abraham lincoln abraham maslow academic papers africa aging aid alexander the great amazon america android os apple architecture aristotle art art institute chicago astronomy astrophysics aubrey de grey beck beer berlin bernacke bicycle BIG bill murray biophilia birds blogs bob dylan books bourdain brewing brian wansink buckminster fuller bukowski cameras cancer carl jung carl sagan cemetary change charter city chicago china christmas church civil war climate change cologne construction coop himmelblau copenhagen cornell west cps craigslist crime crown hall cyanotype cyrus dalai lama darkroom data dbHMS death design build dessau detail Diet dogs dome dongtan douglas macarthur drake equaation dresden dubai ebay eco economics economy education einstein emerson emily dickinson energy experiments facebook farming finance finland florida food france frank lloyd wright frei otto freud frum funny furniture games gay rights gdp george w bush george washington germany ghandi glenn murcutt goals good google government graphic design guns h.g. wells h.l. mencken hagakure halloween health health care henri cartier bresson herzog and demeuron honey housing human trafficking humanitarian efforts hydroponics ideas iit indexed india industrial design industrial work internet investments japan jaqueline kennedy jim cramer john maynard keynes john ronan john stewart journalism kickstarter kings of leon kittens krugman kurt vonnegut kurzweil lao tzu law le corbusier ledoux leon battista alberti links LSH madoff malcolm gladwell marijuana marriage masdar city math mead medicine microsoft mies van der rohe military milton friedman mlk money movies munich murphy/jahn music nasa nervi neutra new york nickel nietzsche nobel prize norman foster nsa obama occupy open source paintball palladium print paris parking party passive house paul mccartney persia philip roth philosophy photography picturequote pirate bay pirating plants poetry poker politics portfolio potsdam predictions prejudice presidents process photos prostitution psychology public housing q and a quotes rammed earth randy pausch reading reddit regan religion rendering renewables renzo piano restaurants revolution richard meier richard rogers robert frank rome rubik's cube rule of 72 rumi san francisco sartre sauerbruch hutton saule sidrys schinkel school science screen printing seattle sesame street seth roberts sketch social media soviet sparta spider spinoza sports stanley kubrick stanley milgram statistics steinbeck sudhir venkatesh suicide sustainable design switzerland taxes technology ted teddy roosevelt tension terracotta tesla thanatopsis the onion thomas jefferson thoreau time lapse tommy douglas transportation travel truman tumblr unemployment urban design van gogh venezuela vicuna video video games wall street war werner sobek wood woodshop woodworking ww1 ww2

30 August 2010

Monday Reading

An interview with Bill Murray. I recommend reading the whole thing. He's a fascinating character.

"Last question. I have to know, because I love this story and want it to be true. There have been stories about you sneaking up behind people in New York City, covering their eyes with your hands, and saying: Guess who. And when they turn around, they see Bill Murray and hear the words "No one will ever believe you."

[long pause] I know. I know, I know, I know. I've heard about that from a lot of people. A lot of people. I don't know what to say. There's probably a really appropriate thing to say. Something exactly and just perfectly right. [long beat, and then he breaks into a huge grin] But by God, it sounds crazy, doesn't it? Just so crazy and unlikely and unusual?"

A new building to be built in China uses a thin layer of titanium oxide to remove air pollutants much like the white concrete on the Jubilee Church that I'm mildly obsessed with. The twist is that at night they cast it in a UV light that keeps the reaction going at night. Super interesting.

The irrational exuberance of the past decade or so has produced some similar architecture says the NYTimes.

A little late on this one - BMW uses cloth to build the skin of a concept car. The idea being that the use of steel is extraneous as it doesn't add to the strength of the car but rather only adds weight.

A new blog from Wired called Frontal Cortex which I'm starting to like. I keep getting this sense that there are a lot of people out there who have read, do read, and care about very similar things that I do... it's kind of strange considering the vast amounts of information out there.


"Neglect of disregard of the relevance of the time factor in design is a frequent and yet fatal sin. It is responsible for a permanent cluttering of our constructed environment with elements that at best are enjoyable or endurable for only a relatively short time. We may not be able to stand them any longer, but they persist." - Richard Neutra, Survival Through Design

I've actually mentioned this topic before pointing out this article. The difference with architecture as opposed to industrial design is that buildings represent a much more significant investment and thus the lifespan is thought to be greater. I'm never quite sure where I stand on the issue of how long a building should last. I tend to lean towards the 'forever' side of the argument but there are of course problems with this. I was always intrigued by my father telling me that steel mills would design their plant to last a certain number of years - expecting them to be made obsolete by new technology. They were literally designed to be demolished on a certain date - even before construction began. If they wanted to extend the life of the plant they would go in on schedule and replace the requisite parts to increase the longevity for a certain extension of plant life. Is this necessary with architecture? If so, to what extent? Can the idea be reversed - perhaps extremely cheap buildings could (although they are) built that are only supposed to last a certain amount of time then they get recycled (or lived in like the US)?

Marina Towers, IBM Building, and Trump Tower looking north from across the river.

16 August 2010

Monday Reading

China becomes the worlds second largest economy (as measured by country) passing Japan. China's economy is still 1/3 the size of the US's.

Wind power manufacturing in the US is growing... fast. The cost of transporting the large components too far means that domestic manufacturing is here to stay and grow.

Portable lightweight housing that can be erected in a day with nothing but a screw driver. Here's a somewhat more established non-profit manufacturer, World Shelters, of a similar product that has humanitarian and individual sales in mind.

Roosevelt Island near New York has an island wide trash sucking system... no more garbage cans. Photos.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is slashing the Pentagon's budget which has increased unabated since late 2001 - in fact in nominal terms it has doubled in the last decade. This isn't small stuff. He's talking about almost trillion dollars over 9 years. Lots of this has already happened.

^ Speaking of a trillion only 21% of Americans knew how much a trillion dollars was relative to a million. It's a million millions. There are 1000 millions in a billion and 1000 billions in a trillion.

Greenspan calls for an end to the Bush tax cuts! But for all the wrong reasons... he thinks the deficit is too big and the (to use Krugman's coinage) the invisible bond vigilantes could strike at any time. Yet somehow bond rates hit a record low yesterday.

Best story ever? Wikileaks, after having embarrassed the military by releasing some 77,000 classified transcripts from Afghanistan, says it wants to release another 17,000. The military is coyly threatening them, so what did wikileaks do? It distributed an encrypted torrent through Piratebay.org that has a large file size. They say the classified information in the torrent is much more damaging that what is already out there. So... if the government does anything, they tweet the encrypted torrent passwords and tens of thousands of people around the world unlock their classified torrent. Brilliant.

NYT story on purple martins - the bird that eats a ton of insects and relies on humans for its housing. We had one in my backyard when I was growing up that still exists.

All sorts of old people are missing in Japan, or rather lots of them have died and their children hide their death in order to collect their pensions.

Ecosystem engineering - I'm curious to see the results of this test. If it's at all promising it could mean huge gains for the natural world.

One of the most famous daguerreotype series recently went under restoration efforts which found that they have a degree of detail that is - utterly shocking. Basically at 30x magnification the plates don't lose detail. That means the series of 8 - 6.5"x8.5" plates could be blown up to 170' by 20' without losing any detail. The irony is that photography in its early stages often produced images that are in many ways more detailed, fine, and artistic than modern cameras are capable of producing. How powerful would your digital camera need to be? Oh, 140,000 megapixels.