within the world

The arrival of driverless cars could help us reduce light pollution

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During the period known as the High Middle Ages, between 1100-1250, the Catholic Church built over 1400 Gothic churches in the Paris Basin alone. […]

This thesis examines the implicit costs of building the Gothic churches of the Paris Basin built between 1100-1250, and attempts to estimate the percentage of the regional economy that was devoted to build them.

I estimate that over this 150-year period, on average, 21.5 percent of the regional economy was devoted to the construction of these Gothic churches, 1.5 percent of which is directly related to the implicit cost of labor.

{ Amy Denning | PDF }

Life’s a scream

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{ Chelsea restaurant the Wilson debuts a fancy menu for dogs }

A skiddleebebop, we rock, scooby doo, and guess what, America, we love you

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The Many Reasons to Run for President When You Probably Don’t Stand a Chance

• There are book deals and TV contracts and maybe a cabinet position if your side wins.
• Recent history suggests there is almost no downside to giving it a shot.

{ NY Times | full story }

stills { One Got Fat, 1963 | bicycle safety film }

In Norway, you can look up your neighbor’s income on the Internet

During a guided tour of Mount Vernon last April, Trump learned that Washington was one of the major real-estate speculators of his era. So, he couldn’t understand why America’s first president didn’t name his historic Virginia compound or any of the other property he acquired after himself.

“If he was smart, he would’ve put his name on it,” Trump said, according to three sources briefed on the exchange. “You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.”

The VIPs’ tour guide for the evening, Mount Vernon president and CEO Doug Bradburn, told the president that Washington did, after all, succeed in getting the nation’s capital named after him.

{ Politico | Continue reading }

related { Donald Trump trademarked “Central Park” }

No one speaks English and everything’s broken

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Ms. Giannulli, 19, is the daughter of the actress Lori Loughlin and the designer Mossimo Giannulli. […] Ms. Giannulli is a social media influencer with close to two million YouTube subscribers and over a million Instagram followers. In September, she posted two paid advertisements on Instagram that highlighted her identity as a student. […]

Ms. Giannulli […] was criticized in August after posting a video […] in which she said that she was only going to college for “gamedays, partying.”

“I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know,” she said. […]

Ms. Giannulli is one of a number of celebrity offspring who have lived out their teenage years on social media. In the video for which she was criticized, she described how the dissolution of a romantic relationship had been particularly difficult because people would send her tweets, Instagram posts and Snapchats of her ex with other young women.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

A total of 50 people nationwide were arrested in the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, officials announced. Those arrested include exam administrators, coaches at elite schools, and nearly three dozen parents — including actress Lori Loughlin.

{ CNN | Continue reading | full indictment }

image { 1991 Topps Toxic High School #19 }

‘The trouble with fiction is that it makes too much sense. Reality never makes sense.’ –Aldous Huxley

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Ten years after the financial dramas of Autumn 2008, I take stock of what we have learned, what we have done, and what we have yet to do if we would avoid a repeat performance.

The primary lessons I draw are that income and wealth distribution, the endogeneity of credit-money, and finance system structure all matter profoundly not only where justice, but also where systemic stability is concerned.

The longer-term tasks still before us include a much broader and financially engineered diffusion of capital ownership over our population, citizen central banking, a permanent national investment authority, continuous public open labor market operations, debt-free or low-debt education and health insurance, and an updated form of segregating capital-raising primary from asset-trading secondary markets in the financial sector.

Shorter-term tasks include debt-forgiveness, a restoration of labor rights and countercyclical progressive taxation, and restored citizen-ownership of our secondary market makers in home mortgage and higher education debt.

{ LawArXiv | Continue reading }

While my JVC vibrates the concrete

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I have itemized data for a single line in New York (Second Avenue Subway Phase 1) and a single line in Paris (Metro Line 1 extension), from which I have the following costs:

Tunneling: about $150 million per km vs. $90 million, a factor of 1.7

Stations: about $750 million per station vs. $110 million, a factor of 6.5

Systems: about $110 million per km vs. $35 million, a factor of 3.2

Overheads and design: 27% of total cost vs. 15%, which works out to a factor of about 11 per km or a factor of 7 per station

[…]

In Paris, as well as Athens, Madrid, Mexico City, Caracas, Santiago, Copenhagen, Budapest, and I imagine other cities for which I can’t find this information, metro stations are built cut-and-cover. While the tunnels between stations are bored, at higher cost than opening up the entire street, the stations themselves are dug top-down. This allows transporting construction materials from the top of the dig, right where they are needed, as well as easier access by the workers and removal of dirt and rock. There is extensive street disruption, for about 18 months in the case of Paris, but the merchants and residents get a subway station at the end of the works.

