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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for January 2018

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved

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Written by Stephen Rees

January 31, 2018 at 9:44 am

Posted in photography

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Anagram Transit Map

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I have not written very much about our transit system recently. This map appeared on Reddit and may already be viral, for all I know

Anagram transit map

Written by Stephen Rees

January 30, 2018 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Transportation

Houses

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The illustration below was drawn by Raymond Briggs. It shows a typical British terraced house, of the type built between 1880 and 1914. The reason I have that on my hard drive is that it was used in a discussion on twitter about the way to increase density in  Vancouver.
Raymond Briggs Terrace house

Originally I wanted to point to Briggs illustration of the home where Father Christmas lives but this was the nearest I could get to it. Note that very little has changed about the houses – the most obvious one being the car that is parked outside each one.

R Briggs FC houses

I was born in a house like this in East Ham. So I know exactly what happened as these houses aged. They were steadily modernised. When my parents bought their house in 1948 it was pretty much in the same state as when it was constructed fifty years earlier. There was an outside toilet, water was heated in a geyser over the sink for daily use, and in a gas “copper” for bath nights and laundry. In the 1950s they got a local authority grant to put in a bathroom (they halved the back bedroom to get the necessary space) and installed a solid fuel boiler in the kitchen to heat the water.

There was some discussion in later years of getting gas fired central heating, but the death of my grandmother meant that the family could sell two houses in East Ham and buy a larger, newer one in Loughton. We joined the exodus from East Ham while I was at university. The local population there now is largely from the Indian subcontinent.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 4.20.21 PM

The houses continued to be modernised. Compare this current Google streetview to the one below. The original double hung sash windows in wooden frames were replaced by double glazing in modern plastic frames before 2008. No doubt the loft was insulated at that time too. It is also notable that the next door neighbours did the same things to their houses. More recently, the windows have again been replaced, this time with glazing bars closer to the original design but an enclosed porch has now been added, and the decorative masonry mullions have vanished. The house number is once again etched into the window over the front door – just as Briggs illustrates.  The grey French slates on the roof have been replaced by concrete tiles.

But don’t forget I have done this before but amazingly WordPress doesn’t provide me access to images before 2017. This dates from 2008

“Actually the vast majority of London terraces are two storeys. Most were built between 1880 and 1914 and have two distinctive features: the narrow frontage to reduce liability to property tax (then determined by length of street frontage) and designed to meet the specifications of the 1880 Public Health Act. ”

What prompts me to write this is that the building we live is now being studied for potential replacement. It is 44 years old. The windows need replacement as the heavy wind driven rain now gets inside – and some of the sliding doors to the (now enclosed) balconies no longer close properly. The roof needs replacing again and the drains are giving rise for concern. Our flower beds look more like ponds right now.

In this neighbourhood it is not unusual for houses much newer than that to be demolished and replaced by larger, lot filling houses. Unless there is a laneway house, or legal secondary suite, the population density does not change. In fact this census tract lost population in the last ten years.

We do not seem to value buildings here. They are regarded as disposable. Even the ones we declare as “heritage” are not guaranteed a longer life, nor are they preserved but will continue to be “brought up to code” with each generation. And we will certainly not consider how existing buildings could be maintained and repurposed – even though there are plenty of good examples of how that can be done. But we might well convert a few surplus shipping containers into living space for the marginalised.

POSTSCRIPT  This is not to suggest that Britain does not pull down fairly recently built  multifamily buildings

Bacton Low Rise Estate`Demolished

Bacton Low Rise Estate Demolished picture by Roll The Dice on flickr

“With Camden council as client and developer, they retain any value generated from the sale of the units which is then reinvested back into social capital, with no developer cut.” A model which ought to be adopted here, I think.

Story here

 

 

Written by Stephen Rees

January 30, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Posted in housing

200 Top Scientists Urge American Museum of Natural History to Kick Climate Denial Funder Rebekah Mercer off its Board

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The following is a Press Release received from The Action Network on behalf of The Natural History Museum. It has not been altered or edited in any way.


