Urban Studies

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While I’m clearly excited (and concerned) about autonomous cars, I think the shock of this new technology, something that wasn’t even discussed much in the general population just five years ago, has caused some to believe the future is now or tomorrow at least. It will likely take longer, and we’re probably in for a long run of robocars and traditional ones sharing lane space. In a new piece, Vivek Wadhwa of Venturebeat disagrees. The opening:

“My prediction is that in fewer than 15 years, we will be debating whether human beings should be allowed to drive on highways.

After all, we are prone to road rage; rush headlong into traffic jams; break rules; get distracted; and crash into each other. That is why our automobiles need tank-like bumper bars and military-grade crumple zones. And it is why we need speed limits and traffic police.

Self-driving cars won’t have our limitations. They will prevent tens of thousands of fatalities every year and better our lifestyles. They will do to human drivers what the horseless carriage did to the horse and buggy.

Tesla’s announcement of an autopilot feature in its next-generation Model S takes us much closer to this future. Yes, there are still technical and logistical hurdles; some academics believe it will take decades for robotic cars to learn to navigate the complexities of the ‘urban jungle;’ and policy makers are undecided about the rules and regulations.

But just as Tesla produced an electric vehicle that I liken to a spaceship that travels on land, so too will it keep adding software upgrades until its autopilot doesn’t need a human operator at the steering wheel. I expect this to happen within a decade — despite the obstacles. I have already placed an order for the new model so that I can be part of this evolution.”


Innovation, that word which is appropriate sparingly but ascribed constantly, is truly the proper description for the work of inventor Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, a one-woman Jobs and Woz. As Steven Johnson points out in his latest book, How We Got to Now, excerpted in a Financial Times article, new inventions usually are born to many parents working within the same base of knowledge, but the Victorian duo thought completely outside of the box, leaping a full century ahead of everyone else with their ideas about computers. From the FT:

“Most important innovations – in modern times at least – arrive in clusters of simultaneous discovery. The conceptual and technological pieces come together to make a certain idea imaginable – artificial refrigeration, say, or the lightbulb – and around the world people work on the problem, and usually approach it with the same fundamental assumptions about how it can be solved.

Thomas Edison and his peers may have disagreed about the importance of the vacuum or the carbon filament in inventing the electric lightbulb, but none of them was working on an LED. As the writer Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, has observed, the predominance of simultaneous, multiple invention in the historical record has interesting implications for the philosophy of history and science: to what extent is the sequence of invention set in stone by the basic laws of physics or information or the biological and chemical constraints of the environment?

If simultaneous invention is the rule, what about the exceptions? What about Babbage and Lovelace, who were a century ahead of just about every other human on the planet? Most innovation happens in the present tense of possibility, working with tools and concepts that are available in that time. But every now and then an individual or group makes a leap that seems almost like time travelling. What allows them to see past the boundaries of the adjacent possible, when their contemporaries fail to do so? That may be the greatest mystery of all.”


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From the March 14, 1913 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Rutland, Vt. — George C.  Chalmers, president of the Rutland Business Men’s Association, underwent a peculiar operation here for the removal of a button from his nose. He has been in poor health for some time and recently came to believe that the nasal trouble, with which he was afflicted, might be due to a button which he had pushed into his nose when he was a child, fifty-four years ago. He told a physician of the circumstance and the latter agreed that the button was the root of the trouble. Upon removal, the button was found to have become so encrusted that it had increased from a quarter-inch to an inch in diameter.”


Granted the lower end of Hollywood pay is still relative wealth to most folks, but it’s worth noting that even show business, like much of our economy, has a growing income disparity. At the upper stratosphere, the big money still exists for some (but not all) star actors and directors, but the mid-level creative person has been all but squeezed out of existence. You take what you are offered or it is offered to someone else. From an article on the new normal of movie-industry salaries by the Hollywood Reporter:

“How bad is the decline in actor salaries over the past decade? Despite the huge sums still being raked in by such superstars as Robert Downey Jr. (his $75 million comes from his 7 percent, first-dollar slice of Iron Man 3, as well as his $12 million HTC endorsement deal) and Sandra Bullock (a 15 percent, first-dollar deal on Gravity and about $10 million more for her summer hit The Heat), most actors are feeling a definite squeeze, especially those in the middle.

