Tim Halbur's blog

Smart Growth and Australia

As managing editor of Planetizen, I'd like to make a quick note on today's op-ed, Resisting Dickensian Gloom by Tony Recsei. Mr Recsei asked for a chance to respond to a recent criticism of his work by Planetizen regular Michael Dudley. It is our policy at Planetizen to allow points of view that are critical of the status quo in urban planning, so I agreed to run the piece. I did ask Mr. Recsei to tone down some of the more personal attacks on smart growthers so that his points could be presented more clearly to our audience, and I believe he has done that.

The NIMBY Brain, and the Abstraction of Global Warming

You may have noticed that over the past few years we've learned a lot more about how the brain works. This is mostly due to advances in functional neuroimaging (fMRI), which makes brain scanning much less onerous and dangerous (no radiation involved). Researchers are using this new access to the brain to send it through various puzzles and thoughts and seeing where and how the brain reacts. 

Josh Greene is an assistant professor at Harvard, and he has used his research to explore questions of moral judgement and decisionmaking. One puzzle he's looked at is called the "Trolley Problem." Here's the setup: 

The Telecommuting Town

Planetizen readers, I have an idea I'd like your opinion on. As managing editor for the past year, I've become increasingly aware of how skilled and professional our readers are. Comments on articles are almost always civil, engaging and thoughtful, something that can't be said for the majority of websites. We have a community of experts here, which is why I bring my idea to you.

Architecture You Can Dance To

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to an interview with the band Blitzen Trapper on my iPod. They’ve got a beautiful song called ‘Furr’; the sound echoes 1970s folk rock- and roots influences like English folk, country and bluegrass.  Anyway, Eric Early, the main songwriter, got my attention with his answer to this question:

INTERVIEWER: Obviously ‘American music’ means different things to different people. What does it mean to you?

The Next City

"Rules established in another era need to be rethought, " said Xavier de Sousa Briggs, associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget this weekend in Cambridge. Briggs' job touches almost everything, from the postal service to the Department of Homeland Security, and it was admittedly exciting to see someone with an urban planning background in such a powerful position. Briggs spoke at lightning speed, and I could almost see the multitude of invisible connections going into his brain and back out to the White House. Much of what he's working on, he explained, is taking "old stovepipes" -- government agencies that have worked in silos for decades -- and making them talk to each other.