Last night more than 200 leading scientists–including former NASA head James Hansen, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning psychiatrist Eric Chivian and the former director of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum James Powell–released a letter urging NY’s American Museum of Natural History to cut ties to donor and board member Rebekah Mercer.

“The most important asset any museum has is its credibility. This can be damaged by ties to donors and board members who are publicly known for investing in climate science obfuscation and opposing environmental solutions,” the letter reads.

The scientists refer to billionaire Mercer as an “anti-science propagandist and funder of climate science misinformation.” While Mercer’s unmatched support for Breitbart.com and the Trump campaign are well known, her funding of climate science denial campaigns is starting to garner more attention.

The Mercer Family Foundation, led by Rebekah Mercer, has ramped up its funding of groups who attack climate science and policy solutions over the past decade. The foundation gave tens of millions of dollars to a list of organizations that include ringleaders of climate denial such as the Heartland Institute, which received $5.9 million from the Mercers from 2008-2016, more than the $4 million donated by the Mercers to the American Museum of Natural History.

Previously unreleased tax filings procured by researchers at the Climate Investigations Center show grants to Heartland Institute for $800,000, the CO2 Coalition for $150,000 and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide for $125,000.  All of the organizations maintain that carbon dioxide pollution is beneficial for ecosystems, agriculture and humanity, a position in clear conflict with the international scientific consensus on climate change.

The Mercers have also been big supporters of climate denier Arthur Robinson, whose Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine dismisses climate change as “false religion”. The Mercers donated at least $1.6 million to the institute, and Rebekah Mercer nominated Robinson for a National Science Advisor position while she was a member of the Trump Transition Team.

“The science tells us climate change is more and more urgent every day, the Mercer-funded network says the opposite. Science deniers should not be in leadership positions at science museums,” said scientist Sandra Steingraber, a signatory on the letter.

The letter was organized by The Natural History Museum, a nonpartisan nonprofit traveling museum that collaborates with scientists, major public museums, educators, artists, and community groups. In 2015 the mobile museum coordinated a similar effort urging the American Museum of Natural History to cut ties to then-trustee David Koch. More than 550,000 people signed a petition, including dozens of top scientists. Mr. Koch resigned from the board a few months later amidst controversy, after serving for 23 years.

“At a time when science itself is under attack, trusted institutions of science are needed now more than ever. The museum’s ties to Mercer risk undermining the credibility of the institution and eroding the public’s trust. That’s a high price to pay,” said Beka Economopoulos, Director of The Natural History Museum.

Climate scientist Michael Mann said, “Rebekah Mercer is a top patron of Breitbart.com, a mouthpiece for the alt-right and a megaphone for alt-facts. The platform’s assault on truth and science undermines everything the American Museum of Natural History is about.”

Earlier this week, activists organized a demonstration outside the American Museum of Natural History to protest the museum’s ties to Mercer. And a new petition campaign has been launched calling for the museum to kick Mercer off its board, warning the institution that it could suffer a “loss of public trust” through its association with Mercer.

This month thousands of people shared a twitter comment by environmental economist Jonah Busch about misleading information on climate science on outdated panel in an Exxon-funded exhibit the American Museum of Natural History. To the museum’s credit, the institution’s response was swift: it committed to updating the panel to reflect the best available science. But the initial online public anger showed that trust in the museum is undermined by the museum’s association with known climate science opponents.

“This country is having a crisis of trust, museums are the last bastions of trust and we have to be very careful of preserving that,” said Jon Foley, executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, which doesn’t accept money from fossil fuels. “Science has never been more important to the country, yet it’s under more attack than we’ve seen in decades. It’s worrisome to see prominent ― not just donors but trustees ― of major museums on the one hand supporting science, but on the other undermining it by funding groups that are deliberately trying to sabotage science on things like climate change.”