‘If you’re [a big star], you’re getting well paid,’ says one top agent, ‘but the middle level has been cut out.’ Sometimes with a hacksaw. Leonardo DiCaprio made $25 million (including bonuses) forThe Wolf of Wall Street, while co-star Jonah Hill got paid $60,000. Granted, that’s an extreme example — Hill offered to do the part for scale (and got an Oscar nomination for his trouble). …

‘The middle range doesn’t exist anymore,’ one studio executive says of the current financial landscape for feature film directors. ‘Either you’re paying for a modern master, or you’re paying a lot less. The days of paying $3 million or $4 million, knowing they’re just doing the job, that doesn’t exist.’

The going rate for modern masters? Between $7 million and $10 million for auteurs like Paul Greengrass and Ridley Scott, more if the film is considered a tentpole. Christopher Nolan is said to have made $20 million against 20 percent of gross for Interstellar. Backend is otherwise rare these days for the non-A-list.

On the other end of the scale, emerging directors can expect $250,000 to $500,000 for their first big studio feature, but there are exceptions (one European auteur was said to have recently have been paid $1 million for his first Hollywood blockbuster).”

Magical thinking is not limited to the religious, as the secular likewise often imbue objects with some degree of sentience, as psychologist Bruce Hood points out in a Wired UK piece by Katie Collins. The opening:

“‘I’m a collector; I collect unusual things,’ says University of Bristol psychologist Bruce Hood speaking at WIRED2014 in London. He asks the audience if they would wear a beautiful cashmere cardigan that he had collected, that was freshly washed and that was once owned by a famous individual. Many raise their hands, but they slink down again when Hood says the cardigan belonged to the serial killer Fred West.

It is not true — in fact the cardigan is one of Hood’s own — but he is making a point: many people hold the belief that a piece of clothing that has come into close contact with a serial killer has somehow been contaminated by the immoral acts committed by its owner. ‘That is what I call supernatural,’ he says. Hood is interested in why we are prepared to believe the unbelievable. The killer cardigan is not connected with religious belief he points out, but that doesn’t stop the majority of people feeling that there’s a hidden property in the clothing that would stop them wearing it.

Hood explains that this is a phenomenon known in psychology as ‘essentialism.’ ‘This is what I’m obsessed with at the moment,’ he says. It is an idea that can be traced back to the days of Plato and that is based on the concept that people can have a strong emotional connections to objects; that they can be imbibed with an ‘essence.'”

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The anarchic experiment that is the Internet has been viewed with a mixture of awe and fear, but as that unbridled energy careers back into our physical world–something that will happen more and more–the old guard and the new wave are unsurprisingly at odds. A little more on the Sharing Economy, from Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times:

“THE regulatory woes seem to be never ending for the newest wave of tech start-ups — the on-demand apps that connect people who need something (a driver, a house cleaner, a grocery shopper) with people who want to do the job.

On Thursday, the New York State attorney general said most Airbnb listings in the city violated zoning and other laws. Officials in California and Pennsylvania recently warned car services like Uber and Lyft that they might be unlawful. And workers’ rights advocates have questioned whether the people who provide these services should receive benefits, spurred by recent reports that some Homejoy house cleaners are homeless.

Why have these companies run into so many problems? Part of the reason is that they think of themselves as online companies — yet they mostly operate in the offline world.

They subscribe to three core business principles that have become a religion in Silicon Valley: Serve as a middleman, employ as few people as possible and automate everything. Those tenets have worked wonders on the web at companies like Google and Twitter. But as the new, on-demand companies are learning, they are not necessarily compatible with the real world.”


A good way to guard against an epidemic in America would be to extend the Affordable Care Act to all citizens, to make it truly universal. But Ebola has flipped the script at the midterm elections, with government-hating Republicans who fought Obamacare and planned to use it as a rallying cry despite its early successes, now decrying the government’s lack of intervention. From Gary Silverman at the Financial Times:

“Republicans are suddenly asking very Democratic questions about what federal government can do to improve public health. Bloomberg News even reported that members of the appropriations committees in the Republican House and Democratic Senate are working on ways to throw more money at the problem. This would be done by increasing anti-Ebola spending in a bill aimed at keeping the government operating after December 11.

Yet the newfound Republican faith in the federal solutions has been accompanied by a hardening of hearts when it comes to the man behind Obamacare.

Conservatives are seizing on the spread of Ebola as evidence of the president’s unreliability – linking it to the advances of Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, management deficiencies at the Secret Service and the arrival of illegal immigrants from Mexico.”