In contrast, in New York, to prevent street disruption, Second Avenue Subway did not use any cut-and-cover. The tunnels between stations were bored, as in nearly all other cities in the world that build subways, and the stations were mined from within the bore, with just small vertical shafts for access. The result was a disaster: the costs exploded, as can be seen in the above comparison, and instead of 18 months of station box-size disruption, there were 5 years of city block-size disruption, narrowing sidewalks to just 2 meters (7′ to be exact).

{ Pedestrian Observations | Continue reading }

pencil, ink, and enamel on tracing paper { Elena Asins, Scale, 1982-1983 }

why isn’t everything made of gold?

A lawyer for the Trump administration, pressed by a Boston judge on whether the “115 mile long” border wall contract the president tweeted about exists:

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related { What is Fake News? }

entire crew is HorseFaced for real

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A company tied to Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump owns a 171-acre hunting preserve that is being used as a private shooting range. […]

During negotiations, said Joe Kleinman — who with his wife, Jocelyn, sold the property in August 2013 for $665,000 — the buyer’s agent tried to reduce the price by invoking a 1991 state court decision that requires buyers disclose to sellers if a property is known to be haunted.

Kleinman refused, saying anyone who truly believed it was haunted would either abandon the sale or pay a premium.

{ Poughkeepsie Journal | Continue reading }

quote { entire crew is HorseFaced for real }

Jambalaya!

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For every 100,000 inhabitants, Okinawa has 68 centenarians – more than three times the numbers found in US populations of the same size. Even by the standards of Japan, Okinawans are remarkable, with a 40% greater chance of living to 100 than other Japanese people. […]

one of the most exciting factors to have recently caught the scientists’ attention is the peculiarly high ratio of carbohydrates to protein in the Okinawan diet – with a particular abundance of sweet potato as the source of most of their calories. […]

Despite the popularity of the Atkins and Paleo diets, there is minimal evidence that high-protein diets really do bring about long-term benefits.

So could the “Okinawan Ratio” – 10:1 carbohydrate to protein – instead be the secret to a long and healthy life? […]

The typical Okinawan centenarian appeared to be free of the typical signs of cardiovascular disease […] Okinawa’s oldest residents also have far lower rates of cancer, diabetes and dementia than other ageing populations. […]

Genetic good fortune could be one important factor. Thanks to the geography of the islands, Okinawa’s populations have spent large chunks of their history in relative isolation, which may has given them a unique genetic profile. […]

It is the Okinawans’ diet, however, that may have the most potential to change our views on healthy ageing. Unlike the rest of Asia, the Okinawan staple is not rice, but the sweet potato. […] Okinawans also eat an abundance of green and yellow vegetables – such as the bitter melon – and various soy products. Although they do eat pork, fish and other meats, these are typically a small component of their overall consumption, which is mostly plant-based foods.

The traditional Okinawan diet is therefore dense in the essential vitamins and minerals - including anti-oxidants - but also low in calories. Particularly in the past, before fast food entered the islands, the average Okinawan ate around 11% fewer calories than the normal recommended consumption for a healthy adult.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, New York City, New York, September-October 1972 }

Sea, sea! Here, weir, reach, island, bridge.

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Floating bridges do not work in all cases because they are susceptible to harsh weather conditions such as strong waves and currents. This is where the floating tunnels come in. […]

The term “floating” is perhaps misleading. The tunnels are fixed in position with cables — either anchored to the seabed or tethered to pontoons which are spaced far enough apart to allow boats to pass through. Made of concrete, they would function like conventional tunnels. […]

The biggest risks in the project are explosions, fire and overloading. […] Results so far indicate that the constant water pressure that surrounds the floating tunnels reduces the damage caused by explosions. […]

the NPRA team is also investigating how the tunnels would fare if submarines crashed into them.

{ CNN | Continue reading }

still { Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon, 1950 }

Making the right choice does not always lead to a good outcome—sometimes there are only bad outcomes to choose from

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Albania is a country in the Balkans that has a long history of patriarchal traditions. Albania is traditionally a patricentric society, so having sons in the family is very important. When a family does not have sons, or loses their sons, then a sworn virgin can be a suitable replacement.

