what this responsibility demands of them.

Between last week and this, with the cheerful help of everyone I spoke to (and particular thanks to Easton, Lev and Caitlin), I’ve begun to map the process flow at 520 Clinton: to identify the site’s major discrete functions, chart the flow of people, material, information and other resources between them, and identify any blockages or breakdowns in these flows. The rest of this post consists of preliminary notes toward just such a map.

via Preliminary notes to a diagram of Occupy Sandy « Adam Greenfield's Speedbird.

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2012 Electoral College Prediction

For fun, and because I want to laugh at myself when I’m wrong, here is my 2012 Electoral College prediction:

Obama 303 – Romney 235

(map link)

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Saint Crispin’s Day

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRj01LShXN8&w=640&h=360%5D

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

- Henry V, Act IV Scene iii

Go forth and gentle your condition.

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California’s Central Valley, Land of a Billion Vegetables

California’s Central Valley, Land of a Billion Vegetables - NYTimes.com

California’s Central Valley, Land of a Billion Vegetables.

You know that huge pile of cello-wrapped carrots in your supermarket? Now imagine that the pile filled the entire supermarket. That’s how many carrots I saw upon my arrival at Bolthouse Farms. Something like 50 industrial trucks were filled to the top with carrots, all ready for processing. Bolthouse, along with another large producer, supplies an estimated 85 percent of the carrots eaten by Americans. There are many ways to put this in perspective, and they’re all pretty mind-blowing: Bolthouse processes six million pounds of carrots a day. If you took its yield from one week and stacked each carrot from end to end, you could circle the earth. If you took all the carrots the company grows in a year, they would double the weight of the Empire State Building.

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In Manufacturing Shift, Made in U.S. but Sold in China

Brooklyn Bridge

After generations of manufacturers in New York and across the United States folded because they were unable to compete with imports, Watermark, with its only factory in the East New York section of Brooklyn, has managed to crack the code. Instead of trying to make Watermark’s products cheaper, Mr. Abel has prospered by first making them more expensive — offering custom-made fixtures unique to each building — and then figuring out how to do that at lower cost. The company has supplied thousands of fixtures to six new luxury hotels and condominiums being built in Shanghai, Macau and Hong Kong.

“The days of mass producing in New York City are gone,” Mr. Abel said. “If you were producing nuts and bolts by the tens of thousands 50 years ago, you’re not going to do it today. But creativity, or uniqueness or design is definitely something that can flourish in New York.”

via In Manufacturing Shift, Made in U.S. but Sold in China.

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Henry Ford, When Capitalists Cared

This:

At the same time, corporate profits were booming. In 2006, the year before the Great Recession began, corporate profits garnered the largest share of national income since 1942, while the share going to wages and salaries sank to the lowest level since 1929. In the recession’s aftermath, corporate profits have bounced back while middle-class incomes have stagnated.

Today the prevailing cut-to-the-bone business ethos means that a company like Caterpillar demands a wage freeze and lower health benefits from its workers, while posting record profits.

Globalization, including the rise of Asia, and technological innovation can’t explain all or even most of today’s gaping inequality; if they did, we would see in other advanced economies the same hyperconcentration of wealth and the same stagnation of middle-class wages as in the United States. But we don’t.

In Germany, still a manufacturing and export powerhouse, average hourly pay has risen five times faster since 1985 than in the United States. The secret of Germany’s success, says Klaus Kleinfeld, who ran the German electrical giant Siemens before taking over the American aluminum company Alcoa in 2008, is “the social contract: the willingness of business, labor and political leaders to put aside some of their differences and make agreements in the national interests.”

In short, German leaders have practiced stakeholder capitalism and followed the century-old wisdom of Henry Ford, while American business and political leaders have dismantled the dynamics of the “virtuous circle” in pursuit of downsizing, offshoring and short-term profit and big dividends for their investors.

via Henry Ford, When Capitalists Cared – NYTimes.com.

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Waffle House Index Measures Hurricane Recovery

Waffle House

The Waffle House Index is an informal metric used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to determine the impact of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery:

When a hurricane makes landfall, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on a couple of metrics to assess its destructive power.

First, there is the well-known Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Then there is what he calls the “Waffle House Index.”

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.

via Waffle House Index Measures Hurricane Recovery – WSJ.com.

Panos Kouvelis is the Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management at Olin Business School and has written about the The ‘Waffle House’ Emergency Level Index:

Both Home Depot and Waffle House are world-class examples in their Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response Planning Approaches. The challenges they face are many: predicting customer demand after a disaster event; providing product required to the affected stores in an accurate and timely manner; establishing appropriate and ethical prices for their products; and maintaining adequate work-force levels after the event. The philosophy of both companies in such situations is more or less the same: getting back into the affected areas, opening stores as quickly as possible, and helping the local economy to rebuild.

As the former Waffle House Restaurants CEO, Bert Thorton, said after a hurricane: “Nothing good can come from a closed Waffle House after a hurricane—not for us, not for the community, not for the associates.” As customers, we couldn’t agree more, and we are grateful for it. We will accept that we cannot get our order of an “over-medium plate scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, diced, topped, peppered, and capped” in their limited menu after the tornado, and we will acknowledge their priceless service of hot meals to law enforcement, emergency responders, and anxious locals.

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Spectacular New Floating Cycle Roundabout

Reblogged from BICYCLE DUTCH:

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The bright white 70 meters (230Ft) tall bridge pylon can be seen from far away. Attached to the top are 24 cables that suspend a large bicycle roundabout, 72 meters (236Ft) in diameter, that seems to float over a large new junction for motorized traffic. This roundabout can be found in Eindhoven and it is called Hovenring. The exceptional piece of bicycle infrastructure was built to stand out.

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