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The human species may survive the Anthropocene but likely not very well. Myopia has been as much a villain as any, as humans seem to have a default mode that focuses us on short-term needs rather than long-term survival. Does instant gratification eventually give way to staving off extinction? From Tom Chivers at the Telegraph:

“Not all scientists agree that the ‘Anthropocene’ term is helpful. [Climate scientist Tim] Lenton says it points to a real phenomenon, and the distinction in the stratigraphic record will be crystal clear to future geologists, but ‘gut instinct is to be careful about our hubris as a species, about seeing ourselves as hugely powerful and important.’

None the less, he says, ‘we have had a huge impact on the planet and we predict that impact escalating. We are a very unusual animal in having these effects on the globe. Life, such as cyanobacteria, has changed the atmosphere before, but animals usually don’t.’

‘The Great Oxygenation led to Snowball Earth, and almost the total extinction of life. At each of these mass extinctions, some life has sneaked through, but it might not happen every time, and even if it does we might not be the life that sneaks through.’

But the ‘Anthropocene’ need not, necessarily, be a synonym for human-caused global catastrophe. We have reasons to believe that we could be that life which sneaks through. ‘We are very good at telling apocalyptic stories, and there is science behind them,’ says Lenton. ‘But we’re an ingenious species.’

Lynas and Lenton agree we can’t go back to a pre-industrial age ‘that would lead to a mass extinction of humans,’ says Lynas. But technologies – nuclear power, carbon capture, efficient recycling of raw materials – could allow us to enjoy a modern lifestyle even with a population of billions. The trick is, says Lenton, to use our species’ foresight. ‘We have to decide on the sort of world we want, and to design the Anthropocene we want.'”

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A century ago, Gobi Desert dwellers didn’t desire dinosaur eggs for their historical value but for their utility, often fashioning from them jewelry or other trinkets to wear or trade. In 1923, a motorcar-powered expedition, which numbered naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews as one of its leaders, was the first to ever secure the prehistoric eggs and bring them back to America. It was a sensation, of course. Chapman, a showman at heart who was not immune to utility himself, parlayed the jaw-dropping find into international celebrity, the directorship of the American Museum of Natural History and a young trophy wife. It’s conjectured by some that he was the model for Indiana Jones, but most likely that character is a composite of numerous explorers. A couple years after his dino-egg windfall, the scientist returned to the Gobi and purchased an armful of shells from a Mongolian villager for a bar of soap (see caption of fourth photo from top). One odd thing about the October 29, 1923 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article below, which heralded Chapman’s discovery, is its surprise that dinosaurs laid eggs. It doesn’t mention what the prevailing theory had been.


No shocker that NYC landlords with large holdings in popular Manhattan neighborhoods are illegally exploiting Airbnb, though the city is pretty much turning a blind eye to individual residents on the wrong side of zoning laws. For better or worse, the Sharing Economy is a thing now and will continue to be. From David Streitfeld in the New York Times:

“The housing broker and its imitators, like the taxi service Uber and its clones, have been prompting upheaval just about everywhere they go.

Admirers say these stars of the so-called sharing economy are breaking up monopolies that have grown greedy and lazy. They are empowering individuals. Critics say that the start-ups are unsavory efforts to avoid regulation and taxes, and that the very term ‘sharing economy’ is ridiculous.

In some contentious spots, like San Francisco, where the local government endorsed a plan last week to essentially legalize Airbnb, a resolution may be in sight. But in New York, where real estate is often viewed as a blood sport, the battle is only deepening.

Mr. Schneiderman and city regulators will also announce Thursday a joint enforcement initiative to shut down illegal hotels. Various regulators will investigate violations of building and safety codes and tax regulations.

‘Anyone operating an illegal hotel should be on notice that the state and city will take aggressive enforcement actions in this area,’ said Mr. Schneiderman. ‘A slick advertising campaign doesn’t change the fact that this is illegal activity.’

He was careful, however, to speak of ‘illegal hotels’ rather than ‘illegal rentals.’ Airbnb is already too popular to dislodge completely, no matter what the housing laws say. It also delights travelers, who get a cheaper and usually more interesting place to stay.”

‘Most of our hosts are regular New Yorkers, and the overwhelming majority live outside of Manhattan,’ Mr. Papas said.

