12 hours ago
The author of the new book "Seeing the Better City" (Island Press) explains the importance of practiced skills of observation, and how a "vocabulary of looking" can be a foundation for participation in civic discussion.
Charles R. Wolfe
Blog post
June 23, 2004, 4pm PDT
Marvel Comics has announced that it plans to license out Spider-Man, one of its flagship characters, to an Indian comic book company, for a re-made Indian version of the character. Newsarama did a nice write-up on the details that you can read here.

India Spider-Man The really important bits:
...the Indian version of Spider-Man, in the form of young Mumbai resident, Pavitr Prabhakar, gains his powers from ancient mystic instead of Peter Parker who got his powers from a radioactive spider. Green Goblin is also reinvented as Rakshasa, an Indian mythological demon.
Blog post
June 22, 2004, 3pm PDT
The ABC Entertainment Center in LA is being demolished? Why does no one discuss these things with me? Well, okay, to be fair, Blogging LA did.

Man, I loved that place when I was a kid. It wasn't just the futuristic-by-way-of-the-1960s architecture, or the ability to gape up through the tiers of shops and see the aluminum-framed Century City towers.
Blog post
June 22, 2004, 10am PDT
It's behind schedule, over budget, and, thanks to celebrity architect Frank Gehry, looks more than a little familiar, if you know what I mean. It's soon to open, and thanks to reader (and my cousin) Vanessa Jones, you can see lots of good construction pictures here. Thanks, Vee.

Blog post
June 21, 2004, 11am PDT
Mojave, Calif. - This morning I watched a space ship take off. The SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft gazillionaire Paul Allen, made it to just above 100 km (62 miles or, according to the rocket's own systems, 328,491 feet). That's space, baby: high enough so pilot Mike Melvill could see "white clouds above the LA basin [that] looked like snow on the ground."

The craft, carried to 50,000 feet by a mother ship called the White Knight (it looks a lot like the White Star from Babylon 5
June 21, 2004, 12am PDT

In the fifth and final edition of our ongoing series profiling urban planning, development, and design students from across the country, masters students from Rutgers University, Cal Poly,

Justin Hollander, Cuauhtemoc Perez, Ethan Bindernagel
Blog post
June 18, 2004, 6pm PDT
David Flether's Government and Technology Weblog frequently makes for great reading. Today he discusses CORE.GOV - Component Organization and Registration Environment.

CORE.gov uses the CollabNet SourceCast tool for sharing and tracking business and technical components available as part of the Federal Enterprise Architecture.

Now I'm not sure I entirely understand this, since it is heavily buzzworded:

Chris Steins
Blog post
June 17, 2004, 4pm PDT
Five years ago, in an article titled "GRASS Is Now Greener" [Linuxpower, Oct 1999] , I had written about the significance of the GRASS GIS being released under the GPL and the potential of combining the newly "open-sourced" GIS with the open source MySQL database. A reader had commented that the open source PostgreSQL database was more commonly used with GRASS.
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
June 15, 2004, 9am PDT
This from reader Matt Bai, who responds to my observation that all the buildings in Times Square are coated with animated, lighted advertising signage: "I noticed the same thing when I was staying in Times Square recently. It's like a sci fi movie--everything is live action distraction. (I just coined that term,
by the way--live action distraction. I want to be credited in your blog.)"

Okay, Matt. There you go.
Blog post
June 14, 2004, 11am PDT
We knew about this already - Reuters is reporting yet another United Nations report that says global warming and population growth are increasing vulnerability to floods. This time they say there'll be 1 billion people exposed to the threat by 2050.