###

For Reference:

New York Times, Scientists Rebel Over a Trump Ally at the Natural History Museum (Jan 25, 2018)

The Guardian, Museum of Natural History Urged to Cut Ties to ‘Anti-Science Propagandist Rebekah Mercer (Jan 25, 2018)

Written by Stephen Rees

January 26, 2018 at 9:43 am

Sharing Photos

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stephy-miehle-57842

Photo by Stephy Miehle on Unsplash location 3900 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, United States

I had not heard of Unsplash until I read this post on Medium which recommends giving away your photos for free. According to the author, he not only gets lots of thanks but also “substantial monetary gifts from people showing their appreciation for letting them use my work.”

What I do is license my photos on flickr using a Creative Commons license. And apparently I should use a newer version, but I will get around to that discussion later.

Right now I have recently been introduced to Pixsy which is also free which can track just where on the web my flickr photos are being used. A significant number are indeed following the terms and conditions set out in the license. None so far has either thanked me or showed their appreciation in more tangible form.

A couple of commercial users have actually made payments for specific uses of my pictures. But they did that some time ago, asked nicely before they used the picture and then some time elapsed before payment arrived. None of this has anything to do with Pixsy. And by “a couple” I mean exactly that. Two in twelve years.

Pixsy does also offer to help with resolutions. I have had a few hosting sites write to me and tell me that the commercial uses of my pictures that Pixsy found have been removed. Some other sites have simply vanished altogether. But there are a number of ongoing cases – and more that will not be resolved. Here are some of the replies I have had.

Case Update: Not Accepted – Unsupported Country

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your submission to Pixsy’s Case Resolution Services.

Our Case Management Team identified that the infringing site, in this case, is located outside of our current coverage area.

…[details of my picture and its use here]

As a reminder, pages located in Russia, Africa, Southeast Asia and other select countries are not suitable for Pixsy’s Resolution Services, as we do not anticipate expanding to these jurisdictions soon.

So much for that then.

I have also had a number of responses from site owners like this one

Thank you for your email; however the URL in question [URL appears here] , is not on the [specified] network.

So that goes back to Pixsy and gets a response like this

I’m sorry your Takedown Notice wasn’t initially successful. This can happen when image users move server infrastructure. In this case it looks like they were previously part of the [named] network but are now part of [another named network].
Please try forwarding the original email to [abuse (at) new network]

Some others are still in process and they did tell me how they are doing overall

As 2017 came to a close, we celebrated a number of milestones – including passing 20,000 user signups! We are so thrilled to be helping creators from 72 countries find and fight image theft. Since our launch in 2015, your reactions, support, and trust hascontinued to energize and reinforce our mission to support your creativity and protect your copyright.

Together the Pixsy community has achieved some impressive numbers: (… and counting)

  • 21,951 users from 72 countries

  • 25,342,934 images uploaded and #ProtectedbyPixsy

  • 162,924,315 matches found

  • 35,881 cases submitted to Pixsy for resolution

  • 26 partner law firms

  • 1 dedicated Pixsy team

  • 1 united mission to Find & Fight Image Theft

So that seems like a good reason to hope that we get a bit of result now and then – although the number of successfully completed cases (i.e. where the miscreants actually paid up or took down the image) is missing from the stats.

POSTSCRIPT
I did write to one of the offending commercial sites using the contact form on their web page. Within 24 hours I got this reply

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention, the image has been removed. ”

Which isn’t monetary reward but does acknowledge responsibility.

But what I want to know is if there is such a good source of free pictures as Unsplash why do people keep taking stuff which ought to be paid for?

Because I also got

Our Case Management Team identified the site you submitted as a spam or scraper site.

[image and URL details here]

“Scraper” sites aggregate pictures, articles and other copyrighted material from all over the web. Many of these sites do not host the images themselves–they hotlink from third parties– and are often operated by persons or entities outside Pixsy’s current coverage area. For these reasons, they are extremely difficult to track down and hold accountable.

Given the circumstances, the likelihood of obtaining a license fee payment in this situation is very low and we are unable to accept your case.

So when I started writing this I thought that it would help me straighten out my thinking and get me to a decision. You know, like the experience I often have of “I didn’t know what I thought about that until I heard what I was saying.” But I haven’t so I am hoping to see something useful in the comments.