As for the 72 percent of listings that Mr. Schneiderman said were illegal, {Airbnb spokesperson Nick] Papas said it was hard to tell what was going on.”

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While Elon Musk’s EV charging stations are impressive to look at, they may be redundant if the “gorging” paradigm of refueling can be transformed into a “grazing” one. From Alex Davies of Wired:

“Beyond the (significant) question of cost, Envision’s longterm plan for the EV ARC includes a fundamental change in how we think about refueling our cars. The idea of building a network of DC Fast Charging stations (like Tesla’s proprietary Superchargers) is ‘silly,’ [Envision Solar CEO Desmond] Wheatley says, because it’s based on the way we gas up engine-powered cars. It’s a ‘gorging’ mentality, when an electric vehicle calls for a ‘grazing’ mentality advocated often call ‘opportunistic charging.’ Eventually, you’ll charge our cars the way you charge your phone: while you sleep or work, and just about anytime you don’t need it in your hand. That has ‘become part of our cultural norm,’ Wheatley says.

‘The problem is we’ve got 100 years of cultural norm that says I must be able to pull over somewhere, and I must be able to fuel in three to five minutes. That’s what we’ve all be ingrained to think. I’m convinced that today’s children will think it’s hilarious that we ever pulled off the highway to charge.’ And, he argues, electric cars will eventually offer enough range to cover a distance anyone would want to drive without stopping to sleep, except the most energy drink-fueled college students. ‘Charging infrastructure will be ubiquitous. It’s my mission to make sure that it’s all renewably energized.'”

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Many great actors seem to me like they grew up in a cult, so oddly unique they are. Vanessa Redgrave, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Daniel Day-Lewis and Ben Kingsley? Had to be a cult, right? But Glenn Close actually was raised in a cult, a right-wing, anti-intellectual one to boot. It caused some trust issues, as you might expect, even within herself. An excerpt from Stephen Galloway’s new Hollywood Reporter profile:

“Close was 7 years old when her dad, a Harvard-educated doctor from a long line of New England blue bloods, joined the religious group known as the Moral Re-Armament.

Founded during the late 1930s, the MRA held firmly to what it called ‘the four absolutes': honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. But these benevolent principles masked the all-consuming, all-controlling traits of any other cult — this particular one led by Rev. Frank Buchman, a violently anti-intellectual and possibly homophobic evangelical fundamentalist from Pennsylvania, who argued that only those with special guidance from God were without sin, and that they had a duty to change others. What began as an anti-war movement gradually turned into a possessive and exclusionary force.

It is unclear how many adherents the MRA had, though about 30,000 people gathered to hear Buchman speak at the Hollywood Bowl in the late 1930s, and the group was widely discussed in the press during and after World War II. Its post-war conferences were attended by several high-level diplomats and politicians — despite allegations that Buchman had been a Hitler supporter — and its cultlike nature appears to have emerged only slowly.

‘I haven’t made a study of groups like these,’ says Close, ‘but in order to have something like this coalesce, you have to have a leader. You have to have a leader who has some sort of ability to bring people together, and that’s interesting to me because my memory of the man who founded it was this wizened old man with little glasses and a hooked nose, in a wheelchair.’

When her family joined the cult, Close was removed from everything she held most dear — above all, life in the ivy-covered, stone cottage on her grandfather’s Connecticut estate, where she ran wild over the rugged land with her Shetland pony, Brownie. While Dr. Close went to Congo as a surgeon, she lived with her brother and two sisters at the group’s headquarters in Caux, Switzerland.”

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"You must have a fairly competent and preferably experienced person to remove my kidney."

“You must have a fairly competent and preferably experienced person to remove my kidney.”

kidney for sale (s bx)

22 year old caucasian male, blonde, blue eyed, athletic, great health. 5’10” 160lbs O+ blood. Non smoker, non drinker, D&D free. Looking to donate either right or left kidney, or any partiality of a kidney, just not two. Sorry no BOGO! Need money stat. Willing to ship kidney or travel if need be. I no longer need both kidneys. Times are financially tough and no need to be extravagant and have two kidneys when one will do. Im no Donald Trump. Prefer someone local, but please have your own extraction site and a fairly competent and preferably experienced person to remove my kidney. That also means you will need extraction tools, and I would prefer at least a local/topical anesthetic. Yes lidocaine is hard to get now, so at least have a little compassion and bring something over 35 proof.