A sworn virgin is a woman who, either at birth, or by her own choice, decides to take on male gender roles. The sworn virgin makes a vow of chastity, does traditionally male labor, and usually wears male styled clothing. The vow of becoming a sworn virgin means that the woman no longer has marital obligations, the woman can become the head of her own household and would then have rights to inheritance. One of the main causes that make taking the vow necessary for Albanian families is the power of the Kanun. The Kanun is a medieval code of rules that are the foundation of Albanian culture. Many of the rules focus on honor and regulate the community life.

The Kanun regulates all aspects of Albanian life. The Kanun focuses on aspects of familial honor. A major part of this idea results in “blood feuds.” Blood feuds are deadly feuds between families. A blood feud can start from an insult or theft; they serve the purpose of righting a perceived wrong, honor being more important that a human life. When families become enemies “the enemy family’s honor can only be repaired with more blood. Any male member of the…family tall enough to lift a rifle is a legitimate target.” If a woman is murdered, according to the code, her death can be avenged by killing a woman in the enemy family of killing their dog.

The Kanun has specific rules for the role of women in Albania, perpetuating male dominance in a patriarchal society. Albania has roots as a peasant society where gender roles are very significant. The man is the head of the family, the owner and over seer of the land and the main decision maker. The importance of gender roles and the man’s position of power breed the desire for a passive and compliant woman. According to the article by Arsovska, the Kanun states, “a man has the right to beat and publicly humiliate his wife if she disobeys him. He is also allowed to cut her hair, strip her nude, expel her from the house and drive her with a whip through the village. The Kanun specifies that a man may kill his wife for two reasons: infidelity and betrayal of hospitality.” Further, a woman is considered half of a man, equivalent to a dog and always subservient to her husband or father before she is married.

[…]

In a situation where all the male family members are killed during a blood feud, the family would be destitute, or an unmarried daughter can take the vow to be a sworn virgin. The sworn virgin would then be the head of the household, have rights to the inheritance and be in charge of retaliation of the blood feud. Women are also forbidden from being an active participant in their engagements and marriages. If the woman does not want to marry the man she is arranged to be married to and runs away, her family would bring her back to the man with a single bullet. The meaning of the bullet is if the wife tries to leave again the husband can kill her with the bullet. Some women receive a locket with a bullet inside on their wedding day, the bullet being the bullet she would be killed with if she were to be unfaithful or try to leave her husband. The only honorable way for a woman to avoid an unwanted arranged marriage would be to take the vow. If a woman refuses an arranged marriage it could incite a blood feud between the two houses. Another reason some women take the vow to become a sworn virgin is if their parents do not produce a son. It is considered shameful if a family has no male offspring and some girls will be raised as boys from birth. All cases of a female becoming a sworn virgin have to do with familial honor.

The vow to become a sworn virgin is not to be taken lightly. The vow is considered sacred and is meant for life. The woman making the vow goes before twelve elders of the community and makes a vow of chastity. The traditional punishment for breaking the vow is death. If a sworn virgin is found to break her vow of celibacy she would traditionally be burned alive, although it is unrecorded how often this punishment gets carried out.

[…]

A sworn virgin is able to enjoy the status of being a man, they are able to interact freely with men, smoke cigarettes, carry guns and leave their houses without a male escort.

[…]

The role of the sworn virgin should not be considered lesbianism, as the traditional role of sexual intercourse in Albania is strictly for procreation. Homosexuality was illegal for men in Albania until 1995, and lesbians have never been mentioned in the Kanun or by the state, which would imply that it is a completely foreign or non existent concept to traditional Albanians.

[…]

Even as a sworn virgin, there are times when they are still discriminated against by men and still treated as less than a man. One sworn virgin was not able to become a member of a marksmen club, and another example is of a sworn virgin who, after their death, was buried as a man but did not receive the traditional mourning that men usually receive.

[…]

It is unknown how many sworn virgins are still in existence today, as the post communist Albanian government does not recognize tradition rules from the Kanun. A ‘cultural revolution’ took place in Albania in 1974, declaring all traditional customs as non-existent, so there is no new official records kept of women that take the vow.

{ Elizabeth Rush, The Cultural Role and Identity of Albanian Sworn Virgins | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Picasso, Femme en bleu, 1944 }

quote { The lesser of two evils: Explaining a bad choice by revealing the choice set }