By the way, I also wrote about this on my other blog but I really did not like the way Google’s Blogger handles my pictures – you just get the link not the image

Written by Stephen Rees

January 24, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Posted in photography

Tagged with , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme

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Variations on a Theme can include “a series of shots showing the same place, person, or object in slightly different light’. So there are a number of possibilities that occurred to me. One was the shot out of the window as the weather or light changes. I have a lot of those. Or one of my early albums on flickr “36 Views of Mount Baker

But then there is also my passion for beer – especially, but not exclusively – strong, black stout. Thanks to the explosion of craft brewers here and elsewhere I get to try plenty of these. I have tried a number of ways to at least record the different brews which means a well lit close up with an undistracting background. Always indoors, of course, so it must be somewhere clean and tidy. After a lot of different attempts I found the stove top to be ideal for my purposes. The flat glass top is usually clean and bare, when not in use, and the tiled backsplash is kept clean. There is also good lighting in the over the range combined hood and microwave. Just the place to display the stout bottle and the freshly poured glass full. Here are just a few of the recent ones. There are more (nearly 100 more at present) on the flickr album.

Perfect Storm

Barkerville Brewing 52 Foot Stout

Creepy Unkle Dunkel

Stoutnik

iStout

Goliat Imperial Stout

Big Rock Midnight Rhapsody

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

Doan's Rye Stout

Postmark Oyster Stout

Bridge All Out Stout

Young's Double Chocolate Stout

Written by Stephen Rees

January 24, 2018 at 12:41 pm

A Conversation with BC’s Minister of the Enviroment

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SFU Carbon talks just sent me this:

Two weeks ago, Renewable Cities invited you to “A Conversation with B.C.’s Minister of Environment.” Due to exceptional demand, capacity was exceeded within 24 hours. Renewable Cities is pleased to announce that a larger venue has been secured. Clearly, there is an enormous appetite to discuss B.C.’s climate plan and the urban opportunity.

Please join Renewable Cities on Friday, February 9 from 12:30-1:30 pm at the Asia Pacific Hall at the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at 580 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, BC.

The public dialogue requires prior registration. If you have already signed up, no further action is required. Individuals on the wait list will now be able to join the event.

Otherwise, register to attend the event or watch the online stream here.

Please share the event with your network:

So I am doing that, but I won’t be going. BC has decided to go forward with Site C which makes very little sense, but also is based on the idea that there will be a market for LNG exported from BC to Asia. Economically, LNG exports are nonsense on stilts. They require huge amounts of subsidies from us. We already collect next to nothing in terms tax and royalties from gas frackers, and this will only get worse if any one of these plants actually gets built. But in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, this plan is a disaster. GHG emissions in BC have been rising and the idea that we will hit any of our self imposed targets is unlikely. The LNG export boondoggle ensures that we won’t.

I see very little point in listening to a discussion about a “climate plan” that has already been undermined. I hope that the reason for the exceptional demand is that the people who are going will be making some very forceful comments about the recent NDP flip over its GHG commitments.

From Vaughan Palmer in the Vancouver Sun

“If B.C. starts to focus again on trying to land an LNG industry given all that has happened, I can tell you I am voting government down,” the Green leader vowed in a Dec. 31 interview with Carol Linnitt of DeSmog Canada, the online news service.

He repeated his line in the sand this week on Twitter: “If the B.C. NDP caucus continue their generational sellout embodied in the LNG folly of the B.C. Liberals, their government will fall.”

What about it? Horgan was asked Tuesday. The premier confirmed that during the coming trade mission, he has every intention of exploring support for the LNG Canada export terminal that Shell and its Asian partners are proposing for Kitimat.

I’ll be meeting with partners of LNG Canada just to let them know that we’re OK with LNG development, provided that there are benefits to British Columbians through jobs, there’s a fair return for the resource, our climate action objectives can be realized, and that First Nations are partners.

“You’ve heard this from me before, and you’ll hear it from me again,” Horgan added and he’s right about that.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 23, 2018 at 1:49 pm