Make me an offer, but I will not go lower than 7000. If I am to preform removal on my own the lowest ill go is 10000. I will pay for shipping and shipping materials. 

Trades are agreeable as well. I prefer hi-end audio equipment, automotive, rare jordans, and or submissive BDSM women (must be petite, white with light hair and eyes, experience not necessary, but an explorative sexual appetite a must)

Deal is still on if still posted

I am willing to sell other organs and body parts, granted I have more than enough of them.

Money talks!

This deal will not last, so bid early and bid high.

"Please have your own extraction site."

“Please have your own extraction site.”

"That also means you will need extraction tools."

“That also means you will need extraction tools.”

From the June 16, 1934 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Milwaukee — Tales of crude sorcery used in a purported attempt to prevent childbirth and to bring a ‘curse’ on a household were told today in two warrants issued for Mrs. Anna Jurich.

The complainant, Mrs. Sophie Obradovich, 37-year-old mother of four children, said she sought out Mrs. Jurich to prevent the birth of a fifth child.

The weird ritual which Mrs. Obradovich said the woman used included administering massages and bandages, cutting off corners of pillows and slitting a mattress.

After she refused to pay a $50 fee, Mrs. Obradovich said, the woman put a ‘curse’ on the household and threw a witch-ball containing finger ad toenail parings, human hair, colored string and other alleged black luck omens through the window.”


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No, we’re not living yet in a world of fully autonomous driving, but Elon Musk tells Bloomberg TV about his very aggressive timeline for when that will occur, which suggests, I suppose, that smart cars will not necessarily need smart roads.


Holy fuck, Wavy Gravy is still alive. Known as Hugh Nanton Romney (Romney 2016!) before adopting his meat-sauce moniker, he was the Woodstock Era’s psychedelic drum major, and he has some amazing stories to tell, none of which he can remember. WG just did an AMA at Reddit, in which he dosed the entire Internet. A few exchanges follow.



Do you think the pranksters changed culture? What are your thoughts on the medical uses of psychedelics?

Wavy Gravy:

Absolutely. The Prankster changed the culture by driving ac across the country in these painted buses. That was something no one had ever seen before. It was like the universe on wheels.

I think that psychotropics should be available to any ADULTS with psychiatrist spirit guide to help them over the rough patches on the quest to enlightenment.

back in the day this was applicable for Henry Luce, the publisher of Life magazine, as he was pictured conducting an orchestra of daffodils in his garden, Psychiatric at the ready.



Were you ever a fan of the group Pink Floyd? And have you heard of their new album coming out in a month? What are your thoughts on the group and what do you remember about them during their times in the late 60s/70s?

Wavy Gravy:

In 1970 we did what Warner Brothers hoped would be a sequel to the movie Woodstock. It involved a caravan of painted buses driving across America putting on shows. Sound familiar? Except this time Warner Brother would fly in their stable of amazing artists like BB King, Jethro Tull or Alice cooper, on tiny stages, or Joni Mitchel strumming around our camp fire. The tour ended with us flying Air India to England, where we did a concert outdoors with Pink Floyd. It was drop dead uber awesome and amazing.


Why hasn’t this been released?

Wavy Gravy:

It was released. It was called Medicine Ball Caravan with the sub title “We have come for your daughters.”



Hi Wavy. I live in Sunland/Tujunga, California. There is a piece of property for sale on a hilltop here that is said to be the original home of the Hog Farm Hippie Commune in the 1960’s. Can you tell us any stories of the old days on the hog farm? Do you have any pictures you can share? Some people claim that Charles Manson was there. I find it hard to believe that you and Manson were ever friends. Can you clear that up? Thanks.

Wavy Gravy:

Absolutely! We were given this mountaintop rent free if we would tend to 50 hogs the size of a davenport. One of which we later ran for president. She was the first female black and white candidate for that high office. On Saturday nights, we would go to the shrine auditorium and do light shows for all the great bands of the 60s. On Sundays, we would have a free show on our mountaintop with different themes. Kite Sunday, no wind until night time. Mud Sunday, it poured..who could slide in the mud the furthest! The hog rodeo where we painted these giant pigs with temper paint and rode around on them, we showed film of this to Salvador Dali in Paris. He loved the hog rodeo. Many pictures and stories are in my first book The Hog Farm and Friends and beautifully documented in Avant Garde magazine back in the day.