I didn't go back and re-read before posting, but if I remember right that's much the same as what the Pew Oceans Commission said about coastal sprawl
June 13, 2004, 12am PDT

"If we wish to preserve a free society," Friedrick Hayek once wrote, "it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the

Owen Courreges
Blog post
June 10, 2004, 5pm PDT
San Francisco - The current issue of Science has an interesting Policy Forum laying out some of the challenges of building in earthquake country (fulltext here; pdf here). The salient point:

...basic data and analysis are lacking for how buildings and structures perform under the extreme loads produced by earthquakes. Some experts think structural damage prediction models are based largely on opinion. Application of laboratory data is difficult because of soil- structure interactions and difficulties simulating excitations at high frequencies. These limitations are increasingly important as the postearthquake performance goal for critical buildings moves toward immediate occupancy and functionality.
Blog post
June 9, 2004, 4pm PDT
Kevin Leeson, Special Projects Coordinator and Chris Alvarado, Associate Senior Planner, setup and run the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Weblog. As far as I know, this is the first public-sector planning blog in existence.

The purpose of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Weblog primarily is to act as a news gathering and dissemination resource for the Greater Cleveland and Cuyahoga County planning community, which includes 59 communities, cities, villages and townships.
Chris Steins
Blog post
June 9, 2004, 11am PDT
VisitorVille is a website log analysis program that uses an graphical urban metaphor to visualize website traffic flow.
VisitorVille Screenshot
"A company's entire Web presence is seen as an urban or suburban neighborhood, with each individual Web page presented as a building. The more visitors on a site, the taller the buildings, and the brighter the lights on each floor...each visitor is represented by a small avatar that, when clicked, presents a passport that offers several pieces of information about the user, such as her or his IP address, where that person came from and more. Avatars from dot-com domains wear a suit. Those from dot-edu domains dress as students."
Abhijeet Chavan
Blog post
June 8, 2004, 8pm PDT
The US Environmetal Protection Agency has launched their daily Ultra Violet Index website, where you can search for your zip code's daily UV Index rating.

Tomorrow's Los Angeles UV Index rating is 9: "Try to avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Otherwise, seek shade, cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen. "

The UV Index is computed using forecasted ozone levels, a computer model that relates ozone levels to UV incidence (incoming radiation level) on the ground, forecasted cloud amounts, and the elevation of the forecast cities.
Chris Steins
Blog post
June 8, 2004, 11am PDT
The Grants.gov initiative is seen as a model e-government project but it has had
trouble attracting users according to an article in Government Computer News. The website enables citizens to apply for grants online.

Grants.gov Logo
"[The Office of Management and Budget] officials are working to define utilization -- how e-government projects are used after they’ve been fully implemented -- and plan how the projects will reach the marks they set. Project managers must decide who their customers are and how they’ll measure use of the service...

[Officials] have identified several obstacles to finding users: informing them about the portal, making it easy for them to use and getting other agencies to participate....
Abhijeet Chavan
June 7, 2004, 12am PDT

In the fourth edition of our series profiling urban planning, development, and design students from across the country, masters students from Cal Poly, Clemson University, and the Universit

Don Morehouse, Amy Ansong, Jeffrey Johnston
Blog post
June 6, 2004, 8pm PDT
New York - An interesting observation about the impending demolition of Hollywood landmark restaurant Perino's here courtesy of the "LA Cowboy" blog.

So, why don't they just move it?
Blog post
June 6, 2004, 7pm PDT
New York - I'm in Manhattan, at a hotel in Times Square. It's been more than a year since I was here. And I'm struck by the increase in active signage, even here, the heart of inventive building-side ads. Just about every building here in Times Square is coated with multicolored, programmable screens. Some of them just do text; others are nearly as good as a television.

So just an observation, but as flat-screen technology gets better, as LEDs get brighter, we're going to see a lot more TV-like screens replacing static billboards.
Blog post
June 2, 2004, 6pm PDT
San Francisco - We've got a newish mayor here in SF, Gavin Newsom, who worried some of the town's liberal voting block when he beat a fellow county supervisor, Matt Gonzalez, to win the top spot. Gonzalez was a Green, way left; Newsom was perceived to be allied with the city's establishment, specifically the politically efficient machine built by former mayor Willie Brown (term-limited out) and a group always referred to in the press as "downtown developers." As far as I can tell, these are the people who want to build tall buildings.
May 31, 2004, 12am PDT
While growth is inevitable, the overcrowding and overuse of transportation is not. Using technology in conjunction with politics, private transportation will be more efficient using centralized computing to clear current roadways.
Oded Roth