Oh yes, Charlie Manson was no friend of mine and was asked to leave which he did. Thank heavens!



Just firstly would like to say thank you for sharing love. Secondly, I love being warm and social with everyone but I really want to make things better like you did; any idea why protests now a days aren’t being taken as serious?

Wavy Gravy:

Some are more seriously taken than others. A lot of demonstrations have gone electronic. I am amazed at how powerful a tool the computer has become and I am a self confessed luddite.•

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Vladimir Lenin’s corpse has had a perplexing postscript, but one particular body part, his brain, may have had the most fascinating “afterlife” of all, as the Soviet leader’s adoring people sliced it and diced it, hoping to find the source of genius that propelled the Bolshevik Revolution. In an article in the February 24, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the paper underestimated the pieces the organ had been pulverized into, numbering it at 15,000 when it was actually more than twice that many.


At Grantland, Steven Hyden has a smart article about Los Angeles Plays Itself, one of my favorite movies. A documentary about the role of the “most photographed city in the world” in film and on television during the twentieth century, Thom Andersen’s long-form survey is brilliant, insightful and fierce. An excerpt from Hyden:

“An exhaustive, exhausting, funny, trenchant, and frequently cantankerous work of film criticism and social commentary, Los Angeles Plays Itself was envisioned as a double feature, Andersen said. When viewed this way, the first half plays as a witty observational comedy and the second half as an impassioned political docudrama. Andersen starts off by griping about L.A. movies the way only a longtime Angeleno would: He nitpicks Alfred Hitchcock for setting several films in the San Francisco area and none in Los Angeles, and Sylvester Stallone for taking undue ‘geographic license’ with local streets for the car chases in Cobra. It’s not just a matter of realism — though Andersen is a stickler for realism. He’s an unabashed L.A. partisan who bristles at any perceived anti–Los Angeles sentiment, starting with the nickname ‘L.A.,’ which he finds diminishing.

‘People who hate Los Angeles love Point Blank,’ he says of John Boorman’s 1967 psychedelic noir, though he does express sardonic appreciation for Boorman’s taste in garish decor, which ‘managed to make the city look both bland and insidious.’ He’s less forgiving of how filmmakers always put their villains in the city’s modernist architectural masterworks. The work of John Lautner has been especially exploited in this regard, finding favor among Bond villains in Diamonds Are Forever and Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski.

If Andersen were just a provincial crank, Los Angeles Plays Itself would peter out well before the second act. But his eccentric narration also sticks some weirdly insightful landings, like when he compares the bare-knuckled fascism of Jack Webb’s Dragnet TV series to the austerity of Ozu and Bresson, or marvels at how the supposed dystopia of Blade Runner is actually ‘a city planner’s dream’ of bustling streets, bright neon, and easily traversable aerial highways. ‘Only a Unabomber could find this totally repellent,’ he observes.”


Marshall McLuhan and artist and ace typographer Harley Parker enjoyed a bull session in 1967’s “Picnic in Space,” which focused on meanings that shifted as spaces changed, a process that has speeded up exponentially in the years since it was shot, as many brick-and-mortar forms have gone digital. Film informed by the work of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Godard.

In a Wall Street Journal interview conducted by Laura Hedli, Google driverless-car consultant Brad Templeton ponders how these new vehicles will be sold to the public. An excerpt:


How will this car be sold to people?

Brad Templeton:

You might sell it to people for a monthly fee. Plus they would have to pay per mile for gasoline, and to some extent, insurance and maintenance.

You also can sell this per mile like a taxi, except it would be much cheaper because 60% of the cost of running a taxi is the driver. It will basically be a cheap Uber [which allows a person to hail a private car or ride-share from a mobile phone], and with no need to talk to the driver.


If autonomous cars operated using a service model, as opposed to ownership, what will people pay per ride?

Brad Templeton: 

It will start somewhere between 50 cents and a buck. I think it could even get [to be] less than 50 cents a ride, but it won’t start cheaper.

For people who are going to make light use of it, then the per-mile price, rather than the monthly price, might actually be a good thing. Seniors stop buying cars because they don’t really feel like trading in anymore, and they cut their mileage by quite a bit.


Looking further down the road, what might we see in the self-driving market?

Brad Templeton: 

I think eventually people will build sleeper cars that can do an overnight trip. I don’t think it’s a very green vision, but you would probably be able to hire a car that doesn’t even have seats. It’s just got a bed. Get into it, lie down, and then eight hours later you wake up and you’re 400-500 miles away.”

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From the February 23, 1906 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Babylon, L.I. — A story of a mouse dying from fright comes from the Godwin place, at West Islip, where a tiny mouse was for hours secreted in the hair of Miss Isabella Goodwin.

The young woman, a night or so ago, went out to feed the chickens, when the mouse, it is presumed, leaped from the measure into her hair. She knew nothing of the incident until the little animal became restless and jumped from its hiding place, late in the evening.

The next morning the animal was found dead on the rug in the room, and it is thought it died of fright, as there were no marks of violence and no indications of poisoning.”


Software companies were bigger winners than their hardware counterparts during the personal-computing boom, and it’s worth wondering whether the same will be true of driverless cars. For instance, Google seems to have no interest in being an auto manufacturer (beyond prototypes) but is desperate to come up with the software for robocars that can be sold to other outfits. And what of companies that supply sensors and such, will they likewise be the true victors? From Chris Bryant and Andy Sharman of the Financial Times:

“Who will build the self-driving car of the future?

Fired-up by Google’s driverless prototype, carmakers such as Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are already testing autonomous vehicles on public roads.

But the advanced sensors and electronics that form the building blocks of self-driving cars are often made by suppliers, not the car manufacturer.

Some fear that, in the long term, carmakers that lag behind in autonomous vehicle technology face a future akin to today’s PC assemblers – with the big profits accruing to the companies behind the software and electronic content underneath.

‘It’s all the suppliers into the industry who, in the fullness of time, will gain the power,’ says a senior industry analyst, who works closely with the leading carmakers. ‘If I’m the buyer, I don’t care if it’s a 1.9-litre car or a 2.4 – because I’m not driving it.'”


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Yard sale (Saugerties)

This weekend we’re having a huge multi family (well, two dykes and a fat guy) yard sale. need to downsize, just moved and way too much Shit. everything must go. I’m gonna be like Crazy Eddie in this motherfucker. Many previously enjoyed items: TVs, video games, fishing poles, kitchen appliances, knives, furniture, porn, Xmas crap. we got Shit that works we got Shit that don’t work. I’ll be here drunk ready to make a deal or just verbally abuse people. Sat-Sun 9am Till I get sick of your Shit and throw you the fuck out.

At the time of his death in 1945, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s approval ratings were not at their highest.

Il Duce was executed by a firing squad and hung upside down from the roof of an Esso gas station for bringing ruin to the nation during World War II, his corpse later lowered into a pile with 16 other dead Fascists, where it could be further brutalized by an outraged citizenry. In an article in the May 30, 1945 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mussolini’s astounding end was described in gory detail.


The excellent comic Aziz Ansari has a bit in which he talks about the way we’ve grown overdependent on Google, doing mindless searches for things like “the best toothbrush,” when we were perfectly capable of buying a toothbrush before search engines ever existed. We would just go to the store and buy a toothbrush that looked like it was good. And it always was.

Funny, yes, though I’ll argue fiercely that search engines don’t weaken our brains but give us every opportunity to improve them. (And if they’ve done the former rather than the latter, than the fault probably lies with us.) Never before have we had in our shirt pockets access to the storehouse of the world’s knowledge.

Ian Leslie’s well-considered Salon article, “Google Is Making Us All Dumber,” argues the counter, asserting that the efficiency of Google’s search has removed pretty much all of the actual search, weakening us neurologically. The piece starts with a Pablo Picasso quote about machines only being good for answers, which is amusing for its wit but also because more and more, that’s no longer true. The opening:

“In 1964, Pablo Picasso was asked by an interviewer about the new electronic calculating machines, soon to become known as computers. He replied, ‘But they are useless. They can only give you answers.’

We live in the age of answers. The ancient library at Alexandria was believed to hold the world’s entire store of knowledge. Today, there is enough information in the world for every person alive to be given three times as much as was held in Alexandria’s entire collection —and nearly all of it is available to anyone with an internet connection.

This library accompanies us everywhere, and Google, chief librarian, fields our inquiries with stunning efficiency. Dinner table disputes are resolved by smartphone; undergraduates stitch together a patchwork of Wikipedia entries into an essay. In a remarkably short period of time, we have become habituated to an endless supply of easy answers. You might even say dependent.

Google is known as a search engine, yet there is barely any searching involved anymore.”


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